Since I miss the NFL so much, I had to find a reason to write about it. Although the draft is 2 months away and free agency 2 weeks away, it's still fun to project what teams may do this off-season. I'll go in order of when the teams draft. I am NOT predicting what position teams will spend their draft pick on. I am simply addressing their biggest needs. Tune in this Thursday at 7:00 pm EST to The Route 4 Sports Podcast as we'll discuss this topic and news around the NBA. Call us pr tweet at us @SportsProphet1 and @TheHarrisonian.
Chiefs: QB - Many of us thought that Kansas City would contend with Denver for the AFC West. And they may have if not for some pitiful quarterback play. They can run the ball and play defense. Now they need a guy to throw the ball around the field. Will Alex Smith please stand up!
Jaguars: DE - Jacksonville needs help everywhere. But a solid pass rusher can change the dynamic of a defense. Reggie White made the Eagles & Packers secondary into pro bowl players as did Bruce Smith for Buffalo. I'm not saying a DE is in this draft of those caliber players but it's something all defensive coordinators think about.
Raiders: RB - This team needs to score some points, before the 4th quarter. The defense wasn't half bad there for a while but when you're on the field for the entire game it becomes physically and mentally exhausting. Darren McFadden has proven to be injury prone so Oakland will need to find a new offensive weapon to rely on. And damn Carson Palmer, what happened to you?
Eagles: OL - It's no secret the Eagles had one of the worst offensive lines in the league. Michael Vick has been running for his life the past two seasons and it's not because Andy Reid was calling QB options and draws. Now Chip Kelly is in house and he relies heavily upon the quarterback to make plays. He's going to want to keep the man behind center upright. They should spend every draft pick they have on offensive lineman.
Lions: LB - These guys are dying for a stud linebacker. The defensive line is pretty solid and they have a decent secondary. But their LB's couldn't tackle a mannequin. Opposing offenses score on Detroit with ease and pick apart the middle of their defense. It doesn't matter how many touchdowns Stafford throws or how many yards receiving Calvin Johnson has. You still have to stop the other team from scoring.
Browns: WR - They got their RB! They got their QB...well kinda! Now they need a WR. It will be hard to measure how successful Brandon Weeden can be if he doesn't have somebody to throw the ball to. The defense is much improved and don't play in a division where opposing offenses impose much of a threat. Cleveland needs to take the next step and catch up with the rest of the league.
Cardinals: OL - Maybe the only offensive line in the league worse than the Eagles was Arizona. They got all their quarterbacks hurt starting with Kevin Kolb and ultimately leading to the historically awful performance of Ryan Lindley against the Jets. I'd say the Cards need a QB but what good is that if you can't keep any of them healthy?
Bills: LB - I like the Bills offense. They can score. But like many other bottom feeders of the NFL, they can't stop other teams from scoring. Besides bad schemes and overpaid talent, the Bills need tacklers to stop opposing RB's from stampeding over the Bills. You do this by drafting or finding a middle linebacker that can anchor your defense and keep everyone in check. Maybe a month ago, Manti Te'o was that guy. I wonder if Buffalo may still feel that way!
Jets: (Everything) - I'm not even trying to be funny here. They may as well drop the whole team and draft a brand new one. Either that or trade everybody...except Tebow. Honestly, he may be the only thing alive that can help the Jets this season. Just let him start and see what happens.
Titans: DL - I can basically repeat what I said about the Jaguars. The Titans defense was bad news last year and desperately need someone to rush the quarterback. The game of football starts in the trenches. The ball is hiked at the line of scrimmage and 75% of the action occurs around the big fellas up front. Get a guy who can wreak havoc at the line and your defense changes instantly.
Chargers: RB - Phillip Rivers needs a running back in the worst way. He is relied on too much to throw the ball and defenses know it. San Diego went from one of the best offenses in the NFL to below average within 2 years. No doubt the departure of Ladanian Tomlinson back 2009 has hinged the franchise, but you have to recover at some point. Maybe now with a new coach and new management, the Chargers can get back to their winning ways.
Dolphins: WR - Get Tannehill a wide receiver. The Dolphins are actually a ready made team. They're tough on defense, well coached and have talented youth. But this is a passing league now more than ever and the kid needs a target to throw to. If Miami is to get a big time wide out then they will most likely have to look at the free agents...and there are many available.
Bucs: CB - They let their best cornerback go and were already bad against the pass. That's not a good thing when Drew Brees, Matt Ryan and Cam Newton are in your division. Not only that but all those QB's have above average receivers to throw to. So the Bucs better go get a guy that can cover big and fast wide receivers. Either that or forget about competing in this division.
Panthers: CB/S - Repeat information from the Bucs. When you have to play the Falcons, Saints and now even the combo of Josh Freeman and Vincent Jackson twice a year, you better have someone to cover these studs. Roddy White, Julio Jones, Steve Smith, Marques Colston and on and on. You want to contend for the NFC South title? Then you better get some cover corners out there. Or possibly a ball hawking safety. They need to go secondary strong in this draft.
Saints: LB - The Saints will be switching to a 3-4 defense this season with new defensive coordinator Rob Ryan. The Saints had one of the worst defenses in NFL history this past season. You can contribute that to their numerous off-season issues but even before then, New Orleans has had trouble keeping opposing offenses out of the end zone. Now with 4 linebackers on the field at the same time, you'll need to have some have great athletes and depth on your bench.
Rams: WR - St. Louis needs a wide receiver so badly it probably gives Sam Bradford nightmares. There best WR (Danny Amendola) was hurt for most of season and now he's a free agent. The Rams offense was pitiful in 2012. The theme in the NFC West is defense and the Rams certainly have that as Jeff Fisher has changed the culture around the team. Now they need to score some points on those tough defenses.
Steelers: RB - The Steelers were at their best when they were running the ball and playing tough defense. Rashard Mendenhall hasn't panned out and the revolving door of Steelers running back injuries has forced Pittsburgh to rely more heavily on the pass. Ball control offense and making opposing teams go 3 & out has been their forte. They need to get back to basics.
Cowboys: OL - Whether or not you believe Tony Romo has the goods to win the Super Bowl or not, you have to protect him while he's taking the snaps. The Cowboys have had offensive line issues for years now, forcing the much maligned Romo into risky situations. Maybe if he had more time to throw the ball and the offensive line started run blocking as well, then perhaps the Cowboys could actually win a playoff game.
Giants: LB - The Giants have been craving for a play making linebacker since Lawrence Taylor retired. The defensive line has done their job but once RB's break through the line of scrimmage the G Men have problems making plays. NY has already cut a couple of veteran linebackers so perhaps they're clearing the way for some younger talent.
Bears: TE - The tight end has become a big time pass catching position in the NFL over the past few seasons. Gone are the days of huge, uncoordinated poor mens lineman playing the TE position. Now it's former college basketball players that run faster and jump higher then some WR's. The Bears have lacked fire power on offense even with the addition of super star receiver Brandon Marshall. Matt Forte certainly can't be relied upon. Getting a play making tight end can change the way defenses prepare and game plan around your team.
Bengals: WR - The Bengals desperately need a WR to compliment A.J. Green. Green is absolutely ridiculous and one of the best draft picks the Bengals ever made. Let's see if they can find the John Taylor that Jerry Rice loved to have. We saw the Bengals struggle to score against the Texans in the playoffs two years in a row. You want to compete with the big boys! Well then you gotta get some big boys.
Rams: (Offense) I said earlier the Rams biggest need was WR. They can also use a RB, TE and help on the offensive line. The Rams need to focus on offense this off-season. The defense is in great shape and with another year under their belt in Fisher's system, they should be ready to contend. They did win 7 games last year without any offense. Imagine if they could get some...
Vikings: DL - I'm well aware that Minnesota needs help on offense. Especially if they lose Percy Harvin. And let's face it, Christian Ponder isn't keeping many defenses up at night. However Adrian Peterson can and ran them all the way to the playoffs last year. But in that playoff game against Green Bay, the Vikings not only couldn't score but couldn't stop the Packers from scoring either. Jared Allen is getting old and the Williams brothers are no more. Time to revamp the D - line.
Colts: DL - It looks like the Colts offense will be in pretty good shape for years to come. They enjoyed a bunch of great years with Peyton Manning but only won one title in large part due to the Colts average defense. Okay under average, especially against the run. Therefore getting a big body in the middle of that line to try and clog up the run is the way to go. Draft a stud and let the coaches do their job.
Seahawks: WR - It's time to get Russell Wilson some toys to play with. Sidney Rice is pretty good and Golden Tate shows promise, but I don't see Pro Bowl from either of those guys. Yet and still, Wilson threw 26 TD's last year and could throw more this season if he gets more help. If Seattle can land a play maker on offense then watch out NFL world...watch out!
Packers: OL - Luckily for the Pack, Aaron Rodgers has quick feet and escapability out of the pocket. It would make his life easier if he had a line blocking for him. Rodgers is the best QB in the league in my opinion. He'll probably sign the biggest contract in NFL history next year. You want to keep him healthy if you're going to invest your entire franchise around this QB for the next 7 years.
Texans: CB/S - The Texans need some help offensively. But if you want to beat the Patriots and Broncos you're gonna have to stop their offenses first and foremost. Just ask the Ravens! Even in their ripe old ages, Brady and Manning are still 2 of the top 5 quarterbacks in the NFL and will be competing for championships over the next 3 seasons by throwing the ball. You have to try and stop them.
Broncos: RB - Like any other QB, Peyton Manning is at his best when he has a solid running game behind him. McGahee is aging and Moreno is unreliable. It's time to find a running back to compliment Peyton for the next 3 years. Denver's D is solid and they can pass with the best of em. Gotta go get a guy who can grind it out in the 4th quarter and close out ball games.
Patriots: CB/S - When the Pats lost last year it was in large part due to the inability of their secondary to stop the pass. Aquib Talib helped fill that void until he got hurt against the Ravens, plus he's a free agent this season. It would be best for the Patriots to re-sign him and go after another guy. If not in the draft then go make a trade or sign a free agent. Perhaps Ed Reed!?
Falcons: DE - This team is close. They're almost there. I believe the biggest need for Atlanta is a pass rusher. I've gone over it throughout this post. Put pressure on the QB and you change the dynamic of the game. It makes your secondary better and takes pressure off the linebackers in passing situations. If the Falcons can find a sack master out there then that should be their top priority of the off-season.
49ers: S - As great as the Niners defense was last year, they need a safety that can cover speedy receivers breaking through the secondary. Dashon Goldson and Donte Whitner can come up and knock your head off. However they can struggle, especially Whitner, when it comes to covering the deep ball. This was evident in the Super Bowl when Jacoby Jones got 10 yards behind the secondary before juking out the defense for a TD. Another quick note: If the 49ers are planning on using Chris Culliver in 2013 as much as they did in 2012, then they will have major issues against the pass.
Ravens: LB - Their defense was the main reason why the Ravens went on that sweat streak all the way to being crowned Super Bowl champions. But Ray Lewis has retired, Ed Reed may be leaving and Terrell Suggs is just getting older and injured despite being an impact player on the field. We know their going to sign Joe Flacco to run the offense for the next 7 years or so but in order to win another title they'll have to revamp that defense.
*Redskins (No Pick) The Washington Redskins mortgaged their future on RGIII and with good reason. He's an unbelievable player. We all know what he can do. But all the positive intangibles he brings to the offense has an equal negative reaction to his potential success. Already in his rookie year he missed a couple games due to a concussion and leg injury. He's currently rehabbing from his off-season knee injury in which he received ACL/MCL surgery. So what's the biggest need for the Skins? A backup quarterback. Oh wait they have one, Kirk Cousins. Hey Shannahan, don't trade that kid, you're going to need him. Just go get them a couple more guys to throw to.