NFL Team Needs: Picks 1-5
Here are the top needs for each team in the NFL in reverse draft order:
1. Carolina Panthers:
-Defensive Tackle: The Panthers get very good play from their defensive ends, but receive no internal penetration from their tackles. Nick Fairley makes a lot of sense at the top of the draft.
-Guard: The Panthers have solid tackles when Jeff Otah is healthy, but have very little in the way of talent at guard. An upgrade could be in order in either the 3rd or the 4th round (maybe both).
-Tight End: Carolina has not had a pass catching tight end in years, but hopefully the new coaching staff will look to upgrade Jeff King. If the Panthers had their top pick in the 2nd round, they would reunite Clausen, with Kyle Rudolph his college tight end. Look for a potential trade, or a free agent signing to fill this need.
-Wide Receiver: The Panthers lack a top notch receiver to go along with Steve Smith, and it does hinder their offensive ability. While A.J. Green is in the mix for the top spot, the Panthers have invested a lot of draft picks of late into the position, so my guess is they will take a pass. I could see them adding a receiver via free agency.
-Quarterback: While I believe the Panthers should give Jimmy Clausen a fair look this season, they need to bring in a veteran backup in case he falters or gets injured. I think Clausen will be fine, if they can just improve around him enough.
-Corner back: Richard Marshall is a free agent this season, and he is coming off his worst year as a starter, so I don’t see the Panthers resigning him. That will mean Carolina needs to address the corner back position this offseason, likely through free agency.
-*Defensive End: The Panthers top sack leader, Charles Johnson, is primed to become a free agent. If the Panthers can’t work out an agreement, this need shoots up the list. As it stands now, this is only a need for depth purposes.
-Corner back: Champ Bailey is a free agent this offseason, and even if they resign him, it is an area of weakness as the Broncos have nothing at the opposite corner. If Bailey does leave I think Denver will draft either Patrick Peterson or Prince Amukamara with the 2nd pick in the draft. And if they do resign Bailey, they could still look to address their need early.
-Defensive End: While it isn’t 100% clear whether or not the Broncos will run a 3-4 (like they have been doing) or a 4-3 (which is Coach Fox’s preference), the Broncos need big time help at defensive end. If they go back to the 4-3 both Da’Quan Bowers and Robert Quinn will be targets. If they stay with the 3-4 Nick Fairley or Marcel Dareus could be the pick.
-Defensive Tackle: Again this is dependent on what system they run, but defensive tackle is a serious need for Denver. If they stay in the 3-4 a Nose Tackle in the 3rd or 4th round would make sense, and if they go 4-3 Fairley and Dareus are in play for the 2nd overall pick, this time for the inside.
-Safety: It really is hard to say what is a bigger priority, strong or free safety as they both need to be addressed. I typically lean to adding a free safety first, but Denver should look at both positions.
-Right Tackle: Ryan Harris is a free agent, and even if they do resign him he has been pretty injury prone these last few years. If he isn’t retained a starter is needed, if he is signed a good backup is a priority.
-Offensive Tackles: The Bills need to add a pair of tackles this offseason after completely ignoring it last year. At this point it doesn’t matter who lines up under center, as they have no chance without a massive upgrade at the tackle spots. There isn’t any franchise tackles in this draft, so baring a trade down the Bills should consider the Free agent route. On the right side they could look at using their 2nd or 3rd round pick on bringing in an upgrade.
-Rush Linebacker: The Bills were unable to put any consistent pressure on the quarterback and it cost them dearly. If they want to run the 3-4 they need to bring in guys who can get to the quarterback. Robert Quinn should be a serious option for them at number 3 overall.
-Defensive End: The Bills need to get more push from their defensive line, so adding a talented 3-4 end like Dareus or Fairley makes a lot of sense at number 3. They could wait until the 2nd round, but it would be hard to pass up those top guys.
-Quarterback: Ryan Fitzpatrick is a solid starter, but he’s likely not franchise material. While I don’t see the Bills grabbing a QB in round one, a 2nd or 3rd round pick could be invested into the position.
-Wide Receiver: Terrell Owens is on his way out, and it seems likely that Chad OchoCinco is about to follow him. The Bengals need to add a top flight receiver, so if A.J. Green is still on the board he won’t fall any farther in the draft.
-Defensive End: Antwan Odom has been a force at end, but over the last two seasons he his missed the majority of his games. Without him that pass rush struggles, despite the emergence of rookie Carlos Dunlap. The Bengals should consider Bowers at number 4 if Green is off the board.
-Strong Safety: The Bengals have excellent corners, but Roy Williams has been a major liability in coverage for Cincinnati and they have to find an improvement. If they can’t sign a free agent a 3rd round pick should do the trick.
-Running Back: Cedric Benson really struggled this past year, and while some of that blame is on the offensive line a lot falls on his shoulders as well. The Bengals need to address their running back need either in free agency or the draft, but it is pretty clear they will have to look outside the organization to do so.
-Quarterback: Carson Palmer had a resurgence at the end of last season, but before that he looked like he was completely done. He might have a year or two left in the tank, so the Bengals need to start looking for a replacement.
-Rush Linebacker: The Cardinals had one of the most ineffective pass rushes last season and it left their secondary out high and dry. Arizona needs to look long and hard at Quinn and Von Miller with their 5th pick if they want to improve.
-Offensive Tackle: The Cards offensive line needs a complete overhaul and that should start with the tackle position. There aren’t any great options for the top 5 in the draft, so I’m guessing they look to free agency to fill this need. For the right side a mid-round pick could suffice (and probably even start this year).
-Guard: Arizona needs to keep rebuilding their line if they want to have an effective offense again, and adding a guard in the mid-rounds (or through free agency) is a smart choice.
-Corner back: Arizona’s corners got beat quite a bit last season, that it wouldn’t be shocking to see them target a top corner at number 5. Overall I think they could just look at adding better depth and focus on improving their pass rush which should, help their corner back play.
-Quarterback: There is little doubt that Arizona needs to add a quarterback, but I think it is more for a short term fix than a long term issue (don’t right John Skelton off just yet). Look for Arizona to add a veteran as they look to get at least average production from their signal caller.