The major free agency waves have passed. While there will be bargain deals as the draft gets closer (Okoye, Benson, *
HAWTHORNE) and absolute gems after the draft to fill the remaining holes (Andre Carter, Luis Castillo, London Fletcher), now is the perfect time to reassess the team's needs and share with the MHR community your views on the NFL Draft that is now only 23 days away! Take a look at mine, after the jump.
*Hawthorne signed a 5 year deal with the Saints. What is going on? Will Vilma be on the trade block, cut, or possibly even exiled from the NFL? The Hawthorne signing makes that five year deals for two of the top MLB in the free agency draft class, both to the Saints. Remember, they signed Lofton as well. Interesting...
As I mentioned earlier, free agency has filled an abundance of holes, especially for our team.
We thought we'd need to bring in more bodies at QB, possibly through the draft. The men upstairs signed one of the best "bodies" to ever play the game, in addition to signing the young, controversial Caleb Hanie for the next two years, and bringing in Dennis Dixon for a visit. We thought we needed to provide secondary help, specifically at FS and #2 CB; Mike Adams and Tracy Porter, two solid veterans, put pen to paper. Tight end was a split debate on MHR: some wanted to stick with the group of 4 from last year. Others thought it best to sign only Fells or only Rosario, or rely on the two rookies altogether. Perhaps the most levelheaded of the people on MHR supported a veteran FA signing. The radicals believed Coby Fleener, Orson Charles, etc. should be priorities in the draft. So what did EFX do? They checked TE off of their "To-do" list...twice.
So what DO we need now, you ask? Well, I think we can all agree that DT and RB are the two glaring needs heading into April. I'll add to that WR, OLB, MLB, DE, ranking from most important to least important. Those four "needs" can be classified as depth issues, big priorities, or somewhere in between, depending on the person.
1st round: Stephen Hill (WR), Georgia Tech a.k.a The Receiver Factory, 6'4" 215 LBs
Why give up our 1st round pick for Mike Wallace when we can easily grab a 6'4" version of him on a 4 year, new CBA rookie contract? Not to mention Hill's elite upside. He has great hands, excellent measurables, and is a very unselfish player who takes pride in his excellent blocking. I don't know how GA Tech continues to do it, while running a run-first offense.
2nd round: Chris Polk (RB), Washington, 5'11" 212 LBs
I remember when I liked this guy before and throughout the Senior Bowl, and most people hated the pick. Well guess what? After his Pro Day, I now LOVE him. He posted mediocre numbers during the Combine, but slimmed down all the way to 212 LBs by Washington's Pro Day, and went on to run a 4.45 40 yard dash. He also bench pressed 16 reps. Polk has the makings of an NFL workhorse, who can do everything at a high level, including catch the ball. He is a natural runner inside the tackles, and excels as an outside runner. One of his best attributes is running patiently.
3rd round: Josh Chapman (DT), Alabama, 6'1" 316 LBs
From Frank Cooney of Sports Xchange: "Chapman certainly would be higher on everybody's list, but he had surgery on Jan. 17 to repair a torn ACL. The injury actually occurred in an Oct. 1 game against Florida. But he played through the season before getting the surgery. Ironically, the importance and ability of this stout nose tackle was perhaps most dramatically demonstrated in Alabama's Nov. 19 game, the only one he sat out, when Georgia Southern took advantage of his absence and rushed for 302 yards. Although Chapman did seem less than 100 percent during most of the 2011 season, scouts took special note that he played injured. Previously, one of the questions about him was whether he had the dedication to be the best he could be. And when he is healthy, his best is impressive. Chapman is a short, stout, strongman who is especially good against the run. He plays with a powerful base and uses his strong arms and hands to discard blockers." I had my own analysis of him, but this one covers everything I had to say and more.
4th round (via NYJ): Derek Wolfe (DT), Cincy, 6'5" 295 LBs
It looks like Mr. Wolfe has put on 10 pounds since I last mocked him to the Broncos! But all that can do is make him more appealing as a pass rushing, high motor DT. The team might have to double, if not triple up on DTs now that Vickerson and Warren are the only two DTs on our roster who are under contract and not suspended. Wolfe is quick, has a huge frame, and never gives up on the play; he could be exactly what we need on our defensive line. A pass rushing specialist sort of player who can come in and disrupt a 3rd down play, completely changing the momentum of the game. Think Karl Klug of the Titans, who they drafted last year.
4th round: Jake Bequette (DE), Arkansas, 6'5" 274 LBs
Bequette is the epitome of a hard worker. He is not very athletic, but his brute strength gives him a devastating bull rush, and coupled with his good run awareness, Bequette is also a very good run defender. He is a relentless rusher who "picks up energy as the game goes on and gets the most out of his ability." His work ethic and desire to improve was evident as his production increased every year; he began his 4 year starting career as a freshman with 27 tackles (3 for loss) and 1 sack, and ended it as a senior with 28 tackles (10.5 for loss), 10 sacks, 5 FF, and 1 pass breakup. He would provide great depth at DE, and also compete with Ayers for the starting job.
5th round (via St. Louis): Travis Lewis (OLB), Oklahoma, 6'1" 246 LBs
Search "Travis Lewis" on Google Images and you'd think you just found a big safety. The man is a very good athlete with excellent build. In his freshman year, Lewis recorded 144 tackles, 13.5 for loss, and 3.5 sacks. He followed that up with two years of similar production, but fell down in his senior year due to nagging injuries. Lewis has great read & react skills that can be coupled with his reliability as a tackler and expertise in coverage to create a formidable linebacker in all aspects of his game. Not a bad insurance policy for DJ.
6th round (via NYJ): Vontaze Burfict (MLB), Arizona State, 6'1" 248 LBs
Oh, how quickly things can change. Once regarded a 1st round prospect, Burfict quickly went in the wrong direction, with his stock falling round by round until he got to this particular position. My own opinion of him has fluctuated more than Katy Perry's boyfriend in the song "Hot N Cold." However, I cannot help but take a look at the chance of selecting him in the 6th round, a player who has flashed 1st round talent before. I'm not sure, at all, how this pick will be engulfed by the MHR community, but I know picking Burfict is a debate topic worthy of The Great Debaters.
QB: Manning, Hanie, Weber
RB: McGahee, Polk, Moreno, Fannin
WR: Demaryius, Hill, Decker, Caldwell, J. Hill
TE: Tamme, Dreessen, Thomas, (Green)
LT: Clady, Harris
LG: Beadles, Ramirez
RG: Kuper, CJ Davis
RT: Franklin, Clark
DE: Dumervil, Hunter
DT: Chapman, Vickerson
DT: Warren, Wolfe
DE: Ayers, Bequette
WLB: (DJ), Woodyard, Lewis
MLB: Irving, Mays, Burfict
SLB: Von, Mohamed
FS: Adams, Moore
SS: Carter, Bruton
CB: Champ, Porter, Harris, Goodman, Squid