Taking Trent Murphy with the team's first pick will prove to be as smart as it was bold. The ex-Stanford man gives coordinator Jim Haslett's 3-4 scheme a terrifically versatile outside pass-rusher.
Murphy won't immediately push starters Brian Orakpo and Ryan Kerrigan, but he will be an invaluable part of the sub-package defense, playing both end and standup rusher in various looks.
Kerrigan and Orakpo should deliver fine numbers this season. Hatcher and Orakpo will combine to tie one side of opposing O-lines in knots.
That should mean more one-on-one opportunities for Kerrigan. That will translate to bad news for quarterbacks.
Opportunistic deputy Rob Jackson will join Murphy to provide ample cover at a key defensive position. Murphy's arrival puts 2013 fifth-round pick Brandon Jenkins under greater pressure to impress coaches this offseason.
Things will look a lot different on the inside now that London Fletcher has called it a career. At least Allen added plenty of numbers to the position.
He signed free agents Adam Hayward, Darryl Sharpton and Akeem Jordan. All three have tremendous experience on special teams, while Sharpton and Jordan have both started in 3-4 schemes.
Many clamored for an inside linebacker in the draft, but truthfully, there are enough bodies here to find a suitable partner for clear starter Perry Riley Jr.
Allen and Gruden are obviously content with how the roster looks at this position, as ESPN.com scribe John Keim points out:
Not only do they like Darryl Sharpton and Akeem Jordan, they also like how Keenan Robinson has (thus far) progressed. They have a special teams guy in Adam Haywardand a young guy they can still develop in Will Compton, who showed some toughness last summer.
An early guess puts Jordan as the starter with Riley, while Hayward, Sharpton and Robinson form credible depth.