Welcome to the No Bull Pre-Draft Outlook. In case you missed the previous instalments on this series, you can find them here (and you should read them first as they are the reference points for a bunch of what I'm going to cover in this post):
Base-line for this review:
I'm just an arm-chair GM in this. I will try to keep my fan perspective out of my thought process as much as possible...its not personal, its just business. The end goal to me is our team getting a championship. Secondary to that is keeping the organization in sound position to do the same the next 5 years (meaning I won't ransom the 2014 season to get a bunch of big names for 2013).
Please note that my subject matter will not consist of all of our depth...I'm interested mainly in starting jobs and direct back-ups and will only touch on notable depth guys I see as taking a step up.
Special Teams Review:
Overall, I think we'll see a top-flight Special Teams unit again this year. Our punter is quietly one of the best in the NFL (I kinda dig that part of the game being quiet honestly). Denver's return game is supremely dangerous thanks to Trindon Holliday. The big thing I'm looking for with this unit is to get a better place-kicking game.
Matt Prater (K), Britton Colquitt (P): Love Britton, starting to hate Prater. Some people talk about Prater and make it about money. Well yeah, he got a silly contract and is paid too much. But my irritation with him specifically is with his performance. His accuracy blows and his distance on kick-offs is woeful. At altitude he should give us a huge advantage over other teams and he doesn't. I think we can do better. I for one will be aghast if he has no serious competition in camp.
NEEDS: We don't need to spend a draft pick on one, but we need a new kicker. Even getting a young guy who isn't as seasoned as Matt wouldn't be that big of a loss for us because Matt has been sucking anyway. At the very least we'd get the same production a hell of a lot cheaper.
I know it is kinda lame to say "Others", but that's what makes up the Special Teams units honestly. Its the backups that do the work. Plus, if I tried to tell you about the intricacies of return protections and coverage units, you'd just laugh at me cause I'd be talking out of my rear (Hey here's an idea...how about a MHR-U on special teams?)
The big news to me this year is that we kept David Bruton. That guy is worth keeping on a team just for his special teams contributions. He is a solid play-maker and at least once a year he makes something big happen in a phase of the game that is normally boring.
There is a loss I think we will miss though: Matthew Willis. I agree that letting him loose is the right move based on his offensive (pun intended) play last year. He was a hell of a gunner though.
NEEDS: I can't say specifically that we need any certain number of guys, but do keep in mind that we need guys to play Special Teams. This will influence us of course during the off-season. For instance, this would be the one thing in my mind that would keep us from keeping Brandon Stokley on the roster. Also, this has to be the only field-based reason that we hang onto Lance Ball (even though he's lackluster at special teams as well as everything else he does).
Wrap-up / Draft outlook:
As I've admitted before, I'm no draft guy. I don't watch college ball, so I don't have some Mock to give you. What I can do though is lay out what I think our needs are in order of importance based on this review series.
- Running Back - McGahee's age and Moreno's injury trouble worry me enough to look for a new guy this draft.
- Middle Line Backer - There are still situations where you want a 3rd LB on the field. We don't have a great guy for that yet.
- Defensive End - Von Miller is friggin awesome, but having multiple threats makes his job easier.
- Safety - Big hopes for Carter and Moore, but hedge your bets for the weakest position of our defensive backfield and get us a new safety.
- Kicker - I'd like us to improve on our kickoff distances and accuracy on FGs.
Luxury / Planning for the Future:
- Wide Reciever - I'm not overly worried about our WR group, but we may have contract problems as soon as next year. Get a guy in to start training now.
- Tackle - Again the worry here is contract based. Clady is being flaky ala Elvis Dramavil. The idea here is to not shoot yourself in the foot and get a solid LT to replace Clady if he doesn't start getting real.
- Cornerback - Bailey is going to need to be replaced and I'd rather get a guy some experience ahead of time.
- Quarterback - You drafted Oz last year. No need to draft another.
- Tight-End - We may not be able to keep the four we have. Serious strength on this team.
- Sam or Will Line backers - I see this as another great area of strength. I've seen enough from our young backups to know they are talented. Woodyard and Miller are the two best outside line backers for a 4-3 scheme in the game today.
- Fullback - You don't need to waste draft picks on a position that isn't even used > 80% of the time.