NFL Draft 2013: Teams That Must Hit Home Run to Contend Next Season
After missing the 2012 postseason, there are 20 NFL teams looking to rebuild in the 2013 NFL draft in hopes of making the playoffs this season.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers, St. Louis Rams and Miami Dolphins all won seven games last season and were within two or three victories of playing postseason football.
The draft isn't guaranteed to cure a franchise's issues, but if these three teams put together an excellent draft in April, they'll have a chance to contend for the Lombardi Trophy in 2013. But anything short of a home run in the draft will have them on the outside looking in come January.
Here are three teams that need to have successful drafts to compete in 2013.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Tampa Bay found success in last year' draft, snagging Doug Martin, who wound up ranking fifth in the NFL in rushing, amassing 1,454 yards and 11 touchdowns.
For a while, the Buccaneers looked like a legit contender, as they were 6-4 prior to a crucial November matchup with the Atlanta Falcons.
If Tampa can address the cornerback situation in the draft and grab a tight end and defensive end, the Bucs should be in good shape.
Tampa Bay owned the NFL's worst pass defense last season, which highlights the need at corner.
As far as TE and DE, both Dallas Clark and Michael Bennett are free agents this offseason and could potentially find better deals elsewhere.
The Buccaneers have a nice offensive outline with Josh Freeman, Vincent Jackson and Martin, but they need a defense to contend in the NFC South with the likes of the New Orleans Saints, Falcons and Carolina Panthers.
St. Louis Rams
The Rams have a solid nucleus with Sam Bradford leading the offense and James Laurinaitis spearheading the defense, but St. Louis needs more.
There's no way it can contend with the San Francisco 49ers and Seattle Seahawks in the NFC West with its current roster.
For one, the Rams need to shore up the offensive line, most notably the right tackle spot, as Football Outsiders ranked St. Louis' right tackle position No. 30 in the NFL.
Additionally, the strong safety position needs upgrading as Craig Dahl was subpar in 2012, which factored into the Rams' 15th-ranked pass defense.
St. Louis also needs to draft a wide receiver, since Danny Amendola could leave in free agency, and even with Amendola, the Rams still lack a No. 1 option through the air.
It's going to take a miracle for the Rams to keep pace in that division with the 49ers and Seahawks, but a strong draft could culminate into a Wild Card spot.
After the New England Patriots, the AFC East is wide open with the New York Jets and Buffalo Bills both trying to figure out their quarterback situation.
Now is the time for the Miami Dolphins to take advantage and make a run at the playoffs, as it already has a decent defense in place.
What the Dolphins really need is an elite wide receiver. Brian Hartline had a career-year in 2012, but Miami can't expect that type of production every season.
The cornerback positions need upgrading as well, as Sean Smith is a free agent and Richard Marshall is coming off back surgery.
Lastly, if the Dolphins are going to keep Ryan Tannehill safe and productive, they need to address the offensive line, as Jake Long is a free agent and Miami ranked in the lower-third in the NFL in offensive line ratings, according to Football Outsiders.
The 'Fins have a lot of work to do, but a strong draft could lead Miami into the postseason in 2013.
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