2013 NFL Draft: Potential Needs for Every NFL Team
There's even less time until free agency begins, where teams with glaring needs will first look to fill them. Let's take a look at what some of those needs could end up being.
This one is less obvious than it probably should be considering that Tony Gonzalez apparently doesn't age.
Going on 37, Gonzalez does not appear to be slowing down any time soon, but sometimes father time catches up with NFL players rather abruptly. It would be wise for the Falcons to draft a young tight end for Gonzalez to rub off on before he retires.
John Abraham is another player getting a little long in tooth, and before, the Raiders' game was having some trouble getting to the quarterback.
Although the Falcons do have some young talent at this position, no one has shown that they are ready to take on a bigger role. This class is deep with pass rushers, and the Falcons should take advantage of that come April.
Sam Baker has been a bit of a liability for some time now, and despite drafting Lamar Holmes at the position last year, the Falcons could use an upgrade here.
Both Kevin Kolb and John Skelton have shown flashes of potential, but consistency at the quarterback position has been the Achilles heel of an otherwise talented Arizona Cardinals' squad.
The Cardinals are working out Vince Young this week, which is very telling as to how confident they are at the position. Look for them to draft some young talent at the position come April.
The Cardinals have given up the most sacks in the NFL by far with 35 and have let Kevin Kolb and John Skelton be hit 53 times total—also an NFL high. It's no wonder Kolb can't stay healthy.
Part of the reason is starting left tackle Levi Brown is on injured reserve, but a lot of it has to do with lack of depth and talent. Rookie right tackle Bobbie Massie has given up an NFL high 10 sacks and may need to be moved inside to guard, and replacement left tackle D'Anthony Batiste isn't fairing much better having given up nine sacks so far this season.
It may not be fair to say that Jeff King needs to be more productive considering how much the Cardinals ask him to help out blocking, but the Cardinals definitely need to get more production out of their tight end. Todd Heap isn't helping out much more. The Cardinals could use a pass catching tight end to help spark their struggling offense.
This would be considered a need even before Ray Lewis' injury. The 37-year-old All-Pro linebacker will likely be back in 2013, but the Ravens have no apparent heir to Lewis' throne.
Jameel McClain and Dannell Ellerbe are serviceable, but there's no question that the Ravens need to add young talent to this position.
Ed Reed has flirted with retirement for the past few years now, and with the 34-year-old former defensive player of the year's contract up in 2013, he'll probably do the same this offseason.
If Reed is not back in the purple and black next season, Christian Thompson would be "the next man up" on the depth chart.
The Ravens could gain confidence in Thompson as a potential starter by April. But if not, they should look to take advantage of a talented safety class.
Michael Oher has been serviceable at left tackle this season, but he's better suited on the right side (despite how ironic that would make the title of his movie).
You have to assume that he'll want to be paid like a left tackle in 2014 when his rookie contract expires, and the Ravens may not be inclined to do that.
The Ravens drafted Gino Gradkowski in the fourth round last April, but he didn't have the most impressive preseason. If they aren't confident in Gradkowski as a starter in 2013, they should prepare themselves this offseason for Matt Birk's inevitable retirement.
Ryan Fitzpatrick is hot and cold but could certainly end up as the starting QB for the Bills next season anyway.
If there's a head coaching change in Buffalo however, and they're picking early, don't be shocked to see them draft a rookie to compete with Fitzpatrick for the starting role.
Strong Side Linebacker
Last year's fourth round draft pick, Nigel Bradham, hasn't proven himself to be worthy of a starting role yet this season. He still has time to turn it around, but as of now the position remains a weakness in Buffalo.
If the Bills want to keep throwing the ball as much as they do, upgrading the receiving core should be high on their to do list.
Mario Williams hasn't been quite what Buffalo paid for as of yet. Super Mario will pick it up eventually, but Chris Kelsay and Mark Anderson have only combined for three sacks between both of them all season.
There's a lot of pass rush talent available in the 2013 class, and Buffalo could very well take advantage of that.
Steve Smith has been a shell of his former self this season, and while much of that is on Cam Newton, he'll be 34 next season.
Brandon LaFell has shown flashes of talent, but bringing in a new potential number one receiver for Cam Newton to grow with is a must for Carolina this offseason.
The Panthers lack a dominant presence on the defensive line to improve their less than stellar run defense.
Former Ravens' special teamer Haruki Nakamura has found himself in a starting role for the Panthers this year but so far hasn't shown that he's worthy of the position. The Panthers would be better served finding a safety elsewhere and using Nakamura's talents solely on special teams.
Chris Gamble and Captain Munnerlyn are a solid starting duo when healthy, but with Godfrey now on injured reserve, their secondary could be further exposed. We'll see how rookie Josh Norman does filling for Gamble, but the Panthers need to add depth here at the very least.
Despite what the Bears had hoped, J'Marcus Webb will probably never be a legitimate starting left tackle at the NFL level. The Bears will likely look to the NFL Draft to find a rookie tackle for Jay Cutler to yell at on national television next year.
The Bears drafted Greg Olsen before Mike Martz got to town and made the tight end position irrelevant in the passing game for Chicago. Unfortunately the Bears probably won't be able to get Olsen back now that Martz has been let go and could use an upgrade to Kellen Davis.
Chris Spencer struggled at the beginning of the season and has been replaced by Chilo Rachal. Rachal is probably better suited as a backup.
Charles Tillman and Tim Jennings are playing at a high level, but both are getting older and there aren't really any young corners waiting in the wings. The Bears don't run a straight cover two anymore and instead play a lot of cover three and ask their corners to match up making this need a bit more pressing.
This will depend on how rookie UDFA Vontaze Burfict finishes the season, but with Rey Maualuga turning out to be a huge disappointment, the Bengals may be looking to upgrade the middle linebacker position this offseason.
Like Maualuga, Taylor Mays has been another under performing Trojan in Cincinnati. This could end up being their most pressing need come April.
BenJarvus Green-Ellis was a nice signing this offseason, but bringing in another back with big play ability could open up the passing game even more so for Andy Dalton.
Josh Gordon is going to be a good player for Cleveland, but right now he is still raw. Greg Little can't seem to catch the football and Mohammed Massaquoi has been a disappointment to say the least.
If Brandon Weeden, who has shown promise, is going to be the guy in Cleveland he'll need some legitimate targets to throw to.
The Browns need to add a pass rushing defensive end to go along with Jabaal Sheard as Frostee Rucker is only effective against the run and Juqua Parker is circling the drain.
Joe Haden is already one of the best corners in the NFL, but adding another young talented corner to play opposite him would much improve a struggling Browns' pass defense.
The Browns need to add depth to the interior offensive line, and starting right guard Shawn Lauvao probably needs to be replaced.
The Cowboys need to add a hybrid outside linebacker to play opposite Demarcus Ware in the their 3-4 defense, as Anthony Spencer has been a disappointment and is currently playing under the franchise tag.
Interior Offensive Line
The Cowboys have solid book end tackles in Tyron Smith and Doug Free, but the interior of their offensive line needs to be rebuilt.
Jay Ratliff is one of the best defensive lineman in the NFL, but right now he's playing nose tackle. Drafting a big, block-eating nose tackle would allow Ratliff to move to end where he may be able to do more damage.
The Cowboys were aggressive in revamping their secondary last offseason in trading up for Morris Claiborne and signing Brandon Carr. If they can bring in an elite safety either in the draft or in free agency this offseason, they could really solidify an already talented secondary.
Champ Bailey is still one of the best in the business, and Tracy Porter was an excellent addition for the Broncos this offseason. However, adding a future replacement for Bailey as he approaches retirement should be high on the Broncos to do list.
The Broncos drafted Derrick Wolfe last year who has lined up at both defensive tackle and defensive end. Wolfe has managed three sacks so far this season but would probably be better suited inside at tackle. On the flip side, the Broncos could stand to add some help at defensive tackle if they plan on keeping Wolfe at end.
Willis McGahee has been effective so far this season but will be 32 at the start of next season. We haven't seen much out of rookie Ronnie Hillman yet, but the Broncos could probably stand to add another running back at some point this offseason.
Even with Alphonso Smith back in the lineup, this is one of the bigger issues in Detroit right now.
Interior Offensive Line
Center Dominic Raiola and right guard Stephen Peterman are serviceable at best at this point.
There are a few areas along the offensive line that need to be upgraded if the Lions want to improve one of the NFL's least productive rushing offenses and keep Matt Stafford healthy.
The Lions have one of the better defensive lines in the NFL, but defensive end Cliff Avril is in the last year of his contract. With cornerbacks Chris Houston and Jacob Lacy also approaching free agency, they may not use the tag again on Avril.
Either way depth could be added to the position.
Green Bay Packers
It's a good thing the Packers have Aaron Rodgers, because without Cedric Benson they have one of the least effective rushing attacks in the league. Even with Benson they don't fair much better, and the almost 30-year-old running back will be a free agent this offseason.
Despite Green Bay's dependency on Rodgers and the passing game, it may be time to draft a running back that fits well with what they want to do on offense.
At 37, Jeff Saturday is a Band-Aid at center for the time being. They do have some young options on the roster already, but if they don't feel confident going with a guy like Evan Dietrich-Smith as the starter next season, they'll need to bring in a center from somewhere else.
The Packers were struggling in pass defense before losing Charles Woodson to injury with a broken collarbone. With Woodson out for a few weeks, Green Bay will likely be able to figure out just who can hang and who can't in that secondary.
Safety and cornerback will likely be issues that the Packers address during the offseason.
Don't look now but Andre Johnson will be 32 in July and has seen his production dwindle considerably this season.
The Texans drafted DeVier Posey and Keshawn Martin at the position in the 2012 draft, but neither has made much of a case for themselves.
Shaun Cody is in the last year of his contract, and the Texans may be able to find a rookie in the draft to take his spot rather than re-signing him. This is a pretty deep nose tackle class after all.
Bradie James is also a free agent after this season, and there isn't much depth behind him and an injured Brian Cushing.
Andrew Luck is getting hit way more than the Colts can afford so far this season.
Upgrading the interior offensive line would help keep their young franchise quarterback healthy while opening up a struggling running game.
The Colts have a very below average run defense this season, giving up over 140 yards a game on the ground. Bringing in a big, block-eating nose tackle to sure up their newly implemented 3-4 defense could turn that around.
They are reportedly high on last year's fifth round pick Josh Chapman who has been on the PUP list all season, but if he doesn't prove otherwise by the end of the season, this should remain a considerable need for 2013.
3-4 Outside Linebacker
Dwight Freeney was once a premiere pass rusher in the NFL, but so far this season, he's only managed one sack. Part of that is playing in a new scheme, part of that is age, but he may not even be back in 2013 to figure it out.
The Colts need to bring in another edge rusher to compliment Robert Mathis.
Tom Zbikowski hasn't proven himself as a legitimate NFL starter since coming over from Baltimore last offseason. If the Colts can upgrade this position in the draft, they could still use Zbikowski's talents on special teams however.
Reggie Wayne has really stepped up for Andrew Luck this season and proven that he still has some fuel left in the tank. They've got some young talent in T. Y. Hilton and Donnie Avery, but bringing in a future potential number one receiver is a must this offseason.
If Blaine Gabbert can put together a few wins this season and keep the Jags from picking in the top five, he may get another season to prove himself in Jacksonville.
If the Jaguars are picking at number two or three however, guys like Matt Barkley and Geno Smith are going to be tough to pass on.
Rashean Mathis and Derrick Cox are a solid starting tandem at cornerback, but Mathis is in the last year of his contract and Cox can't seem to stay healthy. Aaron Ross hasn't helped matters much since coming over from the Giants either, as the Jaguars currently rank 26th in pass defense.
The Jags have question marks almost everywhere on the offensive line aside from left tackle. They need a future replacement to Brad Meester, an upgrade at right tackle and should be concerned about both guards positions as Eben Britton can't seem to stay healthy.
With Maurice Jones-Drew out for a few games, the Jags will turn to Rashad Jennings as the feature back. Jennings is serviceable, but hasn't exactly set the world on fire when called upon.
Kansas City Chiefs
As disgusting as it was to see Chiefs fans cheering at an injury to Matt Cassell, it should tell you how desperate they are for a legitimate starting quarterback.
Brady Quinn will get his chance, and Ricky Stanzi probably will too before the season ends, but the Chiefs will likely select a quarterback with an early pick in the 2013 NFL Draft.
This is contingent upon Dwayne Bowe, who has expressed his desire to be traded and will be a free agent this offseason.
Bowe could be back under the franchise tag yet again in 2013, but the Chiefs would probably be wise to trade the understandably disgruntled wide receiver before then.
Brandon Albert is also coming up on free agency, and if Kansas City can't retain him they'll need to find another starting caliber tackle elsewhere.
Losing Brandon Carr in free agency has taken it's toll on the Chiefs secondary so far this season. The Chiefs should look for another corner to play opposite Brandon Flowers as Stanford Routt hasn't been very impressive so far this season.
Brian Hartline and Davone Bess have looked pretty good at times this season for Miami, but there's no question that the Dolphins lack a true number one receiver. If the Dolphins can land a guy like Justin Hunter or Keenan Allen in the 2013 Draft, it will make Hartline, Bess, and Tannehill that much better.
Don't rule out Greg Jennings signing with Miami as a free agent either, as reuniting with former Packers offensive coordinator and current Dolphins head coach Joe Philbin is a strong possibility.
John Jerry is a serviceable guard and solid depth player, but the Dolphins could use an upgrade here.
Rookie Olivier Vernon has mustered a few sacks this season but the Dolphins could use a premiere pass rusher to play opposite Cameron Wake.
The Dolphins lack a ball-hawking safety to pull together their 28th ranked pass defense.
The Vikings could bring in a linebacker to compete with Jasper Brinkley for the starting role, and Erin Henderson is in the last year of his contract.
Percy Harvin is on his way to an MVP-like season, but Jerome Simpson has been a non-factor with his suspension and back issues. The Vikings could use a bigger framed wide receiver for moving the chains and red zone targets.
Antoine Winfield is heading into his 15th NFL season. Chris Cook and Josh Robinson are supposed to be the future in Minnesota, but the Vikings might want to draft some other prospects here just to be safe.
Kevin Williams will be a free agent this offseason and will turn 33 this summer. Even if the Vikings can retain him they should draft a defensive tackle of the future sooner rather than later.
New England Patriots
The Patriots have one of the worst ranked pass defenses in the NFL this year, giving up an average of almost 300 yards per game to opposing quarterbacks.
They have a lot of young potential on the roster right now in guys like Ras-I Dowling, Alfonzo Dennard and Tavon Wilson, but none have come along as expected quite yet.
If there's a top tier talent at cornerback or free safety when the Patriots pick in the 2013 NFL Draft—or available in free agency, don't be surprised to see the Pats attempt to upgrade their struggling secondary yet again.
Rob Ninkovich and rookie Chandler Jones have been pretty effective in getting after the quarterback so far this season, but New England could stand to add some depth at defensive end, or an elite situational pass rusher to help out the secondary.
Right tackle Sebastian Vollmer will be a free agent this offseason, and the interior offensive line could stand to add some youth and depth.
New Orleans Saints
The Saints have only managed 12 sacks so far this season and need to get pressure from somewhere if they want to turn around their struggling defense. Will Smith will be 32 at the start of next season, and so far in 2012, it looks like he already needs to be replaced.
Bringing in an elite pass rushing defensive end is a must for 2013.
Jermon Bushrod is in the final year of his contract and may not be back next season. If the Saints miss out on a pass rusher in round one this year, offensive tackle may be their next priority.
Malcolm Jenkins and Roman Harper have struggled in 2012 and could both benefit from a little competition at the position.
New York Giants
Former first round draft pick Prince Amukamara is finally healthy and in the starting lineup, but the Giants' seem to be decimated by injury at cornerback year in and year out.
Stacking the depth chart at the position could really benefit the Giants 21st ranked passing defense when one of their starters inevitably goes down.
Martellus Bennet is playing well this season but he's on a one year deal. If Giants can't reach a deal with Bennett, or even if they opt to franchise him, bringing in a young tight end to either compliment or replace Bennett would be a smart idea.
With one of the best offensive lines in the league this season, this one may come as a bit of a shocker. Will Beatty is in the final year of his contract however, and if they can't or decide not to retain him, the position will need to be addressed.
New York Jets
Shonn Greene has put together some pretty decent games this season, but he's only averaging 3.5 yards per carry right now. The Jets have made it known that they want to run the football, but they just can't seem to generate any consistency on the ground. Greene has a chance to keep his job, but if he continues to struggle the Jets may look for a replacement back elsewhere.
The Jets need to add an impact pass rushing linebacker to generate some pressure. As a team, they've only managed 10 sacks so far this season.
Austin Howard has actually played decent at right tackle this year for New York, but if they can find an upgrade in the draft or free agency, they could allow Howard to be a depth player, which he is probably better suited for.
The Raiders have lost starting cornerbacks in back to back years in Nnamdi Asomugha and Stanford Routt and have not done in adequate job in replacing either.
The Raiders have only been able to manage seven sacks so far this season which isn't exactly helping out their struggling secondary. Adding an elite pass rusher in the draft or free agency should be a high priority.
Both Tommy Kelly and Richard Seymour have been unimpressive this season and both are on the wrong side of 30. Bringing in a young defensive tackle to either motivate or replace one or both of them should be in the cards this offseason.
Carson Palmer should remain the starter in 2013, but bringing in a young quarterback for him to groom seems warranted, unless the Raiders know something we don't about Terrelle Pryor.
If there is a weak point on the Eagles roster, it's the safety position. Kurt Coleman is a solid player but is probably better suited as a backup in the NFL.
Weak Side Linebacker
The Eagles started upgrading their linebacking core last offseason when they brought in DeMeco Ryans to play in the middle and drafted Mychal Kendricks to play the strong side.
There are still question marks at weak side linebacker however, as right now they are using a combination of Akeem Ayers and Jamar Chaney.
Interior Offensive Line
Andy Reid loves offensive lineman, so it's pretty surprising to see how thin the Eagles are in terms of depth at guard and center.
Troy Polamalu will be back from injury and play a few more seasons in all likelihood, but it wouldn't be a bad idea to draft a potential replacement for both he and/or Ryan Clark in this year's NFL draft.
The Steelers were apparently high on Dont'a Hightower in the 2012 NFL Draft but couldn't pass up on offensive lineman David Decastro with the 24th pick. They will probably look to this year's draft for a linebacker to plug in next to Lawrence Timmons.
Casey Hampton will be a free agent this offseason, and they may not be inclined to bring him back going into his 13th year in the NFL. They drafted Alameda Ta'amu last season, but if they aren't confident that he can handle the starting role, they should look for another prospect in a more talented nose tackle class.
Keenan Lewis will be a free agent this offseason, and even if the Steelers get a deal done with him, they could stand to add depth to this position.
San Diego Chargers
Ryan Matthews' struggle to stay both healthy and productive has been well documented. At the very least the Chargers need to bring in better depth options than Jackie Battle and Ronnie Brown.
The Chargers have suitable starting corners in Antoine Cason and Quentin Jammer. Bringing in a potential lockdown corner to contend with the Demaryius Thomas and Dwayne Bowe's of the AFC West would help improve a below average pass defense however.
This could change if Vincent Brown can get back to health and make an impact, but the Chargers never really adequately replaced Vincent Jackson. Robert Meachem hasn't quite lived up to expectations this year either.
The Chargers don't have many options at left or right tackle after current starters Jared Gaither and Jeromey Clary.
San Francisco 49ers
Current starting nose tackle Isaac Sopoaga is in the final year of his contract and will be 32 next season. The 49ers could certainly franchise him or even get a deal done, but if not, they'll need to find a nose tackle elsewhere.
Dashon Goldson is also a free agent next year, and in a pass happy league, could warrant big money from another team. The 49ers could use the tag on Goldson, but may not be able to retain Sopoaga if they do. Safety is definitely a potential need for 2013.
The 49ers have a lot of depth at receiver, but no one has really stepped up as the number one guy. The jury is still out on AJ Jenkins, but Randy Moss and Ted Ginn will be free agents in 2013.
Despite Golden Tate's "amazing", "game-winning" catch on Monday Night Football earlier this season, the Seahawks could do much better in terms of finding a receiver to play opposite Sidney Rice.
The Seahawks and Russell Wilson could benefit from an upgrade at the tight end position.
Bruce Irvin has been excellent in his rookie season, but Chris Clemons will be 32 next season and in the final year of his contract. This need is hardly a pressing one, but certainly something to think about.
St. Louis Rams
The Rams have one of the worst, make-shift offensive lines in the NFL. Part of that is due to injury, and part of it is due to lack of talent and ability.
Wayne Hunter is better suited for the right tackle position, and Barry Richardson is better suited for the bench. Bringing in a left tackle in the draft or free agency would allow Hunter to move to the right side and Rodger Saffold to move inside to guard when healthy. It would also give franchise quarterback Sam Bradford a fighting chance.
The Rams drafted two rookies with some upside in Chris Givens and Brian Quick in last year's draft, and while Givens has looked pretty good, Quick has been a non-factor.
With two first round picks, don't be surprised if the Rams use one of them on a wide receiver.
Quintin Mikell may turn into a cap casualty this offseason.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
With Ronde Barber moved to free safety this season and on his last legs and Aqib Talib's off the field issues, the Bucs could certainly stand to add a cornerback.
They probably overspent on Eric Wright last offseason, which should tell you how desperate they are at the position.
Ronde Barber is the oldest active player in the NFL and will probably hang it up after this season.
The Bucs could use a ball hawk to play opposite their number one pick last year, Mark Barron.
Da'Quan Bowers and Adrian Clayborn just can't seem to stay healthy. Drafting another young pass rusher to go along with those guys would be in the Bucs' best interest this offseason.
The Titans have only gotten four sacks from their starting defensive ends this year, as it appears that the Kamerion Wimbley signing isn't going to pan out as they had hoped.
Drafting Derrick Morgan hasn't quite worked out as they had hoped either, and the Titans will likely look to the draft this year to bolster their pass rush.
The Titans could use upgrades at almost every interior offensive line position as Chris Johnson has so helpfully pointed out to the media.
The Titans need to come up with a better option than Jordan Babineaux at safety, as he has struggled this season despite leading the team in tackles in 2011.
The Redskins are giving up over 320 yards a game in the air, which ranks dead last in the NFL. Much of it can be attributed to poor safety play, so drafting or signing a better option at both safety positions should be a high priority for Mike Shanahan and company.
London Fletcher is still playing well but will be 38 years old in May. The Redskins need to find a potential replacement sooner rather than later.
The Redskins have only managed 13 sacks so far this year without Brian Orakpo. Once he gets back in the lineup, they will obviously be much better off, but drafting another pass rusher for depth would be wise.