Evan Silva

Offseason Low Down

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Pre-Draft NFL Lineup Rankings

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

24. Carolina Panthers

QB: Cam Newton
RB: Jonathan Stewart
FB: Mike Tolbert
WR: Steve Smith
WR: Brandon LaFell
TE: Greg Olsen
LT: Jordan Gross
LG: Amini Silatolu
C: Ryan Kalil
RG: Geoff Hangartner
RT: Byron Bell

Offensive Overview: For Carolina's offense to reach its mammoth, top-five potential, it will need Newton to cobble together a full season of outstanding performance. In 2011, his passing production tailed off in the second half after a blazing start. In 2012, Cam's first half was startlingly rough before a red-hot finish. This is Newton's third NFL season and time for him to develop into a consistent player. His weapons are above average but can afford to be supplemented at wideout, upgrading on LaFell. New face Domenik Hixon will push him for snaps. Carolina also needs more talent on the right side of the offensive line.

LE: Charles Johnson
RE: Greg Hardy
DT: Sione Fua
DT: Dwan Edwards
MLB: Luke Kuechly
SLB: Thomas Davis
WLB: Jon Beason
LCB: Captain Munnerlyn
RCB: Josh Norman
FS: Charles Godfrey
SS: Mike Mitchell*

Defensive Overview: Like Newton, Carolina's defense came on strong in the second half of 2012, providing reason for 2013 optimism. Johnson and Hardy form a dynamic rush-end duo and the linebacker corps can be as good as any if Beason (knee, Achilles') returns healthy. The Panthers have settled on moving Godfrey from strong to free safety, but now must fill the former position while somehow unearthing two legitimate starting corners. Carolina's defensive tackle situation is annually cloudy. This is a roster with some great individual pieces, but too many glaring liabilities to come in high on the lineup rankings. Perhaps most troubling, rookie GM Dave Gettleman only has five draft picks this year, and just two in the top 100.

25. Philadelphia Eagles

QB: Michael Vick
RB: LeSean McCoy
WR: DeSean Jackson
WR: Jeremy Maclin
TE: Brent Celek
TE: James Casey*
LT: Jason Peters
LG: Evan Mathis
C: Jason Kelce
RG: Danny Watkins
RT: Todd Herremans

Offensive Overview: Chip Kelly is bringing the spread-option to Philly and has explosive players with which to work. If the offense is anything like Oregon's, Kelly will flood the field with four-wide sets, presumably using Jackson and Maclin on the perimeter with Casey and Celek or Jason Avant in the slot. Kelly's offensive foundation is the run game, and he's expected to often pair Bryce Brown with McCoy in the backfield simultaneously. Peters' return gives credibility to the offensive line. The Eagles may not rack up 2013 wins, but they'll inarguably be a fascinating watch.

LE: Cedric Thornton
RE: Fletcher Cox
NT: Isaac Sopoaga*
ILB: DeMeco Ryans
ILB: Mychal Kendricks
OLB: Trent Cole
OLB: Connor Barwin*
LCB: Bradley Fletcher*
RCB: Cary Williams*
FS: Kenny Phillips*
SS: Pat Chung*

Defensive Overview: The Eagles signed six defensive starters in free agency, and one or two more may come via the draft. It's still possible Cole is traded next month, opening the door for Brandon Graham at rush linebacker opposite Barwin in Philly's new 3-4. Swapping out Nnamdi Asomugha for ex-Ravens burn victim Williams may be a wash, but Fletcher, Phillips, and Chung -- if healthy -- upgrade the secondary's physicality. This defense is obviously in heavy transition and it'll be a bumpy ride. At first glance, the Eagles' free-agent signings look like a mixed bag. GM Howie Roseman will continue to supplement a made-over roster via nine draft picks.

26. Arizona Cardinals

QB: Carson Palmer*
RB: Rashard Mendenhall*
WR: Larry Fitzgerald
WR: Andre Roberts
WR: Michael Floyd
TE: Rob Housler
LT: Levi Brown
LG: Daryn Colledge
C: Lyle Sendlein
RG: Adam Snyder
RT: Bobby Massie

Offensive Overview: The Cardinals seem dead set on upgrading their offensive line with the No. 7 pick. If not Luke Joeckel or Eric Fisher, it'll probably be Lane Johnson. The good news is Arizona's front five could get significantly better quickly by shoring up the blindside, kicking Brown to right guard or tackle. Colledge and Sendlein are quality pass protectors, and the Cards must keep immobile Palmer upright. The Cardinals should field a far more competitive offense under Bruce Arians with impressive receiver talent and Housler as a breakout candidate at tight end. The Mendenhall-Ryan Williams backfield battle will be fascinating to monitor in training camp. Both backs possess first-round talent but have underachieved thus far in their careers, for various reasons.

LE: Darnell Dockett
RE: Calais Campbell
NT: Dan Williams
ILB: Lorenzo Alexander*
ILB: Jasper Brinkley*
OLB: Sam Acho
OLB: O'Brien Schofield
RCB: Patrick Peterson
LCB: Jerraud Powers*
FS: Yeremiah Bell*
SS: Rashad Johnson

Defensive Overview: The Arizona defense hasn't gotten better since free agency started. The unit has subtracted Ray Horton, Kerry Rhodes, and Adrian Wilson while adding mediocre starters Powers, Brinkley, and Bell under new coordinator Todd Bowles. Emerging superstar ILB Daryl Washington's four-game suspension for violating the league's drug policy will hurt early in the season. He is not a replaceable player. The Cards still have some excellent front-seven pieces and Peterson in the back end, but this defense looks like a group that can be run on and passed on with relative ease. Arizona has seven draft picks. A franchise outside pass rusher is lacking.

27. Tennessee Titans

QB: Jake Locker
RB: Chris Johnson
WR: Kenny Britt
WR: Kendall Wright
TE: Delanie Walker*

TE: Craig Stevens

LT: Michael Roos
LG: Andy Levitre*
C: Fernando Velasco
RG: Rob Turner*
RT: David Stewart

Offensive Overview: Nate Washington isn't listed among the Titans' receivers because he will be cut or traded before the season. Due to Tennessee's glaring hole at right guard, the team seems all but locked in on an interior offensive lineman like UNC's Jonathan Cooper or Alabama's Chance Warmack at the No. 10 overall pick. Cooper would be a superior scheme fit because he's more athletic and the Titans run a ton of zone blocking. As is typically the case for teams with quarterback uncertainty, the progress of Locker in his third NFL season will determine whether the arrow points up or downward on the 2013 Titans. Last year, Tennessee lacked sustaining elements because Locker was a boom-or-bust -- mostly bust -- passer, and Johnson has devolved into a boom-or-bust runner. They simply could not sustain drives.

LE: Derrick Morgan
RE: Kamerion Wimbley
DT: Jurrell Casey
DT: Sammie Lee Hill*
MLB: Colin McCarthy
WLB: Zach Brown
SLB: Akeem Ayers
LCB: Jason McCourty
RCB: Alterraun Verner
FS: Michael Griffin
SS: George Wilson*

Defensive Overview: Despite their horrendous 2012 showing, the Titans are not devoid of defensive talent. Morgan, Wimbley, Casey, and new face Hill give Tennessee a formidable on-paper front four that can get after quarterbacks. McCarthy, Brown, and Ayers, theoretically, form a promising young linebacker corps. McCourty, Verner, and second-year nickel Coty Sensabaugh are capable of making life difficult on receivers with their speed. If Tennessee can get Griffin to play up to his talent as a deep safety, this secondary can be stout. Defensive coordinator Jerry Gray surprisingly returns after overseeing one of the league's most disappointing units last season. Armed with nine draft picks – including five in the top 107 – GM Ruston Webster shouldn’t be shy about increasing competition on his underachieving defense.

28. Buffalo Bills

QB: Kevin Kolb*
RB: C.J. Spiller
FB: Dorin Dickerson
WR: Stevie Johnson
WR: T.J. Graham
TE: Lee Smith
LT: Cordy Glenn
LG: Colin Brown
C: Eric Wood
RG: Kraig Urbik
RT: Chris Hairston

Offensive Overview: The Bills are still short an outside receiver, a tight end, and at least one offensive line starter. Most importantly, they don't have a franchise quarterback. While Kolb is a reasonable system fit for Buffalo's new up-tempo, quick-drop "K-Gun" passing offense, he doesn't begin to resemble a long-term solution. The Bills can't consider themselves set at any offensive positions beyond slot receiver (Johnson), tailback (Spiller), center (Wood), left tackle (Glenn), and right guard (Urbik). They also only have six picks in April's draft.

LE: Mario Williams
RE: Mark Anderson
DT: Kyle Williams
DT: Marcell Dareus
MLB: Kelvin Sheppard
WLB: Nigel Bradham
SLB: Manny Lawson*
RCB: Stephon Gilmore
LCB: Leodis McKelvin
FS: Jairus Byrd
SS: Da'Norris Searcy

Defensive Overview: Gilmore, Byrd, Mario, and the interior tackles are the theoretical nucleus of this defense, which has considerably more potential than it showed under overmatched and since-fired 2012 coordinator Dave Wannstedt. Rex Ryan disciple Mike Pettine should be able to get more out of it, but weaknesses remain and there will be training-camp battles galore. With Williams and Dareus as the anchors, why exactly did this defense rank 31st against the run? The personnel aren't bad. Maximizing players' abilities will be Pettine's most major chore.

29. San Diego Chargers

QB: Philip Rivers
RB: Ryan Mathews
FB: Le'Ron McClain
WR: Danario Alexander
WR: Malcom Floyd
TE: Antonio Gates
LT: King Dunlap*
LG: Johnnie Troutman
C: Nick Hardwick
RG: Chad Rinehart*
RT: Jeromey Clary

Offensive Overview: Rookie GM Tom Telesco inherited a descending Chargers roster. The offensive line is atrocious, and franchise face Rivers has gotten worse in back-to-back years. His arm strength and pocket presence are fading rapidly. Mathews is a talented but injury-prone enigma. The Rinehart signing may prove a cost-effective steal, but three other offensive line positions remain in flux. Upgrading the front five must be Telesco's top priority in April's draft. Telesco will have seven picks.

LE: Kendall Reyes
RE: Corey Liuget
NT: Cam Thomas
ILB: Donald Butler
ILB: Jonas Mouton
OLB: Melvin Ingram
OLB: Jarret Johnson
RCB: Derek Cox*
LCB: Shareece Wright
FS: Eric Weddle
SS: Brandon Taylor

Defensive Overview: The Union-Tribune San Diego ran a terrific piece explaining San Diego's youth movement. It's been most apparent on defense. Gone are Takeo Spikes, 36, Quentin Jammer, 34, Aubrayo Franklin, 33, Antonio Garay, 33, Shaun Phillips, 32, and Atari Bigby, 32. Into their place step Mouton, 25, Cox, 26, Thomas, 26, Reyes, 23, Ingram, 24, and Taylor, 23. Growing pains are probable, but the 2013 defense should be fresher and faster to the ball.

30. New York Jets

QB: Mark Sanchez
RB: Mike Goodson*
WR: Santonio Holmes
WR: Jeremy Kerley
WR: Stephen Hill
TE: Jeff Cumberland
LT: D'Brickashaw Ferguson
LG: Vladimir Ducasse
C: Nick Mangold
RG: Willie Colon*
RT: Austin Howard

Offensive Overview: Is the NFL lacking parity? The Jets, Jaguars, and Raiders are clearly in the basement and will struggle to score points. The NFL has roughly five elite teams and a large middle class, but there's a sizable gap between the rest of the league and the bottom five or six. Sanchez would be done in New York if not for a guaranteed salary, and top competitor David Garrard hasn't thrown an NFL pass since December of 2010. The Jets can still field a competitive rushing attack if Goodson stays healthy. (Something he's never done.) The strength of New York's line is run blocking. Tailback, guard, and tight end must be addressed in the draft.

LE: Muhammad Wilkerson
RE: Quinton Coples
NT: Kenrick Ellis
ILB: David Harris
ILB: Demario Davis
OLB: Antwan Barnes*
OLB: Calvin Pace
RCB: Antonio Cromartie
LCB: Kyle Wilson
FS: Josh Bush
SS: Dawan Landry*

Defensive Overview: Darrelle Revis is not listed because he will be traded. The Jets are ranked above the Jags and Raiders here only because New York has promising elements in the defensive front seven and one good cornerback (Cromartie). They remain needy at free safety, No. 2 corner, outside linebacker, and arguably nose tackle. The Jets got trampled by the run last season, ranking dead last in the league. New GM John Idzik is going to have to find multiple starters in his seven-man draft class, which ideally will be supplemented via the inevitable Revis trade.

31. Jacksonville Jaguars

QB: Blaine Gabbert
RB: Maurice Jones-Drew
FB: Montell Owens
WR: Cecil Shorts
WR: Justin Blackmon
TE: Marcedes Lewis
LT: Eugene Monroe
LG: Will Rackley
C: Brad Meester
RG: Uche Nwaneri
RT: Cameron Bradfield

Offensive Overview: Aside from two promising receivers and a rock-solid left tackle, the Jaguars' offense will enter the draft in disarray. Gabbert has looked like nothing other than a bust through two seasons. Jones-Drew is coming off major foot surgery. Left guard, center, and right tackle lack surefire starters, and Lewis has been an up-and-down player throughout his career. Ultimately, quarterback play will determine the direction of new GM David Caldwell's Jacksonville reign. It'll be interesting to see if he considers Geno Smith at No. 2 overall.

LE: Jeremy Mincey
RE: Jason Babin
DT: Tyson Alualu
DT: Roy Miller*
MLB: Paul Posluszny
WLB: Russell Allen
SLB: Geno Hayes*
LCB: Mike Harris
RCB: Kevin Rutland
FS: Dwight Lowery
SS: Chris Prosinski

Defensive Overview: And you thought the offense was bad. The Jags lack run stoppers, consistent pass rushers, and cover corners in the back end. Despite ample cap space, Caldwell's philosophy is free-agency averse. Jacksonville will lean on its seven-man draft class and undrafted rookies to plug holes, potentially fielding the youngest lineup in football. Opponents will love the strategy, at least in 2013.

32. Oakland Raiders

QB: Matt Flynn*
RB: Darren McFadden
FB: Marcel Reece
WR: Denarius Moore
WR: Rod Streater
WR: Juron Criner
LT: Jared Veldheer
LG: Tony Bergstrom
C: Stefen Wisniewski
RG: Mike Brisiel
RT: Khalif Barnes

Offensive Overview: Oakland has a few promising pieces at receiver, left tackle, and center, but otherwise this unit remains in full-on rebuild mode. While GM Reggie McKenzie knows him well from their time together in Green Bay, Flynn's lack of even average arm strength will hold the Raiders' offense hostage on third-and-long and when they fall behind on the scoreboard. There is no starting-caliber tight end. Three line spots will be open to camp competitions. McFadden, the supposed centerpiece of the offense, is among the most injury-prone backs in football. And even after the Flynn trade, Terrelle Pryor stands a puncher's chance of making starts at quarterback. Not ideal.

LE: Lamarr Houston
RE: Andre Carter
DT: Vance Walker*
DT: Pat Sims*
MLB: Nick Roach*
WLB: Kevin Burnett*
SLB: Kaluka Maiava*
LCB: Mike Jenkins*
RCB: Tracy Porter*
FS: Usama Young*
SS: Tyvon Branch

Defensive Overview: The Raiders are at least aware their defense is a laughingstock; they used free agency to replace all but three returning starters. There are three borderline-to-unworthy starters in the defensive backfield, with only Branch putting anything positive on recent game tape. This will be second-year GM Reggie McKenzie's first semi-real draft – he didn’t have a first- or second-rounder in 2012 and is missing a second-rounder in 2013 -- and its results may determine whether McKenzie and Dennis Allen have futures in Oakland. The Raiders will be terrible in 2013. Management is just looking for reasons for hope. Any at all.

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

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