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Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Post-OTA Thoughts

Having only the info that was reported by others, here are a few
thoughts on OTAs:

*They like who they like:
Obviously they like their draft picks. No apparent buyers remorse.
They had great things to say about the attributes they'd be able to see
out of drills.

*Nate Chandler, a lanky DT who was an undrafted FA out of UCLA last
year, completely flipped sides of the line, suddenly becoming an OT. He
has good athleticism, size, and arm length, and has bounced around. The
team liked his hustle and raw ability last year, and saw him (despite
his size) playing some DE as well as DT. Hopefully that affords
Chandler the ability to continue to hang around at a suddenly much
higher profile talent position.

*No other positional changes
Doesn't look like there were any other real moves, for those of you who
are fans of the idea of Josh Norman at S (or any other changes). It
appears that Garry Williams may be back at OT, but it's uncertain. Ed
Kugbila appears to be on the right side as well, despite the Observer's
suggestion he's on the left behind Amini Silatolu.

*Depth Chart
It's impossible to do anything here outside of the on-paper projections
that would have already been in place post-draft. Nothing would've been
learned so far. It does appear that Jon Beason is playing strongside,
based on where Thomas Davis remained when Beason was out of drills.
That was expected, but Beason suggested it might be the opposite at one
point.

The RBs and WRs would seem to fall where you'd expect. The natural
inclination seems to be to have Ted Ginn behind Domenik Hixon, and then
possibly Armanti Edwards as the best of the remaining youth.

They want CB Drayton Florence to tale on leadership, which probably
also gives him a head start on starting. Captain Munnerlyn is an
incumbent, which seems to give him the first shot at LCB, with DJ Moore
behind him and probably playing nickel; Norman and Josh Thomas are
interesting wildcards. They are giving Mike Mitchell every chance to
earn the SS job.

They obviously prefer Star Lotuleilei at NT and Dwan Edwards and Kawann
Short as under tackles. They clearly prefer that Colin Cole be able to
make the team and produce as a NT, but Short will probably swing inside
occasionally, too. The fight for the backup NT job is essentially up to
Cole to be able to help; Frank Kearse and Sione Fua are just ready to
fight in the hope he's not.

Not coincidentally, Greg Hardy is a bit thinner without the prospect of
playing some DT, which should allow flexibility, but it didn't hurt him
last year to be bigger. There don't appear to be any other revelations
about any major growth in the weight room, but the local press isn't
generally on top of that until someone like Hardy shows up noticeably
much larger.

But, again, that's the type thing that remains on paper, largely
unchanged by lining up in shorts and doing non-contact drills.

*Specialists
No real changes in the kicking specialists (Chris Kluwe would be an
upgrade over Nortman at this point, but they appear ready to see what
the 2nd year has in him), but the return men jobs are 100% up for grabs.
Joe Adams has to show he can protect the ball, and while RB Kenjon
Barner shares that to a point, he's no less talented. Ginn is obviously
the favorite to pull at least one job if not both, but a lot of guys
will take that shot.

Given that Ginn doesn't have a lot of guarantee, there's always the
far-outside shot he doesn't make the roster if a young WR with Adams'
talent at returning really busted out in both phases. Barner doing so
would merely keep Ginn from being here next year, however. The team's
odd per-game bonus structure for Domenik Hixon does suggest they're
unsure he'll be around a full season (or they wanted to pass along some
of the bonuses as unlikely-to-be-earned to get 2014 cap credit if he
plays a full season).

*Open Jobs
The 3rd WR job will be interesting, and the CB and SS jobs will be
critical. But so far, one of the most intriguing will be the outlay
behind Greg Olsen. Ben Hartsock graded out very well as a blocker, and
that's not a less critical role this year. But there's literally no
experience behind that. Nelson Rosario is a WR convert with no
experience, and Richie Brockel is a fullback.
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