My quick take on what we need to go from a one and done playoff team to a serious contender.
1) Two upgrades at safety will be optimal but at least one is necessary. I would have to think it is the number one priority. Wolfe or Allen might be passable with a real talent next to them in the secondary to cover up for their mistakes. Jairus Byrd would be the ultimate prize and I am sure would be much happier playing for a contender than stuck in Buffalo but I believe Buffalo can still franchise him one more year. I would overpay for Byrd if it meant we get one of the top playmaking safeties in his prime. T.J. Ward is not a bad second option and seeing how chip likes his ducks I would like to think Ward would be a nice option as well. I think to take that next step as a defense we need to land one of these two big free agents. There are some safeties in this draft that are intriguing mid round projections as of now. Jonathan Dowling is a name that has been under the radar, but I think can start in the NFL from what I have read and seen. He has the size and from what I have gathered so far the athletic as well as big time playmaking ability. I want to dig into him more, but as of now it looks like the fact that he had some off the field issues that got him kicked out of Florida is one of the main reasons he is not as highly regarded.
2) An upgrade/ get younger at the CB position. Williams and Fletcher did a decent job this year and Boykin was a revelation in the nickel, however Williams is almost 30 and Fletcher while a decent number 2 is not a shutdown number 1. My take on how to upgrade this position is to target Justin Gilbert in the first round. He has the size Chip is looking for but to go along with it, he is extremely athletic and a big time playmaker. If he can mature in his technique he has the ability to be the next Joe Haden.
3) Get younger at Guard and give Herremans some real competition. Herremans contract is relatively large and although our line played well last year he was the weak link. At age 32 during the season next year it is time we look for a replacement. My take on how to solve this problem would be to look at who is sitting there in the second round. If someone like David Yankey or Xavier Su'a Filo is still on the board I think we have to consider nabbing them. If not I wouldn't reach for a guard in the second but there are some nice projects in the mid rounds who might turn into solid starters like Ryan Groy, Jon Halapio, or even Joel Bitonio (who I thinks best position will be guard at the next level).
4) Get younger and upgrade the 3-4 OLB. Another big name out there is Brain Orakpo and even though he has been quoted saying he would like to stay in Washington I am sure he would be open to leaving that mess they are in to come to a contender. I figure he will get somewhere between Matthews 11.5 mill a year and Paul Krugars 8 mill a year, my guess with his injury history 10 mill a year sounds about right. There should be a lot of teams in on him, which may move that number up. Jason Worilds is another interesting name. He is young at 25 and seems to be starting to really come on. He will be more likely in the range of Connor Barwins salary and could be another nice option. I also think we need to draft a player who could project to be a starter down the line and for depth. I really like what I have read so far and the little I have seen of Jeremiah Attaochu. I have seen some people like him as high as the first round but most places have him as a 3rd round pick which I would love to grab him there. I think if he tests well he may shoot his stock up. Another 3rd round guy I like is Dee Ford. He is not as big or athletic as Corey Lemonier last year but much more productive. I think either one of these two can become starters at 3-4 OLB in the NFL down the line and give some needed pass rush off the bench immediately.
5) Resign our WR's. I want to see what Maclin can add to this offense and coming off the injury we might be able to get him on the relatively cheap compared to what we thought we would have to pay him which should leave us some extra money for Cooper. Another WR I would like to see resigned is Arrelious Benn. I think we could get him for next to nothing and I also want to see what he could do in this offense at 6'2". I don't think we need to spend a high pick on a WR if we can get these guys back and healthy.
6) Get a developmental RT when we eventually move Lane Johnson to LT in a few years. Not a top priority but something to think about.
7) Get a developmental ILB to eventually replace and back up DeMeco Ryans. Ryans played great this year but has a lot of wear and tear on him and has been injury prone in the past.
So in summary my dream scenario would be to land some combination of Jairus Byrd or T.J. Ward and Brain Orakpo or Jason Worilds and drafting
1) Justin Gilbert, CB
2) David Yankey, OG or Xavier Su'a Filo, OG
3) Jeremiah Attaochu, OLB or Dee Ford, OLB
4) Seantrel Henderson, OT
5) Stanley Jean-Baptiste, CB/S
5) Max Bullough, ILB
7) Jonathan Dowling, S
These are just some rough ideas for now and I really haven't looked in depth on all of the draft prospects. Do you think we have a shot at landing any of the big time free agents? Are their any other glaring holes I am missing?