In March, I wrote a blog called “Tanny and the Draft” in which I attempted to identify tendencies of Mike Tannenbaum when it comes to team building and the draft. See attached link:
Cliff notes: Regarding last year’s team, I like most others here identified the most obvious need of that team as an improvement in the pass rush generated by the front seven. But given Tanny’s alleged tendencies and Free Agency, I thought WR and O Line might over take Pass Rusher as the greatest need for next year’s team. Now some things have occurred since that post that have strengthened my view.
After the jump, an update to “Tanny and the Draft.”
Since my original post, it has been announced that Damien Woody has been cut (presumably due to his injuries and questions about the length of his recovery). It has also been announced that Brandon Moore underwent hip surgery with a potential recovery time of 3-6 months (May – August, with possibly no team oversight of the recovery due to the lockout). Furthermore, it has been announced that Cotchery played last year with a herniated disc and underwent surgery this off season (again, with no team oversight). Finally, Santonio Holmes, who is at any time in danger of a year-long suspension due to his love of the green (that is marijuana, weed, pot, sweetleaf, mary jane, and not the Jets or GreenBeer), has come out posturing for a big contract and market testing . http://sports.yahoo.com/nfl/news?slug=nfp-20110409_santonio_holmes_not_going_to_sign_his_restricted_tender
With Santonio Holmes, Braylon Edwards, Brad Smith, Wayne Hunter and Robert Turner as FAs, and Cotchery’s and Moore’s injury status uncertain, and Damien Woody being cut… and add to this that the draft occurs with an uncertain FA and Salary Cap status… and finally consider my contention that Tanny drafts for leverage in contract negotiations… The overwhelming result is that WR and O Line are undoubtedly a serious need.
Counter these Offensive needs with the needs in the front seven on defense, and the needs on Offense overtake easily. Consider that all players but Sean Ellis are set to return to the front seven of the defense of this team. This same front seven with Ellis led a defense that ranked in the top three in total defense two years running. Now consider that last year’s Offense struggled at times and now seems destined to return seriously weakened unless it is addressed through the Draft or Free Agency.
We can look at the most obvious holes on the team. I posted the current roster in a post called “Current Roster: Cut and Slash Away” [ http://www.ganggreennation.com/2011/2/18/2001772/current-roster-cut-and-slash-away ]. This post was prior to the cuts of Woody, Jenkins, Gholsten and Hartstock. Here you can see that we really need WRs. We also need a DE, O Line and DBs just to fill out the roster. You may also notice that Tanny has been loading up on LBs and D Line through Free Agency from practice squads and the like to attempt to address those front seven Defense needs. But the current roster is weak at WR, O Line and Safety.
Our FAs that fill our immediate needs are listed as follows with an estimated potential one year cost, as well as, current roster players that could take their spot:
Sean Ellis, DE - $2-5 mill (Ropati Pitoitua, Marcus Dixon, Jarron Gilbert).
Antonio Cromartie, CB - $6-8 mill (Kyle Wilson).
Drew Coleman, Nickel CB - $1-3 mill (Kyle Wilson, Dwight Lowery).
Brodney Pool, S - $1.5 – 2.5 mill (Dwight Lowery).
Eric Smith, S - $1-2 mill (Dwight Lowery).
Santonio Holmes, WR - $5-8 mill (Logan Payne).
Braylon Edwards, WR - $5-7 mill (Patrick Turner).
Brad Smith, KR, WR(?), Cat QB - $1-4 mill (Joe McKnight, KR)
Wayne Hunter, OT - $1.5(?) mill (Vlad Ducasse).
Robert Turner, OT - $1.5(?) mill (Vlad Ducasse).
Injured players who remain questionable for a successful return next year, followed by their potential replacements, include:
Jim Leonard, S (Dwight Lowery)
Jerricho Cotchery, WR (Logan Payne)
Brandon Moore, G (Vlad Ducasse)
Notice how expensive and uncertain the group of WRs are. Notice the weakness at O Line as well as the weakness of potential replacements. Safety and CBs are important but the replace-ability and cost is more reasonable due to Kyle Wilson and Dwight Lowery. In the defensive front seven, all it takes is the return of Sean Ellis and we are back to status-quo which was good enough for a top three defense last year.
We have to trust (and I do) that Tanny and the group know what they are doing. Therefore, at 30, I would not be surprised by OT/OG to sure up the O Line, WR to address the uncertainty at WR/KR, or CB /S to save cash over Cro and strengthen the secondary into the nickel position. Finally, DE or D Line would protect against Sean Ellis asking too much but I am not sure that will be an issue. OLB would help the already good defense but may leave holes elsewhere. Barring the availability of an elite option at 30 in these areas, or the knock-the-socks-off drop of another talent, I would trade out of the pick and try again in the mid-second with the best player available as described by need above.