After a flurry of offseason transactions, many NFL team's needs have changed heading into the 2014 draft.
Addressing these needs through the draft is of the utmost importance, as a solid selection can bolster a roster position for years to come, while a poor selection could potentially set a franchise back in a big way.
There will be prospects who are coveted by many of the same teams; however, they'll go as draft order dictates. Some front offices will surely jump positions with draft-day trades—it happens every year—leaving others to wonder what may have been.
At this point, we have no way of knowing which teams will be big movers during the draft, so trades will not be a part of this process.
Also, one thing to note: This is not a mock draft. Many teams have the same positions of need, and if they are picking near each other, they will potentially have the same best-suited prospect.
The projected draft position for each prospect will also be taken highly into consideration here. Sure, the Carolina Panthers would love Sammy Watkins, but he certainly won't be around at No. 28 overall.
NFL Team Draft Needs and Best-Suited Prospects
|1||Houston Texans||QB||Blake Bortles|
|2, 13||St. Louis Rams||WR||(2) Sammy Watkins, (13) Mike Evans|
|3||Jacksonville Jaguars||QB||Johnny Manziel|
|4, 26||Cleveland Browns||QB||(4) Johnny Manziel, (26) Derek Carr|
|5||Oakland Raiders||QB||Blake Bortles|
|6||Atlanta Falcons||OT||Greg Robinson|
|7||Tampa Bay Buccaneers||WR||Sammy Watkins|
|8||Minnesota Vikings||QB||Blake Bortles|
|9||Buffalo Bills||OT||Jake Matthews|
|10||Detroit Lions||S||Calvin Pryor|
|11||Tennessee Titans||CB||Justin Gilbert|
|12||New York Giants||WR||Mike Evans|
|14||Chicago Bears||DT||Aaron Donald|
|15||Pittsburgh Steelers||WR||Mike Evans|
|16||Dallas Cowboys||S||Calvin Pryor|
|17||Baltimore Ravens||OT||Taylor Lewan|
|18||New York Jets||CB||Justin Gilbert|
|19||Miami Dolphins||OT||Taylor Lewan|
|20||Arizona Cardinals||S||Ha Ha Clinton-Dix|
|21||Green Bay Packers||TE||Jace Amaro|
|22||Philadelphia Eagles||S||Ha Ha Clinton-Dix|
|23||Kansas City Chiefs||WR||Odell Beckham Jr.|
|24||Cincinnati Bengals||CB||Darqueze Dennard|
|25||San Diego Chargers||OG||Zack Martin|
|27||New Orleans Saints||WR||Odell Beckham Jr.|
|28||Carolina Panthers||WR||Odell Beckham Jr.|
|29||New England Patriots||DT||Ra'Shede Hageman|
|30||San Francisco 49ers||WR||Allen Robinson|
|31||Denver Broncos||LB||C.J. Mosley|
|32||Seattle Seahawks||OG||Xavier Su'a-Filo|
|34||Washington Redskins||S||Deone Bucannon|
|58||Indianapolis Colts||WR||Davante Adams|
Draft Order via NFL.com
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Before the free-agency period, it could be argued that the Buccaneers' biggest need was on the defensive side of the ball. Although, after acquiring Michael Johnson and Clinton McDonald, the team's defensive front looks great.
The Buccaneers did lose Mike Williams and have yet to find a complementary wide receiver for Vincent Jackson. If the team expects Mike Glennon to continue to progress, he'll need plenty of help.
Athletically? Dez Bryant. RT @ThatWillCoker: who is the closest comparison to Sammy Watkins in the NFL currently?— Matt Miller (@nfldraftscout) April 11, 2014
Sammy Watkins would be the ideal choice here. He's a bona fide No. 1 receiver and would give opposing defenses fits alongside Jackson. This duo would give the Buccaneers a much-needed boost in their passing attack.
Chicago—like most teams—has several big needs; however, none more important than the defensive tackle position.
The Bears made some great moves in free agency, acquiring Jared Allen and Lamarr Houston. The team's pass rush will certainly be a huge force this season. Although, the team still hasn't addressed the need to stop the run.
Chicago's defense was horrid last season in this department. The team finished dead last against the run, allowing an average of 161.4 yards per game on the ground.
The fact that Aaron Donald is my No. 10 overall player is a testament to how deep this draft is. Would be top 5 most years.— Matt Miller (@nfldraftscout) April 11, 2014
Adding a defensive tackle like Aaron Donald would be ideal in the first round.
Donald is a stout run defender, plugging holes with his massive frame; however, he's also surprisingly nimble for his size. He can slice through the interior of an offensive line to help attack the quarterback as well. Lining up alongside Allen and Houston won't hurt his production either.
New England Patriots
It's widely conceived that New England's biggest need in the draft is at the tight end position. That's certainly a big hole due to the ongoing injuries of Rob Gronkowski; however, it's on the defensive line where the team needs to improve most.
Last season, the Patriots allowed an average of 134.1 yards per game on the ground—good enough to rank 30th in the league. On the plus side, New England got after the quarterback nicely, racking up 48 sacks.
This team thrives on versatility on both sides of the ball. That's how Bill Belichick works. Adding a player like Ra'Shede Hageman gives exactly that to this defense.
Minnesota DT Hageman really impressed me today. Violent. Did a good job exploding low. Needs to get free better as a pass rusher, but wow.— Matt Miller (@nfldraftscout) January 20, 2014
Hageman is extremely athletic and can play multiple positions along the defensive line. He can be a gap-stuffing defensive tackle or a pass-rushing defensive end. A player with his skill set would act as a major chess piece for Belichick.
Adding a defensive tackle will not only shore up the Patriots' run-stuffing woes, but also ensure the team's pass rush stays highly active in 2014.