The NFL has two primary mechanisms (at least for the moment) to promote parity among its 32 franchises.
The first is the salary cap, which prevents big market teams from buying up all of the best talent in the league.
The second mechanism is the draft, which awards the worst teams in the league with the opportunity to add the best players coming out of college to their rosters.
The most successful franchises in the NFL build their teams through the draft. This process requires patience and drafting well year after year.
Sometimes, when a team is poised to be a contender, and is an impact player or two away from reaching the playoffs, a single draft can make a big difference.
But most of the time it takes several consecutive good drafts for a team below .500 to put enough key players in place and build the depth behind them necessary to become consistent winners.
Occasionally a team mortgages its future by bartering away draft picks to acquire talent today through trades. But the bill always comes due. These are the teams that sometimes go from double-digit wins one season to below .500 the next.
The next five slides identify teams that aren’t likely to get enough help in the 2011 draft to improve their standings this coming season. They are all teams that need to learn how to build through the draft.