Looking at the team you'll see that we have a definitive future in very few positions: Defensive End, Center, Left Tackle. There are a couple of positions which we could be ok at which are Middle LB and Cornerback. The Other positions: Defensive Tackle(maybe), Guard, Right Tackle, Wide Receiver, Quarterback, Outside LB, Running Back, Fullback, and both Safeties are either going to be gone or are not starting caliber. In the golden years of 2009-10 I would have spent the entire draft on Defense, a good Running Back (maybe Eddie Lacy?), and a little bit of O-Line in that order. Unfortunately this isn’t 2009-2010, our offense is going to be more complicated and requires many more skilled players in order to be successful so that is going to complicate our draft and Free Agency pickups. My core belief is still mostly in line with the old ways: build an elite defense right now, draft some O-Line, but pick up and draft more weapons for the offense, and DON'T DRAFT A QB. You may groan at not drafting a QB but I really don't see any QB that will set us up for playoffs in the future in the upcoming draft. So we should just draft enough weapons to make our offense functional and allow a young explosive defense to do their thing, this will be the 2013 season and the we'll do our thing from there. This may sound a bit better than it probably will turn out but this will be a big step to a perennial playoff team in the future.
Calvin Pace is gone and Bryan Thomas is probably going to retire, leaving Ricky Sapp and Garrett McIntyre as the only OLB’s on the roster as of now, although they aren’t that much worse than Pace and Thomas if not a slight upgrade over them. We already have half of the pieces needed for an Elite Pass Rush (Mo Wilkerson, Quinton Coples, and Mike DeVito assuming he resigns and only need one more piece for the Puzzle, a good, solid OLB. With Landry, Bell, and Possibly Revis going the secondary in all likelyhood is going to be weaker than it has been in previous years, however if we have an elite pass rush we won’t necessarily need a super-elite stud covered secondary to be a functional defense. The OLB position needs to be explosive and quick in order to rush the passer and stop the run which we sorely needed this past season.
First Priority in the Draft, Draft an OLB using our first round pick. My number one choice as of now is Barkevious Mingo because he hasn't had any recent injuries and claims he's gotten bigger and faster, Dion Jordan is my close second, the only reason being his torn labrum, and last is Jarvis Jones, he is the best OLB in the draft with his speed and toughness but his spinal stenosis is scary considering how few years he could play. Who we draft is going to really rely on the combine: is Mingo as strong as he claims, is Jordan still dominant as he was before the torn labrum, how is Jones' medical evaluation, all of these questions will have to be answered after the combine, but as of now my pick is Mingo because he is the safest pick as of now. What about the other OLB? I'm thinking Connor Barwin, if he was on the team this year he would've been leading in tackles and sacks in the team so he's an obvious upgrade over our former and current OLB's, and he should be relatively cheap because of his disappointing season last year. If we can't get him I think Garret McIntyre will be satisfactory for now and will be able to stay low given the strengths of our other pass rushers and we could replace him later on unless he has a breakout year this year. If we draft an OLB this year our pass rush will significantly improve, paired with a great secondary and we'll have the elite defense of old.
Look out for Part 2 later on!