He might be less prone to 15s, but y'all are seriously underrating Whitner and overrating Bethea.
QB: Hopefully better. However, the consistency alone is a marginal upgrade.
WR: Huge upgrade (Ellington, Stevie, and a healthier Crabtree)
TE: Stayed the same. Vance McDonald sucks, maybe he'll be a better blocker next year. PFF rated him 63 out of the 64 tight ends (who played >25% snaps) as a receiver. However, it's a pretty low sample size (18 targets with 8 catches).
OL: Stayed the same/too much young talent to tell. It'll be interesting to see how the surgery Anthony Davis had in the offseason helps his play. I'm not too familiar with Kilgore's physical capabilities, but I think he's been around long enough that he'll be able to fill in experience gap Goodwin left.
RB: Possible downgrade. Yeah, I know, we added Hyde (not a fan) and Lattimore should be fresh. Not only is Gore in uncharted territory (as far as age goes), the red shirt and rookie are both going to have to learn pass protection, which is a pretty tall order with Roman/Rathman. Counting on Gore to not hit the age wall, and two unproven players.
DL: I'd put money on Carradine before I did Lattimore. Barring injury, I don't think Cowboy's play will be as drastically impacted by age as Gore's will. I think it'll be a gradual decline, and it has for the last two years (PFF rated him #1 in 2011, #5 in 2012, and #16 in 2013). Justin's even talked about this possibly being his last year. Unless Carradine comes up big, it's probably be a slight downgrade or par.
LB: Not really much to it. Downgrade. After the Ram's game last year, it was obvious Bowman was the MVP. Luckily Willis is a goddamn beast. And I watch his Duracell video everyday to get amped. Trust your power. Willis will prevent disaster and a drastic dropoff.
S: Downgrade. Bethea is in the same stage of his career as Cowboy and Gore. Whitner was a much better S. I think Reid is ready to step up. I wonder how Bowman being gone with effect Safety play.
CB: Upgrade. Brock and Culliver are legit. Wright and Cox will work well enough with Donatell. And we'll wait for Ward to pick it up. However, as much as the upgrade is, I think Cowboy aging/Aldon Smith being gone will expose the backfield more than it has in the last two seasons.
I said it last year. And thankfully it wasn't the case. But I think the defense falls off (I mean, do you want to bet it doesn't?) and it'll be up to the offense and Kap to keep the wins rolling it.
Due to age and too many unknowns, I think it's a downgrade. But it's awfully early and plenty could change.
[ Edited by OregonNiner87 on May 17, 2014 at 8:07 PM ]