Every NFL Team’s Top Draft Need through Week 9
2013 NFL Draft: What is every team's biggest need?
No matter how great of management or coaching an NFL may have, there is always a hole in the roster that needs to be filled. One of the best ways to fill these holes is via the NFL Draft, an annual opportunity for NFL teams to solidify their rosters and bring promising young talent into the mix.
Although many teams stand behind a policy of drafting the BPA (Best Player Available), it’s no secret that many franchises instead follow a need-based approach to the draft. It’s pretty simple: if there’s a void in your roster, might as well fill it if the opportunity arises.
Every team’s needs change as the season progresses based on production and injuries throughout the lineup. Sometimes a costly injury can force a team into a position of need, while unexpected production from a rookie or free agent acquisition can allow the club to turn its attention to other pressing needs. No matter what happens, though, there’s always some way that a team can get better.
With the draft, NFL teams have the chance to bring in that year’s top college football talent in hopes of elevating their overall talent level and providing their roster with the life that only young bodies can do. More than anything, though, it’s a chance to fill holes in the lineup.
With that in mind, here’s a look at each NFL team’s biggest need at the midway point of the 2012 season and why that position is an area of concern.
Arizona Cardinals – Offensive Tackle
The Cardinals’ offensive line has been horrendous this season, and the two tackle positions deserve most of the blame. Bobby Massie hasn’t had any luck on the right side while the left side has been a revolving door. An elite tackle is needed if Arizona wants to cut down on all of these sacks.
Atlanta Falcons – Tight End
Tony Gonzalez is no spring chicken, and sooner or later his age will catch up to him. Apart from finding his replacement, the Falcons have too many apparent holes to fill. They could use a defensive end and maybe some linebacker depth, but replacing No. 88’s production is priority numero uno.
Baltimore Ravens – Inside Linebacker
The tred is nearly worn off of the tires as Ray Lewis struggles to keep his NFL career afloat. While the Ravens have a solid group of outside linebacker, the depth on the inside is nothing to brag about. They need an heir to the throne because the end is nigh for the aging, oft-injured Lewis.
Buffalo Bills – Quarterback
Although the Bills have plenty of needs, none is bigger than the quarterback. Over the past few seasons, Ryan Fitzpatrick has failed to consistently put Buffalo in the win column while struggling to keep the ball out of the defense’s hands. It’s time for a new field general.
Carolina Panthers – Wide Receiver
Steve Smith isn’t getting any younger, and might not even be in Carolina for much longer. Meanwhile, the rest of the receiving corps is average at best. The Panthers need to give Cam Newton some more weapons if they want to stay away from the bottom of the barrel in the NFC South.
Chicago Bears – Offensive Tackle
Well on their way to an NFC North crown, the Bears have fielded one of the best defenses in team history this season. The pass blocking, however, has been lackluster at best as Jay Cutler continuously plays under siege. It’s time for Chicago to make a significant upgraded up front.
Cincinnati Bengals – Running Back
While the passing attack is among the best in the AFC, the running game is anything but a strong suit for the Bengals. Even with the addition of BenJarvus Green-Ellis, the ground attack has sputtered. With a number of intriguing running back options in the 2012 class, that’s one of their top priorities.
Cleveland Browns – Tight End
Almost every offensive position for the Browns is filled with young, promising talent except for tight end. Cleveland’s depth chart at tight end is one of the least impressive in the league, boast a veteran a few inefficient youngsters. Brandon Weeden needs an upgrade to help kick-start his development.
Dallas Cowboys – Guard
The blocking has been miserable for Tony Romo and Co. this season, which is why the Cowboys are only 3-5 at midseason. Not only is the protection not allowing to Romo to make plays, but even the running game struggles to get going. Doug Free and Mackenzy Bernadeau both need to see more of the bench.
Denver Broncos – Cornerback
More than just Champ Bailey and his age is playing a factor in the Broncos need for some help at cornerback. As we’ve seen this season, Tracy Porter isn’t the reliable answer across from the veteran and the depth is nothing to be confident in.
Detroit Lions – Cornerback
It seems like every time the Lions are making a roster move this season, adding a new cornerback to the mix is part of the equation. The only problem is that none of these new coverage guys are getting the job done. It’s time for Detroit to shell out an early rounder and get a high-quality cornerback.
Green Bay Packers – Running Back
Even with how efficient Aaron Rodgers and the Packers’ passing game is, the offense won’t play to its potential until they find a reliable option at running back. While Cedric Benson, James Starks and Alex Green all had their moments in 2012, the lack of consistency has been an offensive crutch.
Houston Texans – Wide Receiver
Andre Johnson is starting to lose it; he’s no longer showing the elite dominance that was once his trademark. Behind him on the depth chart, the Texans don’t have much else to brag about. Even with the recent drafting of DeVier Posey and Keshawn Martin, the position still needs lots of help.
Indianapolis Colts – Defensive Tackle
Offensive line is also a big concern, but their patchwork blocking has played surprisingly well so far this season while protecting Andrew Luck. The defensive line, however, hasn’t been so great. The Colts need a nose tackle to replace the inefficient Antonio Johnson as the defensive anchor.
Jacksonville Jaguars – Quarterback
The Blaine Gabbert experiment has failed miserably, and the franchise is now two years in the hole for their blunder. So it’s back to the quarterback well for the Jaguars, who can’t afford to miss on another top draft pick. If they do, Jacksonville could be NFL-bound now in hopes of rejuvenating the team.
Kansas City Chiefs – Quarterback
Arguably the biggest reason for the Chiefs sickening play this season has been the lack of talent and production from the quarterback spot. Whether it’s Matt Cassel or Brady Quinn taking snaps, neither has the tools to get the job done. At 1-7, they should have their pick of the litter in April.
Miami Dolphins – Wide Receiver
No one expected Brian Hartline to have the season he’s had in 2012. One surprisingly productive wide receiver isn’t going to be enough for Ryan Tannehill to have a successful NFL career, though. Unless they find another starter via the draft, the Dolphins will continue to underwhelm.
Minnesota Vikings – Wide Receiver
When Percy Harvin isn’t in the lineup, the Vikings’ passing attack is among the worst in the NFL. Jerome Simpson has been a free agent bust so far and even Kyle Rudolph is suffering from a sophomore slump. Christian Ponder needs some more weapons to throw to before his future goes down the drain.
New England Patriots – Wide Receiver
Apart from Wes Welker and Brandon Lloyd, the Patriots passing attack doesn’t offer much at wide receiver. Especially when one of their two stud tight ends is out of commission, Tom Brady is left with limited options. Want an example? Just look at how many snaps Deion Branch has taken this season.
New Orleans Saints – Defensive End
Although Cameron Jordan is great against the run, he offers little pass rush and Will Smith is far past his prime, offering little in the pressure department. Unless the Saints plan on remaining a middle-of-the-road team moving forward, the pass rush needs a huge upgrade. The 2012 class is a great opportunity.
New York Giants – Cornerback
Cornerback has been the Achilles heel for the Giants over the past couple of seasons. Injuries rack up at an alarming rate, as Terrell Thomas is constantly on the IR and Prince Amukamara can’t seem to stay off the injured list either. They need to find some consistency at the position during the upcoming draft.
New York Jets – Quarterback
The Jets’ coaching staff keeps pointing at different excuses for Mark Sanchez’ struggles, but the hard truth is that he just isn’t a starting-caliber quarterback. That’s why the Gang Green really needs to consider picking up a replacement in the first round. How about replace one USC passer with another?
Oakland Raiders – Defensive Tackle
If this season has proved nothing else for the Oakland defense, it’s that Tommy Kelly no longer has what it takes to be counted on in the middle. He’s playing lazy and unmotivated, and it’s hurting the Raiders in more ways than they can handle. Some young blood is needed up front in Oakland.
Philadelphia Eagles – Safety
There’s nothing wrong with Nate Allen, who is quickly developing into a starting-caliber safety. The big question mark in the Eagles’ secondary, however, is Kurt Coleman, who is as inconsistent as they come. Philadelphia needs to find a more reliable replacement for him, and fast.
Pittsburgh Steelers – Inside Linebacker
While the Steelers do boast the top-ranked defense in the NFL, there isn’t a hole or two couldn’t be filled. One of their biggest holes at this point is at inside linebacker, where Pittsburgh has two underperforming players. Larry Foote just isn’t what he used to be.
San Diego Chargers – Quarterback
Whether you Chargers fans choose to accept it or not, the Philip Rivers era could soon be coming to an end in San Diego. The veteran gunslinger has struggled mightily over the past two seasons and can’t seem to take advantage of the talent that the coaching staff has armed with him. His overwhelming inconsistency could cost him his job in 2013.
San Francisco 49ers – Safety
The 49ers already used the franchise tag on Dashon Goldson once, and it’s not going to be easy keeping him in San Francisco this offseason. Their other safety, Donte Whitner, has been a rough season, consistently giving up big chunks of yards. The position could quickly turn into a huge area of need.
Seattle Seahawks – Wide Receiver
Even when he’s actually healthy, Sidney Rice still seems invisible at times. The rest of the Seahawks’ wide receivers are young and struggling to catch on as quickly as the coaching staff would like. Adding a top-flight pass-catcher via the draft would give the entire offense a huge boost.
St. Louis Rams – Offensive Tackle
The Rams’ offensive line has been a train wreck this season, especially with Wayne Hunter starting on the blindside. Whether it can be chalked up to injury or incompetence, it appears that Sam Bradford will never reach his potential until he has some decent blocking.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Safety
While the addition of Mark Barron has been a tremendous help, it’s no secret that Ronde Barber doesn’t have much left in the tank. The Buccaneers have had some issues with the secondary in 2012, and a replacement for Barber will be a necessity come April.
Tennessee Titans – Defensive End
At this point, Derrick Morgan seems like a bust. He has failed to produce sacks on a weekly basis and hasn’t been the disruptive pass rusher that the Titans were hoping for. If Tennessee wants help against the pass next season, it would be smart for them to pick a defensive end or two to bolster the rush.
Washington Redskins – Safety
Whenever a hazardous player like Madieu Williams is in the starting lineup, problems are bound to arise. Even though he’s making tackles and delivering stiff defense against the run, he’s still the liability in pass coverage that he’s always been. A replacement is definitely a necessity this offseason.