The 2013 NFL draft figures to be loaded with pass-rushing talent, which is great for the following teams because they have to bolster their ability to get to the passer.
As we are all aware, the NFL has increasingly become a passing league. This puts enhanced value not just on quarterbacks, but those who can slow a passing game down. The quickest way to do this is by keeping opposing signal-callers under pressure.
Here are three teams that must find a way to do just that.
With the Falcons owning the NFL's best record, they are obviously loaded with talent. That doesn't mean they don't have holes—every team does.
The Falcons have to get better in the run game on offense and defense, but they also have to figure out how to bolster their pass rush.
The Falcons finished the season 28th in sacks, and their production in that department has only been sinking. They averaged 1.8 sacks per game this year, but they mustered just one sack over their final three games.
Making this need even more pressing for the Falcons is that their only legitimate pass rusher is John Abraham—who finished with 10 sacks. However, he is 34 years old, and cannot continue to produce at that level.
The Falcons must find his heir apparent in this draft.
The Raiders defense was awful last season, and they were even worse this season. A big reason for this is their nonexistent pass rush.
Oakland finished 31st in sacks this season, and they do not have a single player that the opposition has to pay extra attention to in pass-rushing situations. Defensive end Lamarr Houston led the team with just 4.5 sacks.
Oakland owns the third pick in the upcoming draft, and they will have elite pass-rushing talent available to them at that point. They need to take the best one available.
New Orleans Saints
The Saints did not participate in this year's postseason because of their defense. They finished third in points per game and 31st in points allowed.
The failures on defense were spread fairly evenly between the run and the pass. They were 32nd in rushing yards allowed and 31st in passing yards allowed—they are also 32nd in yards allowed per pass.
A big part of the reason for this is that they weren't getting sacks. The Saints are 29th in sack percentage.
Cameron Jordan had a nice year on the defensive line with eight sacks, but he is not the pure pass rusher the Saints need, and with Will Smith getting up there in years and carrying a huge contract, the Saints could do themselves a favor by bringing in a fresh face at defensive end.
NFL Draft Order
Note: picks 25-32 are projected and subject to change based on playoff results.
1. Kansas City Chiefs (2-14)
2. Jacksonville Jaguars (2-14)
3. Oakland Raiders (4-12)
4. Philadelphia Eagles (4-12)
5. Detroit Lions (4-12)
6. Cleveland Browns (5-11)
7. Arizona Cardinals (5-11)
8. Buffalo Bills (6-10)
9. New York Jets (6-10)
10. Tennessee Titans (6-10)
11. San Diego Chargers (7-9)
12. Miami Dolphins (7-9)
13. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (7-9)
14. Carolina Panthers (7-9)
15. New Orleans Saints (7-9)
16. St. Louis Rams (7-8-1)
17. Pittsburgh Steelers (8-8)
18. Dallas Cowboys (8-7)
19. New York Giants (9-7)
20. Chicago Bears (10-6)
21. Cincinnati Bengals (10-6)
22. St. Louis Rams (via Washington Redskins) (10-6)
23. Minnesota Vikings (10-6)
24. Indianapolis Colts (11-5)
25. Baltimore Ravens (10-6)
26. Seattle Seahawks (11-5)
27. Green Bay Packers (11-5)
28. San Francisco 49ers (11-4-1)
29. Houston Texans (12-4)
30. New England Patriots (12-4)
31. Atlanta Falcons (13-3)
32. Denver Broncos (13-3)