The annual NFL Draft has gone from a simple event to one of the phenomenons of the NFL and one of the biggest events of the sporting year. It's not only a big event, predicting and monitoring the Draft has become a year-long profession.
But the Draft, like it is in any sport, is an inexact science. For every team that takes a Calvin Johnson, there's a team that takes a Pete Mandarich. For every team that takes a Peyton Manning, there's a team that takes a Ryan Leaf—you get the idea.
These are teams that have taken a bit of a hit recently because of some of the picks they've had in the first round. They've all had some good picks sprinkled in there, but they've also had some bad ones and bad ones recently.
So here are 10 teams that can least afford another first-round miss.
The team recently drafted Marcedes Lewis in the first round back in 2006, and they've done well for themselves outside the first round (Maurice Jones-Drew and Mike Thomas were both taken past the first round).
But while the jury is still out on Eugene Monroe and Tyson Alualu, Derrick Harvey hasn't been a top-10 worthy player at defensive end so far, Reggie Nelson is no longer with the Jaguars and the Reggie Williams and Matt Jones picks bombed. The Jaguars are trying to get over the hump and also trying to keep building a fragile fan base.
Another first-round flop won't help.
The 49ers are a tough team to figure, because this is the franchise that has drafted among others, Vernon Davis, Manny Lawson and Joe Staley in the first round and all three of them are pretty good players. But this is a franchise that also chose Alex Smith over Aaron Rodgers No. 1 overall in 2005.
The lack of a quarterback and the lack of consistency when it comes to an offensive scheme has really set the 49ers back. With a new coach, this first draft will really set the tone for Jim Harbaugh's regime. A first-round pick that turns out to be a bust would really set him back early on.
Another team that's hard to quantify because while they've had a couple of hits (Darren McFadden), they've also had some misses in recent years. Who could forget JaMarcus Russell?
Like the 49ers, they have a new coach. The first-round pick (should Oakland acquire one) will really set the tone for the new regime under Hue Jackson. If not, then they have to hope they'll gain a value pick later on. Either way, the trade to send their first-round pick to New England isn't looking great right now.
The first-round picks have gotten better the last couple of years. Joe Haden has the talent to develop into a special player, Joe Thomas has been a Pro Bowler and Braylon Edwards and Kellen Winslow were pretty good, before they got traded off.
The city and the fanbase is desperate for a winner, and this is another franchise breaking in a new head coach. Pat Shurmur will really have to set the tone for his players and for his first season by getting an impact player somewhere. A lot of what they can do will depend on what's available to them at No. 6. But this is a franchise that can't afford another William Green.
The Bengals are another team that has drafted well in the later rounds but has been hit or miss in the first round. Jermaine Gresham has a lot of talent, and Leon Hall is turning into a special player.
But Chris Perry never developed in the NFL, and Andre Smith is starting to have all the characteristics of a possible flop. The Bengals have some talented pieces and have at least started to be a respectable franchise again. But they're too inconsistent, on the field and with their first-round draft picks.
And now has to be a good year for Marvin Lewis from the Draft on, because his job might depend on it.
With the exception of Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, Larry Fitzgerald and Antrel Rolle (who's no longer on the team), the Cardinals have not had a lot of luck drafting in the first round.
Now they have the highest pick they've had in a while, going at No. 5 at this year's draft. Like Jack Del Rio in Jacksonville and Marvin Lewis, Ken Whisenhunt's future in Arizona might hinge on this season. So the Cards are now faced with a huge question. Do they take a quarterback they desperately need, or do they go with an outside linebacker?
Or do they package that pick in a trade, perhaps for Philadelphia's Kevin Kolb? Whatever it is, it can't be another Matt Leinart.
The Broncos took a chance on taking Tim Tebow late in the first round last year, and while the jury's still out on him, he did enough during the last few games of the season to earn a chance at starting at quarterback in 2011.
But the recent draft history in the first round by the Broncos hasn't been outstanding. Jarvis Moss has been underwhelming, Robert Ayers hasn't been able to take that next step and we all know how the Jay Cutler-era ended. This is another team with a new coach, so the first draft pick will say a lot about the direction of the Broncos.
Especially since they're picking in the top five for the first time since 1991.
For the first time in a long time, there's hope in Detroit. The city and the fanbase actually believes this team can win eight games and maybe more next season. And the last couple of seasons, the first round has been very good for the Lions.
But there's also the haunting memories of Mike Williams, Charles Rogers and Joey Harrington. The Lions may not be contending for the NFC North title next season, but they're at least heading in the right direction. Not swinging and missing on the first pick as they've had a tendency to do would go a long way towards heading back to relevancy.
Let's face it, the draft history of the Washington Redskins (when they've actually had a first-round pick) has been dubious. Brian Orakpo, LaVar Arrington and Chris Samuels were solid picks when they were healthy, same with Sean Taylor and LaRon Landry.
Rod Gardner and Patrick Ramsey? Not so much.
The Redskins have to start building and do it through the draft. Mike Shanahan and Bruce Allen went offensive line with their first-round pick last year; they'll need to get another impact player with No. 10 this year to start turning the Redskins around.
Really, who else was it going to be?
J.P. Losman, Aaron Maybin, John McCargo, Erik Flowers. The first-round draft picks haven't looked good save for a few players.
Meanwhile, it's setting up to be another long season in Buffalo with the threat of a relocation always hovering on the horizon. The Bills have a great fanbase that cares about the team, but there hasn't been much to cheer about lately. The Bills will have a chance to take a real impact player with the No. 3 overall pick.
For the sake of the franchise, they need another Bruce Smith—not another Erik Flowers.