The 2012 NFL regular season is a done deal, and while that means playoff preparations for some teams for others it means it's back to the drawing boards in an effort to right a sinking ship in 2013.
The changes have already begun with the firings of several head coaches, which will then be followed by the feeding frenzy that is free agency and the 2013 NFL draft in April.
However, I was never a huge fan of doing things in order, and they won't let me fire any coaches (I'm looking right at ya, Rex), so let's skip ahead to spring by looking at the direction each team should take with its first-round pick in next year's draft.
Not the direction they will take, mind you. The one they should. When dealing with NFL general managers the gap between the two can be enormous.
As demonstrated by a two-win season that saw the Kansas City Chiefs finish 31st in the NFL in passing, there may be no team worse off at quarterback in the league than the Chiefs.
Unfortunately for Kansas City, this year's crop at the position is nowhere near as deep or talented as a year ago.
With that said, Geno Smith of West Virginia threw for nearly 4,200 yards and over 40 touchdowns as a senior, and while he may take some time to develop, Smith is strong-armed, athletic and offers the most upside of any passer in this year's class.
The Jacksonville Jaguars have quarterback problems of their own, but the team appears set to make a play for Tim Tebow, and there isn't really another incoming rookie worthy of a pick this high.
That leaves the door open for the Jaguars to address one of their other many needs, including a pass rush that ranked dead last with a paltry 20 sacks in 2012.
Enter Jarvis Jones, who racked up 12.5 sacks for the Bulldogs last year and could fill a Von Miller-type role with the Jags.
The Oakland Raiders are a work very much in progress, and although the team disappointed in 2012, part of that can be attributed to general manager Reggie McKenzie trying to purge the roster of mistakes from years past.
One of the issues that the Raiders need to address is a run defense that ranked in the middle of the pack and was susceptible up the gut. With defensive tackle Richard Seymour likely done in Oakland, the interior of the defensive front is a priority.
Star Lotulelei of Utah, who was a first-team All-American for the Utes in 2012, would fill that need quite nicely.
The 2012 season was an absolute catastrophe in Philadelphia, as a team that entered the year with playoff aspirations finished with a top-five pick.
Part of the reason for that free fall was an offensive line that was dreadful, as tackle Jason Peters tore his Achilles before the season and the player signed to replace him, Demetress Bell, flopped.
Even should Peters return to form in 2013, the Eagles can still use help on the right side of the line, and Luke Joeckel, a 310-pound first-team All-American, should provide a much-needed boost to the Eagles.
A number of mocks have the Detroit Lions going with a defensive lineman in this slot, and while the likely departure of Kyle Vanden Bosch will leave a hole up front, it's a hole that Lawrence Jackson should be able to fill at least adequately.
That leaves the secondary as the Lions' most glaring need, and while fifth overall may be a bit of a reach for Alabama's Dee Milliner, the All-American has the 6'1" size, speed and coverage skills to immediately make an impact in Motown.
With a new regime set to take over in Cleveland, it's hard to predict what direction the Browns might choose to go in. The team still has any number of needs, and it's entirely possible that the new staff may not think Brandon Weeden is the answer at quarterback.
However, wasting another first-round pick on a signal-caller in a weak class is folly, and since we're focusing on what the Browns should do, we'll shift our focus to the defensive line.
In Jabaal Sheard, Phil Taylor and Ahtyba Rubin, the Browns have three quarters of a formidable front four. The addition of another edge rusher such as Damontre Moore of Texas A&M could give the team a defensive line on par with the one down Interstate 71 in Cincinnati.
The Arizona Cardinals need a quarterback in the worst way, but if they don't address an offensive line that allowed an eye-popping 58 sacks in 2012, then it's not going to matter who lines up under center.
Enter Taylor Lewan of Michigan, a 6'8" monster of a young man who was a first-team All-American that could step in as a starter for the Redbirds from day one.
The axe has already fallen on head coach Chan Gailey in Buffalo, but for now at least general manager Buddy Nix still has a job.
After another disappointing season from Ryan Fitzpatrick, Nix hasn't been shy about stating that the Bills intend to address the quarterback position.
The strong-armed Tyler Wilson, who threw for nearly 3,400 yards in 2012, has the potential to develop into a franchise quarterback, especially should the Bills choose to let the youngster serve as Fitzpatrick's understudy for a year.
I could prattle on and on about what the Jets should do, but after the fiasco that was the 2012 season, whoever is the new general manager for the New York Jets is going to be under immense pressure to select a quarterback in the first round.
That could lead to the selection of Mike Glennon, a strong-armed passer who posted solid numbers for the Wolfpack despite very little talent around him.
However, Glennon also has a funky throwing motion and tends to get rattled under pressure, so in drafting him in the top 10, the Jets will, for all intents and purposes, be drafting Mark Sanchez all over again.
There's ideal, there's reality and then there's the New York Jets.
The Tennessee Titans defense allowed the most points in the history of the franchise in 2012. After failing to upgrade the secondary a year ago, the Titans aren't going to let the opportunity slip through their fingers again.
With cornerback Alterraun Verner set to hit free agency, acquiring a potential replacement becomes a priority for the Titans, and the addition of Mississippi State's Johnthan Banks, who won the Thorpe Award as college football's top defensive back this year, would fit the bill to a tee.
Three picks in the top 11? Yep, it was a pretty good year in College Station.
The Chargers are one of several NFL teams in the market for both a new coach and general manager, but no matter who takes the reins in San Diego, it's obvious that an offensive line that allowed the fourth-most sacks in the league last year needs a boost.
Texas A&M offensive tackle Jake Matthews, he of the 6'5", 305-pound frame and football pedigree, should provide that boost.
The Miami Dolphins have a number of needs, including wide receiver, cornerback and along the offensive front, but sometimes the smartest move is simply to take the best player available on the board.
In this case, that's Florida State defensive end Bjoern Werner, who tallied 40 tackles and 13 sacks in 2012 and would make for an excellent complement to Cameron Wake along the Dolphins defensive line.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are in a bit of a pickle at this spot, as their needs as a team don't mesh very well with the players that are available in this spot.
However, rather than reach to fill one of those needs, the Buccaneers should go the smart route with Oregon's Dion Jordan.
Da'Quan Bowers has had trouble staying healthy, and Michael Bennett, even after his career year, is more run stuffer than pass-rusher, so the Buccaneers could look to add the athletic Jordan and use him in a role similar to what the Seattle Seahawks did with Bruce Irvin in 2012.
The Carolina Panthers eschewed addressing the defensive tackle position last year, and it showed. The team was once again mediocre against the run and prone to being exploited up the middle.
That deficiency could be remedied with the addition of Ohio State's Johnathan Hankins, a 322-pound junior who amassed an impressive 55 tackles for the Buckeyes in 2012.
Given how poorly the New Orleans Saints' defense performed in 2012 it's a very real possibility that the team could focus on that side of the ball, but the right side of the offensive line also needs work and there's a small-school star who would fit the bill nicely there.
At 6'7" Central Michigan's Eric Fisher has plenty of room to add some bulk to his 305-pound frame, and while the third-team All-American may need to work on his technique some in the pros he would provide an immediate upgrade over Zach Strief, who was mediocre at best for the Saints this season.
The St. Louis Rams have a pair of first-round picks this year thanks to the trade that netted the Washington Redskins Robert Griffin, and the team should use the first of those to upgrade an offensive line that improved last year but remains a work in progress.
Alabama's Chance Warmack is a 322-pound road grader who earned first team All-American honors in 2012 for the Crimson Tide, and given that Robert Turner graded out as only the 66th best guard in the NFL according to Pro Football Focus it's safe to say that Warmack would be an improvement.
The Pittsburgh Steelers have developed a reputation as one of the National Football League's better drafting teams in large part because they let the draft come to them rather than try to force a square peg into a round hole.
In this instance, the Steelers get the best of both worlds.
Not only would Notre Dame standout Manti T'eo provide an immediate upgrade over Larry Foote at SILB for the Steelers, but Pittsburgh's 3-4 scheme would allow T'eo to focus on doing what he does best without his lack of elite athleticism being exposed.
Hand, meet glove.
The ink hasn't even dried yet on another disappointing chapter in the history of the Dallas Cowboys and already there are tough decisions that will need to be made.
Outside linebacker Anthony Spencer enjoyed a career year playing under the franchise tag in 2012. With Spencer set to hit free agency, the Cowboys must decide whether to sign him to a long-term deal, franchise the sixth-year pro or allow him to walk.
Should the latter prove to be the case, the Cowboys could look to fill the void with Barkevious Mingo of LSU, who was considered a top-10 pick before fading down the stretch for the Tigers in 2012.
The 2012 season came apart at the seams in the second half for the New York Giants, who missed the playoffs altogether after winning Super Bowl XLVI, partly as a result of defensive lapses borne of one of the NFL's worst linebacker corps.
Arthur Brown of Kansas State may not have generated the headlines that Manti T'eo did, but the 6'1", 231-pound senior is a smart player with a nose for the football that could make the sort of impact that Bobby Wagner did with the Seattle Seahawks this year.
After a second straight season where a hot start was followed by a second-half swoon that left them out of the playoffs, the Chicago Bears showed head coach Lovie Smith the door.
If it was a revolving door, then it must have reminded Smith of Chicago's offensive line.
Although an aging defense is going to need an infusion of youth, the offensive line remains the most glaring area of need for the Bears, and Dallas Thomas, who played both guard and tackle for the Volunteers, would be an excellent fit.
The Minnesota Vikings were one of most surprising teams in the NFL in 2012, winning 10 games and making the playoffs despite ranking dead last in the league in passing offense.
That pitiful ranking was due in part to the loss of Percy Harvin to injury, which exposed a Minnesota wide receiver corps that lacks both depth and talent.
That makes the Vikings fortunate to be able to land a player with Keenan Allen's combination of size, speed and hands this late in the first round. Were it not for an injury, the 6'3" junior all but certainly would have been off the board by now.
The St. Louis Rams addressed one of their needs earlier in the round, and now it's time to hit another hole.
Granted, Brandon Gibson and Chris Givens show promise, but Danny Amendola is set to hit free agency and Brian Quick did nothing as a rookie, so wide receiver remains a problem spot for the Rams entering 2013.
That brings us to Tavon Wilson of West Virginia, who caught a ridiculous 111 passes for the Mountaineers in 2012 and who would provide an excellent complement to whoever's left standing when the dust settles in the Gateway City.
The Cincinnati Bengals have advanced to the playoffs for the second straight season for the first time in three decades, and while the team appears headed in the right direction, there remain holes that need to be plugged.
One of the largest is at middle linebacker, where Rey Maualuga has been a massive disappointment to this point in his career.
With Maualuga set to hit free agency, it's time for the Bengals to move on. Alec Ogletree, who racked up nearly 100 tackles for the Bulldogs this season, would allow them to do just that.
The Baltimore Ravens defense is living more off reputation than performance at this point, and it would seem that the end of the line is rapidly approaching for linebacker Ray Lewis.
Dannell Ellerbe showed some promise in Baltimore this year, but Jameel McClain is a replacement-level talent. Should Lewis even choose to play in 2013, the team needs to look toward the future.
That future at inside linebacker could lie with Kevin Minter of LSU, who rolled up 111 tackles and three sacks en route to being named a second-team All-American in 2012.
The Seattle Seahawks are as hot as any team in the NFL right now, and there's plenty of optimism for the future as well, as the team has done a fine job of assembling a corps of young and talented players.
With that said, though, the Seahawks could stand to upgrade the weapons available to quarterback Russell Wilson in the passing game.
Terrance Williams of Baylor, who racked up over 1,800 receiving yards in 2012 and averaged a gaudy 18.9 yards per catch, has both the size required of a red-zone target in the NFL and the speed necessary to stretch defenses and open things up underneath.
The Indianapolis Colts shocked the NFL by going from two wins in 2011 to 11 victories and a playoff spot this year, and that's all the more remarkable considering that the Colts defense contains quite a few square pegs in round holes.
One of the team's priorities moving forward will no doubt be to find personnel better suited to Pagano's 3-4 defense, especially those that can help a pass rush that ranked 23rd in the NFL in sacks in 2012.
Ezekiel Ansah of BYU had only four sacks for the Cougars this year, but that only scratches the surface of the considerable potential that could be realized if the 6'6", 270-pounder is unleashed in the right scheme.
As the San Francisco 49ers showed last year by selecting Illinois wide receiver A.J. Jenkins in the first round, trying to figure out what the team will do in the draft is something of an exercise in futility.
That doesn't mean we can't try.
Strong safety Donte Whitner is a capable tackler but a liability in coverage and free safety Dashon Goldson is set to hit free agency, so the team could look to get better at the back end of the defense with Kenny Vaccaro, who posted 96 tackles and intercepted two passes for the Longhorns in 2012.
You know, the University of Alabama may not be able to beat an NFL team, but I bet you could field a pretty good team of Crimson Tide alumni.
This year's draft class is loaded yet again and includes defensive tackle Jesse Williams, a 320-pound mauler who made 36 tackles with a sack in 2012.
Those ho-hum statistics aren't a true indicator of Williams' talent, however. Not only would Williams be an upgrade over Shaun Cody for the Texans, but he comes with the bonus of having played in a 3-4 defense while in Tuscaloosa.
The New England Patriots defense ranked toward the bottom of the NFL in yards allowed again in 2012, but the unit made strides as the season wore on in spite of numerous moves that were made due to injury or poor performance.
One of those moves involved shifting cornerback Devin McCourty to free safety, and while McCourty has fared pretty well in the new position, the defensive backfield remains a sore spot in Beantown.
The addition of LSU free safety Eric Reid, who rode 81 tackles and two interceptions to second-team All American honors in 2012, would allow McCourty to shift back to his natural position, essentially helping two spots with one pick.
The Atlanta Falcons won 13 games for the second time in three years in 2012, propelled by an offense that contains as potent a group of receivers as any in the NFL.
The pass rush, however, left something to be desired. With Ray Edwards no longer with the team and John Abraham approaching his 35th birthday, defensive end is an area of need for the team.
The Falcons would no doubt be disappointed to see so many options they were considering go ahead of them, but Alex Okafor of Texas, who tallied 12,5 sacks this season, isn't a bad consolation prize at all.
The Green Bay Packers have been notorious for taking the best player available during the Ted Thompson era.
Luckily for Aaron Rodgers, there's a player that both fits that bill and will help keep Rodgers upright, as Green Bay badly needs to upgrade one of the more porous offensive fronts in the NFL.
Alabama's Barrett Jones was named a first-team All-American at center in 2012 but has experience playing all over the offensive front, and the 6'5", 302-pounder's talent and versatility is just what the Packers need.
It's rather difficult to find holes in the Denver Broncos' roster after a 13-3 campaign in which the Broncos finished the regular season ranked fourth in total offense and second in total defense.
That affords the Broncos the luxury of either selecting the best player available, planning for the future or upgrading a position more out of desire than necessity.
With all that said, defensive tackles Justin Bannan and Kevin Vickerson, while capable pros, are far from worldbeaters.
The addition of a disruptive force such as Missouri defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson, who had 75 tackles and four sacks in 2012, would only make an already stout Denver defense that much more difficult to game-plan for.