Evan Silva

Offseason Low Down

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Post-Draft NFL Lineup Rankings

Monday, May 06, 2013



24. Cleveland Browns

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

Offensive Overview: The Browns are ranked relatively low here, but they're a quarterback away from being a playoff team. And it certainly isn't out of the question that QB gurus Rob Chudzinski and Norv Turner mold big-armed Weeden into a viable short-term fix for their vertical passing attack. The offensive line is a mauling young group that graded out positively in the 2012 ratings of both Pro Football Focus and Football Outsiders. The only front-five starter that may not return is left guard Jason Pinkston, who claims he's medically cleared from last year's blood clot scare and is potently backed up by Greco anyhow. Richardson's 3.56 YPC average is a lock to rise as he moves past last year's double knee surgeries and multiple rib fractures. Long-ball wide receiver Gordon is an ideal fit for what Chud and Norv want to do in the passing game. Little, Bess, and sneaky breakout candidate Cameron complement Gordon as chain movers.

LE: Ahtyba Rubin
RE: Desmond Bryant*
NT: Phil Taylor
ILB: D'Qwell Jackson
ILB: Craig Robertson
OLB: Paul Kruger*
OLB: Barkevious Mingo*
LCB: Joe Haden
RCB: Leon McFadden*
FS: Tashaun Gipson
SS: T.J. Ward

Defensive Overview: Keep in mind Jabaal Sheard isn't even listed here. He's been the Browns' best pass rusher the past two seasons, but seems to be in a state of limbo after the Mingo pick. Under the direction of brilliant new playcaller Ray Horton, Cleveland could boast a high-octane pass-rushing rotation if they don't trade Sheard before the season. The Browns' front seven looks excellent on paper following the additions of Kruger and Calais Campbell clone Bryant, who was perhaps the most underrated defensive signing of the 2013 free-agency period. Cleveland has solid secondary starters in Ward and Haden, but right cornerback and free safety are up for grabs. Old Horton pupil Kerry Rhodes would make a ton of sense in the latter hole.

25. Philadelphia Eagles

QB: Michael Vick
RB: LeSean McCoy
WR: DeSean Jackson
WR: Jeremy Maclin
TE: James Casey*
TE: Zach Ertz*
LT: Jason Peters
LG: Evan Mathis
C: Jason Kelce
RG: Todd Herremans
RT: Lane Johnson*

Offensive Overview: There are reasons to like the Eagles' offensive assembly on paper, but the same could've been said for last year's unit and it finished 29th in points scored. With a healthy line and big-play threats McCoy, D-Jax, and Maclin back in rookie coach Chip Kelly's fast-tempo attack, Philadelphia should not have trouble improving on that ranking. The extent to which they do will be determined by quarterback play. Vick is the favorite, but some Philly beat writers expect it to be Nick Foles. The club also signed old Kelly college pupil Dennis Dixon, and drafted Matt Barkley with the first pick of the fourth round. I suspect Kelly's offense will flash, but struggle for consistency in his first season. Kelly's still in the process of establishing not only what his offense will look like away from Oregon, but the personnel he needs to accomplish his NFL goals.

RE: Fletcher Cox
LE: Cedric Thornton
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: As indicated by all of the asterisks here, Kelly and GM Howie Roseman have remade Philadelphia's defense. The Eagles will have seven new starters via the draft and free agency if third-round pick Bennie Logan beats out Thornton. Cole is also on the spot coming off a career-worst year and will be pushed hard by Brandon Graham, who finished 2012 with a bang. The strengths of this defense are a deep group of pass rushers, Cox, and the two inside linebackers. Fletcher has plus talent, but couldn't even keep the Rams' nickel corner job last year. Williams was one of the NFL's most oft-burned cornerbacks. Phillips and Chung are rehab projects. Barwin has three sacks over his last 21 games, and Sopoaga is a rotational two-down run stuffer at best. This rebuilt group is likely to struggle in both run and pass defense.

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: Jonathan Cooper*
RT: Bobby Massie

Offensive Overview: The new Cardinals coaching staff has shown a shocking amount of faith in holdover tackles Brown and Massie as the primary means of protection for cement-footed 33-year-old Palmer. While this group looks improved on paper, the line could continue to thwart any attempt by coach Bruce Arians to produce explosive offensive results. Arians' passing game is decidedly vertical and voluminous, which will translate to heavy weekly doses of dropbacks for the least mobile quarterback in football. While the Cardinals should have more success getting the ball to Fitzgerald -- and that in and of itself will mean better offensive performance -- they're also a strong threat to lead the league in sacks absorbed. Hopefully, Palmer can withstand the beating.

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

Defensive Overview: The obvious missing piece is defensive linchpin Daryl Washington, an All-Pro caliber inside linebacker on whom the Cardinals can no longer count following a four-game suspension for substance-abuse violations and Friday's arrest for domestic assault. Arizona will trot out two-down banger Brinkley and second-round rookie Minter in Washington's absence, which is a significant blow. Whereas Ray Horton boasted one of the league's top defensive front sevens, new coordinator Todd Bowles will open the season with a short deck. Rush linebacker is another big concern, as Schofield and Acho combined for just eight sacks last season across 25 games. Rookie Alex Okafor is converting from defensive end. The secondary can be serviceable, but this defense has taken a large step back after being the strength of Arizona's 2012 team.

27. Tennessee Titans

QB: Jake Locker
RB: Chris Johnson
WR: Kenny Britt
WR: Kendall Wright
WR: Justin Hunter*
TE: Delanie Walker*
LT: Michael Roos
LG: Andy Levitre*
C: Fernando Velasco
RG: Chance Warmack*
RT: David Stewart

Offensive Overview: Particularly with the two interior line upgrades, the Titans have put together an offense you really want to like. Theoretically, they have explosive playmakers at all three receiver spots and in the backfield. The front five has potential to be one of the NFL's top groups, and Walker is best suited as a sixth lineman because of his plus blocking but stone hands. But rather than offseason moves, the offensive product Tennessee puts on the field in 2013 will be determined by Locker's progress and Johnson's willingness to play hard on a down-to-down basis. Johnson has run when he wants to run for the last two seasons. Locker's erratic accuracy, streakiness, and frenetic pocket management are major red flags on his NFL outlook.

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

Defensive Overview: Titans GM Ruston Webster dedicated the top of his draft to Locker's supporting cast before using mid-round picks on press cornerback Blidi Wreh-Wilson and reserve outside 'backer Zaviar Gooden. The moves bolster Tennessee's depth, but are unlikely to improve significantly a defense that allowed the most points in football last season. Instead, the Titans are counting on Pollard's physicality and Hill's girth to make a difference. It's a longshot. In fantasy leagues, Tennessee's defense will again be one to attack with opposing offensive skill players.

28. New York Jets

QB: Geno Smith*
RB: Chris Ivory*
WR: Santonio Holmes
WR: Stephen Hill
WR: Jeremy Kerley
TE: Jeff Cumberland
LT: D'Brickashaw Ferguson
LG: Willie Colon*
C: Nick Mangold
RG: Brian Winters*
RT: Austin Howard

Offensive Overview: The Jets' ideal 2013 offensive approach -- and one of which Rex Ryan will approve -- would be to resume the ground-and-pound attack while "managing" the quarterback play, which is a virtual certainty for error proneness regardless of the camp battle winner. Rookie GM John Idzik has New York moving in a Seattle-like direction, with Ivory as his Marshawn Lynch, Smith as the hopeful Russell Wilson, and a bit of a rag-tag line that lacks flash but should get the job done. Quietly, Howard was a mauling force in the 2012 run game. Ferguson and Mangold are stalwart Jets, and Colon remains an effective all-around blocker at 30 years old. A decorated former wrestler and 50-game starter at Kent State, Winters is the key to the group. This offense will move the chains if Ivory stays healthy and the run blocking meets its potential.

RE: Muhammad Wilkerson
LE: Sheldon Richardson*
NT: Kenrick Ellis
ILB: David Harris
ILB: Demario Davis
OLB: Antwan Barnes*
OLB: Quinton Coples
RCB: Antonio Cromartie
LCB: Dee Milliner*
FS: Josh Bush
SS: Dawan Landry*

Defensive Overview: Rex Ryan's defense is the Jets' saving grace. If the run game is as potent as I think it can be, New York could sneakily improve on last year's 6-10 record. The Jets finished eighth in 2012 total defense despite 14 missed games from Darrelle Revis, and the lineup has since improved with versatile inside rusher Richardson, new No. 2 cornerback Milliner, and explosive edge presence Barnes joining an already reasonably talented unit. Cromartie excelled in the Revis Island role in 2012, regularly eliminating opposing top receivers. The Jets have fresher legs at inside linebacker, turning the page on 33-year-old Bart Scott in favor of second-year man Davis. Coples' switch from strong-side defensive end to 3-4 rush linebacker should generate storylines in camp. At 6-foot-6 and 285 pounds, there won't be a bigger linebacker in the league.

29. San Diego Chargers

QB: Philip Rivers
RB: Ryan Mathews
WR: Danario Alexander
WR: Vincent Brown
WR: Keenan Allen*
TE: Antonio Gates
LT: King Dunlap*
LG: Johnnie Troutman
C: Nick Hardwick
RG: Chad Rinehart*
RT: D.J. Fluker*

Offensive Overview: The receiver projection assumes Malcom Floyd will be beat out by a healthy Brown and rookie Allen, which I think is a distinct possibility. Going on 32, Floyd might be a release candidate if his base salary hadn't been fully guaranteed by ex-GM A.J. Smith. San Diego's skill-player corps looks serviceable on paper if you leave aside injury concerns on Brown, Allen, Mathews, and Alexander's five career left knee surgeries. The real worry is the line, where the Bolts are projecting four new starters, none of whom inspire confidence in pass protection. Rivers lacks mobility and his pocket presence has regressed in back-to-back seasons. San Diego will struggle to move the ball offensively if Rivers continues to absorb hits like he did last year.

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

Defensive Overview: The Chargers' defense has a fresh, young look to it. Reyes (second round), Liuget (first), Butler (third), Ingram (first), Wright (third), Te'o (second), and Taylor (third) are all high draft picks working on rookie contracts. San Diego should play fast and hold its own in run defense, but defending the pass could be this unit's downfall. Ingram and Johnson combined for a mere 2.5 sacks across 31 games last season, and ends Liuget and Reyes are the Bolts' only real pass-rush threats until proven otherwise. Weddle and free-agent pickup Cox are strong starters, but Taylor is coming off a December ACL tear and Wright has never started an NFL game. Depth is a big concern at nose tackle, outside linebacker, and throughout the secondary.

30. Buffalo Bills

QB: E.J. Manuel*
RB: C.J. Spiller
WR: Stevie Johnson
WR: Robert Woods*
WR: T.J. Graham
TE: Scott Chandler
LT: Cordy Glenn
LG: Sam Young
C: Eric Wood
RG: Kraig Urbik
RT: Chris Hairston

Offensive Overview: Manuel is penciled in as the starter because first-round quarterbacks rarely sit and watch these days. If Manuel and Kevin Kolb play to a draw in preseason action, tie goes to the rookie. Of course, Manuel is so raw coming out of Florida State that he may not even put up a fight. The Bills will struggle to score points this year whenever they fall out of position to force feed Spiller the rock. Kolb can move an offense if his protection is sound, but Buffalo's front five is shakier with Andy Levitre gone to Nashville. Tight end is a mess with Chandler recovering from ACL surgery, and as good a route runner as Johnson is, he's not a true NFL No. 1 receiver. Woods' game is similar to Johnson's. The player that could give Buffalo the biggest offensive lift is undrafted wideout Da'Rick Rogers. And he's probably a missed meeting away from getting cut.

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

Defensive Overview: No NFL defense underachieved to a greater extent than Buffalo's in 2012, which makes it difficult to buy what Doug Marrone and Mike Pettine are selling until there are tangible signs of improvement. Not plans regarding defensive approach, not camp reports, not preseason performance, and nothing that the additions of Lawson, Alonso, or Jerry Hughes will fix. Seeing is believing. On paper, there aren't five better front fours than the Bills'. Theoretically, they have promising pieces at linebacker. Gilmore looks like a future shutdown corner, and Byrd is the best free safety in the league. Along with Rex Ryan, Pettine annually turned out top-ten defenses with the Jets. But the Bills ranked 22nd in defense last year and 26th in points allowed. They were 31st against the run. This defense can't be taken seriously until it shows it should be.

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: Luke Joeckel*

Offensive Overview: Rookie GM Dave Caldwell's offseason approach was to all but forego free agency and begin rebuilding the Jaguars via the draft. Caldwell's focus wound up being on defense simply because that's how the board fell, but he made Joeckel the No. 2 overall pick to help shore up the pass protection, likely for a quarterback who'll be acquired next year. Jacksonville will struggle to generate ball movement this season, an inevitable fact exacerbated by Blackmon's four-game suspension. Jones-Drew is coming off major foot surgery entering a contract year. If the season goes south quickly, he could be weeded out in favor of potential running back of the future Denard Robinson. The Jags have two strong pass-protecting tackles, Shorts as a No. 1 receiver, Lewis as a middle-of-the-road all-around tight end, and little else.

LE: Jeremy Mincey
RE: Jason Babin
DT: Tyson Alualu
DT: Roy Miller*
MLB: Paul Posluszny
WLB: Russell Allen
SLB: Geno Hayes*
LCB: Marcus Trufant
RCB: Dwayne Gratz*
FS: Dwight Lowery
SS: Johnathan Cyprien*

Defensive Overview: Jacksonville's secondary added intriguing long-term pieces in press-corner Gratz and versatile safety Cyprien, and they will be put to the test early and often because the front four will struggle to generate pressure. Mincey was a colossal bust after signing a $20 million contract last offseason, tallying three sacks across 16 starts. Babin had seven, but is 33 years old and has never been an even competitive run defender. The linebacker corps is one of the NFL's worst. Caldwell and new coach Gus Bradley are in this thing for the long haul, but the short term isn't going to be pretty. Consider it a success if the Jaguars eke out six wins in 2013.

32. Oakland Raiders

QB: Matt Flynn*
RB: Darren McFadden
FB: Marcel Reece
WR: Denarius Moore
WR: Rod Streater
TE: Nick Kasa*
LT: Jared Veldheer
LG: Lucas Nix
C: Stefen Wisniewski
RG: Khalif Barnes
RT: Menelik Watson*

Offensive Overview: West of New York, there isn't an offense in the league that projects as more impotent. The Raiders' offensive centerpiece remains McFadden, who has averaged nearly five missed games per season in his five-year career and finished last season with a paltry 3.27 YPC clip, scoring two touchdowns on 216 carries. The scheme change from a zone to power approach can only help so much if Oakland doesn't get effective blocking, and lone addition Watson isn't a power blocker. Flynn is a game-managing band-aid quarterback at best and liability at worst. I expect rookie Tyler Wilson to make 2013 starts, and possibly Terrelle Pryor as well. Tight end is a quagmire as rookies Kasa and Mychal Rivera compete with uninspiring holdover David Ausberry. Top Raiders passing-game weapon Moore is coming off a disappointing season.

LE: Lamarr Houston
RE: Andre Carter
DT: Vance Walker*
DT: Pat Sims*
MLB: Nick Roach*
WLB: Kevin Burnett*
SLB: Sio Moore*
LCB: D.J. Hayden*
RCB: Tracy Porter*
FS: Usama Young*
SS: Tyvon Branch

Defensive Overview: The Raiders made a handful of worthwhile offseason additions on defense, particularly the Walker and Burnett signings to go with Hayden at No. 12 in the draft. Hayden has a chance to be a legit shutdown corner. The downfall of this defense will be its lack of pass rush. Houston is not an edge rusher, and Carter is 34 years old. Sims is strictly a two-down run stuffer. Walker is a solid all-around defensive tackle, but hardly the second coming of Warren Sapp. Defenses that can't generate pressure in the front four wind up attempting to manufacture pass rush and exposing themselves back deep. This unit is going to get shredded by the pass.



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


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