Captain Obvious says: For the sake of our offense, it is very important for us to build a solid offensive line. We know we have talent at a lot of skill positions, but to get the most out of Stafford, Johnson, and Pettigrew, we have to be able to pass-protect better. To get the most out of Kevin Smith and Aaron Brown, we need to open holes for them.
So, what does everyone want to see our front five on offense look like heading into the future?
A few things I'm wondering about...
Gosder is really struggling this year, is it something coachable like technique or mental errors, or does he just not have what it takes to consistently beat opposing pass rushers from the Right Tackle spot? Is he still our future Right Tackle? He's still a big dude, with a huge frame and the youth factor on his side...could he be a fit at Guard if not at Tackle? Do we embrace his upside, assume his problems are fixable, and move on to other positions?
Backus, according to many, is playing better this year than in previous years. I'm not a member of the "replace Sackus now" club, but I do recognize that he is not an elite LT in this league when you think of guys you want to protect your $70 million QB in a perfect world, and, more importantly, he is going into his 10th season next year and we will need to replace him sooner or later. Should we keep him at the critical LT spot for a few years while we focus on other needs? Should we go after a highly-valued, big-money, big risk/reward LT like Russell Okung at the top of the draft to replace him sooner than later? Should we go after a project LT with a lot of upside later in the draft to eventually replace him?
What about our longstanding hole/revolving door at Left Guard? Do we go after a highly-rated LG in the second round of the draft like a Mike Iupati or Mike Johnson? Or hope for a good one in the third round? Or, do we draft a Tackle for the future, and put him at LG for now? This leaves us with a long-term question mark at LG, but at least we have a young stop-gap to fill the spot, and we only need to spend one pick on OL in 2010 while we fix our defensive line, secondary, and other big needs in 2010.
Raiola and Peterman were just signed to multi-year contract extensions by the new front office, so, for now, I am assuming that we can consider the starting Center and Right Guard positions filled for next year (heal up, Peterman!).
And for the sake of keeping this poll as simple as possible, I am assuming we won't be able to get high-quality, long-term starters for our O-Line through free agency, just depth guys. Teams tend to try to hang on to good starting O-Linemen.