2011 NFL Draft Team Needs: Offensive and Defensive Weaknesses for Every NFL Team

Kyle VassaloFeatured ColumnistDecember 31, 2010

ST. LOUIS, MO - DECEMBER 26: Fred Robbins #98 of the St. Louis Rams sacks Alex Smith #11 of the San Francisco 49ers at the Edward Jones Dome on December 26, 2010 in St. Louis, Missouri. The Rams beat the 49ers 25-17. (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)
Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images

Before we immerse ourselves in speculation with the upcoming draft, we must first look at the needs of each team. The draft order is not established, free agency has not hit, the lockout is looming, there is uncertainty as to who will declare.

That being said, this is a perfectly logical time to explore the shortcomings of each NFL team. If the problem areas are not addressed in free agency, they become a pressing need while entering the draft. Below is a division by division, team by team breakdown of needs. While be many teams, especially those who will drafting sooner rather than later, have many glaring problems, I have narrowed it down to one need on offense and defense.

AFC North

Cincinnati Bengals

Offensive Need: Quarterback

The Bengals have had the luxury of having Carson Palmer in their arsenal since they drafted him number one overall in 2003. Palmer is now a liability. Six multiple-interception games packed with shaky decisions and worse throws proved to be enough to drag the Bengals into mediocrity this season. He had two potential top flight receivers at his disposal and failed to take advantage. It is unclear whether or not the Bengals are going to bring back Chad Ochocinco, but Terrell Owens will not be a Bengal next season. The Bengals will likely bring in a new coach and if he can salvage value for Palmer, he might want to go in a different direction. If nothing else, The need to form a healthy competition at the QB spot.

Defensive Need: Edge Rusher

The Bengals ranked nearly dead last in sacks this season, dropping the quarterback only 23 times. Rookie Carlos Dunlap has had a promising rookie year, totaling eight sacks this season. Michael Johnson of Georgia Tech, on the other hand, has fizzled thus far. In a 4-3, the pressure has to come from the front four first and foremost. Linebacker is fairly solid on the Bengals and if they can build a stout defensive line that can apply pressure, it will help out the secondary. The Bengals could be in position to grab an elite defensive end this year, and they should jump at that opportunity.

 

Cleveland Browns

Offensive Need: Wide Receiver

Browns fans rejoice. Your number one need this year is not quarterback. Colt McCoy shows promise when he commands the Browns. Peyton Hillis has emerged as a force coming out of the backfield. The Browns have one of the best tackles in football and an underrated offensive line. Their primary focus this offseason needs to be on getting Colt McCoy some weapons. While the Browns have a good tight end in Benjamin Watson and Hillis can catch out of the backfield, they need a big-time receiver to threaten teams with. Playmakers will be available when the Browns pick. If the Browns can grab the best receiver in the draft, they need to ignore the fact that they were burned by Braylon Edwards and go with a game-breaker.

Defensive Need: Outside Linebacker

This very well could have been any position in the front seven. The only player whom I would say is a stand out in the Browns' front seven is D'Qwell Jackson, and he has had back to back seasons cut short with pectoral injuries. The Browns are above average at defending against the pass. As their secondary gets older, they will seemingly improve. When Jackson returns, teams shouldn't be able to run through the heart of their defense. They need serious help along the defensive line, but getting a monster outside linebacker who can help pressure the quarterback in a 3-4 scheme is imperative this offseason.

 

Baltimore Ravens

Offensive Need: Offensive Line

This could have been wide receiver, as it appears T.J. Houshmandzadeh's best football is behind him. The Ravens need to go out and get the best offensive lineman available. Marshal Yanda simply isn't the answer at right tackle and Matt Birk is aging. If they can grab the best center in the draft or at least add depth at the tackle position, it will be in their best interest. Their offensive line is packed with youth and promise. A bit of patchwork this offseason and the Ravens will continue to dominate the trenches.

Defensive Need: Cornerback

The Ravens are far too good up front to be middle-of-the-road in terms of pass coverage. Safety clearly isn't the problem, which points to corner back as the most glaring need. The Ravens need to make resigning their free agents the No. 1 priority, but the next move needs to be at solidifying the cornerback position. The days of having Samari Rolle and Chris McCalister are long gone. The Ravens look like they are going to draft late, so getting a top flight corner may be out of reach. Regardless, solid corner backs are almost always available late.

 

Pittsburgh Steelers

Offensive Need: Tackle

It could have been guard, as well, but if Flozell Adams fails to return for the 2011 season, tackle is going to be the main priority. Earlier I mentioned the Browns have an underrated line. I believe the Steelers have an overrated line. Maurkice Pouncey is having an incredible rookie year, but aside from that, the Steelers lack an elite offensive lineman. If Mike Pouncey is available when the Steelers draft, they are almost obligated to take him, given the success they have had with his twin brother. Even so, if the Steelers want to keep Big Ben from having to run for his life in the pocket and make incredible plays to stay alive, they will need a tackle. Rashard Mendenhall is a great young talent. The Steelers need to preserve him as long as possible by putting more bulk up front.

Defensive Need: Cornerback

This is probably the easiest need to determine in the entire AFC. The Steelers are the best run defense in the league. They have an unblemished front seven and proved to be impenetrable this season. They have the best safety in football in Troy Polamalu and while Ryan Clark could be better, he is not necessarily a liability. The Steelers need to find a way to keep William Gay off of the field, even in nickel packages. Adding depth at cornerback is a necessity this offseason. With the havoc the front seven wreaks in the backfield, there is no reason the Steelers should be ranked 14th in pass defense.

 

AFC South

Indianapolis Colts

Offensive Need: Tackle

The Colts should also find a backup quarterback to replace Curtis Painter, but snagging a tackle would be a good move. The Colts have little consistency at offensive line, but it has worked out well for them because defenses tend to be less aggressive when Peyton Manning is under center. Even so, they could use a tackle to provide push and help keep Peyton Manning clean. Their run game is down right embarrassing. The Colts have seen first hand that simply drafting a running back in the first round is not the answer, which will probably make it easier for them to turn their focus up front. All of their targets should come back healthy next year, so there is no need to panic there.

Defensive Need: Defensive Tackle

Teams not only run on the Colts for over 130 yards per game, they run the ball right at the Colts virtually at will. The Colts have elite defensive ends already. Gary Brackett, Clint Session, and Pat Angerer form an above average linebacking corp. What they need is a defensive tackle who can get penetration. In a 4-3, teams are searching for guys in the middle who can soak up a double team while creating chaos three yards in the backfield. It makes it difficult for quarterbacks to feel comfortable when the pocket is collapsing. It also forces teams to try to run off-tackle. The Colts miss Anthony McFarland and should look to find the next "Booger."

 

Jacksonville Jaguars

Offensive Need: Quarterback

The Jaguars have one of the best rushing attacks in the entire NFL. They have talent at receiver with Mike Sims-Walker and Mike Thomas. Marcedes Lewis is a Pro Bowl tight end and the offense has overachieved this season. They could look to add some youth to their interior line, but their biggest liability is at quarterback. One look at David Garrard's numbers and you might not see quarterback as their top priority. The reason he has seen any sort of success this season is because of the attention Jones-Drew commands from defenses. Imagine if defenses had to worry about being dissected by a legitimate quarterback and had to refrain from loading up the box.

Defensive Need: Defensive End

Take away Aaron Kampman and the Jaguars don't have anyone who can get to the quarterback. Kampman very well could be taken away, given the state of his recurring ACL injuries, which creates a sense of urgency in the quest to acquire a dominant defensive end. The Jaguars outdid themselves this year and their draft stock was hurt in the process. They still could get a legitimate starter on their defensive line in the middle of the first round. Last year they surprised everyone when they selected Tyson Alualu in the first round (except Mike Mayock, who predicted the Alualu drafting seconds after they had turned in their pick). Don't be surprised if the Jaguars "reach" for someone this year again.

 

Houston Texans

Offensive Need: Wide Receiver

Let me begin by saying I think Andre Johnson is the best receiver in the league. The popular need for this team will probably be offensive line, but with what Arian Foster has been able to accomplish this season, it may not be as big of a need as a second outlet at receiver. If the Texans could grab someone in the draft to become a second option, their offense could move to the most dangerous in the NFL. Andre Johnson is rarely left in single coverage. It would be nice if Matt Schaub didn't need to rely so heavily on Johnson. Getting a guy who can stretch the field would make the Texans one of the most complete offenses in the entire league.

Defensive Need: Cornerback

The Texans let Dunta Robinson leave the team in free agency, and did nothing to fill the hole at corner. The leader of their defense, Demeco Ryans, will return next season. That will allow Brian Cushing to slide to his more natural position of outside linebacker. Mario Williams will make his return next season and the front seven will be set. Corner and safety are two holes that have caused the Texans a lot of headaches this season. The Texans will likely be under a new head coach and addressing the secondary is step one. Allowing just over 277 yards passing a game is unacceptable.

 

Tennessee Titans

Offensive Need: Offensive Line

This will be quarterback if the rift between Jeff Fisher and Vince Young ends up being settled with the departure of Vince Young. A number of Young's teammates have taken part in small demonstrations, indicating their support for Young, including Kenny Britt writing "VY" on his towel, an act that resulted in a fine. If Fisher departs and Young is the leader of the offense, the Titans need to surround him with a more stable offensive line. They have the most talented running back in the league and though they could use a better option at receiver, it is not the most pressing need on the agenda.

Defensive Need: Outisde Linebacker

I'm going to pass on putting corner here, because Alterraun Verneris is only 22 and he has improved as the season has gone on and Roderick Hood returns next season. The Titans were good at getting to the quarterback this season, and that is about it defensively. They struggled mightily against the pass and the run. The Titans showed they have the ability to get pressure from their down linemen. Now they need to focus on getting outside linebacker who can hunker down and seal the edge, forcing everything back to the middle. Steven Tulloch is a tackling machine. If the Titans can improve on the outside, Tulloch would be even more effective because he wouldn't have to cover so much ground.

 

AFC East

Buffalo Bills

Offensive Need: Left Tackle

The Bills have 7th round pick Demetrius Bell starting at left tackle at the moment. The team has an every-down back in Fred Jackson and a dynamic game breaker in C.J. Spiller. Stevie Johnson and Lee Evans create options down the field. Some think Ryan Fitzpatrick is the biggest problem with the Bills, but he has done well considering the amount of pressure that has been put on him. The Bills need a tackle and they could be in a position to have their choice of tackle when they are on the clock. Building an offense around the quarterback and grabbing a franchise quarterback down the road seems like a better approach. The Bills aren't in "win now" mode by any means.

Defensive Need: Defensive End

Teams are blasting through the Bills at will. They have the worst run defense in the league, allowing an astounding 162.5 yards a game. Usually, I would say drafting the best middle linebacker available would be the easiest quick fix to their problem, but their problem is not at middle linebacker, nor is it at defensive tackle. Their most glaring hole is defensive end/outside linebacker. The Bills don't run a true 3-4 or 4-3, which makes a hybrid linebacker/end type a perfect fit in Buffalo. It looks like the Bills missed on Aaron Maybin, so the need still presents itself. Teams often fall in love with combine freaks when they seek an edge rusher, so it is important the Bills are cautious with this pick.

 

Miami Dolphins

Offensive Need: Quarterback

The Dolphins have an elite left tackle, a top flight wide receiver, and one of the best one-two punches at running back. If they score with a solid selection at quarterback, they could be dangerous immediately. Chad Pennington is old and Chad Henne just isn't the future. They need a guy to come in and form a long term relationship with Brandon Marshall for years to come. Dolphins fans know what good quarterback play looks like, and they just aren't seeing what they grew accustomed to watching when Dan Marino ruled South Beach.

Defensive Need: Middle Linebacker

The Dolphins have one of the best defenses in the NFL and nobody has taken notice. They finished in the top 10 in both run and pass defense. They finished third in yards allowed. If the Dolphins had finished with a better record, Cameron Wake could have been the Defensive Player of the Year this season. The problem with the Dolphins is that Yeremiah Bell is their leading tackler. The Dolphins passed on Patrick Willis to go with Ted Ginn Jr. a few years ago. The decision has haunted them, but they could correct their mistake if they get a guy who can be a force in the middle.

 

New York Jets

Offensive Need: Wide Receiver

Brad Smith, Santonio Holmes, and Braylon Edwards are all free agents after this season. It is unclear whether or not they are going to give them extensions once the season ends. What is clear is that the Jets need a possession receiver. They need a Brandon Marshall type who can move the chains. Many Jets fans are clamoring for a quarterback change, but Rex Ryan brought Sanchez in and it doesn't look like he will be going anywhere unless Ryan does. The Jets would do well to give him an outlet who can get 75 catches and be effective in the red zone, even though the Jets want to maintain a run-first mentality.

Defensive Need: Edge Rusher

It's odd that a Rex Ryan defense is not getting to the quarterback more often. They are still in the top 10 this season, but the Jets don't have a guy on their team with over six sacks. They don't necessarily need a double-digit sack guy, but their secondary is so outstanding that getting an edge rusher in the offseason would make the Jets even more effective. A lot of the sacks caused this season were coverage sacks. Imagine what would happen if the quarterback was being hurried more often, given the talent they have elsewhere.

 

New England Patriots

Offensive Need: Offensive Line

The Patriots are the hardest team in the NFL to evaluate because they are so off-the-wall in the way they operate. Bill Belichick is a genius and has such an outstanding grasp over his personnel that only he sees the benefit in the moves he makes at times. He always seems to accrue draft picks and improve his team despite ridding his team of most of it's big name players. Saying Belichick will go offensive line is probably the safest bet, given the contract issues and aging core group of guys.

Defensive Need: Cornerback

The Patriots scored when they drafted Devin McCourty. They need a guy who can play opposite McCourty to get the Patriots' 30th ranked pass defense out of the rut they are in. The Patriots produced two Pro Bowl defensive backs this season, but struggled mightily when teams threw the ball on them. Kyle Arrington is going to get picked on next season given the success McCourty has had, so bringing in another corner is a necessity.

 

AFC West

Denver Broncos

Offensive Need: Tight End

With no more Josh McDaniels, Broncos fans no longer have to worry about their best players being driven out of town. McDaniels tried to replicate what Belichick had done in New England and failed miserably. He left a lot of glaring holes, but provided the Broncos with Tim Tebow, who is an interesting specimen at the quarterback position. Brandon Lloyd had a career year this season and leads the entire league in receiving yards. The Broncos also have first round running back Knowshon Moreno and Ryan Clady at left tackle. The Broncos need to provide a safety outlet for Tim Tebow to check the ball down to. A big, sure handed tight end is exactly what he needs while he develops.

Defensive Need: Middle Linebacker

The Broncos were the second worst team in the league against the run this season. While they were not impressive against the pass either, the return of Elvis Dummervil should do wonders for their pass rush, which in turn will have a positive effect on their secondary play. The Broncos could add some youth to their secondary, as there are two members who have one foot out the door and an arm in a Hall of Fame jacket. They need a force in the middle to go alongside D.J. Williams to add backside help against the run.

 

San Diego Chargers

Offensive Need: Right Tackle

The Chargers could put anybody they wanted to at wide receiver and Philip Rivers would find a way to get it done. They are so deep at wide receiver that a Vincent Jackson departure won't cripple their passing game. They could add one more target, but with a future Hall of Fame tight end in Antonio Gates and Malcom Floyd, among others, the Chargers should focus on right tackle. They just signed Marcus McNeil to a five-year extension and having Pro Bowler Kris Dielman makes for a stout left side. Getting another bookend tackle would help pave the way towards a successful career for Ryan Matthews.

Defensive Need: Free Safety

Steve Gregory missed seven games this season and wasn't overly impressive when he was in the game. The Chargers boast the No. 1 defense in the league, despite failing to make the playoffs. While their biggest issue this season was clearly special teams, having a playmaker at free safety would account for a few game-changing plays that could have swung games in their favor this season. The Chargers are stingy against the run and pass. Adding another guy in their secondary would give defensive coordinator Ron Rivera even more tools to work with.

 

Kansas City Chiefs

Offensive Need: Center

The Chiefs had the best rush attack in the league this season. Their passing attack neared the bottom, but remained effective when it needed to be. Dwayne Bowe was a touchdown machine this season and Matt Cassel proved his worth by stepping in and being a difference maker when the opportunity presented itself. Casey Wiegmann is 37. The Chiefs could use help with their interior line and while Weigmann is a good center, he has to be thinking about retirement at this point.

Defensive need: Defensive Tackle

Ron Edwards is aging and he was never dominant to begin with. When the Chiefs drop into their 3-4 look, they need someone who poses more of a threat in the middle. They have the makings of a solid defense, but their front seven is still lackluster against the run. They have the personnel to be special. Bringing in a mammoth in the middle makes life easier for everyone on the field.

 

Oakland Raiders

Offensive Need: Quarterback

Jason Campbell wasn't that bad this season. Given the production of Darren McFadden, he should have been better. The Raiders have talent scattered at wide receiver and tight end. They have a developing offensive line which could use some depth. The Raiders are one of my favorite teams to watch draft, mostly because I have no idea which route they will go. Al Davis is usually off-the-wall, but what remains consistent is his love for physical specimens. Cam Newton is coming out in this year's draft. Just a thought.

Defensive Need: Outside Linebacker

Rolando McClain was a great draft pick last season. This year, th Raiders will need to look to add a guy who can sure up the outside. Their defensive line did well this season and if they could get a guy who could help out in coverage and seal off the edge, it would pay dividends defensively. They have one of the best secondaries in the NFL. A little help on the outside could take them to the next level.

 

NFC North

Chicago Bears

Offensive Need: Left Tackle

The fact that the Bears have been able to overcome their shortcomings at receiver and offensive line is nothing short of incredible. Jay Cutler has been under fire all season long, with limited options at receiver. The Bears need a franchise left tackle to begin their quest to rebuild up front. The Bears' offensive line may be improving, but the fact that they have allowed 50 sacks this season tells you everything you need to know. If Mike Martz continues to be the offensive coordinator and Jay Cutler is their quarterback of the future, they need an offensive line that can give him time.

Defensive Need: Defensive Tackle

The Bears are a defensive tackle away from becoming an elite defense. Julius Peppers came in as a free agent and changed the schematics of the entire defense. If the Bears could bring in someone to further take the heat off of their linebackers and cause even more disruption in the backfield, the Bears would be unstoppable. Many would say the secondary is their weakest point, but a DT would almost give them a complete front seven. In the NFC North, it is more important to stop the run. If you play and have the best run defense in that division, you can expect to walk away with a division title.

 

Detroit Lions

Offensive Need: Left Tackle

The Lions aren't far off. They have pieces on both sides of the ball to return to relevancy in the near future. The foundation is in place but unfortunately it is falling apart simultaneously. Matthew Stafford was supposed to be the future, but his inability to stay healthy points to the flaws in the offensive line. The Lions need to draft a franchise left tackle. Jeff Backus is aging and though it will be tempting to go defense, if they want Matthew Stafford to stay out of the hospital, they will draft o-line this season.

Defensive Need: Middle Linebacker

The Lions struck gold when they selected Ndamukong Suh. He is already playing at a Pro Bowl level and looks like he will easily take Rookie of the Year honors this season. He gives the Lions something concrete to build around. They need to bring in the best defensive player possible, whether that be a middle linebacker, shut down corner, edge rusher, etc. Drafting for need is not necessarily wise for them on defense because they have so many needs. If he is the best available, and he isn't a defensive tackle, the Lions should pull the trigger, though grabbing a middle linebacker would immediately improve their run defense.

 

Green Bay Packers

Offensive Need: Running back

The Packers are banged up beyond recognition. What they struggle at right now means close to nothing in terms of what they need to pursue in the offseason. That being said, when Ryan Grant went down so did their running game. Brandon Jackson and John Kuhn are average as second options coming out of the backfield. If there is a guy on the board who can take away some of the short yardage carries or who can be a change-of-pace back, the Packers should jump at the opportunity.

Defensive Need: Outside Linebacker

It may sound silly, given the impressive year Clay Matthews has had, but the Packers need someone on the other side. If they could get a guy who was half as effective as Matthews, it would allow them to be more flexible in where they send pressure from. The return of Nick Barnett is going to do wonders for their defense. With a stout young nose tackle and one of the best corner tandems in the NFL, the Packers are one or two guys away from being an elite defense.

 

Minnesota Vikings

Offensive Need: Quarterback

Is Joe Webb the answer? He certainly looked the part last week. Even so, the Vikings will need to bring someone in at the quarterback position. They could go offensive line, but if Joe Webb starts to struggle once teams collect tape on him, quarterback will be the most glaring need. This may be something they want to explore in free agency. The team could do worse than bringing in Donovan McNabb and having Joe Webb developing behind him.

Defensive Need: Safety

The Vikings did well this season against the run and pass. They could use help at both free and strong safety in coverage. The safety position proved to be a liability from start to finish this season. Both safeties could remain on the roster to provide depth, but they simply should not be in the starting lineup. Some of the best safeties in the draft are available when the Vikings will be picking.

 

NFC South

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Offensive Need: Offensive Line

The Bucs have a solid young group of players on the offensive side of the ball. Josh Freeman looks like he could be something special in this league and LeGarrette Blount has shocked everyone by having an outstanding rookie campaign. The Bucs also have two talented young receivers in Mike Williams and Arrelious Benn. If nothing else, they need to add depth at the offensive line position. Stability is needed and though Freeman is mobile, the Buccaneers want to make the pocket as impenetrable as possible, despite Freeman's aptness to get out of the pocket.

Defensive Need: Defensive End

Stylez White is probably the weakest spot along Tampa Bay's front four. Gerald McCoy makes his return next season from injury and if the Bucs could give him a defensive end who could get to the quarterback to play alongside, the Bucs could have the beginnings of a great defensive line. In a 4-3, lacking a pass rushing defensive end makes life challenging for the entire defense.

 

Atlanta Falcons

Offensive Need: Wide Receiver

The Falcons have a top five running back, one of the best young quarterbacks in the NFL, an elite wide receiver, a franchise left tackle, and a future Hall of Fame tight end. They have a complete offense, but they aren't in the top 10 in running or throwing the ball. Their biggest need offensively is a second wide receiver. They need a guy with top end speed who can stretch the field. He doesn't have to come in and be the guy, but someone needs to take the heat off of Roddy White.

Defensive Need: Safety

The front seven is almost complete. Corners Dunta Robinson and Brent Grimes did more than enough to earn their keep in Atlanta this season. By getting a safety who can roll over and help in coverage, it will give Atlanta the ability to lock down big-time receivers that require more than just one-on-one coverage. It will also help out in the run game, though they need a safety who can be utilized in pass coverage first and foremost.

 

Carolina Panthers

Offensive Need: Wide Receiver

It all comes down to how much faith the Panthers have in Jimmy Clausen. If they decide he is the future of the franchise, they should trade out of the number one spot and give someone else a shot at Andrew Luck. This would give them the ability to go out and get a receiver who performs the way Steve Smith was expected to. They could also use some patchwork along the offensive line, but Clausen has shown he cannot come in as a rookie and succeed with no viable options to throw to. If they think Luck can be that guy, they should make the move.

Defensive Need: Defensive Tackle

Someone needs to be fired for allowing Julius Peppers to vacate the building. Charles Johnson had a monster year, amassing 11.5 sacks this season, but Carolina is in shambles. If they can build from the front and work their way back, it could prove to be the easiest way to rebuild. They have needs all over, so if an opportunity to get a shut-down corner or something of that nature were to arise, obviously that is the direction Carolina would need to go.

 

New Orleans Saints

Offensive Need: Offensive Line

The Saints have three running backs who can come in and be a feature back, and the least talented is the highest paid of the three. Drew Brees brings out the most of his wide receivers and he was able to pull out victories in spite of Pierre Thomas and Reggie Bush being out with injuries for most of the season. They have a great tight end and it is unclear how much the offense would improve if another wide receiver was added. Although Brees had a clean jersey for most of the season, the Saints could use some depth along the offensive line. They are one injury away from having serious problems along the offensive line. Adding an offensive lineman who can play multiple positions along the offensive line would be ideal.

Defensive Need: Outside Linebacker

The Saints were less than impressive against the run this season. While Jonathan Vilma is solid in the middle, they could use another member in their front seven to help solidify the run defense. Grabbing a down lineman would not be a bad move, but Saints fans know just how valuable having an elite group of linebackers in the middle can be. The Saints will likely draft in the late 20's, so picking a developmental guy with upside in a later round may be the best way to go to address this need.

 

NFC East

Dallas Cowboys

Offensive Need: Tackle

The Cowboys have all skill positions in place heading into next season. They need to shore up the offensive line to ensure the Cowboys don't have Jon Kitna under center next season at any point. Question marks at the tackle position seem to follow the Cowboys on a yearly basis. They need to lock up a young, dependable tackle they can hang their hat on for more than a few seasons.

Defensive Need: Safety

The Cowboys allowed 32 passing touchdowns so far this season. That is good enough for last place in the NFL. Both safeties are replaceable. The Cowboys don't need another Roy Williams type of safety. They need a ball hawk with good instincts who is solid in coverage. The benefit of having Jason Garrett, should they choose to give him the full-time job, is that he is familiar with the personnel. They also need a defensive end, but the most pressing need lies within their secondary.

 

Philadelphia Eagles

Offensive Need: Interior Line

The Eagles have home run threats all over the field. They have a game-breaker at quarterback, which is a rarity in the NFL. Unfortunately, Michael Vick comes with a heavy dose of collisions. He isn't a fan of sliding and he takes a beating. While the offensive line can't always protect the improvising quarterback from taking shots, they were exposed last week when they failed miserably at picking up safety blitzes the Vikings threw at them. Michael Vick won't be making a start this week. They need to get the interior line up to speed with the rest of line to make sure Michael Vick can play a complete season in 2011.

Defensive Need: Middle Linebacker

Jamar Chaney had one incredible game that shouldn't resound in anyone's minds when entering the draft. It was an aberration, as his 16 tackles nearly equaled his 19 tackles he had accumulated in twelve games prior. Omar Gaither had a standout game in week two, but has done virtually nothing since. The Eagles need a standout middle linebacker who plays downhill. They are missing pieces here-and-there along their defensive front, but a good young middle linebacker would improve their defense immediately. Given the way their offense usually performs, simply slowing down the opposition is usually enough to come away with a victory.

 

New York Giants

Offensive Need: Offensive Tackle

The Giants have four linemen over the age of 30. While they have talent along the offensive line, they should expect the injury bug to come out more and more, as the core of the offensive line is aging rapidly. It's time to start working in new faces to the offensive line. They don't need to scrap the entire offensive line and start over, but it's time to start grooming the next wave of linemen.

Defensive Need: Linebacker

The Giants were in the top 10 in defense this year vs. the run and pass. They accumulated the most team sacks in the NFL this season with 44. The Giants are solid up front. While they could use more depth in their defensive line rotation, it looks like their most glaring need is at linebacker. They need to find a replacement for Antonio Pierce. Jonathan Goff doesn't look the part, so it might be time to start looking for a guy who can be the new quarterback of the defense.

 

Washington Redskins

Offensive Need: Quarterback

This could be a number of things, but the Donovan McNabb debacle looks like it is going to force the Redskins to make a change at quarterback. They need offensive line improvement and could use a wide receiver, but Rex Grossman will bring any hope of making the playoffs to a screeching halt next season should they go with him as their starter into training camp.

Defensive Need: Defensive Tackle

The Redskins neared the bottom in both passing and run defense. Albert Haynesworth turned out to be a $100 million gaff, so the team still has a glaring hole at defensive tackle. The switch to the 3-4 has made it a very pressing need, as overall success of the middle linebackers is largely predicated off of the play of the nose. The Redskins would do well to bring in a two-gapper. They have a porous secondary and they need additional help in the front seven, but it all starts up front.

 

NFC West

Arizona Cardinals

Offensive Need: Quarterback

The Cardinals need a quarterback more than any team in the NFL needs anything. They have started three quarterbacks this season, none of which has shown any flashes of being the long term answer. The premature releasing of Matt Leinart has caused them to be the worst team in the worst division in football. They need to bring in a quarterback so that Larry Fitzgerald will have some sort of incentive to play past his contract year.

Defensive Need: Linebacker

Allowing Karlos Dansby to leave was equally damaging to the Cardinals as the departure of Anquan Boldin was. The Cardinals need a linebacker to come in and add some strength to the second level. They have lackluster talent at the second level. Dan Williams should come back after being AWOL this season with weight issues. The Cardinals regressed mightily this season on both sides of the ball. Their defense fell apart and needs help in the center of the field to offer resistance against the run.

 

San Francisco 49ers

Offensive Need: Quarterback

The 49ers have three first round draft picks from tackle to tackle, a first round tight end, a first round wide receiver, a top 10 running back, and five wins this season. The predictable play calling, revolving door at offensive coordinator, and terrible play at quarterback are a cocktail that has led to the conundrum that is the 49ers offense. With a new regime coming into San Francisco, Alex Smith will likely be given the boot and his contract will almost certainly not be renewed. A rookie quarterback can come into an almost completely built team and succeed immediately under the right coaching.

Defensive Need: Cornerback

Everybody is clamoring for a pass rusher in San Francisco. The four man rotation of Manny Lawson, Parys Haralson, Travis Laboy, and Ahmad Brooks will suffice heading into next season. What is inexcusable is the play of cornerback Nate Clements. Clements signed a monster deal worth $90 million and has not been worth half of it. He consistently gets burned deep and has not lived up to his nickname of "lockdown." He is physical, but the 49ers need a guy who won't be getting embarrassed in coverage on a weekly basis more than they need a sure tackler at corner. Also, keep an eye on the Aubrayo Franklin contract dispute. If he leaves, nose tackle will take precedence over corner.

 

St. Louis Rams

Offensive Need: Wide Receiver

The Rams did a nice job at building an offensive line to put in front of Sam Bradford before he came into St. Louis. They have the run game, but they don't have any weapons for Bradford to work with. Danny Amendola and Mark Clayton should not headline a receiving corp for a young quarterback. If Bradford can amass seven or eight wins with the talent he is surrounded with now, imagine what he could do if he actually had someone to throw the ball to. If Larry Fitzgerald becomes a free agent in 2012, expect the Rams to pay hands over fists for him.

Defensive Need: Defensive Tackle

The Rams have improved defensively, but they still have holes all over their defense. They need a corner and could use help at linebacker, but they are a defensive tackle away from having a ferocious defensive line. Having a complete front four would help in the run game and allow the defense to blitz less, in turn becoming more flexible without having to blitz to apply pressure. They did well up front this season and a run stopping defensive tackle would push them over the edge.

 

Seattle Seahawks

Offensive Need: Quarterback

Surprise surprise, an NFC West team with quarterback issues. Matt Hasselbeck simply cannot stay healthy. With Charlie Whitehurst starting in a play-in game to go to the playoffs in Week 17, the Seahawks obviously need to address the quarterback situation. They brought in a left tackle and Marshawn Lynch. They added weapons to the offense, now all they need is someone to be the field general. There should be a number of quarterbacks on the trading block, but don't be surprised if Pete Carroll falls in love with Jake Locker.

Defensive Need: Defensive Tackle

Chris Clemons looks like he is going to excel in the Pete Carroll defense. The Seahawks struggled against the pass and run, but their need to solidify the center of the defense resounds throughout their entire defense. They already have a middle linebacker in place, which points to the defensive tackle spot. This defense has a few years before they can start making their case as an above average unit. They could pursue another member in the secondary to go with rookie Earl Thomas, but it appears as though they might want to play it safe and grab a defensive tackle to handle things in the run game first.