2011 NFL Mock Draft: Trade-Up/Trade-Down Scenarios For Each NFL Team

Alec DoppCorrespondent IFebruary 24, 2011

2011 NFL Mock Draft: Trade-Up/Trade-Down Scenarios For Each NFL Team

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    Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    The NFL's self-imposed March 3rd deadline to re-negotiate their collective bargaining agreement is closing in on the general public faster than ever before, and could spell trouble for fans across the country if the situation is not settled in the next few weeks.

    But one thing to keep in mind: The NFL Draft is just over two months away, and as the combine commences, interest surrounding the draft will continue to rise as players' workouts are over-analyzed by the media.

    Figuring out which players will rise their respective stocks at the combine has yet to be determined, as well as predicting how the actual draft will play out.

    Either way, the draft is approaching swiftly. So for you, the fan, here are each team's most sensible possible trade scenarios in the draft that could affect the order teams pick in April.

    Let's get things started!

Arizona Cardinals

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    2010 Record: 4-12

    First-round selection: No. 5

    Most need of improvement: Defense

    With the fifth pick in the draft, Ken Wisenhunt's squad is in great position to take one of the best available prospects off the board.

    But for the Cardinals, who found themselves as an NFC West afterthought last season, the key to success will be to bolster their entire defensive unit.

    Yes, there are questions at the quarterback position that will need to be addressed this offseason.  But with Larry Fitzgerald voicing his respectable opinion to pursue Kevin Kolb via trade, the Cardinals must focus on drafting defensive prospects in the early going.

    Trading up will be difficult, especially since the Cardinals have no viable bait that is worth losing in the draft. Upgrading doesn't seem very imminent for Arizona. Should the Eagles want to trade up in the draft, they could potentially offer Kolb to the Cardinals in exchange for the fifth pick in the draft.

    Draft prospects: Robert Quinn, Da'Quan Bowers, Patrick Peterson

Atlanta Falcons

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    2010 Record: 13-3

    First-round selection: No. 27

    Most need of improvement: Defense

    After a disappointing defeat to Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers in the divisional round of the playoffs, Mike Smith will have a lot to think about heading into the offseason regarding his offensive-minded unit.

    By the time the Falcons pick 27th in the draft, many of the most prosperous prospects will already be off the board.

    So what can Atlanta do?  They can either elect to stay put, letting the chips fall where they may, or they can attempt to move up the draft board via trade.

    Defensively, the Falcons were pretty average heading into the postseason.  However, the way they were manhandled in the loss to Green Bay in the playoffs opened the eyes of Falcons fans across the nation, and they must do something about their defensive unit.

    Moving up in the draft would include letting current talent go, allowing the Falcons to have an abundance of more options in the draft—other than becoming limited with the 27th pick.

    Nevertheless, the Falcons will need young talent to be added to their defense in 2011 if they want to contend for the Super Bowl in the years to come.

    Draft prospects: Curtis Brown, J.J. Watt, Cameron Jordan 

Baltimore Ravens

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    2010 Record: 12-4

    First-round selection: No. 26

    Most need of improvement: Offense/Defense

    While the Ravens continue to flourish defensively under Jim Harbaugh, the question many are beginning to ask themselves is whether or not Ray Lewis can continue his dominance inside—despite staring down 35 years of age.

    Yes, Baltimore had Big Ben and the Steelers clinging to life in their divisional-round matchup just a few weeks ago. However the recurring theme with the Ravens still remains about how healthy they can maintain themselves moving forward. With the 26th pick in the draft, many of the stud defensive prospects will already be off the board.

    If the Ravens want to shore things up between the lines, they'll have to use trade bait to get where they want to be in the draft order. Could T.J. Houshamendzadeh be on his way out?  How about Anquan Boldin?  These two could become great assets in order to move up into the draft.

    Draft prospects: Akeem Ayers, Ryan Kerrigan, Ras-I Dowling 

Buffalo Bills

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    2010 Record: 4-12

    Most need of improvement: Offense & Defense

    Although the Bills own the No. 3 draft pick after finishing 4-12 in 2010, this team may not be as bad as they initially appear.

    Mostly under the influence of quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick, the Bills were able to become a competitive team—most notably in nearly shunning the Pittsburgh Steelers at home late in the season.

    Nevertheless, championship teams are built around a solid defense, with a reputable running game. The Bills have neither, although C.J. Spiller could potentially become the featured back they've needed for nearly two decades.

    First-round selection: No. 3

    The number three pick is the best the Bills are going to get in the draft. Trading down could be the only possibility at this point, and if the Eagles are willing to deal Kevin Kolb to the Bills for the number three pick, Buffalo would be in business heading into 2011.

    Draft prospects: Patrick Peterson, A.J. Green, Von Miller

Carolina Panthers

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    2010 Record: 2-14

    First-round selection: No. 1

    Most need of improvement: Offense & Defense

    The Panthers, as a result of a dismal year that raised more questions than answers, completely overhauled their staff in the offseason. A good way for new coach Ron Rivera to put his stamp on this franchise, the Panthers own the number one overall pick.

    Still, with power comes responsibility, and making that big splash with the top pick in the draft may put Carolina back on the road towards respectability.

    Jimmy Clausen looks to be a solid starter in the future, and the Panthers should be able to recognize that. But the question remains: what is the position in most need of improvement?

    Carolina's defensive line (sans Julius Peppers) has proved to be one of the worst in the league and taking Nick Fairley with the top choice looks to be a sure thing.

    However, if a team would be looking to deal away multiple talents to the Panthers for the number one pick, Carolina would at least entertain offers. Could Chad Ochocinco or Carson Palmer become Panthers next season?  Don't disregard the thought.

    Draft prospects: Nick Fairley, Da'Quan Bowers, A.J. Green 

Chicago Bears

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    2010 Record: 11-5

    First-round selection: No. 29

    Most need of improvement: Offense

    Lovie Smith and the Chicago Bears surprised many to become NFC North champions, earned a first-round bye in the playoffs and hosted the NFC Championship game all in the same season. Sounds like an impressive resume, right?

    Well, not so much.

    Jay Cutler managed to do what he does best when the going gets tough, and Brian Urlacher didn't stand a chance against Green Bay's plethora of receivers in the most important game of the season. It's natural for Bears fans to be a bit disappointed in how their season ended.

    But the truth behind the failures of the Bears remains their lack of talent at the wide-receiver position. Johnny Knox, Greg Olsen and Earl Bennett all headline the Chicago aerial attack in desperate need of a consistent playmaker.

    Now, the Bears could wait things out for a receiver such as Leonard Hankerson (left) to fall into their grasp. Or they could shake things up in dramatic fashion.

    Yes, Lovie Smith has stated Jay Cutler is the future of Chicago's offensive attack. However we've all seen what he does in the big moment; make the game-changing mistake. If the Bears want a real gem of a receiver, they'd trade up for A.J. Green.

    Draft prospects: Leonard Hankerson, A.J. Green 

Cincinnati Bengals

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    2010 Record: 4-12

    First-round selection: No. 4

    Most need of improvement: Offense & Defense

    It's apparent Carson Palmer wants out of Cincinnati, and whether the fans like it or not, they're going to have to start living with the fact that a new, more established quarterback will be on his way.

    But with the fourth pick in a draft chock-full of talent at every position, it's hard to find a reason why not to take someone like Blaine Gabbert, Ryan Mallet or Jake Locker.

    But that's where the line in the sand is drawn between "wants" and "needs".

    A solid quarterback worth drafting in the second or third round is likely to be available for the Bengals to pick up, however Cincinnati is in need of immediate leadership at the quarterback position.  Will the Bengals be in on the Kevin Kolb sweepstakes as well?

    It's certainly not out of the question.

    If the Bengals can solve their quarterback issue by not sacrificing the number four overall pick, this would put them in position to draft a receiver to help compliment whoever is under center for Cincinnati in 2011.

    Draft prospects: Titus Young, Julio Jones, Jon Baldwin 

Cleveland Browns

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    2010 Record: 4-12

    First-round selection: No. 6

    Most need of improvement: Offense & Defense

    The consensus around the NFL is that Colt McCoy can (and will) be the franchise quarterback the Browns have been desperately working towards for almost a decade. After a season in which tangible progress was much more visible than in years previous, the Browns are on the cusp of developing something special.

    The offensive line continues to progress in front of McCoy, and there is enough talent on defense to suggest that the Browns are ready to compete with the big boys in the AFC North.

    The Browns are as close as ever to becoming the NFL's next breakout team—but without serious talent at the wideout position, they aren't going anywhere.

    If A.J. Green fell to number six, Browns fans would be jumping for joy. However one of the earlier teams are likely to snatch him up before they can even set their collective eyes on him.  Julio Jones would be the man for the job.

    Could the Browns accept a trade from Tennessee for Randy Moss?  It's conceivable.

    Draft prospects: A.J. Green, Julio Jones, Tandon Moss 

Dallas Cowboys

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    2010 Record: 6-10

    First-round selection: No. 9

    Most need of improvement: Defense

    Jon Kitna proved to us all that the often criticized Dallas offense can get the job done when given the right opportunities. However, the fact that the Cowboys failed to even reach the playoffs in a season that they were expected to be playing in the Super Bowl tells us that work needs to be done defensively.

    With the amount of talent to be had in the defensive side of the football in this year's draft, it's conceivable that the Cowboys could draft to upgrade their defense with their early round picks.

    Would that work towards Dallas' benefit?  It looks to be that way.

    With the ninth pick in the draft, the Cowboys have plenty of options with their selection. Could they use their pick as leverage towards an already big-name defensive star like Albert Haynesworth? Jerry Jones surely has the money and knows a thing or two about making offseason splashes..

    Draft prospects: Ryan Kerrigan, Da'Quan Bowers, Von Miller

     

     

Denver Broncos

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    2010 Record: 4-12

    First-round selection: No. 2

    Most need of improvement: Defense

    After starting the 2009 season 6-0, the Broncos have plummeted to a doormat status, resulting in the firing of former genius Josh McDaniels. Denver was obviously in a world of hurt heading into the offseason.

    But with an aggressive direction and purpose under newly named coach John Fox, the Broncos' stock is on the rise heading into 2011.

    Yes, Tim Tebow has only started a handful of games at the NFL level, but the Broncos have an abundance of young talent in their offensive gameplan.  With Tebow controlling the reigns of the Denver offense, the Broncos should be looking to deal away Kyle Orton to a needy ballclub for another first-round draft choice, if they are lucky to get one.

    Draft prospects: Da'Quan Bowers, Nick Fairley, Patrick Peterson 

Detroit Lions

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    2010 Record: 6-10

    First-round selection: No. 13

    Most need of improvement: Offense & Defense

    With the necessary pieces already in place for the Lions to become the NFL's next great defense, Detroit will be most likely looking to continue the development of their young defensive stars—and what better of a time that to take one of the top linebackers in the draft, such as Missouri's Aldon Smith?

    However, the 13th pick in the draft is a position that many NFL would love to see themselves in. This brings up the question: would the Lions be willing to accept an offer from a willing team for defensive solidarity?

    The notion is certainly not out of the question, and with the Packers' linebacking troubles dealing with Nick Barnett and A,J. Hawk, a deal could potentially go down between the two teams.

    Draft prospects: Aldon Smith, Akeem Ayers, Justin Houston

Green Bay Packers

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    2010 Record: 10-6

    First-round selection: No. 32

    Most need of improvement: Defense

    Even with a plethora of untimely injuries throughout the course of the regular season, Green Bay successfully reached the Super Bowl for the first time since the 1996 season behind a dominating defensive unit led by former first-round pick Clay Matthews.

    Other key starters such as Charles Woodson, Nick Collins, Tramon Williams and B.J. Raji also contributed to the Packers' late-season resurgence, but Woodson's exit in the second quarter of Super Bowl XLV due to a broken collar bone will raise questions about his durability and how much more gas is left in the tank.

    If the Packers are looking for another young, stout cornerback in the draft, they should look no further than LSU's Patrick Peterson. Trouble is, Green Bay has the last pick in the first round, and Peterson is a sure-fire top ten lock.

    Could Ted Thompson be willing to trade either Nick Barnett or A.J. Hawk (or both) to Buffalo for the third pick in the draft?

    Draft prospects: Patrick Peterson, Ras-I Dowling, Von Miller 

Houston Texans

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    2010 Record: 6-10

    First-round selection: No. 11

    Most need of improvement: Defense

    A season that looked as promising as ever for Texans fans, turned into yet another disappointment for a franchise that has yet to make the playoffs in its short existence.

    There is plenty of offensive firepower in Matt Schaub. Arian Foster and Andre Johnson, who have produced their share of highlights over the past few seasons in Houston.

    However, the Texans lackadaisical defense ranked at or near the bottom of almost every statistical category. As a result, there are more than enough available spaces for a young, talented first-round draft choice.

    The Texans could stay put, hoping for a prolific cornerback to fall into their grasp such as Nebraska's Prince Amukamara, or they could make a blockbuster deal on draft day.

    Sitting with the 14th pick in the draft is solid, but they could move their way up for the draft's most talented linebacker in Von Miller. If the Texans want to upgrade their defense with an impact player, they'll have to move up a few spots in April.

    Draft prospects: Prince Amukamara, Von Miller, Cameron Jordan

Indianapolis Colts

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    2010 Record: 10-6

    First-round selection: No. 22

    Most need of improvement: Offense & Defense

    The Indianapolis Colts came into 2010 fresh off their Super Bowl XLIV loss to the New Orleans Saints, and with a chip on their shoulder to prove they are still the team to beat in the AFC.

    A great plan indeed, but the pressure seemed to have gotten the best of Peyton Manning.

    Everything that could've gone wrong for the Colts last season went wrong, and the worst part for Manning is that his once impenetrable offensive line is beginning to break down.

    Yes, the defense will need to be addressed in the offseason , but the Colts can't possibly waste their first round choice on anything other than an offensive lineman. USC's Tryon Smith looks to fit the part best.

    Trades are not what Indy is known for most, so don't expect anything major from the Colts on draft day.

    Draft prospects: Tyron Smith, Anthony Castonzo, Gabe Carimi 

Jacksonville Jaguars

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    2010 Record: 8-8

    First-round selection: No. 16

    Most need of improvement: Defense

    With just two weeks remaining in the regular season, the Jaguars held a one-game lead on the Colts for the AFC South Championship. What happened to their title hopes?

    Jacksonville was unable to contain Peyton Manning in their week 16 rematch in Indianapolis, which can only mean that a major overhaul is in store for the Jags this offseason.

    Should Alabama's Marcell Dareus fall to the Jaguars at number 16 in the draft, Jack Del Rio will be a very happy man.

    If not, the Jaguars should seriously consider using either Mike Sims-Walker or Aaron Kampman as trade bait to move up in the draft.

    Either way, improvement must be attained in the near future.

    Draft prospects: Marcell Dareus, J.J. Watt, Cameron Jordan

Kansas City Chiefs

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    2010 Record: 10-6

    First-round selection: No. 21

    Most need of improvement: Offense

    After one of the most unexpected regular seasons in recent memory, the Chiefs managed to flop under the pressures of their first home playoff game in over a decade, losing to the Baltimore Ravens in humiliating  fashion.

    But the most atrocious part of their early postseason exit was the performance put in by quarterback Matt Cassel: 9-18, 70 yards and three interceptions, not up to Kansas City's standards at all.

    In the game, the Chiefs' core group of wideouts, including Dwayne Bowe, dropped a handful of would-be touchdowns.  

    So what can the Chiefs do?  It's a tough call considering most of the big-name receiver talent will already be off the board; however taking Pitt's beastly wideout Jon Baldwin would surely fix Kansas City's woes.

    Nevertheless, the Chiefs can always attempt to trade up in the draft for a better shot at A.J. Green or Julio Jones.

    Draft prospects: Jon Baldwin, Torrey Smith, Leonard Hankerson

Miami Dolphins

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    Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

    2010 Record: 7-9

    First-round selection: No. 15

    Most need of improvement: Offense

    The Miami Dolphins furnished as solid of a year as you possibly imagine on the defensive side of the football. However their lack of consistency and productivity on the offensive has transformed them into just an average football team at best.

    Sitting in the middle of the pack with the 16th draft selection, the Dolphins should look to draft a solid offensive lineman, or possibly a new quarterback if things turn out to be that desperate. With Wisconsin's Gabe Carimi most likely left on the board, Miami should do what makes the most sense and take the best offensive lineman available.

    Other than up front, the Dolphins have enough playmakers to contend for the AFC East.

    Don't expect anything drastic from South Beach on draft day.

    Draft prospects: Gabe Carimi, Nate Solder, Pat Devlin

Minnesota Vikings

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    2010 Record: 6-10

    First-round selection: No. 12

    Most need of improvement: Offense

    It's quite clear that Brett Favre didn't play up to his standards in 2010. But how about Minnesota's inability to get after the quarterback?

    With just 31 sacks last season, Minnesota ranked 20th in the league, despite the presence of Jared Allen and Pat Williams. Because the Vikings as a whole are aging, their 2011 lives are contingent upon their early-round draft choices. If they could secure a sure-fire perennial Pro-Bowl defensive end such as Cal's Cameron Jordan, they'd have a much better shot at contending for the NFC North next season.

    The Vikings could also look to acquire a veteran like Albert Haynesworth, which could help them rebound from a disappointing season and return to the top of the NFC North.

    Draft prospects: Cameron Jordan, Ryan Kerrigan, J.J. Watt

     

New England Patriots

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    2010 Record: 14-2

    First-round selection: No. 17, No. 28

    Most need of improvement: Defense

    As the only team in the NFL Draft with two first-round selections, the Patriots are gleaming with excitement heading into 2011.

    The lack of a consistent pass-rushing threat other than Vince Wilfork limited New England last season, most notably in their defensive inconsistencies against the Jets in the AFC Divisional Round.

    The Patriots will be in great position to solve this issue with the No. 17 pick, and Wisconsin's J.J. Watt looks to fit about as good as any other talent out there.

    New England doesn't have much to distribute in order to move up in the draft, so don't expect much coming from them on draft day as far as moving up the board goes. In fact, trading down seems far more likely.

    Draft prospects: J.J. Watt, Cameron Jordan, Von Miller

     

New Orleans Saints

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    2010 Record: 11-5

    First-round selection: No. 24

    Most need of improvement: Offense

    Once more, Drew Brees and Shaun Peyton again displayed their tenacity on and off the football field late in the regular season. With one of the most complete football teams to be found, New Orleans was as solid a group as any coming into the 2011 playoffs.

    Yet somehow, they let the Seattle Seahawks dismantle them from the ground up when it mattered most.  Befuddling to say the least

    Truth be told, the Saints were as injured a squad as any in 2010, and it showed in their Wild Card loss to the 7-9 Seahawks. Reggie Bush's status with the team is uncertain, and Julius Jones is not what elite, championship units are made of.

    The NFL Draft couldn't come faster for the Saints, where they are likely to focus in on a franchise running back worthy of a first-round pick, and Illinois's Mikel LeShoure is the man for the job.

    If not LeShoure, New Orleans could certainly attempt to secure someone like Brandon Jacobs or Ricky Williams via the draft.

    Draft prospects: Mikel LeShoure, Mark Ingram, DeMarco Murray

New York Jets

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    2010 Record: 11-5

    First-round selection: No. 30

    Most need of improvement: Offense

    Despite maintaining nearly a three touchdown deficit against the Pittburgh Steelers in the AFC Championship game, Mark Sanchez and the Jets offense managed to get themselves back into contention in the second half, only to lose by a mere five points.

    Yes, Rex Ryan's defense let Big Ben down the field with ease early on, but they showed us all just why they are in fact one of the league's most hard-edged defenses in that second half.

    The question for gang green this offseason will be how they can bolster their lacking offensive attack. The draft may be just the place to accomplish that, and taking LSU's beast wide-out Terrence Toliver would put that "dangerous" effect on an ever-growing Jets offense.

    Will Rex Ryan look to add a big name receiver instead of a draft pick, say Carolina's Steve Smith?  Look for the Jets to be in on something big come draft day.

    Draft prospects: Terrence Toliver, Jon Baldwin, Titus Young

New York Giants

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    Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    2010 Record: 10-6

    First-round selection: No. 19

    Most need of improvement: Defense

    Under the effective leadership of Eli Manning, the New York Giants (for the most part) were as consistent as any in the NFL, playing playoff-caliber football for a majority of the season.

    But as result of another collapse by Tom Coughlin's group, the Giants failed to make the postseason, primarily because of the offensive line's inability to protect Eli Manning.

    The Giants must take what looks to be the most proficient offensive tackle left on the board in Mississippi State's Derek Sherrod. If he can step in and improve their protection, the Giants are once again postseason contenders.

    Don't look for any trades from the Giants on draft day.

    Draft prospects: Derek Sherrod, Gabe Carimi, Nate Solder 

Oakland Raiders

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    Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    2010 Record: 8-8

    First-round selection: None

    Most need of improvement: Defense

    Currently the only team heading into the 2011 NFL Draft without a first-round selection, the Oakland Raiders are a team to watch on draft day.

    Progress was made on both sides of the ball last season, and the Raiders have plenty of reasons to believe 2011 will be the year they finally made the postseason.

    For this goal to be acheived, an upgrade on the defensive side of the ball must happen. Trading up for Georgia's stud linebacker Justin Houston would become just the first step in bringing back the vaunted Raiders defense so many grew accustomed to in years past.

    Oakland will have to become creative if they want to trade into the first round, including possibly giving up a future No. 1 choice.

    Draft prospects: Justin Houston, Von Miller, Aldon Smith

Philadelphia Eagles

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    2010 Record: 10-6

    First-round selection: No. 23

    Most need of improvement: Defense

    With Michael Vick at the helm for what amounted to a majority of the regular season, the Eagles were able to lock up the NFC East with a 10-6 mark. Although their 2010 season was one filled with scrutiny and uncertainty, Philadelphia was successful against a majority of the best teams in the league.

    However, what comes up must come down. The Eagles exited the playoffs in the first round, and must be careful they remain progressive to ensure 2011 will be a success.

    If the Eagles can manage to take one of the top right tackles in the 2011 draft like Colorado's Nate Solder, Philadelphia's chances of repeating as NFC East champions would rise significantly.

    Don't expect anything risky from the Eagles on draft day.

    Draft prospects: Nate Solder, Gabe Carimi, Tyron Smith

Pittsburgh Steelers

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    2010 Record: 12-4

    First-round selection: No. 31

    Most need of improvement: Offense

    The Pittsburgh Steelers were as compact a football as any in 2010, which makes analyzing their draft-day strategies extremely hard to figure out.

    However aiding their offensive line that struggled notably against the Packers in Super Bowl XLV via the draft would significantly help Ben Roethlisberger and the Steelers offense.

    Taking Florida guard Mike Pouncey would be the most sensible move with their first-round selection, and since the Steelers aren't in desperation mode as some teams are, Pittsburgh is more likely to sell their first-round choice rather than move up in the draft.

    Draft prospects: Mike Pouncey, Derek Sherrod, Danny Watkins 

St. Louis Rams

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    2010 Record: 7-9

    First-round selection: No. 14

    Most need of improvement: Offense

    The long awaited debut of last year's first overall pick Sam Bradford proved vital for the Rams' playoff hopes in their first season under the direction of Bradford.

    One essential offensive component the Rams still lack is a wide receiver who can make the big play, has great hands and can be relied on almost every down.

    It's quite obvious that St. Louis will enter the draft with the full intention of selecting a big-name receiver to help strengthen an inadequate core group of receivers. Troy's superstar wideout Jerrel Jernigan could potentially be that type of selection.

    If not, the Rams could possibly use running back Steven Jackson as bait to move up the board with the intention of taking someone like an A.J. Green or Julio Jones.

    Draft prospects: A.J. Green, Julio Jones, Jerrel Jernigan

San Diego Chargers

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    2010 Record: 9-7

    First-round selection: No. 18

    Most need of improvement: Defense

    After yet another disappointing season for Norv Turner and the Chargers, the NFL draft could improve San Diego's playoff chances in 2011.

    Philip Rivers lit up opposing defenses last season, and the three-back tandem of Ryan Matthews, Mike Tolbert and Darren Sproles worked enough that balance could be attained for most of the season. 

    So with the 18th pick in an extremely promising draft, what will the Chargers do?

    An upgrade on the defensive line could push San Diego over the top, and taking Ohio State's Cameron Heyward could take the Chargers' defense to the next level.

    If they are serious about moving up the draft board, the Chargers should consider using either Patrick Crayton or Malcom Floyd as key resources in improving their draft choices.

    Many teams would be interested in bringing in this pair of receivers. Looking at you, Bengals

    Draft prospects: Cameron Heyward, Da'Quan Bowers, Ryan Kerrigan

     

San Fransisco 49ers

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    2010 Record: 6-10

    First-round selection: No. 7

    Most need of improvement: Offense & Defense

    With the hiring of their new head coach Jim Harbaugh, San Fransisco is as optimistic as ever that they will make the playoffs in 2011.

    Looking back, 2010 wasn't quite what the 49ers envisioned.  A 6-10 season was full of disappointments from their dazed offense and overrated defense, all of which contributed to a third place finish in the league's most abysmal division.

    However, with new leadership comes new direction. This is what San Fransisco will be focusing in on this season.

    A team that furnished just 15 interceptions a season ago will be looking for a prime-cut prospect to help revamp their needing defense. Colorado's Jimmy Smith, as well as a boatload of other adept cover-corners available in the draft, could be granted the job.

    The number seven overall selection is a valuable commodity, so don't expect any draft-day departures from the 49ers.

    Draft prospects: Jimmy Smith, Prince Amukamara, Patrick Peterson

Seattle Seahawks

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    Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    2010 Record: 7-9

    First-round selection: No. 25

    Most need of improvement: Offense & Defense

    Despite becoming the first franchise in NFL history to capture a divisional title with a losing record, the Seattle Seahawks were able to hand the defending world champion New Orleans Saints a shocking postseason loss for the ages.

    Yet, unfortunately, the Seahawks must be able to wait for a while on draft day until their first-round choice (No. 25) rolls around.  What will Seattle do to improve their chances to repeat a NFC West champions in the draft?  The answer to that question will be reliant on what quarterbacking talent is available.

    Arkansas quarterback Ryan Mallett has been projected by many to be selected by the Seahawks, pending on his availability.

    If Seattle wants to ensure that Mallett will be their quarterback next season, they'll have to trade up in the draft.

    Draft prospects: Ryan Mallet, Christian Ponder, Andy Dalton

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

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    2010 Record: 10-6

    First-round selection: No. 20

    Most need of improvement: Defense

    Since the departure of former head coach Jon Gruden just a few seasons ago, the vaunted Tampa Bay defense we've grown so familiar with has diminished in dramatic fashion.

    Yes, they've managed to hold opposing offenses generally in check, but mediocrity isn't what the Buccaneers are known for. The next step in returning to defensive prominence is to take one of the most talented, young prospects available, such as Iowa's defensive-end Adrian Clayborn.

    In four seasons, Clayborn dominated Big Ten offenses through and through with 19 career sacks and 184 tackles against the best running backs the conference has to offer.  However with the 20th overall selection, Tampa Bay could miss out on prospects even more talented than Clayborn.

    Trading up will be difficult; and they are not likely to deal any young talent away for a higher draft choice. 

    Draft prospects: Da'Quan Bowers, Adrian Clayborn, Cameron Heyward

Tennessee Titans

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    Christian Petersen/Getty Images

    2010 Record: 6-10

    First-round selection: No. 8

    Most need of improvement: Offense

    With Jeff Fisher out and Vince Young about to be shown the same door, the Titans are just one of the many teams looking to rebuild from the ground up. And with a plethora of quarterbacking talent available, Titians fans are in for a real treat on draft day.

    The eight pick in the draft may be Tennessee's most vital choice of the past decade. With this in mind, they should take a good look at Missouri's Blaine Gabbert.

    Don't expect the Titans to be mentioned in the realm of draft-day trades, as the number eight pick overall is good enough for the Titans.

    Draft prospects: Blaine Gabbert, Ryan Mallett, Cam Newton

Washington Redskins

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    2010 Record: 6-10

    First-round selection: No. 10

    Most need of improvement: Offense & Defense

    In Mike Shannahan's first go-around as Washington's head coach, many speculated on whether or not he and Donavan McNabb would be able to avoid "butting heads" when the going got tough.

    As we discovered, McNabb was unable to lead the Redskins to the postseason, let alone even finishing the regular season as the team's starting quarterback.

    The 10th pick in the NFL draft should go towards securing a quarterback for the future, and Auburn's Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Cam Newton has been projected to get the job.

    However, if the Redskins were to be interested in Blaine Gabbert's services, they could use Albert Haynesworth as trade bait to other defensive-needy teams such as the Buffalo Bills, Carolina Panthers, Cincinnati Bengals or even the Denver Broncos.

    Draft prospects: Cam Newton, Blaine Gabbert, Jake Locker

     

Conclusion

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    After recapping what each team in the NFL could do on draft day to further their spot in the postseason in 2011, there are still a myriad of questions yet to be answered.

    With so many mock drafts out there, how do you know who to trust regarding your team?

    Here are a few projections pertaining to the long-awaited NFL Draft:

    First round analysis

    Second round analysis

    First-round guarantees