2011 NFL Draft: What Each Team's Philosophy Must Be This April
Whether or not the labor negotiations end up uniting the owners and players before the beginning of next season; there will be a draft for the best of the college game in April.
For some teams it was all they had to look forward to after bad seasons last year. For the good teams it is a way to reload, and build off of holes that were in their game last year.
So, let's take a look at what should be the mindset for each of the 32 NFL teams that are gearing up once again for the NFL Draft.
1. Carolina Panthers: It's Time to Build Up Some Defense
Ron Rivera or "Chico" as he was known as in his playing days as a linebacker will have a lot to do as coach of the Panthers. But, above all he is first going to have to stock up on defense before improving an equally pitiful offense.
They have their pick of the litter with the top pick and should go for a defensive lineman. They should hush the rumors of Cam Newton who is not right for the Panthers.
Team Needs: DE, DT, TE
The Panthers undeniably need to get better on the defensive line. Since Julius Peppers left town for Chicago along with Kris Jenkins before him; the void has been massive. They can change all that on draft day.
2. Denver Broncos: Smart Like a "Fox" on Draft Day
John Elway and new coach John Fox will be pulling the triggers in building up the once proud Broncos. They are in desperate need of a young shutdown corner alongside Champ Bailey who they recently re-signed.
They most likely will get Patrick Peterson who could be a franchise lock down cornerback for the next decade in Denver who would learn from the best in Champ Bailey.
Team Needs: CB, DE, TE
After re-signing Champ Bailey it would appear the Broncos would not need to draft a cornerback. But once in a lifetime talent cannot be passed up. If there were an Adrian Peterson or L.T. in the draft; I'd say they should get a running back, but that type of player is nowhere near the second overall pick.
3. Buffalo Bills: QB or No QB? That Is the Question
The Bills have alot of questions to answer going into next season after some brutal years as of late. One is whether they will honor their commitment with Ryan Fitzpatrick or look at some of the talented quarterbacks come draft day.
The GM of the team has already said they will take the best player on the board for the third overall pick.
Team Needs: OT, LB, QB
In past years there have been linemen and specifically left tackles that would be staples of the organization for ten years. This year lacks in that category. That is why the Bills must make the choice if they want to trade down; or take Cam Newton; which would be a gamble of massive proportions.
4. Cincinnati Bengals: Find an Identity and Go from There
It was apparently that the trenches would be the spots that the Bengals would need to address on draft day. But, with the malcontents in Carson Palmer, Terrell Owens, and Chad Ochocinco most likely out the door; it leaves some more voids for the team in the "Queen City".
Team Needs: OT, S, DE
The three positions listed above are just the tip of the iceberg for the Bengals at this point. You could include wide receiver and now quarterback with Carson Palmer crying his way out of town. Any one of these three players would be good picks for a team that will struggle next season.
5. Arizona Cardinals: Find Someone to Get Larry Fitzgerald the Ball
With Kurt Warner's retirement; the Cardinals had a disappointing season last year in which they never were able to build any cohesiveness. To get back to the Super Bowl they will need to get a franchise quarterback; or at least people to protect whomever they bring in.
In all probability the Cards are gonna look for a veteran quarterback; as there will be some good ones on the market, but don't put it past them to go young.
Team Needs: QB, OG, CB
Kevin Kolb and Donovan McNabb have been the hot rumors to play in the desert next season under center. If that is the case the Cardinals could select the best available player on the board. If not they could surprise some and take a quarterback with the fifth overall pick.
6. Cleveland Browns: Draft the Most Talented Player Available
The Browns were a team that was better then the record books showed last season. So, for the draft they will need to try to build on the successes they had last season and get Colt McCoy someone to make plays.
They could also look for some defensive help as well if there is a good player to get on that side of the ball.
Team Needs: WR, LB, S
As much as Mohamed Massaquoi and Chansi Stuckey are liked by some, they are not starting wide receivers for a winning football team. A.J. Green on the other hand would be the type of receiver that the Browns haven't had in ages.
7. San Francisco 49ers: No Luck, but the 49ers Still Need a QB
The buzz is palpable in the city by the bay with new coach Jim Harbaugh now in charge. Andrew Luck would have been a good fit, but he honorable decided to return to Stanford. This means the Niners will need to look at the rest of the crop of college quarterbacks.
Team Needs: QB, CB, LB
David Carr is going to be the only quarterback on contract, and Harbaugh will want a quarterback he can coach for the duration of his time with the 49ers. They truly need more help at defensive back with an early pick, and a can't miss pass rusher wouldn't hurt, but a quarterback is priority number one.
8. Tennessee Titans: Time to Move on from Jeff Fisher and Vince Young
In what was one of the best runs by a head coach in the NFL without a Super Bowl victory; Jeff Fisher was the greatest and only coach the Titans have ever had. But, he is gone and so they will need to begin a new era.
Getting a franchise quarterback and/or leader on defense at linebacker will be the key on draft day.
Team Needs: QB, LB, OG
Vince Young did not work out as some might have hoped when they drafted him out of Texas. Cameron Newton reminds some of Young, but that might not stop the Titans from drafting him if he falls to them at No. 8.
9. Dallas Cowboys: "Big D" Needs Help on "D" and the O-Line
The 'crazies' will suggest getting a new quarterback for the Cowboys after the injury-shortened season for Tony Romo last year, but that is out of the question. They need someone to protect Romo as their top priority; even if it's not the "sexy" pick. Also, a top notch pass rusher with DeMarcus Ware would be beneficial.
Team Needs: OT, S, DE
The Cowboys are going to be tempted to take a flashy skill player, but they must resist such temptation. Tyson Smith seems like the perfect fit for Jason Garrett's offense, and could be just what the doctor ordered.
10. Washington Redskins: Get Some People Who Can Score Some Points
No matter who it is. If its a dynamic wide receiver, a franchise quarterback or a cornerstone tackle. The Redskins need to make to sure they address their many issues on the offensive side of the ball.
They are in a prime spot in the first round to get a big-time wide receiver and should not waste that chance.
Team Needs: WR, QB, OT
Any of the three players listed below would be an improvement for the Skins' in the draft. They need to get a quarterback to start things off, and Jake Locker is more John Elway-like than Cam Newton for Mike Shanahan.
11. Houston Texans: Make Sure to Get "Win Now" Players
The Texans have been the "cute" pick to win their division the last couple of seasons, and to make a solid post-season run. They seem to never be able to live up to the expectations though.
They need to make the playoffs next season with the talent they have on offense. Getting the secondary shored up, and making sure they can get more turnovers will be paramount.
Team Needs: S, TE, CB
Yep, the Texans were dead last in the NFL in passing defense. 32 out of 32. They need to get one of the top corners in the form of Prince Amukamara from Nebraska. Otherwise they should steal a top defensive end from another team to go along with stud Mario Williams.
12. Minnesota Vikings: Brett Favre to Joe Webb in a Season, Time to Draft a QB
Another team in the top half of the draft that could and should be in the market to look at getting a franchise quarterback. It appears that Favre has officially called it quits and that means that they need to bring someone in.
They could also use someone to play opposite Jared Allen as well.
Team Needs: QB, DE, C
The Vikings are making no secrets about which direction they will be going in the draft. Unless they get McNabb or something unbelievable happens they will be drafting at No. 12. Ryan Mallett's big-arm would be a nice transition from the gunslinger, Favre.
13. Detroit Lions: Quietly Building a Contender in the "Motor City"
It should be no surprise that the Lions have been stock piling talent over the last five years with the lack of on-field success that the team has suffered through.
A returning Matthew Stafford will be the key to the Lions playoff aspirations. But, they need a shutdown corner to take a little bit of pressure of a talented defensive line.
Team Needs: CB, OG, LB
The two starting cornerbacks as of now for the Lions had a combined two interceptions for the team last season. In a division that has Jay Cutler and Aaron Rodgers in it; that won't cut it. They will be in the market at that position, but don't be shocked if they make a move at linebacker; which outside of Julian Peterson has been suspect.
14. St. Louis Rams: Need to Draft a Wide Receiver
Sam Bradford proved to be everything that Rams fans had hoped for out of the first overall selection last season. He has the Rams within one win of making the playoffs in his rookie season.
He did this without a decent receiver; which made it all the more astounding. There are two or three wide outs that could be his go-to guy for years.
Team Needs: OG, WR, S
Brandon Gibson and Danny Amedola did the best job they could for Sam Bradford, but they are exactly the Montana to Rice connection type of receiver that people think of. Julio Jones would get the chance to be "the man" in St. Louis.
15. Miami Dolphins:Find Skill Guys Who Want to Take There Talents to South Beach
Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams are great players, but it still might be time to bring someone younger and more explosive to the Dolphins.
Chad Henne may not have gained anyone's trust, but they need someone to carry the rock more than Henne who has the physical tools to be a good player in the NFL.
Team Needs: RB, C, QB
It's unlikely that the Dolphins will invest a first round selection on a quarterback this season. Mark Ingram seems like the type of young running back that would thrive behind a solid offensive line in time.
16. Jacksonville Jaguars: Pick from the Crop of Defensive Lineman
If there is any year for a team that needs a skilled pass rusher to get one in the draft; this is most certainly the year to do it.
The Jags could use a number of different players at different positions on defense, but someone who can get to the quarterback is the biggest need right now. They may choose to take a franchise QB as they might think David Garrard is not a long-term answer.
Team Needs: DE, S, LB
The total amount of sacks of all the guys who played defensive end for the Jags was 10. An above average NFL starting end can get that in a typical season. That is why they must address this issue; which also might help the 27th ranked pass defense.
17. Oakland Raiders: Get Some Blocking and a Replacement at Corner
Darren McFadden showed last season that he was the type of player that could be a quality and elite NFL running back. But, if he wants to be among the league's best he will need the Raiders to get some lineman up front.
They more than likely will also have to get someone to fill in for perennial Pro Bowler Nnamdi Asomagmu as well.
Team Needs: CB, OT, OG
The Raiders showed flashes of turning the corner for Tom Cable last season before getting new coach Hue Jackson. With no 1st round pick they should look at Rodney Hudson out of Florida State with their second round pick to sure up an area that will be lacking because of free agency.
Possible Targets: (No first round pick)
18. San Diego Chargers: Find Whatever Is Needed to Get over the Hump
The Chargers are a team that on paper and on the stat sheet should have been to a couple Super Bowls under Norv Turner to this point. But, that of course is not the case, and they did not make the playoffs last season.
The Chargers have a variety of areas they could look at going in the draft. I would select a linebacker early, but also look at defensive lineman as well.
Team Needs: DE, LB, WR
Injuries to several linebackers hurt the Chargers last season; which may lead them to bring in some new players to the 3-4. An end would not be a bad pick as it would give the Chargers something they lack; which is a pure defensive end sack specialist.
19. New York Giants: Don't Go Pretty, Giants Need Tough Players
Still burning in the minds of Giants fans is the utter collapse against the Eagles last season. That lose sealed the fate of the 2010 Giants. To get better they will need to get hard-nosed players in the trenches that will not be pushed around.
Team Needs: OT, LB, DT
The Giants have to get a little younger at the tackle spot, and a pick like Nate Solder would do just that. The linebackers are "okay" currently, but they need someone who is going to command the defense, and twice a year contain Michael Vick.
20. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Be Prepared for a Sophomore Slump
The team of the future seems to the Bucs as they nearly got into the playoffs this last season with no one really noticing.
Josh Freeman was brilliant and should be even better the next time football is played. LaGarrette Blount was amazing as an undrafted rookie, but still the Bucs should look to get more talent at tailback.
Team Needs: RB, LB, DE
After his 14 touchdowns last season, LaGarrette Blount has the job, but how many running back can repeat after a season like that? The Bucs probably need a pass rusher more as they lacked that big time last year, insert Adrian Clayborn.
21. Kansas City Chiefs: Build off of Last Season's Great Draft
The Chiefs are close to pulling away by a wide margin in the AFC West. If they can somewhat duplicate the first-year success their rookies had last season then it could happen sooner then expected.
But, instead of skill position players; the Chiefs will need to address issues at offensive and defensive tackle to return to the playoffs.
Team Needs: OT, LB, DT
Corey Liuget would be the ideal pickup for the Chiefs 3-4 defense. This is the same defense that could not stop anyone; which ultimately was the team's undoing in the playoffs.
22. Indianapolis Colts: Don't Fix What Isn't Broken
The Colts have been a mainstay in the playoffs since Peyton Manning came to town out of Tennessee. And, as No. 18 approaches the twilight of his career; the Colts will get a couple more chances to take a shot at the title.
They will need to get Peyton help at tackle as he felt more pressure last season than any other year.
Team Needs: OT, DT, S
The Colts will need someone to play on the other side of Ryan Diem at the tackle spot next season. If Tyson Smith falls that far somehow the Colts will lock him up. If not Nate Solder would fit their scheme.
23. Philadelphia Eagles: Do Whatever Makes Michael Vick More Explosive
The Eagles have the running back, the receivers, and have a franchise quarterback. Now, that they have those positions out of the way there are certain areas that need some attending to.
They could use some youth at corner and linebacker with a couple of the picks, and also could use some interior lineman.
Team Needs: OG, CB, LB
As listed below, I believe that the Eagles could go in a variety of directions in the early rounds. Making sure the line gets upgraded will be their best move this year.
24. New Orleans Saints: Find Players with the New Orleans Swagger
After bringing an emotional Super Bowl win for the city of New Orleans; the follow-up did not live up to it's predecessor in any way.
The Saints never got it all together last season during the "Super Bowl Hangover". They most likely will take one of the group of top defensive lineman prospects or get a running back.
Team Needs: DT, RB, S
The Saints were struck with injuries and inconsistency at the running back spot with Chris Ivory, Reggie Bush, and Pierre Thomas. Mikel LeShoure might be another Illinois back like Thomas to have success with Drew Brees & Company.
25. Seattle Seahawks: See What Pete Carroll's Plan from Here Is
There has been a huge amount of turnover on the Seahawks roster since Pete Carroll took over as head coach. But, despite all the changes the team still made it to the playoffs, and upset the defending champions.
They will need to significantly upgrade the offensive tackle position to repeat in the NFC West. And, eventually they will seriously need to look for a successor for Matt Hasselbeck.
Team Needs: OT, S, QB
Conventional wisdom would say the Seahawks should make an investment in a quarterback eventually. Ryan Mallett might be the type of player that could flourish. Otherwise they must get players to protect Hasselbeck.
26. Baltimore Ravens: Time to Replace the Canes?
The cornerstones of the Ravens defense that been dominating for over a decade have been Ray Lewis and Ed Reed.
Other players have come and gone, but the two former star Miami Hurricanes remain. But, Lewis at 16 years in the league, and Reed's many injuries may force the Ravens to look at player's to eventually fill in for the future Hall of Famers.
Team Needs: S, LB, CB
Brandon Harris would be another Miami player added to the Ravens group. He could learn under mentors Lewis and Reed. Martez Wilson could also be a smart pick as he could join the many linebackers who have gone onto Pro Bowls with Baltimore.
27. Atlanta Falcons: Avenge the Embarrasing Playoff Lose
The putrid taste of humiliation for the Falcons still carries over from the shocking letdown at home against the Packers in the divisional round. Atlanta came into the game as the top seed, and many experts pick to represent the NFC in the Super Bowl.
To regain their regular season form they need to get a linebacker and defensive end in the draft. One position they might go in the first round is wide receiver as they need someone to compliment Roddy White on the outside.
Team Needs: DE, OG, LB
Jonathan Baldwin is very much in the same position that Roddy White was in when he came out of college. Many people questioned his make-up between the ears and did not know if he'd succeed in the NFL. And, look how that turned out.
28. New England Patriots: Use All the Picks Wisely and Get Belichick Guys
If there is one team that should not alot of extra picks in the first couple rounds of the draft it is New England.
The Patriots who are notrious at finding players that other teams don't believe in, and making them look like Hall of Famers, and with a bevy of early round selections they could stock up at a number of positions.
Team Needs: OG, RB, LB
With the first selection, the Patriots could go after the top running back in the class in former Heisman winner Mark Ingram. If that comes to pass they could try to find a linebacker with their second pick in the first round.
29. Chicago Bears: Help Jay Cutler.
It is no secret that the Bears offensive line was criticized without end throughout last season. Despite getting astronomically better throughout the year, and reaching the NFC Title game; the Bears need to load up at tackle and guard.
They also will need to address the wide receiver position as Jay Cutler can use all the help he can get.
Team Needs: OT, WR, LB
Gabe Carimi should be a legitimate offensive tackle in the NFL. Those words are not very common when describing Bears lineman. But, even with the lack of success on the Bears part in drafting early offensive picks; they need another good receiver for Mr. Cutler.
30. New York Jets: Find Players to Fill Some Big Shoes
With Jason Taylor, Santonio Holmes, and Braylon Edwards all possible going to be gone; the Jets will need to not risk it, and take some play makers at those positions. They also need to fill interior lineman sports on both sides of the ball before the season starts as they have aging stars.
Team Needs: WR, DE, OG
When the smoke clears, could the starting wide receivers of the Jets be Torrey Smith and Brad Smith? Not likely even in the worst case scenario with Jerricho Cotchery still aboard. But, taking another wide receiver would a good pick for the J-E-T-S.
31. Pittsburgh Steelers: Get Some Young Blood on the Offensive Line
Coming off the lose in the Super Bowl, the Steelers are a team that needs to certain spots, but not that many in general. The offensive line would be an area to look at for Mike Tomlin's group as well as some more help at corner.
Team Needs: OT, CB, OG
The Steelers can't seem to do wrong when it comes to the draft, and if they get any of the three players below; they should continue that trend. Mike Pouncey would be the best fit if he somehow were to fall to the 31st pick.
32. Green Bay Packers: The Champs Need to Draft Somebody!
The Packers have a team on paper that should make a valiant run at defending their crown in 2011. With injured players like Ryan Grant, Nick Barnett, and Jermichael Finley returning they should be loaded.
But, they also should be open to adding to the tailback spot that was inconsistent for much of the year without Grant.
Team Needs: OG, RB, LB
Christian Ballard out of Iowa might be the best pick of the three. After all the Packers seemed to do alright after taking Iowa tackle Bryan Bulaga in the first round last season.