Draft Needs – 2012

Draft Needs: Indianapolis Colts

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

Season Recap: What a different team this was with Peyton Manning under center. After starting 13 consecutive seasons, Manning was forced to miss 2011 with a neck injury. Kerry Collins, Dan Orlovsky, and Curtis Painter all attempted to replicate Manning’s brilliance, but, much to nobody’s surprise, failed miserably. The Colts wound up with the number one pick at just the right time. Andrew Luck is the greatest quarterback prospect since Peyton Manning (coincidence?) and will be the Colts signal caller for the next 15 seasons.

Team Needs:
1. Offensive Line: Like the Redskins, I left quarterback off the list because of Andrew Luck. The Colts have many needs, but need to start with the group that will be in charge of protecting Mr. Luck. The only capable starter is last year’s first round pick, left tackle Anthony Costonzo. Longtime Colt, Jeff Saturday has left the team, leaving a big hole at center. Both guard positions and right tackle are also needs. The Colts can’t go wrong with any position on the offensive line. Mike Adams, Ben Jones, Kevin Zeitler, Brandon Brooks, and Joe Looney are all players that could fit in rounds two and three.

2. Tight End: The makeover continues. Gone are Dallas Clark and Jacob Tamme, the team’s previous top tight ends. Andrew Luck enjoyed throwing to his tight ends at Stanford, and will need a capable target. Coby Fleener played with Luck at Stanford and would be a great fit at the top of round 2.

3. Cornerback: The Colts have a poor secondary and need a new starter at cornerback. Brandon Boykin will be the top corner available in round two and will be a tempting pick for the Colts.

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Draft Needs: Washington Redskins

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

Season Recap: There’s hope in Washington! The Redskins won the RG3 sweepstakes and have finally, after many long years, acquired a franchise quarterback. Robert Griffin III will be the face of Washington for the next 10 seasons and can lead this team to greatness. With the intelligence of Mike Shanahan and a very solid defense, the Redskins should be a much improved and competitive team in 2012.

Team Needs:
1. Cornerback: I’ve left quarterback off this list because RG3 is all but officially on the roster. The Redskins have DeAngelo Hall and Josh Wilson, but could use another corner to man the slot. Washington will have to wait until the third round to acquire a corner: Jayron Hosley, Dwight Bentley, and Alfonzo Dennard will likely be available.

2. Running back: Roy Helu and Evan Royster played well during their rookie seasons, but they can’t be expected to carry the load. There is talk that Tim Hightower may be resigned, but the Redskins will have to draft a running back in the middle rounds as assurance. Mike Shanahan has never had trouble finding capable runners in the draft, and this year will be no exception. Chris Polk, Bernard Price, and Robert Turbin are players that should be available.

3. Offensive Line: The Redskins’ starting line appears set, but you can never have enough depth. Center is the most pressing need, and I’m sure Robert Griffin would love having former teammate Phillip Blake join the squad. Blake will be a third or fourth round selection.

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Draft Needs: Minnesota Vikings

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

Season Recap: After an offseason trade for Donovan McNabb, there was hope McNabb had enough in the tank to take the team to the playoffs. Well, his year in Washington proved to be no fluke as he led the team to a 1-5 record to start the season. Rookie quarterback Christian Ponder was given the starting job and managed to win only one more game the remainder of the season. Ponder did show some promise though, and it is now up to GM Rick Spielman to surround him with more talent.

Team Needs:
1. Left Tackle: A young quarterback like Christian Ponder needs a good left tackle to protect his blindside. Enter Matt Kalil- the top offensive lineman in the draft, with potential all-pro talent. Kalil starts from day one and serves as Ponder’s personal protector for the next 10 years.

2. Cornerback: The Vikings compete in the NFC North against Aaron Rodgers, Matt Stafford, and Jay Cutler- all elite quarterbacks who LOVE airing the ball out. The Vikings need a number one cornerback to match up against all those weapons. Morris Claiborne could be an option in the first round, but Minnesota will most likely wait until the second round and select Trumaine Johnson, Brandon Boykin, or Josh Robinson.

3. Wide Receiver: There’s been a hole at receiver since the day Sidney Rice left for Seattle. The Vikings need to find another weapon opposite of Percy Harvin, who was one of the only targets Ponder had during his rookie season. This is a deep receiver class, and the Vikings can grab Brian Quick, Alshon Jeffrey, or Mohamed Sanu in the second or third round.

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Draft Needs: Cleveland Browns

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

Season Recap: Poor Browns. Nothing has seemed to go right for this team. They missed out on the Robert Griffin sweepstakes and are now left with the question of what to do with Colt McCoy. I say you give the kid another year. Hell, if it doesn’t work out, there’s Matt Barkley next year. He’s a winner, but is going to need some weapons around him. With three picks in the top 37 selections, Cleveland should be well equipped to improve McCoy’s supporting cast.

Team Needs:
1. Wide Receiver: Greg Little showed potential, but in this day and age you need multiple weapons at the receiver position. Justin Blackmon has been linked as a potential selection at #4, but I say pass on him and grab a Stephen Hill or Kendall Wright at pick #22.

2. Running Back: The “Madden Curse” must be real. Peyton Hillis had an unbelievable 2010 season, but managed to fall completely off the earth in 2011. Hillis left for Kansas City, leaving oft-injured Montario Hardesty as the lone-back. Luckily for Cleveland, there happens to be an elite back in this year’s draft. The Browns should waste no time making Trent Richardson the selection. Richardson possesses elite and rare talent that doesn’t come around often. Bringing in Richardson, along with a receiver at pick #22 would instantly improve the offense and allow Colt McCoy to show his true colors.

3. Right Tackle: Yes, I know QB is a big need for most Browns fans, but I went with the approach that Colt McCoy is sticking around for another year. The Browns missed out on RG3 and shouldn’t pass on future all-pro RB Trent Richardson in order to reach for Ryan Tannehill. The Browns grab Richardson and a Kendall Wright in round one, and then add a right tackle in round two. Colt McCoy needs to be protected and the Browns current right tackle is Oniel Cousins, who has managed to start only five games in four seasons. Grabbing Mike Adams in round 2 would be an excellent first three picks for the Browns.

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Draft Needs: Tampa Bay Buccaneers

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

Season Recap: The Bucs were expected to be a very competitive team in 2011, but failed to meet expectations. Head Coach Raheem Morris was fired after a 4-12 finish, and former Rutgers coach Greg Schiano was brought in to take over the underachieving team. Tampa Bay spent big in free agency bringing in Carl Nicks and Vincent Jackson. The “offseason winner” doesn’t translate to wins, but the Bucs will be improved and should finish with more victories in 2012.

Team Needs:
1. Linebacker: Mason Foster played well during his rookie year and has one of the positions locked down. Questions remain at the outside positions. Luke Kuechly is one of the best defensive players in this draft and could be a surprise selection for the Buccaneers at pick #5.

2. Safety: Talented, but often troubled, free safety Tanard Jackson was released this offseason, leaving Cody Grimm and Larry Asante as the starting safeties. Preferably, both are better served as backups. There isn’t much depth after safety Mark Barron, who will be drafted early in the first round. George Iloka and Brandon Taylor are possible picks in round two and three.

3. Cornerback: The Buccaneers have some talent at cornerback but with many questions. Aquib Talib has been rumored to be on the trade block and Ronder Barber is 37 years old. If the Bucs decide to move Talib, they will need another cornerback. Morris Claiborne, the best defensive player in this years draft, will likely be available at pick #5 and would be a great addition to the Buccaneers secondary.

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Draft Needs: St. Louis Rams

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

Season Recap: The St. Louis Rams once again found themselves among the leagues worst teams when the season ended. They finished with a 2-14 and earned the number two overall pick in the upcoming draft. The Rams were able to trade the pick to the Washington Redskins, who made the move up to acquire Robert Griffin III. Through the trade, the Rams received the six overall pick, an additional second rounder, and two future 1st round picks. With new coach Jeff Fisher in control and numerous high draft picks, the future looks a lot brighter for the St. Louis Rams.

Team Needs:
1. Wide Receiver: St. Louis spent the number one overall pick on Sam Bradford two seasons ago, but fans have not gotten to see what he is fully capable of due to the fact that he’s had nobody to throw to. As of now, the two starters are Danny Amendola and Brandon Gibson. The Rams moved back from pick 2 to 6 and will have the opportunity to select the top receiver in the draft. The consensus number one wide out is Justin Blackmon, but I think Jeff Fisher selects Michael Floyd- knowing the impact a big bodied WR can make, much like Kenny Britt (a WR he selected in round one with the Titans).

2. Defensive Tackle: The Rams have two solid defensive ends in Chris Long and Robert Quinn, but not much of a presence at the tackle position. Kendall Langford was signed and can start at one spot, but there is still a weakness next to him. Fletcher Cox has been linked to the Rams in many mock drafts and would be a good addition to the defense. Brandon Thompson, Jerel Worthy, and Devon Still are options in round two.

3. Cornerback: Jeff Fisher brought over former Titan Cortland Finnegan, which is a great signing and will vastly improve the defense. The Rams still need another starter opposite him. Most likely, the problem will be solved in the second round. Janoris Jenkins, Trumaine Johnson, and Brandon Boykin are possibilities.

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Draft Needs: Jacksonville Jaguars

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

Season Recap: After trading up and selecting QB Blaine Gabbert in last year’s draft, the Jaguars had a bit of hope for the future, but Gabbert struggled mightily in his rookie season. The defense played well, but the offense simply couldn’t do enough to win many football games. New Head Coach Mike Mularkey- It’s time to get Gabbert some weapons!

Team Needs:
1. Wide Receiver: Blaine Gabbert spent his rookie year throwing to you and me. There were not many players capable of catching the ball. Jacksonville took a good first step by signing former Cowboy Laurent Robinson (who had a tremendous 2011 season) but the moves should not stop there. Justin Blackmon or Michael Floyd will likely be available at pick #7. There have been talks of the Jaguars looking to trade down, in which case Stephen Hill, Kendall Wright, and Reuben Randle are options.

2. Defensive End: Jeremy Mincey had a solid season with 8 sacks, but there is no threat across from him. Melvin Ingram, Chandler Jones, or Fletcher Cox could be enticing options in round one.

3. Cornerback: Cornerbacks are becoming more of a premium in the new pass-happy league. Having an elite cornerback allows a defense to have enormous amounts of flexibility with coverage’s and one-on-one matchups. Stephen Gilmore is a very athletic corner and would fit in nicely with the Jaguars in a division that feature Andre Johnson, Reggie Wayne, and Kenny Britt.

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Draft Needs: Miami Dolphins

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

Season Recap: The Miami Dolphins ended the season on a high note, finishing 6-3 after a 0-7 start. A new coach was brought in and star WR Brandon Marshall was sent away for two 3rd round picks. It will be interesting to see what Miami does to improve their roster come draft night.

Team Needs:
1. Quarterback:
After missing out on Peyton Manning and the rights to draft Robert Griffin III, the Dolphins need to do whatever it takes to acquire their guy on April 26th. Offensive Coordinator, Mike Sherman coached Ryan Tannehill at Texas A&M and could be pressing hard for the Dolphins to either trade up or stay at #8 and draft him. If the Dolphins decide to pass on Tannehill, the next best option would be Brandon Weeden, but they may have to trade back into the late first round in order to be sure of getting him.

2. Wide Receiver: This wasn’t as pressing a need until Owner Stephen Ross decided to ship away Pro-Bowl receiver Brandon Marshall. Now, the Dolphins are left with Brian Hartline and Davone Bess as the starters. Bess is best served in the slot; meaning Miami needs a new starter. Michael Floyd or Justin Blackmon would be the next options in round one, after Tannehill.

3. Right Tackle: Jake Long is one of the top left tackles in the league, but there is nothing across from him on the right side. Whichever quarterback is under center in 2012 is going to need protection. Mike Adams and Jonathon Martin are possible selections that may slip into the second round.

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Draft Needs: Carolina Panthers

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

Season Recap: Cam Newton proved many doubters wrong and finished with perhaps the greatest rookie QB season of all-time. The future looks very bright for Carolina fans, but there are still many holes to be filled. All eyes will be on Newton as he enters year two in the league.

Team Needs:
1. Defensive Tackle: The Panthers defense finished 28th in 2011 and the problems began upfront. Carolina needs a dominant presence in the middle to free up the linebackers and edge rushers. Fletcher Cox has been linked to the Panthers in many mock drafts and would be a great building block for the young defense.

2. Cornerback: Carolina doesn’t have much at the cornerback position and needs to find an upgrade over Captain Munnerlyn. Stephen Gilmore is the second best corner on the draft and should be available at pick number nine. Janoris Jenkins and Dre Kirkpatrick are options in round two.

3. Wide Receiver: With the addition of Cam Newton, Steve Smith showed the world he still has elite talent. Smith will be 33 by the start of the season and could use a playmaker opposite him to take off some pressure. Newton wouldn’t mind another weapon, as well. Michael Floyd is a reasonable selection if available. The Panthers could also choose to wait until round two and grab Mohamed Sanu or Alshon Jeffrey.

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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 started the season at 4-1, with impressive wins over the Patriots and Eagles and looked like a surprise team. Injuries played a major factor as they finished the season 2-9. Things do look promising, though, and Head Coach Chan Gailey has a clear plan for the team. Hopefully, the Bills can stay healthy and make a run in 2012.

Team Needs:
1. Offensive Tackle: Buffalo lost 2011 starting LT Demetress Bell in free agency, leaving second-year player Chris Hairston and journey-man Erik Pears as the starting tackles. The Bills can’t expect QB Ryan Fitzpatrick to stay healthy with those two players as his personal protectors. Buffalo will be well positioned to select Riley Reiff, Jonathon Martin or Cordy Glenn in round one.

2. Wide Receiver: The Bills have Stevie Johnson and a bunch of average players at the receiver position. Chan Gailey loves spreading the field and throwing the ball around, and would love another impact player for Fitzpatrick. If Michael Floyd falls to #10, Gailey will waste little time turning in the selection-card. Mohamed Sanu, Alshon Jeffrey, and Brian Quick could be options in the second round.

3. Linebacker: The Bills solidified the defensive line with the signings of DE Mario Williams and Mark Anderson, and now need to sure up the group behind them. Kelvin Sheppard looks like the starter in the middle, and Nick Barnett can handle the job for another season, but adding another LB should be a priority. Luke Kuechly would be a good selection and can start right away at any LB spot.

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