2013 NFL Draft Needs for Every Team
Some teams have more draft needs than others when they take the podium in New York City each year. The 2013 NFL draft doesn't seem to be any different.
Several teams are well off and in prime position to get even better. Then there are others who scrapped previous plans and opted to use the draft to rebuild poor or aging rosters.
Will your team get better after the late-April draft?
We ask these questions each spring as we intently wait, watch and analyze our way to the podium. That wait is almost over.
Before we get there, let's take another look at what each team must do in order to turn things around or sustain success in 2013.
Each slide of the following presentation will include five draft needs for each team and an outlook for draft day for each of the NFL's 32 teams.
Kansas City Chiefs
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Kansas City Chiefs' 2013 Draft Needs: ROT, LOT, ILB, FS, OG
Andy Reid's first order of business in Kansas City was to acquire QB Alex Smith from the San Francisco 49ers. The move opened up the Chiefs to position themselves to take the best player with the 2013 draft's No. 1-overall selection.
While the team certainly has many needs, especially along their offensive and defensive lines, the Chiefs are in good position to turn things around quickly under Reid.
Starting left tackle Brandon Albert was franchised during the offseason, but right tackle Eric Winston opted to test free agency. Although, Winston is having a "frustrating" time trying to find new employment on the open market.
Offensive tackle makes the most sense for the Chiefs in the first round with Winston gone, Albert on the block and likely gone in 2014.
Offensive tackle should be the Chiefs' primary concern in the opening round of the draft. That's especially true because they dealt their second-round pick to the 49ers when acquiring Smith.
After the OT position is addressed, Reid will need to find a reliable safety to play next to Eric Berry.
Linebacker is also another position the team should look at upgrading, if possible, during the mid-to-late rounds of the draft. Derrick Johnson is a wrecking machine in the middle and Justin Houston and Tamba Hali are just as solid on the outside. But, the team could definitely look to improve their inside linebacker position to complete their already solid group.
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Jacksonville Jaguars' 2013 Draft Needs: DE, CB, QB, ROT, OLB
The Jacksonville Jaguars have reportedly narrowed down their options to "two people," according to GM Dave Caldwell.
While the choice is anyone's guess at this point, it will likely come down to OLB/DE Dion Jordan and QB Geno Smith. The team finished last in the NFL in sacks in 2012 and limped through two seasons with former first-round pick Blaine Gabbert leading the offense.
Smith earned glowing reviews from from the Jags after they visited with the QB during his pro day in March.
"I had high expectations, but I think I came out there feeling even better,” head coach Gus Bradley said.
The question Caldwell has to ask himself is whether or not Smith is the right guy to turn their franchise around. Gabbert was a selection of the previous regime and he is not bound to the same fate as the embattled QB. If he does go with Smith, though, he has to believe in the QB enough to put himself on the line as well.
Elsewhere on the roster, the Jags must find at least one cornerback in the early-to-mid rounds. Aaron Ross, who struggled anyway in Jacksonville last season, returned to the New York Giants during the offseason. Also departed is Derek Cox, arguably the team's top CB, who signed a four-year deal with the San Diego Chargers.
The Oakland Raiders recently released former first-round pick Rolando McClain.
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Oakland Raiders' 2013 Draft Needs: DT, QB, OG, ROT, DE
It is truly a new era in Oakland.
As a result, the Oakland Raiders may have more needs to fill during the 2013 NFL Draft than any other team in the league. There is no doubt this team has entered into full rebuilding mode after a massive exodus took place during the offseason.
First and foremost, Oakland must find itself one or two competent defensive linemen in this draft. With the No. 3-overall selection, they just might be able to snag the best this draft has to offer.
Recently, the team watched DT Desmond Bryant sign with the Cleveland Browns and also cut Tommy Kelly and Richard Seymour. Building from the middle first by adding a top talent like Sharrif Floyd or Star Lotulelei seems like the best option for the Raiders.
Shipping QB Carson Palmer to Arizona and trading for QB Matt Flynn may be a temporary fix, so bringing a quarterback is likely at some point.
The team should also look to upgrade its offensive line at some point and add depth where they can find it.
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Philadelphia Eagles' 2013 Draft Needs: OT, QB, DE, CB, FS
The "Dream Team" has been scrapped and the Philadelphia Eagles are starting over under new coach Chip Kelly. What does that mean for the team at the quarterback position?
Michael Vick will return next season and will presumably be the team's top signal-caller in the immediate future. Does the team risk it and go with Nick Foles as Vick's primary backup? As seen last season, mobile quarterbacks are at risk of going down with an injury on every snap.
That makes the Eagles' No. 4-overall selection somewhat of a question mark. The team certainly needs upgrades along its offensive line to protect whoever is taking the snaps.
Factor in the team parting ways with CBs Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and Nnamdi Asomugha and switching to the 3-4 defense and there are a multitude of needs they must address on that side of the ball, too.
It's going to take a deliberate and well-thought out plan by Kelly and company to bring the Eagles back to being contenders in the competitive NFC East Division.
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Detroit Lions' 2013 Draft Needs: OT, DE, CB, FS, OLB
Surprisingly, Matthew Stafford was only dropped for 29 sacks in 2012. That isn't too discouraging on the surface considering he did attempt a league-high 727 passes last year.
Detroit, though, lost two offensive tackles this offseason. Left tackle Jeff Backus unexpectedly retired and right tackle Gosder Cherilus departed for the Indianapolis Colts in a matter of days. Those moves make it imperative the team finds help upfront early in the draft.
The big question for the Lions at No. 5 overall is whether or not that offensive tackle need is more pressing than their need for a pass rusher at defensive end. They could certainly hope to improve on their pedestrian 34 team sacks last season.
After defensive end and tackle have been addressed, the Lions should find a cornerback to start opposite of Chris Houston. This draft is relatively deep at the position, meaning they could find a competent No. 2 cornerback later rather than using the No. 5-overall pick on someone like Dee Milliner.
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Cleveland Browns' 2013 Draft Needs: CB, OLB, QB, FS, OG
The 2013 Cleveland Browns are looking to fill a couple holes after transitioning to a new coaching season following another losing season.
Will the Browns give 2012 first-round pick Brandon Weeden a shot to lock down the quarterback position in new OC Norv Turner's vertical offense? They team already signed QB Jason Campbell to compete with Weeden this summer.
But, does that mean they won't draft a QB early in the 2013 draft?
It's hard to say what this new regime is thinking at the game's most important position. If they don't select a QB with the No. 6-overall pick, they would be looking at developmental QBs as they do not currently have a second-round pick.
Besides quarterback, the team has no starting No. 2 cornerback to play opposite of Joe Haden. Veteran CB Sheldon Brown is gone and the rest of their depth at the position projects better in nickel and dime packages.
Another area of need is pass rusher. The team recently made the swap to the 3-4 defense after hiring DC Ray Horton this offseason. They signed OLB Paul Kruger and plan to convert DE Jabaal Sheard to the position, but how well will he succeed with the change remains to be seen.
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Arizona Cardinals' 2013 Draft Needs: OT, OG, S, QB, RB
Following a trade, veteran quarterback Carson Palmer has found himself playing in Arizona, his third NFL team since entering the league in 2003.
The 33-year-old QB may not be the long-term answer the Cardinals are looking for, but he can be much better than the team's alternatives.
With QB addressed already, the Cards must find an exceptional offensive tackle to protect Palmer's blind side. GM Steve Keim made a telling statement when asked about the team's lack of activity at the position during free agency.
“Some of the offensive linemen we looked at, from a salary standpoint, just maybe didn’t fit in with us. We feel good about some of the players in the draft and we feel like we can address some of those needs in April,” Keim said.
Drafting No. 7 overall may limit Arizona's options at offensive tackle, though. Top prospects Luke Joeckel and Eric Fisher will likely be off the board by then, leaving them to choose between Lane Johnson or an offensive guard.
Adding a guard wouldn't be a disaster, either. The Cards need to do whatever it takes to beef up their line and improve a rushing offense that was awful last season. They finished last in the NFL in total rushing with just 1,204 yards on the season.
Arizona also lost defensive backs Adrian Wilson, Kerry Rhodes and Greg Toler this offseason. That makes safety a pressing need that they should address early in the draft.
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Buffalo Bills' 2013 Draft Needs: WR, QB, OG, CB, S
The Buffalo Bills admitted making a mistake by cutting overpaid QB Ryan Fitzpatrick this offseason. An ensuing signing of Kevin Kolb doesn't mean the team won't draft a QB early in the 2013 NFL draft, though.
As of April 12, the Bills had nine pre-draft visits with NFL QB prospects. Nearly all of the top names in this draft class were brought in, including Geno Smith, E.J. Manuel, Ryan Nassib and Matt Barkley.
New coach Doug Marrone will likely have a new signal-caller to groom, or overtake Kolb, after the draft ends.
After finding a new QB, the team should look to addressing the wide receiver position. Donald Jones and David Nelson both departed this offseason, making it crucial the team nets a receiver to play opposite of Stevie Johnson.
Standout offensive lineman Andy Levitre is also gone, making the guard position an important need in this draft. Mid-to-late round prospects can often times be found on the interior of the offensive line.
New York Jets
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New York Jets' 2013 Draft Needs: OLB, OG, TE, WR, QB
Like the Oakland Raiders, the New York Jets are going through a renaissance this offseason.
A string of key players will not be back with the team in 2013, including DTs Mike DeVito and Sione Po'uha, RB Shonn Greene, TE Dustin Keller, LB Bart Scott, LB Calvin Pace, S Eric Smith, FS LaRon Landry and SS Yeremiah Bell.
Outside linebacker looks like it will be the team's focus with the No. 9-overall selection in the draft with Pace, the team's primary pass rushing threat, out of the picture.
After that, it is anybody's guess in which the Jets go. They could certainly use replacements for Keller and Green at the TE and RB positions. Both of those groups are deep but not spectacular in this draft, making the mid rounds a good place for new GM John Idzik to find replacements.
While the quarterback position may not be the focus of their first-round pick, it is certainly a hot topic this offseason. Mark Sanchez continued to struggle in 2012, prompting questions as to whether the Jets would stick with the former USC QB for the long term.
"Per a source with knowledge of the situation, the discussions between the Jets and Bucs have included the possibility of the Buccaneers assuming the contract of quarterback Mark Sanchez", according to Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk.
However, multiple sources indicated that there are currently no plans to include Sanchez in any deal that would ship CB Darrelle Revis to Tampa Bay.
Whatever ends up happening, the Jets currently have four quarterbacks on their roster and would be best served to wait until the mid-to-late rounds of the draft to pick up a QB, if at all.
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Tennessee Titans' 2013 Draft Needs: CB, OG, DE, FS, ROT
Signing guard Andy Levitre this offseason was a good start for the Tennessee Titans as they attempt to bolster their offensive line. However, long-time pro Steve Hutchinson retired before the start of free agency.
Despite the signing of Levitre, Hutchinson’s retirement means the Titans could still benefit from taking a guard with the No. 10-overall selection of the draft.
Luckily for them, two potentially impact players may be both available to them when they are on the clock. Chance Warmack and Jonathan Cooper could both become key players on an offensive line that is looking to improve and create lanes for shifty RB Chris Johnson.
Outside of guard; defensive end, cornerback and free safety could potentially be an area the Titans look. The team was poor in pass defense (No. 26 overall) last season thanks to struggles in the secondary and a pass rush that disappeared at times.
Adding a free safety, cornerback and defensive end along with a guard makes perfect sense in the early-to-mid rounds for the Titans.
San Diego Chargers
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San Diego Chargers' 2013 Draft Needs: LOT, OG, DT, CB, OLB
The San Diego Chargers cleaned house in the front office and on the sidelines this offseason. Norv Turner is out and the Bolts are looking for a fresh start under new head coach Mike McCoy.
Unfortunately for the Chargers and QB Philip Rivers, the top three offensive tackles could potentially be off of the board by the time they pick at No. 11 overall. That puts them in an interesting situation.
Do they trade up to ensure they snag a competent big man to safeguard Rivers’ blind side? Or, do they pick for value over need and take the best player available?
Taking a defensive tackle as a potential upgrade to Cam Thomas makes sense, too. Long-time DT Antonio Garay departed via free agency making the position somewhat unsettled.
Cornerback will have to be addressed at some point after Antoine Cason’s departure. Remember, free-agent CB Quentin Jammer is still unsigned, meaning San Diego will be without its two starting corners from 2012. Sure, the team picked up Derek Cox during free agency, but they have little depth and proven talent behind him on their roster.
Another option would be to snag the best pass rusher available at No. 11. Shaun Phillips, the team’s best pass rusher, has yet to sign anywhere and will not likely be back. The Chargers seemed to have missed on OLB Larry English in the first round a few drafts ago and have no elite pass rushing threat on their roster.
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Miami Dolphins' 2013 Draft Needs: OT, CB, DE, OG, S
The Miami Dolphins made some big moves in free agency this offseason which eliminated some pressing needs at wide receiver and linebacker. However, the team has big question marks at several key positions.
Standout offensive tackle Jake Long is gone and it remains to be seen whether former second-round pick Jonathan Martin can effectively make the switch to left tackle. That uncertainty may prompt GM Jeff Ireland to select an offensive tackle at No.12 overall. If he is very uncertain he may take the plunge by trading up to ensure he snags one of the top three prospects of this draft class.
If the Fins are content to wait it out and address tackle later they could do any number of things with their first-round pick.
The next logical move would be to secure a starting-caliber cornerback or explosive pass rusher. Cornerback is the bigger of the two needs after losing Sean Smith in free agency. Signing Brent Grimes was a solid move, but the team could use more help at the position.
Cameron Wake, who turned 31 in January, is the team’s most consistent and productive pass rusher. Actually, he’s the only consistent pass rusher. If a talent like Ezekiel Ansah is still available at No. 12 the Dolphins might think about making the move, considering the potential lack of value at CB and OT at that slot.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
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Tampa Bay Buccaneers' 2013 Draft Needs: TE, DT, CB, DE, S
Even if the Tampa Bay Buccaneers land cornerback Darrelle Revis in a trade with the New York Jets they will still have to pick up another corner at some point in the 2013 NFL draft.
The Buccaneers ranked dead last in team pass defense last season. Yes, even lower than the horrid New Orleans Saints. Credit that awful performance to a poor pass rush and an inexperienced and talent-starved secondary.
Even with Revis potentially coming to town, the Bucs would be wise to add another player to the fold. Veteran Eric Wright has proven to be unreliable during his career, but could be serviceable while the team grooms an early-to-mid round pick.
After cornerback, tight end and defensive tackle appear to be the team’s biggest needs. Starting DT Roy Miller left via free agency and the Bucs have little help in the wake of his departure.
Quarterback Josh Freeman is starting to have a nice collection of targets around him on offense. The next logical step for the Bucs is to go out and find an all-around tight end that can block and provide a spark in the passing game. Veteran TE Dallas Clark remains unsigned and backup Luke Stocker is underwhelming at best.
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Carolina Panthers' 2013 Draft Needs: DT, CB, WR, ILB, S
The Carolina Panthers’ defense improved in 2012 thanks to the addition of standout linebacker Luke Kuechly. However, the rookie could use some help in front of him in 2013 to keep gaps filled and offensive linemen out of his face.
Carolina would be best served by taking a defensive tackle with the No. 14-overall selection of the draft. This draft class is deep and filled with potential impact players at the position.
If they don’t look to address DT early, the Panthers could look for cornerback Chris Gamble’s replacement. They did keep Captain Munnerlyn around, but could definitely use someone to play opposite of him as they have a couple of career backups on their depth chart behind him.
After DT and CB, Carolina should to find an impact wide receiver for QB Cam Newton. Steve Smith is getting older each season and the Panthers continue to miss on finding another weapon to complement him. Brandon LaFell was certainly adequate in 2012, but it would be nice to see another player that can scare defenses and open things up for Newton and the running game.
Playing in the NFC South is no run, especially when you need help at the safety position. That’s why the Panthers have brought in five prospects at the position for pre-draft visits. Three of them (Kenny Vaccaro, Jonathan Cyprien, Matt Elam) are slated to be drafted in the first two rounds and two others in the mid to late rounds.
New Orleans Saints
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New Orleans Saints' 2013 Draft Needs: OLB, CB, S, DE, LOT
The New Orleans Saints need a lot of help on the defensive side of the ball. Their defense was historically the worst-performing unit in NFL history after giving up a pathetic 7,402 yards of total offense in 2012.
Well, the bounty scandal has subsided and Sean Payton is coming back in 2013. With that comeback, Payton has initiated a switch to the 3-4 defense by bringing aboard former Cleveland Browns, Oakland Raiders and Dallas Cowboys defensive coordinator Rob Ryan.
Like any team making a scheme switch, the Saints will need to potentially find both starters and depth this offseason. That’s not going to be easy to do in the draft as the team has just five total picks.
They need to make each pick count.
First on the docket should be outside linebacker. New Orleans inked OLB Victor Butler, Ryan’s former reserve rusher, who performed well in limited opportunities in Dallas. Adding an explosive rusher opposite of him, like Georgia’s Jarvis Jones or LSU’s Barkevious Mingo would be a best-case scenario for the Saints in the first round.
They won’t pick again until the third round, but could still find a key contributor at either the offensive tackle position. Payton had some worrisome words about his outlook for Drew Brees’ blind-side protector after the departure of OT Jermon Bushrod during free agency.
"I look at that spot (on the depth chart) like there's a magnet with no name on it," Payton said. "Gray, it's just gray."
Cornerback and safety will also have to be addressed at some point for the Saints, but not likely until they find the two most important pieces: a pass rusher and someone to keep Brees upright.
St. Louis Rams
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St. Louis Rams' 2013 Draft Needs: WR, S, OT, OG, RB
St. Louis has been busy this season adding pieces to a quietly improving roster. However, it also saw the departure of some key players at key positions.
Running back Steven Jackson and wide receivers Danny Amendola and Brandon Gibson all departed during free agency.
Luckily they are in position to address two primary concerns as they hold two first-round picks thanks to the trade with Washington for the rights to draft Robert Griffin III in 2012.
While they may be able to address running back later in the draft, the Rams should look to improve at wide receiver with one of those two selections. Tavon Austin is a name that many believe they will consider, but they could go another direction with big field-stretching wide receivers Cordarelle Patterson or Justin Hunter.
After they find a receiver, the Rams would be best served to find a safety to complete a vastly improved secondary. Janoris Jenkins shined at cornerback during his rookie season, but they would definitely benefit from adding a top safety like Kenny Vaccaro from Texas, if still available.
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Pittsburgh Steelers' 2013 Draft Needs: OLB, RB, S, WR, CB
The cap-crunching Pittsburgh Steelers shed some key veterans during the 2013 offseason in order to get under the cap. They will need to reload by hitting on multiple picks during this draft. Although a perennially excellent drafting team, the Steelers have struggled finding impact players over the past two drafts.
But, where should the Steelers look to replace all their departed contributors and fill other existing holes?
Departed veteran linebacker James Harrison has been the face of the vaunted “Steel Curtain” and must be replaced by a productive pass rusher. Finding a player at No. 17-overall that fits that bill may be a little unrealistic, though.
With so many holes to fill they could get away with drafting for need at that slot, or by finding a willing partner for a trade down.
Finding a reliable every-down running back will be a primary objective of this draft, too. Rashard Mendenhall is gone and Isaac Redman and Jonathan Dwyer are not realistic options to fulfill that role moving forward.
If they trade down, or even if they don’t, Pittsburgh should find its running back in the first two rounds of the draft.
Beyond those two key concerns, the Steelers are relying on two 30-plus year old safeties in Ryan Clark and Troy Polamalu. Polamalu hasn’t been able to stay healthy and it may be time to find his eventual successor as a result.
At wide receiver, the team lost Mike Wallace during free agency but recently matched an offer sheet from the New England Patriots for Emmanuel Sanders. Still, finding a mid-round receiver to play on the outside opposite of Antonio Brown may be a good idea to help Ben Roethlisberger get back to top form this season.
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Dallas Cowboys' 2013 Draft Needs: OG, S, RB, DT, LB
Running the football was a fruitless endeavor for the Dallas Cowboys in 2012. It certainly didn’t help that injuries sidelined DeMarco Murray and Felix Jones, leaving the team with third and fourth string ball carriers for large portions of the season.
“It all starts up front” is a popular saying around the league, and that is certainly true when examining the struggles of the 2012 Cowboys. Dallas averaged just 2.1 yards per rush before contact, the fifth-worst mark in the entire NFL (ESPN Stats & Info).
Adding a road-grading guard and potentially an offensive tackle—or potentially both—pending the future of OT Doug Free, should be the first priority for the team during this draft.
After the line is “fixed,” Dallas should try to find an impact player at the safety position. Opposing QBs recorded a 96.5 QBR when throwing 10 or more yards down the field last season while surrendering 12.5 yards per attempt on those throws (ESPN Stats & Info).
As mentioned, running back was already a thin position last season. Well, backup RB Felix Jones is still an unsigned free agent and the team can’t hope to rely on one player (Murray) to carry the bulk of the carries next season.
Adding defensive lineman and linebackers will also be important during this draft, too. Making the switch to the 4-3 defense is going to require different types of personnel and more quality depth players, something the Cowboys don’t currently have in their front seven.
New York Giants
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New York Giants' 2013 Draft Needs: CB, LB, S, ROT, DE
The New York Giants narrowly missed a playoff berth after a 9-7 finish in 2012. Some years, like 2011, that would have been good enough for a postseason run.
After the disappointment of following up their Super Bowl victory a season prior, the Giants are looking to reload at multiple positions during the 2013 NFL draft.
Cornerback remains a primary need for the G-Men, despite bringing back CB Aaron Ross. Ross struggled in Jacksonville, but could provide some much needed depth for a secondary that was decimated by injuries a season ago. A top CB may be available when the Giants are on the clock at No. 19 overall, but they could still go in another direction with that pick.
Middle linebacker is an integral position in any defensive coordinator’s system. If they choose, the Giants could have the pick of the top prospects in this draft before a run of inside linebackers goes down in the bottom third of the first round. Manti Te’o, Alec Ogletree, Arthur Brown and Kevin Minter are all potential options if they choose that route.
If not a linebacker or cornerback, safety is another interesting option for the Giants in the early rounds. If available, former standout Texas safety Kenny Vaccaro would be an excellent pick with their selection.
After those primary needs, the G-Men could also look to bolster their offensive line by finding a right tackle. Will Beatty re-signed with the team but David Diehl’s time in the Big Apple may be coming to a close. Either way, New York would be smart to add depth at the position.
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Chicago Bears' 2013 Draft Needs: ILB, DE, OG, CB, WR
The Chicago Bears have just five picks to work with during the 2013 NFL draft. That’s probably why they went out and filled several key needs during free agency prior to the draft process.
With some key additions made, the Bears still have some pressing needs on both offense and defense.
Their most glaring and immediate hole is the middle linebacker position. The Bears lost a once-dominant linebacker when opting to let Brian Urlacher walk this offseason. Finding a replacement for him should be on the agenda early for the team with either the No. 20-overall selection or their second-round pick.
After finding an anchor for their defense, the Bears should explore finding depth at cornerback and a better option at the nickel position. Kelvin Hayden was brought back, but he struggled mightily while filling in for D.J. Moore. This is a deep draft at the CB position, so they could explore that need in the fourth round while using their first two picks on a LB and lineman.
Despite having added two offensive linemen during free agency, the Bears could still improve further up front. Depth will be important behind those new additions. Newly acquired OG Matt Slausen is in town on a one-year deal, making a guard likely at some point during the draft.
After addressing those concerns the Bears should look to add defensive line depth and also a project player at the wide receiver and tight end positions. Martellus Bennett was brought in after both Kellen Davis and Matt Spaeth found new homes during free agency.
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Cincinnati Bengals' 2013 Draft Needs: S, RB, ILB, ROT, WR
Cincinnati has had a quiet but successful offseason to this point and is in position to bolster an already impressive roster during the 2013 NFL Draft. Re-signing its own players and staying well under the salary cap leave the Bengals in a very favorable position moving forward.
But, which direction does a team with loads of talent go with the No. 21-overall selection?
Safety seems to be a safe bet for the Bengals there. Chris Crocker and Nate Clements are still unsigned, making that a good starting place for them during the draft.
The Bengals are also wealthy in draft picks, including two second-round selections. If they like a prospect enough, like Texas’ Kenny Vaccaro, the team could definitely trade-up into the first round to get “their guy.”
After finding a safety, the Bengals might want to look into finding a linebacker. Although, they are currently discussing terms to a contract with former Pittsburgh Steelers outside linebacker James Harrison, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter.
Offensive tackle could also be an issue, too. Andre Smith remains without a deal, making right tackle a priority in the event they make little or no progress as the draft approaches. Selecting one would give them leverage in negotiations with Smith, too, so that should be considered.
With 10 picks the Bengals can afford to take some risks in order to try to add some firepower to their sometimes stagnant offensive unit. Selecting a potentially-explosive running back like Giovani Bernard in the second round would be an intriguing option to spell Benjarvus Green-Ellis.
Likewise, picking up a deep-threat wide receiver to pair with A.J. Green, like Aaron Dobson in the third round, would also be a good idea.
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Washington Redskins' 2013 Draft Needs: S, CB, ROT, WR, OLB
The Washington Redskins have no first-round pick after trading theirs to draft Robert Griffin III No. 2 overall in 2012.
Still, the team has seven draft picks and could beef up their secondary and address a need on the offensive line in the early-to-mid rounds. Washington doesn’t pick until the 22nd pick of the second round, making their options somewhat limited when it comes to the top-tier talent.
The Skins re-signed DeAngelo Hall but were clearly looking to upgrade the position further after missing out on free-agent cornerback Antoine Winfield. Washington has been poor against the deep ball over the last two seasons, allowing 29 passing touchdowns on throws of 15 or more yards (worst in the NFL during that span), according to ESPN Stats & Info.
Some of those struggles can be attributed to poor safety play, too. Brandon Meriweather will be back but has bounced around the league and isn’t a top-tier player at the position. Madieu Williams has not lived up to expectations next to him, making safety a primary concern during this draft.
In addition, the team could also try to find a better option at right tackle. They signed free agent Jeremy Trueblood during the offseason, but he was inconsistent at best in Tampa Bay and was benched early on in 2012.
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Minnesota Vikings' 2013 Draft Needs: CB, WR, ILB, OG, DT
Minnesota acquired some extra help prior to the 2013 NFL draft by dealing wide receiver Percy Harvin to the Seattle Seahawks for an additional first-round pick. They will have two nearly back-to-back picks in the bottom-third of the opening round as a result.
The loss of Harvin certainly hurts, but the team played much of 2012 without him and was already planning for moving on after contract talks stalled.
Wide receiver may not be the team’s biggest need, though, after the Vikings inked Greg Jennings to a deal this offseason. Still, Harvin was a dynamic threat on both offense and special teams and will need to be replaced. They also have few options for QB Christian Ponder other than Jennings and TE Kyle Rudolph.
Middle linebacker is also a huge hole after Jasper Brinkley departed to Arizona. Head coach Leslie Frasier weighed in on that situation recently:
We have to either have one of the guys on our current roster step up for us or we have to draft someone who could be a starter for us. But we don’t have an incumbent at that position. We have to get that addressed.
Cornerback is also a big need, maybe even bigger than wide receiver or linebacker. Veteran Antoine Winfield signed with the Seattle Seahawks during the offseason, making CB a top priority.
In addition to finding a linebacker, the Vikes could do well to add depth along both the interior of their offensive and defensive lines. Their hogs are aging and creating competition and building depth would be smart with so many picks on their docket.
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Indianapolis Colts' 2013 Draft Needs: OLB, OG, CB, WR, RB
Andrew Luck has to be happy with the way the Indianapolis Colts offseason has gone to this point. He could be even happier if the team finds him a running back and another lineman during the 2013 draft.
Luck was under pressure for much of his rookie campaign but performed admirably against those odds.
Finding a pass rusher should be the first and foremost goal of the Colts in this draft. Dwight Freeney never really meshed during his transition to outside linebacker in the Colts' new 3-4 defense and was off the field more than on it as a result. There should be decent value at No. 24 overall, too, but they could wait until the second round or later to look for help here.
If they do wait, finding a CB to bolster the duo of Greg Toler and Vontae Davis. Neither Toler nor Davis are exceptional and the Colts may be able to find a player they like enough to upgrade the position further. If not, this is a deep draft at the CB position and they could have good options in later rounds.
The option to add another weapon on offensive will be there, too. The Colts could have a great selection of wide receivers and nearly every running back in the draft to choose from when they go on the clock. If they like someone enough, don’t be surprised if they leap at the chance to improve their offense.
Reggie Wayne is 35 years old and the team could definitely benefit from upgrading the running back position.
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Seattle Seahawks' 2013 Draft Needs: ROT, CB, QB, WR, OLB
The Seattle Seahawks bolstered their defensive line and added a weapon in wide receiver Percy Harvin during the 2013 offseason. In the process they lost their first-round pick. That shouldn’t worry Pete Carroll and GM John Schneider too much, though, as they have compiled 11 picks for this draft.
Still, the Seahawks are stacked with talent and don’t have very many holes, if any. Most of the picks they will make will be for depth purposes with exception to one.
The right tackle position is the lone glaring need for the team and they could address it with the No. 56-overall selection. Breno Giacomini was very poor in pass protection in 2012, especially against divisional opponents.
Outside of an upgrade there, the Seahawks could also look into adding a versatile cornerback who can play in the slot. The third wide receiver is growing in importance in the NFL and they would be smart to continue to bolster an already impressive secondary.
Next, the quarterback position has to be a concern. One injury to Russell Wilson and the team may not be able to function. Former backup Matt Flynn is out and the team recently picked up Brady Quinn to be his understudy. Quinn has failed to live up to his first-round selection in 2007 after stints with the Cleveland Browns, Denver Broncos and most recently with the Kansas City Chiefs.
Despite adding Harvin, the Hawks might want to look for a mid-to-late round receiver to add into the mix. Wilson could use a more reliable deep-threat option to pair with or replace Sidney Rice.
Green Bay Packers
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Green Bay Packers' 2013 Draft Needs: S, RB, OLB, OL, DL
With Charles Woodson gone, the Green Bay Packers must find a suitable safety during the 2013 NFL Draft. The Pack already has a good amount of depth elsewhere on their roster and eight picks to work with, including two fifth-round selections.
Addressing the safety position doesn’t have to be their first priority as there are some interesting prospects projected to come off of the board in the second, third and even fourth rounds.
Running back could be a position the team looks to improve early on. The lack of a consistent running game could certainly use a jolt from a dynamic running back who can read the line of scrimmage, make defenders miss, and churn out extra yards after contact.
If not a running back, they should look for depth at the center and left tackle positions to help boost the rushing attack. The offensive was poor in run blocking last season, ranking at 29th in the NFL (PFF). Packers fans understand the importance of OL depth more than most as their team’s unit was decimated by injuries last season.
Adding depth at linebacker will also be important, too. Clay Matthews III and Nick Perry, who is relatively untested, will presumably be the starting outside linebackers in Green Bay’s 3-4 defense. Both Matthews and Perry dealt with injuries last season and missed significant action. Erik Walden is now in Indianapolis, making depth a necessity here.
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Houston Texans' 2013 Draft Needs: WR, OLB, ROT, ILB, FB
For the second year in a row the Houston Texans lost a pass rusher through free agency. In 2013, Connor Barwin moved on to greener pastures in Philadelphia just one year after Mario Williams landed in Buffalo.
Second-year pass rusher Whitney Mercilus waiting to take over, but he is still unproven. Finding a versatile pass rusher in the second round should be a priority.
The Texans’ first-round pick should be reserved for finding a wide receiver who can exploit secondaries when they focus on Andre Johnson. Kevin Walter, who never really lived up to his role, is now gone. This is a definite need, one the Texans could address with multiple picks during the draft.
After wide receiver, Houston would be smart to beef up the right side of its offensive line by upgrading right tackle Derek Newton. Newton, who replaced Eric Winston after the tackle left following the 2011 season, allowed 32 total pressures on his QB in his first full season as a starter.
If they can find a pass rusher, wide receiver and offensive tackle, the Texans should shift their focus to adding a middle linebacker. Darryl Sharpton, the likely starter next to Brian Cushing, hasn’t thrilled anyone with his play up to this point.
Lastly, Houston should consider drafting a safety to groom behind Ed Reed in the mid-to-late rounds.
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Denver Broncos' 2013 Draft Needs: DE, ILB, RB, S, CB
Everyone remembers Denver Broncos safety Rahim Moore getting beat by Jacoby Jones to send their AFC Divisional Round playoff contest to overtime. It’s an image most Broncos fans would like to forget.
Morris isn’t horrible back there, but he, along with strong safety Mike Adams, could be on the verge of being replaced during this draft. Denver has just six picks in this year, but one or two of them could be used to add depth to or improve the safety position.
An every-down pass rusher could also be an option, especially with the No. 28-overall selection in the draft. Elvis Dumervil signed in Baltimore this offseason, making finding a disruptive replacement a top priority of the team.
More concerns for the Broncos on defense center around the middle linebacker and cornerback positions. Champ Bailey is going to suit up again next season and the team added Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie. It’s hard to believe that tandem would make them content enough not to look to improve the position during the draft.
At middle linebacker, the team has little proven experience after losing 15-year veteran Keith Brooking. If the season started today, former third-round pick Nate Irving would be the team’s starter at the position.
Another area of need for the Broncos could be running back. Finding an every-down back would help Peyton Manning immensely. If Willis McGahee can find the fountain of youth and stay healthy the team might be set with him handling primary ball-carrier duties. Knowshon Moreno and Ronnie Hillman are good complimentary backs but are not ideal starters.
New England Patriots
New England could definitely use another Randy Moss-type WR for Tom Brady to exploit defenses with.
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New England Patriots' 2013 Draft Needs: WR, CB, DE, TE, LB
We know. The New England Patriots don’t typically draft well when selecting wide receivers.
However, after missing out on Pittsburgh Steelers WR Emmanuel Sanders, they may not have a choice but to select multiple wide receivers during the 2013 NFL draft.
Their first pick should be focused on finding a wide receiver who can stretch the field for quarterback Tom Brady. The Pats added a potent slot receiver to replace Wes Welker in Danny Amendola, but they lack a vertical threat. Justin Hunter from Tennessee makes a lot of sense for them at No. 29 overall.
After finding a wide receiver, the Pats can get back to finding top talent on the defensive side of the ball. Cornerback will continue to be a pressing need as well as a pass rusher to get after the quarterback. Adding a defensive end and outside linebacker is definitely a possibility in this draft.
Perhaps an under-the-radar need for New England would be another tight end. Both Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez are great, when healthy, but were banged up last season. Gronk might have to undergo offseason surgery before the start of the season and could be sidelined for much of the summer and even into the 2013 season as a result.
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Atlanta Falcons' 2013 Draft Needs: DE, CB, TE, ROT, LB
What is it going to take for the Atlanta Falcons to get to the Super Bowl? They were one half away from making it last season and have made some changes this offseason in order to try to finally get over the hump in 2013.
The talent-laden Falcons have 11 draft picks to work with, including two fourth-round selections. Trading up for an intriguing prospect remains an option with all of those selections if GM Thomas Dimitroff chooses to do so.
One of the perpetual concerns for the Falcons is in their pass rush. They swapped veteran defensive end John Abraham for another veteran in Osi Umenyiora, but that won’t fix things completely. Looking for an explosive pass rusher may be too much to ask at the bottom of the first round, but it’s something they should heavily investigate.
A good pass rush also helps a secondary. After losing Dunta Robinson (cut), Brent Grimes (free agency) and Chris Owens (free agency), the Falcons must find a quality cornerback at some point in the draft.
With a talented roster comes an increased flexibility on draft day. Atlanta has that luxury and is in position to draft several high-risk, high-reward prospects in the mid-to-late rounds of the draft.
Tight end Tony Gonzalez also said he would return for one more season, but the team has no heir apparent behind the soon-to-be retired veteran. Picking up a good prospect who can learn under Gonzalez, one of the best to ever play the position, should be a high priority.
San Francisco 49ers
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San Francisco 49ers' 2013 Draft Needs: S, DE, TE, CB, DT
The saying “the rich get richer” definitely applies to the 2013 San Francisco 49ers.
With 13 draft picks the 49ers have the opportunity to become one of the most talented teams in the NFL. Using all of those picks seems foolish given the amassed talent currently on their roster. With two picks in each of the second, third and fourth rounds, San Francisco is in great position to move up to select several key players if they choose to do so.
It’s pretty hard to imagine 13 rookies making this roster.
As far as needs go, the 49ers have a gap at safety left by Dashon Goldson’s departure to Tampa Bay. Top prospect Kenny Vaccaro is likely out of the 49ers’ range, unless he slides and they choose to put together a package to move up to get him. There will be several good prospects likely available when they are on the clock, including Matt Elam, Jonathan Cyprien and Eric Reid.
After finding a safety, the 49ers can look to upgrade and add depth along their defensive line. Their pass rush could use some new energy and could be addressed with multiple picks in the mid-to-late rounds.
Tight end is also an interesting situation for the 49ers. They have a top-tier player in Vernon Davis, but lost backup Delanie Walker to Tennessee through free agency. Walker came up big for the team in two tight end sets, making the need to find another reliable option a big priority.
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Baltimore Ravens' 2013 Draft Needs: WR, ILB, S, C, LOT
The defending Super Bowl champions had everyone worried in the initial stages of free agency. Those quick concerns have seemed to quiet down as the Baltimore Ravens have quietly put together a very successful offseason.
With 12 picks to play with on draft day and Ozzie Newsome’s record in that arena, the Ravens could be on the verge of a repeat just as quickly as everyone had wrote them off.
Some pretty big needs must still be addressed first, though. Who is going to replace Ray Lewis as the team’s emotional leader in the middle? Whoever Newsome tabs to succeed Lewis is going to have some very heavy shoes to fill. Selecting a linebacker with the No. 32-overall pick seems like a no-brainer unless they have their sights set on someone later in the draft.
If not an inside linebacker, both wide receiver and safety make sense at that position. Anquan Boldin was huge for Joe Flacco in the playoffs and they will need to find a receiver with similar ball skills to compliment speedsters Jacoby Jones and Torrey Smith.
With Ed Reed gone to Houston, the Ravens signed free agent safety Michael Huff. However, the team also lost Bernard Pollard at the other safety position. Huff figures to step in for Reed at free safety, leaving an opening for a hard-hitting strong safety to fill the void left across from him.
A versatile lineman who can play both guard and center could also be addressed in this draft too. Veteran C Matt Birk retired after 15 seasons, leaving Gino Gradkowski to anchor the Ravens’ offensive line. Gradkowski was plucked from the fourth round of the 2012 draft, but is largely untested. That makes having an insurance policy a pretty good idea for the Ravens.
Mike is a league-wide NFL featured columnist and Breaking News Team writer with Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter for draft analysis, fantasy advice and breaking sports news updates: