There are a few things from the Houston game that I think are pretty important as they impact our draft next year. Overall, it was a great game. The defense played big making some grand stops and forced some crucial turnovers that we have been missing all year long and the offense clicked when it needed too but more importantly didn't turn over the football.
That game leaves us 5-9 on the season and we will probably end up picking in the 7th to 12th range by seasons-end. It will really depend on if the Saints play their starters for the finale or not. But regardless of where we are picking, some key points stick out for me from the last game...
LB: Jordan Senn
I have to wonder... Do we need to draft another LB? Jordan Senn has been the guy who has been around the team for a number of years as a backup, but he has really started to play well recently. With Thomas Davis going out with yet another knee injury, WLB really looked like it was going to be a need next year. How do we replace a guy with the speed and athleticism that TD brought to the field? Well, I really don't think that you can, but that doesn't immediately make this a position of need.
Jordan Senn initiallly came in this year to replace Dan Connor at MLB when he was injured during the Detroit Lions game. However, he then started in place of Omar Gaither at the WLB spot, recording 10 tackles in the game against the Colts. Last week was definitely his break out game though, with a monstrous 14 tackles with a force fumble and an interception, both critical turnovers.
How does this effect our draft? In the event that we do cut ties with Thomas Davis, and given the already extremely deep talent we have at LB, the rise of Jordan Senn may alter the true need for another LB such as Zach Brown. Brown would be a good fit to replace TD as well, but we may have other more pressing needs...
CB: Brandon Hogan
This may be a bit more of a reach. Brandon Hogan came in and made very heads up play by forcing his man out of bounds inside the 5 yard line. He then let the receiver run on to the end zone where he caught a pass that would have been a TD. However, because of the force-out, illegal touching was called instead. For a rookie CB playing in what was I believe his very first NFL game, that shows some very good awareness and I came away pretty impressed.
Now the downside is that it was just one play. I have no way of predicting whether or not Hogan will end up being a replacement for one of our starting CBs or not. Anecdotal reports have been saying that Hogan has been doing very well in practice, lining up against Steve Smith. Given how dynamic Smith is, if other teammates are saying Hogan is doing well against him, then if nothing else I'm curious to see more. The next two games, I'd really like to see more of what he is capable of. If he can step up, we may not need to draft a CB as early as the 1st round.
But like I said, this is a bit of a reach. Time will tell if Hogan can develop into a starting roll for us.
So with the rise of Jordan Senn, that really makes me question the need of picking up a guy like Zach Brown to fill the LB spot presumably vacated by Thomas Davis. CB still remains murky in my eyes because it is clear that we do need help, but it is not clear whether or not we can get that help from Hogan or not. Almost nothing is more frustrating to me than actually forcing a 3rd and long, only for us to give up a gain of 15 yards through the air. However, the one thing I can say that is is when we give up those 10+ yards on the ground in a 3rd and manageable situation. In the end, I believe everyone can agree that our biggest area of need is going to be DT, but will there be a DT worth drafting at our position?