I figured that with all the questions surrounding the draft yesterday, it was easier to roll out answers and try and at least allow for some clarity. We didn't answer a ton of questions, but there are some things we can be safe in knowing going into the season.
However, the grayer area comes when we start discussing the questions raised as a result of the draft. There are questions raised on both sides of the ball and I'll do my best to answer them for now. However, it's pretty clear the answers won't come until training camp at the very earliest.
1. What defense will this team be playing?
This draft leaves me wondering whether we'll see the 3-4, a 3-4/4-3 hybrid, a bit of the old 3-3-5, or some combination of everything. The team did not address the supposed outside linebacker need (especially considering Larry Grant will be competing at the inside linebacker position along with special teams). They've added Balmer to the mix and he appears like he could fit in as an end, a nose tackle, or a defensive tackle if they roll out the 4-3 on occasion. Justin Smith can play end, but could get into that elephant role discussed previously. I have no problem with a mix of defenses but it still leaves me curious.
2. What position will Kentwan Balmer play?
Depending on the defense used, he could be anywhere from a nose tackle to a defensive end in the 3-4 to a defensive tackle in the 4-3. It didn't help that MM and Barrows mentioned him as both potentially filling Bryant Young's role to being the nose tackle and ESPN referred to him repeatedly as a nose tackle. Any thoughts? I'm not concerned because I think he could handily develop into any of those roles. My issue with it deals more with the next question:
3. What of Ray McDonald?
McDonald has some work to do to get more playing time, but I was quite pleased with his development towards the end of last season. Now, Isaac Sopoaga has been resigned to get time at nose tackle and defensive end. If Kentwan Balmer plays mostly nose tackle, he'll be splitting time with Aubrayo Franklin meaning Sopoaga gets even more time at defensive end. Justin Smith is clearly the man on one side. Or maybe it turns into McDonald being in primarily on passing downs since he's more of a pass rush threat than Balmer. The one plus to this is that you can mix and match bodies and keep guys fresh. At the same time, I would imagine it would mess up the line's timing if you're constantly rotating bodies in and out.
4. How will the offensive line shuffle shake out?
While the offense might have issues, I don't see a whole lot of questions. The primary one is how the drafting of Rachal and Wallace affects the rest of the offensive line. Will the team try and get some versatility out of the draftees at different positions, or will they be there to only learn and compete at guard and center respectively? Dave Baas is expected to miss a chunk of training camp, which definitely could help to speed along the development of Rachal. I'm not expecting a big impact from Rachal right away, but it will be interesting to see how he handles the chance to compete for an immediate starting role. As for Wallace, I'd expect him to get some playing time spelling Heitmann but I really don't expect to see him on the field much barring injury. Let's hope that doesn't happen. Of course maybe can shock us and win the job in training camp.
Feel free to throw out your own questions and answers. I know there are plenty of them out there.