NFL Draft 2012: Biggest Need for Every AFC Team
Chances are, if you're a fan of an AFC team, your team needs some work and are looking towards the draft for some answers.
On the other hand, there are a select few AFC teams that could easily skip the draft all together and still destroy the majority of not only the AFC, but the NFC as well.
Every team has needs though, some more than others. So if a team has the picks and the money, why not use them?
Miami Dolphins: QB
The biggest need for the Miami Dolphins this year has to be at quarterback. Chad Henne didn't pan out, so they went to Matt Moore and now it seems that Moore isn't going to do much for them either.
Reggie Bush was the dominate offensive weapon for the Dolphins last season, but in a league where a solid quarterback is a must, a team cannot reach a championship with just a good running back.
The Dolphins must address the need for a solid QB before training camp opens. The team has not had a solid QB since Dan Marino left and it has definitely affected the Dolphins' game.
The team should go after a quarterback that they can be confident with for the foreseeable so they can build a fanbase as well as a team. Until this happens, the Dolphins will continue to be mediocre at best.
Potential Pick: Ryan Tannehill, Texas A&M
New York Jets: WR
Last season, the New York Jets suffered a breakdown comparable to the New York Mets. The team came into last season in good shape to compete in the AFC just like they had in years past, but they finished at 8-8 and disappointed a lot of fans in the process.
One can't blame the Jets defense who played very well throughout the season. Most of the blame has to fall on the lack of offense put out by the Jets, namely Mark Sanchez and the horribly underwhelming Santonio Holmes.
Mark Sanchez just signed a beefy extension and the team picked up Tim Tebow, so the change is not going to come in the form of a new QB.
That being said, the Jets need to pick up another offensive threat to not only add to the newly-formed Sanchez/Tebow arsenal, but to motivate the existing weapons to compete, namely Holmes.
Look for the Jets to pick up the best wide receiver available to provide the offensive output and locker-room competition that is needed for the team to return to postseason prominence.
Potential Picks: Alshon Jeffery (South Carolina), Micheal Floyd (Notre Dame)
Pittsburgh Steelers: LB/DL
The Steelers did well compared to many other AFC teams. They made it to the playoffs but lost to Denver, primarily due to most of their team being either injured or ruled unable to play.
The team can't say that they're perfect though; they have an aging defense that will begin to fall apart as age catches up to long-time veterans like James Farrior and Casey Hampton. This brings up the need for the team to start looking towards the future and how to address the big departures that are going to happen very soon.
Look for the Steelers to build towards the future by taking advantage of the multiple defensive stars that litter this year's draft, namely at the linebacker and defensive lineman positions.
Potential Picks: Dont'a Hightower (Alabama), Courtney Upshaw (Alabama), Dontari Poe (Memphis)
Houston Texans: WR
The Texans were another AFC team that would have done much better had they not been hit with injuries. The loss of starting QB Matt Schaub really hurt the team's first playoff appearance despite the excellent effort put forth by third-stringer, T.J. Yates.
The Texans managed to hold together their rock-solid offensive line, locked in Pro Bowl running back Arian Foster and will be expecting the return of Schaub, so the team's offense looks pretty good.
Some believe that the team should address the losses suffered on defense, but the Texans have focused much of their attention on acquiring new offensive weapons. This being said, the team will probably be looking for another receiver to couple with Andre Johnson.
Potential Picks: Stephen Hill (Georgia Tech), Kendall Wright (Baylor)
Indianapolis Colts: QB
Do I really have to elaborate with this one? The Colts finished last in the league following Peyton Manning's neck injury. Now that Manning is gone, the team needs someone to replace him.
Curtis Painter and Dan Orlovsky are not NFL starters by any means, so look for the Colts to pick up a quarterback with their No. 1 overall pick in this year's draft.
Potential Picks: Andrew Luck (Stanford), Robert Griffin III (Baylor)
Jacksonville Jaguars: WR/DE
When the only divisional opponent you did better than was the Colts, you know you had a rough season. This is the realization that the Jacksonville Jaguars and their fans are having as they prepare for this year's draft.
The team was carried solely by Pro Bowl running back Maurice Jones-Drew despite having one of the best QBs of last year's draft in Blaine Gabbert. In order to succeed, the team must start producing through the air. Gabbert has the arm and ability to carry the team to some success, but when he has virtually nobody to throw to, the Jags will continue to let their fans down.
The same can be said about their defense which seriously needs some help, especially on the defensive line. If they wish to succeed in the AFC South, where backs like Arian Foster and Chris Johnson run the show on the ground and players like Matt Schaub, Andre Johnson and eventually Andrew Luck or RG3 rule through the air, the team must produce a better defensive unit.
Potential Picks: Justin Blackmon (Oklahoma State) Quinton Coples, (North Carolina)
Tennessee Titans: C
The Tennessee Titans suffered from a sever lack of production by Pro Bowl running back Chris Johnson last season. It was not Johnson's fault by any means however. His lack of production was due to horrible interior offensive line play, namely center Eugene Amano.
Amano failed in all aspects of his game and needs to be replaced so the Titans offense can settle back in. Johnson and QB Matt Hasselback won't be doing much of anything next season if the center of the offensive line continues to collapse play after play.
Potential Picks: Peter Konz (Wisconsin), Michael Brewster (Ohio State)
Kansas City Chiefs: OL
The Chiefs' have been plagued year in and year out with shoddy play from their offensive lineman. It's limited the play of their offense and has held them back as a team.
With the No. 11 pick, the Chiefs sit at a unique position to capitalize by selecting one of the premier lineman in this year's draft.
Potential Picks: David DeCastro (Stanford), Cordy Glenn (Georgia)
Oakland Raiders: DL
The Oakland Raiders are in dire straights in many facets of their game. They are in need of more help than can be addressed in one slide and the situation is made worse by the team not having a draft pick until the third round.
By that time most of the positions that are needed will be dried up, so GM Reggie Mckenzie and his staff will be hard pressed to fix what they can with the resources at hand.
The plethora of talented defensive lineman that flood this year's draft will play to the Raiders' benefit, simply because there will still be some available by the time the team finally gets on the clock. Oakland needs a defensive lineman among other things, but the quality of players in the more needed positions will be depleted come Round 3.
That being said, look for the Raiders to pick up a defensive lineman, but don't be surprised to see them draft differently if there are any valuable players remaining in the third round.
Potential Picks: Josh Chapman (Alabama), Bruce Irvin (West Virginia), Asa Jackson (Cal Poly)
San Diego Chargers: OL
The Chargers have recently endured a period of traumatic shock as they watched their offensive line crumble faster then their hopes for a successful season. Hammered with injury, retirement, cuts and any combination of the three, the Chargers need a breath of fresh air in their offensive line.
Philip Rivers' lack of mobility is something that should also be brought into consideration when choosing an offensive lineman. Thankfully, the Chargers find themselves with a pick in the top 20 of this year's upcoming draft.
Potential Picks: Jonathan Martin Stanford), Cordy Glenn (Georgia)
Cleveland Browns: RB/OL
Now that Peyton Hillis has left, the Browns are in desperate need to come up with a replacement for him. The Browns hold a powerful position in the upcoming draft with the No. 4 overall pick.
The common belief as of now is that the Browns will use that pick to grab All-American Trent Richardson, but Cleveland could also trade down to address several major areas of the team since they are so many quality backs in this year's draft.
Common sense tells us that the Browns are going to stay with their No. 4 pick and possibly deal their No. 22 selection, but again, the common idea is that they will keep both first-round selections and address their top needs accordingly.
Potential Picks: Trent Richardson (Alabama), Riley Reiff (Iowa), Mike Adams (Ohio State), Doug Martin (Boise State)
Cincinnati Bengals: S
The Bengals only have a few holes in their secondary, but the release of their former safety, Chris Crocker, opens up a legitimate gap in their depth chart that must be filled if the team wishes to carry over the momentum from last season's success.
The team has playable cornerbacks, so the role of safety becomes top priority. Fans should not fret over which is drafted first since the Bengals hold both the No. 17 and No. 21 pick in this year's draft. These two picks being so close together will allow the team to target two players without having to worry much about one being drafted in between selections.
Potential Picks: Mark Barron (Alabama), Dre Kirkpatrick (Alabama)
Denver Broncos: DT
The Broncos must tread carefully with how they go about this year's draft. They just brought on a bunch of talent through free agency, including QB Peyton Manning.
The team has a solid offensive line, a very good linebacker corps and a veteran secondary. This leaves the defensive line as the No. 1 priority before they polish and improve the other facets of their game.
The need for improvement is added to by the number of quality prospects in this department. The Broncos will have future opportunities to add depth in other areas of their team, so they'll take the initiative and grab the starters while they can.
Potential Picks: Devon Still (Penn State), Michael Brockers (LSU)
New England Patriots: DL
The Patriots are one of the few teams that could skip the draft and would still be able to make the playoffs.
There is room for improvement at the defensive line though. It's not a mystery that the Pats don't have the most dominant defense in the league. It's also safe to say that most of the upfront work was done by veteran, Vince Wilfork. One man cannot carry an entire, playoff-worthy defense, no matter how large he may be.
So logically, the Pats will look to take a defensive lineman or two in order to relieve the strain that is currently on Wilfork.
Potential Picks: Whitney Mercilus (Illinois), Courtney Upshaw (Alabama)
Buffalo Bills: OL
The Bills have been fierce during the offseason in regards to bringing in or re-signing players. So much to the extent that many are saying the team is now playoff worthy.
Haters can rest assured knowing that this is still a step or two from being true, and most of the skepticism involves the Buffalo offensive line.
The Bills just lost starting tackle, Demetrius Bell, to the Eagles and the remaining offensive line has been streaky with how well they protect the $59 million QB that is Ryan Fitzpatrick.
If the Bills want to make a deep run, than they will have to address the needs on the offensive line before going into training camp.
Potential Picks: Riley Reiff (Iowa), David DeCastro (Stanford)
Baltimore Ravens: WR
The Ravens are another team that essentially just has to polish and tweak going into this upcoming season. The team's current, solid roster allows the Baltimore brass to stock up on positions that will be heavily used when they make another run for a ring.
The first position that comes to mind would be at wide receiver. A team can never give a quarterback too many weapons to throw to. With the draft being steeped in high-profile wide receivers, taking a wideout with their first pick sounds logical enough.
If the Ravens give QB Joe Flacco a few more targets to throw to, than the team will have an even sounder platform to build a championship season on.
They've got the run game, a solid line on both sides, a consistent QB, a Hall of Fame linebacker and a strong secondary. I was compelled to put "kicker" down as most needed position, but I decided against it. I'm talking to you Billy Cundiff!
Potential Picks: A.J. Jenkins (Illinois), Nelson Rosario (UCLA)