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Every NFL Team's Best and Worst Positional Units Heading into Training Camp

Alex HallCorrespondent IIIJuly 7, 2014

Every NFL Team's Best and Worst Positional Units Heading into Training Camp

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    Michael Dwyer/Associated Press

    Training camp is all about ironing out the last wrinkles before the new season comes around, and each head coach knows which areas on his team need the most addressing. 

    Teams like the Browns have some adjustments to make on offense with the arrival of Johnny Manziel and the possible suspension of Josh Gordon. Others like the Cowboys are just fine on offense but need more than a little work on the other side of the ball.

    With camp just around the corner and preseason creeping closer, let's take a look at each team's best and worst positional unit at this point in time.

New York Jets

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    Seth Wenig/Associated Press

    Worst Position: Tight End

    The Jets currently have Jeff Cumberland penciled in as the starter at tight end. The same Cumberland that dropped 14 of the 40 targets he received in 2013. His four touchdowns were a nice way to make up for the failed catches, but Cumberland is not elite by any means.

    That's probably why the Jets took Jace Amaro in the second round of the 2014 NFL draft.

    The Texas Tech product could easily start right away in the Big Apple, but whether he'll be productive in his rookie season remains to be seen. With a lackluster veteran and an unproven draft pick leading the position, the Jets don't have the most intimidating tight end duo.

     

    Best Position: Defensive End

    The Jets might not have the most dominant two defensive ends in the league, but they've got a pretty good duo together. Four-year vet Muhammad Wilkerson posted 10.5 sacks last year along with 63 tackles.

    His then-rookie teammate Sheldon Richardson notched 3.5 sacks and 78 tackles, helping him win the Defensive Rookie of the Year award. These two were a huge reason why the Jets finished No. 6 in rushing defense last season and could easily do so again in 2014.

    The Jets have a nice mix of young and veteran talent at the two DE positions. The team of Wilkerson and Richardson should only continue to produce numbers going forward.

Buffalo Bills

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    Worst Position: Guard

    While not every one of them was Kraig Urbik's fault, the Bills offensive line surrendered 28 sacks with EJ Manuel under center last year. Considering the Florida State product suited up for just 10 contests, that means the line gave up almost three sacks a game. 

    Veteran Chris Williams will join Urbik at the the guard position this upcoming season, both hoping to better protect their QB. Training camp will give the two time to get acquainted, and there's a chance that Manuel could see better protection in 2014. That being said, there's also a chance for a repeat performance of last season.

     

    Best Position: Running Back

    This isn't exactly breaking news, but the Bills are really, really good at running the football. In a league dominated by pass-happy offenses, Buffalo grinds out its yards behind the legs of C.J. Spiller and Fred Jackson.

    The two rushed for more than 1,700 yards combined along with 11 end-zone trips last season. These two are the engine that keeps the Bills offense going, especially with quarterback EJ Manuel still developing. In 2014, there is little reason to believe this unit will change its run-heavy attack.

    There are several positions that the Bills could use some help at, but running back is nowhere close to one of them.

Miami Dolphins

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    Worst Position: Wide Receiver

    The Dolphins will obviously have Mike Wallace lining up as their No. 1 receiver in 2014. The problem is that Wallace was a bit of a letdown last season and has little around him at the position. 

    Wallace recorded 930 yards and five touchdowns last year on 73 receptions. The problem is he was targeted 142 times, meaning he dropped more than a few passes. He needs to get back to his 2010 and 2011 form in Pittsburgh, when he put together more than 1,000 yards on less receptions than he saw in 2013.

    Looking past Wallace, the Dolphins have veteran Brian Hartline and not much else. Hartline actually outperformed his high-profile teammate in receiving yards last year with 1,016. That being said, these two just aren't enough to carry a passing attack.

    The team learned that the hard way a season ago. Hartline needs to put together another stellar season, and Wallace must live up to his hype this year. If either falters, it will be tough for Miami to make a postseason push.  

     

    Best Position: Defensive End

    Even with Dion Jordan suspended for four games next season, per NFL.com's Dan Hanzus, the Dolphins defensive ends are a certified force. Cameron Wake has gone to the Pro Bowl three times in the past four seasons. Olivier Vernon put together a career-high 11.5 sacks last season.

    Even without Jordan the first four weeks of 2014, the Dolphins will still put the pressure on early and often. When he does return, Tom Brady, Geno Smith and the other AFC East quarterbacks better be on high alert.

New England Patriots

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    Stephan Savoia/Associated Press

    Worst Position: Safety

    The safety position has been an issue for the Patriots for some time now. Devin McCourty, who has been the team's lone bright spot at the position for some time, posted career-lows in tackles and passes defended last year. 2013 draft pick Duron Harmon is currently the likely starter alongside him. 

    Rodney Harrison is not walking through that door. The Pats have always plugged players into the secondary as needed. Harmon will need to put together a career year to make this a serviceable duo at safety. 

     

    Best Position: Quarterback

    Now at age 36, Tom Brady is not the same QB he used to be, but he's still one of the very best in the game. And just in case No. 12 goes down to an injury, the Patriots have both Ryan Mallett and 2014 second-rounder Jimmy Garoppolo backing him up. 

    The Patriots are about as rock solid as a franchise can get at quarterback these days: a future Hall of Famer as the starter and two promising young players behind him, learning and waiting for a shot. 

Cleveland Browns

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    Worst Position: Wide Receiver

    Josh Gordon's 2014 status is still up in the air, but if he is suspended for any length of time, the Browns have few options at wide receiver. Without No. 12, it's likely that Miles Austin would become the team's No. 1 receiver.

    Austin posted just 24 receptions and 244 yards last season with the Cowboys. He hasn't recorded 1,000 or more receiving yards since 2010. Behind him on the depth chart are the likes of Nate Burleson, Andrew Hawkins and Travis Benjamin. 

    Without Gordon, there would be few reasons to fear the Browns' passing attack. 

     

    Best Position: Left Tackle

    If there is one position that is more than stable for this Cleveland offense, it's left tackle. Since coming into the league in 2007, Joe Thomas, the former first-rounder, has become one of the most consistent and productive tackles in the game. 

    Inexperienced Chris Faulk will likely back up Thomas this season, but don't expect to see much of him past the preseason. Thomas has never missed a game in his NFL career. The veteran has given Cleveland fans no reason to expect anything less than excellence from him in 2014.

Cincinnati Bengals

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    Worst Position: Center

    The Bengals are going to roll with either Trevor Robinson or rookie Russell Bodine at center in 2014. Those two will battle it out in camp to see who starts, but neither are overly great options. Bodine was selected in the fourth round of this past draft, which isn't surprising considering the position he plays. 

    The two don't have a ton of experience between them, and honestly, the Bengals should be pulling for the rookie to win this job. That way, the team can immediately start giving the young player reps and hope he can produce similarly to what Travis Frederick did for Dallas last season. 

    If Bodine can adjust to the pro level right out of the gate, it's possible this position isn't a concern in 2014. If he doesn't, there are some question marks this team will need to answer in the middle of the offensive line.

     

    Best Position: Linebacker

    A.J. Green might get most of the limelight in Cincinnati, but the linebacker corps is just as vital to the Bengals' success. Vontaze Burfict went to the Pro Bowl last season, which was just his second in the NFL. He posted eight passes defended, three sacks and 115 tackles in 2013. 

    His teammate Rey Maualuga has become a leader for this Bengals defense in recent years and has posted at least 62 tackles in each of the past two seasons. Both are fairly early on into their pro careers, which means that it's possible they will be even more formidable this season.

Baltimore Ravens

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    Nick Wass/Associated Press

    Worst Position: Defensive End

    Baltimore is lucky that Haloti Ngata is able to create the havoc he does on the line because the defensive ends didn't do any of that in 2013. Newcomer Chris Canty had just two sacks and 30 tackles. Terrence Cody recorded 45 tackles but no sacks, while Brandon Williams brought down just one quarterback all season.

    Simply put, the Ravens need way more out of the exterior of their defensive line this season. With few new faces in the fold at end, the old ones will have to put together a campaign to erase the thoughts of 2013.

    Canty is the most likely to rebound from a bad year. He proved with both Dallas and the Giants that he is capable of anywhere between 35-45 tackles and three to four sacks per season.

     

    Best Position: Defensive Tackle

    The Ravens defense might be past its glory days, but its interior defensive line is plenty scary. Haloti Ngata has gone to five straight Pro Bowls. He's posted 18.5 sacks over that time period. Ngata has earned the right to be in the conversation of best DTs in the NFL. 

    Fellow tackle Timmy Jernigan was the Ravens' second-round pick this past draft. He now has the opportunity to learn from one of the league's best at his position. Jernigan will also see some playing time this season and spell Ngata when needed. 

    The rookie adds even more tooth to an already sharp interior defensive line for Baltimore. Watch for Jernigan this season, as the Ravens are sure to give him more than a few opportunities to prove his worth. 

Pittsburgh Steelers

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    Worst Position: Running Back

    The Steelers did go out and get LeGarrette Blount in free agency this offseason, but he doesn't solidify this rushing attack. Pittsburgh had the No. 28 running game in 2013, anchored largely by Le'Veon Bell. After posting under 900 yards last season, Bell will likely be in a time share with Blount in the backfield in 2014. 

    It will take some training camp and preseason reps to see if these two can prove to be a formidable tandem. On their own, the two are backup-caliber backs for the most part.

     

    Best Position: Center

    Maurkice Pouncey is the highest-paid center in the NFL for a reason. He's one of the best, if not the very best, at his position. He missed almost the entire 2013 campaign due to injury, which should only help to motivate him this year. 

    Pouncey is a three-time Pro Bowl selection and has earned quarterback Ben Roethlisberger's trust in the process. It's never easy coming back from injury, but it's hard to imagine Pouncey not getting back to his stellar level of play early this season. 

Tennessee Titans

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    Worst Position: Quarterback

    Tennessee took Zach Mettenberger this past draft. Jake Locker and Charlie Whitehurst are the two veterans on the quarterback depth chart. Neither must feel like the franchise has faith in them to play the position long-term due to Mettenberger's selection. 

    The Titans can play this scenario two ways. They can either start the rookie Week 1 and roll with him all season or let him get up to speed and throw Locker out there. Both options aren't likely to lead to a ton of wins in Tennessee this season. 

    Mettenberger should give Titans fans hope for the years to come but not the one around the corner. 

     

    Best Position: Safety

    Bernard Pollard and Michael Griffin are two solid veterans and former higher-round draft picks. The two combined for 14 passes defended, more than 130 tackles and four interceptions last season. 

    Pollard had a fine first season with the Titans and looks to fit right in with the gritty mentality the team's defensive unit has. He's a hard-hitting safety who is a fine pass-defender as well. It seems he had no problem adjusting to his new squad.

    Griffin didn't have his best year ever in 2013, but he's still one of the most veteran Titans on the defensive side. The career-long Tennessee player has been to two Pro Bowls and is still a sure tackler. 

    The two might not be the best safety duo in the league, but they're far from the worst. 

Jacksonville Jaguars

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    Worst Position: Running Back

    Once one of the most stable positions on this team, the departure of Maurice Jones-Drew has left a void in Jacksonville. The team will now rely on the likes of Toby Gerhart to take over Jones-Drew's old starting position. 

    Gerhart has never been a starter in the NFL, and his career-high for rushing yards in a season is 531 back in 2011.

    Backups can become solid starting rushers, but it's hard to see Gerhart being the next success story. He's built more like a fullback than a running back and is more known for his build than speed. He'll get his chance to prove otherwise in 2014, but Gerhart isn't likely to reach the 800-yard mark, let alone 1,000. 

     

    Best Position: Linebacker

    Between Geno Hayes and Paul Posluszny, the Jaguars have two impressive and respected linebackers to help anchor their defense.

    Hayes adjusted to Jacksonville well last season after coming over from Chicago, posting four passes defended and 59 tackles. Posluszny more than doubled his new teammate's tackling numbers with 162 last year.

    Jacksonville is working toward becoming a true playoff threat, and one huge asset it has is its linebacker corps. Hayes and Posluszny are not the only linebackers on the roster, but they are the two who stand out and lead the rest. They are two of the best Jags on the roster and proved that just last season.

    Expect more of the same from them in 2014 as their team continues to make strides.

Houston Texans

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    Patric Schneider/Associated Press

    Worst Position: Quarterback

    Ryan Fitzpatrick, Case Keenum and Tom Savage are set for a quarterback camp battle. If that doesn't show that this position is the worst on the roster, I'm not sure what does.

    Fitzpatrick is a veteran who can hold down the fort if the Texans want to ease Savage into the NFL, but that's about the only positive here. And that positive isn't likely to keep Houston in the AFC South divisional race.

     

    Best Position: Running Back

    2013 was an anomaly in what has been a stellar career for Arian Foster. The Houston rusher posted at least 1,200 yards a season from 2010-2012. 

    Last year, he played in just eight games, sidelined by injuries. Despite playing just half a season, though, he tallied more than 500 yards. He was on pace to break the 1,000-yard mark for the fourth straight season. 

    The Houston offense is not what it used to be in terms of talent, but Foster is the finest this team has to offer. Even with former backup Ben Tate no longer on the roster, the running back position is the best on the Texans due to the presence of Foster.

Indianapolis Colts

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    Worst Position: Defensive Tackle

    The Colts currently have Zach Kerr and Josh Chapman as the only viable options at defensive tackle. Neither are proven NFL starters. Until the NFL world learns more about these two players, the unknown and unproven factor to them both help make DT the worst on the Colts roster.

     

    Best Position: Wide Receiver

    Andrew Luck makes a hard case for the QB position here, but the wide receivers have more than just one big name carrying them in Indy. The Colts brought in Hakeem Nicks this offseason to pair with veteran Reggie Wayne and young star T.Y. Hilton.

    The three have posted a combined 11 seasons with 1,000 or more receiving yards. Nicks and Hilton are much newer to the NFL than Wayne, but each bring serious talent to the Colts' passing game. 

    There is no better way to help your quarterback than giving him serious weapons to utilize. With these three lining up early and often next year, Luck's hardest decision under center might be who to throw the ball to.

Oakland Raiders

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    Worst Position: Quarterback

    The Raiders signed Matt Schaub this offseason most likely as a placeholder in case they couldn't grab a top QB in the draft. Schaub is coming off an abysmal 2013 where he threw for just 2,310 yards and 14 interceptions. 

    Luckily for Oakland fans, their team was able to grab Derek Carr in the second round of the draft. Schaub and Carr will battle it out in camp to see whether the offense will be led by a talented rookie or seasoned veteran. 

    Either way, both are new to the Black Hole and will need time to settle in. It's possible that time runs over into the regular season. There is also no guarantee that Carr lives up to his draft hype or Schaub puts his 2013 struggles behind him.

    Because of all the unknowns at a vital position, quarterback is the one in need of most work in Oakland.

     

    Best Position: Running Back

    Darren McFadden and Maurice Jones-Drew are getting older and have been plagued by their fair share of injuries. The Raiders are obviously hoping that those struggles don't surface this season. And if they don't, the tandem of McFadden and Jones-Drew could turn out to be a dynamic one. 

    Both are similar types of backs, but that's not exactly a bad thing. That allows the Raiders to approach each offensive snap essentially the same each time, regardless of who is in the backfield.

    Both are out to prove that their issues are behind them and live up to the talent they possess. There are a few red flags here, but overall, the Raiders have the ability to run a fine two-back system if they wish.

    At the very least, the split time will keep each back healthier over the long haul of the season.

San Diego Chargers

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    Worst Position: Guard

    Quarterback Philip Rivers has been sacked 79 times over the past two seasons. Jeromey Clary and Johnnie Troutman are two of the reasons No. 17 has ended so many plays on his back in recent years. The two were ranked No. 65 and 64, respectively, in Matt Miller's top 70 guards as part of the latest B/R NFL 1000 series. 

    With the addition of Chad Rinehart, the Chargers will be hoping for better pass protection from at least one of their two starting guards. San Diego has an offense that can hang with any in the AFC West but only if Rivers is upright. 

     

    Best Position: Linebacker

    San Diego boasts some proven veteran talent at its outside linebacker positions with Dwight Freeney and Jarret Johnson. On the inside, the team has some young talent in Manti Te'o and Donald Butler. Freeney and Johnson missed significant time last year.

    With both healthy in 2014, the Chargers have a linebacker corps that should produce a hefty amount of sacks and tackles. Freeney and Johnson provide the leadership, while Te'o and Butler have the developing, raw talent. It's hard not to like that combination.

Kansas City Chiefs

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    Worst Position: Offensive Tackle

    Eric Fisher and Donald Stephenson were both higher-round draft picks by the Chiefs in recent years. Both were also part of the problem that led to Alex Smith being sacked 39 times in his first season in Kansas City. The two are still learning and have only been in the league for a combined three seasons.

    There is certainly room for Fisher and Stephenson to take steps forward, and that could very well happen in 2014. Until they show signs of doing so, however, the offensive tackle position is a bit suspect.

     

    Best Position: Running Back

    The very obvious reason as to why running back is Kansas City's best position is due to the beast known as Jamaal Charles. The guy has rushed for two straight seasons of 1,200 or more yards and has missed the 1,000-yard mark in a season just twice in his career.

    Charles is one of the most explosive and strong rushers in the league. He is also the centerpiece of this Chiefs offense. Take him off the roster, and only an underachieving Dwayne Bowe and above-average Smith remain to lead the unit.

    There is no reason to expect KC to stop handing the ball to Charles early and often each week. 

Denver Broncos

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    Jack Dempsey/Associated Press

    Worst Position: Running Back

    When you boast the best passing attack in the NFL the year prior, it's not the end of the world to have question marks at running back. That being said, the Broncos very much have question marks at the position. With Knowshon Moreno gone, second-year back Montee Ball is projected to start.

    Ball rushed for 559 yards in his first season, with just one game with 117 yards and four touchdowns. Moreno was the starter most of last season, though, so Ball didn't have a ton of opportunities to shine.

    The Broncos seem to have confidence that he and Ronnie Hillman can hold down the fort on the ground. Both players are inexperienced and are easily the weakest cog in the machine that is Peyton Manning's offense. 

     

    Best Position: Wide Receiver

    Manning is the Broncos' best player and a future Hall of Famer, but his work is made a little easier thanks to this wide receiver corps. Wes Welker and Demaryius Thomas combined for more than 2,100 receiving yards and 24 touchdowns last year. 

    The two will now be joined by Emmanuel Sanders, who is coming off a career-high 67 catches and 740 yards with Pittsburgh last year. The three are going to make slowing down this Denver offense more than a little difficult in 2014. 

    Having three receivers the caliber of Sanders, Welker and Thomas all on the same roster is what most offensive coordinators dream of. 

Dallas Cowboys

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    Worst Position: Safety

    The Cowboys have been in need of a safety since Darren Woodson hung up his cleats. Dallas has invested in some young players and are hoping they can be serviceable at the very least. Veteran Barry Church will be paired with J.J. Wilcox, Jeff Heath or Matt Johnson once Week 1 rolls around. 

    The other starting position opposite Church will be the biggest camp battle out in Oxnard, California. The issue for the Cowboys is that regardless of who wins out, the player is guaranteed to be inexperienced. Johnson, Heath and Wilcox haven't even spent three years in the NFL yet. 

    After what was a disastrous 2013 on defense, Dallas will head into next season with a fairly obvious hole for its opponents to exploit.

     

    Best Position: Wide Receiver

    It shouldn't come as a surprise Dallas' best position is on the offensive side of the football. The 'Boys have a solid offense and one of the league's premier wide receivers as their No. 1 at the position.

    Behind Dez Bryant are second-year player Terrance Williams and rookie Devin Street. Williams recorded 736 yards and five touchdowns in his rookie campaign. The team will be hoping for similar numbers out of Street. 

    All of a sudden, the Cowboys have a young and explosive group of receivers for quarterback Tony Romo to utilize. 

New York Giants

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    Worst Position: Tight End

    The Giants don't have any tight end on their roster that can realistically be a big factor in the passing game. Adrien Robinson, Xavier Grimble, Kellen Davis and Daniel Fells will all be battling each other soon for the right to be the starting tight end. 

    Regardless of who wins that bout, it's hard to see any being much more than an extra blocker. Fells would likely be the best option to help on passing plays. His best pass-catching season was in 2010 with the Rams when he posted 41 receptions for 391 yards and two touchdowns. 

    Unfortunately for Eli Manning and the Giants offense, 2014 looks like it will be another year that Big Blue will not have a dynamic tight end. 

     

    Best Position: Defensive End

    While Jason Pierre-Paul didn't exactly have a stellar 2013, he is still one of the best defensive ends in the NFC East. This upcoming season, he will be paired with free-agent pickup Robert Ayers. The former Bronco tallied a career-high 5.5 sacks and 26 tackles last year. 

    Ayers will get the opportunity to start regularly in New York, something he hadn't done in Denver the last few years. This new opportunity should lead to positive results from him on the field. Pierre-Paul will have similar fire, hoping to show his division rivals that he is back to his old self. 

Philadelphia Eagles

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    Worst Position: Cornerback

    Cary Williams and Bradley Fletcher are hardly the ideal two players a franchise wants starting at both cornerback positions. Fletcher proved to be serviceable at times last year and was ranked No. 47 out of 100 corners in Matt Miller's B/R NFL 1000 rankings for his efforts. 

    Fletcher isn't a terrible option at cornerback, but he's hardly a solid starter. The same can be said of Williams.

    The two did intercept a combined five passes last season and proved to be decent tacklers, though. Philadelphia doesn't have the most intimidating cornerback duo in the league, but they do have a few strong qualities. 

     

    Best Position: Running Back

    LeSean McCoy finished 2013 with a Pro Bowl visit and more rushing yards than any other running back in the league. His 1,607 yards on the ground was a career-high and marked his third season with 1,000-plus yards in his five NFL seasons. 

    McCoy is no longer the only rusher that teams must plan for, though, as the Eagles brought in Darren Sproles through a trade with the Saints. Head coach Chip Kelly now has two of the league's fastest players at his disposal in the backfield. 

    Philly's offense will surely feature plenty of Nick Foles and Jeremy Maclin. Its success, however, will be decided by how well McCoy and Sproles fare on the ground.

Washington Redskins

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    Worst Position: Safety

    Ryan Clark isn't a terrible starting option, but that's exactly what Brandon Meriweather is. The fact the team re-signed the latter and brought in the former shows it doesn't have faith in Bacarri Rambo and Phillip Thomas.

    Both were 2013 draft picks. They haven't proven much yet and likely won't get to with the two veterans in the way. The Redskins' current projected starters are little more than short-term Band-Aids trying to hide a legit flaw in the defense. 

     

    Best Position: Wide Receiver

    This offseason, Washington was able to bring in DeSean Jackson to pair with Pierre Garcon and Santana Moss. While Moss might be 35 years old now, he can still contribute as a sure-handed receiver. His hands have not gotten any less reliable over time.

    Younger receivers like Aldrick Robinson, Andre Roberts and Leonard Hankerson also give Washington some solid depth.

    The biggest reason wide receiver is the Redskins' best position, though, is the starting duo of Garcon and Jackson. Garcon scored five touchdowns and racked up close to 1,400 yards receiving last year. Jackson also got close to the 1,400-yard mark in 2013 and posted nine red-zone receptions. 

    These two are legitimate deep threats and are hard to stop in the open field. Garcon and Jackson are two solid No. 1 receiver options. The only real issue here is how Robert Griffin III can get each the football enough in 2014.

Minnesota Vikings

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    Worst Position: Safety

    Jamarca Sanford, Harrison Smith and Andrew Sendejo are set to battle for the starting safety spots, among other players on the Minnesota roster. This is a position that is oozing with inexperience and, frankly, not a ton of talent. 

    The Vikings will need to hope that Xavier Rhodes and Captain Munnerlyn can play well enough to offset the safety play.

     

    Best Position: Linebacker

    One of the defensive positions the Vikes don't need to worry about is linebacker. Rookie Anthony Barr will join Jasper Brinkley and Chad Greenway as the likely starters. The two veterans tallied more than 200 tackles in 2012 before Brinkley left for Arizona in 2013.

    Now back in Minnesota, Brinkley should have no problem adjusting and producing a high total of tackles. There are still many holes that need fixing on this squad, but linebacker isn't one of them.

    The Vikings have a solid core in the middle of their defense that now has a great young talent in Barr ready to step in and start.

Detroit Lions

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    Worst Position: Cornerback

    Aside from Rashean Mathis, the Lions don't have a ton to brag about at corner. Mathis is a decent starter, but he is entering his 11th season in the league. As long as he can defend 15 passes and record another 47 tackles this year as he did in 2013, though, Detroit will be plenty happy.

    It's everyone besides Mathis that should have the coaching staff a bit worried. Darius Slay is entering his second year in the league. Only Cassius Vaughn, Jonte Green and Bill Bentley are currently on the roster as depth options.

    The Lions will have to hope their big guys up front can mask the lack of talent in their secondary.

     

    Best Position: Defensive Tackle

    Say what you will about Ndamukong Suh, but he's a force that offenses must account for when playing Detroit. He has posted 13.5 sacks over the last two seasons and continues to put pressure on opposing quarterbacks. 

    Teammate Nick Fairley is just as good at creating headaches for offenses, posting 11.5 sacks over the last two years. The Lions' two tackles are arguably the best tandem in the league at their position. The defense finished No. 6 against the run last year, and it's fair to expect results this season.

Green Bay Packers

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    Worst Position: Tight End

    The Packers have an imposing offense, but one aspect of it that is lacking is at tight end. Andrew Quarless and Brandon Bostick are the most likely to see significant time at the position in 2014. The two recorded a total of 39 receptions and 432 receiving yards last year. 

    Not having a great tight end on the roster hasn't exactly hurt the Packers in recent years. That being said, it doesn't change the fact that they don't have any impressive or even above-average options to choose from here. 

     

    Best Position: Left Guard

    Josh Sitton is one of the best guards in the game today. At 6'3", 318 pounds, he's a big bruiser and knows how to utilize his size to his advantage. Sitton is a premier pass-blocker and showed last year that he is a valuable asset in the running game as well. 

    The Packers currently have two backups in Andrew Tiller and Don Barclay to back up Sitton in case of injury. Based on their starter's abilities alone, though, left guard is a huge strength for this Packers team.

Chicago Bears

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    Worst Position: Safety

    The Bears grabbed Kyle Fuller in this year's draft to better their secondary, which is still a bit shaky at safety. They drafted Brock Vereen to better the position currently led by Chris Conte and Ryan Mundy. Conte is a solid tackler and pass-defender, but it's hard to say the same for Mundy.

    The former Steeler and Giant doesn't have a ton of experience as a starter in the NFL. He's been more of a depth guy since entering the league in 2009. Conte is a fine option; it's just the other starting safety that is concerning in Chicago. 

     

    Best Position: Wide Receiver

    There isn't a ton of great depth behind them, but the duo of Alshon Jeffery and Brandon Marshall are all the Bears need at wide receiver. Marshall and Jeffery accounted for more than 2,600 receiving yards and 19 touchdowns combined last year. 

    Jeffery posted the very opposite of a sophomore slump his second year in the league. If he can get close to those numbers again in 2014, Chicago's offense is as good as any in the NFC North.

    With Josh Morgan as a notable backup, the Bears have at least one serviceable option behind their starters. The receiver depth could be better, but it's not exactly terrible either. As long as Marshall and Jeffery stay healthy, though, the depth will only be a minor concern.

Atlanta Falcons

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    Worst Position: Tight End

    With Tony Gonzalez retired, the Falcons are left with just Levine Toilolo and Bear Pascoe at tight end. Toilolo was a fourth-round pick in 2013 and was featured sparingly in the Atlanta offense last year. He recorded 11 catches for 55 yards and no touchdowns.

    Pascoe, a longtime New York Giant, is a decent run-blocker but has proven to be of little use in the passing game in his career.

    The Falcons offense has gotten so used to having a sure-handed tight end to pass to. It will be interesting to see how they operate without one in 2014. Unless Toilolo can step up and contribute right out of the gate, Matt Ryan is going to have to get used to playing with a developing tight end.

     

    Best Position: Linebacker

    Atlanta's linebacker corps is full of veteran talent from Sean Weatherspoon to Kroy Biermann. The latter was injured most of 2013 but posted 52 tackles and four sacks back in 2012. Weatherspoon was also sidelined much of last year but recorded 70 tackles and three sacks in 2012. 

    Osi Umenyiora will also be utilized on third downs as the team's designated pass-rusher. While Umenyiora isn't at the peak of his abilities anymore at 32, he did play well in this role toward the end of last season. This is an experienced group that should be able to handle the team's switch to the 3-4 defense. 

Carolina Panthers

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    Bob Leverone/Associated Press

    Worst Position: Wide Receiver

    The Panthers wisely took Kelvin Benjamin with their first-round pick in the 2014 NFL draft. The Florida State product will help ease the loss of veteran Steve Smith.

    Unfortunately for the Carolina offense, though, he's about the only dynamic piece at wide receiver. Likely starting alongside Benjamin will be either Jerricho Cotchery or Jason Avant.

    While both are veteran names, neither have recorded more than 679 receiving yards in the past four seasons. Both are fine No. 3 or 4 options at this position, not No. 1 or 2. 

     

    Best Position: Linebacker

    The leader of the Carolina linebackers is reigning Defensive Player of the Year Luke Kuechly. He was also named Defensive Rookie of the Year in 2012. Since joining the pros, he has accumulated 199 tackles and six interceptions. Kuechly is everything a defensive coordinator could ask for in a linebacker.

    In addition to Kuechly, longtime Panther Thomas Davis is another name that knows how to wrap up ball-carriers. He posted 85 tackles in 2013 along with a career-high eight passes defended.

    This is a corps that has some great leaders that not only set the tone at the position, but also for the entire defensive unit. 

New Orleans Saints

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    Scott Eklund/Associated Press

    Worst Position: Running Back

    The Saints drafted Mark Ingram No. 28 overall back in 2011 with the hopes that he would become a premier running back. Instead, he is in a time share with Pierre Thomas and has never rushed for more than 602 yards in a season. 

    Thomas isn't much of a better option at the position either. He averaged just 3.7 yards per carry in 2013 and hasn't scored more than five touchdowns in a season since 2009.

    The Saints are not an offense that relies on the running game. Thomas and Ingram aren't the best two options at running back, though. The New Orleans offense could be much more potent with a more explosive rusher in the backfield.

     

    Best Position: Safety

    Kenny Vaccaro defended seven passes and recorded 62 tackles in his rookie season. This coming season, he will get to start alongside one of the best in the league at his position in Jairus Byrd.

    The veteran was arguably the Saints' biggest signing in free agency and a leader on the Bills defense. He'll now bring his talents to the Superdome and is instantly one of the best players on his new team's defense. 

    Byrd and Vaccaro should prove to be a perfect combination at safety. Both have serious talent, and Byrd can teach Vaccaro the ropes of the NFL. That task shouldn't be too hard for the former considering how well the latter played in 2013.

    With just two offseasons of work, New Orleans has put together one of the best safety tandems in the NFC South.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

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    Chris O'Meara/Associated Press

    Worst Position: Quarterback

    The Buccaneers signed Josh McCown this offseason, but that doesn't exactly solve their quarterback issues.

    Sure, McCown turned heads in 2013 during his eight games as a starter in Chicago, but that doesn't change the fact he is a journeyman QB with one good season to his name. McCown has never started a full 16-game season for a reason.

    Behind him is Mike Glennon and Mike Kafka, neither of which are good enough options to dethrone McCown. Glennon actually posted a decent season for the Bucs after becoming the starter, with 19 touchdowns and just nine interceptions in 2013.

    Even with a decent first season from Glennon and an unforeseen solid eight games from McCown, one good season does not make a career. The Bucs' quarterback situation is far from ideal.

     

    Best Position: Safety

    Similarly to the Saints, Tampa Bay has a nice blend of veteran and younger talent at both safety positions. Mark Barron and Dashon Goldson made for an impressive tandem last season, posting a combined three interceptions and 14 passes defended. 

    The 2012 first-rounder Barron has had two strong seasons to start his NFL career. Goldson is a proven veteran talent at the position and worked well with Barron last season. It's hard not to like what the Bucs have going on at safety when you look both players' body of work.

St. Louis Rams

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    L.G. Patterson/Associated Press

    Worst Position: Wide Receiver

    There's still plenty of time for Tavon Austin to become the receiver the Rams had hoped they drafted No. 8 overall in the 2013 draft. He just didn't make an overwhelming impact in his rookie season. 

    Similar to Austin, the entire Rams receiving corps is built more on potential than proven production. From Chris Givens to Kenny Britt and Austin Pettis, this is a young group that hasn't done a great deal at the NFL level.

    This season could be the one in which Austin or Givens lights up the scoreboards, but that remains to be seen. 

     

    Best Position: Defensive End

    The entire Rams defensive line is downright scary, especially at defensive end. Last year, Robert Quinn posted 19 sacks, while teammate Chris Long recorded 8.5. These two have been creating havoc for offenses since Quinn was drafted No. 14 overall by St. Louis in 2011.

    In 2014, the two will have the likes of fellow first-round picks Aaron Donald and Michael Brockers helping in the interior of the line.

    A line with just two of these players would be considered good at the very least. With all four, the Rams are going to be one of the league leaders in sacks this coming season.

Arizona Cardinals

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    Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

    Worst Position: Running Back

    It seems like forever since the Cardinals have had a deadly rusher in their backfield. Between the efforts of former back Rashard Mendenhall and Andre Ellington, Arizona finished No. 23 in rushing last year.

    This season, Ellington will be the feature back and have the chance to prove he works best on his own. CBS Sports' Pete Prisco believes that Ellington is the team's most underrated player, saying, "He should be special this season for the Cardinals."

    Ellington does not lack the talent and potential to put up big numbers in 2014. The problem for the Cardinals is that if he doesn't, their offense will again be largely one-dimensional. A good deal of this offense's success will rely on whether or not Ellington can spark his ground game.

     

    Best Position: Safety

    The Cardinals took a gamble back in the third round of the 2013 draft when they took Tyrann Mathieu. They banked on the on-field talent he displayed at LSU and the fact his off-field issues were over.

    So far, the Cardinals have been rewarded for their gamble. In his rookie season, Mathieu defended nine passes and recorded two interceptions, a sack and 68 tackles. He became an instant contributor to this defense.

    Now Mathieu will be joined by another young safety in rookie Deone Bucannon. While at Washington State, Bucannon became known for his physicality and ability to sniff out a run play. He could use work on some of his movements in coverage, but that's what the Cardinals' coaching staff is for. 

    If these two young safeties can translate their college success to the NFL, the Cardinals have put together a respectable one-two punch at the position. 

San Francisco 49ers

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    Gerry Broome/Associated Press

    Worst Position: Cornerback

    The 49ers lost big at the cornerback position in free agency. Both former starters in Tarell Brown and Carlos Rogers signed with the Raiders. Now onetime backups Tramaine Brock and Chris Culliver must step up and take over their former teammates' roles.

    The team didn't address cornerback until its final two picks in this past draft when it selected Keith Reaser and Kenneth Acker. By waiting to address the position, the 49ers seem to have faith in their new starters.

    If the 49ers want to post another top-five defense in 2014, they'll need Culliver and Brock to adjust well to their new starting jobs. 

     

    Best Position: Linebacker 

    There is no question the 49ers have a loaded offense. Despite that fact, the linebacker position is the most impressive when looking at this roster. Between starters NaVorro Bowman, Patrick Willis, Aldon Smith and Ahmad Brooks last year, the 49ers recorded 25 sacks. 

    The reason the 49ers finished with the No. 5 defense in the league last season is in large part due to the play at this position. The linebackers are the leaders of this defense, and they lead by example. Don't expect anything less than stellar play out of this unit in 2014.

Seattle Seahawks

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    Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

    Worst Position: Left Guard

    The Seahawks have proven in recent years they know how to build through the draft. One blemish on that statement is 2011 first-rounder James Carpenter. The starting left guard has not lived up to his draft hype so far in his career.

    Carpenter is not quick on his feet and loses leverage against the player he's blocking far too often in both pass- and run-blocking situations.

    Backup Greg Van Roten joined the team this offseason after spending his first two seasons in Green Bay. He has never started in an NFL game. 

    The reigning Super Bowl champions don't have too many faults on their roster, but left guard is the most noticeable among them.

     

    Best Position: Safety

    If any of the other 31 NFL teams want to see how best to put together the safety position, they should look at Seattle's roster.

    Earl Thomas has been to the Pro Bowl in three of his four seasons in the NFL. Teammate Kam Chancellor has been to two in his four seasons as a pro. Both have played the entirety of their young careers with the Seahawks.

    Building through the draft, the Seahawks have created the best tandem of safeties a team could hope for. In this year's B/R NFL 1000 rankings, Miller ranked Thomas as the league's top safety, while Chancellor came in at No. 4.

    These two are a force that leads this impressive secondary and will continue to do so in 2014.

     

    All statistics were retrieved from Pro Football Reference unless otherwise noted. 

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