NFL Draft 2013: Teams Whose Futures Will Depend on This Draft

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NFL Draft 2013: Teams Whose Futures Will Depend on This Draft
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Will Rex Ryan get the Jets back to the postseason?

Every NFL draft offers teams with long-term investment opportunities that will pay immediate dividends.

The difficulty of the situation is deciphering the process and making the most of every draft pick.

Regardless of how many selections, or lack thereof, a team may possess, the subsequent seasons will get affected in some way. When a prospect continues to have an impact, though, that's a sign of solidifying the long-term future.

After all, no one who fails to produce effectively—regardless of position—ends up sticking around. Factor the gradual reduction in patience for development and that puts more pressure on teams needing to draft well each year.

The following are franchises that must get it right in 2013, otherwise the future will remain bleak.

 

Oakland Raiders

The Raiders have a limited number of selections, so they can go one of two routes.

One is obviously keeping the picks and opting to connect big with each. The other is trading back in Round 1 to stock up with additional selections. A similar approach is feasible with Oakland's third round pick at No. 66 overall.

That said, the Raiders must address their defense to head back in the right direction. In 2012, coach Dennis Allen's defense gave up a 66 completion percentage, 28 passing touchdowns, 4.3 yards per rush and recorded a measly 25 sacks.

Factor in the NFL being driven by offense and Oakland fielding a vulnerable defense puts it at an even greater disadvantage. At No. 3 overall taking Alabama's Dee Milliner will certainly address the coverage by reducing the allowed completion percentage and touchdowns.

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Additionally, he'll help with perimeter run support and give the pass-rushers that little extra time to apply pressure. Should the Raiders end up trading down, though, asking for at least two future first-rounders in exchange must happen.

Even though that's asking a lot, Oakland needs a lot to turn its future around.


Philadelphia Eagles

The good thing for Philadelphia is competing in the NFC East, a division where it's literally anybody's game.

As for the future, well, coach Chip Kelly's era will start off strong by addressing either the offensive line or secondary. The Eagles gave up 48 sacks a year ago, fumbled like crazy and lacked a passing game.

The unreliable quarterback play didn't help, but the miserable pass-blocking takes on a larger role. Fortunately, the ground game was solid as LeSean McCoy and Bryce Brown combined to average 4.55 yards per carry.

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Presenting a standout lineman such as Luke Joeckel, Eric Fisher, Lane Johnson or Chance Warmack simply makes the rushing attack tougher and helps field stronger balance. In short, taking the best available blocker will suffice.

Defensively, though, drafting Dee Milliner or trading back—if he's unavailable—also works. The Eagles let up 33 passing touchdowns, recorded a dismal eight interceptions and allowed 12.5 yards per completion.

Milliner locks away half the field to complement the rest of the defense, but moving back will provide a slew of picks to capitalize on the law of averages.


Arizona Cardinals

Arizona's top priority must be the offensive line. After giving up 58 sacks in 2012, protecting the passer to help the receivers is to the Cardinals' advantage.

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They field one excellent group of receivers in Larry Fitzgerald, Michael Floyd and Andre Roberts. However, these guys can't make plays unless the quarterback has time to survey the field. By the same token, Arizona will not set up the pass without establishing the ground attack.

And since the Cards ranked No. 32 in rushing offense last season and only averaged 3.4 yards per carry, this once again calls for offensive line. The NFC West is pro football's toughest division, because the 49ers, Seahawks and Rams each have postseason expectations for 2013.

Include those stellar defenses and Arizona's offense faces one tough matchup every divisional game. It's a rough set of contests that are decided at the line of scrimmage. Therefore, selecting the best available offensive lineman in Round 1 immediately puts Arizona back on track.

Following suit in Round 2 is not a bad idea either, because talented depth only bodes well for training camp competition. The Cardinals don't have an extensive number of needs, but they will remain at the bottom of the NFC West until the overall blocking drastically improves.

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Even better, this draft is loaded with an abundance of talent in the trenches and that gives Arizona an opportunity to quickly rebuild.


New York Jets

The Jets enter the draft in shambles, but have an incredible opportunity to really buff out the rough spots.

First, courtesy of the Darrelle Revis trade, Gang Green received another Round 1 pick as mentioned on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' official Twitter:

Second, New York now has three selections within the first 50 overall picks.

Any time a team has multiple first-rounders that is a strong competitive advantage. Needing to help coach Rex Ryan's defense, landing a dominant front seven prospect and defensive back will give hope this fall.

Whether it's defensive line or a pass-rusher at No. 9 overall, controlling better up front is required.

Mainly because New York allowed 4.3 yards per carry and collected only 30 sacks in 2012. And although the pass defense was reliable, a mere 11 interceptions were snagged which didn't help the offense's field position.

In the secondary, a cornerback such as Florida State's Xavier Rhodes or Desmond Trufant will instantly close off half the field. Each knows how to make plays on the ball and have the reactionary skills to assist with perimeter run support.

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Defense has been the backbone of the Jets under Ryan and it's why two straight AFC title game appearance were made (2009, 2010). It's also the fastest route for Gang Green to reenter the playoff discussion.

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