I keep up with the mock drafts, and the Dre K news that came out this week is a little unsettling for us if we're looking at him. But, then, is it really? At best, if we're truly enamored with the prospect, we could use a Trent Richardson-hungry team like Cincy to trade back to the middle of the first round (where Dre K will still be available) and pick our third round pick back up. That would be considered a huge win for us if we were able to get that pick back AND land the guy we wanted anyway. That said, I always thought Alshon Jeffrey or Melvin Ingram are the pick here, even though I pull for the Chapel Hill Carolina instead of Columbia.
As for the DT's, I'm not saying there's anything wrong with either one of these players - to be completely honest, I haven't been evaluating this position for the reasons I'm about to lay out. They're probably both great, and both seem to be able to get push up the middle...however, does another defensive tackle fit into the hybrid 3-4 we're supposed to be building?
Reason #1 to stay away from the interior defensive line: our draft position. From what i know of this draft field, neither one of those guys commands a look in the top ten. I think the most important reason we stay away from Still and Brockers is because they're not good value where we're at.
More after the jump...
Let's be honest with ourselves, no one on the interior is the kind of standout guy that can come in and change the game right off the bat the way you have to to be deserving of a top ten pick (QB's aside). Still has had injury issues, and will have to make the jump to fighting against big, skilled guards in the NFL. This will take time. Brockers, even more so. What is he, like 21? It'd take time to bring that guy along, as well. If he ends up being outstanding it's worth the wait, however...
Reason #2: A penetrating defensive tackle isn't that important in the scheme we're building. Here again, assuming that I am tapped into what the coaching staff wants to do, but it seems to me like anytime there's a chance to pick someone new up we're looking at that flex 3-4 mold to get a guy. That puts more emphasis on the nose tackle to blow up the center, occupy a double team and hold the point of attack. That doesn't really call for the Terrell McClain type to be able to dance into the backfield and make open-field tackles. How much more sense does a guy who can step into the role we had Charles Johnson playing last year (stand-up on third down and play end on first and second). In that defense, the penetrating DT is going to move out to end in pass rush situations more often than not. In four linemen sets, Greg Hardy can actually move inside to play that position, as can Johnson. That seems ideal to me.
Reason #3: All the investment we have in the DT position as it is. We went out and blew our wad on Ron Edwards, who I believe Ron Rivera knew what he can get out of him and will next year. We've got a pair of third round draft picks we're bringing along, in Fua and McClain, who really fit the mold of what we need even if they got thrown to the wolves last year. After that, you have Ogemdi, who Rivera is very high on, and the two guys who we got the most production out of last year, in Andre Neblett and Jason Shirley, and finally big spoon Frank Kearse who looks like a nice young prospect. That's almost too much, folks, especially when you consider all those guys, except Ogemdi and Edwards, will be entering their second or third year. It's an embarrassment of riches comparable to our offensive line, assuming any of those guys come along. Then again, it could just be a junk heap. Does that junk heap hurt us as bad when we get Beason back in the middle, add an end rusher and cover better in the back? I think we'll find out soon.
Okay, so at this point I'm assuming I've convinced you guys we should build up our defense on the edges and in the backfield before addressing the interior line...so where do we go? If we're going to get anywhere near running a 3-4, I think a pair of linebackers with upside will be in order through the draft and free agency. The Steve Wilks hire makes me feel better about our DB's, and we've got to get him his guys. The first pick would be perfect there, but Dre K makes that more convoluted. I hope we can capitalize on this news.