I wasn't thrilled with the Stephen Jackson signing....just because I wanted money spent on defense. I'm delighted that he's on the team, now that the die is cast. We certainly needed a running back, I've just seen so many middle round draft picks at running back be very successful. However, he's a specimen who is a leader, and he wants to win so badly that he opted out of the last year of a 7 million dollar contract with the Rams, so that he could sign with us for $4 million a year. I like that.
Add the resigning of Tony Gonzalez, and the plan for the 2013 season is obvious.....we plan on scoring 38 points a game and hoping the defense can allow themselves to get run over slowly. Truth is, we just want a defense that does not give up big plays and maybe gets a couple of turnovers.
We signed Osi Umenyora (I know that's not how it's spelled, but I don't feel like looking it up) for a defensive end....I'm OK with that. We needed a body there. We might wind up resigning John Abraham at a discount. We'll see.
We cut Dunta Robinson and Tyson Clabo. The last one surprised me, but I think we were trying to make cap space.
Alright....on to the draft. We needed cornerbacks and defensive ends, in my opinion. We also needed a project tight end, and a defensive tackle would be nice.
1st round...we traded up 8 spots to select CB Desmond Trufant. He is universally regarding as a can't miss player...and it was at a glaring weakness. I've read that we gave up a lot to get him, but the Vikings took a corners a few picks later, and the Patriots wound up trading down after the elite ones were taken....so, trading up was a smart move.
2nd round...we stayed put and drafted CB Robert Alford...He's a fast CB who is also a kick returner. He was tackled by Trufant on a kick return in the Senior Bowl.....small world. Mel Kiper thought he was a late 1st rd candidate, so it appears to be good value.
4th round....we picked up a Clemson defensive end Malliciah Goodman. He wasn't very productive, but appears to be a genetic freak who can hold down the left end position. He has extremely long arms and 11 inch hands...for what's that's worth. Maybe he'll grow with NFL coaching. We also drafted a tight end from Stanford, Levine Toilolo. He's 6-8. That's a good place to start. He needs to grow into the position, I think. He looks kinda lean...but he's 6-8, after all. A year playing behind Tony Gonzalez can't hurt.
We added a pass run specialist at defensive end in the 5th rd...Stansly Maponga. I think he's a rotational player on passing downs.
We closed with a couple of safeties...Kemal Ishmael and Zeke Motta, and a QB from Duke, Sean Renfree. Apparently Motta is supposed to be a steal...he ran a horrible 40 time at the combine and his draft stock plummeted. He could just be over rated because he played for Notre Dame. That's why they think he's a steal. Who knows? The QB is intriguing. He is a sleeper. Maybe he'll grow into a great backup, and future trade fodder. It's obvious Matt Ryan ain't going any where.
I saw 6 different draft ratings. Kiper gave us a B. 3 other sites gave us B's. 1 site gave us a A, and one gave us a C+.
I'm sure our rating was hurt by not having a 3rd round pick. In my opinion, we addressed most of the needs. I would have liked a better DE and another defensive tackle, but you can't have super stars everywhere. Our fortunes this year depend on the following:
- avoiding injury
- inexperienced offensive line stepping up
- young corner backs playing great
One more note about the offensive line....I think the right side of our offensive line will be Konz, Reynolds, and Lamar Holmes. There is a lot of inexperience there. I hope they can put it together.
Our schedule looks hard, but we could get off to a good start. The Dolphins are really improved, from what I read.
We could split our divisional games, and lose to the Patriots, Packers, Seahawks, and 49ers. Those are all losable games. That would put us 9-7. So, that's my worst case scenario. Perhaps we can sweep a divisional rival (Bucs, maybe), and put down either the Patriots or Seahawks (both those games are at home). I would take 11-5 and another NFC South Division Championship. Get into the playoffs, and anything is possible.
One final note....Stansly Maponga is very fun to say. Try it. I hope he makes the team.