Evan Silva

Offseason Low Down

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Pre-Draft NFL Lineup Rankings

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

17. Minnesota Vikings

QB: Christian Ponder
RB: Adrian Peterson
FB: Jerome Felton
WR: Greg Jennings*
WR: Jerome Simpson
TE: Kyle Rudolph
LT: Matt Kalil
LG: Charlie Johnson
C: John Sullivan
RG: Brandon Fusco
RT: Phil Loadholt

Offensive Overview: The line looks great and returns all five starters. Peterson would be a Hall of Famer if he retired today. Jennings helps. Rudolph should keep getting better. The fate of the Vikings' offense rests squarely on Ponder's shoulders. To this point in his career, Ponder has showed enough good and decidedly awful flashes that it could go either way. GM Rick Spielman's most head-scratching move was re-signing Simpson, who is more likely to remain a burden on Ponder than further his progression. Simpson is among the least efficient receivers in the league.

LE: Brian Robison
RE: Jared Allen
DT: Kevin Williams
DT: Letroy Guion
MLB: Audie Cole
WLB: Erin Henderson
SLB: Chad Greenway
RCB: Chris Cook
LCB: Josh Robinson
FS: Harrison Smith
SS: Jamarca Sanford

Defensive Overview: Trading Percy Harvin and cutting Antoine Winfield stripped the Vikings of two of their best three players. Minnesota will turn to 2012 third-round pick Robinson to fill the Winfield void. Robinson is coming off an up-and-down rookie year. Holes remain at middle linebacker and strong safety. After the Harvin swap, the Vikings have ten draft picks, including two first-rounders (Nos. 23 and 25) and six selections in the top 120. Perhaps no team in the league is better positioned to trade up.

18. Dallas Cowboys

QB: Tony Romo
RB: DeMarco Murray
FB: Lawrence Vickers
WR: Dez Bryant
WR: Miles Austin
TE: Jason Witten
LT: Tyron Smith
LG: Nate Livings
C: Phil Costa
RG: Mackenzy Bernadeau
RT: Doug Free

Offensive Overview: Poor contract management and cap penalties left the Cowboys with no room to operate in free agency. They boast a top-ten skill-position corps, but the line is a huge weakness. The right side of Bernadeau and Free has disaster potential, and Costa has been unable to stay healthy. In the draft, Dallas will pray UNC's Jonathan Cooper lasts to the 18th pick.

LE: Anthony Spencer
RE: DeMarcus Ware
DT: Jay Ratliff
DT: Jason Hatcher
MLB: Sean Lee
WLB: Bruce Carter
SLB: Justin Durant*
LCB: Brandon Carr
RCB: Morris Claiborne
FS: Matt Johnson
SS: Barry Church

Defensive Overview: Transitioning from a 3-4 to 4-3 defense under Monte Kiffin, Dallas has pieces to field a formidable front seven. Lee and Carter can be star 4-3 linebackers, while Ware and Spencer are capable of generating consistent, down-to-down pressure. The interior defensive line and both safety spots are suspect. So too is the run defense as the Cowboys will field one of the smallest front fours in football. All in all, this projected starting lineup is decidedly mediocre. The Cowboys desperately need Jerry Jones to put his six draft picks to productive use.

19. Miami Dolphins

QB: Ryan Tannehill
RB: Lamar Miller
FB: Jorvorskie Lane
WR: Mike Wallace*
WR: Brian Hartline
TE: Dustin Keller*
LT: Jonathan Martin
LG: Richie Incognito
C: Mike Pouncey
RG: Lance Louis*
RT: Nate Garner

Offensive Overview: Wallace and Keller give Miami the capability of stretching the field and separating from defenders, elements the 2012 offense lacked entirely. The Fins' new biggest concern is protecting Tannehill. Presumed left tackle Martin -- Jake Long's penciled-in replacement -- was annihilated by pass rushers as a rookie. Miller oozes potential, but can't be relied upon as a 300-carry workhorse. Upgrading on fumble- and concussion-prone No. 2 back Daniel Thomas must be among GM Jeff Ireland's highest draft priorities. After the Brandon Marshall and Vontae Davis trades, Ireland is working with 11 picks, including an impressive five in the top 82.

LE: Cameron Wake
RE: Jared Odrick
DT: Paul Soliai
DT: Randy Starks
MLB: Dannell Ellerbe*
WLB: Philip Wheeler*
SLB: Koa Misi
LCB: Brent Grimes*
RCB: Richard Marshall
FS: Chris Clemons
SS: Reshad Jones

Defensive Overview: At this stage of the offseason, the 2013 Dolphins look an awful lot like the 2012 Bucs on paper. They have some big-play ability on offense and should be able to stuff the run, but could get eaten alive by the pass. Grimes is the lone starting-caliber cornerback on the roster, he may or may not be the same coming off a torn Achilles' tendon. Wake is the lone imposing pass rusher. Despite all of the money spent, Ireland will need to do something special in the draft to make his team a realistic threat for double-digit wins.

20. Detroit Lions

QB: Matthew Stafford
RB: Reggie Bush*
WR: Calvin Johnson
WR: Nate Burleson
TE: Brandon Pettigrew
TE: Tony Scheffler
LT: Riley Reiff
LG: Rob Sims
C: Dominic Raiola
RG: Bill Nagy
RT: Jason Fox

Offensive Overview: Bush to the Lions was perhaps the most logical fit of the free-agency period. The league's pass-happiest offense adds one of the league's premier passing-game backs. Detroit still has much to sort out. Talent must be added to an offensive line losing both its starting tackles and right guard. Ryan Broyles can't be counted on for a major role after tearing his ACL for the second consecutive season, leaving sluggish veteran Burleson as the tentative No. 2. The Lions are a three-wide offense and must add at least one NFL-ready receiver in April's draft.

LE: Jason Jones*
RE: Willie Young
DT: Ndamukong Suh
DT: Nick Fairley
MLB: Stephen Tulloch
WLB: DeAndre Levy
SLB: Ashlee Palmer
LCB: Chris Houston
RCB: Bill Bentley
FS: Louis Delmas
SS: Glover Quin*

Defensive Overview: The Lions boast perhaps the league's best young interior tackle tandem, but this defense as a whole looks like a half-completed jigsaw puzzle. Detroit needs a starting defensive end, another first-team outside linebacker, and a true No. 1 corner. Jones has always been better rushing up the middle as opposed to off the edge. If Central Michigan's Eric Fisher is off the board at the fifth overall pick, GM Martin Mayhew will need to draft for defense. Eight selections are at Mayhew’s disposal this year.

21. Cleveland Browns

QB: Brandon Weeden
RB: Trent Richardson
WR: Josh Gordon
WR: Greg Little
TE: Jordan Cameron
TE: Kellen Davis*
LT: Joe Thomas
LG: John Greco
C: Alex Mack
RG: Shawn Lauvao
RT: Mitchell Schwartz

Offensive Overview: The Browns are a quarterback away from challenging for a top 12 or 15 starting lineup. Fortunately, there is reason to think Weeden stands a chance of improving under new coach Rob Chudzinski, who has a history of maximizing his quarterback's strengths. With Richardson running behind one of the NFL's top young lines, the Browns will play power-ball offense and take shots off play action to Gordon. Tight end may be a position Cleveland seeks to upgrade in April's draft. Ex-basketball player Cameron is long on athleticism, but must be pushed.

LE: Ahtyba Rubin
RE: Desmond Bryant*
NT: Phil Taylor
ILB: D'Qwell Jackson
ILB: James-Michael Johnson
OLB: Paul Kruger*
OLB: Jabaal Sheard
LCB: Joe Haden
RCB: Buster Skrine
FS: Tashaun Gipson
SS: T.J. Ward

Defensive Overview: The Browns have the best young defensive front seven no one is talking about. Criminally underrated Bryant will be Ray Horton's new Calais Campbell at 6-foot-6, 300 with ability to both stop the run and collapse the pocket. Rubin and Taylor each weigh 330-plus and clog running lanes. Rubin is light on his feet and active to the ball. Kruger and Sheard are high-impact bookend pass rushers. Free safety and right corner still need to be addressed. Unfortunately, new GM Mike Lombardi only has seven selections in the draft and will pick just twice in the top 100.

22. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

QB: Josh Freeman
RB: Doug Martin
FB: Erik Lorig
WR: Vincent Jackson
WR: Mike Williams
TE: Luke Stocker
LT: Donald Penn
LG: Carl Nicks
C: Jeremy Zuttah
RG: Davin Joseph
RT: Demar Dotson

Offensive Overview: The jury remains out on Freeman, whose 2012 stats are misleading. He was managed and manipulated well by first-year coordinator Mike Sullivan, but Freeman's accuracy in the short to intermediate passing game is among the poorest in football. Freeman also struggles mightily with bodies around him. The Buccaneers are a sleeper team to draft a quarterback earlier than people expect. Tampa Bay still possesses elements of a big-play offense with Martin as the "sustainer" back behind a line that returns mauling guards Nicks and Joseph at full strength. Conservatively, this is a top-15 offense. It has top 10-12 upside.

LE: Da'Quan Bowers
RE: Adrian Clayborn
DT: Gerald McCoy
DT: Gary Gibson
MLB: Mason Foster
WLB: Lavonte David
SLB: Jonathan Casillas*
RCB: Eric Wright
LCB: Darrelle Revis
FS: Dashon Goldson*
SS: Mark Barron

Defensive Overview: The 2012 Bucs played explosive, if inconsistent offense and stuffed the run on defense. But the NFL is an increasingly pass-first league, and they had no prayer of halting opposing passing attacks. While the Goldson signing helps, Tampa Bay remains needy at both cornerback positions and must acquire at least one defensive end capable of sacking the quarterback. Clayborn's effectiveness is a mystery coming off a torn ACL, and Bowers has 4 1/2 sacks through 26 career games. If the Bucs acquire Darrelle Revis, they'll skyrocket up this list. GM Mark Dominik has eight draft picks to dangle.

23. St. Louis Rams

QB: Sam Bradford
RB: Daryl Richardson
WR: Brian Quick
WR: Chris Givens
TE: Jared Cook*
TE: Lance Kendricks
LT: Jake Long*
LG: Rokevious Watkins
C: Scott Wells
RG: Harvey Dahl
RT: Rodger Saffold

Offensive Overview: Letting Danny Amendola and Steven Jackson walk was part of the plan. The Rams are changing their offensive philosophy, ditching chain movers in favor of big-play weapons. Explosive second-year runners Richardson and Isaiah Pead will duke it out for feature back duties in camp. Cook is a straight-line speed demon at 6-foot-5, 250 with 4.49 wheels. Givens is a DeSean Jacksonian perimeter burner and the front office is comparing Quick to Vincent Jackson as a physically imposing downfield threat. The interior line needs work, but Long and Saffold are formidable bookend tackles. This is a potential-ridden offense with much to prove.

LE: Chris Long
RE: Robert Quinn
DT: Michael Brockers
DT: Kendall Langford
MLB: James Laurinaitis
WLB: Jo-Lonn Dunbar
SLB: Josh Hull
RCB: Cortland Finnegan
LCB: Janoris Jenkins
FS: Darian Stewart
SS: Rodney McLeod

Defensive Overview: Defense was the strength of the 2012 Rams and they're projecting internal improvement as Quinn, Brockers, and Jenkins all enter their second seasons as NFL starters. Holes remain at safety and outside linebacker. With two first-round picks, expect GM Les Snead to attack at least one of those at No. 16 or 22. Overall, St. Louis has eight draft selections and four in the top 78. The Rams are not there yet -- and their division is shaping up as the NFL's toughest -- but they're a lot closer than they were last winter.

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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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