Every NFL Team's Nightmare Draft Scenario
The 2013 NFL draft is all but here, and with it come decisions from each NFL front office that could make or break the state of their respective franchises for decades to come.
It may sound like an exaggeration, but one wrong move can spell doom for a team. Even the chips simply falling in a certain manner can lead to a nightmare draft scenario that may be irreversible and set a team back years.
In fact, each NFL team this year has an NFL draft nightmare scenario that, if it happens to come to fruition for one reason or another, would not only make said team the laughingstock of the league, but seriously inhibit its ability to be competitive for the upcoming season and beyond.
The following slideshow will break down one nightmare scenario for each NFL team. Whether it's choosing the wrong prospect, missing out on a potential star or failing to address a need, this slideshow has it covered.
Let's take a look.
All pertinent signings and trade info courtesy of NFL.com.
All 2012 positional rankings courtesy of ProFootballFocus.com (subscription required).
Nightmare Scenario: Picking anything but offensive line in Round 1.
The Arizona Cardinals got their quarterback recently in Carson Palmer via a trade with the Oakland Raiders, so now it's time to address the biggest need on the team—the offensive line.
Arizona had the worst offensive line in the NFL last season. The team could have the best quarterback in the world (hint—he's not named Carson) and it would not matter if the Cardinals field the same line as a year ago.
With the No. 7 overall pick in the upcoming draft, the Cardinals are in a position to land an elite prospect, or even have a chance of trading down and still selecting an above-average prospect.
It's really a no-brainer. Arizona also needs some help on the defensive side of things, but that's what the later picks in the draft are for now.
If Arizona fails to upgrade the line in Round 1, it's going to be another nightmare season for Arizona and Palmer. This time, they'll have one together.
Nightmare Scenario: Reaching for a cornerback early.
The writing has been on the wall in Atlanta for quite some time now—The Falcons are going to have to address the secondary early in the upcoming draft.
Asante Samuel is still around, but the combo of Dominique Franks and Robert McClain isn't going to win many games for the Falcons.
With the No. 30 overall pick, the Falcons are either going to have a quality cornerback prospect fall, or risk reaching a bit for one. In an ideal world, the team will be able to take the best player available at the spot—and he'll be a cornerback.
Cornerback is such an obvious need that a reach may be necessary no matter what.
Nightmare Scenario: Failing to find a replacement for Anquan Boldin.
Last season, things obviously went great for the Baltimore Ravens, considering the shiny new Lombardi Trophy sitting in the team's front office.
Then free agency happened.
Baltimore lost a plethora of quality players, chief among them wide receiver Anquan Boldin, as the front office thought it fit to ship him off to the San Francisco 49ers.
That's not the worst news for Baltimore about the position. It's also worth mentioning that the receiver class is laughably weak this year.
Tavon Austin is the biggest name, but he'll be gone in the top 15. Cordarrelle Patterson has a chance at being a No. 1 receiver a few years down the line, but the Ravens need a replacement for Boldin now.
David Reed and Tommy Street aren't the answer, but the Ravens will be hard-pressed to find a suitable player to fill the void.
Nightmare Scenario: Pretending there isn't an issue at offensive guard.
The Buffalo Bills managed to lose this offseason's free-agency period rather quickly by allowing one of the NFL's top 10 guards in Andy Levitre to join the Tennessee Titans.
Now that Buffalo presumably has a starting quarterback for at least one season in Kevin Kolb, the team has to attempt to fix the hole left by Levitre's absence.
If the Bills are smart at all, the need will be addressed early in the draft. There's a kid by the name of Chance Warmack who should be available when the Bills pick at No. 8. He may be the best overall player in the draft and the surest thing.
Guards don't normally go this high, but the Bills have such a big need on the interior of the line that it is becoming hard to justify them picking anyone else.
It won't matter who the Bills line up under center if the front office simply acts like the offensive line is fine as next season approaches.
Nightmare Scenario: Top defensive tackle talent goes early.
The Carolina Panthers have been strapped for cash all offseason, which has handicapped the franchise in the moves it could have made to upgrade the roster.
One of the biggest holes in Carolina for years has been at the defensive tackle position. Dwan Edwards is back, but after that it's a black hole, and he's nothing more than a solid player at this point.
At No. 14 overall, the Panthers are in a position to land a cost-effective rookie who can upgrade the line for years to come.
Ideally the Panthers will be able to land one of Star Lotulelei, Sharrif Floyd or Sheldon Richardson.
But what happens if there is a rush on the defensive tackle position before the Panthers pick?
To put it nicely, Carolina would be in trouble. There are plenty of holes on the roster, but none bigger and more important than at defensive tackle. Having to reach for a lesser talent that early or wait yet another year would be a true nightmare indeed.
Nightmare Scenario: Missing on Brian Urlacher's heir apparent.
The Chicago Bears had a major need along the offensive line entering the offseason that absolutely had to be addressed in order to protect quarterback Jay Cutler. Chicago hit the nail on the head with Jermon Bushrod.
Now the most pressing need in the early rounds of the draft is finding a replacement for the Chicago legend himself, Brian Urlacher.
The team brought in D.J. Williams in an effort to fill the void, but it's going to take more than that to upgrade the position.
Chicago could technically do this in either of the first two rounds, but only the first round contains elite prospects such as Kevin Minter and Arthur Brown.
If Chicago decides neither is up to the task, it's going to be a long time before the answer to Urlacher's absence is discovered.
Nightmare Scenario: Not taking an offensive tackle early.
The Cincinnati Bengals have three picks in the first two rounds of the upcoming draft thanks to the Carson Palmer retirement trade, otherwise known as the most lopsided trade in NFL history.
It's imperative one of those picks is used on an offensive tackle.
Yes, right tackle Andre Smith could still come back. He's generated no interest on the open market, but is not all too pleased with what the Bengals are offering. In other words, the kid can't take a hint.
Even if Smith does come back, drafting someone like D.J. Fluker in the first round is a good idea. Smith is the definition of unreliable. Prior to last year's breakout season (a contract year, mind you), he struggled with weight, injury and effort issues.
Who knows how Smith will respond to a new deal. If not the first round, a name such as Terron Armstead in the second will suffice as insurance.
Nightmare Scenario: Missing out on quality quarterback prospects.
Believe it or not, the quarterback situation is not all that great in Cleveland. The Browns recently brought in veteran Jason Campbell, who has six years of experience under his belt.
Campbell is only one year older than second-year quarterback Brandon Weeden.
Weeden is not the answer at quarterback. He showed that much last season with iffy decision-making and composure. It also doesn't help that there is a new regime in Cleveland looking for its own quarterback prospect.
Not to mention by the time Weeden finally hits his prime he will be 32 or 33 years old if he is lucky.
There are plenty of quality quarterback prospects the Browns could groom into a starting role. We're not saying take Geno Smith at No. 6 overall, but a player such as Miami Ohio's Zac Dysert in the midrounds is a good idea.
Nightmare Scenario: Failing to protect the $108 million investment.
Jerry Jones and the Dallas Cowboys made a big splash this offseason by signing quarterback Tony Romo to a $108 million extension.
Now it's time to get serious about upgrading his protection.
The interior of the offensive line was a joke last season. Nate Livings struggled and Mackenzy Bernadeau ranked as the No. 50 guard in the league. Dallas has plenty of picks to upgrade the position, but the smart move would be to address it sooner rather than later.
Both Chance Warmack and Jonathan Cooper could take the plunge to No. 18 overall, and Jones would be stupid not to pull the trigger.
There are other prospects in the draft who could fit the bill. One way or another, Jones needs to adequately protect his investment.
Nightmare Scenario: Failing to fill the void left by Elvis Dumervil.
Then the fax fiasco happened.
Now that Elvis Dumervil is no longer part of the team, the Broncos have to find a way to fill the hole left by a faulty fax machine.
As of now, Robert Ayers is penciled in as a starter, but that won't get the job done. Denver doesn't have to address the need in the first round, but at the very least, it has to find a quality rotational piece to make up for losing one of the NFL's best defenders.
Nightmare Scenario: Elite tackle prospects don't fall.
The Detroit Lions could have a nightmare situation on their hands as early as the No. 5 pick in the upcoming draft.
This would come to fruition if both elite prospects happen to be off the board when that pick rolls around. With how talented both Luke Joeckel and Eric Fisher are, it is a very good possibility both are gone.
If that's the case, the Lions could be in some trouble. D.J. Fluker and Lane Johnson are good prospects, but it's way too early for either of them to come off the board, and the team may not have enough time to trade down.
Detroit seems to believe in Riley Reiff, which is fine. The need for a top talent to protect Matthew Stafford is still there.
If Lady Luck loves Detroit (we can hear you snickering), one of the top two prospects will fall to No. 5 overall.
Green Bay Packers
Nightmare Scenario: Taking a running back in the first two rounds.
It's becoming somewhat of a popular notion that the Green Bay Packers may take a running back in the first round of the upcoming draft.
That notion makes zero sense.
Yes, the Packers' running back situation isn't all that sexy. James Starks, Alex Green and DuJuan Harris don't exactly strike fear into the hearts of opponents.
That said, the Packers have way too many holes on the offensive line to worry about who is carrying the ball behind it at this point. Center and left tackle are serious needs that must be addressed.
The good news is running back is a ridiculously deep class this year, and Green Bay should be able to find some solid talent in the midrounds such as Joseph Randle or Stepfan Taylor.
Even better news for Packers fans? The organization always seems to know exactly what it is doing.
Nightmare Scenario: Reaching on a wide receiver early.
The Houston Texans are the sexy pick to gamble on a wide receiver early in the draft, especially at No. 27 overall.
That would be an egregious mistake.
Houston has more issues than meet the eye. For example, right tackle is a serious issue that could end up haunting both quarterback Matt Schaub and running back Arian Foster.
Derek Newton just isn't the answer at the spot, and it's time for an upgrade. He ranked as the No. 65 overall tackle in football last season.
The Texans also have a quality No. 2 option across from Andre Johnson in DeVier Posey—if he can get healthy.
It's easy to say the Texans should address the wide receiver position, but there are more pressing needs on the roster if you look beneath the surface.
Nightmare Scenario: Ignoring the obvious lack of pass-rushers on the roster.
The front office of the Indianapolis Colts has done a magnificent job of filling some of the seemingly endless holes on the roster this offseason.
Believe it or not, one hole the Colts have failed to address is that of quality pass-rushers.
Newly signed Erik Walden and veteran Robert Mathis just aren't the answer. Mathis ranked as the No. 25 3-4 outside linebacker last season. Walden came in at No. 34. The list only ranked 34 players.
The Colts will have a chance to redeem themselves in the first round, but it has to happen then—the team does not have a second-round pick.
That late in the round, the Colts can expect to find someone like Datone Jones or Khaseem Greene, both of whom wouldn't be horrible options to better rush the passer next season.
Nightmare Scenario: Selecting QB Geno Smith.
Look, the Jacksonville Jaguars seriously need an upgrade at the quarterback spot, and Geno Smith is widely hailed as the No. 1 quarterback in this year's class.
That really doesn't mean anything.
The quarterback class this year is laughably bad. Smith is a project player who does not do one thing particularly well and has plenty of question marks despite supposedly being the best available.
Jacksonville already has two potential starters at the position heading into next season with Blaine Gabbert and Chad Henne. Both are equally awful in their own right, as the former was the No. 27-ranked quarterback in the league and Henne came in at No. 30, but is Smith truly an upgrade?
The Jaguars are better off going with the best player available at No. 2 overall and banking on landing an elite prospect at quarterback next year.
Hey, who knows? Perhaps Gabbert will pull it together in 2013.
When you're done laughing, move on to the next slide.
Kansas City Chiefs
Nightmare Scenario: Failing to trade down in the first round.
You have to hand it to the Kansas City Chiefs. The front office is doing a heck of a job feigning interest in West Virginia quarterback Geno Smith, the man considered to be the top quarterback prospect in this year's draft.
New head coach Andy Reid and Co. don't have any use for Smith now that the team made the move to acquire veteran Alex Smith from the San Francisco 49ers.
Kansas City needs to do its best to trade down from the No. 1 overall pick. There's a variety of holes on the roster in what is a relatively weak class.
Ideally, the Chiefs will be able to convince another franchise the team is serious about selecting Smith. That way they'll still be able to land an elite tackle prospect such as Luke Joeckel or Eric Fisher as well as grab more picks.
If the Chiefs have to pick Joeckel or Fisher with the No. 1 overall pick, it has to be considered a failure.
Nightmare Scenario: Quality offensive tackles are off the board at each pick.
The Miami Dolphins are your winners of free agency this offseason—a title that has absolutely meant nothing for the past decade or more.
The great NFL franchises find a way to win the draft. For the Dolphins to do that this offseason, they're going to have to make some seriously smart decisions in a weird position.
Miami lost starting tackle Jake Long to free agency, so the position has to be addressed in one of the two first rounds. Barring a massive leap, Jonathan Martin isn't the answer. He ranked as the No. 76 tackle in football last season. Not a peep about new signing Nate Garner either—he came in at No. 43.
Unfortunately, Miami is in a weird spot. At No. 12 overall, Luke Joeckel and Eric Fisher are sure to be gone. At No. 42, Lane Johnson and D.J. Fluker may be off the board.
How Miami navigates these murky waters will say a lot about whether the free-agency period meant anything.
Nightmare Scenario: Addressing the wrong needs with two early picks.
The Minnesota Vikings are in an absolutely amazing situation entering the 2013 NFL draft. Minnesota holds the No. 23 and 25 overall picks after shipping off Percy Harvin and bringing in Greg Jennings.
If the Vikings are smart, both early picks will address the future of the defensive unit.
Specifically, the Vikings need to find starters and insurance in the trenches. Jared Allen is 31 years old; Kevin Williams is 32.
There are plenty of prospects who should be around at defensive end and tackle when the Vikings make both picks. Defensive tackle Sylvester Williams is a name to watch, as are defensive ends Datone Jones and Damontre Moore.
It won't be the sexiest of drafts for Minnesota, but it will go a long way in ensuring the team is secure on defense for years to come.
New England Patriots
Nightmare Scenario: Failing to reinforce the secondary.
As is the norm, the New England Patriots do not have a variety of needs to fill with the draft picks the organization has stockpiled.
That being said, the Patriots have to seriously address the cornerback position more than once thanks to a variety of character issues hurting the team at that particular spot.
Alfonso Dennard is in trouble with the law as of late, and Aqib Talib cannot fully be trusted just yet, which is why the team only gave him a one-year deal.
The Patriots are in a good position to land a player like Desmond Trufant in the first, but the team shouldn't stop there. You can't have too many quality options in the secondary in such a pass-heavy league.
New Orleans Saints
Nightmare Scenario: Choosing the wrong position to address.
It sounds so simple, doesn't it?
The Saints only have two picks in the first three rounds and are attempting to make the transition to Rob Ryan's 3-4 with limited cap space and draft selections, not to mention a roster with leftover 4-3 elements.
New Orleans has three major needs in the first round with just one pick—cornerback, defensive tackle and outside linebacker.
The Saints could take a cornerback like Xavier Rhodes, but the team is in for a nightmare if new signing Victor Butler fails.
Or they could address outside linebacker with a name like Jarvis Jones, but what happens if defensive tackle Brodrick Bunkley, who has never played in a 3-4, fails as a nose tackle?
The point is, returning head coach Sean Payton, along with Ryan, better know exactly what they are doing and be 100 percent sure it's the right decision when their pick rolls around.
If not, it'll be another year of nightmares, minus the bounties.
New York Giants
Nightmare Scenario: Failing to add quality depth on the defensive line.
The New York Giants lost defensive end Osi Umenyiora to free agency and now have no quality depth along the defensive line behind starters Justin Tuck and Jason Pierre-Paul.
With smart decision-making, that could change in a hurry during the draft.
New York doesn't have to spend a high pick in order to nab a quality rotational piece who can rush the passer, but it certainly wouldn't hurt with names such as Bjoern Werner and Ezekiel Ansah slated to be around.
Even in the later rounds, the Giants could add a name like Sam Montgomery to do the trick.
The risk of picking the wrong prospect for the job or not addressing the need at all is ever-present. If the Giants are without a third pass-rushing option after the draft concludes, opposing quarterbacks are going to have all day to sling the ball around and expose the secondary in New York.
New York Jets
Nightmare Scenario: Missing out on elite secondary prospects.
There is no reason to sugarcoat what is going on in New York. The Jets need almost an entirely new defense.
It's a tough task, but the team has to start somewhere. While it is a popular notion to think the Jets will draft players who play along the defensive line or linebacking corps, perhaps the front office should think about addressing the secondary first.
LaRon Landry is gone, and Darrelle Revis might as well be. That means the team has one quality cornerback on the roster in Antonio Cromartie and no starting-caliber safeties.
Ideally, the team's first three picks will be used on the secondary. Texas safety Kenny Vaccaro is a legit option at No. 9 overall, and there's plenty of quality at the corner position throughout the first three rounds.
It won't be a popular notion among Jets faithful, but this is absolutely not the year to miss out on the top talents in the defensive back category.
Nightmare Scenario: Missing out on a "star" defensive tackle prospect in Round 1.
Let's just get this out of the way—the Oakland Raiders have been in a nightmare scenario for the past decade.
That said, things are finally looking up with a new regime in place.
One major hole the Raiders absolutely have to fill early in the draft is the defensive tackle position. Richard Seymour, Desmond Bryant and Tommy Kelly are all gone.
The team made one addition in Pat Sims, but the front office has to do more. Luckily for the Raiders, the team fortunate enough to hold the No. 3 overall pick, there are plenty of elite prospects entering the draft such as Utah's Star Lotulelei and Florida's Sharrif Floyd.
The nightmare scenario exclusive to the draft for Oakland? Neither of the names above fall to No. 3 (unlikely), or the team passes on one or both (more likely).
Oakland has shown a variety of interests in other positions with the pick, but defensive tackle should be the only position addressed in the first round.
Nightmare Scenario: Taking a quarterback early in the draft.
This has to be getting repetitive at this point, but it's a fact for the Philadelphia Eagles—the team cannot afford to waste an early pick on a quarterback this year.
That means Geno Smith, E.J. Manuel and others must be passed on in the early rounds for the Eagles to avoid a nightmare scenario.
Philadelphia has no need at the quarterback position. New head coach Chip Kelly has more than proven his offense can be successful without an elite arm under center thanks to the read-option offense he runs.
Michael Vick and Nick Foles can more than suffice for the Eagles next season based on that presumption alone. If it fails, fine. That does not mean the team should bring in another rookie quarterback yet.
The defense in Philadelphia is still a much more important need, even with names such as Connor Barwin coming to town. A quarterback in the first three to four rounds would be a waste of a pick.
Nightmare Scenario: Missing out on Jarvis Jones and Alec Ogletree.
Despite recent losses such as James Harrison, the Pittsburgh Steelers are in a great position heading into next season.
The offensive line is thought to be an issue, but with a new scheme being implemented, Marcus Gilbert moving to right tackle, Mike Adams to left and David DeCastro returning from injury, the team should be just fine in that area.
An area where the Steelers do need some help is at linebacker. The coaching staff appears to be confident in Jason Worilds, but he is just serviceable. Larry Foote is back on a three-year deal, but it's unlikely he will make it through more than one season of said deal.
The Steelers have a shot at two elite linebacker prospects at No. 17 overall who are slated to fall for various reasons. However, if both Jarvis Jones and Alec Ogletree don't fall, the Steelers could be in some trouble down the road.
Jones and Ogletree are prototypical Pittsburgh linebackers who could take over in a few seasons. Missing them now means more work later.
San Diego Chargers
Nightmare Scenario: Ignoring the offensive line once again.
The San Diego Chargers repeatedly stressed how important upgrading the offensive line was this offseason in order to stop the brutal maulings of quarterback Philip Rivers that have been the norm the past few seasons.
Now's the time to put up or shut up.
San Diego got off to a horrendous start by allowing quality offensive guard Louis Vasquez to walk in free agency.
The last thing the Chargers can afford to do at this point is pretend there is not an issue at almost every spot along the offensive line.
If the Chargers don't take a name such as D.J. Fluker or Lane Johnson with the No. 11 overall pick, you can all but forget about Rivers doing anything notable next season.
San Francisco 49ers
Nightmare Scenario: Missing on a quality nose tackle.
The San Francisco 49ers lost a few quality players such as safety DaShon Goldson and nose tackle Isaac Sopoaga.
San Francisco moved quickly to remedy the situation for now by signing safety Craig Dahl. Nose tackle still remains an issue as the draft approaches.
There are a few ways the 49ers could go early, but the clear need is in the trenches. The problem is, San Francisco holds a late pick in the first round, which could mean reaching on a player not worth the spot or being lucky enough to snatch a falling talent.
Ideally, San Francisco would be able to land someone like Jesse Williams from Oklahoma, but picking late in the first is never a sure thing.
Nightmare Scenario: Being unable to finding a starting-caliber right tackle.
For all the great things the Seattle Seahawks have done this offseason, such as swinging a trade for Percy Harvin and managing to sign both Michael Bennett and Cliff Avril, one major hole remains on the roster—right tackle.
To put it nicely, Breno Giacomini is not a starting-caliber tackle at the professional level. He ranked as the No. 69 overall tackle in the league a year ago.
Thanks to the aforementioned Harvin trade, the 'Hawks don't have a pick until the second round.
It's a long shot, but Seattle better hope a prospect like Terron Armstead is still around, or quarterback Russell Wilson is going to be running for his life more often than he would like next season.
St. Louis Rams
Nightmare Scenario: Failing to land the best receiver and safety prospects in Round 1.
The St. Louis Rams have went for broke this offseason, literally and figuratively.
St. Louis inked tight end Jared Cook and offensive tackle Jake Long to massive contracts, eliminating two massive needs.
Now the Rams have two first-round selections thanks to the Robert Griffin III trade, and the team is widely expected to target the best players at the wide receiver and safety positions. Those names would be Tavon Austin and Kenny Vaccaro respectively.
The problem is, the Rams hold the No. 16 and No. 22 selections. Which prospect do you choose first? There isn't another talent like Austin in the receiver class, and Vaccaro is far and away the best safety.
If the Rams can absolutely nail this draft class, then all is good. However, if the Rams fail to cash in after trading down last season, then the trade has to be viewed as a failure.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Nightmare Scenario: Picking the wrong defensive back early.
If there's one certainty in the world of the NFL leading up to the draft, it's that the Tampa Bay Buccaneers will be taking a cornerback with the No. 13 overall pick.
Tampa Bay lost E.J. Biggers to free agency, and once again, Ronde Barber's future is unknown. That leaves a starting duo of Leonard Johnson and Eric Wright.
The Buccaneers have to find a top talent and should be in a position to pick from either Xavier Rhodes, Desmond Trufant, Johnthan Banks and others.
We won't necessarily know right away, but if the Bucs make the wrong choice out of the plethora of available targets, it's going to be a nightmare to try and stop Drew Brees and the prolific passers of the NFL for years.
Nightmare Scenario: Whiffing on defensive secondary selections.
Give the Tennessee Titans some credit—the team has had one heck of an offseason.
The team needed a starting guard and landed Andy Levitre. It also needed a starting safety and landed Bernard Pollard. Tight end? Delanie Walker. Change of pace for Chris Johnson? Shonn Greene. Defensive tackle depth? Sammie Lee Hill.
We could go on, but the point is, the Titans have done well so far. Of course, free agency means nothing without a proper draft.
At this point, the Titans cannot afford to make mistakes when it comes to drafting secondary players in the upcoming draft. An upgrade is needed at cornerback, and Tennessee is in a good position with the No. 10 overall pick.
All the front office has to do now is keep making good decisions.
Nightmare Scenario: Not finding a starter at either safety position.
One of the 2013 NFL draft's deepest positions happens to be at safety. That's great news for the Washington Redskins, a team as of now that has Brandon Meriweather and Reed Doughty penciled in as starters for next season.
That's not going to get the team very far.
Of course, the Redskins don't have a first-round pick thanks to the trade for the rights to move up for RGIII—hard to knock them for that one.
Now the Redskins have to pray that one of the best safety prospects fall to the second round. Matt Elam, Jonathan Cyprien and Eric Reid are all candidates to fall.
No matter which of the above is available, the Redskins have to pull the trigger. Washington won't put up much of a fight next season on the defensive side of the ball without an upgrade.