Every team in the NFL needs to have a good draft. The addition of good talent is vital for a team to become or remain competitive, and outside of the first round young players are very friendly to the salary cap as well.
Some teams, though, feel the pressure to have a good draft more than others.
Circumstances have been stacked against them, and they badly need the boost that an influx of strong talent can give them. Here are five teams in the league this year that most need to have a very strong draft and have the smallest margin for error.
St. Louis Rams
Two years ago it looked like St. Louis was on the rise. They had their franchise quarterback, some nice talent on both sides of the ball and a bright future.
Everything that could possibly have gone wrong last year did, though, and all momentum was lost.
They wound up with the second overall pick, and turned that into a historic haul when they traded it to the Redskins so Washington could pick a quarterback of their own. It’s a brilliant deal for St. Louis—or at least a brilliant opportunity. Now they need to make the most of those picks starting this year.
They need to combine the picks they received with the picks they already had to fill their holes and get back on track. Rarely has a team had a chance to rebuild in a hurry like the Rams have. If they screw it up it could be very damaging to the organization.
The last decade has mostly been ugly for Miami, and this offseason couldn’t have gone worse. They are coming off a horrible year, they haven’t been competitive in the AFC East for a long time, and they are starting from scratch at quarterback. Or at least they are trying to.
They initially seemed like the logical landing spot for Peyton Manning, but they struck out badly in that pursuit. They didn’t do much better chasing down Matt Flynn, either—even though new Head Coach Joe Philbin was Flynn’s offensive coordinator in Green Bay. They tried to steal Alex Smith from the 49ers, but that didn’t turn out, either.
Now they are left with two equally underwhelming choices under center. They have had Matt Moore all along, but they obviously weren’t excited about him. David Garrard is newly signed. He comes cheap, but there is good reason for that—he didn’t even play last year, and no one else wanted him.
The QB situation is dire, but it is far from their only issue. Their best offensive skill player, Brandon Marshall, is now a Chicago Bear. Their talent on both sides of the ball is incredibly weak. They are going nowhere fast, and they really need to use this draft to snap out of it before it’s too late.
Their first pick is obviously going to be a slam dunk. No matter how good Andrew Luck is, though, he can’t win by himself. He needs lots of talent around him, and after years of mismanagement and an offseason of dismantling there isn’t a lot of that right now. It’s going to be a rough year or two no matter what in Indy.
If they built a strong young core around Luck this year, though, then the pain can be minimized and they can return to competitiveness sooner rather than later. They did a pretty good job of building up the last time they picked the QB of his generation. Now they need to repeat that.
Buffalo has some nice momentum built up after stunning the rest of the league by snatching Mario Williams off the market. Not only did they land the top defensive free agent in several years, but he didn’t even visit anywhere else.
They have some other nice talent, too, and they showed with a strong start last year that they can be competitive if things go their way.The AFC East is a very tough place to compete, though, so they need to add more talent and depth—especially on defense around Williams—if they want to finally challenge the dominance of New England.
Kansas City Chiefs
Two years ago Kansas City looked like they were really on their way. Last year they were a punch line.
There are still some real concerns about the quarterback position, but they have a coach the players love, Charlie Weis is now a very distant memory, and they should be a much better team than they were last year.
With a strong draft this year they could recapture their momentum, forget that last year ever happened, and continue the climb to relevance. If things don’t go well, though, they could become the Browns—one good year in the midst of a decade of torture.
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