As promised, this is my last installment in the “Pre-Draft” column. I will take a look at all 32 teams*, and add a couple of notes, and things to monitor before the draft. Also as promised, I’ll have a new column up after the draft. I’ll probably have two installments in that one and I don’t have a name for it yet. Feel free to leave me suggestions on Twitter or in the comments. I’ll stop babbling so we can get started…
Note: The teams first-round draft choice is in parentheses
1. Arizona Cardinals (13)
The biggest need for the Arizona Cardinals is the offensive tackle position. Whether it’s Kevin Kolb or John Skelton under center in 2012 is unknown, but whoever it is needs to be protected. Levi Brown has solidified the left side, but the right side is rather weak.
Also, don’t be surprised if Arizona takes a quarterback. The team made a run at Peyton Manning, so obviously they aren’t completely satisfied with Skelton and Kolb. Someone like Brock Osweiler will probably still be available at 13.
2. Atlanta Falcons (Do not have a first-round pick in 2012)
If you read my 2012 NFC South predictions piece, you would probably find that I have the Falcons finishing 6-10 in 2012 as of now. Well, that’s due in part because they will be missing out on a solid player in the first round. The Falcons have some needs at guard and linebacker. They have Vince Manuwai, but the Falcons need to add a guard in this draft.
They also lost Curtis Lofton and decided to bring in Lofa Tatupu as his replacement. Tatupu will help, but again, Atlanta needs to add depth at the linebacker position as well. One final note: tight end might be another spot that Thomas Dimitroff looks at. Tony Gonzalez can’t play forever, you know.
3. Baltimore Ravens (29)
The Ravens have a quarterback who thinks he’s the best in the league. But let me tell you right now, he’s not. They also have a need at outside linebacker after losing Jarrett Johnson. I think Baltimore needs to address who will play opposite of Terrell Suggs.
Remember, the offensive line also lost Ben Grubbs to the Saints, so don’t be surprised if the Ravens draft a guard early on. Wide receiver would be another top need, as Lee Evans (Evans is expected to sign with Jacksonville, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter) has been ineffective behind Torrey Smith and Anquan Boldin.
4. Buffalo Bills (10)
This Buffalo team needs to finally make the playoffs. I think they’ve realized this as well, as the team signed Mario Williams in the offseason. Drafting a run-stopping linebacker wouldn’t hurt. And Stevie Johnson is the only receiver that poses a real threat. I think Buffalo needs to go ahead and draft a receiver to help out Johnson.
Another position the Bills might address is corner. Drayton Florence had a terrible year last year. Buffalo should look for depth at the cornerback position early on.
5. Carolina Panthers (9)
Cam Newton obviously had a marvelous season in 2011. It appears Carolina is on the right track, but they’ve been stymied by injuries the past couple of years. The Panthers blew two third-round picks on the defensive tackles position last year. What did they get? Sione Fua and Terrell McClain, who were both terrible. Ok, Fua wasn’t that bad, but still.
Like the Bills, Carolina also needs a corner. The pass defense was atrocious in 2011. One final note: Carolina is in dire need of a receiver as well. They don’t have anyone besides Steve Smith, who will be 33 next month.
6. Chicago Bears (19)
The Bears signed Michael Bush, which exacerbated the “conflict” with Matt Forte. It looks like the wide receiver situation is taken care of with the acquisition of Brandon Marshall. I’d say the Bears need a tackle to bolster that offensive line. I mean really, Cutler gets sacked too many times. J’Marcus Webb was anything but effective last year.
Chicago could also use some depth on the defensive line, either an end or a tackle. Of course, Julius Peppers will fill one spot, but holes exist on the defensive line.
7. Cincinnati Bengals (17, 21)
A.J. Green is already highly touted, but adding another receiver wouldn’t hurt. The Bengals need a reliable no. 2 to give Andy Dalton another option. Defensive end is another biggy, in my opinion. They signed Jamaal Anderson and Derrick Harvey this offseason, but Cincinnati needs a dominant force up front.
The Bengals might also look at adding some cornerback depth in the first round. Or, they could add someone to complement Cedric Benson and BenJarvus Green-Ellis in the backfield.
8. Cleveland Browns (4, 22)
Essentially, the Browns need a whole new football team. They can start by addressing the quarterback position. They have a shot at Ryan Tannehill, and I say go for it. Also, Peyton Hillis departed and Montario Hardesty is often injured, so adding a running back in the first round would make sense.
If we continue, the Browns need depth on the offensive line. Greg Little seems to be the only receiver that has a future in the NFL. Cleveland also needs to add a receiver for sure. In short, the Browns have obvious needs that need to be addressed.
9. Dallas Cowboys (14)
Tony Romo thinks this is the year. I don’t. At least, not until Dallas drafts a decent center. Somehow, I feel that the center position is their biggest need. Let’s face it, Phil Costa just needs to leave. Another position the Cowboys need to address is safety. Abram Elam really struggled last year, so it would be wise to add a safety.
Defensive line is another big one. If DeMarcus Ware weren’t the only one pressuring the quarterback, he’d be more effective. Am I right or am I right? Marcus Spears is average, and Dallas should draft a defensive end to bolster the line.
10. Denver Broncos (25)
Didn’t expect the Broncos to be picking this late? Yeah, neither did I. Denver needs to add another wide receiver to help out Demaryius Thomas. I don’t think Jason Hill and Andre Caldwell are legitimate number twos. Moreover, the Broncos desperately need to shore up their offensive line, either by adding a left guard or right tackle. Especially now that they have to protect their new prize. If you’ve been living in a ping pong ball since January, that’s Peyton Manning.
Inside linebacker could use some attention. It would be clever to devote a draft pick to this position.
11. Detroit Lions (23)
Have you noticed that the notes keep getting longer as I am coming up with more clever things to say? I’ll try to keep it brief. I feel like the Lions need to reinforce their offensive line. Yes, the team re-signed Jeff Backus, but he’s like 387 years old. Additionally, Detroit would be perspicacious if they realized that they need a corner. Eric Wright left, so I’m assuming that we’ll see the Lions pick a corner.
It’s also worth noting that running back could be a sleeper option. Jahvid Best and Kevin Smith are injury-prone, and Mike Leshoure has had off-field troubles.
12. Green Bay Packers (28)
Obviously, the Pack expected to win the Super Bowl last year. That didn’t happen. Green Bay could improve even more with the addition of a defensive end in the draft. Ryan Pickett was average at best and Green Bay could strengthen its defense with a solid end.
The aerial attack is fine, there’s no doubt about that, but Green Bay’s running game is unclear. Ryan Grant is a free agent and James Starks can’t protect Aaron Rodgers. Look for the Packers to add to their already phenomenal team with a running back and a defensive end.
13. Houston Texans (26)
The Texans finally took the next step last year and made the playoffs, despite the key injury to Mario Williams. They did it with a lot of help from running back Arian Foster. However, they can’t continue to rely on Andre Johnson on the outside. Wether it’s Matt Schaub, T.J. Yates, or Matt Leinart…under center in 2012, Houston will need to add another top receiver.
Houston should also consider solidifying the interior line. Houston cut Eric Winston, so now they obviously need a right tackle. Matt Schaub has been beaten up the last couple of years. The guy is begging for protection.
14. Indianapolis Colts (1)
Well, a team without a quarterback isn’t a team. There’s no question the Colts will take Andrew Luck with the first pick. There’s an outside shot of them taking Robert Griffin III, but either way they need a quarterback. Unless, Irsay has gone mad and decides to make Drew Stanton the starter, of course.
Moreover, the secondary was atrocious last year. Indianapolis needs two cornerbacks. Yes, two. Jacob Lacey bolted to Detroit. Adding two corners would be the first step in improving the defense. Also, look for them to protect Peyton’s successor with some help on the O-line.
15. Jacksonville Jaguars (7)
I don’t know how long this Blaine Gabbert experiment will last, but let’s get the guy some time in the pocket. The Jaguars didn’t give him any time last year, and the result was bad. Very bad. Also, the Jags need to add a receiver in the draft. They started by signing Laurent Robinson to an absurd deal, but if they’re going to let Gabbert throw the ball, get him some guys that can catch.
I might regret saying this, but Jacksonville needs a punter. Yes, a punter. Nick Harris didn’t do too well in 2011.
16. Kansas City Chiefs (11)
Another team that missed out on Peyton Manning. Don’t worry, plenty more to come. I don’t want to say that Kansas City needs a quarterback, but Kansas City needs a quarterback. Matt Cassel is mediocre at best, and the city of Kansas City (?) should hope that Brandon Weeden falls to number 11.
Unless the Chiefs want Jerrell Powe to be their starting nose tackle in 2012, I suggest they take a nose tackle early on in the draft. Don’t be surprised if the Chiefs look for some O-line help as well. I don’t think Casey Wiegmann will be playing much longer.
*This concludes part one of my notes on all 32 teams. Sorry, I wanted to get it all into one post, but I typed up 850 words and they got deleted somehow. I was obviously very depressed after this, and decided to split it up to prevent another such tragedy.
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