Every NFL Team’s Biggest Need in the 2013 NFL Draft
2013 NFL Draft: The Biggest Need of Every NFL Team
Once the NFL regular season comes to an end each year, the glaring necessities for every squad in the league become very apparent.
While some teams obviously need much more than others in order to become a legitimate threat, every single team in the league can improve in some area. The decisions of each NFL organization on draft day prove to be paramount for not just that season, but for years to come.
It is no secret that the most highly coveted position in professional football is the quarterback spot.
The reason is because it is so rare to find a QB who is capable of leading a franchise, with a combination of innate athletic ability and supreme decision making skills. In each and every draft there are at least 5-10 NFL teams who are in desperate need of a new quarterback, and this year is no different.
Roughly a half dozen teams certainly need a new franchise quarterback in this draft, but unfortunately for those squads, the selection of superior quarterbacks is actually rather limited in this year’s class.
A lot of teams are in dire need of any sort of offensive boost in the draft, as the NFL is quickly turning into a high-scoring and offensively-biased league.
I have put together a list of the biggest need for each and every NFL organization in the upcoming 2013 NFL Draft. The order that I chose for the list is the projected first round draft order.
While picks 1-24 are set in stone (pending trades) right now, each of the final eight team’s stance in the 25th-32nd pick range is still to be determined by how far each team advances in this season’s playoffs. So for picks 25-32, I used the order in which I personally believe each team will finish.
There is certainly a lot of speculation and debate about which team should select who in each draft, so take a look at my compilation of NFL team needs, and see if you agree.
32. Denver Broncos
There is no doubt that QB Peyton Manning has taken full advantage of the Broncos' young and highly talented wide receivers in Demaryius Thomas and Eric Decker.
But Manning needs that consistent safety valve at tight end in order to completely unleash the Broncos' offensive potential. The on-field relationship that Manning had with TE Dallas Clark in Indianapolis was one of the best QB-TE connections in the entire NFL for years.
The combination of TEs Jacob Tamme and Joel Dreessen proved to be largely inadequate this season, and the Broncos need to address the position with urgency.
31. San Francisco 49ers
While the 49ers have a whole set of number two or number three wide receivers, they lack that one perennial play-maker that is needed for future star QB Colin Kaepernick to succeed.
49ers WR Michael Crabtree is certainly improving as his career progresses, but a young and hungry wide-out would be great for Crabtree, in order to push him even further.
Even though WR Randy Moss is a great guy to have in the locker room, he is not the type of guy anymore who is going to lead a receiving core. And WR Mario Manningham is fast and dangerous, but he is not good enough to be one of two starting receivers in an NFL offense.
The 49ers need to grab a legitimate wide-out early in the draft, similar to their selection of Crabtree in 2009.
30. New England Patriots
Once again, the Patriots are going to be just fine on offense next season with the elite Tom Brady at QB, a rising star RB in Stevan Ridley, and a bevy of incredibly talented tight ends and wide receivers at their disposal.
But when it comes to their defensive front, the Patriots are in need of some help.
While their secondary and linebacking core is just adequate for now, the Patriots are certainly in need of a ferocious pass rusher at defensive end.
The beefy, immovable force that is Vince Wilfork has the interior d-line covered for the Pats, but an elite pass rusher on the outside would be key.
29. Green Bay Packers
While the Packers have an incredible passing offense lead by All-Pro QB Aaron Rodgers, and a plethora of wildly talented wide receivers, they are in desperate need of a solid starting running back.
A quarterback like Rodgers makes it okay to ignore your running game for a certain amount of time because he is good enough to disguise the void.
But after several years of struggling mightily in the running game with a committee of starters, the Packers need to take a gamble on a solid early round talent at running back in order to make their offense unstoppable.
28. Seattle Seahawks
The rise of the Seahawks in 2012 was easily the most surprising transformation in the entire NFL, but this still doesn't mean that the squad was perfect by any means.
Rookie QB Russell Wilson and "beast-mode" RB Marshawn Lynch had spectacular campaigns this year, and I think that the combination of Sidney Rice, Doug Baldwin and Golden Tate can prove to be good enough for Wilson to work with for next year.
While the Seahawks did address their need for an offensive tackle just two years back, as they drafted LT Russell Okung in the first round, they still have a void at offensive guard.
If the Seahawks can grab a solid offensive guard to solidify the interior of their o-line, this team's potential is truly infinite for years to come.
27. Baltimore Ravens
After a legendary 17-year NFL tenure, Ravens MLB Ray Lewis announced a few weeks ago that he plans on retiring from professional football at season's end.
This leaves a glaring hole at middle linebacker for the Ravens that needs to be filled immediately with a stud, because Lewis' shoes are going to be almost impossible to fill.
I believe that the Ravens should invest their first round pick into a solid middle linebacker who can give Ravens' fans peace of mind in Lewis' absence.
26. Atlanta Falcons
When the 2012 season began, there was great speculation about Falcons RB Michael Turner's future as a top-tier NFL running back.
Well, the critics proved to be correct as Turner was only able to scamper for a measly 800 rushing yards on 222 totes this season, which is an average of just 3.6 yards per carry. It is safe to say that Turner's days as an every down back or over, and the Falcons need to look towards the future.
And even though Falcons backup RB Jacquizz Rodgers is certainly a factor-back, he is more of a change of pace speedster than a 20-carry per game guy.
The Falcons need to draft a durable, ground and pound type of running back early in this year's draft in order to compliment their lethal passing attack lead by QB Matt Ryan.
25. Houston Texans
It's safe to say that the Texans are stacked with talent at almost every single position on offense and defense. They actually are probably the most consistently balanced NFL team across the board right now, but they can obviously still improve.
With their defense an elite unit already, and their offensive skilled positions also littered with Pro Bowlers, the biggest need for Houston is on their offensive line.
While they do possess legitimate offensive tackles and a very solid center in Chris Myers, their offensive guards are both highly disposable.
If the Texans can strengthen their offensive line even further by drafting a highly skilled offensive guard, the combination of Matt Schaub at QB and Arian Foster at RB can prove to be even more dominant.
24. Indianapolis Colts
The Colts have been desperate for a solid starting running back ever since RB Edgerrin James left town in 2005. Former Colts RB Joseph Addai proved to be a huge bust, and current RBs Donald Brown, Delone Carter and Vick Ballard are worthy backups, but are not legitimate NFL starters.
With Colts QB Andrew Luck quickly proving himself to be the real deal in his rookie campaign, a steady threat in the backfield will open up the passing game even more for the youngster.
It would be very wise for the Colts to nab a quality running back in this year's draft in order to fill their backfield void that has stood for too long.
23. Minnesota Vikings
Cornerback or Strong Safety
The Vikings could go in several different directions during this year's draft, but I think that their defensive secondary needs the most assistance.
Specifically, they are in need of a hard-hitting strong safety who also has coverage skills, while their current free safety, Harrison Smith, looks to have some promise.
The Vikings could also target an elite coverage cornerback, as CB Antoine Winfield is approaching the end of his career, and they really have no other legitimate prospects behind him.
22. Washington Redskins
While the unit actually looked good on paper heading into this season, the Redskins' defensive secondary proved to be one of the most porous units in the NFL.
With Redskins SS Brandon Meriweather expected back from the Injured Reserve next season, and CB DeAngelo Hall also remaining with the squad, the 'Skins might want to look for a free safety.
Another solid cornerback to play opposite Hall would be very helpful as well, but I think what the Redskins really need is a presence roaming deep down-field at free safety, ready to protect against the deep-ball.
21. Cincinnati Bengals
You might think I'm crazy saying that the Bengals are in dire need of a wide receiver, considering youngster A.J. Green is quickly proving himself to be one of the best wide-outs in the entire NFL.
But really, aside from Green there are no other legitimate NFL-quality receivers on the entire Bengals' roster. Bengals QB Andy Dalton has shown that he can lead a professional football squad, but he really needs more than just one wide receiver in order to reach his full potential.
If the Bengals fail to draft another wide-out who will take all of the attention off of Green, he is going to start seeing double and triple coverage, and his production will plummet immensely.
20. Chicago Bears
Just ask QB Jay Cutler, and he will emphatically let you know that the Bears are in desperate need of some sort of protection from their offensive line.
The Bears' o-line has been a laughing stock for years now, and Cutler seems to spend more time on his back than any other QB in the league (besides maybe Michael Vick).
I am not even going to pick a specific offensive line position that the Bears should draft, because they literally need a huge amount of help at every single spot. Elite offensive tackles are hard to come by a lot of the time, so that may be the direction that the Bears want to go in.
But no matter what, the Bears really need to invest their first-round pick into an offensive lineman who can help their highly skilled running and passing attack.
19. New York Giants
Giants LT Will Beatty, please go away. QB Eli Manning is the type of quarterback who is good enough to hide certain o-line vacancies, because of his ability to get rid of the ball quickly.
But in reality, the Giants need help on their offensive line, and Beatty seems to be the glaring weakness.
With a dynamic duo of WRs in Victor Cruz and Hakeem Nicks, and a solid committee of RBs in Ahmad Bradshaw and David Wilson, the Giants' offensive skilled positions are set. And while their defense isn't great, Manning just needs to be able to put up an onslaught of points for the G-men to win.
Even if the Giants aren't in the position to spend their first round pick on an o-lineman, they certainly need to address the void early.
18. Dallas Cowboys
Strong Safety or Free Safety
Even though the Cowboys' secondary looked to be deceivingly talented, they proved this season that they are actually a relatively porous unit.
Before the season, the Cowboys acquired CB Brandon Carr and drafted CB Morris Claiborne in the first round of the 2012 NFL Draft. Both of these athletes are wildly talented, and did not seem to be the reasons for the Cowboys' lackluster passing defense.
The true voids in the Cowboys' secondary were at both safety spots.
While Cowboys FS Gerald Sensabaugh is really the only talented athlete at safety for the Cowboys, he is certainly replaceable. So the Cowboys need to do just that, and replace Sensabaugh, or try and pick up a strong safety who is able to contribute in pass coverage as well as run stopping.
17. Pittsburgh Steelers
The Steelers will likely never again acquire a running back who can fill the shoes of the beloved Jerome Bettis, but they need to keep trying.
Steelers RB Rashard Mendenhall originally showed promise last season, but looked nothing like an NFL feature back in his return from injury this year.
QB Ben Roethlisberger is more than set in the passing game with a buffet of young and talented wide receivers in Mike Wallace, Antonio Brown and Emmanuel Sanders, but the running back position holds a huge question mark.
The Steelers need to accept defeat in their gamble on Mendenhall, and look to move on with a running back selection early in the draft.
16. St. Louis Rams
Rams QB Sam Bradford has not performed anywhere near the level expected of him since he joined the NFL as a first overall draft pick in 2010.
In my eyes, this is due in large part to the fact that the Rams lack any sort of presence in their wide receiving core, with the exception of WR Danny Amendola.
But while Amendola is certainly a dangerous competitor, he is not a number one wide-out. He is the sort of guy who can produce monster numbers in the slot if he has a deep threat on the outside to steal some of the defense's focus.
After passing on several elite wide receivers in the first round in recent years, the Rams need to make their move in 2013, and take their chances on a first-round talent.
15. New Orleans Saints
For the past couple of years, the Saints have fielded a historically awful passing defense, and it is time that they finally make some serious moves to improve.
While the selection of CB/FS Malcolm Jenkins was surely a start in the right direction, the Saints can not end their transformation with that one acquisition. SS Roman Harper is also proving to be much less of a talent than he originally seemed to be, and is in need of some motivation in the form of a young up and comer who can threaten to steal his job.
The Saints need desperately to draft a safety or cornerback in the early rounds of the 2013 NFL Draft if they want to have any chance at making another Super Bowl run.
14. Carolina Panthers
For years it has looked like the Panthers were set at running back with the 'smash and dash' combination of RB DeAngelo Williams and RB Jonathan Stewart, but every single year fans are disappointed.
While both backs have a boatload of ability, neither of them have been able to emerge as a feature back on the Panthers' offense. Sometimes a two-headed attack in the backfield can be largely successful, but I think that everybody is sick and tired of waiting around for Williams and Stewart to break out.
Panthers QB Cam Newton can flourish even more so in the spread option game if the Panthers are able to select a game changer at running back in this year's draft.
13. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
When the 2012 season kicked off, it looked like the Buccaneers had one of the best duos of cornerbacks in the entire NFC with former first round draft pick Aqib Talib and the recently acquired Eric Wright.
But following a number of arrests and conduct issues, the Bucs traded Talib to the Patriots. And while Wright did show some moments of brilliance, he had a very lackluster season overall.
While the Buccaneers had the single best rushing defense in all of the NFL this year, their passing defense was so bad that it completely overshadowed it.
The Buccaneers have several positions to address on defense, but the number one necessity in this draft is without a doubt a cornerback who can take the place of the previously ousted Talib.
12. Miami Dolphins
The Dolphins' offense has been down in the dumps for a few years now, but they have started to slowly transform by drafting QB Ryan Tannehill in the first round last year, while also signing RB Reggie Bush prior to the 2011 season.
What they need now is a wide receiver who Tannehill can actually get the ball to.
The Dolphins have one of the most unimpressive sets of wide-outs in all of the NFL, with no-namers Brian Hartline and Davone Bess manning the starting spots.
It is imperative that the Dolphins spend their first round pick on a wide receiver who is capable of quickly becoming a serious deep threat at Tannehill's disposal.
11. San Diego Chargers
After WR Vincent Jackson left San Diego to join the Buccaneers last year, the Chargers failed to address their glaring need at wide-out.
Chargers WRs Malcom Floyd and Eddie Royal are capable of complimenting a number one wide-out, but they are nowhere near premium receivers themselves.
And with the regression that QB Philip Rivers has shown in the past couple of years, the Chargers need to nip this offensive fiasco in the bud quickly, and draft a legit wide receiver who Rivers can begin targeting primarily.
10. Tennessee Titans
Even though the Titans' offense has been anything but impressive over the past couple of seasons, they truly have the talent to compete at a very high level once QB Jake Locker fully adapts to the NFL.
On the other hand, the Titans' defense is absolutely horrid.
While the entire defense needs work, the most obvious void for the Titans is at the linebacker position. Even though the squad's passing defense was terrible this year, they actually do have a decent amount of talent at cornerback as well as safety.
A middle linebacker capable of stuffing the run and anchoring the entire defense is exactly what the Titans need to begin their transformation.
9. New York Jets
The Jets start off a set of six NFL teams that are in dire need of a franchise quarterback.
At last, it looks like the Jets finally realize that Mark Sanchez is an absolute bust, and is completely incapable of playing quarterback in the NFL, as he was finally benched this season.
The acquisition of QB Tim Tebow also proved to be an epic fail for the Jets, and they need to move on at the signal-caller position immediately.
Even though the selection of quality quarterbacks in this year's draft is rather limited, the Jets must take their chances on one in order to begin rebuilding.
8. Buffalo Bills
The Bills have been an absolutely miserable football team for over a decade now, and for some reason they still have not permanently addressed the quarterback position.
Current starting QB Ryan Fitzpatrick has certainly shown that he can sling the ball around a little bit during his tenure, but he is just not going to cut it as a starter in the long run.
The Bills desperately need to take a gamble on a young quarterback in this year's draft, even if it is not in the first or second round. They just need somebody who can start making strides and finally move this franchise in the right direction.
7. Arizona Cardinals
I don't know if there is any NFL team that showed more of an eye-popping void at quarterback this season than the Cardinals.
It was certainly not due to a lack of effort, as the organization started four different quarterbacks on the season, but all of them proved to have no business on the gridiron.
There is no way that it will be difficult in any way to find a quarterback who is better than Kevin Kolb, John Skelton, Ryan Lindley or Brian Hoyer.
So even if they can not nab a top-tier quarterback in the draft, the Cardinals need to at least bring somebody in to make some waves in training camp.
6. Cleveland Browns
The Browns' defense was surprisingly rather impressive this season, and even though they revamped their offense in last year's draft by selecting QB Brandon Weeden and RB Trent Richardson, their biggest need is still on the offensive side of the ball.
It goes without saying that the Browns need an elite wide receiver, and they have for some time now.
Rookie WR Josh Gordon emerged this year as an elusive speedster in the Browns' offense, but he is more of a complimentary player as opposed to a number-one target. The Browns should grab a wide receiver early in the draft this year in order to complete their rising young offense.
5. Detroit Lions
The Lions were by far one of the most disappointing teams in the league this season, finishing with an embarrassing 4-12 record, after they were expected to be a serious Super Bowl contender.
Their hype was largely due to the fact that they are overloaded with talent on offense, and also possess a young and impressive defense for the most part. But while their secondary and defensive line may also need some work, they lack any real presence at any of the linebacking spots.
Even though they look to have some decent linebackers on paper, their ability in stopping the run was completely invisible this year.
If the Lions can find a highly skilled linebacker early in this year's draft, I think that they will be on their way back to becoming a legitimate playoff threat.
4. Philadelphia Eagles
After a miserable 8-8 season in 2011 that started with a huge amount of hype, the Eagles again massively underachieved in 2012, finishing with a 4-12 record.
As a result, Eagles head coach Andy Reid was canned at the end of the regular season, and QB Michael Vick is expected to be released shortly.
While fans in Philly originally had high hopes for backup QB Nick Foles, he looked nothing like a starting quarterback during his time on the field this season.
The Eagles have a tremendous amount of rebuilding to do this off-season, and they need to kick off the transition by drafting a brand new quarterback.
3. Oakland Raiders
Ever since Pro Bowl CB Nnamdi Asomugha skipped town to join the Eagles prior to the 2011 season, the Raiders have had a gaping vacancy at cornerback.
The Raiders were one of the worst teams in all of the NFL this season, and this was due in large part to their laughable, no-name secondary.
In order to become relevant in the AFC again, the Raiders will need to snatch up an elite cornerback in this year's draft who will fill the void left by Asomugha two years back.
2. Jacksonville Jaguars
Even though QB Blaine Gabbert has not had much time at all to prove his worth in the NFL, the Jaguars organization and most fans have seen more than enough from the youngster.
It is pretty early to call somebody a bust after just their second season, but the jittery and injury-prone Gabbert doesn't even really look to have that much potential.
Even if they do not plan on replacing Gabbert yet, they need to at least bring somebody in that will compete with him for the starting job.
The Jaguars will be doing themselves a favor by drafting another quarterback this year, and hosting a competitive quarterback battle this off-season.
1. Kansas City Chiefs
It now looks like there was a good reason why Chiefs QB Matt Cassel never started a single college game, before being drafted in the 7th round of the 2005 NFL Draft by the Patriots.
After an impressive season with the Pats in place on an injured Tom Brady in 2008, the Chiefs took a chance on Cassel as they brought him in to be their franchise quarterback.
But unfortunately for the Chiefs it looks like Cassel's career season was a complete fluke, as he has failed to produce for the Chiefs in his three seasons with the team. Cassel has dealt with multiple injuries, and was finally benched this season in place of backup QB Brady Quinn.
With the recently courted head coach Andy Reid posing as the new sheriff in town, the Chiefs should be in for plenty of change. And to kick-start that change, the Chiefs need to land this year's highest rated quarterback prospect, West Virginia University QB Geno Smith, with the first overall pick of the 2013 NFL Draft.
Please follow Joe on Twitter @Joe_RantNFL for all Eagles/NFL insight.
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