Saturday, April 5, 2008

Using the Roster to Predict the Draft

by: Michael Steffes

I thought that it would be helpful to go through the roster, position by position and see where it would be most likely for draft picks to make the team and contribute. By using the normal number of players kept at a position, and comparing it to who is on the roster and should make the team, I was hoping it would maybe open our eyes to what positions the Hawks might target to fill the roster. I am sure we all have a pretty good idea, but still, it provides an interesting framework to discuss team needs. Then again this team is full of surprises. No one would have expected the Hawks to draft two WR's and sign another UFA one last year, but that worked out well.

Anyway, for now, here is the offensive side of the ball...


Team Generally Keeps 3

Starter: Matt Hasselbeck

Backups: Seneca Wallace, Charlie Frye

Most likely a draft pick means one of two things, either Seneca is finally going to be the “slash” we all know he can be, or someone won’t the team. Either Charlie or the rookie. Charlie has one year left on his deal, my bet is the team sticks it out with him and looks QB next year. It seems to make too much sense not to do.

Running Backs…

Team Generally Keeps 5

Starter: Julius Jones, Shaun Alexander??

Backups/specialists: Maurice Morris, Leonard Weaver, David Kirtman, TJ Duckett

Well, they are already over the normal roster allowance. However, reasonable minds know a certain overpriced veteran is on his way out. The problem I see, is that if the team adds a RB in a high pick, Kirtman will have to go, which leaves the question who the heck is going to play special teams? Also Morris will be a FA next year, the possibility of trading him, and his bargain basement salary, after a RB is chosen is a possibility.

Wide Receiver….

Team Generally Keeps 6 (sometimes 7)

Starters: Nate Burleson, Bobby Engram, Deion Branch

Backups: Courtney Taylor, Ben Obamanu , Logan Payne, and Jordan Kent
If Deion is put on the PUP list, that would give them the flexibility to add a guy and still possibly keep everyone on the team if they all perform well. Easily the most compelling position to watch in training camp. Expect people to start singing the praises of these guys by mid August.

Tight End....

Team Always Keeps 3

Starters: Undetermined

On Roster: Will Heller, Jeb Putzier, Joe Newton, Zach Alcorn

Expect a draft pick too, which means the battle will mostly be for who gets practice squad honors. Heller and Putzier will be FA’s next year, so expect the team to try and hold on to the young guys if they look good. Of course, blocking TE’s are a dime a dozen, this team needs a receiving threat.

Offensive Line...

Team Usually keeps 9 (sometimes 8)

Starters: Jones, Wahle, Spencer, Sims, Locklear

Likely to be around: Wrotto, Gray, Willis

It would seem that Vallos will be competing with a draft pick for the final spot. The winner is likely to be the draft pick, with Vallos spending another year on the PS. He will become Chris Gray part deux starting in 09'. This team may need to add two draft picks, one who can center and one who can play G/T. However, the team has been mum on the development of Wrotto so they may feel more comfortable than we think.

----Well, that is the offensive breakdown. Clearly the team is taking a tight end. It seems the entire world is in the know about this. It would be a shocker if they didn't. Offensive line also seems to have a hole that needs to be filled. Plus the team has to be planning for the possibility that Ray Willis may find a place to start at tackle next year, unless of course he is our RG, which is a possibility. We all know a stud running back is an option, but it would seem that if they don't their top target, it maybe unlikely that they will take one. Wide receiver looks to me like they will add a guy to the mix. Hopefully not on the first day. But having a mid round WR will only make the other guys preform better. Plus, they have until week 10 or so to make the final decision if they PUP list Branch. That is what I see. Please tell me what you see and how it may relate to the upcoming draft.......

I will make sure I do the same thing for the Defensive Players before the weekend is through.