1 Roster Hole Each NFL Team Can Easily Patch in This Year's Draft

Russell S. Baxter@@BaxFootballGuruContributor IApril 26, 2014

1 Roster Hole Each NFL Team Can Easily Patch in This Year's Draft

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    There’s less than two weeks to go until we find out what each team in the NFL plans on doing to cure what still ails it.

    Free agency has basically run its course, and every club’s focus is now on the draft, which takes place from May 8-10 at New York City's Radio City Music Hall.

    So here’s a look at one glaring hole that each team could fill rather easily in less than two weeks. Youth will certainly be served quite well at that time.

    This is not a first-round mock draft. It is simply a look at a specific need each team can address, regardless of what round the team finds its man in. We have picked out one specific area of concern for every club, and while we aren’t making any player suggestions, we will give you a hint or two on what kind of ammunition each team has at its disposal.

    Listed on each page is the number of selections for the team. We get into more specifics in terms of where exactly those picks are at Pro Football Guru.

    We are almost there.

Arizona Cardinals: Safety

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    Selections in 2014 Draft: 6

    This past season, only five teams in the NFL allowed fewer yards than the Arizona Cardinals. No team in the league was more effective at stopping the run than defensive coordinator Todd Bowles’ unit.

    It remains to be seen if the Cards will be just as hard to deal with this upcoming season. The team’s top two tacklers of a year ago, inside linebacker Karlos Dansby and strong safety Yeremiah Bell, are no longer with the club.

    While Kevin Minter is expected to take over for Dansby, the team is looking for a starter opposite 2013 rookie standout Tyrann Mathieu. The latter is trying to rebound from a late-season knee injury. Here is the latest on that from Josh Weinfuss of ESPN.com.

    For now, Tony Jefferson is atop the depth chart at strong safety. The undrafted free agent totaled 24 tackles in 16 games last season.

Atlanta Falcons: Tight End

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    Selections in 2014 Draft: 10

    No, we are not announcing that Tony Gonzalez is returning for another season. In fact, it will be the prolific tight end who's doing the announcing in 2014...for CBS Sports.

    In any case, who exactly will replace the production from that position for the Atlanta Falcons in 2014? Will it be Levine Toilolo, who caught 11 passes for 55 yards and a pair of touchdowns a year ago as a rookie? A fourth-round pick from Stanford a year ago, he may indeed wind up being the solution for Mike Smith’s club.

    With 10 picks in this upcoming draft, including the sixth overall selection, there has already been speculation that the Falcons are interested in trading up to the top spot to grab defensive end Jadeveon Clowney. D. Orlando Ledbetter of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution tells us how interested.

    As far as the tight end position, it wouldn’t be a shocker to see the team use a Day 2 pick to grab a tight end.

Baltimore Ravens: Strong Safety

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    Selections in 2014 Draft: 8

    A year ago, the Baltimore Ravens got a productive season from strong safety James Ihedigbo. He finished second on the team with 101 tackles and totaled five of the team’s 24 takeaways.

    This season, Ihedigbo will be producing for the Detroit Lions.

    This offseason, the Ravens signed free-agent safety Darian Stewart, who totaled 35 tackles and knocked down five passes for the St. Louis Rams in 2013.

    Could general manager Ozzie Newsome opt to bring in some fresh blood at the position next month? While the Ravens might focus elsewhere with their top pick, the team owns two selections in both the third and fourth rounds.

Buffalo Bills: Tight End

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    Selections in 2014 Draft: 6

    Everyone knows of the Buffalo Bills and their long playoff drought. And you can’t ignore the fact that the team has finished last in the AFC East six consecutive seasons.

    Doug Marrone is preparing for his second year as the club’s head coach. He knows that he has a young quarterback in EJ Manuel, the Bills’ first-round pick in 2013. Buffalo drafted wide receiver Robert Woods in the second round a year ago and, this offseason, traded for wide receiver Mike Williams. It gave up a sixth-round pick for the talented performer.

    Still, the team’s leading pass-catcher from a year ago was veteran tight end Scott Chandler, who caught just 53 passes for 655 yards and a pair of scores.

    While it may not come courtesy of the ninth overall pick in May, Marrone and Co. figure to upgrade this position with some much-needed youth.

Carolina Panthers: Offensive Line

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    Selections in 2014 Draft: 7

    This past season, the Carolina Panthers overcame a 1-3 start to win 11 of their final 12 games and capture the NFC South. They could be facing a bigger obstacle in 2014, however.

    Veteran left tackle Jordan Gross has retired after 11 seasons. Right tackle Byron Bell is an unsigned restricted free agent and is not coming off the best of years. The good news is that left guard Amini Silatolu is expected back after missing all of 2013.

    Still, a team that runs the ball as well as the Panthers, who finished 11th in the league in rushing offense this past season and hope to keep quarterback Cam Newton out of harm’s way, needs to right the ship in terms of its offensive line.


Chicago Bears: Defensive Tackle

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    Selections in 2014 Draft: 7

    Just two teams in the NFL allowed more total yards, no club surrendered more yards on the ground and only the Minnesota Vikings (480) gave up more points than the 2013 Chicago Bears (480).

    So now what? The team was busy this offseason stocking up on defensive end help to aid a pass rush that tied for last in the NFL with 31 sacks this past season. That would explain the additions of Jared Allen, Lamarr Houston and Willie Young.

    But what about the interior of the defensive front, one that is in dire need of help? The loss of defensive tackle Henry Melton for the final 13 games in 2013 certainly hurt. And he’s now a member of the Dallas Cowboys, so general manager Phil Emery has some work to do.

    It also wouldn’t be shocking to see the Bears add more than one defensive tackle over the three-day process.

Cincinnati Bengals: Outside Linebacker

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    Selections in 2014 Draft: 9

    While he certainly wasn’t the pass-rushing threat that he was in the past with the Pittsburgh Steelers, outside linebacker James Harrison had a nice season for the Cincinnati Bengals in 2013. However, one of the kings of physical football is no longer employed in the Queen City.

    So who will head coach Marvin Lewis pair with the likes of Pro Bowler Vontaze Burfict and middle linebacker Rey Maualuga in 2014?

    The Bengals finished with the league’s third-ranked defense a year ago and have remained among the NFL’s better units in recent years due to their depth.

    Last season, undrafted free agent Jayson DiManche totaled 18 tackles but was on the field for just 47 snaps, per Pro Football Focus (subscription required).

    No doubt the Bengals would like a playmaker to add to the likes of Burfict and Maualuga and keep that linebacking corps as productive as possible.

Cleveland Browns: Quarterback

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    Selections in 2014 Draft: 10

    Fortunately for the Cleveland Browns, the team once again has a pair of first-round picks in this year’s draft. Of course, we also saw what happened the last time it had two selections on Day 1. The franchise selected running back Trent Richardson and quarterback Brandon Weeden in the first round in 2012.

    That’s now Richardson of the Indianapolis Colts and Weeden of the Dallas Cowboys.

    In any case, you have to have a quarterback, and new head coach Mike Pettine has Brian Hoyer, who missed most of last season. Cleveland went through three starting quarterbacks in 2013, with the trio combing for 25 touchdown passes but two-dozen turnovers.

    With seven picks in the first four rounds, might it be possible that the franchise addresses this position more than once? Only new general manager Ray Farmer can answer that question.

Dallas Cowboys: Defensive Line

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    Selections in 2014 Draft: 11

    When you consider that the Dallas Cowboys have employed the likes of Wade Philips, Rob Ryan and Monte Kiffin, you would think Jerry Jones would have found some sort of defensive success.

    Now it’s Rod Marinelli’s turn, and the task is formidable. In 2013, no team allowed more total yards than Jason Garrett’s club.

    It won’t be easy, especially with the likes of DeMarcus Ware and Jason Hatcher now elsewhere. The team did sign free-agent defensive tackle Henry Melton away from the Bears. The 2012 Pro Bowler missed the final 13 games this past season and looks to bounce back in a big way. The Cowboys also added defensive tackle Terrell McClain (Houston Texans) and defensive end Jeremy Mincey (Denver Broncos) this offseason.

    However, youth must be served at these positions in May. Dallas owns 11 picks in the draft, but it’s worth noting that six of those selections come in the seventh round.

Denver Broncos: Middle Linebacker

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    Selections in 2014 Draft: 7

    Apparently, scoring 606 points in one season results in a 35-point loss in the Super Bowl.

    The Denver Broncos found out the hard way in 2013 (as have other teams) than defense and balance still win championships.

    Yes, the Broncos finished tied for seventh in the NFL in rushing defense. But Jack Del Rio’s unit was also a mere 19th overall in terms of total yards allowed (27th versus the pass), and further review shows that this unit could be had on the ground when truly tested.

    This offseason, general manager John Elway added veteran defenders such as DeMarcus Ware, Aqib Talib and T.J. Ward to the mix. But the team also lost its share of standouts. Middle linebacker Wesley Woodyard (Tennessee Titans) and his successor, Paris Lenon (unsigned), are no longer with the team.

    Unless the Broncos fix this defense from top to bottom, scoring 700-plus points in 2014 may do the team no good.

Detroit Lions: Outside Linebacker

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    Selections in 2014 Draft: 8

    Move up to draft University of Clemson wide receiver Sammy Watkins?

    Entertain the thought of trading Pro Bowl defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh? Just ask Bleacher Report's Mike Freeman.

    There’s been plenty to talk about when it comes to the Detroit Lions these days. But one thing that must be addressed is a mediocre defensive unit now under the guidance of new coordinator Teryl Austin.

    Ashlee Palmer started a career-high 10 games at left outside linebacker in 2013 and didn’t make much of an impact, totaling just 33 tackles. He totaled one fumble recovery and was credited with one pass defensed.

    The Lions owns the 10th overall pick in this year’s NFL and a total of eight choices, including three picks in the fourth round. Could they move up to grab someone other than Watkins who could make a bigger impact on their defensive unit.

Green Bay Packers: Free Safety

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    Selections in 2014 Draft: 9

    As the Green Bay Packers have continued to accumulate NFC North titles, their defense has inexplicably headed backward.

    Mike McCarthy’s team went through four different starting quarterbacks in 2013 and still managed to win a division crown with an 8-7-1 record. Green Bay finished 25th in total yards allowed in the NFL, ranking 25th versus the run and 24th versus the pass. McCarthy’s cub also allowed more points (428) than it scored (417) in 2013.

    The Pack is hoping that the additions of free agents such as Julius Peppers and Letroy Guion will help the front seven. But free safety M.D. Jennings, a 16-game starter in 2013, is now a member of the Bears.

    It’s easy to imagine general manager Ted Thompson targeting this area within the first two days of the draft, especially with a pair of third-round picks at his disposal.

Houston Texans: Quarterback

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    Selections in 2014 Draft: 11

    It seems like we have been down this path before. This marks the third time that the Houston Texans own the top pick in the NFL draft.

    In 2002, the team’s debut year, the franchise opted for quarterback David Carr. In 2006, the team selected North Carolina State defensive end Mario Williams with the No. 1 pick.

    Now, this year, the general consensus is that the Texans will choose either a quarterback or defensive end with the selection...if they keep it.

    Regardless of when, new head coach Bill O’Brien and the team must come out of this draft with a quarterback, perhaps one in the second round, where the Texans have the 33rd overall pick.

    This offseason, Houston added well-traveled veteran Ryan Fitzpatrick to the mix, and Case Keenum and T.J. Yates remain on the roster. But a position that combined for 19 touchdown passes and 25 of the team’s 31 turnovers will obviously be addressed.

Indianapolis Colts: Nose Tackle

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    Selections in 2014 Draft: 5

    With the fewest selections in this year’s draft and zero selections in the first round, the Indianapolis Colts were as busy as they could be filling some holes via free agency.

    The team’s first pick in May comes in the second round (59th overall). General manager Ryan Grigson also doesn’t have the luxury of a fourth-round pick this year.

    In order to shore up a defensive unit that never seems to get that much better, especially when it comes to the run, the Colts added a pair of free agents in defensive lineman Arthur Jones and inside linebacker D’Qwell Jackson, both of whom hope to help Chuck Pagano’s team improve on the league’s 26th-ranked rushing defense.

    For now, third-year pro Josh Chapman is the man in the middle. But that may not be the case when the team opens the season against the Denver Broncos in September.

Jacksonville Jaguars: Center

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    Selections in 2014 Draft: 11

    Last season, no team in the league scored fewer points than the Jacksonville Jaguars, who also ranked 29th in the NFL in total offense.

    A year ago, only two clubs gave up more total yards and rushing yards than Gus Bradley’s club, who also finished tied for last in the league with 31 sacks.

    Help has come in the form of free-agent defensive linemen Chris Clemons, Red Bryant and Ziggy Hood. But the Jaguars have a bigger hole to fill.

    Longtime center Brad Meester retired this offseason after 14 seasons. Bradley has several candidates on the roster to replace him, including two-year pro Mike Brewster. The former undrafted free agent started seven games at left guard for Jacksonville in 2012.

    Obviously, no one’s looking for this team to invest the third overall selection here to find Meester’s successor. But the Jaguars do have a healthy eight picks on Day 3 of the draft to perhaps bring in some immediate help.


Kansas City Chiefs: Inside Linebacker

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    Selections in 2014 Draft: 6

    This past season, the Kansas City Chiefs opened 9-0, lost five of their final seven regular-season contests and then blew a 38-10 third-quarter lead in a playoff loss to the Indianapolis Colts.

    A team that limited each of its first nine opponents to 17 or fewer points struggled mightily for numerous reasons down the stretch on the defensive side of the ball. It was a big reason Andy Reid’s club went a combined 0-4 versus the Denver Broncos and San Diego Chargers.

    Veteran inside linebacker Akeem Jordan, lost among Kansas City’s Pro Bowl-laden unit, finished fourth on the team with 67 tackles this past season. He’s now a member of the Washington Redskins, and Reid will try and fill that vacancy with second-year pro Nico Johnson or free-agent addition Joe Mays, late of the Houston Texans.

    Or perhaps the Chiefs will opt to use one of their six picks on a promising performer who could immediately help a defense that finished 22nd in the league against the run in 2013.


Miami Dolphins: Offensive Line

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    Selections in 2014 Draft: 7

    The Miami Dolphins finished 26th in the league in rushing this past season and also allowed an NFL-high 58 sacks. That tells you about all you need to know about their problem-plagued offensive line from 2013.

    The franchise has certainly been addressing the issues this offseason. There is a new left-side tandem up front in tackle Brendan Albert and guard Shelley Smith. At right tackle, the team added free agent Jason Fox from the Detroit Lions, but the former fourth-round pick played in just 12 games in four seasons (none in 2013) and has yet to make a start in the NFL.

    The Dolphins’ first three selections in May are Nos. 19, 50 and 81. Odds are that one of those three picks will end up being a big-time addition to the offensive line.


Minnesota Vikings: Left Guard

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    Selections in 2014 Draft: 8

    Sorry, Charlie.

    Veteran left guard Charlie Johnson started 15 games at left guard for the Minnesota Vikings this past season. According to Pro Football Focus, he struggled in nearly every area, most notably run-blocking. In terms of protecting the quarterback, Johnson allowed four sacks, eight quarterback pressures and 23 hurries.

    An unrestricted free agent this offseason, the Vikings opted to bring him back. But will he once again be the team’s primary starter at left guard? Jeff Baca, a sixth-round pick in 2013, is waiting in the wings.

    Or perhaps general manager Rick Spielman will use a second-round pick or one of his two third-round selections to upgrade the position?

New England Patriots: Defensive Tackle

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    Selections in 2014 Draft: 8

    The New England Patriots went 12-4, were the AFC East champions and came within one game of the Super Bowl in 2013.

    Obviously, they are not looking for a repeat performance...in more ways than one.

    Bill Belichick’s team is usually in contention every year when it comes to the Lombardi Trophy. And that figures to be the case once again this upcoming season, as the Pats made some key additions on defense with the free-agent arrivals of cornerback Darrelle Revis and Brandon Browner.

    But perhaps the biggest issue that derailed the Patriots’ Super Bowl XLVIII plans was injuries to linebacker Jerod Mayo and defensive tackles Vince Wilfork and Tommy Kelly. Only two teams in the league allowed more rushing yards than Belichick’s club did in 2013.

    And that’s why it wouldn’t be a surprise to see the team select an interior defensive lineman sometime in this draft, one who can step in immediately and spell 10-year veterans Wilfork and Kelly from time to time.



New Orleans Saints: Center

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    Selections in 2014 Draft: 7

    Perhaps the New Orleans Saints know something we don’t know. Considering they’ve been to the playoffs four of the last five seasons, they get the benefit of the doubt.

    Still, it appeared curious that the team did not make a bigger effort to re-sign three-year starting center Brian de la Puente, who became an unrestricted free agent in March. A few weeks ago, the Bears signed the steady performer to bolster their roster.

    At the moment, former undrafted free agent Tim Lelito is the only center on Sean Payton’s roster. The Saints have seven picks in next month’s draft, but just as was the case with Lelito, de la Puente went undrafted.

    Could the team perhaps use one of its two fifth-round picks on it center of the future?



New York Giants: Tight End

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    Selections in 2014 Draft: 7

    The New York Giants currently have four tight ends on their roster, and they combined for exactly six receptions in 2013.

    This past season, Larry Donnell caught three passes for Tom Coughlin’s team, and free-agent addition Kellen Davis had the same amount of grabs for the Seattle Seahawks. Adrien Robinson has not totaled a reception in two NFL seasons. Finally, Daniel Fells has 92 career receptions with three teams in the league but didn’t play football in 2013.

    Yep, you could say that Tom Coughlin’s team has quite a hole to patch.

    A year ago, Brandon Myers totaled 47 catches (four touchdowns) in his one and only season with Big Blue. He signed with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers this offseason.

    There’s little doubt that Coughlin and Co. will come out of this year’s draft with at least one tight end and a player who can contribute immediately.

New York Jets: Wide Receiver

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    Selections in 2014 Draft: 12

    There are those still shaking their heads when it comes to figuring out how the New York Jets finished 8-8 a year ago.

    While some may insist it was done my mirrors, there’s little question that it wasn’t done via the team’s passing game.

    Only the Buccaneers gained few yards through the air than Rex Ryan’s team in 2013. Via free agency, the team added wideouts Eric Decker and Jacoby Ford from the Denver Broncos and Oakland Raiders, respectively. They join incumbents such as Jeremy Kerley (43) and David Nelson (36), who combined for 79 catches a year ago.

    This past season, Decker totaled 87 catches for 1,288 yards and 11 touchdowns with the Broncos.

    In 2013, Ryan’s team scored 13 times through the air, with just seven of those touchdown receptions coming via wide receivers.

    Despite the free-agent pickups, with a dozen picks in this year’s draft, the Jets figure to take advantage of a deep wide receiver class.

Oakland Raiders: Cornerback

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    Selections in 2014 Draft: 7

    A year ago, the Oakland Raiders used their first-round pick on cornerback D.J. Hayden and added free agents such as Mike Jenkins and Tracy Porter, signing those veterans to one-year contracts. Both are now gone and in their place are a pair of ex-San Francisco 49ers in Tarell Brown and Carlos Rogers.

    But could general manager Reggie McKenzie be getting ready to make the secondary an area of emphasis once again? Dennis Allen’s team did rank 28th in pass defense this past season, and the Silver and Black allowed a whopping 33 touchdown passes in the process.

    A pass rush that finished with 38 sacks in 2013 should be even better with additions such as Justin Tuck, LaMarr Woodley and Antonio Smith. Another young cornerback would help Allen as well, though, especially in the very loaded AFC West.


Philadelphia Eagles: Wide Receiver

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    Selections in 2014 Draft: 6

    A year ago, Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver Riley Cooper caught 47 passes for 835 yards and eight scores. Meanwhile, Jeremy Maclin missed the entire season due to injury and is looking to make a comeback. Both players re-signed with the Birds this offseason.

    And as everyone in the civilized world must know by now, the Eagles released wideout DeSean Jackson, who inked a deal with the Washington Redskins.

    So who is Chip Kelly’s third receiver? The candidates already on the roster include Arrelious Benn and Brad Smith. But perhaps he is in disguise in the form of running back Darren Sproles.

    In any case, the Eagles hope to snare a new playmaker at wide receiver, one who can step in immediately and help spread the field for the league’s second-ranked defense a year ago.

Pittsburgh Steelers: Defensive Line

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    Selections in 2014 Draft: 9

    The Pittsburgh Steelers have been very busy this offseason in terms of free agency. General manager Kevin Colbert and the organization also have nine picks in next month’s draft.

    They also have perhaps more than one hole to address on the defensive line.

    In 2013, the Steelers ranked a mere 21st in the league when it came to stopping the run. In eight of the previous nine seasons dating back to 2004, Dick LeBeau’s unit finished in the top three in the NFL in that department.

    The team signed Cam Thomas away from the San Diego Chargers. Defensive end Cameron Heyward and Steve McClendon return, but the club lost backup defensive lineman Al Woods to free agency. Defensive end Nick Williams, a seventh-round pick in 2013, also figures to be in the mix. And would the team bring back longtime veteran Brett Keisel, who remains unsigned for now?

    All good questions, but perhaps too many for a Pittsburgh defense looking to return to its form of years past?

St. Louis Rams: Offensive Line

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    Selections in 2014 Draft: 12

    There probably won’t be many excuses if the St. Louis Rams don’t come out of the 2014 NFL draft with a new starting right tackle.

    Along with the Jets, the Rams own an NFL-high 12 picks in this year’s three-day event.

    Perhaps any aid along the offensive front would help. Six-year veteran left tackle Jake Long is still recovering from a knee injury sustained last December. At guard, Rodger Saffold returns, but Chris Williams and Shelley Smith left St. Louis via free agency and Harvey Dahl was released by the team this offseason.

    Jeff Fisher’s team is in need of big and talented bodies up front. As Nick Klopsis of Newsday reminds us, tackle Greg Robinson has been the popular choice for the Rams with the second overall pick (they also own the No. 13 pick) if you believe what you read among the mock drafts.

    In any case, the Rams’ need is obvious and figures to be addressed on Day 1.

San Diego Chargers: Nose Tackle

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    Selections in 2014 Draft: 7

    A big December was the catalyst for the San Diego Chargers’ run to the 2013 playoffs.

    A big presence and some big plays could do wonders for a team looking for its first Super Bowl title.

    This past season, the Bolts were a mediocre 23rd in the league in total yards allowed and an ordinary 12th in the NFL in rushing defense.

    While Mike McCoy’s team appears set at inside linebacker with Donald Butler and Manti Te’o, it appears very unsettled with Sean Lissemore and Kwame Geathers at nose tackle.

    In order for the 3-4 to work, the nose tackle must tie up multiple blockers to free up other parts of the defense. A year ago, San Diego managed a somewhat respectable 35 sacks, but only the Houston Texans (11) and New York Jets (15) managed fewer takeaways than the Chargers (17) did.

    Could the Chargers’ brain trust use a first- or second-round pick on a defensive tackle? It may be a must if the team wants to keep up in the highly competitive AFC West.



San Francisco 49ers: Cornerback

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    Selections in 2014 Draft: 11

    Defense has been the San Francisco 49ers’ calling card the last few seasons. In 2013, Jim Harbaugh’s club allowed 272 points, third-fewest in the league behind the Seahawks (231) and Panthers (241).

    Vic Fangio’s defensive unit allowed only 30 touchdowns, including only 19 through the air. But nearly one-third of those touchdown passes (six) came in the team’s final three regular-season outings.

    The Niners’ secondary will have a different look this upcoming season, most notably at cornerback. Veterans Carlos Rogers and Tarell Brown are now members of the Oakland Raiders, and Chris Culliver is a question mark as of now due to his off-field issues. The team signed free-agent cornerback Chris Cook to a one-year deal. Holdovers include Tramaine Brock, Eric Wright and Perrish Cox.

    With a total of 11 selections, including the 30th overall pick and six of the top 100 picks, general manager Trent Baalke figures to make cornerback a big priority and one that may see the 49ers move up May 8.

Seattle Seahawks: Offensive Line

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    Selections in 2014 Draft: 6

    Following last week’s trade of a seventh-round pick to the Raiders for quarterback Terrelle Pryor, the defending Super Bowl champions have just six selections in May’s draft.

    Last season, injuries were an issue along the offensive front for the Seahawks. The area most affected was tackle, as left-side performer Russell Okung and cohort Breno Giacomini each missed a large chunk of the season.

    As far as performance, 2013's primary starters at guard, James Carpenter (left guard) and J.R. Sweezy (right guard), didn't earned particularly high marks from Pro Football Focus this past season.

    With the final pick in the first round, the Seahawks may opt to take advantage of the talented blockers in this year’s class.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Wide Receiver

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    Selections in 2014 Draft: 6

    It seemed like these Bucs would never stop.

    The free-agent addition list for new head coach Lovie Smith and the Buccaneers is pretty long, which theoretically means the club should be short on excuses if it fails to have a successful 2014 season.

    New general manager Jason Licht has added the likes of Pro Bowl cornerback Alterraun Verner, defensive end Michael Johnson, quarterback Josh McCown, offensive linemen Anthony Collins and Evan Dietrich-Smith and safety Major Wright.

    The team also dealt wideout Mike Williams to Buffalo for a sixth-round draft choice next month. So who will the team pair with Vincent Jackson this season? The Buccaneers added Louis Murphy and Lavelle Hawkins in free agency.

    Could the seventh overall pick in two weeks give McCown another playmaker? In any case, the Bucs certainly need one.

Tennessee Titans: Defensive End

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    Selections in 2014 Draft: 6

    The last time the Tennessee Titans were in the playoffs was 2008. Running back Chris Johnson was a rookie, and Jeff Fisher’s team owned the league’s best record at 13-3.

    Now, the Titans hope to get back to the postseason, even though their rushing leader each of the last six seasons won’t be around.

    Someone you will see in Nashville is new defensive coordinator Ray Horton, who brings his 3-4 schemes in reuniting with Ken Whisenhunt. The duo worked together with the Cardinals. The signings of linebackers Shaun Phillips and Wesley Woodyard and defensive end Al Woods will aid Tennessee’s transition.

    Woods will pair with former first-round draft choice Derrick Morgan at defensive end. But playing the position in the 4-3 is far different than the 3-4. Don’t be shocked if the Titans address the spot somewhat early in the draft, despite Woods’ experience in the scheme.


Washington Redskins: Safety

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    Selections in 2014 Draft: 6

    When it was all said and done, 2013 proved to be a tough year for the Washington Redskins (who lost their final eight games) and many of their performers.

    Case in point was strong safety Brandon Meriweather, who looked to make a successful comeback after missing just about all of the 2012 campaign. The final numbers show that the seven-year pro totaled 69 tackles, two interceptions and three passes defensed. He also missed 13 tackles in 16 contests, according to Pro Football Focus. All told, Jim Haslett’s defensive unit allowed 29 touchdown passes this past season.

    As if anyone needed reminding, the Redskins don’t have a first-round pick this year...again. That doesn’t mean they won't address the position on Day 2.