Every NFL Team's Primary Goal in the 2013 NFL Draft
Whether it's the last piece of a Super Bowl championship puzzle, or a rebuilding team's new cornerstone, every NFL team has a goal in this 2013 draft. Every team has one thing they've got to accomplish, one starting spot they've got to fill or heir apparent to anoint.
Every NFL team has one draft goal that if they meet, will make their draft a success.
"At least we got [X]," they'll be able to say, regardless of anything else.
That need doesn't have to be a specific position; it could be a quality like speed, size or leadership. It could be a a specific player who'd be a remarkable fit, or as many players as possible that fit a certain mold.
Here are all of the most pressing needs, the most perfect fits, the primary goals for every team in the 2013 NFL Draft.
The Arizona Cardinals had one of the worst offensive lines in the NFL last season, and did literally nothing to address it in free agency. They could easily spend every draft pick on offensive linemen.
The Atlanta Falcons replaced star defensive end John Abraham with free agent Osi Umenyiora, but that's at best a lateral move in terms of age and skill. The Falcons desperately need to add youth, talent and speed along the defensive line if they want to win a Super Bowl this season.
The Ravens lost both the King and the Crown Prince of their reigning-champion defense this offseason. They'll need at least one inside linebacker, and maybe two, to replace Ray Lewis and Dannell Ellerbe.
At the outset of the offseason, I wrote that new Buffalo Bills head coach (and former New Orleans Saints offensive coordinator) Doug Marrone needs to find his Drew Brees.
Instead, they signed Kevin Kolb.
The Bills must get a real quarterback to build their future around. Even if that's a second- or third-round developmental prospect, it has to be someone Marrone can coach into a long-term starter, replicating the Brees/Payton relationship in New Orleans.
Above anything else, the Carolina Panthers needed to get Cam Newton dangerous targets to work with. They lost receiver Louis Murphy and added receiver Domenik Hixon, but they have to get more explosive talent.
There's no way to sugarcoat it: The Chicago Bears need to get younger on defense.
Their defensive tackles, defensive ends, linebackers, cornerbacks and safeties all need an infusion of youth and talent.
The Bengals have, arguably, the second-best receiver in the game, a quarterback who can get him the ball and a smothering defense. Running back BenJarvus Green-Ellis has done well as a pack-mule back, but to take the offense to the next level they need a back who can get to the second level and terrify defenses.
Brandon Weeden didn't take out any rookie quarterback records, but he did show enough promise that new offensive coordinator Norv Turner should be able to build around him.
Instead of investing in weapons to help Weeden out, they invested in Jason Campbell to push him on the depth chart. The Browns need to get a pass-catcher with dominant size and hands to make Weeden's (or Campbell's) job easier.
The Dallas Cowboys are switching from a 3-4 defense to new defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin's one-gap 4-3, and that always results in a lot of square pegs squeezed into round holes. The Cowboys signed linebacker Justin Durant, but they'll need to stock the front seven with several more 4-3 guys to make this transition smooth.
The Broncos' roster isn't perfect, but they aggressively addressed its few flaws in free agency. The Broncos are in the enviable position of simply taking the best player who falls to them at every single pick.
The Detroit Lions defense is built around a defensive line that can get suffocating pressure and high-speed disruption. This requires at least two, and preferably three, defensive ends with size, speed, power and pass rush technique.
If you count 2010 seventh-round draft pick Willie Young as one, the Lions have one. If not... they'll need to get two, and maybe three, edge rushers in the 2013 draft.
Green Bay Packers
The Green Bay Packers did very little in free agency besides let star wide receiver Greg Jennings go. Randall Cobb and Jordy Nelson still give quarterback Aaron Rodgers plenty of fast targets to throw to, though, so that's not the biggest concern.
The Packers need to keep feeding their defensive front seven, who got exposed by Colin Kaepernick and the 49ers in the playoffs.
The Houston Texans, who have a young, talented, balanced roster, had one of the most puzzling free agency periods in the NFL. They let key young veterans like defensive end Connor Barwin and safety Glover Quin walk, and signed a past-his-prime Ed Reed to an extensive deal.
Yet, their defense probably isn't the number one need. They've struggled to find a second banana for receiver Andre Johnson nearly his entire career, and now Johnson is starting to show is age. They need youth, talent, and speed at the wide receiver spot.
The Colts managed a miraculous 11-5 run last season, despite getting outscored by their opponents on the season.
Even after spending heavily on defense in free agency, the Colts still need to add pass-rushing talent in the front seven.
New Jacksonville Jaguars head coach Gus Bradley, the former defensive coordinator for the Seattle Seahawks, is used to an extremely talented secondary giving him the flexibility to attack with the front seven.
With cornerback Derek Cox gone in free agency, the Jaguars must address the backfield.
Kansas City Chiefs
The Kansas City Chiefs were aggressive and effective in free agency, keeping the players they needed to keep a meeting a lot of other needs. One need that could still use some attention, though, is the second receiver.
Top wideout Dwayne Bowe could use a true deep threat across from him to draw coverage off him and open up space underneath.
The Dolphins need a running game to take pressure off young quarterback Ryan Tannehill. With top back Reggie Bush gone in free agency, the Dolphins should be looking for a dynamic tailback to replace him.
They might also need to address the offensive line, despite adding guard Lance Louis, as stalwart left tackle Jake Long is long gone.
It's a changing of the guard in Minnesota—guards Steve Hutchinson and Geoff Schwartz are gone. Though they're in very good shape at tackle with Matt Kalil and Phil Loadholt, the Vikings need youth and talent on the interior of the line, to open holes for Adrian Peterson.
New England Patriots
The Patriots' No. 1 draft need is for Bill Belichick to keep doing his thing. Outside of the Wes Welker/Danny Amendola brouhaha, they had a quietly excellent free-agency period. A little youth, speed and talent added to the offensive skill positions wouldn't go amiss, though.
New Orleans Saints
The New Orleans Saints's new defensive coordinator Rob Ryan needs some new talent. The Saints did a good job of addressing defensive needs in free agency with cornerback Keenan Lewis and defensive end Kenyon Coleman.
In the draft, they just need to keep addressing those needs.
New York Giants
The New York Giants secondary racked up a ton of interceptions last season, but they also let other teams gain a lot of yards through the air. With safety Kenny Phillips gone in free agency, getting more coverage help in the back seven is a must.
New York Jets
The New York Jets cleaned house in the front office and most of the coaching staff, leaving head man Rex Ryan to start from scratch on defense.
Ryan's mojo has been built around his explosive linebacking corps, which has new been blown up by age and free agency. The Jets need at least one, and maybe two, talented linebackers.
The Raiders have needed a long-term solution to their quarterback problem for what feels like decades, and Matt Flynn likely isn't it. Until the Raiders have a leader to build around under center, they're going to continue to flail around for a solution.
The Philadelphia Eagles did a great job of addressing the overpaid, under-performing defense in free agency. Now they need to add some serious run-blocking beef along the offensive line to give new head coach Chip Kelly the foundation for his zone-read offense.
It's long past time for the Steelers to reload their front seven. With stalwarts like James Harrison and Casey Hampton gone, and Evander Hood not yet showing he's ready to excel, the Steelers need to get talent up front early and often.
San Diego Chargers
The San Diego Chargers suffered an outflow of defensive talent in free agency, but new head coach Mike McCoy needs to be thinking about the two or three seasons. An explosive deep threat is missing from his arsenal; if they could add a terrifying talent there, it would make Philip Rivers' job much easier.
San Francisco 49ers
The 49ers, who made it to the Super Bowl but fell just short of winning it, need to reload their feared front seven. With defensive tackles Isaac Sopoaga and Ricky Jean-Francois gone, and only former Chiefs tackle Glenn Dorsey to replace them, the 49ers need to add size and pass-rushing talent in the first two levels of the defense.
With the Seattle Seahawks' outstanding moves to add top-level talent at their biggest needs, they just need to be patient and take the best player available at every pick.
St. Louis Rams
Receivers, receivers, receivers. With left tackle Jake Long added, but receiver Danny Amendola lost, the St. Louis Rams desperately need to add size and speed on the outside to help out quarterback Sam Bradford.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers spent like crazy in the 2012 offseason, but spent practically nothing in the 2013 offseason. Some of their big acquisitions, like cornerback Eric Wright, have already gone bust. They need to address the secondary in a big, big way.
The Titans did a good job of addressing their top need, secondary help, in free agency by adding two new starting safeties. Next up, the Titans need to get better and faster on the outside, with receivers that can make young quarterback Jake Locker's job easier.
The Redskins' primary draft goal is to get Robert Griffin III healthy.
That's not really possible, but it's what they need the most. After that, the Redskins need to add talent on all levels of the defense, with an emphasis on the back seven. Bringing back DeAngelo Hall was not the impact move the Redskins needed there.