2013 NFL Draft: Teams in Best Position to Turn Things Around

Varun RavishankerContributor IIIFebruary 14, 2013

Oct 21, 2012; Foxboro, Massachusetts, USA; New York Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez (6) walks off the field during the second quarter against the New England Patriots at Gillette Stadium.  Mandatory Credit: Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports
Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports

With the 2012 NFL season in the books, several teams that struggled this past year are beginning to look towards the draft to rebuild and turn things around going into next season. 

With the lack of explosive talent at quarterback in this year's draft, it will be interesting to see how teams in need of a field general attack the draft this year. With strong prospects at other positions headlining the draft, here are some teams that have a good chance to pull a Colts-esque turnaround in 2013.


New York Jets

The Jets season was characterized by turmoil and failure, as after two straight AFC championship game appearances in the 2009 and 2010 seasons, they missed the playoffs for the second straight season.

The defense struggled to live up to its pedigree at times this season. They were second in pass defense but ranked 26th in the league in rush defense.

The defense is getting older and the Jets may look to spend an early pick on a linebacker or defensive tackle given the relative weakness of offensive players at the top of the draft. 

The offense is the key in this draft, however. If the Jets do decide to stick with Mark Sanchez, they will need to sure up the offensive line around him and get him some dynamic targets to throw to out of the backfield, and may target wide receivers such as Keenan Allen of Cal or Robert Woods of USC if either is available at No. 9. 

The Jets are a step away from returning to their playoff stature, and if they can rebuild the front seven and get Sanchez some targets they could be right back in the mix.


Pittsburgh Steelers

The Steelers are another team that completely underperformed expectations this season. The team still dominated on defense, but they are aging fast and with Casey Hampton on the block, they may look to the first round to get a new nose tackle in Georgia's John Jenkins. 

Polamalu is also aging, so safety will also be a position the Steelers need to focus on come draft day. This year's safety class is one of the best of the past few years, with LSU's Eric Reid and USC's T.J. McDonald two of the names that should be on the Steelers' radar come draft day. 

With Mendenhall likely walking after a tumultuous season, the Steelers may also look to get a lead back who can turn around the seventh-worst rushing attack in the league this season later in the draft, possibly Eddie Lacy of Alabama. 

The Steelers have been a perennial playoff team in years past, and if they can get some young defensive talent in the draft to offset their aging stars, they have the veteran leadership to get back there. 


Detroit Lions

The Lions shocked the league in 2011 with their Matt Stafford-led playoff run. They fell back to the field in 2012, losing many of the close games that they won the previous year. 

The team still has a dynamic offense, with Stafford throwing to Calvin "Megatron" Johnson at record-breaking pace last season. Where the team struggled was in its run blocking, so offensive tackle will be a need for the team in later rounds.

The key for the Lions will be to pick up some young defensive talent, though. Projections have the Lions looking at players like defensive end Ezekiel Ansah of BYU or Georgia linebacker Jarvis Jones in the first round. 

The team was in the middle of the pack across the board on defense and need help both in the front seven and in the secondary. They might take a shot on Alabama's Dee Milliner or another cornerback to replace the potential loss of Chris Houston to free agency. 

If the Lions can fix some of their problems on defense and get some help on the O-line, they may give Matt Stafford and Johnson enough help to prove that their breakout 2011 campaign wasn't a fluke.