With 2 gaping holes on the O-Line, a need for a dynamic TE, and a playmaking outside WR, we are understandably focusing on offense in the draft and FA. This does not mean defense poses no concern at all, however. We have a lot of guys hitting free agency and with them ,we still had noticeable weaknesses.
Some units were strengths and some need work. No unrestricted free agents will be listed, but they will be mentioned as solutions to fill certain holes.
Haloti Ngata, Brandon Williams, Deangelo Tyson, Chris Canty, Kapron Lewis-Moore
The line did a great job all year. They stuffed runs and generated a decent pass rush at times. Having Arthur Jones here would be great but is not necessary at all. Considering McPhee can slide in at DE in passing downs and our recent streak of hitting on defensive lineman in the later rounds of the draft, we can draft another guy, graduate Tyson to a starter, and maybe sign cody to a minimum deal.
Terrell Suggs, Elvis Dumervil, Courtney Upshaw, Pernell McPhee, John Simon
The pass rush was great early,especially from Dumervil. With injuries, it slowed down greatly. Strangely, we had trouble shutting down the edge. Suggs, later in the season, had trouble holding position and was quick to push his man inside and let the runner go outside him. Upshaw had the worst PFF grade on the defense for his lack of a pash rush(I suppose) and he was not blowing up run plays like last year either. McPhee was good in spot duty as a pash rusher and Simon demonstrated potential as a run defender and pash rusher in the preseason.
Cutting Suggs here would allow us to bring back some other defensive guys and maybe a C or RT in FA, but I don't know if we can replace him even though we have great depth here. Pass rush could be a problem next season but trading Suggs for a second round pick could give us a guy who can rush and defend the run.
Arthur Brown, Jameel McClain, Josh Bynes, Albert McClellan
No one really shined at either Mike or Will. Brown needs to start next year. McClain should be cut
Smith is not really good as a run defender but he has been our best coverage lb in a long time. PFF thought he was average and he is getting up there in age. If he does not sign for cheap, find someone else in FA. I would like Rolando back and Bynes would be a last resort. Drafting promising depth would be good too.
Jimmy Smith, Lardarius Webb, Chykie Brown, Asa Jackson
Webb and Smith were awesome. So was Graham. If we let go of Sugg's huge contract, we should try to resign Corey unless Asa or even Chykie can replace that production. Drafting depth would help and if we don't sign Corey, another veteran would not hurt.
Matt Elam, Omar Brown
We need a true FS and depth. Elam performed admirably and could do better at SS. Trawick and Levine were pure ST and I don't expect them to do anything else in the future. That is why they are not listed. Signing Kendrick lewis or even ihedigbo as stopgaps would be fine. I don't think we can find a player for the future this year with our current needs on offense but next year could see us drafting a safety early. Drafting depth is fine.
Needs(assuming depth can be addressed easily):
FS, Mike lb
*The very same positions Lewis and Reed held