NFL Draft Watch Guide: Addressing Team Needs
1. Kansas City Chiefs
Team needs: Defensive End, Offensive Tackle, Wide Receiver
The first pick in the draft is usually about taking the best player available instead of fulfilling a team need, but luckily, the best player in the draft this year might also fill a Chiefs team need: boosting the offensive line. Analysts are flipping back and forth between players, but it seems the favorite to go No. 1 overall is Luke Joeckel, a left tackle out of Texas A&M.
2. Jacksonville Jaguars
Team needs: Cornerback, Defensive End, Quarterback
The Jaguars have tried and failed for years to find a solution for their weak pass rush, and this draft may finally give them an answer with an elite crop of linebackers and linesmen who are expected to dominate the early part of the draft. The Jaguars also don’t have a strong quarterback, but since the draft is low on good QBs, Jacksonville probably won’t waste an early pick on one.
3. Oakland Raiders
Team needs: Linebacker, Cornerback, Defensive Line
The Raiders have a lot of holes to fill and not a lot of money to fill them with, so they will need to find a lot of players via the draft. That means they may trade their third overall pick in order to get more picks later on in the draft. If they keep the pick, the Raiders lack a strong defensive tackle, and since there are some very good ones available in this draft, they might go with a linesman for pick No. 3.
4. Philadelphia Eagles
Team needs: Defensive Tackle, Defensive End, Cornerback, Quarterback
The Eagles have Michael Vick at QB, but he’s getting older and isn’t the quarterback he once was. There aren’t many first-round caliber quarterbacks in this draft, so the Eagles may try to snatch up one of the few early, but they also desperately need to bolster their defense and line.
5. Detroit Lions
Team needs: Safety, Defensive End, Offensive Line
The Lions have addressed some of their needs with free agency, but they still only have three defensive ends under contract and look primed to take one early on in the draft. They also need to strengthen their offensive line to help protect Matthew Stafford.
6. Cleveland Browns
Team needs: Offensive Line, Cornerback, Linebacker
The Browns are looking to switch to a 3-4 defense this season, so they will use the draft to make sure they have all the pieces in place to make that defense successful. Cleveland started to put the pieces in place at linebacker by picking up linebackers Paul Kruger and Quentin Groves, but adding an additional linebacker with an early first-round pick can’t hurt.
7. Arizona Cardinals
Team needs: Safety, Offensive Line, Quarterback
The Cardinals started four different players at quarterback last year, and they’re truly desperate at that position, so they might want to pick up a quarterback early on. However, their offensive line was also part of the problem, so they might want to fix that first and wait another year to find an elite QB.
8. Buffalo Bills
Team needs: Linebacker, Wide Receiver, Quarterback
It’s been quite a long time since the Bills have had a good season, so they got rid of their head coach and starting quarterback this offseason and will look to start fresh in 2013. The Bills need help on offense; they lack a strong starting quarterback and have only one good receiver, but it might be hard to fill those holes in this draft. They might look to fill a spot a linebacker with their early pick instead.
9. New York Jets
Team needs: Quarterback, Linebacker, Running Back, Offensive Line, Cornerback
The Jets’ first need is painfully obvious: after the quarterback dilemma in 2012, the Jets need to fill a gaping hole that never seemed to be satisfied. Mark Sanchez has been reduced to an overpaid backup while Tim Tebow continues to ride the bench. This draft is light on quarterbacks, though, so look for the Jets to address any quarterback issues by trading while they focus on other positions in the draft. They especially will want to find some receivers and a talented cornerback after trading Darrelle Revis to Tampa Bay.
10. Tennessee Titans
Team needs: Cornerback, Offensive Line, Safety
The Titans are lacking in depth overall, but their biggest hole is at right guard, where they do not have a legitimate starter. They could look to target that area early in the draft. Also look for the Titans to attempt to boost depth in the secondary and among defensive ends.
11. San Diego Chargers
Team needs: Offensive Line, Defensive Line, Cornerback, Wide Receiver
Chargers coach Mike McCoy has a way with quarterbacks and his latest project will be Philip Rivers. Rivers has struggled the last two seasons, and it’s no wonder considering the lack of protection on the front lines. Upgrading the offensive line will be a priority as McCoy hopes to get Rivers more a little more protection to help him along.
12. Miami Dolphins
Team needs: Offensive Line, Cornerback, Linebacker, Tight End
Despite having an offseason featuring rampant spending, the Dolphins still have many pressing needs that must be filled for them to be able to compete in the 2013 season. The teams biggest needs are at tackle and cornerback, so look for them to focus on those positions early in the draft.
13. New York Jets
See pick No. 9
14. Carolina Panthers
Team needs: Defensive Line, Wide Receiver, Offensive Line, Cornerback, Safety
The draft is pretty deep for the Panthers this year when it comes to filling up roster needs. The problem is that they have many holes in their roster to fill and might not be able to get to all of them. There are a few veteran players who can step up to hold things together in 2013, but young talent is a necessity if the Panthers hope to succeed this season and beyond.
15. New Orleans Saints
Team needs: Linebacker, Offensive Line, Defensive Line, Wide Receiver, Safety
Sean Payton was excited to bring coordinator Rob Ryan and his 3-4 defense to New Orleans. Now they just need players to fit a unit that can’t get much worse than the 2012 defense that ranked second-to-last in the NFL. With their two early picks the Saints will have to focus on boosting their defense.
16. St. Louis Rams
Team needs: Wide Receiver, Running Back, Safety, Offensive Line
Wide receiver was a need even before the Rams lost Danny Amendola and Brandon Gibson in free agency. In addition to filling the wide receiver spot, the Rams also desperately need help at safety, as both starting safeties from the 2012 season are gone.
17. Pittsburgh Steelers
Team needs: Wide Receiver, Linebacker, Safety
The Steelers have plenty of holes to fill the offseason and are pretty close to the salary cap, so they will be looking to fill those holes in the draft. The Steelers might trade down in order to swap their earlier pick for multiple picks in later rounds. They need a young pass rusher at linebacker after losing star James Harrison, and they also could use a first-round pick on a safety.
18. Dallas Cowboys
Team needs: Safety, Offensive Line, Defensive Line
The team needs to provide Tony Romo with more protection, so they might go for an offensive linesman in the first round of a draft boasting strong line players, but they also lack a true starting safety. Depending who is left on the boards, the Cowboys could find their man at pick 18.
19. New York Giants
Team needs: Linebacker, Offensive Line, Defensive Line, Cornerback
There are plenty of holes for the Giants to fill on the offensive and defensive lines. They could really use a strong right tackle (which has been rumored for months) and another edge rusher. Given the number of quality tackles in this draft, the Giants have plenty of options going forward.
20. Chicago Bears
Team needs: Linebacker, Offensive Line, Defensive Line, Cornerback
The Bears have all sorts of needs and not enough picks. With just five selections, general manager Phil Emery isn’t going to get everything done, but the Bears are most desperate for a linebacker. Expect them to go for one in the first round to boost their aging pass rush.
21. Cincinnati Bengals
Team needs: Safety, Linebacker, Running Back
Owner/GM Mike Brown has been able to fill most of the positions his team needs, but they could do with some depth. The only real hole is at offensive tackle if the Bengals do not sign current RT Andre Smith. Since a deal hasn’t been done yet, the Bengals could reveal how contract negotiations are going if they pick up an offensive tackle in the first round. Otherwise, look for them to add depth in the secondary and pass rush.
22. St. Louis Rams
See pick No. 16
23. Minnesota Vikings
Team needs: Cornerback, Defensive Line, Linebacker
Thanks to the Percy Harvin trade, the Vikings have two picks in the first round. The Vikings lack young talent on the defensive line, which they could address in the first round. They also desperately need a well-rounded linebacker.
24. Indianapolis Colts
Team needs: Running Back, Offensive Line, Defensive Line
After grabbing Andrew Luck with the No. 1 overall pick last year, the Colts had a successful season. They also managed to pick up enough free agents in the offseason to give them a lot of freedom with who they pick in the 2013 draft. The Colts will want to do a better job protecting Luck in the 2013 season, so they might use their first round pick to shore up the offensive line.
25. Minnesota Vikings
See pick No. 23
26. Green Bay Packers
Team needs: Running Back, Linebacker, Offensive Line, Defensive Line
Since winning the Super Bowl in 2010, the Packers have taken a step back defensively. They need help stopping the run, so they might try to fix that with a defensive linesman. It’s also slim pickings for the Packers in terms of talent with the running backs currently on the roster, so they might try to find someone who can add another dimension to the Aaron Rodgers-led offense.
27. Houston Texans
Team needs: Offensive Line, Linebacker, Wide Receiver
Aside from Andre Johnson, the Texans don’t have much in the way of wide receivers, so that will be a target for Houston in the draft. If they don’t choose to go wide receiver with their first-round pick, they might look to add some protection for quarterback Matt Schaub with an offensive linesman.
28. Denver Broncos
Team needs: Linebacker, Safety, Defensive End
The Broncos desperately need to improve their pass rush by adding a defensive end or linebacker, and they should be able to find a good solution in the first round. They might also try to find a true starting safety, which they currently lack.
29. New England Patriots
Team needs: Secondary, Wide Receiver, Defensive Line
It’s almost impossible to predict what Bill Belichick will do at the draft aside from trading his first-round pick. Belichick might trade the No. 29, but he also might use it to add depth to the defensive line, which is aging and has few true stars. The Patriots also desperately need a wide receiver. Aside from newcomer Danny Amendola, there is no standout on the roster there.
30. Atlanta Falcons
Team needs: Defensive Line, Defensive End, Linebacker, Cornerback
The Falcons are pretty strong on offense, but to really become a top competitor, they need some help on the other side of the ball. Aside from Asante Samuel, the Falcons do not have much to speak of at cornerback. They also need to add to their defensive ends in order to take some pressure off new acquisition Osi Umenyiora.
31. San Francisco 49ers
Team needs: Offensive Line, Defensive Line, Safety
There aren’t too many holes for the 49ers to fill, but they do lack a free safety. They also could do to add some depth to their defensive line or plug a hole at nose tackle on the offensive line with a draft pick.
32. Baltimore Ravens
Team needs: Safety, Wide Receiver, Linebacker
For a team that just won the Super Bowl, the Ravens do have a few needs to answer in the 2013 draft. They lost six players from the championship defense, and they will need to find a new man at linebacker since Ray Lewis retired. The Ravens also are looking to replace wide receiver Anquan Boldin and plug some holes at safety after losing Ed Reed and Bernard Pollard.
Tyler Scionti contributed to the writing of this piece.