Last year's unit performed admirably. But, it isn't the shut down unit so many would prefer to believe. Take a few statistics into consideration:
Yards per game given up: 342.6 (14th)
Yards per rush given up: 4.3 (19th)
Fumbles recovered: 4 (31st)
Interceptions: 17 (11th)
Points per game given up: 21.8 (14th)
Specific to our division, note the following: San Francisco gave up 273 pts on the year. Seattle gave up 245. We gave up a total of 348. We surrendered over 100 points more on the year than the second place team in the division. All in all, we have a young, developing defense that essentially was a middle of the pack unit last year. This offseason, we lost both starting safeties and one starting outside linebacker.
Regardless of our overall strategy, I feel it is in our best interest to trade the 16th pick. I have suggested trading with Denver for their 28 and 58. Today, on TST it was mentioned we might trade with Atlanta at 30. The reality is there is little difference between the 28th and 30th picks. I would be happy with either scenario.
There are many quality players in the upcoming draft that can contribute on the offensive side of the ball. However, these players are not viewed as immediate stars.
We have three areas of need on offense: WR, OL, HB. Despite these being areas of need, I do not consider any of them to be gaping holes.
Wide Receiver -- Any wideout we could add at pick 22 or later would compete with Quick, Givens, and Pettis for playing time. All rookie WRs struggle. It's a virtual given. Accordingly, there is no guarantee at all that a rookie receiver would start ahead of any of the current group. Instead, this new player would simply compete for time.
Running Back -- This scenario is very similar to the wide receiver situaton above. Any RB we choose in this draft is going to be in a time share situation. Even if we spent our first round pick on Lacy, he'd likely end up getting 10-15 carries per game. We have two young backs that will see time regardless.
Offensive Line -- If we choose Warmack or Cooper, either will be an immediate starter. Outside of those two, all other prospects will compete for time. Again, there is zero guarantee of the rookie being a year one starter.
2013 Draft Defense
As with our offense, we have three areas of need on our defense: OLB, S (x2). All three of these positions are legitimate holes. Some might argue that D Stewart is serviceable at one safety position, but let me point out the following: This coaching staff started C Dahl ahead of Stewart. I think that speaks volumes.
1(22) A Ogltree LB
1(28) M Elam S
2(46) E Reid S
2(58) R Woods / Q Patton / T Williams WR
3(78) B Jones / T Frederick / D Thomas OL
4(113) M Lattimore / M Ball / M Gillislee RB
We can solidify our defense with the addition of three of the top ranked defensive players in the draft. In so doing, we will completely eliminate each of our holes on that side of the ball. We can supplement our offense with the potential players listed above in rounds 2, 3, and 4.
As mentioned earlier, the best we can hope to do with picks 22 on, even if dedicated to offense, is to supplement the offense. The players mentioned as possibilities with the last three picks are all valuable additions. So, with that, I suggest we strongly consider rounding out our defense with the first three selections of the 2013 draft.