Preliminary thoughts about the upcoming off-season

So, we’ll have a new GM and a new HC soon. Probably a lot of other new Assistant Coaches, as well. I’m thrilled about all of that, TBH. But what about the players? Who do we try to keep? Who do we move on from? Who do we go after? Who do we draft? I think we have to look at the current roster (those we have still under contract, anyway), to see where our strengths & weaknesses are, before anything else. So I did, and here’s what I think about the needs at our position groups:

QB: Clearly we need at least a backup here. And with DJs neck injury, and general proneness to injury, not to mention his inconsistent play, there’s gonna be a need for a solid vet to be brought in to compete for the starting spot, &/or to be ready to step in if/when needed in 2022. Beyond that, who knows? Fingers crossed for Bryce Young in the ’23 draft! I think we’re looking at a Marcus Mariota, Tyrod Taylor-type—mobile, not too old, has had some success, but won’t break the bank Year 1. Need? Fairly high.

O-line: All roads lead here. How many genuine O-line upgrades do we think there are in this year’s draft? I’d be willing to bet on: Neal, Green, Ekwonu, Cross, Kinnard, Johnson & Linderbaum as Day 1 starters for us. One or two of these seven will probably under-deliver, though. Someone always does. There’ll probably be one or two "pleasant surprises" though, to make up for it. (Faalele, Raimann, Rhyan?) So, overall, I think there’ll be four guys in Rd 1/early Rd 2, and two more by the end of Rd 3, who would/could make a noticeable difference for us fairly soon. I want 3 of them! I think trading down the #7 pick let’s us add another 2nd Rd pick, giving us six picks in the Top 80. That’s the way to go. That’s the way to wind up with 3 of them, while still addressing some other needs, as well. Need? URGENT!

RBs: Trading Saquon now is a terrible idea. Let’s wait until he has a chance to build back some value. Can he stay healthy next year? Was that Week 17 game vs the Bears, or maybe the Saints game, something he’s capable of often enough to bring back some real draft capital (or, to decide to keep him)? We probably can get almost as much for him at the deadline next year as we’d get now, even if he doesn’t play a snap in the first half of next year. Selling low on a player with that much athleticism & potential makes no sense to me. Booker is okay as RB2, but if Spiller is there when our fourth pick comes up, I’d be all in on him. Need? Moderate.

WRs: My guess is that Shep, Slayton & Ross are gone. I also think we’re going to hear that Golladay has bruised ribs, and probably shouldn’t have played the last few games. That punch he took early in the 2nd Eagles game had him short-arming everything the rest of the year. He’s too good a player for there to be any other explanation, IMO. Toney is the Wild Card. If we can keep him on the field, he looks like a potential threat whenever he gets the ball in space. Maybe the next OC will figure out how to do that a couple or 3 times a game. The upshot: I’d be happy to grab one in the draft, but not until/unless we have reason to believe that the O-line has been addressed decently. There’s enough WRs with high upsides to feel like we might find one in Rd 4: Williams, Metchie, Olave, Wilson, Burks, Dotson, Pickens & Bell will all be gone by the end of Day 2, though. So if we want a high-floor guy like that, it’ll prolly have to be in Rd 3. Again, six picks in the Top 80 gives us a decent shot at one of them. Need? Moderate.

TEs: I really hope we keep Kyle & Kaden. I actually think they’re both very good TEs that we somehow couldn’t find a way to use properly. The next regime could find itself with a pair of blocking & pass-catching weapons already here, plus Rysen John coming back from injury as the speedier, deeper threat up the seam. That said, if Trey McBride falls to us in the 3rd, it’d be hard to turn him down. Same with Ruckert in the 4th or 5th, for sure. If we don’t bring back either/both of Kyle & Kaden, then TE becomes more of a need than a luxury/desire, obviously. Need? Moderate to High.

Edge/DE: Here’s the only other position I’d consider taking with the #5 pick. If Aidan or Kayvon somehow falls this far, done deal. Neal is worth #5, IMO, otherwise, I say we trade #5, too. With the next pick, which we hopefully have also traded down a few spots, I’d consider taking an edge, if we went O-line already (I’m not taking two edge rushers in a row, obviously). Ojabo, Karlaftis, and maybe someone rises from the next tier: Jermaine Johnson, Kingsley Enagbare, Arnold Ebiketie, Nik Bonitto, etc. I’d prefer a DE to an OLB, but either is fine if they get consistent pressure on the QB. Need? High.

ILB: A lot depends on how quickly/fully Blake returns to form, and of course, we won’t know that by draft time. So, I think we have to assume the worst and just have some depth there if he is good-to-go Day 1 of the pre-season. There are two who are highly-regarded by most: Nakobe Dean & Devin Lloyd. I can’t see them lasting until Rd 2, though. But is the value there for an ILB in Rd 2, when we still have so many other needs at supposedly deeper positions? Do I want an okay ILB when there is a real good Guard or OLB on the board? Doubtful. Need? Fairly High. (But likelihood? Low.)

DBs: So, Kyle Hamilton is being touted as the next great FS in the league. But so was Grant Delpit a couple of years ago (though, in fairness, Kyle is considered better than Grant was). More importantly, we already have a very good young FS in X-Man. So, IMO, there’s no way I’d spend a Top 10 pick on a position that is already a strength, when there are so many that are obvious weaknesses. And he damned sure won’t be there in Rd 2 unless his injury concerns make him fall—in which case, I don’t want to risk it either. Yes, there are supposed to be soe pretty good CBs coming out, and yes, the new GM may want to save some cap space by trading Bradberry &/or A-Jax. But unless we do get rid of one or both of them, I can’t see taking a CB before Rd 3. Again, too many other holes to worry about a position group that we’re actually pretty decent at. Need? Low.

IDLs: This is where I think many of you will disagree with me (not to say that you haven’t already!). I think we need a dominant run-stuffing NT. Especially if we lose Austin, which I think is likely. Yes, I am still "Run the Ball, and Stop the Run," Guy, first and foremost. We are not nearly as good at stopping the run as we were in 2020, and will be even worse in 2022 if we don’t add a very good NT somehow, somewhere. As you know, Jordan Davis is my draft crush, but I concede that we prolly won’t get him. I see him going in the Top ~16 or so. I don’t see us trading down past that, but I also don’t see us taking him with one of our first two picks. It’s going to be either Edge/O-line, or two O-linemen, right? So, our best-case scenario for an IDL is Devonte Wyatt in Rd 2. That’s only if we already took two O-linemen, or, if we traded down and have two 2nd Rd picks. I’d be fine with either scenario. But the odds are that we don’t get to add an IDL before Day 3, if at all. Need? Fairly High, but, you can’t fix everything in one draft…

Punter: Yes, punter. We need to cut Dixon ASAP. And Matt Araiza of SD St is my top choice to replace him with. Jake Camarda of Georgia and Ryan Stonehouse of Colorado St are also considered very good, but Araiza also handles PK and kickoff duties. Not that I want to get rid of Gano, but what if he gets hurt? Having his replacement already on the roster is a great option. Need? High.

So, that’s my story and I’m sticking to it! What do you guys think about these evals?

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