I just took a look at our team for the 2012 season, and our biggest need isn't LB, WR, or Safety, it is actually DE.
Our only DE's under contract for 2012 are Derrick Morgan
and Malcolm Sheppard
. I am not a huge Shep fan, and I am not too high on the team resigning Dave Ball
or William Hayes
. I would rather they resign Jason Jones, and use the number 1 draft pick to get a guy like Courtney Upshaw or Mercilus from Illinois. If Quinton Coples is available then even better (he is supposed to be a top 10 pick).
So if we just resign Jones, who shouldn't command blue chip money, then we can use our 1st round pick to be our primary backup DE. We could use a 3rd, 4th or 5th round pick for our 4th DE, and we would be alright for the 2012 season. Keep in mind that we will likely get an extra 3rd or 4th round pick in compensation for Babin, and maybe an extra 4th or 5th in compensation for Tulloch. That is 9 picks for next year.
I know some of you would rather a LB or a Safety, but looking at the upcoming talent it is likely we will get better value in drafting a DE with out 1st round pick. There doesn't appear to be a 2012 safety that is worthy of a 1st round pick, and I've never been much of a fan of using a 1st round pick on a 4-3 linebacker. You can find guys like Lance Briggs
, Leroy Hill
and Karlos Dansby
in the later rounds. As for WR, I think D. Williams is breaking through. We should be fine with Britt, Washington, Williams and Mariani (Hawkins is a free agent, and I would be fine in resigning him as our 4th WR or getting another cheap veteran free agent/late round draft pick).
So basically, my position is go for a DE. Outside of QB, they may be the most important position on the field. Also, there is some decent mid first round talent that we could get.
Our needs, as I see them, are:
1. DE (Mercilus, Coples - pipedream, Upshaw)
2. LB or S (Te'o, Hightower, T.J. MacDonald, Ray Ray)
3. LB or S (Ronnell Lewis, M. Barron, Markel Martin)
5. TE (to replace Graham who is a FA)