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Areas of Need for all 32 NFL Teams
Free Agency is a few days away (March 10) meaning that the 2015 league year will be here shortly. The NFL Draft is a little over two months away (April 30) and teams already know the opponents for 2015; just a matter of when (it was officially announced in late December). Sometime in the next month we will find out who will play in the season opener and beyond.
Already we have seen some players, like Darnell Dockett and Reggie Bush, getting released and some getting stamped with the franchise tag (Dez Bryant and Justin Houston for example) the past few days. We also saw a RB-LB trade by the Philadelphia Eagles and Buffalo Bills that won't be made official until March 10. This is starting to become an already interesting off-season that could only get better once free agency starts and finishes.
Obviously we are not at that point yet, so the only thing we can do is speculate what teams will do to improve their chances to get to the playoffs and/or win a Super Bowl. Let's take a look at each team to see what position(s) need to be upgraded; either through free agency or the draft.
Denver Broncos: One main thing for Denver heading into the off season was retaining Demaryius Thomas and Julius Thomas. On March 2, D. Thomas was hit with the non-exclusive franchise tag which gives other teams the chance to pursue him. I do think the Broncos will end up keeping Thomas. For Julius, it is looking like he will join a new team. You could probably say the same for Jacob Tamme and Virgil Green who might not be re-signed. The Tight End position would then be a need for Denver. Another offensive need for Denver would be the offensive line. Center Will Montgomery (32 y.o) will be a free agent next week and Manuel Ramirez (32 y.o) could be available in 2016, pending any sort of extension is given. Either this year or next season would be a time to adding another center. A Guard should also be added for 2015 for the possible replacement of Orlando Franklin who played at the guard and tackle position in 2014. Much like Franklin and other offensive linemen, maybe the Broncos will look into adding/drafting a player who can play both at the guard and tackle position but at also a fairly good price, just in case of injury. Looking at the Broncos defense, Rahim Moore (S), Brandon Marshall (WLB) and Terrance Knighton (NT) could be out of Denver. If anything, maybe Moore and Marshall would be kept while Knighton walks or vise versa. Depending on the scenario, a Nose Tackle, Safety or Outside Linebacker would be needed.
Kansas City Chiefs: Two of the Chiefs five starting offensive linemen will be a free agent. They are in a bit of a bind in terms of salary cap, so we'll see what they can do. A Center and a Guard could be on the list. A Wide Receiver must be a need because no Kansas City receiver recorded a touchdown catch this past season. Maybe Jeremy Maclin could reunite with Chiefs Coach Andy Reid. Even drafting a wide receiver should be no problem since this class is pretty deep. Adding one through the draft and free agency could be a possibility. Something for the Chiefs to consider is the possible replacement for Inside Linebacker Derrick Johnson. He will be 33 in November coming off a season ending injury, and could be a free agent in 2016. Other possible needs would be at the Defensive End (Mike DeVito although 30, suffered a season ending injury as well) and Safety position.
San Diego Chargers: Long time Center for the Chargers Nick Hardwick retired and backup Center Doug Legursky will be a free agent so that position will have to be filled if he is no re-signed. Despite the depth at the Running Back position with Danny Woodhead, Brandon Oliver, and Donald Brown, I think they might add another player at the position that is more a downhill runner. My guess is that Wide Receiver Eddie Royal will be re-signed by San Diego, but it can still be a position they will look at. The Safety and Cornerback positions need to be filled for the defense. The three departing players (Brandon Flowers, Shareece Wright, Marcus Gilchrist) could be re-signed. There are some talented edge rushers coming out in the draft, so maybe San Diego will look into drafting one that can take the DE/OLB spot from Dwight Freeney (35) who more than likely won't be returning.
Oakland Raiders: The Raiders have a ton of money to spend and they don't have to search for a starting quarterback. I do think Derek Carr brings promise. What he needs would be another Wide Receiver or two. James Jones is a good player, but adding someone like Kevin White or Demaryius Thomas (if they do end up prying him off Denver's grasp) would help. Much like San Diego's Oliver, Latavius Murray could be something special for Oakland. Another Running Back could help though. The offensive line did a good job protecting Carr last season (28 sacks given up, 6th fewest in the league) so hopefully they re-sign Steven Wisniewski at the Center position and Matt McCants. With the money they have available, the Raiders could make a run at Ndamukong Suh to make their defensive line better. I expect Brandian Ross to be re-signed at the Safety position. He is just 25 years old and played pretty well last season. Charles Woodson will turn 39 in October, another safety should be added to learn under him.
Seattle Seahawks: It comes off as a relief that Seattle was able to give Marshawn Lynch an extension. He is their play maker. Now the focus would need to be re-signing Guard James Carpenter and Receiver Ricardo Lockette. They could also add another receiver if they like through the draft. A Tight End will also be a need for the Seahawks due to the release of Zach Miller. The way Seattle substitutes their players on defense, I think it would help if they bring in another Outside Linebacker who works well on coverage. A Corner Back could also be added if Byron Maxwell isn't re-signed.
Arizona Cardinals: Arizona was dealt some bad luck in 2014 with quarterback injuries to Carson Palmer and Drew Stanton, crippling their chances at a playoff win against Carolina a couple of months ago. Running back Adrian Peterson (although not a free agent) has been linked to the Cardinals, as well as other teams, which would help give them a big boost in the run game. Even if Peterson stays with Minnesota or goes to another team (Colts, Chargers), Arizona would still need another Running Back to start ahead of Andre Ellington and Stepfan Taylor. An investment will need to be made for the Defensive Tackle and 3-4 Outside Linebacker positions.
San Francisco 49ers: The Darnell Dockett acquisition was a bit surprising but it helps a bit with their defensive line. Justin Smith is 35 while Dockett is 33. Even if Smith decides to play for one more season, the 49ers should still be get a Defensive End. There is some depth at the Cornerback position, but I think San Francisco will add somebody else that can be a starter. Pending something strange, Frank Gore will be in Philadelphia for the 2015 season. I think Carlos Hyde will struggle a bit early in the season filling in for Gore as the main ball carrier. It would be nice for another Runningback (Matt Asiata) who have had some starting experience enter. It looks like Torrey Smith will sign with San Francisco which is good being that Anquan Boldin is 34 and we have yet to see how Bruce Ellington and newly added Jerome Simpson do.
St. Louis Rams: The Rams do need a Quarterback. That is pretty obvious, but I do think Sam Bradford will stay in 2015. A Wide Receiver will also need to be in play either in the first or second round; someone (Kevin White, Jaelen Strong, or Rashad Greene) who can act as the number one receiver for whoever is under center. Jared Cook has been decent while with the Rams but they could add another Tight End. Both Offensive Tackle positions will need some depth. They could also look into adding another Outside Linebacker.
Indianapolis Colts: The planned addition of Frank Gore at the running back position come as a relief. But the Colts shouldn't stop there on offense. Another Receiver could be added to fill the wide hole Reggie Wayne left along with a Guard. Defense should be the priority here, however. The Cornerback and Safety spots need an upgrade, and some youth. The Defensive Line and both Linebacker spots needs some fire power if they are to get to the Super Bowl.
Houston Texans: The offensive line could get use a bit of bulk, specifically at the Center and Guard positions. The Defensive Tackle and Outside Linebacker positions need some depth. I would also consider a Tight End. It's fun to watch J.J. Watt catching some passes but I don't think Houston will want to see that for the next five years.
Jacksonville Jaguars: Much like Oakland, I believe the Jaguars got their quarterback. They have some pretty good receivers for Blake Bortles now all they need is a Tight End. If it is true, Julius Thomas will sign with the Jaguars later on Tuesday which would help. Offensive line would be a need given that they allowed the most sacks in 2014. It looks like the Jaguars will go OLB with their third pick in some mock drafts. Even if they get somebody to help the Defensive Line, the Jaguars need help in the front four. The Cornerback position could use some help also.
Tennessee Titans: Much like many mock drafts plugging in an OLB for Jacksonville, the majority have the Titans picking Defensive Lineman Leonard Williams as their number two pick. I have a small feeling that Tennessee trades their number two pick to somebody else. Overall, this offseason for the Titans will be about defense. Safety, Cornerback, and Inside Linebacker will be needed.
Carolina Panthers: Carolina added Michael Oher to solidify the offensive tackle position. A pretty good move considering the Panthers offensive line wasn't great (42 sacks). Now the main concern would be at Wide Receiver. The next moves the Panthers can do is improve the Safety and Cornerback position.
New Orleans Saints: The Saints need work in the defense. A Defensive Tackle and Safety could be added, but a 3-4 Middle Linebacker, Cornerback, and Outside Linebacker is a must. The Center position is a need on offense and an Offensive Tackle could be added.
Atlanta Falcons: A Center and a Guard would be needed for Atlanta. Matt Ryan hasn't had a reliable Tight End since Tony Gonzalez retired. The experiment with Steven Jackson didn't work out as some people might have hoped, plus Jacquizz Rodgers and Antone Smith will be free agents. Maybe Rodgers will be re-signed, but adding a Runningback should require some thinking. The Cornerback, and Outside Linebacker positions would need a boost for their defense. For the latter, I think Atlanta will look through the draft.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Personally, I like Mike Glennon. There are other moves the Buccaneers could do (Offensive Tackle, Guard, and Defensive End) that I think will improve the team without the dire need of getting Jameis Winston. Tampa Bay is going to take him anyway so the three positions mentioned need to get a boost anyway. The MLB and OLB spots could be needed for depth. I would also consider a Safety that does well in coverage and going after the ball.
Pittsburgh Steelers: Defensive Tackle, Cornerback and Outside Linebacker are the most pressing needs for the Steelers. Whether Troy Polamalu retires or stays, Pittsburgh will need a replacement at the Safety position.
Cincinnati Bengals: The Secondary positions could need some youth. A Defensive End/Defensive Tackle hybrid can also help when you are in the AFC North. An Offensive Tackle and Guard (replacing Clint Boling) would have minor importance but should be listed.
Baltimore Ravens: Steve Smith is 35 and Torrey Smith will likely not return to Baltimore. A Receiver is a must needed addition. A Guard and Safety could possibly be added as well as a Cornerback due to the flip flopping we saw at the position earlier in 2014. Both starting Outside Linebackers Terrell Suggs and Elvis Dumervil are in their early 30's. I would expect GM Ozzie Newsome and the Ravens add someone in that position. A Running back should also be a need.
Cleveland Browns: When you have two first round picks, as Cleveland does for this draft, you have some flexibility. A Receiver, Inside/Outside Linebacker and Defensive Lineman could be in play for any of their first round picks. Hopefully they keep Safety Tashaun Gipson. A Tight End could be added also.
Green Bay Packers: It is reported that RT Bryan Bulaga will re-sign with the Packers. That is good, but they the Packers could still use acquire an Offensive Tackle. A Nose Tackle that can command a lot of attention would be great. Some little additions would be an Outside Linebacker and Middle Linebacker. A Cornerback and Safety could be in the mix too.
Detroit Lions: I would hope that the Lions doesn't let Nick Fairly walk away either. That would be a tough pill to swallow for Detroit if both of their starting defensive tackles leave. It would be a tough task to replace Ndamukong Suh, but they will have to likely draft a defensive tackle. A Center and Guard would be the next items on the list with free agents Dominic Raiola and Rob Sims possibly not returning. Another Cornerback would follow.
Minnesota Vikings: I think Center Joe Berger will be re-signed. If not, then that would be something to look at. The Offensive Tackle and Guard positions must be addressed first to help Teddy Bridgewater. Mike Iupati and Brandon Scherff have been noted as possible additions for the Vikings in the Draft and Free Agency. I feel a Running back will be needed regardless if Adrian Peterson stays or is traded. A Middle Linebacker, Defense End, Outside Linebacker and Cornerback will also be addressed.
Chicago Bears: I felt Wide Receiver would be a need anyway even if Brandon Marshall weren't traded. If the transition from a 4-3 to a 3-4 defense is true, then Chicago will look at a Nose Tackle along with the already needed Safety, Cornerback, and Inside Linebacker positions. A Center and Right Tackle would be a need also.
New England Patriots: Much like all defending champions, there will be a bit of change. Re-signing Devin McCourty, as it has been reported, is big for the Patriots. We'll see what happens with Darrelle Revis if he re-signs. If not, then New England will need a Cornerback. Defensive End and especially Defensive Tackle will be needed. A Receiver and a Guard/Tackle would be minor additions.
Buffalo Bills: The Bills could probably add a Center for depth purposes. The supposed re-signing of defensive end Jerry Hughes is good but I think they could use a Defensive Tackle. An Inside Linebacker will be needed also with Brandon Spikes a free agent and with Kiko Alonso being traded to the Eagles. I think a Quarterback will be drafted later on, but I believe Matt Cassel will be the starter for 2015.
Miami Dolphins: Big addition for Miami if it is true that they added Ndamukong Suh. He could change his mind later on Tuesday so it is not official yet. To help out the defense even more, Miami should invest in a Cornerback, Outside Linebacker and a Safety. Either of these positions should be available when they pick 14th in the draft. The Guard position could use some depth and with the future uncertain for Mike Wallace, a Receiver will be needed to pair with Jarvis Landry.
New York Jets: Much like the Eagles, Rams, and Bears, the Jets could make a play for Marcus Mariota. However, I think they could go another year with Geno Smith. They got a really good deal trading a fifth round pick to the Bears for Brandon Marshall, acting as the number one receiver for Smith, pushing Eric Decker to the more suited number two role (the trade won't be official until March 10). Percy Harvin is expected to be released which would give the team a bit of extra money. Orlando Franklin or Clint Boling could be added in free agency at the Guard position. The Cornerback and Safety positions will need to be upgraded. The Jets, I feel, will look at the draft and free agency for those spots. A 3-4 Outside Linebacker could be also be included replacing Calvin Pace for when he retires.
Dallas Cowboys: The Cowboys were able to work with what they had on defense with players that most of us didn't know. Despite all that, the Safety and Corner Back position will need an upgrade. Brandon Carr and Morris Claiborne haven't lived up to their contract so I think they will get cut or have their contract restructured. Outside linebacker Justin Durant played well for Dallas before he got hurt. I expect that he will be re-signed. The other OLB position will need to be filled as I expect that Bruce Carter will not return. Either position for the defensive line could use a boost also. Hopefully Middle Linebacker Sean Lee can stay healthy and play productive football for a full season. Overall, the defense should be the main focus for Jerry Jones and the front office. Speaking of management, they will need to find a way to retain DeMarco Murray. Their salary cap is nothing compared to teams like the Jaguars and Browns, so they will have to figure something out. If not, then they will have to find a Running Back.
Philadelphia Eagles: Nick Foles couldn't repeat his 2013 performance throwing 10 interceptions (59.8 completion percentage) and was out for half of the 2014 season. Mark Sanchez then came up and finished in what was an up-and-down season for him. There is talk that Chip Kelly will come up with a way to take Marcus Mariota in this upcoming draft. With LeSean McCoy traded to Buffalo for linebacker Kiko Alonso, the Eagles will have to look for a Runningback. I think the offensive line is fine as it is. Another Guard or Offensive Tackle could be added for insurance. The Eagles will also need a Receiver if Jeremy Maclin isn't re-signed. Despite the addition of Alonso, I feel another Inside Linebacker could be added. The main focus, however, for the Eagles is improving the Secondary. They have money available to maybe pursue both Byron Maxwell and Devin McCourty. There are some good cornerbacks coming out of the draft so the Eagles could use their 1st-round pick on one as well.
New York Giants: If Victor Cruz can play at a high level after suffering a season ending knee injury last season, Eli Manning and the Giants have something to work with. What they will have to do is add a Center and a Guard to help the offensive line. A Defensive End and Defensive Tackle could help take the pressure off of Jason Pierre-Paul. An Outside Linebacker will need to be looked at, someone who is great at covering. Both Safety positions will need to be filled as Antrel Rolle, Quintin Demps and Stevie Brown will be free agents.
Washington Redskins: The Redskins are a good team. They have had their bad losses, close losses, surprising and dominating wins. One thing is for sure, it could be the end of the road for Robert Griffin III and/or Kirk Cousins this time next year. Colt McCoy has played well when he was under center so I think (and hope) Washington should keep him. A Guard and an Offensive Tackle could be added to add depth to their offensive line. Defense will be the main concern for Washington heading into free agency and the draft. Brian Orakpo has suffered injury after injury during his time with the Redskins. It is unfortunate but the Outside Linebacker position will be the main headline. Having a player like Dante Fowler or Shane Rey opposite of Ryan Kerrigan will be an improvement. A Defensive Lineman like Dan Williams, Derrick Morgan, or Jerry Hughes could help out Washington in terms of price, production, and adding depth. A Safety could be in the mix because of the retirement by Ryan Clark.
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