NFL Football: Team Needs for Every Franchise
By Kevin Goodwin
Some teams in the NFL are already looking towards next season as this year is a loss. Franchises may suffer a losing season because of an injury to a key player, multiple season-ending injuries, coaching issues or just an extremely tough schedule. Regardless of the reason, teams may go back and forth from a winning record to losing record on a year-to-year basis. Still other teams just can get all the players and coaches on the same page. I’ll break down the needs for all 32 teams based on the current standings (entering Week 10). Keep in mind the order is subject to change by the end of the year and I’m ranking them based on which teams I feel are the worst.
- Kansas City – The Chiefs have found themselves at the top of the draft for a few years now. This team needs a lot of help on both sides of the ball. But the fact they don’t have a franchise quarterback is the biggest issue. Matt Cassel hasn’t panned out the way Kansas City had hoped. They have invested on the defensive side of the ball in the first rounds of recent drafts, grabbing Glen Dorsey, Tyson Jackson and Eric Berry. While the defense has some key players at key positions, the Chiefs need to address the offense first in the upcoming draft. Now it is just a matter of which college quarterback excels the most and grabs the Chiefs’ front office attention.
- Jacksonville – With Maurice Jones-Drew banged up the Jags might as well pack in this season. Jones-Drew has one more year on his contract and if Jacksonville is smart they should sign him to a long-term deal. If they don’t see MJD in the teams’ future they should address replacing him in the draft. I don’t think this is the best move though. The Jaguars should take a stud offensive lineman with their first pick in the draft. If they can bulk up the O-line MJD might have a few more holes to run through and Blaine Gabbert might have a few extra seconds to throw the ball. There is a lot of promise on this team but they need to be smart when it comes to the draft.
Cleveland – The Browns will be losing Mike Holmgren at the end of the year. The franchise has a new owner too, so a lot can change in Cleveland. They drafted Trent Richardson and Brandon Weeden in the 2012 draft, but it is unclear if the new general manager will stay the course set by Holmgren. The Browns have 20 sacks on the year and the team leader is D’Qwell Jackson with three. Cleveland should think about taking a premier pass rusher in the draft. That is, of course, as long as they decide to stick with Weeden at quarterback.
- Carolina – The Panthers won’t have DeAngelo Williams next year as he’ll be a free agent and unlikely to sign with Carolina. It was rumored he’d be traded this year but no deal came to fruition by the deadline. Cam Newton is the teams’ leading rusher, gaining more than 100 yards more than Williams. It may be time to find a new option in the backfield, and there should be some solid choices in this year’s draft.
- Tennessee – The Titans are much like the Browns. They have just 17 sacks on the year and are getting pushed around in the trenches. Tennessee has a quarterback for the future and some weapons on offense, but the defense can’t stop anyone. If they don’t go pass rusher, the Titans should get the top linebacker or defensive back.
- Washington – Washington will not have a first-round selection in next year’s draft because they traded two future first rounder picks so they could grab Robert Griffin III. RG3 is the future of the Redskins and needs weapons around him. The Redskins should target a speedy receiver with their first pick so Griffin has someone to throw to.
- Oakland – The Raiders are one of a handful of teams that are 3-5 but I feel Oakland needs the most help. The Raiders have just 11 sacks on the year, only the Jaguars have fewer at this stage of the season. Oakland needs a pass rusher – bottom line.
St. Louis – The Rams were rumored to be shopping longtime running back Steven Jackson before this season’s trade deadline. While they did not move the veteran, there definitely has been a shift in the offensive scheme. Jackson is now sharing the load with Daryl Richardson, so it seems like the Rams will be looking for a running mate for Richardson in the draft and saying farewell to Jackson.
- Buffalo – What can I say about the Bills…they went out and spent a ton of money on Mario Williams last offseason and he hasn’t panned out. They invested into Ryan Fitzpatrick and he isn’t doing what the Bills had hoped either. Buffalo has some holes to fill, but I think getting a solid linebacker is the team’s biggest concern at this point. Fitzpatrick could pan out as he does have some weapons to distribute the ball to; it is just a matter of consistency from him.
- New York Jets – How far has this team fallen? A lot in my opinion. It seems like just yesterday that this was one of the most imposing defenses in the league. Now they can’t stop anyone. They probably won’t be in the top 10 of the draft as I feel they will do a bit better in the second half of the season. They have some talent on the offensive side of the ball, but the Jets need to bump up the O-line as they aren’t giving Mark Sanchez much time to throw the ball.
- Cincinnati – The Bengals seemed to be heading in the right direction last year but a tougher schedule within a difficult division is hurting this young team. I think adding a quality receiver to pair with A.J. Green will only make this offense more potent.
- Philadelphia – The Eagles were supposed to be one of the elite teams in the league. Michael Vick looks pedestrian on the field and some have called for Andy Reid to bench him. No matter how bad or good he plays this year though the Eagles won’t be selecting a quarterback in the 2013 draft. Look for the Eagles to add a pass rusher as they have just 11 sacks on the year thus far.
- Dallas – Owner and general manager Jerry Jones has said he won’t give up the GM title because he likes having the final say when it comes to personal. But one win in the postseason over the past 10 years falls on him. So even though the Cowboys have a lot of talent they need to add a hard hitter on defense, like Roy Williams used to be. Dallas should aim for a safety in the draft, one that packs a punch.
- New Orleans – This franchise probably wants to put this year behind them. The Saints’ offense is powered on high octane and puts up points with the best of them. But this defense is just awful. New Orleans needs to address the secondary in the draft – most likely adding a few new faces for the 2013 season.
- Arizona – The Cardinals started off red hot but have lost five straight games. The main thing this franchise needs to do is figure out whether they have the quarterback of the future on the roster right now or if they need to grab a new one and start over. I see Arizona nabbing a quality quarterback in the middle of the first round and hopefully the choice makes Larry Fitzgerald happy.
- Tampa Bay – The Bucs are still trying to find their identity under a new coach. They are doing better than most expected but still need some help on defense. Only Michael Bennett is a threat on defense when it comes to putting pressure on opposing quarterbacks. But with Ronde Barber getting close to retirement the Bucs will likely target a safety or cornerback in the draft.
- Miami – The Dolphins are getting the job done with a rookie signal caller but they still need some punch on offense. Many though Chad Johnson would be a nice fit here but never made it on the final roster. Miami still needs a big-time receiver and that’s what they should focus on in next year’s draft.
San Diego – The Chargers are a disappointment so far in 2012. Philip Rivers isn’t having a good year but he doesn’t have much help. Antonio Gates isn’t as good as he once was. Ryan Mathews hasn’t been healthy enough to be a legit option out of the backfield. Vincent Jackson is now in Tampa Bay, so Rivers doesn’t have a No. 1 option to throw to. All things considered, the Chargers need a consistent wide receiver to compliment Rivers.
- Detroit – Matthew Stafford is having a bad year. Does that mean it’s time to replace him? Of course not. Do the Lions need a consistent running back, yes; but I don’t think they’ll go that route in the first round. I see them going for a cornerback as they need to shut down some really receivers in the NFC North.
- Minnesota – The Vikings are surprising people this year as they are getting the job done in a tough division. The passing game is one of the worst in the NFL as Percy Harvin has more than twice as many yards and receptions than any other player on the team. Minnesota is one dimensional through the air and need to get Harvin a solid wingman.
- Seattle – The Seahawks have the quarterback they want and one of the best rushers in the league with Marshawn Lynch. Seattle went heavy in this past draft on defense, and it has panned out nicely for them. I see Seattle making a selection to bolster the trenches, either an offensive lineman or defensive tackle.
- Pittsburgh – The Steelers always seem to reload in the draft, but I think this year they’ll need more than most years. They need help on the offensive line as the big guys up front continue to get banged up. If the Steelers don’t add depth on the O-line don’t be surprised if they grab a running back. The team has played a few weeks this year and didn’t know what back would be healthy enough to play on Sunday. Those are the two options the Steelers should address early on draft day.
- Denver – What a difference Peyton Manning makes. He’s made all the receivers in Denver legit playmakers. With Champ Bailey getting older each year, the Broncos need to think about grabbing his replacement and better do it while the veteran can still play. The defense doesn’t need a lot of help but it is never too soon to think about the future.
- New England – The Patriots get the job done year in and year out. They never draft a big name player as they make choices based on who will fit into their scheme. Currently, New England ranks in the top 10 of passing yards, rushing yards and defense against the rush. The only place where the Patriots need help is in the secondary. Look for the Patriots to play it safe and draft to help its only weakness.
- Indianapolis – No one thought the Colts would do this well in the post-Peyton Manning era…not this quick at least. Indy isn’t very good against the run, and playing in the AFC South a defense needs to be able to contain a running back. The Colts should grab a defensive tackle to plug any holes in the draft.
- New York Giants – The G-men are sitting at the top of the NFC East and they are clicking on all cylinders. They don’t really have any holes that need to be filled so the draft is just a chance for them to add depth across the board. Based on how this team has been built, I think they’ll add someone in the secondary, potentially getting a steal late in the first round.
- Green Bay – Aaron Rodgers has been sacked a lot this year. The only place the Packers need help is on the offensive line and I wouldn’t be surprised if they add multiple players from this draft in an effort to revamp the O-line. Rodgers is playing like an MVP behind a mediocre line, so imagine what he’d be doing with a few studs standing between him and opposing defenses.
Baltimore – Baltimore needs a younger version of Ed Reed. Reed isn’t getting any younger and he still always seems to be around the football when he’s on the field. The Ravens have to get some more youth of defense and it starts in the secondary.
- San Francisco – Ray McDonald and Justin Smith aren’t getting any younger on the defensive line and the two have combined for just 0.5 sacks on the year. For starting ends that is just unacceptable. The 49ers need to get a pass rusher off the end to get them over the hump in the NFC.
- Houston – The Texans have played well this year and like most teams with winning records they don’t have many holes. Even though they are a run-first offense, the Texans need to be able to be taken seriously in the passing game. Besides Andre Johnson and tight end Owen Daniels, Matt Schaub doesn’t have too many options to throw to. Houston should nab a wide receiver, one that compliments Johnson’s game, in the last few picks of the first round.
- Chicago – The Bears are getting it done defensively yet again. Granted Jay Cutler and Brandon Marshall are playing well now that they are back on the same sideline. And Matt Forte is still one of the best in the business. They could use another receiver for Cutler to throw to, but I believe it’s time for the Bears to start looking for the next Brian Urlacher. Chicago needs to draft a linebacker so he can learn from one of the best in the game.
- Atlanta – The offense is clicking. The defense is holding opposing offenses to 17 points per game. There aren’t any gaping holes on this team. Again adding depth is the way to go and the smart move for the Falcons is selecting a cornerback. The NFL loves to pass so a shutdown corner is always in high demand.
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