Updated Draft Needs for Every NFL Team After Early Stages of Free Agency

Jon DoveContributor IMarch 22, 2013

Updated Draft Needs for Every NFL Team After Early Stages of Free Agency

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    The best teams in the NFL use the draft to fill the majority of their needs. Free agency has its purpose, but young and hungry talent is the way to build long-term success. This article identifies the top needs of every team in the league.

    Please keep in mind that this isn't a complete list of each franchise's needs. I targeted the biggest holes that make the most sense to fill during the draft.

Buffalo Bills

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    1. Quarterback

    The Buffalo Bills recently cut ties with former starter Ryan Fitzpatrick. This leaves Tarvaris Jackson as the only legitimate starting quarterback option on the roster.

    Buddy Nix has been vocal about targeting a quarterback in the upcoming draft, so don't be surprised if the Bills make an aggressive move to ensure they land the top quarterback on their board.

    Potential Targets: West Virginia's Geno Smith (Round 1) and Syracuse's Ryan Nassib (Round 2)

     

    2. Outside Linebacker

    Hiring Mike Pettine as defensive coordinator means the Bills will use more 3-4 principles than in the past two seasons. This transition will take time, as the current roster doesn't have all the pieces needed to fit this scheme.

    Buffalo needs to find an outside linebacker capable of generating pressure off the edge. Pettine's aggressive attack won't be as successful unless he finds someone to generate pressure from the linebacker spot.

    Potential Targets: Oregon's Dion Jordan (Round 1), LSU's Barkevious Mingo (Round 1) and Georgia's Jarvis Jones (Round 1)

     

    3. Wide Receiver

    Stevie Johnson continues to produce despite having to face constant double-teams. Landing another playmaker at wide receiver would help Johnson find more openings in the defense. This would also give the new quarterback another capable target.

    Potential Targets: Tennessee's Justin Hunter (Round 2) and Marshall's Aaron Dobson (Round 3)

Miami Dolphins

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    1. Cornerback

    The Miami Dolphins' decision to allow Sean Smith to leave via free agency created a major hole in the secondary. He was by far their best cornerback last season. His departure leaves Nolan Carroll and Richard Marshall as the top remaining returnees.

    If the Dolphins hope to challenge the New England Patriots in the AFC East, they'll need to find a way to stop Tom Brady. The cornerbacks on the roster don't have the potential to accomplish this feat.

    Potential Targets: Boise State's Jamar Taylor (Round 2) and Mississippi State's Darius Slay (Round 3)

     

    2. Offensive Tackle

    Jake Long signing with the St. Louis Rams leaves the Dolphins one offensive tackle short at this point in the offseason. They have the option of targeting either a right or left tackle in the draft. They have flexibility because Jonathan Martin showed last season he has the potential to handle either position.

    Miami has the draft resources to make an aggressive move up the draft to land one of the top offensive tackles in this draft.

    Potential Targets: Central Michigan's Eric Fisher (Round 1), Oklahoma's Lane Johnson (Round 1), Florida State's Menelik Watson (Round 2) and Louisiana Tech's Jordan Mills (Round 4)

     

    3. Running Back

    With only Daniel Thomas and Lamar Miller in the mix at running back, Miami must add depth at the position. Both players are talented and have upside, but they haven't shown the consistency to carry the load.

    Potential Targets: Michigan State's Le'Veon Bell (Round 4) and South Carolina's Marcus Lattimore (Round 5)

     

    4. Defensive End

    Miami needs to do itself and Jared Odrick a favor by moving him inside to defensive tackle. His skills would be of better use shooting the gap from the 3-technique position. This would also allow the Dolphins to add a better pass-rusher opposite Cameron Wake.

    Potential Targets: BYU's Ezekiel Ansah (Round 1), Florida State's Bjoern Werner (Round 1) and Auburn's Corey Lemonier (Round 2)

New England Patriots

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    1. Wide Receiver

    The New England Patriots continued their shrewd ways by playing hardball with Wes Welker. This led to weakening an already thin wide receiving corps. Bill Belichick and company addressed this problem by signing free agent Danny Amendola. However, his injury history makes this a risky move.

    It's also important to note that tight ends Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez have both struggled with injuries over the past two seasons.

    Potential Targets: Clemson's DeAndre Hopkins (Round 1), Tennessee's Justin Hunter (Round 1), Louisiana Tech's Quinton Patton (Round 2) and Tennessee Tech's Da'Rick Rogers (Round 4)

     

    2. Guard/Center

    Ryan Wendell and Dan Connolly are solid players but offer little upside. The Patriots could use depth and potential behind either player. Logan Mankins has also started to show signs of aging, as he wasn't as effective last year.

    Potential Targets: Kentucky's Larry Warford (Round 2), Kent State's Brian Winters (Round 3) and Alabama's Barrett Jones (Round 5)

     

    3. Safety

    By signing Adrian Wilson and moving Devin McCourty from cornerback to safety, New England has a temporary plan in place at the safety position. However, the long-term outlook for either player isn't very bright.

    Wilson is rapidly aging, and McCourty is a much better fit at cornerback. With that said, another year at safety could help McCourty better adjust.

    Potential Targets: Florida's Matt Elam (Round 1), Georgia's Bacarri Rambo (Round 2) and South Carolina's D.J. Swearinger (Round 4)

     

    Note: The Patriots don't have picks in Round 4 or 5 and would need to trade into those rounds.

New York Jets

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    1. Quarterback

    This situation has been discussed over and over again in the media. However, the fact remains that Mark Sanchez has proven he's not the long-term answer at quarterback for the New York Jets. The other quarterbacks on the roster offer little hope.

    Because the Jets have a ton of other needs, it's likely that they look to address this position in the later rounds.

    Potential Targets: Syracuse's Ryan Nassib (Round 2), N.C. State's Mike Glennon (Round 3), Arkansas' Tyler Wilson (Round 3) and Tennessee's Tyler Bray (Round 5)

     

    2. Right Tackle

    Over the past few years, the Jets have tried to solve their issues at right tackle with the likes of Wayne Hunter and Jason Smith. Neither player was able to lock down the starting job, and this position remains a need.

    Rex Ryan will never be able to effectively employ his run-heavy attack without solidifying the offensive line.

    Potential Targets: Florida State's Menelik Watson (Round 2), Alabama's D.J. Fluker (Round 2) and Louisiana Tech's Jordan Mills (Round 4)

     

    3. Outside Linebacker

    Defense has been the main focus since Ryan took over as head coach. This unit needs to add a few pieces to keep performing at a high level. Finding a pass-rushing outside linebacker is the top need.

    New York has solid rushers on the defensive line in Muhammad Wilkerson and Quinton Coples but lacks an explosive edge rusher from the linebacker position.

    Potential Targets: Oregon's Dion Jordan (Round 1), LSU's Barkevious Mingo (Round 1), Georgia's Jarvis Jones (Round 1) and Auburn's Corey Lemonier (Round 2)

     

    4. Running Back

    Mike Goodson and Bilal Powell are not the Jets' answer at running back. Neither has shown more than a glimpse of his potential. With issues at quarterback, New York needs a talented running back to help move the chains.

    Potential Targets: Alabama's Eddie Lacy (Round 2) and Michigan State's Le'Veon Bell (Round 3)

     

    5. Guard

    At this point in the offseason, Vladimir Ducasse will get another chance to earn a starting job. This should be a concern for everyone involved with the Jets. Despite his natural ability, Ducasse has never fulfilled his potential.

    Potential Targets: Alabama's Chance Warmack (Round 1), Kentucky's Larry Warford (Round 2) and North Carolina's Travis Bond (Round 5)

     

    6. Safety

    LaRon Landry's decision to sign with the Indianapolis Colts left a hole in the back end of the Jets' defense. As it stands, Antonio Allen and Josh Bush will have the first crack at the starting jobs. Neither has shown enough to breed any type of confidence.

    Potential Targets: Florida's Matt Elam (Round 2), LSU's Eric Reid (Round 3) and Fresno State's Phillip Thomas (Round 4)

     

    7. Tight End

    New York needs playmakers on offense, and the loss of Dustin Keller didn't help this situation. Jeff Cumberland showed promise last year, but it's tough to expect him to handle the majority of the tight-end targets.

    Potential Targets: Stanford's Zach Ertz (Round 2) and Michigan State's Dion Sims (Round 3)

Baltimore Ravens

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    1. Left Tackle

    The Baltimore Ravens and Joe Flacco enjoyed their playoff success thanks in large part to the play of the offensive line. This group rounded into form once Michael Oher moved to right tackle and Bryant McKinnie started at left tackle.

    McKinnie's constant conditioning battle and age limit the Ravens' ability to feel comfortable with his status. Finding a long-term answer at this position is key to the success of the franchise.

    Potential Targets: Florida State's Menelik Watson (Round 1)

     

    2. Safety

    The Ravens have lost both starting safeties from their Super Bowl-winning team. Ed Reed just signed with the Houston Texans, and Bernard Pollard was a cap casualty.

    Potential Targets: Florida's Matt Elam (Round 1), Florida International's Jonathan Cyprien (Round 1), Georgia's Bacarri Rambo (Round 2) and South Carolina's D.J. Swearinger (Round 4)

     

    3. Wide Receiver

    Replacing Anquan Boldin's toughness and ability to make plays in pressure situations will be difficult. Neither Torrey Smith nor Jacoby Jones is the type of player capable of consistently making plays over the middle, as they're more successful stretching the field.

    Potential Targets: USC's Robert Woods (Round 2) and Tennessee Tech's Da'Rick Rogers (Round 3)

     

    4. Inside Linebacker

    The Ravens will count on Jameel McClain and Albert McClellan to replace Ray Lewis and Dannell Ellerbe. Even if both players remain healthy and raise their level of play, Baltimore still needs to add depth at the position.

    Potential Targets: Missouri's Zaviar Gooden (Round 3) and Florida's Jonathan Bostic (Round 4)

Cincinnati Bengals

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    1. Running Back

    BenJarvus Green-Ellis is a consistent runner who knows how to pick up tough yardage. However, he lacks the big-play potential needed to draw defenders out of pass coverage.

    The Cincinnati Bengals need to bring someone into the mix who can pick up big chucks of yardage.

    Potential Targets: Alabama’s Eddie Lacy (Round 2), UCLA’s Johnathan Franklin (Round 2) and Clemson’s Andre Ellington (Round 4)

     

    2. Safety

    Cincinnati’s pass coverage will continue to struggle as long as it has either Taylor Mays or Chris Crocker at one of the safety positions. Both do a better job supporting the run but also have some issues in that area of their game.

    The depth of the safety position in the draft and Cincinnati’s three picks in the first two rounds should make filling this need an easy task.

    Potential Targets: Texas’ Kenny Vaccaro (Round 1), Florida’s Matt Elam (Round 2) and Georgia’s Bacarri Rambo (Round 3)

     

    3. Linebacker

    Even with Rey Maualuga back in the mix, the Bengals need someone to replace Manny Lawson. It’s also important to note that both Maualuga and Vontaze Burfict have some character concerns that make them less than reliable.

    Potential Targets: Rutgers’ Khaseem Greene (Round 1), Connecticut’s Sio Moore (Round 2) and South Carolina’s DeVonte Holloman (Round 5)

Cleveland Browns

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    1. Cornerback

    Joe Haden has quickly emerged as one of the better cover guys in the NFL. However, the Cleveland Browns need someone on the opposite side of the field. Buster Skrine has shown some promise, but he’s a better fit as a nickelback.

    The Browns will need at least two capable cornerbacks if they hope to properly run Ray Horton’s aggressive defense.

    Potential Targets: Alabama’s Dee Milliner (Round 1), Mississippi State’s Darius Slay (Round 3) and California’s Marc Anthony (Round 3)

     

    2. Quarterback

    The new regime in Cleveland appears ready to bring its own guy in at the quarterback position. Nobody on the management staff was with the team when the Browns selected Brandon Weeden in the first round of last year's draft.

    Weeden’s age and slow development as a rookie could make it easy for Cleveland to go in a different direction.

    Potential Targets: West Virginia’s Geno Smith (Round 1), N.C. State’s Mike Glennon (Round 3) and Arkansas’ Tyler Wilson (Round 3)

     

    3. Guard

    With Trent Richardson implanted as the team’s top playmaker, it makes sense for the Browns to ensure the offensive line is in order. Shawn Lauvao is a liability at guard, and Jason Pinkston is solid but offers little upside.

    Adding a power-blocking guard would help Richardson reach his full potential.

    Potential Targets: Alabama’s Chance Warmack (Round 1) and Kent State’s Brian Winters (Round 3)

Pittsburgh Steelers

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    1. Wide Receiver

    Because of a tough salary-cap situation, the Pittsburgh Steelers had to let Mike Wallace leave via free agency. His loss, tied with Emmanuel Sanders’ flirtation with other teams in the restricted free agent process, leaves the wide receiver position as a major concern.

    The issues at wide receiver are only exacerbated by the struggles of the Steelers’ running attack. Ben Roethlisberger will need help if the offense wants to find more consistency next season.

    Potential Targets: Tennessee’s Cordarrelle Patterson (Round 1), West Virginia’s Tavon Austin (Round 1), Louisiana Tech’s Quinton Patton (Round 2) and Georgia’s Tavarres King (Round 4)

     

    2. Cornerback

    Losing Keenan Lewis to the New Orleans Saints hurts the talent and depth in the Steelers’ secondary. He was arguably the team's most consistent cornerback throughout last season, not to mention his youth is something the rest of the defense lacks.

    Pittsburgh bringing back William Gay is only a temporary solution. The draft should provide the Steelers with an opportunity to re-stock the talent pool.

    Potential Targets: Oregon State’s Jordan Poyer (Round 2), Rutgers’ Logan Ryan (Round 2), California’s Marc Anthony (Round 3) and UCLA’s Sheldon Price (Round 4)

     

    3. Inside Linebacker

    Pittsburgh was lucky to strike a deal to bring back Larry Foote for at least another season. This buys the Steelers time as they evaluate a current player like Sean Spence or make additions through the draft. The inside linebacker spot is an important position in the Steelers defense.

    Potential Targets: North Carolina’s Kevin Reddick (Round 3), Florida’s Jonathan Bostic (Round 4) and Virginia Tech’s Bruce Taylor (Round 6)

     

    4. Running Back

    Jonathan Dwyer and Isaac Redman are only stopgap solutions at running back. The Steelers must bring in someone who provides more consistency, or at least a big-play threat. It’s not fair to ask Roethlisberger to carry the offense without a solid ground game and limited weapons at wide receiver.

    Potential Targets: UCLA’s Johnathan Franklin (Round 2), Michigan State’s Le’Veon Bell (Round 4) and Florida’s Mike Gillislee (Round 5)

Houston Texans

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    1. Wide Receiver

    The Houston Texans again failed to earn their first berth in the Super Bowl, mainly because Matt Schaub and the offense couldn’t keep pace with Tom Brady. Not all the blame can be placed on Schaub, however, as he isn’t surrounded by many playmakers.

    His top wide-receiver threat, Andre Johnson, consistently faces double teams. Someone needs to be brought into the mix to help open things up.  Houston won’t be able to take the next step unless it increases the explosiveness of the offense.

    Potential Targets: Clemson’s DeAndre Hopkins (Round 1), Tennessee’s Justin Hunter (Round 1) and Louisiana Tech’s Quinton Patton (Round 2)

     

    2. Right Tackle

    Houston is still looking for a replacement for Eric Winston after it released him last offseason. Heading into next season with Derek Newton as the starter won’t help the offense consistently move the ball.

    Even if Houston adds a playmaking wide receiver, the offense will still go through Arian Foster and the ground game.

    Potential Targets: Alabama’s D.J. Fluker (Round 1), Oregon’s Kyle Long (Round 2) and North Carolina’s Brennan Williams (Round 4)

     

    3. Safety

    Even though the Texans signed Ed Reed, his advanced age will still make this a long-term need. The current roster only has Daniel Manning and Shiloh Keo as playable options. Targeting a high-upside player in the later rounds would be a good strategy.

    Potential Targets: Syracuse’s Shamarko Thomas (Round 4) and Fresno State’s Phillip Thomas (Round 4)

Indianapolis Colts

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    1. Guard

    The Indianapolis Colts can survive with Mike McGlynn or Jeff Linkenbach holding down one of the guard spots. However, it would absolutely be considered a weakness. Indianapolis’ moves in free agency to upgrade the talent on defense means it can afford to address this need in the draft.

    Targeting a guard prospect in the first or third round isn’t out of the question.

    Potential Targets: Kentucky’s Larry Warford (Round 1) and Kent State’s Brian Winters (Round 3)

     

    2. Wide Receiver

    Jim Irsay tweeted last week that the Colts were working on a trade to land a wide receiver. Nothing has been finalized, so this remains a need that must be addressed in the draft. A bigger-bodied target would be the best fit. This would allow T.Y. Hilton to work out of the slot, where his skills can be better utilized.

    Potential Targets: Clemson’s DeAndre Hopkins (Round 1), Tennessee’s Justin Hunter (Round 1), Marshall’s Aaron Dobson (Round 3) and Tennessee Tech’s Da’Rick Rogers (Round 3)

     

    3. Cornerback

    The free-agent addition of Greg Toler creates a solid trio by pairing him with Vontae Davis and Darius Butler. However, nobody in this group can be considered an elite player. Teams need more than solid cover guys if they hope to field a top-notch defense.

    Potential Targets: Washington’s Desmond Trufant (Round 1), Mississippi State’s Darius Slay (Round 3) and Rutgers’ Logan Ryan (Round 3)

Jacksonville Jaguars

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    1. Defensive End

    Over the years, the Jacksonville Jaguars have tried to fill their pass-rushing void with veterans like Aaron Kampman and Jason Babin. They’ve had to go in this direction mainly because Derrick Harvey failed to live up to his potential.

    Improving the pass rush remains as one of the biggest areas the Jaguars need to address. This draft offers several intriguing prospects capable of filling that void.

    Potential Targets: Oregon’s Dion Jordan (Round 1), LSU’s Barkevious Mingo (Round 1) and Auburn’s Corey Lemonier (Round 2)

     

    2. Quarterback

    It’s painfully obvious that Blaine Gabbert is not the solution at the quarterback position. His issues dealing with pressure and inability to attack the deep part of the field limits his potential. With a new general manager and coach in town, it’s not out of the question that the Jaguars target a quarterback early in the draft.

    They have to add a quarterback they feel is capable of developing into an elite player, as adding another Gabbert-like prospect won’t solve any problems.

    Potential Targets: West Virginia’s Geno Smith (Round 1) and Tennessee’s Tyler Bray (Round 4)

     

    3. Cornerback

    Losing Derek Cox to the San Diego Chargers via free agency took Jacksonville’s top secondary player out of the lineup. It’ll be a long year if the Jaguars head into the season with Alan Ball and Mike Harris as the starting cornerbacks.

    Potential Targets: Alabama’s Dee Milliner (Round 1), Boise State’s Jamar Taylor (Round 2) and N.C. State’s David Amerson (Round 3)

     

    4. Right Tackle

    Eugene Monroe has emerged as one of the better left tackles in the NFL. However, the right side of the line has some issues. This has a lot to do with Edden Britton’s inability to stay healthy. Jacksonville should consider solidifying the offensive line before it makes any final decision at quarterback.

    Even if the Jaguars add Geno Smith with pick No. 2 in the first round, they could target a right tackle in the second round.

    Potential Targets: Florida State’s Menelik Watson (Round 2) and Alabama’s D.J. Fluker (Round 2)

Tennessee Titans

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    1. Center/Guard

    Signing Andy Levitre during free agency will provide a major upgrade to the interior of the offensive line. However, the Tennessee Titans still have holes at center and the other guard spot. Because of Jake Locker’s inconsistency, this offense still needs to rely on Chris Johnson to move the chains.

    Potential Targets: North Carolina’s Jonathan Cooper (Round 1), Alabama’s Chance Warmack (Round 1), Kentucky’s Larry Warford (Round 2) and Wisconsin’s Travis Frederick (Round 4).

     

    2. Defensive Tackle

    Jurrell Casey, Karl Klug, Sammie Lee Hill and Mike Martin are a solid defensive tackle group. But this draft will offer the Titans an opportunity to possibly add a player with more upside at this position.

    They could use someone with enough quickness off the line to consistently penetrate the pocket. This would help the outside rushers get more one-on-one opportunities.

    Potential Targets: Florida’s Sharrif Floyd (Round 1), Missouri’s Sheldon Richardson (Round 1) and Bowling Green’s Chris Jones (Round 5)

     

    3. Cornerback

    Tennessee’s defense finished in the bottom half of the NFL by allowing more than 240 passing yards per game. Its secondary features solid players, but is nothing spectacular. Someone like Alterraun Verner would be a much better fit in the nickel role.

    Potential Targets: Alabama’s Dee Milliner (Round 1), Boise State’s Jamar Taylor (Round 2) and Oregon State’s Jordan Poyer (Round 2).

Denver Broncos

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    1. Defensive End

    The Elvis Dumervil situation makes an already difficult defensive end situation even more of an issue for the Denver Broncos. Last season, they were able to get away with playing Derek Wolfe out of position because Dumervil and Von Miller generated most of the pressure.

    However, without Dumervil, it will be tough to keep Wolfe at defensive end. Adding another edge-rusher has to be on the top of the Broncos’ list.

    Potential Targets: Texas A&M’s Damontre Moore (Round 1), Texas’ Alex Okafor (Round 1), Auburn’s Corey Lemonier (Round 2) and Florida International’s Tourek Williams (Round 5)

     

    2. Defensive Tackle

    Kevin Vickerson and the newly added Terrance Knighton are both solid run-stoppers, but offer next to nothing in the pass-rush department. Adding a penetrating defensive tackle would do a lot to help Miller get more one-on-one opportunities.

    That pressure coming up the middle is tough for quarterbacks to handle because it limits their ability to step up in the pocket.

    Potential Targets: Purdue’s Kawann Short (Round 2), Boise State’s Chris Jones (Round 4) and Florida State’s Everett Dawkins (Round 5)

     

    3. Middle Linebacker

    As of now, Joe Mays and Nate Irving are in the mix to start at middle linebacker. Both are solid contributors, but have limited upside. Because the strength of the Broncos' interior defensive line is occupying blockers, it would make sense for the Broncos to add a rangy middle linebacker.

    Potential Targets: Notre Dame’s Manti Te’o (Round 1), LSU’s Kevin Minter (Round 1) and Iowa State’s A.J. Klein (Round 4)

Kansas City Chiefs

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    1. Offensive Tackle

    Cutting ties with Eric Winston means that the Kansas City Chiefs either have to move forward with Donald Stephenson in the starting lineup or draft an offensive tackle. Stephenson didn’t show much promise in the little playing time he saw last year.

    It’s also important to note that Branden Albert’s skill set would be a much better fit at right tackle. Adding a left tackle with the first pick in the draft would allow that transition to happen.

    Andy Reid saw last year just how much a poor offensive line can impact the consistency of an offense.

    Potential Target: Texas A&M Luke Joeckel (Round 1)

     

    2. Inside Linebacker

    With space-eaters like Dontari Poe, Mike DeVito and Tyson Jackson along the defensive line, it makes sense for Kansas City to have talented linebackers.  The Chiefs will have a great opportunity in the later rounds to find someone to put alongside Derrick Johnson.

    Potential Targets: North Carolina’s Kevin Reddick (Round 3), Florida’s Jonathan Bostic (Round 4) and Florida State’s Vince Williams (Round 4)

     

    3. Defensive End

    DeVito and Jackson are solid enough to go through the season as the Chiefs’ starting five-techniques. They do a good job occupying blockers and playing two-gap football. However, neither has  the ability to generate pressure on the quarterback.

    The Chiefs could use a more disruptive player at defensive end. We’ve seen the impact J.J. Watt has had with the Houston Texans.

    Potential Targets: Utah’s Star Lotulelie (Round 1), SMU’s Margus Hunt (Round 3) and LSU’s Bennie Logan (Round 4)

Oakland Raiders

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    1. Defensive Line

    The entire Oakland Raiders defensive line needs a talent upgrade. The only players with potential are Lamarr Houston and Tommy Kelly. While Houston has upside, he’s playing out of position at defensive end and would benefit from shifting to more of a three-technique role.

    Potential Targets: Utah’s Star Lotulelei (Round 1), Florida’s Sharrif Floyd (Round 1), Oregon’s Dion Jordan (Round 1) and LSU’s Barkevious Mingo (Round 1)

     

    2. Cornerback

    The duo of Chimdi Chekwa and Phillip Adams just isn’t going to cut it in today’s pass-heavy NFL. Oakland isn’t only lacking top-end talent. There's also little depth at the position. This played a role in the team’s decision to move Taiwan Jones from running back to cornerback.

    Oakland has to come out of this draft with at least one starting-caliber cornerback.

    Potential Targets: Alabama’s Dee Milliner (Round 1), Mississippi State’s Darius Slay (Round 3) and California’s Mark Slay (Round 3)

     

    3. Right Tackle

    Before the Raiders consider upgrading at the quarterback position, they might want to add more talent to the offensive line. Right tackle is a major need, as Willie Smith isn’t a starting-caliber player. Oakland’s less-than-ideal cap situation and rebuilding status will make it hard for the Raiders to address this in free agency.

    Potential Targets: Louisiana Tech’s Jordan Mills (Round 4), North Carolina’s Brennan Williams (Round 5) and Louisiana Tech’s Oscar Johnson (Round 6)

     

    4. Tight End

    Brandon Myers was one of the Raiders’ only consistent offensive playmakers. His loss to the New York Giants via free agency creates an immediate problem. Without Myers, Oakland will need players such as Denarius Moore and Jacoby Ford to develop into reliable targets.

    Potential Targets: Michigan State’s Dion Sims (Round 4), Rice’s Vance McDonald (Round 4) and San Jose State’s Ryan Otten (Round 6)

     

    5. Running Back

    With Jeremy Stewart as the lone backup to injury-prone Darren McFadden, the Raiders must add depth at running back.  There’s no way the Raiders can trick themselves into thinking they don’t need a capable backup running back.

    Even if it adds depth through bargain free agency, Oakland should still target a younger player in the draft.

    Potential Targets: Rutgers’ Jawan Jamison (Round 5), Arkansas’ Knile Davis (Round 6) and Pittsburgh’s Ray Graham (Round 6)

San Diego Chargers

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    1. Offensive Tackle

    Jared Gaither has given the San Diego Chargers no reason to believe they can count on him next season, so they must add an offensive tackle at some point in this draft. Philip Rivers doesn’t have the athleticism to overcome a consistent pass rush.

    Left tackle isn’t the only problem, as the right side of the line also needs an upgrade.

    The free-agent addition of King Dunlap offers little help. He’s best suited to play a backup role as a swing tackle. San Diego’s entire offensive production depends on fixing the pass-protection issues.

    Potential Targets: Oklahoma’s Lane Johnson (Round 1), Oregon’s Kyle Long (Round 2), Colorado’s David Bakhtiari (Round 3) and San Jose State’s David Quessenberry (Round 4)

     

    2. Guard

    While adding talent at tackle is a priority, the interior of the offensive line also needs help. Second-year player Johnnie Troutman is one of the few options to start at left guard. Depending on how the early part of the draft shakes out, San Diego might have a chance to add an elite guard prospect.

    Potential Targets: Alabama’s Chance Warmack (Round 1), North Carolina’s Jonathan Cooper (Round 1) and Tennessee’s Dallas Thomas (Round 2)

     

    3. Running Back

    Ryan Mathews' consistent injury problems have kept him from reaching his full potential. This puts the Chargers in a tough situation because they lack an adequate backup. The combination of Danny Woodhead and Ronnie Brown won’t help this team make a playoff run.

    San Diego’s ground game is doomed unless it can find a capable backup running back.

    Potential Targets: Oklahoma State’s Joseph Randle (Round 3), Wisconsin’s Montee Ball (Round 3) and Oregon’s Kenjon Barner (Round 4)

Dallas Cowboys

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    1. Right Tackle

    Doug Free’s transition to right tackle has been a complete disaster. The Dallas Cowboys and Tony Romo won’t accomplish much next season if Free is still in the starting lineup. Despite Romo’s ability to extend plays, the consistent pressure has a tendency to force him to make bad throws.

    It’s easy to imagine Romo’s interception total decreasing if the offensive line is fixed.

    Potential Targets: Alabama’s D.J. Fluker (Round 2), Florida State’s Menelik Watson (Round 2), Louisiana Tech’s Jordan Mills (Round 4)

     

    2. Safety

    Last offseason, the Cowboys focused on improving the talent at cornerback. This year, they must turn their attention to both safety spots. As it stands, Barry Church and Matt Johnson are the most likely candidates to open the season as starters.

    Of course, if Dallas has any hopes of making a playoff run, it will need to improve the back end of its defense.

    Potential Targets: Texas’ Kenny Vaccaro (Round 1), Georgia’s Bacarri Rambo (Round 2), South Carolina’s D.J. Swearinger (Round 3) and Syracuse’s Shamarko Thomas (Round 3)

     

    3. Defensive Tackle

    Bringing in Monte Kiffin to replace Rob Ryan means the Cowboys will make a dramatic change in their defensive strategy. Kiffin’s cover-2 scheme requires specific players at key positions to succeed. The most important position is at the three-technique spot along the defensive line.

    Dallas doesn’t have the type of disruptive force at the defensive tackle spot that Kiffin needs. Luckily, this year’s draft features several players who fit that mold.

    Potential Targets: Missouri’s Sheldon Richardson (Round 1), Florida’s Sharrif Floyd (Round 1) and North Carolina’s Sylvester Williams (Round 1)

New York Giants

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    1. Defensive End

    The New York Giants’ former stars along the defensive line are no longer making the same contribution. Justin Tuck has seen his production drop over the past few years, and Osi Umenyiora is testing the free-agent market.

    This leaves Jason Pierre-Paul as the only real pass-rush threat on the roster. With the pass-rushing depth of this draft, New York will have the opportunity to sit back and wait to see who falls into its lap.

    Potential Targets: Florida State’s Bjoern Werner (Round 1), Texas A&M’s Damontre Moore (Round 1) and Florida State’s Cornellius Carradine (Round 1)

     

    2. Guard

    The interior of the entire Giants offensive line could use an upgrade in talent. Moving forward with Selvish Capers, Chris Snee and David Baas as the starters isn’t a real option. It’s even more of an issue because of the team's uncertainty at running back.

    David Wilson and Andre Brown have yet to prove they can carry the load. So, it’s important that the Giants have the offensive line issues settled before the start of the season.

    Potential Targets: North Carolina’s Jonathan Cooper (Round 1), Kent State’s Brian Winters (Round 3) and Wisconsin’s Travis Frederick (Round 4)

     

    3. Linebacker

    The signing of Dan Connor gives New York an upgrade over Chase Blackburn at inside linebacker, but it doesn’t answer the question on the outside. Jacquian Williams is slated to get the first crack at the weak-side linebacker job.

    Williams has shown promise in his short career, but the Giants would be wise to add depth.

    Potential Targets: Rutgers’ Khaseem Greene (Round 1), Connecticut’s Sio Moore (Round 2) and Penn State’s Gerald Hodges (Round 5)

Philadelphia Eagles

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    1. Safety

    The Philadelphia Eagles found some stop-gap solutions in Patrick Chung and Kenny Phillips, but the long-term stability of the safety position is still in question. Chung is an average player and Phillips has a long line of injury issues.

    This year’s draft class features a ton of depth at the position, so the Eagles should have no problem finding young players to compete for playing time.

    Potential Targets: Florida’s Matt Elam (Round 2), Georgia’s Bacarri Rambo (Round 3) and Georgia’s Shawn Williams (Round 5)

     

    2. Quarterback

    Michael Vick isn’t the answer at quarterback, and it’s unclear if Nick Foles can properly run Chip Kelly’s attack. It makes sense for the offensive-minded Kelly to bring in a young quarterback who he feels is a fit for his style of play.

    The real issue here is trying to predict what Kelly will do with this position. He’s a confident coach who’s eager to show his worth.

    Potential Targets: West Virginia’s Geno Smith (Round 1), Florida State’s EJ Manuel (Round 3) and Arizona’s Matt Scott (Round 7)

     

    3. Cornerback

    This is another position where the Eagles used free agency to bring in some stop-gap players. Cary Williams and Bradley Fletcher are solid contributors, but they also have some holes in their game. Because of Kelly’s high-powered offense, the Eagles will need talent in the secondary to help stop the opposing offense’s attempt to keep pace.

    Potential Targets: Alabama’s Dee Milliner (Round 1), Boise State’s Jamar Taylor (Round 2) and Mississippi State’s Darius Slay (Round 3)

     

    4. Offensive Tackle

    This position is a real interesting situation for the Eagles. They have Jason Peters and Todd Herremans, who have both excelled at tackle. However, it’s possible neither will be in place at the start of the season.

    Herremans is also a strong candidate to move inside to play guard. This is why drafting an offensive tackle could strengthen two positions. Peters' talent is overshadowed by a string of injury issues. The left tackle position is too important to rely on a player whose health is a concern.

    Potential Targets: Texas A&M’s Luke Joeckel (Round 1), Central Michigan’s Eric Fisher (Round 1) and Florida State’s Menelik Watson (Round 2)

Washington Redskins

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    1. Cornerback

    Last season, the Redskins ranked 30th in the NFL, allowing more than 280 passing yards per game. After releasing DeAngelo Hall, Josh Wilson is the only cornerback on the roster capable of providing solid production.

    Because of the limited number of picks the Redskins have in this draft, they’ll need to make sure they don’t make a mistake. It might even make sense to wait until later to address this position. The depth at cornerback this year is very strong.

    Potential Targets: Mississippi State’s Darius Slay (Round 3), Miami’s Brandon McGee (Round 5) and Illinois Terry Hawthorne (Round 5)

     

    2. Right Tackle

    A lot has been made about Robert Griffin III’s knee injury and overall health. Most of the discussion centers around the way Washington uses him on running plays. However, he takes just as many hits because of pass-protection problems along the offensive line.

    Trent Williams is excellent at left tackle, but the combination of Jeremy Trueblood and Tyler Polumbus will be an issue at right tackle. The Redskins must do everything in their power to keep Griffin healthy.

    Potential Targets: Oregon’s Kyle Long (Round 2) and Louisiana Tech’s Jordan Mills (Round 3)

     

    3. Inside Linebacker

    London Fletcher continues to rack up tackles and perform at a high level. However, at some point, his career is going to come to an end. Washington needs to add depth and a potential replacement for Fletcher at this position.

    They could also use an upgrade over Perry Riley, who’s average at best.

    Potential Targets: Georgia’s Alec Ogletree (Round 2), North Carolina’s Kevin Reddick (Round 3) and Missouri’s Zaviar Gooden (Round 3)

Chicago Bears

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    1. Linebacker

    The Chicago Bears’ decision to part ways with Brian Urlacher will be unpopular with the fanbase and in the locker room. However, Urlacher’s play has slipped over the past couple of years. He continued to make plays based on his knowledge of the game, but just didn’t have the quickness to cover sideline to sideline.

    Chicago doesn’t only need to replace Urlacher, as losing Nick Roach to the Oakland Raiders leaves another hole to be filled. Roach was the in-house candidate to replace Urlacher and last year’s starting strong-side linebacker.

    Potential Targets: Notre Dame’s Manti Te’o (Round 1), LSU’s Kevin Minter (Round 1), Rutgers’ Khaseem Greene (Round 1), Iowa State’s A.J. Klein (Round 4) and Florida State’s Vince Williams (Round 5)

     

    2. Guard/Center

    With Roberto Garza rapidly aging and Lance Louis still a free agent, the Bears are thin along the interior of the offensive line. In addition, at one of the guard spots, they are relying heavily on Gabe Carimi's ability to turn around his career.

    Needless to say, the Bears would do well coming out of this draft with at least one guard and center prospect.

    Potential Targets: North Carolina’s Jonathan Cooper (Round 1), Alabama’s Chance Warmack (Round 1), Kent State’s Brian Winters (Round 4) and California’s Brian Schwenke (Round 4)

     

    3. Wide Receiver

    Brandon Marshall had a huge year in his first season with the Chicago Bears. However, he was the only real playmaker in the passing game. Chicago must provide Jay Cutler with more offensive weapons if it wants him to maximize his talent.

    The best move would be to add a slot receiver to go along with Marshall and Alshon Jeffery on the outside.

    Potential Targets: West Virginia’s Tavon Austin (Round 1), Louisiana Tech’s Quinton Patton (Round 2), Oregon State’s Markus Wheaton (Round 4) and Texas’ Marquise Goodwin (Round 5)

Detroit Lions

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    1. Offensive Tackle

    Losing Gosder Cherilus to the Indianapolis Colts via free agency left a hole in the Detroit Lions offensive line. With Jeff Backus' retirement, last year’s first-round pick, Riley Reiff, was already slated to move into the starting lineup.

    This team won’t have a chance to make a playoff run if it can’t provide Matthew Stafford the time he needs to make plays down the field.

    Sitting at pick No. 5, the Lions have a great chance to add one of this year’s top offensive-tackle prospects. If they made that choice, Reiff would likely be shifted to right tackle.

    Potential Targets: Texas A&M’s Luke Joeckel (Round 1), Central Michigan’s Eric Fisher (Round 1), Oklahoma’s Lane Johnson (Round 1) and Florida State’s Menelik Watson (Round 2)

     

    2. Defensive End

    Both of Detroit’s starting defensive ends from last year, Cliff Avril and Kyle Vanden Bosch, are no longer with the team. This leaves a young and inexperienced group led by Willie Young to take their place.

    The ability to generate pressure on the quarterback is an important part of the NFL. Detroit must use the draft to bring in more talent at defensive end.

    Potential Targets: Oregon’s Dion Jordan (Round 1), LSU’s Barkevious Mingo (Round 1), Auburn’s Corey Lemonier (Round 2) and Texas’ Alex Okafor (Round 2)

     

    3. Cornerback

    Even if the Lions are able to improve the pass rush through the draft, they still must bring in better talent at cornerback.  Potential starters Chris Houston and Bill Bentley are nothing more than average players.

    There’s a ton of talent and depth at the cornerback position in this draft. Detroit could add a starting-caliber player in the second or third round.

    Potential Targets: Alabama’s Dee Milliner (Round 1), Boise State’s Jamar Taylor (Round 2), Oregon State’s Jordan Poyer (Round 3) and Rutgers’ Logan Ryan (Round 3)

Green Bay Packers

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    1. Running Back

    Aaron Rodgers has proven to be talented enough to run a high-powered offense without having a reliable running game. However, this lack of a ground attack limits the balance and the versatility of the Green Bay Packers offense.

    A strong running game helps wear down the defense and gives a team the ability to close. The current group of James Starks, Alex Green and DuJuan Harris just isn’t capable of carrying the load.

    Potential Targets: UCLA’s Johnathan Franklin (Round 2), Oregon’s Kenjon Barner (Round 3) and Oklahoma State’s Joseph Randle (Round 4)

     

    2. Center

    Last season, Green Bay brought in Jeff Saturday as a stop-gap solution at center. Saturday finished the season on a low note and decided to retire. Every offense needs a strong presence at center, as they’re typically responsible for making all the offensive line adjustments.

    Potential Targets: Wisconsin’s Travis Frederick (Round 3) and Alabama’s Barrett Jones (Round 4)

     

    3. Safety

    Even though free agent Charles Woodson missed a large chuck of last year with an injury, the Packers still need to focus on finding help at safety in case he signs with another team. Woodson’s leadership and ability to generate turnovers were critical factors in a handful of Green Bay victories.

    Potential Targets: Florida International’s Jonathan Cyprien (Round 1), Georgia’s Bacarri Rambo (Round 2) and USC’s T.J. McDonald (Round 4)

Minnesota Vikings

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    1. Wide Receiver

    The signing of Greg Jennings helps alleviate some of the Minnesota Vikings’ problems at wide receiver. However, the length and money involved in his deal may cause some issues down the line. It’s also important to remember that Jennings missed a large chunk of last year with an injury.

    Outside of Jennings, Minnesota’s wide-receiving corps boasts uninspiring players such as Jerome Simpson and Jarius Wright.

    Potential Targets: West Virginia’s Tavon Austin (Round 1), Tennessee’s Cordarrelle Patterson (Round 1), Tennessee’s Justin Hunter (Round 1), USC’s Robert Woods (Round 2) and Oregon State’s Markus Wheaton (Round 3)

     

    2. Strong Safety

    Harrison Smith, last year’s first-round pick, proved to be one of the more important pieces to the Vikings’ playoff puzzle. He displayed leadership, run-stuffing ability and a knack for reading the developing pass plays.

    The back end of the Vikings defense would receive another boost if it added a safety to team with Smith. Finding one who will allow Smith to play more in coverage would be an ideal situation.

    Potential Targets: Texas’ Kenny Vaccaro (Round 1), Florida’s Matt Elam (Round 1), Florida International’s Jonathan Cyprien (Round 1) and Georgia’s Shawn Williams (Round 5)

     

    3. Quarterback

    This upcoming season looks like a make-or-break year for Christian Ponder. So far, he hasn’t shown enough to make the Vikings feel comfortable about his long-term future. Ponder’s struggles combined with the lack of a backup quarterback mean Minnesota should target one in the draft.

    Potential Targets: N.C. State’s Mike Glennon (Round 3), Arkansas’ Tyler Wilson (Round 3) and Tennessee’s Tyler Bray (Round 4)

Atlanta Falcons

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    1. Defensive End

    Parting ways with John Abraham was an interesting move by the Atlanta Falcons. This is a team that had a need for a pass-rusher even with Abraham in the mix. As it stands, the Falcons are counting on Kroy Biermann to significantly raise his level of play.

    A team looking to make a run at the Super Bowl shouldn’t be parting ways with effective veterans. Nonetheless, Atlanta now needs to make adding a pass-rusher the focus of the draft.

    Potential Targets: Texas A&M’s Damontre Moore (Round 1), Auburn’s Corey Lemonier (Round 1) and LSU’s Sam Montgomery (Round 4)

     

    2. Cornerback

    Dunta Robinson has already moved on, and it appears that Brent Grimes is leaning toward doing the same. Losing both will leave Asante Samuel as only returning player with a history of performing at a high level.

    Potential Targets: Florida State’s Xavier Rhodes (Round 1), N.C. State’s David Amerson (Round 2) and Mississippi State’s Johnthan Banks (Round 2)

     

    3. Guard

    Todd McClure's retirement hurts the interior of the Falcons offensive line. Last year, they drafted Peter Konz as McClure’s long-term replacement and he’s ready to fill that role.

    However, this means that the Falcons must find a replacement for Konz at guard.

    Potential Targets: Syracuse’s Justin Pugh (Round 2), Oregon’s Kyle Long (Round 2) and Kent State’s Brian Winters (Round 3)

Carolina Panthers

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    1. Offensive Tackle

    The Carolina Panthers are lucky to have had Jordan Gross hold down the left side of the offensive line for so long. However, his age and injury history should raise red flags in the organization. The need at offensive tackle is only exacerbated by lack of options on the right side.

    Carolina could bring someone in to replace Gross at left tackle, which would allow him to slide to right tackle. It could also bring in a right tackle and address the left tackle need next year.

    Potential Targets: Oklahoma’s Lane Johnson (Round 1), Alabama’s D.J. Fluker (Round 2) and Florida State's Menelik Watson (Round 2)

     

    2. Defensive Tackle

    Youngsters Frank Kearse and Sione Pouha are good rotational players at defensive tackle. However, the Panthers need to bring in a difference-maker along the interior of the defense. They need a penetrator and space-eater.

    It’s important to have depth on the defensive line, so Carolina could stand to add more than one defensive tackle in this draft.

    Potential Targets: North Carolina’s Sylvester Williams (Round 1), Missouri’s Sheldon Richardson (Round 1) and Purdue’s Kawann Short (Round 2)

     

    3. Cornerback

    Josh Norman proved to be one of the bigger steals in last year’s draft. He’s all but guaranteed one of the starting spots at cornerback. However, the rest of the group is better off in a reserve role. Carolina has to face the likes of Matt Ryan and Drew Brees twice a year, so it’s imperative it has talent in the secondary.

    Potential Targets: Florida State’s Xavier Rhodes (Round 1), Washington’s Desmond Trufant (Round 1) and Boise State’s Jamar Taylor (Round 2)

     

    4. Safety

    Haruki Nakamura is an absolute liability at free safety. He doesn’t have the range or feel in coverage to protect the deep part of the field. The same principle applies here as it does with the cornerback position.

    Carolina won’t take the next step in its rebuilding process without improving the secondary.

    Potential Targets: Texas’ Kenny Vaccaro (Round 1), N.C. State’s David Amerson (Round 2) and Oklahoma’s Tony Jefferson (Round 4)

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

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    1. Cornerback

    There’s a reason the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are involved in the Darrelle Revis rumors, and it’s because they have little talent at cornerback. The big-money contract they handed to Eric Wright last season was a bust from the start.

    His status for this season is unknown, and even with him in the lineup, the Buccaneers would be counting on someone like Leonard Johnson to play meaningful snaps.

    Potential Targets: Florida State’s Xavier Rhodes (Round 1), Washington’s Desmond Trufant (Round 1), Boise State’s Jamar Taylor (Round 2) and Mississippi State’s Johnthan Banks (Round 2)

     

    2. Defensive Tackle

    Gerald McCoy finally lived up to expectations by having a dominant season in the middle of the Buccaneers defensive line. However, the team’s inability to re-sign Roy Miller leaves a hole at the other defensive tackle.

    It’s important to keep in mind that last year was the first season McCoy played at a high level and remained healthy.

    Potential Targets: Florida’s Sharrif Floyd (Round 1), North Carolina’s Sylvester Williams (Round 1), Ohio State’s Johnathan Hankins (Round 2) and Penn State’s Jordan Hill (Round 5)

     

    3. Defensive End

    It was odd to see Tampa Bay allow a young and productive player like Michael Bennett leave via free agency. It was even more of a shock to see he signed just a one-year deal worth around $5 million with the Seattle Seahawks. His departure severely hurts the depth at defensive end.

    The top returning players at the position, Adrian Clayborn and Da’Quan Bowers, are both coming off injuries. Even when healthy, neither player performed at an elite level.

    Potential Targets: BYU’s Ezekiel Ansah (Round 1), Auburn’s Corey Lemonier (Round 2) and LSU’s Sam Montgomery (Round 4)

New Orleans Saints

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    1. Outside Linebacker (Rush)

    The New Orleans Saints’ switch from a 4-3 defense to Rob Ryan’s 3-4 has created more than a few holes. Finding an outside linebacker capable of generating pressure off the edge must be the team’s No. 1 priority.

    New Orleans doesn’t have the type of secondary capable of holding up long enough to make up for a lack of a pass rush. Current players such as Will Smith and Jonathan Vilma lack the quickness to fill this role.

    Potential Targets: Georgia's Jarvis Jones (Round 1), Southern Mississippi’s Jamie Collins (Round 3), Western Kentucky’s Quanterus Smith (Round 4) and Fresno State’s Tristan Okpalaugo (Round 4)

     

    2. Left Tackle

    Jermon Bushrod had his share of issues, but he still played left tackle at a high level. Despite that, Drew Brees wasn’t his usual self for most of last year because of the Saints' failure to adequately protect him.  Things won’t be easier for Brees now that Bushrod has signed with the Chicago Bears.

    Potential Targets: San Jose State’s David Quessenberry (Round 3) and Arkansas-Pine Bluff’s Terron Armstead (Round 3)

     

    3. Defensive End (Five-Technique)

    Cameron Jordan is one of the few players who’ll have an easy transition to his new position. He’s the perfect fit to play the five-technique. He was actually is a little miscast as a defensive end in a 4-3 alignment. However, there isn’t another player on the roster who’s a good fit for that role.

    It’s a stretch to think that Will Smith or Brodrick Bunkley can do the same.

    Potential Targets: BYU’s Ezekiel Ansah (Round 1), LSU’s Bennie Logan (Round 4) and Notre Dame’s Kapron Lewis-Moore (Round 5)

Arizona Cardinals

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    1. Offensive Line

    The Arizona Cardinals offensive line needs help at tackle and guard. Most will point to the quarterback position as the main reason for the offense’s struggles, but the line allowed so much pressure it was tough for any of the quarterbacks to find a rhythm.

    Arizona could open the season with Levi Brown and Bobby Massie as the starting tackles. This wouldn’t be a complete disaster, but it also wouldn’t be a recipe for a winning season.

    The issues at tackle are only part of the problem. The Cardinals also could use an upgrade over Adam Snyder at right guard.

    Potential Targets: Oklahoma’s Lane Johnson (Round 1), Alabama’s Chance Warmack (Round 1), North Carolina’s Jonathan Cooper (Round 1), Florida State’s Menelik Watson (Round 2) and Kentucky’s Larry Warford (Round 2)

     

    2. Quarterback

    Bruce Arians appears poised to head into next year with either Drew Stanton, Brian Hoyer or John Skelton as his starting quarterback spot. He’s made several statements pointing to Stanton having the early lead in the competition.

    Despite Arians’ comments, the Cardinals need to find a younger quarterback to develop as the long-term solution. This player doesn’t need to come in the first round, but should come past the third.

    Potential Targets: N.C. State’s Mike Glennon (Round 3, Arkansas’ Tyler Wilson (Round 3) and Tennessee's Tyler Bray (Round 4)

     

    3. Outside Linebacker

    O’Brien Schofield and Sam Acho have done a solid job generating pressure off the edge. However, this defense could take a major step forward if it made an upgrade at this spot. Arizona already has Calais Campbell and Darnell Dockett attacking from the defensive line. An elite pass-rushing outside linebacker would enjoy a ton of success with the one-on-one opportunities created by Campbell and Dockett.

    Potential Targets: Auburn’s Corey Lemonier (Round 2), Connecticut’s Trevardo Williams (Round 3) and Southern Mississippi’s Jamie Collins (Round 3)

St. Louis Rams

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    1. Wide Receiver

    Sam Bradford has never had the type of playmakers at his disposal that other NFL quarterbacks have had. Just look at how the the Atlanta Falcons have surrounded Matt Ryan with elite players such as Roddy White, Julio Jones and Tony Gonzalez.

    This is the draft when the St. Louis Rams must increase the explosiveness of their wide receiver corps.

    Potential Targets: West Virginia’s Tavon Austin (Round 1), Tennessee’s Cordarrelle Patterson (Round 1) and Clemson’s DeAndre Hopkins (Round 1)

     

    2. Safety

    Craig Dahl and Quintin Mikell have moved on, which creates a need in the middle of the Rams secondary. Both players provided leadership and the ability to communicate with their teammates. The communication won’t be as successful next season.

    St. Louis has an opportunity to add some high-upside talent in this draft. The Rams' two first-round pick offers them a lot of flexibility.

    Potential Targets: Texas’ Kenny Vaccaro (Round 1), Florida’s Matt Elam (Round 2) and South Carolina’s D.J. Swearinger (Round 4)

     

    3. Guard

    Harvey Dahl is still getting the job done at right guard, but the left side remains a need for the Rams. They’d be wise to bring in talent at guard position to go along with free-agent addition Jake Long. Jeff Fisher knows that a strong offensive line is a key to the success of any team.

    Potential Targets: Alabama’s Chance Warmack (Round 1), North Carolina’s Jonathan Cooper (Round 1), Kentucky’s Larry Warford (Round 2) and Tennessee’s Dallas Thomas (Round 2)

San Francisco 49ers

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    1. Defensive Line

    The San Francisco 49ers lost depth along the defensive line when Ricky-Jean Francois and Isaac Sopoaga left via free agency. These losses only further complicated problems among an aging group of starters. Justin Smith has been one of the best defensive players in the NFL, but his age is becoming a concern.

    Potential Targets: UCLA’s Datone Jones (Round 1), SMU’s Margus Hunt (Round 2), Ohio State’s Johnathan Hankins (Round 2) and Georgia’s John Jenkins (Round 2)

     

    2. Safety

    San Francisco just couldn’t afford to pay Dashon Goldson the type of money he received from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. His departure and Donte Whitner’s issues in coverage make the safety position a high priority.

    Potential Targets: Florida’s Matt Elam (Round 1), Florida International’s Jonathan Cyprien (Round 1) and Georgia’s Baccari Rambo (Round 3)

     

    3. Cornerback

    The size of the Atlanta Falcons’ wide receivers, Julio Jones and Roddy White, nearly cost the 49ers their Super Bowl appearance. These aren’t the only bigger wide receivers making plays in the NFL. San Francisco would be smart to target a cornerback capable of handling the league's more physical pass-catchers.

    Potential Targets: Florida State’s Xavier Rhodes (Round 1), Washington’s Desmond Trufant (Round 1) and Mississippi State’s Johnthan Banks (Round 2)

Seattle Seahawks

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    1. Guard

    The James Carpenter pick hasn’t worked out like the Seattle Seahawks had hoped. He has struggled with injuries and performed below his first-round billing when in the lineup. Carpenter’s issues are compounded by the inconsistency of Paul McQuistan on the other side.

    Seattle wants to establish a strong running game with Marshawn Lynch. To do so, the Seahawks need talent along the offensive line.

    Potential Targets: Kent State’s Brian Winters (Round 2) and North Carolina’s Travis Bond (Round 5)

     

    2. Defensive Tackle

    Alan Branch remains on the free-agent market, which leaves a big hole in the middle of the Seahawks defense. His ability to occupy blockers and stuff the run is one of the main reasons Seattle’s linebackers enjoyed so much success.

    Players with Branch’s size, strength and power are hard to find.

    Potential Targets: Missouri Southern’s Brandon Williams (Round 2) and Purdue’s Kawann Short (Round 2)

     

    3. Outside Linebacker

    Leroy Hill provided the Seahawks with veteran leadership and solid production. His loss isn’t a major blow to the defense, but it does hurt the team’s depth and talent when in the base defense. Seattle should be able to find a replacement in the latter part of the draft.

    Potential Targets: Penn State’s Gerald Hodges (Round 5) and South Carolina’s DeVonte Holloman (Round 5)