This is along the lines of the "Ten Bills to Decide 2012" series. How would you rank our defensive players in terms of importance?
1. Mario Williams- I'm buying into the notion that Wannstedt is building the entire game plan around Mario and the team's ability to generate outside pressure. I feel like his success here will lead to the entire defense being better
2. Kyle Williams- He's just a beast. And he's fit in any scheme and role so far. And he'll make everyone else's life on defense that much easier, a la Mario
3. Dareus- I'd put him ahead of Kyle based on potential, but he's gotta find that consistent dominance first. These two will make each other better
4. Byrd- While the top 3 dominate the front line, Byrd's going to be the leader of the back end. He's going to be the free roamer who attacks the ball, whether its in the air or on the ground. As many have said, his tackling is superb, and his playmaking is solid. With the talent improving around him, he's a guy that should explode
5. Gilmore- As much as I'd like to think we'll have constant pressure, we won't. There will be teams and coaches that neutralize the pass rush. And that means a CB has to step up. If Gilmore can adapt right away, he'll make it that much harder on opposing offenses. You saw how bad it got when Florence and McKelvin were left on an island last year.
6. Barnett- Needs to stay healthy. The only three down LB.
7. Anderson- Someone else needs to get to the QB from outside. If we get the good Anderson, he'll make a huge difference for the defense as a whole.
8. Wilson- If he continues his steady, strong play, that opens up Byrd that much more. Not a bad player in his own right at his peak. Feels great to be able to list him 8th.
9. Aaron Williams- Assuming he starts, he needs to just be a solid starter, and not much of a liability. Could be too much to ask of two young CB's, but this to me is our weakness. If he and Gilmore play smart, we're fine.
10. Sheppard- Just tackle guys. Do what you do, with the giant holes Kyle and Dareus are making.
11. Mcgee- Third CB is more important than Morrison to me.
12. Morrison- he's starting, gotta put him somewhere
13. Kelsay- Fit your role- run stopping DE.
14. Scott- VERY important subpackage player. Prevents the nickel mismatch.
15. Merriman- Last year he'd have been top 5 for our desperate pass rush. Now, give us anything at all and we're happy.
16. Rogers/Brooks- Dime corner is somewhat important, and these guys will probably need to step up quickly if an injury bug bites again.
17. Spencer Johnson- Hopefully he's the # 3 DT. Its his best role and he's solid. If he can spell the starters, they'll be fresher and better. Could slide Troup or Carrington into this role just the same
Gonna stop there. Just imagine this: What would your list have looked like last June? Kelsay and Merriman would've been top 7 or 8, Andra Davis would've been on it as well. What a difference a year can hopefully make