By this point, it seems (almost) a lock that the team is not interested in signing any free agents from other teams. There are some holes to fill and those will most likely be filled utilizing the draft. It seems that Dan and Vinny have finally realized that they can save money (and keep from restructuring contracts every year) by getting young, cheap talent... or, at least everyone hopes they finally realized that.
Anyway, here's the breakdown of the most important and glaring needs... at least, how I see the needs. Oh, and here's the current roster for reference.
WR - The release of two young WRs sets the table for newer, younger WRs to come in. The offense that new head coach left in Seattle had turned from a run first offense that made Shawn Alexander a MVP in 2005, to a pass-first offense that spead the field with 3 and 4 WR sets. That might be more due to the fact that Alexander was a shell of the back he was in 2005 (Pre-Big Contract or PBC) than it was a change in the direction of the WCO. Either way, this team needs more bodies (if nothing else) at the WR position. Moss and ARE are reaching that point where they'll start to become less productive over their careers and Thrash is on the downside. Caldwell might be an option here... if he chooses to resign. The team will definately need to draft for depth here.
DL - The team signed a young DT along with bringing back Boski (seriously, no one has a better nickname for this guy???), both moves (presumably) being more for depth than anything else. Griff is back, along with the young, late round picks from '06, Anthony Montgomery and Kendric Golston. Those players make up the bulk of the DT depth.
As for DE, the team has Andre Carter and Philip Daniels as the incumbants, but the former CFLer Chris Wilson came on late last season as a 3rd down rush end to go opposite Carter. He and Demetric Evans are the only backups of note.
Both spots need to be addressed, though I think DE is lacking any sort of real depth where DT has 3 or 4 guys that could form a pretty good rotation.
CB - The team is bringing back their top 4 CBs, which is good. But Carlos Rogers is coming off a knee injury so his availability for the beginning part of the season is in question. Also, Shawn Springs is getting older and a heir apparent might not be a bad idea. Freddy Smoot is back and ready to hold the fort down. Backups Leigh Torrence and John Eubanks are still around, as is Hogs Haven favorite Byron Westbrook. We always seem to like the guys who never play... but anyway. The CB position looks good... when healthy. But with an aging group, it is about time to look to bring in some young talent.
S - I personally like the job that Reed Doughty did filling in when Sean Taylor passed away. Obviously, he's no #21 but he complemented last years first rounder LaRon Landry really well. Vernon Fox is still around, but that's about where the list ends. Some of the key backups from a year ago, including safeties Omar Stoutmire and Pierson Prioleau, are still on the free agent market and it looks like the team is looking elsewhere to fill some needs. I personally would draft for depth at the S position and keep Daoughty and Landry as the starters, but the case could be made that a young talent is needed to start right away. I just can't justify spending two consecuative first round picks on the same position. Maybe that's just me.
OL - The team had to scramble last year to plug holes after a series of injuries. The line isn't getting any younger (with the exception of T Stephen Heyer) and looking at the roster we see that all the projected starters are over 30. Oh, and Randy Thomas is the only G listed on the roster (Pete Kendall is listed as "OL" for some odd reason.) There needs to be some serious depth added here, but I think that late round picks and undrafted FAs (like Heyer) could do just fine.
Obviously, there needs to be some depth across the board. OLB could use some bodies, especially with the health concerns surrounding Marcus Washington and Rocky McIntosh. Mike Sellers is the only FB on the roster... but he's not what you would consider a WCO FB, nor is he getting any younger. I could see the team drafting for some depth there.
So, using any of the numerous draft lists (I picked the NFL Draft Countdown page because it has pretty comprehensive breakdowns of the players but you can use another if you so choose) a small group of players that make for possible first and second (and maybe even third) round picks starts to come together.
WR - Check out the bios here, but we have the following:
- Limas Sweed, Texas, 6-3 7/8, 215, 4.52
- DeSean Jackson, California, 5-9 3/4, 169, 4.35
- Malcolm Kelly, Oklahoma, 6-3 3/4, 224, 4.55
- Devin Thomas, Michigan St., 6-1 7/8, 216, 4.40
- James Hardy, Indiana, 6-5 3/8, 217, 4.51
- Mario Manningham, Michigan, 5-11 3/4, 181, 4.60
- Early Doucet, L.S.U., 6-0 1/8, 209, 4.50
- Lavelle Hawkins, California, 5-11, 187, 4.52
- Andre Caldwell, Florida, 6-0 1/4, 204, 4.37
- Earl Bennett, Vanderbilt, 5-11 1/2, 209, 4.48
- Donnie Avery, Houston, 5-11, 192, 4.45
- Eddie Royal, Virginia Tech, 5-9 5/8, 184, 4.39
- Jerome Simpson, Coastal Carolina, 6-1 3/4, 199, 4.47
- Adarius Bowman, Oklahoma St., 6-2 7/8, 223, 4.67
1. Chris Long Virginia 6-3 272 4.75
2. Vernon Gholston Ohio St. 6-3 266 4.67
3. Phillip Merling Clemson 6-41/4 276 4.75
4. Derrick Harvey Florida 6-45/8 271 4.83
5. Quentin Groves Auburn 6-3 259 4.57
6. Lawrence Jackson USC 6-41/4 271 4.76
7. Calais Campbell Miami (FL) 6-73/4 290 5.04
8. Jason Jones Eastern Michigan 6-51/4 273 4.74
9. Chris Ellis Virginia Tech 6-41/4 263 4.71
10. Jeremy Thompson Wake Forest 6-43/8 264 4.75
And at DT we got:
1. Glenn Dorsey L.S.U. 6-11/2 297 5.05
2. Sedrick Ellis USC 6-01/2 309 5.23
3. Kentwan Balmer North Carolina 6-41/2 308 5.28
4. Pat Sims Auburn 6-21/8 310 5.11
5. Trevor Laws Notre Dame 6-03/4 304 5.06
6. Red Bryant Texas A&M 6-41/8 318 5.04
7. Marcus Harrison Arkansas 6-23/4 317 4.98
8. Dre Moore Maryland 6-4 305 4.86
9. Ahtyba Rubin Iowa St. 6-23/4 315 5.22
At S we have:
1. Kenny Phillips Miami (FL) 6-21/4 212 4.55
2. Reggie Smith Oklahoma 6-01/2 199 4.45
3. DaJuan Morgan North Carolina St. 6-01/8 205 4.54
4. Thomas DeCoud California 6-13/8 207 4.50
5. Tyrell Johnson Arkansas St. 5-117/8 207 4.45
6. Tom Zbikowski Notre Dame 5-111/4 211 4.55
7. Craig Steltz L.S.U. 6-13/8 213 4.60
And finally at CB we have:
1. Leodis McKelvin Troy 5-101/4 190 4.38
2. Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie Tennessee St. 6-11/2 184 4.33
3. Mike Jenkins South Florida 5-101/4 197 4.40
4. Aqib Talib Kansas 6-03/4 202 4.45
5. Patrick Lee Auburn 6-0 200 4.42
6. Antoine Cason Arizona 6-01/4 191 4.48
7. Tracy Porter Indiana 5-107/8 188 4.37
8. Justin King Penn St. 5-107/8 192 4.31
9. Charles Godfrey Iowa 5-113/4 207 4.44
10. Brandon Flowers Virginia Tech 5-93/4 189 4.58
11. Tyvon Branch Connecticut 5-113/8 204 4.31
12. Terrell Thomas USC 6-01/2 202 4.49
13. Chevis Jackson L.S.U. 6-0 192 4.62
Those are the players at the positions of need in the NFL Draft Countdown's top 100. So, all we have to do is mix and match to find a 1st, 2nd, and 3rd rounder from that last that fills multiple needs. And here's where the mock draft fun begins. So, for the, say, Mile High Report mock draft, you have to wait and see who's available at pick #21... but keeping in mind who you think will be availaible at other positions of need in the 2nd round and 3rd round.
Based on the team needs and looking at the players on all three lists... I'd go with any of the top 4 CBs listed. If they're gone before pick #21, I'd probably go with either WR Sweed or Kelly. Personally, I like Kelly more but those two are the two I'd be looking at there.
I think DE will have some talented players that fall into the second round, but there are a few I would look at in the first. I think that outside of maybe Ellis or Balmer, there is not going to be a DT at the 21st pick worth taking there. Dorsey and Ellis will probably be gone. I'm happy with the Skins' safeties... so I would wait and draft someone like Steltz or Zbikowski in the 3rd or wait even further for someone like Griffin out of Texas.
So, then my first round list of possible selections becomes (in no particualr order):
CB - Leodis McKelvin,
WR - Limas Sweed,
DT - Sedrick Ellis,
DE - Phillip Merling,
What do you think? Any glaring omissions or any problems with my logic? Hit up the comments.