Matt Peterson

Draft Needs: Arizona Cardinals

Matt Peterson tracks the offseason needs of every team in the league. Today’s franchise, the Arizona Cardinals. [full archive here].

Season Recap - Just one season removed from a divisional playoff loss, the Kurt Warner-less Arizona Cardinals struggled throughout the 2010 season. Expected Warner replacement, 2006 first round draft pick and former Heisman Trophy winning QB Matt Leinart was released one week before the start of the season. The unexpected move placed the offense in the hands of Quarterbacks Derek Anderson, Max Hall, and John Skelton. No player seized the job, and as a result Arizona finished the season 5-11. Head coach Ken Whisenhunt has a long to-do list in attempts of putting Arizona back into the winning column.

Needs:
1. Quarterback – Besides Skelton’s successful drive to beat Dallas in week 16, there were few positives from the position. Arizona finished the season ranked 31st in passing yards and will need to find an upgrade at QB to improve. There have been talks of possibly trading for Kevin Kolb or Donovan McNabb, but the Cardinals could also decide to see if prospects Blaine Gabbert or Cam Newton fall to #5 in the draft. A veteran QB is probably the best option due to Fitzgerald entering the final season under contract. Read more

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Draft Needs: Cincinnati Bengals

Matt Peterson tracks the offseason needs of every team in the league. Today’s franchise, the Cincinnati Bengals. [full archive here].

Season Recap – The Cincinnati Bengals entered the 2010 season with very high expectations after finishing 10-6 and sweeping the AFC North in 2009, but failed to live up to the hype and ended with a 4-12 record. With the likes of Chad Ochocinco, Carson Palmer, Terrell Owens, and Cedric Benson, the Bengals were supposed to have a potent offense but it never came together. Cincinnati faces many question marks with players on the current roster: Terrell Owens will not return, Chad Ochocinco could be traded, and Cedric Benson will become a free agent. Carson Palmer publicly demanded a “trade or retire” request, and figures to be the main issue for the Bengals this offseason. Newly hired offensive coordinator Jay Gruden brings in a West Coast offense and will look to improve the offense, especially the running game, which finished the season ranked 27th.

Needs:
1. Running back – Cedric Benson is scheduled to become a free agent, and the Bengals are most likely going to go in another direction. With Jay Gruden now set to run the offense, the Bengals must find a starting running back to help keep pressure off of Carson Palmer. Read more

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Draft Needs: Buffalo Bills

Matt Peterson tracks the offseason needs of every team in the league. Today’s franchise, the Buffalo Bills. [full archive here].

Season Recap – The Buffalo Bills began the 2010 season 0-8, and there were many people who believed they would end up winless. Right around mid-season is when the Harvard grad Ryan Fitzpatrick began to look the part for the Bills and Chan Gailey’s new look offense. Although Buffalo finished the season 4-12, Fitzpatrick, along with 1,000 yard wide out Steve Johnson, showed no signs of quit and stayed competitive in many games: especially the OT thrillers with Pittsburgh and Baltimore. With a year of experience under Gailey look for Buffalo to improve in 2011.

Needs:
1. Right Tackle – In Gailey’s offense, which consists of multiple shotgun formations using four and five receiver sets and a zone blocking scheme on running plays, offensive lineman are very important. Seventh round LT Demetrius Bell performed well, but Buffalo had no answer across from him. Cornell Green, Erik Pears, and Mansfield Wrotto all took their shots at RT, yet none performed worthy enough for a spot next season. Upgrading the position would pay huge dividends for the entire offensive unit. Read more

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Draft Needs: Denver Broncos

Matt Peterson tracks the offseason needs of every team in the league. Today’s franchise, the Denver Broncos. [full archive here].

Season Recap – Denver’s season suffered greatly from Josh McDaniels and his questionable player trades, namely shipping off stud running back Peyton Hillis for third string quarterback Brady Quinn. McDaniels did select Tim Tebow in the draft last season, and there were glimpses of greatness from the league-leading jersey seller. This offseason, Denver must add protection for Tebow and pieces to its defense, as they transition back into the 4-3 under John Fox.

Needs:
1. Defensive Tackle - The past two seasons, Denver brought in defensive lineman for the 3-4, but now they must find true defensive tackles for the 4-3 alignment they plan to run. As of now, Denver has one of the worst front sevens in football and adding a tackle atop the draft will help the entire unit improve. Look for either Marcel Dareus or Nick Fairley to fill the void this offseason. Read more

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Draft Needs: Carolina Panthers

Over the next 32 days, Matt Peterson will track the offseason needs of every team in the league. First up, the Carolina Panthers.

Season Recap – 2010 was a season to forget for Carolina fans. Finishing 2-14, the Panthers earned the first pick in the draft, only to see the best QB prospect since Peyton Manning return to school. Poor quarterback play along with a very young defense contributed to the last place finish, and new head coach Ron Rivera has some work to do this offseason if he hopes to contend for the NFC South in 2011.

Draft Needs:
1. Quarterback – Whether it’s Jimmy Clausen, Matt Moore, a veteran free agent, or a draft pick, the Panthers need to solve their problem at QB. Carolina’s offense was abysmal; finishing 32nd in passing yards per game, and only managed nine touchdowns through the air. Ron Rivera needs to find his guy and although there is no clear-cut number one draft prospect, Cam Newton or Blaine Gabbert could emerge come April.
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