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Where we stand after the draft (OFFENSE) ...
Here's my take on the offense:
Quarterbacks - Is there any man on the face of the earth happier than Marc Bulger? Hard to tell how "happy" he really is I guess, but considering the debacle of the past two years, he must be gleaming. A revamped offensive line, a real fullback, a new coaching staff, a real front office, and an offensive system that has his name written all over it. Bulger's accuracy and quick release make him perfect for Shurmur's system. If his confidence comes back, Bulger should easily rebound to near Pro-Bowl form. Of course, this is contingent on the development of a very young group of wideouts. Boller is a solid backup, and that is just that. He is good enough to keep us in games should Bulger go down, but I doubt we can win with this game long term. Regardless, definitely a significant upgrade over Trent Green, a Saunders guy who clearly can no longer perform in this league. I cannot see Null beating out Berlin for the 3rd spot, but that battle is irrelevant at this point. Neither is likely the QB of the future here, we'll grab that guy in next year's draft.
Running Backs - You would be hard pressed to find a more talented back in the league than S.J.. He has all the tools to be the absolute best running back in the league. He runs hard, catches the ball well, and can turn nothing into something big. If he can stay healthy and stay on the field, we can stay in most games. He has an opportunity to shut up all the naysayers with a big year, and behind this line, he should be gold. Darby, Pittman, and Leonard are a trio of servicable backs, but none stand out as a top prospect for the #2 role. Darby is a hard running, good pass catcher, and good blocker but lacks the explosiveness to break the big play. Pittman is shifty and quick, a nice change of pace from Jackson, but lacks Darby's hands and blocking abilities. Leonard is a jack of all trades, but isn't superior to either of the other two in any area. Obgonnaya seems to be a hard downhill runner with great hands. Darby and Leonard are servicable special teams players, so I am calling Pittman the odd man out here, if anything because WCO backs need great hands. Karney is a hammer in the backfield and should be our best FB since the other "hammer", James Hodgins. He can be a threat out of the backfield.
Wide Receivers - Wow, have you ever seen a team go into the season with a younger group of wideouts? Avery developed nicely last year, proving that he can be both a deep threat and a solid go to guy. His route running increased as the season went on and his hands were far better than expected, resulting in several spectacular grabs. He may not be a #1 at this point in his career, but he is going to have to pretend to be this season. Burton struggled with injuries early on, but has all the skills to be an Isaac Bruce type. He looked superb in preseason and is a very nice route runner. It would not surprise me, if healthy, if Burton catches more balls than Avery, who will be facing constant double teams, early on. Robinson had a nice rookie season, but got buried on the depth chart last season in Atlanta primarily due to injuries. He is a burner and Falcons fans seemed very dissapointed that he was let go so cheaply. He could be effective in the slot. Stanley is a mystery at this point as he is coming off a major injury. He could also factor into the slot, maybe a Wes Welker type, should the injury not set him back. Looker could hang on in a possession type receiver role. Brooks Foster is a big, strong target who could work his way into the mix as an over the middle target. He was way under the radar as he played behind some higher profile targets at NC. More depth is needed here, and maybe a cheap veteran presence.
Offensive Line - Dramatic makeover in progress here. It will be interesting to see if Barron gets a shot on the left side with Jason Smith aboard. If Barron is in the long term plans, leaving him on the right side will be much cheaper than letting him perform well on the left, then moving him back. We know Barron can be a filler on the left side. Jason Smith should adapt nicely. He has tremendous passion and will to succeed. I fully expect him to be a pillar on the left for a long, long time. His nasty streak will be greatly welcomed. Jason Brown will be the pillar in the center. He is everything you want in a center, and in my opinion, was easily the best free agent we've signed in years. He instantly solidifies this offensive line. Jacob Bell likely anchors the left guard spot, if anything because of his rich contract. Having Cogs and Greco occupy the guard spots is more appealing to me, as both are big road graders and could cause serious damage in the running game. Incognito's mental issues should decline having a mature and smart player like Brown next to him. Setterstrom and Goldberg provide nice depth, as would one of either Bell, Cogs, or Greco, whichever one is not getting the start. This is a drastically improved unit which should provide many a running lane for Jackson, and much more time for Bulger to throw the ball.
Tight Ends will go with the defense as I don't have anymore time.
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