NFL Draft - Main Needs By Team
by Trevor Whenham - 04/07/2009
With the NFL Draft fast approaching, it's a good time to take a look at the needs of every team. It would take a much longer article than this one to look at the comprehensive issues each team has, but here's a very quick look at the most pressing issue each team faces:
American Football Conference
Baltimore - Joe Flacco has been good, but even the best quarterback is nothing if he has no one to throw to. Derrick Mason is the best they have and he's ancient. They need at least one potential big-time threat.
Cincinnati - Carson Palmer is more fragile than is ideal, so he needs to be protected. There isn't a great left tackle option on the team, and this draft is overflowing with good prospects, so it seems like a good fit.
Cleveland - Eric Mangini seems determined to replace the whole team, so there are lots of options. They could pick pretty much any defensive player and find a spot for him, but if I had to pick one I'd probably go with a linebacker.
Pittsburgh - Big Ben gets sacked way, way too much. For a team with few real holes they sure could use a better O-line. I'd look for a left tackle if a good one is still left, or else the best lineman of any stripe. They need depth.
Buffalo - It's been hard to tell if the Bills have even had a pass rush for the last few years. Injuries and general ineptness have given opposing quarterbacks for too much time, and that has to stop.
Miami - Lots to choose from here for a team looking to climb to the next level. I'd put defensive tackle as the first priority. That position is so important in a 3-4 scheme, and they are very short on depth.
New England - They had such good luck drafting a linebacker last year that they should do it again. They have lots of bodies at LB, but Adalius Thomas has been a disappointment and almost every player could easily be replaced by a better one.
New York Jets - They didn't have a great receiving corps last year, and they lost Laveranues Coles. They have serious QB issues, and those can be eased a bit by having someone reliable to stretch the field and scare opposing secondaries.
Houston - You could look to defensive tackle or corner, but I favor a wide receiver. Andre Johnson is as good as there is, but a second good receiving option would force opposing secondaries to make more choices and take more risks.
Indianapolis - No Marvin Harrison means no receiver depth. There are a few good, workable choices late in the first round or into the second that could compliment what they already have and give Peyton Manning the choices he needs.
Jacksonville - They seem determined to pick a QB, but I think they desperately need a receiver. All you need to know is that Troy Williamson is sitting second on the depth chart. He's just not that good. Addressing that issue would do more to address the QB problems than Mark Sanchez would.
Tennessee - When you lose Albert Haynesworth and the rest of your defensive line is undersized then it only makes sense that a big, run-stopping defensive tackle would be a high priority.
Denver - Conventional wisdom would say a QB, but I'm not convinced - as strange as it seems, Josh McDaniels seems comfortable with Kyle Orton, and there are more pressing needs. Chief among those is a defensive tackle. They are a 3-4 system without the big nose tackle that scheme needs.
Kansas City - No team has ever recorded fewer sacks than the Chiefs did last year. They need linebackers or ends that can rush, rush, and rush some more. Aaron Curry would look very, very good in their colors.
Oakland - Javon Walker is a hard guy to trust, and he is by far the best wide receiver on the roster. JaMarcus Russell needs all the help he can get, and a fast, acrobatic receiver would certainly help. Michael Crabtree may even be able to make Russell look competent.
San Diego - Igor Olshansky is by far the biggest loss the team has experienced this offseason. He's a big-time defensive end, and the team simply must replace him.
National Football Conference
Chicago - Now that they have a quarterback who likes to sling it, he needs someone to sling it to. Their receiving corps is full of projects and underwhelming pros, and is in real need of an upgrade.
Detroit - I'm not at all convinced that Matthew Stafford is the best possible choice, but there is truly no denying that their biggest need is a quarterback. Unfortunately, their second biggest need is pretty much every other position on the field.
Green Bay - They are shifting to a 3-4 scheme this year, and they don't have the defensive ends it takes to run that scheme effectively. Like so many teams in the league, they need an upgrade.
Minnesota - This team has fewer needs than a lot of teams. I'd put their top priority as the offensive line. They are good now, but they lack depth, and Bryant McKinnie has shown that he can be hard to rely on in the long term.
Dallas - They just need someone who isn't insane and who doesn't have a criminal record. Even without Roy Williams they have good starters at safety, but they have no one behind them. This isn't a great draft for safeties, but there are a few prospects worth a gamble.
New York Giants - The obvious choice would be wide receiver since they are without the incredibly stupid Plaxico Burress. I'm pretty high on the future of Mario Manningham, but he is no lock and they still need much more depth.
Philadelphia - There are real questions about their offensive line, but my bigger priority would be looking for someone to eventually replace Brian Westbrook. Their running back depth is laughable.
Washington - You can't draft a new owner, so they have to look elsewhere. They should instead be looking for a pass rusher. Andre Carter is pretty much their only option right now, so they need much more.
Atlanta - Their defensive line is very undersized, and they shouldn't be happy with that. They don't get pushed around too much, but they lack the ability to capitalize on any inside holes that appear, and they struggle against big running backs.
Carolina - Julius Peppers wants out, and he is probably going to get his wish. His loss will hurt, but not nearly as much if they have a strong defensive end prospect waiting in the wings to take his place.
New Orleans - Deuce McAllister is gone, and Reggie Bush clearly isn't an every down back, so it makes good sense for the Saints to pick up another back that can gain big yards and score.
Tampa Bay - The Bucs have enough quarterback bodies to survive this year, but they sure don't look like they have a good answer for the future. They aren't in a position to get one of the top two, but they could pick someone else and afford to let him develop slowly.
Arizona - The running game wasn't great last year, and it certainly hasn't improved with the loss of J.J. Arrington and uncertainty about Edgerrin James' future. They need depth and they need a home run hitter on the ground.
San Francisco - They certainly don't seem comfortable with their QB situation given their interest in Kurt Warner and Jay Cutler. They are in the position to get one of the top three guys if they choose to, and they can bring him along slowly.
Seattle - They need to figure out who is going to take over for Matt Hasselbeck eventually, but I would first focus on who will to protect him. Walter Jones is a good left tackle, but he's getting old. I'd pick his replacement now.
St. Louis - Take your pick - they need their next quarterback for when Marc Bulger is done, they need linebackers, and they need a left tackle to replace the released Orlando Pace. I'd take a tackle, but given this state of the team I couldn't really fault any pick.