There have only been a few players that have played consistently well or are emerging young talent on this team:
Foster - Consistent
Brown - Emerging star
Beachum - Consistent
Decastro - Emerging
Bell - Emerging
Heyward - Emerging star
Worilds - Emerging
Gay - Consistent
That's 8 out of 22 starters playing quality football this year.
We've got some additional guys that need to get back to a level they're capable:
Ben - Erratic this season - some good/some bad
Heath - Recovering from Injury
Pouncey - Back from injury
Timmons - I think he'll always be more potential than production, but he can be a difference maker
Cortez - Sometimes looks great, sometimes looks awful
Ike - Up and down, getting older, but also being left out to dry by his teammates
Troy - Still very talented, but boy can he look bad at times, getting older
Woodley - Sometimes looks like a dominant pass rusher, other times he looks disinterested
If these guys play to their ability, we've got a good core of 16 out of 22 starters.
Then there's the young unknowns with some potential:
Adams - Could be a beast at RT
Gilby - Sometimes looks good at RT and other times looks awful
McClendon - As bad as he was to start the season, he's gotten a little better. Good athlete that could get better with a year experience
We need 6 of these guys to step up in a big way this offseason to field a competitive team. When I look at these guys overall, the areas our team seems weakest right now are #2 WR, NT, ILB, ROLB, and RDE. Of course there's a lot of positions where we're getting older and long in the tooth that we'll need to upgrade - CB, S, TE.
Not sure we can fill all of the needs thru the draft. We're gonna need to find some FAs. But it seems the areas we most need to improve to get back to winning football are a big target for Ben in the passing game (could be a receiving TE) and an overhaul of our D front 7.
I think the D front 7 is going to be hard to fix in one offseason due to the complexity of our D. But without the overhaul, I'm concerned we can't get a consistent pass rush and without it we'll struggle.
It feels like we're close to being good, but at the same time a long way from fixing this team. But if we somehow find a young James Harrison type talent, that one guy could be enough to get us over the hump. But with the way defenders develop, it could be 2016 until we see it pay off. And by then the core will be aging and we'll have new holes to fill.
Seems like it could be a toughie.