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Evaluating The Roster Heading Into Free Agency And The Draft


JulioHOFer
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QB-

We've got the first thing every team in this league needs, a franchise QB. Ryan (27) had his best season, just like he has every year in his career. How do you know if you have a franchise QB? Do you expect him to go down the field and win the game on the last drive? Without question I do and you can bet he is highly respected around the league. Ryan has even found ways to get it done with seconds left on the clock instead of minutes. Ryan also demonstrated great toughness in the last game of our season, not missing a snap.

I fully expect Ryan to be even better and put up even more absurd numbers. Watch some of his highlights from this year and see how he dropped balls into tiny inches wide windows. That's something you either have or you don't and Ryan definately has it. Consider that Gonzalez was open on that 4th and 4 pass interference not called play and that Ryan would have had time to find him if a LB wasn't coming in unblocked and think of how great he will be once we improve the OL.

Backup McCown is a UFA and may be replaced by another vet for cheap or we may go with Davis as the 2nd QB and look to add a late pick or UDFA. We should be more focused on making sure Ryan gets protected better than his backup.

RB-

Turner built this into a respectable team from a bad one but his time may be up. He is 30 and has a large cap hit and may be cut to free up space. This is a passing team now and his style doesn't quite fit. If he can't catch on with another team he certainly deserves a chance to come back and get a ring with us, he deserves it.

Rodgers (22) as of right now will get a chance to be the featured ball carrier in this pass first offense. The staff tried to force that some this last season and Rodgers responded with some good things behind some bad run blocking. He definately impressed with his run vs Sea. He could be even better next season especially with improved blocking and is very young. I like him as an inside runner but the reality is he lacks homerun speed. He can still be a very productive player but we need to add a speed back. He had 53 receptions but averaged 7.6yds with only 17 first downs and 1 TD

Snelling (29) Barely got to touch the ball and was used more as a receiver than runner, but was less efficient than Rodgers. In the playoffs the times he did get to touch it he ran like it was the last time he'd get to touch the ball. He may be in line for more touches if Turner is cut but may be pushed down the depth chart again by further moves. He may see time at FB or as a 2nd RB if Gonzalez retires and we go with more 3 WR 2 RB sets.

I see Turner most likely being cut, Rodgers getting a shot at a starter, but we need to address the lack of speed at RB. We could do it with an impact FA like Reggie Bush or a cheap one like Larod Stephens Howling but the best way is probably to use a early-mid round draft pick on a rookie with blazing speed. Ideally one that can contribute as a weapon in the return game too.

The offense is lacking a RB with that homerun speed that is always a threat, can rip off those big runs when the defense is focusing on the receivers, and can get big gains as a checkdown receiver. Adding an explosive RB as a runner and receiver will add a new dimension to the offense and offset the potential loss of Gonzalez.

FB-

The 3rd pick of last years draft was 5th round pick Bradie Ewing. He got injured last year and will get a chance to secure the job. Mike Cox is a UFA. Snelling may see some snaps here.

The front office obviously felt good enough about Ewing to take him when we didn't have many picks. His team bio says he had 30 touchdown blocks his senior year, maybe he gets healthy and provides a much needed spark to the run blocking and a bodyguard for Ryan.

TE-

The big wildcard here is Gonzalez. I have a feeling he'll be back. He'll probably take his time. The best thing the team can do is prepare as if he is retiring by improving the OL, adding a speed RB, and getting ready to draft a TE, and when he decides he wants to come back you can bet we'll find a way to make room.

Even if he does decide to retire I don't want to waste cap room on any of the FA TEs. Palmer is a RFA and Coffman is a UFA. I think our best option is to take a TE in the midrounds where great value can be found like Gronk, Hernandez, Finley and others. While we could certainly use an athletic young mismatch TE, it may be easier and more helpful to find a big bodied TE like a Kyle Rudolph. A guy who can be a factor as run and pass blocker, and who gives us a tough big body with big hands over the middle that we don't have in Douglas.

WR-

Jones (23) beasted even harder in his 2nd season as expected and emerged as a dominant force while staying healthy for every game (13 reg season games played as a rookie). He makes the spectacular look routine and is as deadly a physical talent as you will find in the league. He and White basically split duty as #1 receivers. Next season he will take over as the clear #1 target and beastmode even more. He and Ryan are going to give defenses nightmares for a VERY long time. I loved the beginning of the 9er game when we just got the ball to Julio and let him take over the game, I have a very hard time understanding why we went away from him and to Douglas with the game on the line. Hopefully the coaches learned from that.

White (31) turned in another workhorse season like he always does, and the continued emergence of Jones helped White post his highest avg per catch since 2008 and 3rd highest yardage total. He and Jones are the best WR duo in the game. Jones taking over as the workhorse next season with Roddy as the #2 will continue to create opportunities for White and prolong his career by saving him defensive attention. He will continue to produce at a high level for another 2-4 years

Douglas (28) had an underwhelming season statistically as he always seems to, but we should consider that without even including the RBs he's behind Jones, White and Gonzalez. He did seem quite involved as a blocker in our screen game though. I wish that with the game on the line we forced the ball to our big 3 receivers instead of Douglas, or atleast got him involved earlier in the game if we were going to go to him in the crunch.

If Gonzalez retires Douglas will certainly get a shot at more targets, especially if we're trying to bring along a rookie TE. I don;t want Douglas catching passes over the middle tho we should look to get it to him in space and on screens, and use his speed to attack defenses deep. Use a big bodied TE for those tough catches over the middle.

WR is certainly one of if not our strongest unit, at the top anyways. We could use some depth and I wouldn't mind a speedy WR who can contribute as a returner in the mid-late rounds. We will run a lot of 3 WR set but have no 4 WR and may need that depth over the course of the season.

OL-

The OL seemed better in pass protection but not good run blocking and not great overall. Not quite a playoff caliber line.

Baker (27) apparently played a bit better but I saw him leave the QB hanging out to dry plenty of times and has a history of back problems. Maybe he gets resigned for relatively cheap but if we're going to be spending big money I'd prefer to try to upgrade with Jake Long who should be available, and give Ryan a real franchise LT he can trust.

Blalock (29) is one of the few parts of the OL you can feel confident about

Konz (23) should replace McClure at C, giving us a much needed upgrade in size. That should help improve the run blocking and ability to anchor a pocket. Konz took his licks at guard as a rookie against the likes of Suh and hopefully shows a good leap in his 2nd year settling in at C.

Clabo (31) has been our RT but I think with his size his best fit right now could be RG, where no one stood out and we need someone with Blalocks size like Clabo to actually move DTs and anchor the pocket. At 330 Clabo gives us that, and allows us to get more athletecism at the OT spot in this passing offense

Holmes (23) was a 3rd round rookie while Konz was a 2nd. I don't think Holmes saw much action as a rookie and is a real wildcard here. He's got great size at 6'5 333. If the staff thinks he's a LT and is ready that would open the option of letting Baker walk and replacing him with Holmes, then focusing on getting a RT or RG. I think a much more realistic option though would be starting Holmes at RT, which would allow us to upgrade our size at RG and C with Clabo and Konz. It would also open the option of starting Holmes at 1 tackle spot and then grabbing an OT with our 1st rounder.

Hawley (24) didn't do much to distinguish himself and has the look of a backup interior OL at this point. Primarily a C with his size

Johnson (25) was a 3rd round pick in the draft that Hawley was a 4th. Johnson has better size at 6'6 but has not distinguished himself either and has been injured. Right now he looks like a backup G/RT

Baker could be resigned, upgraded through FA or even replaced by Holmes or a rookie. Whether it's through FA or the 1st or 2nd round (no more mid rounders) I think we need to add 1 talented OL whether that's replacing Baker or to fill the void at RG/RT. I think Konz will start at C and be better than as a rookie, and hopefully Holmes can emerge as a starter. I'm not confident in Johnson or Hawley emerging as an impact player. I think the safest way to upgrade the OL is instead of paying injury prone Baker we spend on a franchise LT like Long, making everyone else better combined with the young draft picks stepping in

Up next Defense and Special Teams

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I think training camp will be brutal. Many of the faces you see as starters now will be hitting the bricks. I think Pat Hill will make changes, Nolan will get a couple of pass rushers (hopefully Mass steps it up) and Koetter will get another runner (a fast bruiser like an Ivory). There will be some hard core cuts. I believe turner is done.

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DE-

After much deliberation I have concluded that DE is the biggest need on the team, bigger than DT, simply because we have a tiny bit more at DT. In this scheme and the league in general you need to have the horses up front that can stuff the run and get to the QB. When you don't you get the result we got, they get worn down and you lose. This team had the opportunity to get players like Peppers and Wimbley and passed for the likes of Anderson and Edwards, and it's cost us. It was like some kind of sick karmic joke when Abe was injured in week 17.

Abe is 34 and always fighting through injuries. Despite being the only pass rusher and his age and injuries he puts up sacks and fumbles every year with teams knowing he's the only threat. A legend but the time to bring him help and get an understudy is well overdue. He will continue to produce as long as he wants to play but he needs to be limited to purely pass rush downs and no garbage time or garbage games.

Biermann (27) has established what he is. A late round pick that turned into a solid contributor who can give you some tackles, a few sacks a season and even the occasional pick six. He's not a game changer or every down player. He's a solid #3/4 DE you sub in. We need to bring in a legit pass rusher to compliment Abe on pass downs, and Biermann can play run downs for Abe

Sidbury (26), Massaquoi (24), and Matthews (23) combined to produce - absolutely nothing. 9 tackles and no sacks, stuffs or any kind of plays. And Edwards the bumb was cut.

It's pretty clear DE is the biggest need and it seems pretty straightforward how to address. 1st we need a PROVEN vet DE pass rusher, not another bust like Cliff Avril or Michael Johnson. Dwight Freeney and Osi Umenyiora should both be available and both are exactly what we need. Because of their age (32 and 31) they should be cheaper than the less accomplished younger guys. Freeney is my choice because at 268 he has the size needed to be an impact run player and has been more productive over his career, no public whining, and even produced with CURTIS PAINTER at QB losing every game. You might be saying we don't need more old guys. Thats why

2nd we need to draft an athletic pass rushing DE in either the 1st or 2nd round to contribute as a rookie and develop as the heir to Abe. Then we're looking at a group of Freeney, Abe, Biermann, Rookie 1st/2nd rounder. Freeney and Biermann can handle the base D. Freeney and Abe kill the QB on 3rd and when we have a lead. The rookie can be the 3rd pass rusher subbing in and possibly contribute in the base as well. Finally we're looking at a DE group resembling a playoff unit. Pretending Biermann will turn into a double digit sack guy or these no names that did nothing are going to become factors is not a plan for success.

DT-

Like I said, DT is the 2nd biggest need behind DE, and only because we have a little bit more right now. This team gets GASHED in the run game, and as a result gets worn down by the 4th Q, often after starting the game looking great. The team also gets burned by play action and the LBs get stuck in no mans land. We need a legit DT to stuff the run, free up the other DL and LBs and set up 3rd and long.

Babineaux (31) Is our best DT and is a perfect example of what I'm talking about. He's a quick, undersized DT. With no big DT beside him he's getting double teamed and can't use his quickness to penetrate, and gets worn down from getting run blocked so he can't get to the QB when it's time to. He still turned in some decent production, leading the team with 8 runs stuffed. A legit DT would eat up double teams giving him single blocking to make plays, setting up 3rd and long and keeping him fresh so he can rush the QB.

Peters (24) played in 10 regular season games but basically lost this year to injury, not producing much at all. Hopefully he gets healthy and comes back strong as a quality contributor. He has the look of a good #3 or 4 DT

Jerry (28) has continued to disappoint, it seems he has never recovered from his rookie injury. I wish he could get healthy but it seems he may be cut to free up space or simply based on production. Carrying him all year again with the idea that this time it will work wont look too smart if it doesnt.

Walker (25) is a UFA and was our 2nd most productive DT (statistically anyways) this year, thanks to the void created by Peters and Jerry. He had a few sacks and stuffs. He may be resigned for cheap but we won't overpay (I hope). He's a good #4 DT

Robertson (24) only had 2 tackles

Clearly what this team needs is a legit beast DT to make everyone better. It's possible to find one through the draft obviously but it can be hard for rookie DTs to make an impact and we're drafting 30, plus it is a big FA DT crop. At first I thought sign 1 long term and 1 short term but I think we can get by with 1 FA to go with Babs, Peters and Robertson entering the draft.

We need a 2 gapper like Terrance Knighton, Roy Miller, Sammie Hill, Pat Sims, Alan Branch to anchor the line of scrimmage for this team and make everyone on the defense better.

LB-

Nicholas and Spoon led the team in tackles but the LBs had a disappointing season overall, especially in the playoffs. There is some talent there and an improved DL will certainly show it. It could be a situation that needs just depth or it could be a situation that needs a starter added.

Spoon (25) was expected and needed to step up as a leader and take his game to another level this season. He missed 3 regular season games but recorded his first FF and INT. His production dropped in tackles, sacks (from 4 to 3), passes defensed (8 to 4) and run stuffs (10 to 4). He still made some big plays but he's capable of a lot more. The first step is like I said, bringing in that massive DT that can keep the OL off the LBs and free everyone up. I think the 2nd thing is Spoon is our best young defensive talent under contract and the scheme needs to be built around him. I say we move him to MLB permenantly, with that big hulking DT right infront of him. I strongly believe you want your best players as close as possible to the football at all times and moving him to MLB does just that.

Nicholas (29) Statistically put up a season almost identical to Spoon's, the best of his career, though it might not have looked that way against SF. Nicholas is a quality LB, not elite but a contributor, and he can do some things like help as a pass rusher when allowed. I dont think he has a big contract and will likely be a starter again next year. The question is will he be the 2nd LB with Spoon in the nickel? How much of the inability to cover the TE was on him or anyone else and how much did it have to do with the vulnerable DL? Time will tell

Dent (25) didn't do much to stand out as the starter at MLB other than 5 run stuffs and 2 passes defensed. Like I said I think we should put our best young defender at MLB in Spoon and build the scheme around him. Dent can compete for the OLB spot opposite Nicholas. Unless the staff believes that in his 3rd season he's going to make this major leap in production which I doubt

Peterson (36) is a UFA and will be let retire. I've seen him in there on goal line D and not sure why

James (29) may get a chance to compete for an OLB spot but is likely just a career special teamer

At LB we may just go with the same trio and look to add depth in an athletic OLB we hope can develop into a cover LB in the nickel. A good FA pickup might be Thomas Howard (29) who is coming off injury and should be cheap but had 6 INTs in 1 season as a LB. We may end up signing a FA LB but I dont see it as needs are too high elsewwhere like the DL. I can definately see us adding a LB in the mid rounds, and maybe another late for depth/special teams. Overall I think Spoon wil l beast at MLB with a good DT, and Nicholas may prove good enough as a 2nd LB with a fixed DL, and those TE problems may go away

CB-

Samuel (32) came over to man the #1 corner spot for I believe a 7th round pick. Not a bad return at all, but how long can he produce? I imagine another year or 2. He's not to be left 1 on 1 on an island vs a deep threat but can be very productive as a ballhawk and we need to keep a safety over the top so he can attack the football. He played in 15 regular season games and both playoff games but battled a shoulder injury. He had 5 INTs (1 pick six) and 19 passes broken up, and 2 postseason passes defensed. I had concerns about him as tackler/run defense and he did struggle with that at times.

Robinson (30) is almost opposite of Samuel, he seems to lack ball skills but can't wait to hit people. He was 3rd on the team in tackles (5 tackles behind the leader). I don't know if that's because passes were being completed on him, or because of scheme or because he was just getting to the football. He was 2nd on the team with 6 tackles for loss. He also had 1.5 sacks, a FF, an INT and 8 passes defensed, adding that goal line fumble in the postseason but no passes defensed. If Grimes stayed healthy he probably would have had a lot more chances to blitz out of the slot

Grimes (29) Is a UFA, he's undersized with good ball skills and a good player but I expect he will be let sign else where because the DL is such a bigger need

McClain (24) is a RFA who was a waiver/FA and ended up with the nickel job. He produced some with 2 fumble recoveries, an INT, 10 passes defensed and a run stuff. He'll be the favorite for the nickel spot at the moment, we will likely draft a CB in the mid rounds to compete, hopefully one who can contribute as a returner

Owens (26) is a UFA I suspect will be let walk

Franks (25) I see listed as a UFA but is a 3rd year player so would be a RFA. He will get a chance to compete for a backup spot.

I don't think we'll have the room to resign Grimes, and will likely draft a CB to compete with McClain and develop, possibly 2. Ideally we draft CBs with KR/PR ability

Safeties-

Moore (27) is a UFA and will have to be resigned or replaced. He is a game changer who has an elite skill set but has struggled with durability. He has speed, size, ball skills and will knock you out. He can get sacks and run stuffs, force fumbles, and he can get INTs and passes broken up. He missed almost all of his rookie season, stayed healthy the next year, and missed 4 games each of the last 2 seasons. He hasnt missed a playoff game. If he hadn't had injuries he would have been a good candidate to already be extended. Hopefully the durability concerns don't derail contract negotiations.

Decoud (27) got extended last offseason (I wanted to sign someone else) had career highs in INTs 6, passes defensed 9 and run stuffs 3. He has good range and some ball skills but can struggle as a tackler. He's listed as 6'2 so he needs to pack a bit of weight and muscle onto his frame and atleast get up to around 200 so he can tackle people.

Hope (32) was our 3rd safety and is a UFA. Its an important position with Moores injury history. Hope may be let retire due to age

Mitchell (23) Only had 1 tackle as a rookie The staff may be expecting a bigger role for him in the future

Moore should be resigned and we may let Hope walk and look to draft a safety in the late rounds to compete for depth

SPECIAL TEAMS

K Bryant (37) Certainly seemed to produce at a high level this season, making clutch kicks look routine.

Bosher is the punter and I dont have much to say regarding him

What is missing terribly is a kick and punt returner with breakaway speed. We should add 2. Ideally through the draft via speed RB, CB or WR

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