Soon after we hoist the Lombardi trophy for the first time this year we are going to have to turn our attention on how to defend our first Superbowl championship. In doing so we are going to have to make some pretty tough personnel decisions.
Here's my early mock draft and 2013 off season transactions
First Round Pick #32 - Kenny Vacarro S (TX) – He’s a versatile play maker who can play both safety positions as well as CB in a pinch. I look at him as a younger more athletic version of Chris Crocker with the versatility and intelligence to be the QB of the defense. I like Matt Elam as well but we already have our reckless and undisciplined play making safety from Florida:)
Second Round Pick #37 (Raider’s pick) – Jordan Poyer CB (Oregon State) – He’s a fast athletic ball hawk, which we desperately need on this team. He reminds me of a slightly watered down version of Patrick Peterson with his athletic ability. Although he’s not as electric as Peterson in the return game he might actually be a better overall CB at this point.
Second Round Pick number 64 – Markus Wheaton WR (Oregon State) I’m very excited to see the development of the M&M brothers (Marvin and Mohammed) but we still could use one more weapon to help Marvin Jones stretch the field opposite A.J. Green. His game reminds me a lot of Antonio Brown from the Steelers and he would be a significant upgrade over Brandon Tate.
Third Round – DaTone Jones DE (UCLA) – He’s versatile enough to play inside or outside and has a ton of untapped potential. He kind of reminds me of a young Frostee Rucker without the baggage or injury concerns because of his enormous upside and occasional flashes of dominance. (Replaces Robert Geathers)
Fourth Round – Kenjon Barner RB (Oregon) – He’s extremely fast and is a threat to take it to the house every time he touches the ball and that’s exactly what we need to compliment BJGE. I know a lot of people are still NOT very high on him and look at him as a system back but I think he’s honestly been extremely underrated. We already know he’s fast but he also has very good vision and balance, plus he can catch the ball out of the backfield. His skill-set, size, and speed reminds me a lot of a young Reggie Bush and I really think he can be utilized as a complimentary back in our offense just like Reggie Bush was with N.O. early on in his career.
Fourth Round – (Compensatory Pick) Jelani Jenkins OLB (FLA) – Very intelligent kid with a ton of athletic ability and upside. IMO he’s the new breed of LB in a passing league, which is a bit smaller but much faster and better in coverage. He’s battled several nagging injuries this year and if he would have been on field more I think he would have been taken much higher in this draft. However, because of his limited game time action and lack of size I could see him sliding to us here, which would be a steal IMO. His aggressive play combined with his size and speed reminds me a little bit of Lavonte David who has done pretty well so far for the Bucks.
Fifth Round – Tyrann Matheiu CB/S (LSU) – Normally I’m not a fan of taking a chance on players with any kind of character concerns early in the draft, however once you get to the later rounds the risk definitely starts to be worth the reward. That’s how I feel about this selection b/c if he drops this far I think the risk is now definitely worth the reward. We also may actually have the perfect person on our team to mentor him with how much Pacman has actually grown up over the years. Ironically, his game actually reminds me a bit of Pacman’s as well and I think he would be a great replacement for Nate Clements.
Sixth Round - Michael Williams TE (AL) – It’s amazing you can play on one of the best teams in college football and still be sort of a sleeper. However, that’s exactly how I feel about Michael Williams he’s been an absolute beast as a run blocker for Alabama but his blocking has been overshadowed by every other pro prospect on that o-line. I also think he’s much more athletic than he’s often given credit for and I think he could really present some mismatches problems in the passing game if he were utilized more than he has been. Having said all that, maybe best thing about taking him is it will eliminate any reason to keep Dennis Roland around as our 3rd TE:). IMO he has the potential to be comparable to Mercedes Lewis of the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Sixth Round – Theo Riddick RB (ND) once again it comes back to versatility because at one time this kid was actually a WR. He has great hands for a RB and has shown the ability to be able to run it up the middle and get the tough yards. I know Brian Leonard is a fan favorite but he’s a FA after this year and I think Riddick may be even a better 3rd down option in this offense with his ability to actually split out and be a dual threat. He reminds me a ton of Kevin Faulk for the New England Patriots and I think we could use in that same kind of role.
UDFA - Walter Stewart DE/LB - I'm still a little skeptical about his over all health but if he's actually cleared and passes a physical this kid from the University of Cincinnati would be an absolute steal as and un-drafted free agent pick up.
FA pick ups
Darly Smith OLB (from Jacksonville) 2 years 6.5 million (He's one of the best little known 4-3 SAM LB's in league and he's coming off a injury so he should be affordable).
Jason Campbell QB (from Chicago) 2 years 7 million (Don't think he will get a starting gig and with Lovie Smith out in Chicago I could see him wanting out as well. I'm hoping his relationship with Hue in Oakland will allow us to land one of the best backup QB's in the league)
FA to resign
Cedric Peerman 2 years 2 million
Andrew Hawkins 3 years 5 million
Clark Harris 2 years 2.5 million
Kevin Huber 3 years 6.0 million
Andre Smith (franchise tag and then mid season extension) 5 years 40 million
Wallace Gilberry 2 years 3.5 million
Michael Johnson 5 years 33 million
Pat Simms 3 years 5 million
Thomas Howard 2 years 6 million
Adam Jones 2 years 8.5 million
Chris Crocker 1 year 1 million
Players to let walk: Bruce Gradkowski, Rey Maualuga, Brian Leonard, Benard Scott, Brandon Tate, Richard Quinn, Robert Geathers, Manny Lawson, Vincent Ray, Dan Skuta, Nate Clements, Terrance Newman, Jeremey Miles.
QB Andy Dalton, Jason Campbell (Bruce Gradkowski out) 2
RB BJGE, Kenjon Barner, Cedric Peerman, Theo Reddic, Chris Presley (B.Scott & Brian Leonard out) 5
WR AJ Green, Andrew Hawkins (resigned), Marvin Jones, Mohammed Sanu, Marcus Wheaton, Ryan Whalen (Brandon Tate out) 6
TE Jermaine Gresham(extended), Orson Charles, Michael Williams (Richard Quinn out) 3
DL Geno Atkins (extended), Domata Peko, Devin Still, Brandon Thompson, Pat Simms (resigned), Carlos Dunlop (extended), Michael Johnson (resigned), DaTone Jones, Wallace Gilberry (resigned) (Robert Geathers out) 9
LB Vontaze Burfict, Thomas Howard, Jelani Jenkins, Donte Moch, Darly Smith, Emmanuel Lamar, Brandon Johnson (Rey Maualuga, Vincent Ray, Dan Scuta, and Manny Lawson out) 7
SPECIAL TEAMS: 3
Mike Nugent or Josh Brown