You should probably jump over to my CB Summary before reading this. In that summary, I walk through many of the reasons we need to be focusing very heavily on CB, FS/SS and LB in this draft. It’s not just that our AFC North division is usually stacked with talented WR’s (and will restock after the loss of Antonio Brown). We also have seen the proliferation of read-option (RPO) and vertical down-field schemes like Air Raid that stretch and test defenses tremendously to all corners of the field.
These play-action RPO situations also produce some devastating run opportunities. All of this stresses out the players with defensive responsibilities up the middle and on the edges. Our starters and our depth at these positions is quite frankly not good enough to regularly combat these schemes! Remember how bad we looked against Baltimore last season with all the motion and misdirection they used? Get used to that…
I think what we’re going to need are guys with the right athletic profiles, tackling skills and especially ball skills. That athleticism is going to be very important in our LB group and is a 100% requirement in the secondary. We are very likely to be matching up against larger and explosive receivers in the division. We will need Corners and Safeties that can body them up, press and redirect.
We need players that can play the ball while it’s in the air and disrupt. We need to draft those guys that have a track record of creating turnovers. We are going to have a very high-powered Offense, the Defense’s job #1 is to get the ball back to our Offense!
There will be times we have to admit we won’t be able to contest a lot of catches against certain receivers, so tackling becomes paramount to limit the damage. Enter our Safeties. These guys must have the required skills and physicality to bring down the AJ Greens of the world, and possibly in the very near future, DK Metcalf!
Good news: This Draft has an incredible amount of depth in the secondary, with legit Year 1 starters all the way into Round 5 and high ceiling contributors into the top of Round 7! There are some serious ball-hawks and a few guys that are well known for their elite work against the run game as a SECOND skill set. Perfect Multiple-type players that fit our Possession Player profile.
Here is how our up-the-middle guys graded out for Tackling Grade. Not spectacular! We need some ball-hawking, physical players added to this roster.
You will find these skill-set themes running through the players I think we should be drafting. And you can see from my Mock Drafts that I think the priority is so high, that we should use the majority of our picks on CB, SS/FS and LB. Our depth is made up of practice squad quality guys…Buddy Boy needs to fix this pronto!
Here are the grades I give to the Safeties on our current roster. Remember, I am crossing out most of the depth players because they are absolutely expendable. Major upgrades needed: