Evan Silva

Offseason Low Down

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Pre-Draft NFL Lineup Rankings

Tuesday, April 09, 2013



9. Washington Redskins

QB: Robert Griffin III
RB: Alfred Morris
FB: Darrel Young
WR: Pierre Garcon
WR: Josh Morgan
TE: Fred Davis
LT: Trent Williams
LG: Kory Lichtensteiger
C: Will Montgomery
RG: Chris Chester
RT: Tyler Polumbus

Offensive Overview: This ranking assumes all goes well with Griffin's right knee. By all accounts, his recovery thus far is "ahead of schedule." Returning all five offensive line starters, the Redskins pound defenses into submission with the run game. When RG3 is healthy, they also field a quick-strike, bomb-happy vertical passing attack that hit peak performance when Garcon was healthy last season. Davis, once a catch-first tight end, has developed into a plus run blocker and may make more of an impact there coming off a torn Achilles' tendon. The Skins haven't lost anyone from their top-five offense.

LE: Jarvis Jenkins
RE: Stephen Bowen
NT: Barry Cofield
ILB: London Fletcher
ILB: Perry Riley
OLB: Brian Orakpo
OLB: Ryan Kerrigan
RCB: Josh Wilson
LCB: DeAngelo Hall
FS: DeJon Gomes
SS: Brandon Meriweather

Defensive Overview: The Redskins brought back Hall for nearly $7 million less than his originally-scheduled salary and return all 11 starters from last year's defense. Washington remains suspect in the secondary, though top edge rusher Orakpo is back from his torn pectoral and ferocious pass rush can mask back-end deficiencies. The front seven is strong, but the defensive backfield must still be addressed in April's draft. Hall, Gomes, and Meriweather are all borderline starters or worse. After the RG3 trade, Washington won’t draft in this year’s first round but has seven picks, beginning at No. 51.

10. New York Giants

QB: Eli Manning
RB: David Wilson
FB: Henry Hynoski
WR: Hakeem Nicks
WR: Victor Cruz
TE: Brandon Myers*
LT: Will Beatty
LG: Kevin Boothe
C: David Baas
RG: Chris Snee
RT: David Diehl

Offensive Overview: With Nicks due back at full health, the Giants return an explosive skill-position corps with home-run capability in the backfield and out wide. Wilson is talented enough to emerge as one of the league's most dynamic ball carriers. He'll be complemented by power back and short-yardage specialist Andre Brown. Losing Martellus Bennett stings, but Myers caught 79 balls in 2012 and is among the most efficient pass-catching tight ends in football. Beatty, Baas, and Snee are strong offensive line starters. Left guard and right tackle will host camp competitions.

LE: Justin Tuck
RE: Jason Pierre-Paul
DT: Linval Joseph
DT: Cullen Jenkins*
MLB: Mark Herzlich
WLB: Jacquian Williams
SLB: Keith Rivers
LCB: Corey Webster
RCB: Prince Amukamara
FS: Stevie Brown
SS: Antrel Rolle

Defensive Overview: The Giants still have the makings of a strong, deep front four, but their back seven is a major concern. Kept after a pay cut, Webster's return isn't necessarily good news barring a dramatic turnaround in his age-31 season. Amukamara looks like he'll be a solid starter, but nickel back is another weakness. All three linebacker positions will be open to competition with Mathias Kiwanuka moving back to defensive end following a sluggish 2012 season. Tuck, 30, isn't the player he once was. GM Jerry Reese is the best in the business, but this defense needs work. He has eight picks in April’s draft.

11. Houston Texans

QB: Matt Schaub
RB: Arian Foster

FB: Greg Jones*

WR: Andre Johnson
WR: Lestar Jean
TE: Owen Daniels
LT: Duane Brown
LG: Wade Smith
C: Chris Myers
RG: Ben Jones
RT: Derek Newton

Offensive Overview: The Texans have a plethora of concerns on offense. The right side of the line was a major 2012 liability, run blocking particularly poorly. There is no viable No. 2 wide receiver. Now 32, Schaub's on-field performance is slipping. By the end of last season, he was Houston's single biggest problem. The Texans were low on cap space in free agency and lacked funds to upgrade. It will be interesting to see whether Foster begins to decline. He's averaged a league-high 372 touches the past three seasons and his YPC average has dipped each year.

LE: J.J. Watt
RE: Antonio Smith
NT: Earl Mitchell
ILB: Brian Cushing
ILB: Darryl Sharpton
OLB: Brooks Reed
OLB: Whitney Mercilus
RCB: Kareem Jackson
LCB: Johnathan Joseph
FS: Ed Reed*
SS: Danieal Manning

Defensive Overview: Defense is the Texans' strength, but this unit is not without flaws. All of Houston's free-agent efforts were poured into Reed, who may or may not be worth it going on age 35. Inside linebacker next to Cushing, nose tackle, and outside 'backer all face concerning turnover. Watt, Cushing, Smith, Joseph, and Manning give the Texans five beastly defenders -- and Mercilus has the potential to join them -- but GM Rick Smith must emerge from the draft with a defensive starter or two while also selecting a No. 2 receiver. Smith has nine draft picks this year, including four in the top 95.

12. Indianapolis Colts

QB: Andrew Luck
RB: Vick Ballard
WR: Reggie Wayne
WR: T.Y. Hilton
TE: Dwayne Allen
TE: Coby Fleener
LT: Anthony Castonzo
LG: Donald Thomas*
C: Samson Satele
RG: Mike McGlynn
RT: Gosder Cherilus*

Offensive Overview: The Colts were aggressive about upgrading their leaky line in free agency. Cherilus' five-year, $34.5 million payday made him the NFL's second highest paid right tackle, but Cherilus was a terrific pass protector for the 2012 Lions and flashes a mean streak in the run game. Thomas, 27, is just beginning to come into his own. Indianapolis still must upgrade at right guard and find a more explosive complement to workmanlike Ballard. Drop-prone Donnie Avery's departure is addition by subtraction, pushing dynamic Hilton into a featured role. Free-agent flier Darrius Heyward-Bey will push promising LaVon Brazill for third-receiver and situational deep threat snaps. On paper, the Colts' offense is trending toward a top eight or nine group.

LE: Cory Redding
RE: Ricky Jean-Francois*
NT: Josh Chapman
ILB: Jerrell Freeman
ILB: Kavell Conner
OLB: Robert Mathis
OLB: Erik Walden*
RCB: Vontae Davis
LCB: Greg Toler*
FS: Antoine Bethea
SS: LaRon Landry*

Defensive Overview: Owner Jim Irsay and GM Ryan Grigson poured funds into this unit. Jean-Francois (four-year, $22 million deal) gives Indy some credibility on a defensive line that got pushed around last season. Walden (four years, $16 million) signed one of the most surprising deals of free agency. He may be stretched as the outside rusher Indianapolis sorely needs. Toler (three years, $14.25 million) is a solid, up-and-coming cover man and a likely upgrade on Jerraud Powers. Landry (four years, $24 million) will add edge to a defense that's been lacking it. Grigson was particularly aggressive in free agency at least partially because he only has six draft picks this year.

13. New Orleans Saints

QB: Drew Brees
RB: Darren Sproles
WR: Marques Colston
WR: Lance Moore
WR: Joe Morgan
TE: Jimmy Graham
LT: Charles Brown
LG: Ben Grubbs
C: Brian De La Puente
RG: Jahri Evans
RT: Zach Strief

Offensive Overview: The Saints believe Jermon Bushrod's departure to Chicago will be merely a glancing blow. GM Mickey Loomis and coach Sean Payton have always prioritized the interior offensive line over the exterior, leaning on Brees' quick release to atone for any protection deficiencies at tackle. Former second-round pick Brown also possesses ample talent to replace Bushrod, if not prove an upgrade. Durability is Brown's biggest concern. Ultimately, New Orleans' offense projects to be as explosive as ever. Payton is back, and they'll return all but one starter.

LE: Cameron Jordan
RE: Akiem Hicks
NT: Brodrick Bunkley
ILB: Curtis Lofton
ILB: David Hawthorne
OLB: Victor Butler*
OLB: Junior Galette
CB: Jabari Greer
CB: Keenan Lewis*
FS: Malcolm Jenkins
SS: Roman Harper

Defensive Overview: The 2012 Saints ranked dead last in total defense. Aside from the systemic 3-4 shift, they're not turning the unit upside down. Hawthorne was a poor fit for outgoing coordinator Steve Spagnuolo's defense, but he's a thumper suited for Rob Ryan's scheme. The Butler addition gives New Orleans much-needed edge speed, though he struggles versus the run and may be best suited for a specialist role. The Saints do have promising rush linebacker prospects in Butler, Galette, and Martez Wilson, who are all 25 or younger. Lewis, a zone corner in Pittsburgh who will play man in New Orleans, was the club's big-ticket free agent. Brees and Payton's offense will still carry this team, hoping the defense can simply compete. Lacking second- and seventh-round picks, the Saints will draft only five times in April.

14. Pittsburgh Steelers

QB: Ben Roethlisberger
RB: Jonathan Dwyer
FB: David Johnson
WR: Antonio Brown
WR: Emmanuel Sanders
WR: Jerricho Cotchery
LT: Marcus Gilbert
LG: Ramon Foster
C: Maurkice Pouncey
RG: David DeCastro
RT: Mike Adams

Offensive Overview: Heath Miller is not listed because he tore his ACL, MCL, and PCL in December and won't be ready for Week 1. Sanders may depart in restricted free agency. Mike Wallace is gone to Miami. The Steelers don't have a starting-caliber running back on the roster and have publicly acknolwedged as much. Roethlisberger's presence and a seemingly promising on-paper line keep this unit competitive, but Pittsburgh's offensive playmaking ability has eroded rapidly. The Steelers must attack the skill positions in the draft. GM Kevin Colbert will pick eight times in April.

LE: Ziggy Hood
RE: Brett Keisel
NT: Steve McLendon
ILB: Lawrence Timmons
ILB: Larry Foote
OLB: LaMarr Woodley
OLB: Jason Worilds
RCB: Ike Taylor
LCB: Cortez Allen
FS: Ryan Clark
SS: Troy Polamalu

Defensive Overview: The 2012 Steelers ranked first in total defense, first in pass defense, and second against the run. The Dick LeBeau factor means Pittsburgh's defense will almost certainly remain stout, but it's a group in significant flux. Gone are stalwart outside 'backer James Harrison, nose tackle Casey Hampton, and left corner Keenan Lewis. Potential in-house replacements Worilds, McLendon, and Allen are largely unproven. The Steelers will have a good defense in 2013, but will it be good enough to carry the team? This is a borderline playoff lineup. Pittsburgh's top-to-bottom roster talent is beginning to deteriorate, so this will be a crucial draft for Colbert.

15. Cincinnati Bengals

QB: Andy Dalton
RB: BenJarvus Green-Ellis
FB: Chris Pressley
WR: A.J. Green
WR: Mohamed Sanu
TE: Jermaine Gresham
LT: Andrew Whitworth
LG: Clint Boling
C: Kyle Cook
RG: Kevin Zeitler
RT: Anthony Collins

Offensive Overview: Even if penny-pinching owner Mike Brown gets free agent RT Andre Smith re-signed, this is an offense in need of a talent infusion. Dalton didn't improve in his second year and is shaping up as an inconsistent quarterback incapable of shouldering the offensive load. Green and the front five are fantastic, but the backfield is desperate for a playmaking ball carrier. The Bengals have ten picks this year, including four in the top 84. They need more speed on offense.

LE: Carlos Dunlap
RE: Michael Johnson
DT: Geno Atkins
DT: Domata Peko
MLB: Rey Maualuga
WLB: Vontaze Burfict
SLB: James Harrison
RCB: Leon Hall
LCB: Terence Newman
FS: Taylor Mays
SS: Reggie Nelson

Defensive Overview: The Bengals' most notable moves have been re-signings. Johnson was franchise tagged. Maualuga and reserve defensive linemen Robert Geathers and Wallace Gilberry return, as does nickel back Pacman Jones. Keeping together a top-six defense makes plenty of sense, but strong-side linebacker, left corner, and free safety should all be open to training camp competitions. Cincinnati's defense remains a strength.

16. Kansas City Chiefs

QB: Alex Smith*
RB: Jamaal Charles
WR: Dwayne Bowe
WR: Donnie Avery*
TE: Tony Moeaki
TE: Anthony Fasano*
LT: Branden Albert
LG: Jeff Allen
C: Rodney Hudson
RG: Jon Asamoah
RT: Donald Stephenson

Offensive Overview: New GM John Dorsey and coach Andy Reid had to love the idea of taking over a talented if underachieving roster. The Chiefs are clearly the second strongest club in the AFC West. Retaining Bowe and Albert while adding role players like Avery, Fasano, and game-manager Smith suggests Reid and Dorsey liked most of the pieces in place. No offense quarterbacked by Smith is going to threaten for the top ten in points scored, but it can flirt with the top 15. Even if he's a mere stopgap solution, Smith is capable of high-percentage, turnover-free football. He will be managed and manipulated by established quarterbacks guru Reid.

LE: Mike DeVito*
RE: Tyson Jackson
NT: Dontari Poe
ILB: Derrick Johnson
ILB: Akeem Jordan
OLB: Tamba Hali
OLB: Justin Houston
LCB: Brandon Flowers
RCB: Sean Smith*
FS: Dunta Robinson*
SS: Eric Berry

Defensive Overview: No defense with two high-quality outside rushers (Houston, Hali) and a top-flight corner (Flowers) should be as bad as the 2012 Chiefs were. But Kansas City got pushed around in the run game and eaten alive at right cornerback. Reid and Dorsey identified those weaknesses, shoring them up with run-plugger DeVito and natural press corner Smith. One of the league's better tackling defensive backs, Robinson may play free safety on early downs and cover the slot in the nickel. The Chiefs look much better and still have eight draft picks, including No. 1 overall.


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Evan Silva is a senior football editor for Rotoworld.com. He can be found on Twitter .
Email :Evan Silva



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