2009 Team Needs
free agency and the draft
By Jay Goldberg
Not a need
||Cutler is a good young
quarterback. Ramsey is an UFA. The team will need to
resign Ramsey or bring in another quarterback to back up
Cutler. They could also draft a young quarterback to groom
as a back on day two of the draft.
||The Broncos have a lot of
bodies here but no sure things. Pittman is an UFA, Torain
looked good in a brief stint but has been injured much more than
healthy as a Bronco, Bell is best served as a change-of-pace back,
Young has flashed in the past so their is some hope, Hillis is
solid but doesn't have big-play ability, Aldridge can fly but is
too small to be a number one back. Look for Denver top add a
back later in the draft to add to the mix of potential starters.
||Marshall and Royal are two
excellent starters, and Royal could excel in a Wes Welker-like
role in ne coach McDaniel's offense. Darrell Jackson is an
UFA. Chad Jackson is familiar with new offense since he was
drafted by New England and could finally emerge as a contributor
in the NFL. Look for Denver to bring in a receiver or two
since the new offense will use a lot of multiple receiver sets.
||Graham is another player
familiar with the new offense. Scheffler's role could
decrease because the new offense is not tight end oriented.
If Jackson comes back healthy it wouldn't surprise me if the
Broncos moved Scheffler during the draft and grab a tight end who
is a better blocking/receiving combination.
||The Broncos' offensive line
is solid. Clady was a great pick and will have a long, Pro
Bowl NFL career. Harris did better than I expected at right
tackle. The Broncos need here is to bring in some bodies to
compete for backup roles.
||The Broncos are going to a
3-4 and I'm not sure who on their roster can fill out the starting
lineup. Powell could possibly kick outside to end in the
3-4, maybe Thomas can also. Robertson was ushered out of New
York because he didn't fit the 3-4 defense. Crowder and Moss
will have to try their hands at OLB. This team needs to
rebuild its entire defensive line.
||In the 3-4, Williams will
be one of the inside linebackers. Woodyard is scrappy, but
may be too small to play inside in the 3-4. He could either
mover to strong safety or be the team's nickel linebacker.
Webster is an UFA who will, most likely, not be brought
back. Outside Moss, Crowder and Winborn will get looks and
the Broncos hope at least one comes through. This team needs
||I like the Broncos'
cornerbacks. Bailey and Bly are a very good starting pair,
Bell and Williams showed some skills and can improve, and I'm
still waiting for Paymah to stake a claim to a significant role on
defense. Strong safety Barrett is a player who I like a lot
and who is only going to get better. He has very good speed
and makes big hits. The team needs a new starting free
||Competition needs to be
brought in for Prater, although he has a big leg and using him
again next year would not be bad. Kern is a good
young punter. Royal is an excellent young return man and based on
the "New England" model, using the starting slot
receiver (Welker in New England) on punts is not something that the new coach
will frown upon.
Not a need
||Too bad Croyle is so injury
prone, I like his skills, but the team has to move on.
Thigpen played well when he took over and will be, at worst, given
a chance to start. Look for the Chiefs to bring in someone
to compete for the starting job with Thigpen in camp.
quarterback decision could impact the direction the Chiefs go at
running back. Johnson is not a good fit in the spread
offense so he is not a good fit with Thigpen. Charles is a
better fit in that offense but not as a full time starter.
Smith is a solid sub. Battle has good size and speed and
could surprise in camp. The need here depends on what the
team decides to do with Johnson.
||Bowe is a top talent.
Bradley has skills too, but needs to stay healthy. Franklin
and Robinson have potential, and Webb has also flashed at times,
but the team needs to add a talented receiver as Bradley-insurance
who can also play in three receiver sets.
||Gonzalez is still the best
tight end in the NFL. There is talk he may want out of
Kansas City. Cottam is a terrific young prospect behind
him. I believe he will be very good when given the chance to
start. Depth is needed behind these two, especially if
Gonzalez is traded.
||The Chiefs are set on the
left side. They need improvement on the right side,
especially if they move away from the spread offense. One
answer could be to move center Niswanger to right guard.
Then the team will need a center.
||This unit needs to be
rebuilt. Hali must move back to right end and a pass rusher
needs to be found at right end. The team needs to install a
scheme that makes better use Dorsey. He was wasted last
year. DT Tyler should be a backup along with DE
McBride. Therefore, a starting tackle also needs to be
||Johnson and Williams have
talent but did not have particularly good years last year, and
both are most effective at WILL. The Chiefs need a middle
linebacker and a SAM.
||This is the best unit on
the Chiefs' defense. Flowers, Carr and Leggett are three
young promising corners. Page is steady at free
safety. Pollard has mad skills but needs to be a more reliable
tackler, if not Morgan could take away his starting spot.
||The Chiefs need to bring in
a kicker to challenge and hopefully unseat Barth. Robinson
needs to show he is the difference-making return man he was in
college or he will be cut. I like the kid's talent, but this
could be a case where his unimpressive measureables indicate that
he may not be able to transfer his skills to the NFL.
Not a need
||Russell took a nice step
forward. Considering the lack of talent at receiver that was
no minor accomplishment. Russell will be fine. Walter
will return as an unhappy backup. Tuiasosopo is an
UFA. He should be available to be resigned if Oaklnad cannot
upgrade that position in the offseason.
||Fargas, McFadden and Bush
give the Raiders a talented three-headed option at running
back. Unless they move one of their three backs, the Raiders
have no need at running back.
||If I could give this a
rating worse than red I would. Youngsters Higgins, Schilens
and Shields could fill the final three receiver spots, but the
team needs two new starters. Of the three young players, if
Shields is healthy he could have the best 2009.
||Miller is developing into
one of the better tight ends in the league. Stewart, a goods
blocker, is an UFA. Strong is a young player with a
chance to be a solid backup tight end.
||Grove and Carlisle are UFAs
who the team has a decent shot at resigning. Gallery has
developed into a very good guard. Henderson played left
tackle, but the team would be best served if it found a stud left
tackle and moved Henderson to the right side. Depth is also
||The Raiders defensive line
has a lot of "ehh". Each player has some pluses as
well as some minuses. Burgess should be the best of the
bunch but he had an injury-plagued and off year. The team
will have to find a role for Kelly because of the contract they
gave him. He is just okay. A playmaker outside and a
run-stuffer inside are needed.
||This is a good unit.
Some blame Morrison in the middle for deficiencies in the run
game. Not me, I blame the Raiders' tackles. Howard is
an athletic WILL who keeps improving. I like him, but he has
his detractors too. The team does need a SAM. Alston
is best served as a WILL.
||Asomugha and Chris Johnson
are a good cornerback tandem, however Johnson is an UFA. So
is backup corner Miller. Routt hasn't developed as hoped but
there is still time. The Raiders will look to add a corner
to either start if Johnson leaves or to be their nickel. At
safety Wilson was all the team hoped for when signed as a free
agent from the Giants. An upgrade from Huff and Eugene could
be added at free safety.
||Punter Lechler, the best in
the biz, is a free agent. So is Miller a dynamic kick return
man. Higgins (punt return) and Janikowski (kicker) are fine.
Not a need
||Rivers, Volek and
Whitehurst are a very solid one, two, three.
||There appears to be a war
of words between LT and GM Smith. LT could be gone this
offseason. Sproles is an UFA and, if he can get a bigger
role than the Chargers will offer him, could bolt. Bennett
flashed, but don't get too excited, he has done that from time to
time in his career but doesn't have long term staying power.
Hester is a good fullback, can fill in at running back, but is not
starting material as a halfback. The Chargers will add a
running back higher in the draft than many think.
||This is an underrated
unit. Chambers, Jackson, Floyd, and Naanee are four good
receivers. This doesn't even include former high draft pick
||Tight end is another very
good and deep unit. Gates is top drawer, Manumaleuna plays
well whenever he is given a chance, Wilson is a solid backup
and special teams' player, and Chandler. is a young player worth
||The line did not perform as
well in 2008 as it did in prior years, or was it the runners
fault? Starting right guard Goff is an UFA and will need to
be replaced. The team could also look for a new right
||Olshansky, Williams and
Castillo are a good starting defensive line. The unit needs
better backups so these big bodies can get a little more rest and
||This unit needs the return
of Merriman and will get it. He makes Phillips a better
player. Tucker got valuable experience with Merriman out and
now will be a top reserve. Cooper is a stud in the
middle. Dobbins is steady. He beat out Wilhelm, a
player who may need a change of scenery to resurrect his career.
||I love this teams'
corners. Jammer, Cromartie and Cason give the team three
players othyer teams would love to have. Weddle had a solid
rookie year but needs to play under a bit more control. I
believe he will successfully make that adjustment. Hart's
play fell off and he was replaced by Gregory. Look for San
Diego to try to upgrade free safety in the offseason.
||Kaeding and Scifres are
fine. Sproles is a great return man but is an UFA and will,
most likely, have to be replaced when he leaves for another team.
Not a need
||Warner is an UFA and has
also uttered the "R" word (retirement). Leinart
i9s waiting in the wings. Third QB, St. Pierre is also an
||James has a big price tag
and will, most likely, not be back. Arrington is an
UFA. Despite what they might hope and think, Hightower is
not a starting caliber NFL running back. He is an excellent
change-of-pace battering ram who can be used in short yardage and
on the goal line. The Cardinals will draft a starting
||Even if Boldin moves on,
which is what he is saying he wants right now, receiver is a
position of strength for Arizona. Fitzgerald is one of the
best players in the league and will be fine paired with Breaston
if not Boldin. Urban has also shown some good things and
Doucet has potential.
||Spach is an UFA. Pope
is a tall tight end who hasn't developed as quickly as the
Cardinals had envisioned. Of all the Cardinals tight end,
however, I like the potential of Patrick. Still, the team
will look for possible upgrades at tight end.
||This is a solid unit.
In a draft deep at center, the Cards could bring in competition
for Sendlein. They could also add depth.
||Look for youngsters Watson
and Campbell to move into the starting lineup next year improving
an already solid unit. Dockett is the other
starter. Branch and Iwebema are young players with talent
who provide depth.
||Dansby is an UFA who
Arizona cannot afford to lose. OLB/DE hybrid Berry is also
an UFA, although LaBoy, if he can stay healthy is a better player
in the Cardinals' scheme. Hayes and Okeafor are solid
starters. If Dansby leaves, Arizona will need to find a replacement.
They also need an OLB/DE as a backup if Berry leaves because of
LaBoy's history nof injuries.
||Rodgers-Cromartie had a
nice rokkie year and will get better. Hood is okay opposite
him, but the Cardinals' could be best served with him at nickel
and Brown at dime. Wilson is one of the best safeties in the
league. I like Rolle at free safety. Francisco is a
good backup safety. A corner who could start might be added.
||The Cardinals kicking and
punting games are fine, but they could use a dynamic return man,
especially of Breaston moves into the starting line-up.
Not a need
||Bulger has gone from top
starter to middle of the pack starter very quickly. It's
time for the Rams to draft their quarterback of the future.
the future is, depends upon how Bulger rebounds next year.
To make matters worse, Trent Green is the backup and the last
thing anyone wants to see if Green taking a big hit, again.
||Jackson is one of the
better running backs in the league, but both Minor an UFA and
Pittman are best as the #3 backs on the roster, not the primary
backup. Leonard is also not a back I would feel comfortable
turning the offense over to if Jackson got hurt.
||Holt carries a big cap
number and it will be interesting to see if he gets moved in the
offseason. Avery is going to be a star in the league.
I had a first round grade on this kid and was not surprised he was
the first receiver taken in the draft. Just check out his
workout numbers which show why he is so good on the field.
After Holt and Avery, however, Stanley is a valuable player to
have as a backup receiver, but that's about it for me. I'm
not as high on Burton as the Rams are and Bennett cannot stay
||McMichael coming back from
injury will help. Klopfenstein hasn't developed as I thought
he would, but I wouldn't give up yet. Becht is a good
blocker. This is a solid unit.
||Ingocnito is an UFA, but
the Rams have some young guards they like ready to step in. Pace
is still a solid old pro at left tackle. However, an upgrade
over Barron at right tackle and a center could be added.
||If Little is healthy, he
gives the Rams bookend ends (Long). At tackle, Ryan is okay
on the nose, but could be improved upon and, if not, a better
backup is needed. Carricker is wasted at tackle. he
has good athletic ability and should be an end. that won't
happen with Little and Long on hand. Glover is an UFA.
||This team needs a true
middle linebacker. Witherspoon is best served at WILL.
If Witherspoon stays in the middle, Tinoisamoa
is a solid WILL. An upgrade at SAM is needed and more depth.
||Bartell is an UFA and is
heading for a big pay day, either with the Rams or another
team. It's time for Hill to step up and be the corner he has
the innate ability to be. Wade is another corner with
potential. However, if Bartell leaves corner will be a
need. At safety Atogwe has developed into a better free
safety than I thought he would be. However, the team needs
an upgrade at strong safety.
||The Rams kicking/punting
game is a strength. Stanley is a young return man who could take a
big step next year.
Not a need
||I thought Rodgers was
better than Smith and boy is that proving right. Hill is a
keeper. I believe he will not only be the 49ers starting
quarterback, but will play well and hold the job for years.
O'Sullivan is an UFA who, most likely, won't be back. A
veteran backup should be added.
||Gore, Foster and Robinson
are a good unit. The 49ers could bring in competition for a
||I love the potential of
Jason Hill, even more than Josh Morgan who seems to held in
slightly higher regard Hill. Both should have break out
campaigns in 2009. Bruce is still a solid pro. Johnson
is an UFA. Zeigler is another kid I like, a lot, he has
great hands. Look for the 49ers to add a receiver to be
their #5 wideout who can compete to be their top return man.
||No one is happier to see
Martz go than Davis. He was a forgotten option on the
passing game for Martz. However, he is a good two-way
(block, catch) tight end. Walker is a good receiving
threat. Bajema is a good blocker.
||With the possible exception
of right tackle (Snyder), the 49ers line should come back intact
next year. Depth is needed.
||This is a steady unit that
has room to improve if Balmer can contribute in his sophomore
season. Sopoaga, Franklin, and Smith are a solid
starting unit. Depth at nose tackle could be a concern
because Fields is an UFA.
||Willis is the best young
linebacker in the league. Spikes played well next to
him. ON the outside Haralson came on strong and is a pass
rushing force at OLB. At one time I thought Lawson was going
to be a terror at OLB in the 49ers' 3-4. I no longer feel
that way. Many point to injuries slowing him down, but I
remember disappointment prior to the injuries, especially as far
as rushing the passer was concerned. The team also needs to
address depth here.
||The 49ers need a corner to
come in and start opposite Clements. Harris is okay, but
aging, Spencer looked like a good nickel before getting injured,
and Strickland has also looked good at time, but is best
served as a backup. At safety Lewis is an in the box
strong safety who isn't at his best in coverage and Roman
represents the "safe" in safety. He doesn't make
mistakes, but he doesn't make big plays either. It's time
for some changes in teh 49ers secondary.
||Nedney and Lee are solid,
Rossum is a good return man but is an UFA. If he leaves the
49ers will need a new one.
Not a need
||Hasselbeck needs a bounce
back year. Wallace played well when Hasselbeck was out and
will be looking to move on soon. Frye is an UFA.
Seattle needs to draft a young quarterback to groom behind
||Morris is an UFA.
Jones had opportunities in Dallas and Seattle to grab the major
share of the running game and didn't. He may get another
shot with the Seahawks, but it wouldn't surprise me if Seattle
drafted a back to pair with Duckett, whose role should expand in
||Branch is the best of the
bunch but is injury-prone. Engram and Robinson are UFAs.
Burleson and Obomanu are returning from injuries, but neither is a
feared option. Seattle needs to add a couple of receivers, one
in free agency and one in the draft.
||Carlson had a nice rookie
year. He should start for years. Heller, a good
blocker, is an UFA. Newton showed some promise.
||This line has some pieces
and could an efficient line could be put together from those
pieces. However Womack and Willis are UFAs so a guard could
be added to the mix and upgrades will be looked at all along the
line except for left tackle.
||Kerney, Tapp and Jackson
are a good trio at end. Mebane is a player on the rise at
tackle. Bernard is an UFA. Red Bryant is a young
player with mad skills who could step in. Look for Seattle
to add a pass rusher to play off the bench and a tackle.
||Hill is an UFA as is backup
Lewis. If Hill leaves Seattle will have to find a
replacement because they do not have one on their bench.
Peterson and Tatupu are very good starter. depth is needed
but will have to come from rookies if Hill is signed because of
all the money Seattle will have tied up in their three starting
||Trufant, Wilson, Jennings
and Babineaux are a solid group of corners. However, if a
strating caliber corner with size falls into their lap in the
draft I could see the Seahawks pulling the trigger. Grant
and Russell are steady, aging, replaceable safeties. Look
for Seattle to look at safeties in the draft.
||The Seahawks special teams
are solid all around.