Things are really shitty right now, but I don't think it's a stretch to say in 6 months we could be feeling good about this team again. In this post I just want to share what I think could a realistic scenario that could set us on the fast course for contention. Honestly, part of this scenario is hitting rock bottom. I think this team will have the 1st overall pick in April. We need drastic change, but that doesn't mean everything needs to get blown up. I think our entire starting offense could be back next year except for of course QB. We could set up a rookie QB for success. But, that is only if we hit on a HC.
I think the one guy that would give me the most confidence is Bill Cowher. And I don't think it's impossible to land him. If we can use Marty as a bridge I think Cowher would at least consider the KC job. It would depend on his opinion of the QB we could take in the draft. Hopefully, he sees someone he likes.
For me, Matt Barkley would be the pick at one overall. I know a lot of people would disagree with that, but the fact of the matter is there is no slam dunk in this draft. I think Matt Barkley can start for you on day 1. Does he have any tools that make you drool? No, he is only adequate in everything physical, nothing special. But, I think he projects well to run an NFL offense, read NFL defenses, make throws under pressure, and has the personality and character of a leader. Geno Smith has a similar résumé, but its harder to project him out in WV's offense.
Another aspect that gives me hope is that we should have the most cap space in the NFL by far, plus Clark will have to spend it. Cutting Cassel, Jackson, and Breaston would free up $15 million alone. Also, Routt, Dorsey, Hillis, and Belcher off the books free up another 15 million. That, plus the cap carryover is plenty to resign Bowe, Albert, and Colquitt with enough left over to make a big splash for a player in free agency. I think we are most desperate at CB, so getting a top 10 FA like Brent Grimes could solidify our secondary. Emmett Thomas, who I would retain, coached him in Atlanta so we do have a connection.
We would then need to use the rest of our resources to solidify our front 7. It would only cost us our 2nd, 4th and 6th rounders to get back into the first and get a player like Sheldon Richardson (DT, Missouri) in the mid 20s. Richardson is built as a 3-4 DE and has shown the ability to make splash plays in SEC competition. We could use our 3rd rounder on a player like Marcus Hunt (DE, SMU). I went to SMU so I watch a lot of their games and this kid is the perfect 3-4 DE project. He is tall at 6'8" and has freak athletic ability. He is extremely raw as he came to SMU from Estonia to train for shot put in the Olympics. He was discovered by SMU's staff and has shown flashes of being a good pass rusher. He is also amazing at blocking kicks. He might shoot up draft boards, but right now I think he could be there at the top of the 3rd. It would be a good idea to get a veteran like Brett Keisel in Pittsburgh to ease his transition.
Another player that looks perfect for us is Shane Skov (ILB, Stanford). If we get a 3rd round comp pick for Carr we could have a shot at Skov as CBS has him listed as their 124th ranked prospect. He looked like a late first, early second rounder his sophmore year, but since has had a serious injury and got suspended for a DUI. He projects to our 3-4 well as that is what he played in at Stanford. In 2010 under Harbaugh and fully healthy he had 84 tackles, 10.5 tackles for a lost, 6.5 sacks, and 5 passes broken up. It would be a good idea to bring in a veteran like Larry Foote to ease his transition too.
I think overall this addresses all of our starting needs. We still need depth and hopefully they can find some hidden gems. This scenario isn't the most likely one, but I don't think it's out of the realm of possibility at all. We could be competing for a wildcard spot next year and could jump Denver in Barkley's sophomore season if Manning starts to decline.