NFL DraftDownload App

2014 NFL Draft: Reviewing the Biggest Draft Needs for Every Team

Dan HopeContributor IIIOctober 24, 2016

2014 NFL Draft: Reviewing the Biggest Draft Needs for Every Team

1 of 33

    Al Bello/Getty Images

    As is the case annually, the 2013 NFL season has exposed needs on all 32 of the league's rosters that will need to be addressed in the 2014 offseason.

    Some teams' needs will be addressed during the free agency period, based upon which of their own free agents teams re-sign and who they bring in from the open market, but all teams should be starting to formulating its strategy for the 2014 NFL draft by evaluating areas of need and prospects who could fit to potentially address those needs.

    In the following slides, we take a look at each team's top three needs, taking into consideration the current weaknesses and the impending free agents on each roster.

    Note: All free agency statuses and contract data courtesy of Spotrac unless otherwise noted. Some of the information utilized may not be available on Spotrac without a premium subscription.

Arizona Cardinals

2 of 33

    The Arizona Cardinals need to protect their quarterback better.
    The Arizona Cardinals need to protect their quarterback better.Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

    1. Offensive Tackle

    The Arizona Cardinals need to upgrade both offensive tackle spots. Bradley Sowell is a weak link of the offensive line at left tackle, while right tackle Eric Winston is unlikely to be re-signed as he has performed disappointingly on a one-year contract. Neither Bobby Massie nor Nate Potter has developed into a capable starting option in two seasons.

    2. Quarterback

    Carson Palmer has performed well enough to keep the Arizona Cardinals in the playoff hunt this season, but the Cardinals should be looking for their quarterback of the future in this year's draft. Palmer turns 34 in December and should not be viewed as a long-term option beyond 2014, the final year of his contract, while the Arizona offense would benefit by bringing in immediate competition.

    3. Strong Safety

    Yeremiah Bell is only signed to a one-year contract, and the Cardinals do not appear to have any long-term options at this position aside potentially from undrafted rookie Tony Jefferson. The Cardinals have two of the league's most talented young defensive backs in Patrick Peterson and Tyrann Mathieu, but lack an enforcer at the safety position.

Atlanta Falcons

3 of 33

    The Atlanta Falcons need to reinforce their defensive line.
    The Atlanta Falcons need to reinforce their defensive line.David Manning-USA TODAY Sports

    1. Defensive Tackle

    The Atlanta Falcons' top three defensive tackles—Jonathan Babineaux, Corey Peters and Peria Jerry—are all unrestricted free agents. The Falcons would be smart to make an effort to re-sign Babineaux, but even if they re-sign two of the defensive tackles, they should be in the market for an upgrade at the position. Specifically, the Falcons would benefit from adding a big, powerful nose tackle alongside the quicker, penetrating Babineaux.

    2. Defensive End

    There is no bigger weakness on the Falcons' roster than its pass rush. Osi Umenyiora is a solid starter, but not the premier pass-rusher he used to be, while the talent behind him is mostly uninspiring. The Falcons should look to bolster their pass rush from the defensive end spot early in the 2014 draft.

    3. Tight End

    Rookie fourth-round pick Levine Toilolo has displayed promise this season, but he does not have the receiving skill set to replace retiring star Tony Gonzalez all on his own. The Falcons should look to add a receiving playmaker who can take on some of Gonzalez's role in the offense.

Baltimore Ravens

4 of 33

    Michael Huff was not the safety the Baltimore Ravens needed.
    Michael Huff was not the safety the Baltimore Ravens needed.Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Spor

    1. Safety

    The Ravens drafted Matt Elam in the first round of the 2013 draft, but should still be in the market for a long-term option alongside him. Re-signing James Ihedigbo could be an option, but although he has exceeded expectations on a one-year contract, Baltimore is unlikely to make a long-term commitment to the 30-year-old.

    2. Cornerback

    Jimmy Smith has come along well and emerged as a capable starter opposite Lardarius Webb in his third season, but with nickel cornerback Corey Graham set to hit unrestricted free agency, there could be a serious need for depth behind the starters.

    3. Defensive Tackle/End

    A defensive line of Haloti Ngata, Brandon Williams and Chris Canty could be a solid starting trio in 2014, but the impending unrestricted free agencies of Arthur Jones and Terence Cody could leave them with a need for depth at the very least. The Ravens should specifically be in the market for versatile defensive linemen like Ngata and Williams who can play both inside and outside in a three-man front.

Buffalo Bills

5 of 33

    Jairus Byrd is unlikely to be back in Buffalo in 2014.
    Jairus Byrd is unlikely to be back in Buffalo in 2014.Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports

    1. Left Guard

    The Buffalo Bills released Colin Brown, their original starter at the left guard position this season, because his play was so poor. Doug Legursky has been a slight upgrade, but he should not be considered a valid starting option beyond this season.

    2. Tight End

    Scott Chandler is a solid all-around tight end who catches the ball well and is an effective blocker, but he might not be good enough for the Bills to decide to make a significant investment in him as an unrestricted free agent. Adding a tight end with more downfield playmaking ability could provide a spark to Buffalo's struggling offense.

    3. Free Safety

    Jairus Byrd is one of the NFL's best free safeties, but he is unlikely to return to Buffalo after an extensive holdout on a franchise tag this offseason. The Bills could turn to Da'Norris Searcy or one of two Day 3 picks from the 2013 draft to fill Byrd's shoes, but none of them have the ball-hawking skills that Byrd does.

     

Carolina Panthers

6 of 33

    Melvin White isn't the No. 1 cornerback the Panthers need.
    Melvin White isn't the No. 1 cornerback the Panthers need.Sam Sharpe-USA TODAY Sports

    1. Offensive Tackle

    Both of the Carolina Panthers' starting offensive tackles are unrestricted free agents, and it is time for them to invest in new blood. Left tackle Jordan Gross will probably be back on a short-term contract, but at 33 years old, the time is now to find his heir apparent. The Panthers could do that simultaneously by adding an offensive tackle who can take over the starting right tackle job as an upgrade over free agent Byron Bell.

    2. Cornerback

    While Melvin White has done an admirable job stepping up from undrafted rookie to starting cornerback, the Panthers have no one close to a No. 1 cornerback on their roster. Starting cornerback Captain Munnerlyn is a decent second or third cornerback, but he is slated for unrestricted free agency, while Josh Norman and Josh Thomas both failed to emerge as quality starting cornerbacks.

    3. Wide Receiver

    Steve Smith is still a big playmaker but at 34 years old, the Panthers need to start adding more young talent around him. Restricted free agent Brandon LaFell is a solid No. 2 receiver if the Panthers retain him, but the only two other wide receivers to catch passes for Carolina this season, Ted Ginn and Domenik Hixon, are both unrestricted free agents to whom the team should not make long-term commitments.

Chicago Bears

7 of 33

    Major Wright and Chris Conte should not be Chicago's 2014 safeties.
    Major Wright and Chris Conte should not be Chicago's 2014 safeties.Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

    1. Safety

    The starting safety tandem of Major Wright and Chris Conte has been a liability at the back end of the Bears defense. Both are among the six lowest-rated safeties in the NFL this year by Pro Football Focus.

    2. Cornerback

    While Charles Tillman, Tim Jennings and Kelvin Hayden form a very strong top trio when all three are healthy, all three of them are unrestricted free agents. With many other free agents to deal with, Chicago is likely to lose at least one of them, not to mention Zack Bowman is also a free agent. If the Bears lose one of two of those cornerbacks, they should be in the market for replacements.

    3. Left Guard/Center

    The Bears added one long-term answer to their interior offensive line by selecting right guard Kyle Long in the first round of the 2013 draft, but he is the only interior offensive lineman under contract beyond this season. Even if left guard Matt Slauson and/or center Roberto Garza are brought back for 2014, the Bears will still have a need for depth on the interior offensive line.

Cincinnati Bengals

8 of 33

    The Bengals' best cornerback is coming off a torn Achilles.
    The Bengals' best cornerback is coming off a torn Achilles.Greg Bartram-USA TODAY Sports

    1. Interior Offensive Line

    The Cincinnati Bengals are in a fortunate position, projected to have no major roster needs going into 2014, but one player they could afford to upgrade over is Kyle Cook, the weak link of the Cincinnati offensive line, at center. Depth on the interior offensive line will also be needed with Mike Pollak slated for unrestricted free agency.

    2. Cornerback

    Coming off of a torn Achilles tendon, starting cornerback Leon Hall is no lock to be fully healthy for the start of the 2014 season. Terence Newman and Adam Jones are also capable starters, and both are under contract for 2014 (Jones also for 2015), but more competition at cornerback wouldn't hurt. 2012 first-round pick Dre Kirkpatrick has looked like a bust thus far.

    3. Offensive Tackle

    The Bengals have a terrific pair of starting offensive tackles in Andrew Whitworth and Andre Smith, but swing backup Anthony Collins is an unrestricted free agent, which should leave the Bengals looking for depth at the position.

Cleveland Browns

9 of 33

    Brandon Weeden hasn't been the answer for the Browns.
    Brandon Weeden hasn't been the answer for the Browns.Brian Kersey/Getty Images

    1. Quarterback

    The Cleveland Browns have never had a long-term franchise quarterback since their 1999 reincarnation. 2012 first-round pick Brandon Weeden did not pan out to be that quarterback, as he has been benched in favor of both Brian Hoyer, before Hoyer was injured, and Jason Campbell. Neither Hoyer nor Campbell is the quarterback that will lead the Browns back to success either, at least not for a long period of time.

    2. Running Back

    Weeden wasn't the only 2012 first-round pick the Cleveland Browns gave up on this year, as they also traded away former No. 3 overall pick Trent Richardson just two games into his second season. Trading away Richardson is looking like a very smart move as the second-year running back has struggled in Indianapolis, but it has left Cleveland with little to work with at the running back position.

    While Dion Lewis could contribute if healthy in 2014, he is a situational back; the Browns should be looking for a back who can carry the load on first and second downs.

    3. Right Guard

    Shawn Lauvao is already the weak link of the Cleveland Browns offensive line, and he is an unrestricted free agent, so the Browns should seek an upgrade.

Dallas Cowboys

10 of 33

    The Cowboys could lose Jason Hatcher, their best defensive tackle.
    The Cowboys could lose Jason Hatcher, their best defensive tackle.Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

    1. Defensive Tackle

    The Dallas Cowboys may not continue with the Tampa 2 scheme in 2014 if defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin is fired, but they need to upgrade the defensive tackle position regardless of scheme. Nick Hayden is a weak starting option at nose tackle while their best penetrating tackle, Jason Hatcher, is slated for unrestricted free agency.

    2. Guard

    The Dallas Cowboys took a big step toward fixing their interior offensive line with the first-round selection of Travis Frederick in 2013, but they should still be in the market for upgrades over Ronald Leary and Mackenzy Bernadeau, who have had up-and-down seasons at the guard spots alongside him.

    3. Safety

    Barry Church is a solid player, especially in run support, and 2013 third-round pick J.J. Wilcox has the potential to develop into a playmaker at safety, but covering the middle of the field has been a big problem for the Cowboys this season. Dallas could greatly benefit from the addition of a more skilled cover safety who can handle the role of playing center field without getting burned frequently.

Denver Broncos

11 of 33

    The end of Broncos cornerback Champ Bailey's career may be nearing.
    The end of Broncos cornerback Champ Bailey's career may be nearing.Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

    1. Defensive Line

    Although the Denver Broncos will certainly be looking for 2013 draft picks Sylvester Williams (defensive tackle) and Quanterus Smith (defensive end) to emerge in their second NFL seasons, the Broncos should still be in the market for more defensive line help. Defensive ends Shaun Phillips and Robert Ayers are both unrestricted free agents while defensive tackle depth could also be beneficial with Mitch Unrein and Sione Fua also free agents.

    2. Left Guard

    Zane Beadles has been the weakest link on the Denver Broncos offensive line this season and is an unrestricted free agent, so the Broncos could be in the market for a new left guard. Depth across the interior offensive line should also be sought.

    3. Cornerback

    The Broncos should make a strong effort to re-sign restricted free agent starting cornerback Chris Harris, but that could mean losing unrestricted free agent Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie in the process. 35-year-old cornerback Champ Bailey, meanwhile, is having trouble staying healthy and will be entering the final year of his contract. The Broncos have promising young talent at the position with Harris and Kayvon Webster, but could look for additional depth.

Detroit Lions

12 of 33

    The time to find 34-year-old Dominic Raiola's heir apparent should be 2014.
    The time to find 34-year-old Dominic Raiola's heir apparent should be 2014.Leon Halip/Getty Images

    1. Strong-side Linebacker

    The Detroit Lions have two very good starting linebackers in Stephen Tulloch and DeAndre Levy, but should be in the market for an upgrade over Ashlee Palmer at strong-side linebacker. Palmer currently only plays in 4-3 sets, with Tulloch and Levy playing in nickel sets, but even if only in a situational role, the Lions would benefit by adding another playmaker at the position.

    2. Center

    Dominic Raiola is still playing in his 12th year as Detroit's starting center, but it would come as a surprise if the Lions re-signed the 34-year-old unrestricted free agent to anything more than a short-term contract this offseason. Bringing back Raiola for 2014 would be a smart move, but so would drafting his heir apparent at the position.

    3. Wide Receiver

    The Lions have the NFL's best wide receiver in Calvin Johnson, but they are not in great shape at the position outside of Johnson. Restricted free agent Kris Durham has developed into a very solid player and could be brought back, but 32-year-old Nate Burleson's best years appear to be behind him while Ryan Broyles is a very talented receiver but dealing with a laundry list of injuries, most recently a torn Achilles.

    That quartet might still be a very good group of options for Matthew Stafford if all can be healthy, but adding another playmaker to the mix would be beneficial.

Green Bay Packers

13 of 33

    M.D. Jennings has not been good enough at free safety for the Packers.
    M.D. Jennings has not been good enough at free safety for the Packers.Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

    1. Free Safety

    The free safety position was a strength for the Green Bay Packers for many years with Nick Collins followed by Charles Woodson, but it has become a weakness on the Green Bay defense with M.D. Jennings as the starter. The Packers should look to upgrade over Jennings, an unrestricted free agent.

    2. Tight End

    Jermichael Finley's career is in serious jeopardy after undergoing spinal fusion surgery earlier this year, and he was already an unrestricted free agent. Starting in Finley's place, Andrew Quarless has not been nearly the same caliber of playmaker, and he is also set for unrestricted free agency. The Packers should be looking for a new playmaker at this position.

    3. Offensive Tackle

    Though Bryan Bulaga is a very solid starting offensive tackle when healthy, his career has been riddled by injuries, and the Packers offensive line has really struggled in his absence this year. 2013 fourth-round pick David Bakhtiari will contend for a starting spot again next season as he has shown some promise as a rookie, but with Bulaga's contract set to expire after the 2014 season, the Packers should think about adding another offensive tackle to the mix.

Houston Texans

14 of 33

    Matt Schaub's seventh season with the Texans will likely be his last.
    Matt Schaub's seventh season with the Texans will likely be his last.Scott Halleran/Getty Images

    1. Quarterback

    The biggest reason why the Houston Texans have the NFL's worst record is the poor quarterback play they have gotten from Case Keenum and Matt Schaub. The Schaub era is all but over in Houston, and though Keenum has had some positive moments, he has still looked far from the franchise quarterback the Texans need. Houston will have a very early draft pick, and it should be used on a signal-caller.

    2. Defensive Line

    Though the Houston Texans have the league's best defensive lineman in J.J. Watt, the rest of their defensive line could be in need of a revamp this offseason. Starting defensive end Antonio Smith is an unrestricted free agent, 32 years old and is no stranger to controversy; the Texans could decide to go in another direction at the position. They should also look into making an upgrade at nose tackle over Earl Mitchell, who is also an unrestricted free agent.

    3. Inside Linebacker

    Though Brian Cushing is one of the NFL's best young linebackers, back-to-back injury-shortened seasons have not only jeopardized his long-term future but also exposed the relative weakness of the other inside linebackers on the Houston roster. Neither of the team's current starters at the position, Darryl Sharpton and Joe Mays, has proven himself worthy of earning a new contract or holding a starting spot on the Texans defense going into next season.

Indianapolis Colts

15 of 33

    Improving the Colts rushing offense might start up front.
    Improving the Colts rushing offense might start up front.Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

    1. Interior Offensive Line

    The trio of Hugh Thornton, Samson Satele and Mike McGlynn might be the worst interior offensive line in the NFL. Donald Thomas should be back in the starting lineup when back from injury in 2014, while rookies Thornton and Khaled Holmes have some potential, but the Colts still need to be looking for quick reinforcements to improve their pass protection and inside run blocking.

    2. Inside Linebacker

    Pat Angerer is an unrestricted free agent and not a good enough player that the Colts should make a significant investment to keep him around. The acquisition of Kelvin Sheppard, meanwhile, has been a bust.

    Even if they do bring Angerer back, the Colts should still be looking for an upgrade at the position to start alongside Jerrell Freeman.

    3. Wide Receiver

    The Colts are thin at this position outside of T.Y. Hilton and Reggie Wayne, who is 35 and coming off a torn ACL. Darrius Heyward-Bey has been a disappointment on a one-year contract, and though LaVon Brazill and Da'Rick Rogers have flashed some potential in recent weeks, neither should be counted on to step up and fill a potentially big role within the Indianapolis offense.

Jacksonville Jaguars

16 of 33

    Neither Blaine Gabbert nor Chad Henne is a franchise quarterback.
    Neither Blaine Gabbert nor Chad Henne is a franchise quarterback.Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

    1. Quarterback

    The Blaine Gabbert experiment ended earlier this season when he was benched for Chad Henne, who has had his own fair share of struggles for the Jaguars under center. The Jaguars have an overall lack of talent throughout their roster, but they are not going to become a contender until they find a franchise quarterback.

    2. Defensive Tackle

    Sen'Derrick Marks has performed well for the Jaguars as the starting 3-technique defensive tackle, but he is an unrestricted free agent. They will need to replace him if they lose him to another team, but also need to upgrade the nose tackle position, where Roy Miller has not developed into a starting-caliber player.

    3. Right Tackle

    2013 No. 2 overall pick Luke Joeckel will take over the starting left tackle job in 2014 when healthy, but that still leaves them with a need at right tackle. While the Jaguars should have little trouble re-signing restricted free agent Cameron Bradfield and exclusive rights free agent Austin Pasztor if they want to, they should be looking for an upgrade at the position anyways.

Kansas City Chiefs

17 of 33

    Kendrick Lewis is an unrestricted free agent this offseason.
    Kendrick Lewis is an unrestricted free agent this offseason.Peter Aiken/Getty Images

    1. Wide Receiver

    After giving up on Jonathan Baldwin by trading him away earlier this season, the Kansas City Chiefs should be in the market for another outside playmaker to become the No. 2 receiver opposite Dwayne Bowe. The Chiefs could also be in the market for a new slot receiver/gadget player if they lose Dexter McCluster to unrestricted free agency.

    2. Free Safety

    The Chiefs could be in the market for an upgrade over Kendrick Lewis, who is the weak link among their starters in the secondary and is an unrestricted free agent.

    3. Guard

    Jeff Allen has remained shaky at left guard in his second season, while right guards Geoff Schwartz and Jon Asamoah are both unrestricted free agents, so this is a position where the Chiefs could again turn to the draft for reinforcement.

     

Miami Dolphins

18 of 33

    Jonathan Martin's time as a Miami Dolphin appears to be done.
    Jonathan Martin's time as a Miami Dolphin appears to be done.Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

    1. Offensive Tackle

    Jonathan Martin is not expected to be back with the Miami Dolphins after leaving the team earlier this season, while neither left tackle Bryant McKinnie nor right tackle Tyson Clabo should be viewed as a long-term option given their declining performances. The Dolphins should be in the market for two new starting offensive tackles.

    2. Defensive Tackle

    With a number of contracts set to balloon in 2014, including those of wide receiver Mike Wallace and linebackers Dannell Ellerbe and Philip Wheeler, the Dolphins are unlikely to be able to afford keeping both of their starting defensive tackles, Randy Starks and Paul Soliai, who are both unrestricted free agents.

    While Jared Odrick already takes a high number of snaps at defensive tackles and can take on one starting spot, the Dolphins will still need a replacement to whichever defensive tackle(s) they lose for situational and depth reasons.

    3. Guard

    Still being investigated by the NFL for his role in bullying Jonathan Martin, left guard Richie Incognito will almost certainly not be brought back as an unrestricted free agent. Right guard John Jerry is also an unrestricted free agent, and he has not played up to the caliber of a starting offensive lineman anyways. 2013 third-round pick Dallas Thomas may be able to take on the starting left guard job in 2014, but there is still going to be a need to add at this position.

     

Minnesota Vikings

19 of 33

    Matt Cassel and Christian Ponder are holding the Vikings back.
    Matt Cassel and Christian Ponder are holding the Vikings back.Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

    1. Quarterback

    The Minnesota Vikings have had three different starting quarterbacks—Christian Ponder, Matt Cassel and Josh Freeman—this season. If the Vikings are going to become contenders in the NFC North again, none of those quarterbacks should be starting in Minnesota in 2014.

    2. Defensive End

    The Vikings signed starting defensive end Brian Robison to a long-term contract extension in October, but that could mean Jared Allen is on his way out as an unrestricted free agent. Third defensive end Everson Griffen is also an unrestricted free agent, so replacing Allen and/or Griffin will be a need if they are not re-signed.

    3. Cornerback

    The Vikings have two promising young cornerbacks in Xavier Rhodes and Josh Robinson, but Chris Cook is an unrestricted free agent who has failed to live up to expectations in his first four NFL seasons. In addition to potentially letting Cook go and looking for an upgrade, the Vikings might also lose Marcus Sherels to unrestricted free agency.

New England Patriots

20 of 33

    Rob Gronkowski's season-ending injury increased the Patriots' need at tight end.
    Rob Gronkowski's season-ending injury increased the Patriots' need at tight end.Jim Rogash/Getty Images

    1. Defensive Tackle

    Season-ending injuries to Vince Wilfork and Tommy Kelly have exposed the New England Patriots' lack of defensive tackle depth. Already seemingly on the decline at 32 years old and coming off a torn Achilles, Wilfork is unlikely to still be a three-down player next season. Kelly can play both defensive tackle spots, but the Patriots should be looking for both another nose tackle to rotate with Wilfork and a quicker penetrating tackle.

    2. Tight End

    A position that seemed to be the furthest thing from a need one year ago has become a problem area, with Rob Gronkowski battling through a number of injuries while Aaron Hernandez is in jail. Even if Gronkowski is recovered from his torn ACL and MCL in time for the start of the 2014 season, the Patriots still need another receiving weapon at the tight end position in order to run the two-tight end sets that were so effective for them for three seasons with Gronkowski and Hernandez.

    3. Offensive Line

    The New England Patriots have a strong starting offensive line but a serious lack of depth. Even if center Ryan Wendell and swing offensive tackle backup Will Svitek are re-signed as unrestricted free agents, the Patriots should still be looking to reinforce the unit with stronger backups.

New Orleans Saints

21 of 33

    Parys Haralson is slated for unrestricted free agency.
    Parys Haralson is slated for unrestricted free agency.Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sport

    1. Outside Linebacker

    The switch to a 3-4 defense has enabled Junior Galette to emerge as a very good player on the Saints defense, but the preseason acquisition of Parys Haralson may only be a one-year loan. The Saints should be looking for another playmaker on the edge to start opposite Galette.

    2. Offensive Tackle

    Starting offensive tackles Charles Brown and Zach Strief are both unrestricted free agents. 2013 third-round pick Terron Armstead should be groomed to take over the left tackle job in 2014, but the Saints will still need a new right tackle if they do not re-sign Brown and/or Strief.

    3. Interior Offensive Line

    Starting center Brian De La Puente is also an unrestricted free agent, and the Saints' only interior line backup on the roster is Tim Lelito. Even if De La Puente is re-signed, the Saints should look to add depth behind their starting center and guards.

New York Giants

22 of 33

    Spencer Paysinger, Keith Rivers and Mark Herzlich could be replaced.
    Spencer Paysinger, Keith Rivers and Mark Herzlich could be replaced.The Star-Ledger-USA TODAY Sports

    1. Linebacker

    All three of the New York Giants' starting linebackers—Keith Rivers, Spencer Paysinger and Jon Beason—are unrestricted free agents, and none of them have played well enough to earn a long-term commitment. The Giants could truly be in the market for upgrades at all three linebacker spots.

    2. Interior Offensive Line

    The Giants have shuffled through a host of interior offensive linemen this season due to injuries, and have had poor play from many of them. They will hope for strong, healthy returns from injured starting center David Baas and right guard Chris Snee, but left guard could be a spot to upgrade, with Kevin Boothe an unrestricted free agent. Jim Cordle and David Diehl are also unrestricted free agents, so interior line depth could be needed.

    3. Cornerback

    The Giants should be in the market for an upgrade to start over Corey Webster and Trumaine McBride as the No. 2 cornerback opposite starter Prince Amukamara. Additionally, slot cornerback Terrell Thomas is not under contract for next season, though that role likely could be filled by Jayron Hosley if Thomas is not brought back.

New York Jets

23 of 33

    Ed Reed is only a stopgap option at free safety.
    Ed Reed is only a stopgap option at free safety.Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports

    1. Free Safety

    The New York Jets' midseason move to not only sign Ed Reed, but make the aging safety an immediate starter, exemplified their desperate situation at the free safety position. The Jets need to find a playmaker who can handle the position's deep coverage responsibilities.

    2. Tight End

    The Jets do not have any tight ends who stretch the field and make big plays downfield. They should look to make their offense more dynamic by finding a more athletic and skilled upgrade over unrestricted free agents Jeff Cumberland and Kellen Winslow.

    3. Outside Linebacker

    While the Jets may be waiting on Quinton Coples to break out and become a premier player at the outside linebacker position, they should still be in the market for another playmaker on the edge of their 3-4 defense with 33-year-old starter Calvin Pace slated for unrestricted free agency. With one of the NFL's best defensive lines, the Jets need an outside playmaker who can take advantage of the openings he could get and thrive.

Oakland Raiders

24 of 33

    Defensive end Jason Hunter has struggled as a starter for the Raiders.
    Defensive end Jason Hunter has struggled as a starter for the Raiders.Al Bello/Getty Images

    1. Defensive End

    The Oakland Raiders' best defensive lineman, Lamarr Houston, is set to become an unrestricted free agent. Even if Houston is re-signed, the Raiders will still need an upgrade opposite him, where fellow unrestricted free agent Jason Hunter has been a weak link. The Raiders do not have any standout pass-rushers.

    2. Free Safety

    Charles Woodson has had a decent season, but he is nothing more than a short-term option at 37 years old. The Raiders need to continue rebuilding their secondary, and that effort should start at free safety.

    3. Left Guard

    Tony Bergstrom could be back as the starting left guard in 2014 after missing the entire 2013 season with a foot injury, but with as bad as Lucas Nix and others have been at that spot for the Raiders this season, Oakland should not put all their eggs into the basket of a third-year player with one career start.

Philadelphia Eagles

25 of 33

    DeMeco Ryans and Mychal Kendricks have struggled this season.
    DeMeco Ryans and Mychal Kendricks have struggled this season.Jeffrey G. Pittenger-USA TODAY S

    1. Safety

    Rookie safety Earl Wolff was playing well as a starter before suffering a knee injury in Week 10, but even if he is penciled as the starting strong safety next season, the Eagles still need to upgrade at safety. Nate Allen and Kurt Coleman may not be brought back as unrestricted free agents, while Patrick Chung has performed poorly in his first season with the team.

    2. Wide Receiver

    Riley Cooper and Jeremy Maclin are both unrestricted free agents at the end of the season, leaving the Eagles potentially in need of a No. 2 wide receiver to start opposite DeSean Jackson. Unless they re-sign both Cooper and Maclin, depth could also be used at a position where Jackson, Cooper and Jason Avant are the only wide receivers on the roster with five or more catches this season.

    3. Inside Linebacker

    DeMeco Ryans and Mychal Kendricks were brought in to be long-term starters at inside linebacker, but the Eagles might want to add reinforcement at the position considering that both Ryans and Kendricks are rated among the five worst inside linebackers in the NFL this season by Pro Football Focus.

     

Pittsburgh Steelers

26 of 33

    Ike Taylor is overmatched as a 33-year-old No. 1 cornerback.
    Ike Taylor is overmatched as a 33-year-old No. 1 cornerback.Andy Lyons/Getty Images

    1. Defensive End

    With aging Brett Keisel and disappointing Ziggy Hood both unrestricted free agents, this offseason should be the time for the Pittsburgh Steelers to add a 5-technique defensive end who can be an upgrade opposite Cameron Heyward. Heyward is the only defensive end on the roster under contract next season, so depth is also needed at the position.

    2. Left Tackle

    The Steelers are going to have continued problems protecting quarterback Ben Roethlisberger until they solidify the left tackle position. Mike Adams has failed to develop into the starting left tackle he was drafted to be, so Pittsburgh should go back to the drawing board in the 2014 draft.

    3. Cornerback

    Ike Taylor will be 34 years old before next season, and he is no longer good enough to be the No. 1 cornerback the Steelers have entrusted him to be for many years. While William Gay and Cortez Allen are solid No. 2/3 cornerbacks, the Steelers need to find a cornerback capable of taking top receivers in a division that includes A.J. Green, Josh Gordon and Torrey Smith as No. 1 wide receivers.

San Diego Chargers

27 of 33

    Derek Cox will likely be one-and-done after an awful season in San Diego.
    Derek Cox will likely be one-and-done after an awful season in San Diego.John Rieger-USA TODAY Sports

    1. Cornerback

    The San Diego Chargers will likely release Derek Cox this offseason, as he has been terrible in his first season with the team and they can save $4.25 million by doing so, according to Kevin Acee of the San Diego Union-Tribune. The Chargers' other cornerbacks—Shareece Wright, Johnny Patrick and Richard Marshall—have not been any better, so San Diego desperately needs to upgrade this position this offseason.

    2. Guard

    After upgrading at offensive tackle by adding King Dunlap and D.J. Fluker last offseason, San Diego should turn its focus to upgrading at guard in 2014. Chad Rinehart, Johnnie Troutman and Jeromey Clary are not good enough to be long-term options at the position.

    3. Inside Linebacker

    The Chargers will expect Manti Te'o to take a step forward in 2014, but fellow starting inside linebacker Donald Butler is an unrestricted free agent whose play has been underwhelming. Even if Butler were to be re-signed, the impending unrestricted free agencies of Bront Bird and Reggie Walker leave San Diego in need of inside linebacker depth.

San Francisco 49ers

28 of 33

    Tarell Brown might not be back with the 49ers in 2014.
    Tarell Brown might not be back with the 49ers in 2014.Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

    1. Wide Receiver

    Anquan Boldin has been a crucial addition for the San Francisco 49ers offense this season, but the 49ers are unlikely to make a long-term commitment to the 33-year-old unrestricted free agent. With the potential to lose both Boldin and fellow unrestricted free agent Mario Manningham, the 49ers could be in need of more weapons to supplement Michael Crabtree.

    2. Center

    Jonathan Goodwin is an unrestricted free agent and, at 35 years old, the time is now for the San Francisco 49ers to find his replacement or at least his heir apparent.

    3. Cornerback

    Tarell Brown, the 49ers' best cornerback, is an unrestricted free agent who San Francisco may be at increased risk of losing after he missed out on a $2 million contract escalator earlier this season. Carlos Rogers and Tramaine Brock are solid players, but neither is the No. 1 cornerback the 49ers would need if they lose Brown.

Seattle Seahawks

29 of 33

    If Brandon Browner's suspension goes into effect, his Seahawks career might be over.
    If Brandon Browner's suspension goes into effect, his Seahawks career might be over.Steven Bisig-USA TODAY Sports

    1. Guard

    Neither left guard James Carpenter nor right guard J.R. Sweezy has played like a starting-caliber guard in the NFL yet in their careers, so with few other pressing needs on their roster, the Seattle Seahawks should look to upgrade this position early in the 2014 draft.

    2. Cornerback

    Whether he wins his appeal of his one-year suspension or not, unrestricted free agent cornerback Brandon Browner's career with the Seattle Seahawks might be over after this season. With nickel cornerback Walter Thurmond also set to become an unrestricted free agent, the Seahawks need to add new talent at the position.

    3. Wide Receiver

    The Seattle Seahawks' two leading receivers this season, Golden Tate and Doug Baldwin, are both set to become free agents (Tate unrestricted, Baldwin restricted). The Seahawks could have two very good starting receivers still if Sidney Rice and Percy Harvin can be remain healthy and productive in 2014, but they will need to add depth at the position if they lose Tate and/or Baldwin.

     

St. Louis Rams

30 of 33

    This season could be Rodger Saffold's last with the Rams.
    This season could be Rodger Saffold's last with the Rams.Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

    1. Guard

    Both of the Rams' current starting guards, Chris Williams and Rodger Saffold, are slated for unrestricted free agency, as is top backup Shelley Smith. Saffold could leave the Rams for an opportunity to play offensive tackle again, while the team should look for upgrades over Williams, Smith and Harvey Dahl.

    2. Cornerback

    Cortland Finnegan was in the midst of an awful season before going down with a season-ending orbital fracture. While Finnegan will likely be brought back for a chance to bounce back in 2014, the Rams will want to increase the competition at the position, especially considering they have just three other cornerbacks on the roster.

    3. Linebacker

    The Rams have two very good linebackers in James Laurinaitis and Alec Ogletree, but minimal depth behind them with JoLonn Dunbar and Will Witherspoon both set to be unrestricted free agents. The Rams should look for an upgrade over Dunbar to play strongside linebacker in 4-3 sets, while overall depth at the position is needed.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

31 of 33

    Daniel Te'o-Nesheim has not played well as a starter in Tampa Bay.
    Daniel Te'o-Nesheim has not played well as a starter in Tampa Bay.Winslow Townson/Getty Images

    1. Defensive End

    Losing Michael Bennett last offseason left the Tampa Bay Buccaneers without a premier pass-rusher. The Buccaneers could use upgrades at both defensive end spots but especially opposite Adrian Clayborn, where Daniel Te'o-Nesheim has played poorly and is an unrestricted free agent.

    2. Wide Receiver

    The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have little else at wide receiver behind starters Vincent Jackson and Mike Williams. Unrestricted free agent Tiquan Underwood could be brought back as the team's No. 3 receiver, but the Buccaneers could add a spark to their offense by finding a more dynamic weapon to play in the slot.

    3. Tight End

    Undrafted rookie Timothy Wright has been a pleasant surprise as a receiving playmaker from the tight end position this season, but the converted wide receiver is not much of a blocker. As Luke Stocker has all but proven to be a bust, the Buccaneers should look for an in-line tight end who can make downfield plays as a receiver but also open holes as a run blocker.

Tennessee Titans

32 of 33

    The Titans are expected to release Chris Johnson this offseason.
    The Titans are expected to release Chris Johnson this offseason.Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

    1. Middle Linebacker

    The Tennessee Titans have two promising young outside linebackers in Zach Brown and Akeem Ayers, but they need a better player than Moise Fokou or Colin McCarthy to lead the group in the middle.

    2. Running Back

    If the report from NFL Network's Mike Silver that the Titans will release running back Chris Johnson this offseason is true, Tennesse's leading returning rusher as of now would be Ryan Fitzpatrick, a backup quarterback starting in Jake Locker's place but not known for his mobility. If Johnson is on his way, the Titans need to add another running back with big-play potential, which the team's No. 2 running back, Shonn Greene, does not have much of.

    3. Defensive End

    Starting defensive end Ropati Pitoitua, who is an unrestricted free agent, is very underwhelming as a pass-rusher. If the Titans can get one, they would be smart to try to find a more explosive pass-rusher to line up opposite Derrick Morgan.

Washington Redskins

33 of 33

    London Fletcher's career is nearing its end at 38 years old.
    London Fletcher's career is nearing its end at 38 years old.Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports

    1. Inside Linebacker

    Age seems to finally be taking its toll on the play of 38-year-old middle linebacker London Fletcher. Fellow starting inside linebacker Perry Riley has been a disappointment in an increased role, and both starters are unrestricted free agents.

    2. Cornerback

    Washington added one young cornerback with high upside when they selected David Amerson in the second round of the 2013 draft, but they should continue to add at the position with DeAngelo Hall, Josh Wilson and E.J. Biggers all slated for unrestricted free agency. Even if any of those cornerbacks are brought back in 2014, all have struggled this season, so upgrades should be sought.

    3. Defensive End

    Defensive end has been an overall point of weakness for the Washington defense. Adam Carriker has not played since early 2012 due to injury, Stephen Bowen will also be coming off an injury, 2011 second-round pick Jarvis Jenkins has been a disappointment and Chris Baker is an unrestricted free agency.

     

    Dan Hope is an NFL/NFL draft Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report.

Where can I comment?

Stay on your game

Latest news, insights, and forecasts on your teams across leagues.

Choose Teams
Get it on the App StoreGet it on Google Play

Real-time news for your teams right on your mobile device.

Download
Copyright © 2017 Bleacher Report, Inc. Turner Broadcasting System, Inc. All Rights Reserved. BleacherReport.com is part of Bleacher Report – Turner Sports Network, part of the Turner Sports and Entertainment Network. Certain photos copyright © 2017 Getty Images. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of Getty Images is strictly prohibited. AdChoices