NFL Draft 2013: Assessing Every Team's Biggest Needs

Wes StueveContributor IIIOctober 12, 2012

NFL Draft 2013: Assessing Every Team's Biggest Needs

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    As much as every NFL general manager likes to claim he uses a strict best-player-available approach in the draft, need rules supreme.

    At this point in the 2012 NFL season, many team needs are already apparent. For example, it's pretty obvious that the Kansas City Chiefs should be looking to move on from Matt Cassel.

    Even the best teams have weaknesses to address in the draft. Here is each team's biggest area of need to look at as the 2013 NFL draft approaches.

New York Giants

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    Biggest Need: Offensive tackle

    In all honesty, neither Giants tackle is anything extra. Sean Locklear, however, is especially unimpressive at right tackle. 

    New York could logically look to upgrade both tackle spots in the offseason. It is almost certain to address right tackle, however.

Dallas Cowboys

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    Biggest Need: Interior offensive line

    Here's a challenge (for non-Cowboys fans): Name a Dallas interior lineman. If you succeeded, give yourself a nice pat on the back.

    Now, obscurity doesn't always equal mediocrity. In this case, it does, though, as all three of the Cowboys' interior linemen should probably be upgraded.

Washington Redskins

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    Biggest Need: Defensive backfield

    The Redskins' pass defense is 31st in the NFL, largely because of its poor secondary. Both cornerback and safety require serious upgrades.

    The Redskins may not have a single legitimate starter in the defensive backfield. It would be hard to blame Washington for spending its first few picks addressing the unit.

Philadelphia Eagles

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    Biggest Need: Quarterback

    It's come to this point. 

    The Eagles are an extremely talented team, and it's obvious that Michael Vick is holding them back. There's no other explanation for the team's struggles.

    Vick never really developed into a passer, instead relying on his physical abilities. That isn't working for him anymore.

Buffalo Bills

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    Biggest Need: Quarterback

    When Ryan Fitzpatrick busted out with the Bills in 2010, it seemed too good to be true. Now we're seeing that, in fact, it was.

    Buffalo doesn't have an elite offense by any stretch, but it would be much better with a legitimate quarterback. Fitzpatrick has to go in order for the Bills to be legitimate contenders.

New England Patriots

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    Biggest Need: Defensive backfield

    Despite an improved pass rush, the Patriots' pass defense is still dreadful. This lies largely at the feet of the team's secondary.

    At both safety and cornerback, New England lacks legitimate starters. In the 2012 NFL draft, the team focused on the front seven. In 2013, it should focus on the secondary.

New York Jets

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    Biggest Need: Quarterback

    It's far from a secret that Mark Sanchez is bad. He's not the only problem with the Jets, but he certainly is one of the bigger ones.

    Sanchez simply doesn't have it. His physical tools aren't nearly impressive enough to compensate for his other flaws, and at this point, there isn't any future potential.

    It's time for the Jets to move on.

Miami Dolphins

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    Biggest Need: Wide receiver

    Even with Brian Hartline having a surprising breakout season, Miami's wide receivers are awful. Even the biggest Hartline advocates don't see him as a legitimate No. 1 wideout, and he is easily the Dolphins' best receiver.

    In order for Ryan Tannehill to succeed, Miami will need to add actual threats on the outside. Otherwise, Tannehill will be throwing to a truly dreadful group.

Indianapolis Colts

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    Biggest Need: Defensive line

    As they transition to a 3-4 defense, the Colts will clearly go through some growing pains. One of them is along the defensive line, where Indianapolis doesn't have a single above-average starter.

    Before changing schemes, the Colts' defensive line was terrible. It's worse now and will need to be addressed early and often in the 2013 NFL draft.

Jacksonville Jaguars

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    Biggest Need: Quarterback

    In 2011, Blaine Gabbert looked completely lost. Now, in 2012, Blaine Gabbert still looks completely lost.

    Jacksonville is a complete wreck across the board, but it's clear the Jaguars will not win with Gabbert at quarterback. After just two years, the team needs to move on.

    And no, Chad Henne isn't the answer either.

Houston Texans

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    Biggest Need: Wide receiver

    After Andre Johnson, the Texans don't have much at wide receiver. They made an effort in the 2012 NFL draft, drafting DeVier Posey in the third round, but that wasn't enough.

    In 2013, Houston would be wise to add a wideout early. Only then will the team find someone talented enough to really make a difference. Right now, Kevin Walter certainly isn't going to.

Tennessee Titans

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    Biggest Need: Defensive end

    Signing Kamerion Wimbley didn't help. The Titans' pass rush is still terrible, and there isn't much hope for the future.

    Derrick Morgan is almost officially a bust, and Tennessee really doesn't have any other options. It needs to add defensive ends early in the draft.

Atlanta Falcons

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    Biggest Need: Defensive end

    John Abraham has been a pass-rushing force for years, but his time is running out. At the other defensive end spot, Ray Edwards continues to disappoint.

    Atlanta's secondary is decent, but it isn't so good that it doesn't require an active pass rush. With little promise on the roster, the Falcons should add at least one pass-rusher early in the draft.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

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    Biggest Need: Cornerback

    Prior to the 2012 NFL draft, cornerback was a huge need for the Buccaneers. Things haven't changed since, and cornerback remains a priority.

    Tampa Bay overpaid Eric Wright in free agency, and he isn't anything close to a shutdown cornerback. In all honesty, the Buccaneers need three new cornerbacks at the top of their depth chart.

New Orleans Saints

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    Biggest Need: Defensive end

    Will Smith is aging, suspended and nearing a huge pay raise. Cameron Jordan just isn't all that good, as his three career sacks indicate.

    Even if New Orleans does for some reason like these two, defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo requires multiple pass-rushers to implement his scheme. Right now, the Saints are a long way off there.

Carolina Panthers

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    Biggest Need: Defensive tackle

    Carolina's defensive tackles are simply awful. There is no positive trait, no glimmer of hope, no potential. They are rotten to the core.

    So yeah, the Panthers should probably look at defensive tackle early in the 2013 NFL draft. If they ignore the position again, they will almost certainly regret it again.

San Francisco 49ers

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    Biggest Need: Wide receiver

    It's tough to find a true weakness on the San Francisco roster, but wide receiver may be the closest thing to one, if only because the team lacks a legitimate star there. San Francisco has depth at the position—just no great players.

    Michael Crabtree and Mario Manningham aren't terrible starters, though there are certainly better units. San Francisco could use a truly dynamic threat out wide.

Seattle Seahawks

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    Biggest Need: Wide receiver

    Sidney Rice is hurt far too often and isn't really elite when healthy. Golden Tate simply has no business starting.

    Seattle has tried it all at wide receiver, short of actually using a first-round pick on the position. With a young quarterback, it's now time for the Seahawks to bite the bullet.

Arizona Cardinals

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    Biggest Need: Offensive line

    Gee, I bet you've never seen this one before. After all, the Cardinals always have such good offensive lines. 

    OK, now that the sarcasm is out of the way, Arizona's offensive line is still terrible. The team rarely uses a high draft pick on the unit, and as a result, it hasn't improved.

    The Cardinals need to invest in the offensive line, or their offense will never be any good.

St. Louis Rams

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    Biggest Need: Offensive tackle

    Wayne Hunter is currently starting at left tackle for the Rams. Let that digest a bit. Now ask yourself just how bad St. Louis' offensive line really is.

    When healthy, Rodger Saffold isn't a horrific option at tackle, but the Rams still need at least one more. Ideally, though, St. Louis would add two tackles, pushing Saffold inside to guard, where he is a better fit.

Denver Broncos

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    Biggest Need: Defensive backfield

    Because of its explosive pass rush, Denver's pass defense isn't terrible. However, the Broncos' secondary still needs a ton of work in order to truly shut down offenses.

    Other than the aging Champ Bailey, Denver doesn't have too many options in the defensive backfield. The Broncos need to add starters at both cornerback and safety.

San Diego Chargers

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    Biggest Need: Offensive line

    There isn't really a strong spot along San Diego's offensive line. There are just less weak spots. That's not exactly a positive trait.

    Jared Gaither isn't bad if he's healthy, but he can seemingly never stay on the field. Nick Hardwick is decent. The rest of the offensive line needs upgrading, with Jeromey Clary well overdue for replacement.

Kansas City Chiefs

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    Biggest Need: Quarterback

    Looking at Kansas City's roster, you can see talent. However, the team has looked horrible in 2012, largely because of poor quarterback play.

    Matt Cassel hasn't impressed at all as a Chief, and he's been thoroughly unimpressive in 2012. The former Patriot is bad and desperately needs to be replaced.

Oakland Raiders

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    Biggest Need: Cornerback

    Oakland's cornerbacks are...unnamable. Seriously, hardly anyone has ever heard of these guys. That's not good at a high-profile position like cornerback.

    The Raiders have a ton of needs, but none competes with cornerback. In fact, Oakland's two biggest needs might be its two starting cornerbacks.

    That's how bad the unit is.

Cleveland Browns

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    Biggest Need: Wide receiver

    Many held high hopes for Greg Little entering the 2012 season, and he has failed to meet any of them. The rest of the Browns' wideouts are either bad or inexperienced and developing.

    It's hard to say whether the unit has some potential, but as it stands, it needs more. Brandon Weeden has virtually no one to throw to, and the Browns need to find him some weapons.

Baltimore Ravens

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    Biggest Need: Center

    Now 36 years old, Matt Birk is well past his prime. The former Viking isn't terrible by any means, but he's one of the weaker spots on an excellent Ravens team.

    Simply put, Birk isn't the player he used to be, and he won't be around much longer. As it stands, Baltimore doesn't have a replacement-in-waiting either, so it would be wise for the team to address the position early.

Cincinnati Bengals

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    Biggest Need: Safety

    The Bengals actually have surprisingly few glaring weaknesses. At safety, Reggie Nelson isn't bad, though Taylor Mays certainly needs replacing.

    Nelson's average play almost makes the unit decent, but Mays really is bad enough to take it down with him. One simple addition would likely change all of this, though.

Pittsburgh Steelers

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    Biggest Need: Cornerback

    The Steelers usually rely on their pass rush to hide their cornerbacks. That's becoming a bit more difficult to do now, and Pittsburgh will need to improve its secondary.

    It's a trademark of the team to let draft picks sit on the bench, but it may not have that luxury anymore, especially at cornerback. A long-perceived weakness is finally starting to get out of control.

Green Bay Packers

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    Biggest Need: Running back

    The 2012 season has shown that even the most dynamic passing attack can't survive without a run game. Green Bay's offense has faltered some without a legitimate running back.

    Before being placed on injured reserve, Cedric Benson wasn't awful, but he's far from a difference-maker and probably shouldn't have been starting. A legitimate threat would open up the Packers offense, allowing them to score almost at will.

Minnesota Vikings

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    Biggest Need: Wide receiver

    Percy Harvin is a star. There's no denying that. Unfortunately, there's also no denying that he is Minnesota's only legitimate wide receiver.

    Christian Ponder has impressed in his second season, but he needs some weapons. The best way for the Vikings to help him out is to draft a legitimate wideout early.

Detroit Lions

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    Biggest Need: Cornerback

    For years, the Lions have drafted, almost exclusively, the best player available early in the draft. The flaws of this are now showing, as Detroit's cornerbacks are truly dreadful.

    The Lions can't cover even average wide receiver corps for long. There simply isn't enough talent in the secondary. Detroit should look there early and often in the 2013 NFL draft.

Chicago Bears

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    Biggest Need: Offensive line

    Like Arizona, Chicago has had a horrendous offensive line for a long time. In fact, the Bears really have just one legitimate starter in the entire unit.

    This awful play constantly affects Jay Cutler's performance, and it undoubtedly influences the team's rushing attack too. The Bears do have talent on offense, but their poor line play covers it all up.