I'm going to cover the basic positions, and then discuss left over positions at the end. There are some big decisions to make deep on the chart this year. So dont' freak out that I'm taking 8 LB's or something, there will be spots left over to discuss at the end.
QB: 3(3) Ben, Charlie, Dennis. This was tough till Lefty went down, if they waive him instead of IR him, look for Dennis to be gone and Lefty back later.
RB: 4(7) Mendy, Redman, Moore, Dwyer. John Clay showed some talent, but against the bottom feeders, he might be PS material, but only if they want a RB on the PS, we could also grab from someone else. Clay is a non-priority to keep with our young talent.
WR: 5(12) Wallace, Hines, Sanders, Brown, Cotchery. Do we keep a sixth? I doubt it. Battle is in the discussion, but Sanders looked good and unless there was an injury, Battle wouldn't see a 5-wide set. That means Battle would take a spot just to play ST, we don't need him and could use that for a young talent elsewhere.
TE: Heath, DJ, Saunders. 3(15) Saunders will be gone if we don't keep him. His pass catching is an asset, and his blocking was improving. Is he ready to step in now? Probably not, but he either will be later or he'll be a big time asset next year.
OL: 9(24) Pouncey, Colon, Kemoatu, Scott, Hills, Legursky, Gilbert, Foster, Essex. No one else gave us reason to keep them over this crowd. Still could see someone grabbed for LT if someone good gets cut, but I doubt we see that.
DL: 6(30) Smith, Hampton, Keisel, Hood, Heyward, Hoke. I think McClendon has given the coaches enough to think about to get Hoke's spot, but in the end I see the vet in there again while they hope McClendon makes the PS. Wouldn't be too stunned to see McClendon over Hoke, just don't think it will happen.
LB: 8(38) Harrison, Farrior, Timmons, Woodley, Worilds, Sylvester, Foote, Carter. Anyone feel better about Worilds after game 4? I do. He won't replace Deebo, but he looks a little like Porter with his fast sack up the middle, and good coverage in the flat. Definitely feeling a lot better about him as a key back up.
CB: 2(40) Taylor, McFadden. McFadden is a lock, getting beat deep hurt Butler's chance to make him expendable, and I think Lewis isn't trusted enough yet. See below for the rest.
S: 3(43) Polomalu, Clark, Mundy. See below.
Specialists: 3(46) Suisam, Warren, Kapinos. I think the duel between Robo and Kapo was a tie, and with Sepulveda's injuries if we take him we might not have Kapinos to fall back on. I'm about 51% on Kapinos though, so it's a pretty much a coin toss for me.
Cornerback: Outside corner: Butler, Lewis and C. Allen. All show athleticism, all show good skills, but all have issues. K. Lewis has been steady this preseason, but I don't know if the Coaches are willing to hand him a starting spot. Butler and Allen have more upside than Lewis, but are less ready now. C. Allen showed enough that I think he's gone if we try to PS him, and Butler has shown some great plays, but then got beat badly deep for a TD. That is a HUGE part of LeBeau's defense, we don't give those up, ever. I think all three deserve a spot, but there may only be two openings.
Inside Corner: I refuse to mix the two positions. We run a Zone defense, there are times the outside guys are left on an island, the inside guys are always zone. Coverage doesn't mean crap if you are in the wrong spot. If you remember my post on how we draft Corners, we draft guys with more experience and they start earlier at inside spots. We need athletes at outside corner, we need play reading zone corners inside.
William Gay; he's in the right place 95% of the time, he's just physically inferior, not fast enough or big enough. He's great at assist tackling and switching guys to the next zone, but he gets targeted because of physical limitations.
Brown is the next guy at this position, he looks good, but he hasn't had much time in the system. he's a better fit physically but I don't know if he's ready. With a full OTA and training camp I think GAy is gone, but that's not this year. Brown might be ready in a half-season, but that's not now.
Donovan Warren: Warren has looked good so far, he's not fast enough to take a spot from Lewis, Butler or C. Allen, but no one got behind him and he is a sure tackler. Gives up no yac and made some plays on the ball this last game. I would love to see him get the spot over Gay and have Brown behind him, but that is two guys with Zero experience in a key position. Dime defense we run safeties and a third outside guy because it is a different ball game at that point, but in the nickel set it is a very specific job and while I would love to see Gay gone this year I think they will try to stash Warren (his speed isn't elite, he might make it) and keep Gay and Brown. I think that this is a mistake, but then I'm not an NFL coach and don't really know what I'm talking about. In the end I'd rather keep Gay then have Warren mess up and cost us a playoff game.
Verdict: +5(51) Gay, Lewis, Butler, Brown, Allen. We keep seven Corners and try to stash Warren. If Brown develops Warren doesn't matter at all anyway. I hope I'm wrong and Gay is cut and Warren kept, I'm a big play Willie Gay supporter, he was a key part of our Super Bowl season in 2008, but is just inferior physically.
Safety: Allen vs. Cromartie. This was a key battle,and one I thought youth would win, but Allen took the challenge and went all out in game 4, he's making this squad. We'll try to PS Cromartie and I think he makes it. Cutting Allen and Battle would be a mistake, you need veteran leaders on ST, we learned that in 2009, I think we keep Allen and ditch Battle.
Verdict +1(52) W. Allen.
Spot #53. There are options here: Do we keep Battle around for ST? Do we keep Ivy as a Larry Foote of the future? Do we keep McClendon as a utility D-Lineman/insurance policy? Do we keep a fourth TE so our 3-TE sets don't rely on Saunders blocking early on? This spot could end up going to a veteran LB to take pressure off of Carter, or an Offensive Lineman someone cuts. I think initially it might go to Gilmore, he's a strong blocking TE who plays on ST and would let Saunders work on blocking to start the season, he would be expendable and bring immediate value to the team while he was here.
Verdict +1(53) TE John Gilmore, or a player cut by another team at OLB or OL.
Caveats: I can see us keeping Battle as the 53rd and cutting Allen if we feel strongly about Cromartie-Smith, or Warren over Gay if we think Brown and Warren are ready.