Evan Silva

Offseason Low Down

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Post-Draft NFL Lineup Rankings

Monday, May 06, 2013



17. Cincinnati Bengals

QB: Andy Dalton
RB: Giovani Bernard*
WR: A.J. Green
WR: Mohamed Sanu
TE: Jermaine Gresham
TE: Tyler Eifert*
LT: Andrew Whitworth
LG: Clint Boling
C: Kyle Cook
RG: Kevin Zeitler
RT: Andre Smith

Offensive Overview: The additions of Bernard and Eifert and healthy return of Sanu give coordinator Jay Gruden the enticing option of opening up his offense and scheming more aggressive, pass-oriented football. Will he, and does he think modest-armed Dalton is capable of playing that way? Through two seasons, Dalton has largely been utilized as a game manager, and his performance has regressed in back-to-back years as the seasons have progressed. He's not getting better. Look for Gresham to spend more time on the line blocking while Eifert becomes the flex or "move" tight end, creating mismatches in the slot and outside. Green is arguably a top-two receiver in football, and Cincinnati's offensive line is right up there with the best in the league. If the Bengals are ever going to get over the one-and-done playoff hump, though, they'll need more from Dalton. It's also possible Dalton's limited physical talent will continue to hold this club back.

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: Cincinnati's secondary is average and Maualuga is a liability at middle linebacker, but this is a top-ten defense because the front four is ferocious. Atkins is the best three-technique tackle in football. Via the franchise tag, the Bengals are smartly keeping Johnson in another contract year after his breakout 2012 season in the final year of his rookie deal. Peko is a passable nose and Dunlap is talented enough to take over games, if he could ever stay healthy consistently. On passing downs, look for Dunlap or Johnson to kick inside with Harrison dropping to end. Mike Zimmer's defense can bring an enormous amount of pressure, which makes life much easier on Cincinnati's defensive backs. Camp battles will take place at free safety and left corner. Newman will be pushed hard by 2012 first-rounder Dre Kirkpatrick.

18. 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: Tyson Clabo*

Offensive Overview: The Dolphins did well to upgrade Tannehill's pass-catching corps with weapons like Wallace and Keller who can create separation from defensive backs. Miami did not have that last year. The biggest remaining concern is line play, where at least three positions are unsettled. Martin's rookie-year performance was indicative of a player that should be vying simply to keep his starting job, not sliding from right tackle to his young franchise quarterback's blindside. Louis is coming off a late-season ACL tear. Going on age 32, Clabo is a late-career power blocker the Dolphins will attempt to shoehorn into their zone-blocking scheme. Incognito is another misfit power blocker. Theoretically, the Fins have enough pieces in place to field a somewhat explosive offense. Whether they have opportunities to play in space and Tannehill receives time to throw deep to Wallace will depend on a front five littered with question marks.

LE: Cameron Wake
RE: Dion Jordan*
DT: Paul Soliai
DT: Randy Starks
MLB: Dannell Ellerbe*
WLB: Philip Wheeler*
SLB: Koa Misi
LCB: Brent Grimes*
RCB: Jamar Taylor*
FS: Chris Clemons
SS: Reshad Jones

Defensive Overview: For the past two years, the Dolphins have played stingy run defense while struggling versus the pass. GM Jeff Ireland took steps to fix the latter by trading up to draft versatile edge presence Jordan, picking Taylor in the second round, and signing onetime Falcons top corner Grimes. Jordan needs a lot of technique work as an outside rusher. Taylor faces a huge jump in competition coming from Boise State, and Grimes is trying to come back from an Achilles' tear. Predecessors Kevin Burnett and Karlos Dansby were excellent run defenders, so the Ellerbe and Wheeler additions did little more than make the team younger at linebacker while pouring guaranteed money onto Miami's future salary cap. Ellerbe is poor in pass coverage. This defense should be a bit better this season, but not by much unless Jordan makes a major rookie-year impact and Grimes rediscovers pre-injury form, which may be a long shot.

19. Kansas City Chiefs

QB: Alex Smith*
RB: Jamaal Charles
WR: Dwayne Bowe
WR: Donnie Avery*
TE: Anthony Fasano*
TE: Travis Kelce*
LT: Branden Albert
LG: Jeff Allen
C: Rodney Hudson
RG: Jon Asamoah
RT: Eric Fisher*

Offensive Overview: After failing to land their desired second-round pick for Albert during the draft, the Chiefs would be smart to hang tight and field a robust 2013 offensive line. Smith has never been effective with sub-par pass protection, and Andy Reid is a pass-first coach. On the whole, this first-team offense looks adequate to good. Bowe is a dangerous short to intermediate threat and legit No. 1 NFL receiver. Avery should be pushed by Dexter McCluster and 2011 first-rounder Jon Baldwin for snaps. Impressive rookie Kelce shouldn't struggle to bypass incumbent Tony Moeaki quickly on the depth chart, earning a permanent place across from Fasano in all two-tight end packages. Charles and Bowe will be the centerpieces of an offense that looks to minimize poor decisions and turnovers. The goal will be efficiency, with some big plays mixed in.

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: Kendrick Lewis
SS: Eric Berry

Defensive Overview: The strengths of Kansas City's defense are at outside rusher with Houston and Hali, and now in the back four with Smith and Dunta Robinson added to Flowers and Berry. Under new playcaller Bob Sutton, the Chiefs will play press coverage and be "multiple" with their fronts. Sutton comes from the Rex Ryan coaching tree. While the backend play projects to improve -- probably by a lot -- this unit could be susceptible to the run. Inside linebacker next to Johnson is open to competition between underwhelming ex-Eagle Jordan and fourth-rounder Nico Johnson. DeVito is a lunch-pail run stuffer, but the same can't be said for Jackson or Poe. Poe was a huge project as a rookie and gained lots of valuable experience, but largely struggled. His development will go a long way toward determining whether the Chiefs can contain run games.

20. St. Louis Rams

QB: Sam Bradford
RB: Isaiah Pead
WR: Tavon Austin*
WR: Brian Quick
WR: Chris Givens
TE: Jared Cook*
LT: Jake Long*
LG: Rokevious Watkins
C: Scott Wells
RG: Harvey Dahl
RT: Rodger Saffold

Offensive Overview: Austin is the guy everyone is talking about after the draft, and with good reason. The offseason addition St. Louis people should be really excited about is Cook. I'll have an article on it soon, but I went back and watched each of Cook's 2012 targets and he made Tennessee's bad quarterbacks look good on the regular. He's a better player than I thought. The only real offensive line question mark at this point is left guard, as the Long signing shored up two positions by kicking Saffold to right tackle, upgrading on Barry Richardson. Rams tailback will be one of the most hotly contested camp battles this August. I'm giving the early edge to Pead, with Daryl Richardson and rookie Zac Stacy in the mix. It's put-up or shut-up time for Bradford, who is now surrounded by the best supporting cast and pass protection of his thus-far pedestrian career.

LE: Chris Long
RE: Robert Quinn
DT: Michael Brockers
DT: Kendall Langford
MLB: James Laurinaitis
WLB: Alec Ogletree*
SLB: Jo-Lonn Dunbar
LCB: Janoris Jenkins
RCB: Cortland Finnegan
FS: Darian Stewart
SS: T.J. McDonald*

Defensive Overview: So far, the Rams have turned the compensation they received in the 2012 RG3 trade into Brockers, Jenkins, Isaiah Pead, Rokevious Watkins, Ogletree, Stedman Bailey, and Zac Stacy, and still have Washington's 2014 first-round pick to use. Both sides are winners, but GM Les Snead deserves a hat tip for aggressive maneuvering that's resulted in stockpiled talent. They are building a playoff-caliber roster. Defense remains the Rams' strength with an explosive young front four and improving back seven. Safety still looks like a liability. Stewart has been subpar in previous starting opportunities and McDonald is straight-linish, lacking man-cover skills and plays with inconsistent toughness. He was one of the few Rams draft picks I genuinely didn't like. The organization still hasn't ruled out re-signing free agent Quintin Mikell.

21. Dallas Cowboys

QB: Tony Romo
RB: DeMarco Murray
WR: Dez Bryant
WR: Miles Austin
WR: Dwayne Harris
TE: Jason Witten
LT: Tyron Smith
LG: Nate Livings
C: Travis Frederick*
RG: Mackenzy Bernadeau
RT: Doug Free

Offensive Overview: The Cowboys boast one of the league's top skill-player corps, but their line play remains a significant concern. Center, right guard, and right tackle should all be up for grabs, with Ronald Leary, Phil Costa, Jermey Parnell, and David Arkin pushing Frederick, Bernadeau, and Free in training camp. It's entirely possible -- perhaps even probable -- Dallas will continue to field a below-average to bad offensive line. Third-round pick Terrance Williams and second-rounder Gavin Escobar add quality depth at receiver and tight end, respectively, but the Cowboys are thin at tailback behind injury-prone Murray. I was very unimpressed with Joseph Randle's college tape. He is painfully tight-hipped and straight-linish, and a whiffer in blitz pickup.

RE: DeMarcus Ware
LE: Anthony Spencer
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: Offense was the Cowboys' team strength entering in the draft. Their strategy on defense was perplexing considering they're undergoing wholesale scheme change as Monte Kiffin installs a 4-3. Small-school DBs J.J. Wilcox and B.W. Webb offer long-term promise, but are unlikely to make immediate impacts. Dallas' defense didn't get better in the draft. They'll now field the NFL's lightest defensive end tandem while keeping their fingers crossed Hatcher, Ratliff, Lee, and Carter experience no hiccups at new positions. The Cowboys' talent is mediocre and their roster planning seems to lack direction. The arrow is pointing downward on this team.

22. 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: On "E" in cap space and mostly devoting his draft to defense, rookie GM Dave Gettleman opted to leave his offense largely as is. Instead, Carolina will count on in-house improvement from Newton, a strategy that'll pay off if and only if he turns in a complete season of consistent play. Newton has yet to do so through two NFL seasons, but caught fire after a rough start last year and will look to carry over his sterling finish. Through seven 2012 games, Newton's TD-to-INT ratio stood at 5:8. He accounted for 19 all-purpose touchdowns and just four picks over the final nine games, and his rushing production actually improved as QBs coach Mike Shula helped install a more traditional, I-formation offense, replacing Rob Chudzinski's zone read. Shula is now the offensive coordinator. Question marks like the right side of the line, injury-prone Stewart, and No. 2 receiver won't matter if Cam plays like he's capable for a 16-game schedule.

LE: Charles Johnson
RE: Greg Hardy
DT: Star Lotulelei*
DT: Dwan Edwards
MLB: Luke Kuechly
WLB: Jon Beason
SLB: Thomas Davis
RCB: Josh Norman
LCB: Drayton Florence*
FS: Charles Godfrey
SS: Mike Mitchell*

Defensive Overview: The Panthers have quietly built one of the league's better young defensive front sevens, but their back four is worrisome to be kind. Norman was burned early and often last season and got benched down the stretch in favor of roster fodder Josh Thomas. Florence is a 32-year-old journeyman on his sixth NFL team. He got cut in training camp by the Broncos last year. Mitchell is purely a box safety with nine career starts across four seasons. Lotulelei's addition bolsters the run defense and Carolina can generate pressure in a variety of ways, but there might not be a more poorly assembled secondary in the NFL. In a division of Drew Brees, Matt Ryan, and Josh Freeman, the pass-coverage shortcomings are a significant concern.

23. Detroit Lions

QB: Matthew Stafford
RB: Reggie Bush*
WR: Calvin Johnson
WR: Nate Burleson
WR: Ryan Broyles
TE: Brandon Pettigrew
LT: Riley Reiff
LG: Rob Sims
C: Dominic Raiola
RG: Larry Warford*
RT: Jason Fox

Offensive Overview: Broyles is penciled in as a three-wide starter despite tearing his right ACL last December, following a left ACL tear during his senior college season. Realistically, the Lions can't count on Broyles as an early-season contributor. The offense would look a lot better if they could. Stafford and Megatron are top-five talents at their respective positions, Sims is a plus left guard, and Bush was a terrific addition to the NFL's pass-heaviest offense, but there are average to suspect starters at each of the other six spots. Raiola is 34 and had to accept a massive pay cut to keep himself on the roster. Although I think he’ll be good, Warford is a third-round rookie. Short armed and an average athlete, Reiff would be better suited to guard. Burleson is going on age 32 coming off of a broken leg. Pettigrew is returning from a brutal season, where he dropped nine passes in 14 games. Entering his fourth season, Fox has never played an offensive snap.

LE: Jason Jones*
RE: Ziggy Ansah*
DT: Ndamukong Suh
DT: Nick Fairley
MLB: Stephen Tulloch
WLB: DeAndre Levy
SLB: Ashlee Palmer
LCB: Chris Houston
RCB: Darius Slay*
FS: Louis Delmas
SS: Glover Quin*

Defensive Overview: GM Martin Mayhew did a respectable job of plugging holes on his defense this offseason, drafting Ansah with the No. 5 pick, signing Quin to upgrade on Amari Spievey, and adding versatile Jones to man left end. Second-round pick Slay will be thrust into a starting role despite tearing a meniscus in his knee at his March Pro Day. (He opted against surgery.) The strength of this defense will be up the middle with Suh and Fairley at defensive tackle, Tulloch behind them, and solid safety play. The Lions will still be vulnerable on the edges because Ansah is so raw, Jones has never been an effective outside rusher, and Houston has always been stretched as a No. 1 corner. On paper, this at best is an average talent collection.


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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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