|Team capsules for NFL draft|
|Written by Admin|
|Thursday, 19 April 2007 06:36|
1. OAKLAND RAIDERS (2-14)
LAST SEASON: As bad as it gets, with most of the coaching staff fired. The Raiders hired 31-year-old Lane Kiffin - it wasn't the youth as much as the enthusiasm that got him the job - to replace Art Shell, whose second tenure was a complete flop.
THEY NEED: A new offensive line; starting quarterback, although they might give Andrew Walter another try.
THEY DON'T NEED: More busts (Robert Gallery). More disharmony (Randy Moss, Jerry Porter). They are pretty set in the secondary and at running back with addition of Dominic Rhodes.
POSSIBLE FIRST PICK: QB JaMarcus Russell, LSU; WR Calvin Johnson, Georgia Tech; OT Joe Thomas, Wisconsin.
OUTLOOK: The Raiders are in perhaps the best division in football, and they are lagging far behind. Kiffin will bring some freshness, but there's a lot of staleness on this roster.
2. DETROIT LIONS (3-13)
LAST SEASON: Perhaps the most disappointing in the awful tenure of president Matt Millen. The Lions have shown no progress in his six-year stint, and went backward under Millen's hand-chosen new coach, Rod Marinelli.
THEY NEED: Defensive playmakers; blockers on the line; young quarterback.
THEY DON'T NEED: Another wide receiver flop like Charles Rogers or Mike Williams. And how could Millen survive if he botches this choice, too?
POSSIBLE FIRST PICK: Thomas; Johnson; RB Adrian Peterson, Oklahoma; QB Brady Quinn, Notre Dame; DE Gaines Adams, Clemson.
OUTLOOK: In a mediocre NFC North, the Lions could challenge for a wild card if they ever stop underachieving. It probably won't be this year, but they should get a standout with the No. 2 overall pick - and they might even trade down for more selections.
3. CLEVELAND BROWNS (4-12)
LAST SEASON: Lots of mistakes, many of them very costly, and some poor coaching by Romeo Crennel. They also had a slew of injuries, but that always seems to hit Cleveland.
THEY NEED: Quarterback; offensive line; running back; defensive end.
THEY DON'T NEED: Another slow start (0-3 and 1-5), or a firm commitment to QB Charlie Frye.
POSSIBLE FIRST PICK: Quinn; Russell; Peterson; Thomas; Johnson.
OUTLOOK: This will be a make-or-break season for Crennel, so this pick is critical and must turn into an immediate starter if it is anyone but Quinn. The quarterback wants to play here, though, and would be a popular selection
4. TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS (4-12)
LAST SEASON: A huge flop from the division title to last place, amid many injuries and some suspect coaching. The Bucs started 0-4 and lost QB Chris Simms (spleen).
THEY NEED: More playmakers on offense and defense; better blockers.
THEY DON'T NEED: Any kind of slide by the defense, because the offense is shaky and lacks depth.
POSSIBLE FIRST PICK: Johnson; Thomas; OT Levi Brown, Penn State.
OUTLOOK: With all their offseason additions in free agency, including QB Jeff Garcia, Bucs and coach Jon Gruden are going for quick improvement. They must keep RB Carnell Williams healthy, and they need an upgrade on the line. But if Johnson is available, watch Gruden jump for him.
5. ARIZONA CARDINALS (5-11)
LAST SEASON: Flopped in their new stadium, saw coach Dennis Green replaced by Ken Whisenhunt, who won a Super Bowl as a Steelers assistant. There is more talent here than what has been produced on the field.
THEY NEED: Offensive linemen, offensive linemen and offensive linemen - not to mention cornerbacks and maybe defensive ends.
THEY DON'T NEED: Wide receivers, quarterback. With Anquan Boldin, Larry Fitzgerald and Matt Leinart, the points should come if the blockers do anything positive.
POSSIBLE FIRST PICK: Thomas; Brown; Adams; Peterson; CB Leon Hall, Michigan.
OUTLOOK: Arizona has plenty of young talent that Whisenhunt could bring to the fore. If they get Thomas or Brown, it will further solidify a potentially explosive offense and accelerate Leinart's development.
6. WASHINGTON REDSKINS (5-11)
LAST SEASON: Another slow start and the NFC's worst defense led to Joe Gibbs' worst season as a coach. At least the transition was made to young QB Jason Campbell.
THEY NEED: A pass-rushing threat; versatile linebacker.
THEY DON'T NEED: Running backs or the fantasy football approach of owner Dan Snyder.
POSSIBLE FIRST PICK: Adams; DT Alan Branch, Michigan; DE Jamaal Anderson, Arkansas; Hall.
OUTLOOK: How much longer will Joe Gibbs stick round to have mediocre seasons or worse? The approach of signing all kinds of expensive free agents hasn't worked and the Skins need a strong draft, which won't be easy because they have only one pick in the first four rounds.
7. MINNESOTA VIKINGS (6-10)
LAST SEASON: Minnesota fell apart after 4-2 start, with little offense leading to a three-game losing streak to end the schedule. Too many veterans let down the Vikings.
THEY NEED: Receivers; RB; a pass rusher.
THEY DON'T NEED: Guys who can run but can't catch (Troy Williamson) and more injuries to the defensive ends and offensive line.
POSSIBLE FIRST PICK: DEs Adams and Anderson; Brown; S LaRon Landry, LSU; Quinn.
OUTLOOK: The Vikings might take another step back as Tarvaris Jackson learns to play quarterback. But the defense must be staunch for them to improve at all. And Jackson needs some reliable targets.
8. ATLANTA FALCONS (7-9) from Houston
LAST SEASON: 2006 was marred by another second-half collapse, as the Falcons went from 5-2 to a losing record. That led to the firing of coach Jim Mora, whose career went downhill after he led the Falcons to the NFC championship game in his rookie season.
THEY NEED: Offensive and defensive line; wide receiver; safety.
THEY DON'T NEED: QB Michael Vick imitating a running back; receivers who can't hold onto the ball; blockers who can't handle the new offensive scheme.
POSSIBLE FIRST PICK: Brown; Landry; Adams; Anderson; DT Amobi Okoye, Louisville.
OUTLOOK: New coach Bobby Petrino was hired to get more out of Vick, who shows glimpses of getting it, then regresses. Petrino has changed the offensive system and will likely rise - or fall - on the progress of his star quarterback.
9. MIAMI DOLPHINS (6-10)
LAST SEASON: Picked by some to challenge Patriots in AFC East, instead they struggled all year, then coach Nick Saban ran off to Alabama after swearing he would stay. DE Jason Taylor was the league's top defensive player.
THEY NEED: A QB to develop - and straighten out the mess at the position; receivers; tight end; DBs.
THEY DON'T NEED: Another coaching debacle like what Saban put them through.
POSSIBLE FIRST PICK: Quinn; Landry; Hall; WR Robert Meachem, Tennessee.
OUTLOOK: Cam Cameron's team will go nowhere until it decides on a quarterback and upgrades the receiving corps. The Dolphins hope Quinn will fall to them, and Meachem might be a reach here. The defense should be strong again.
10. HOUSTON TEXANS from Atlanta (6-10)
LAST SEASON: Coach Gary Kubiak's first year was a lot better than the previous Texans season, but still not close to being competitive. They finally gave up on David Carr and found a terrific LB in DeMeco Ryans.
THEY NEED: Offensive linemen; playmakers with the ball; defensive lineman.
THEY DON'T NEED: Too long of a transition to starter for inexperienced new QB Matt Schaub, acquired from Atlanta.
POSSIBLE FIRST PICK: Meachem; Branch; Okoye; DE Adam Carriker, Nebraska.
OUTLOOK: Kubiak should tutor Schaub well, but will the blocking be sufficient? Does veteran RB Ahman Green have much left? DE Mario Williams, last year's top overall pick, must have more impact.
11. SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS (7-9)
LAST SEASON: The Niners made an impressive turnaround despite a leaky defense. QB Alex Smith, the top overall pick in '05, really came on, and RB Frank Gore had a breakthough year.
THEY NEED: Defense, although free agency helped; receivers.
THEY DON'T NEED: Help in the backfield, outside linebacker or cornerback.
POSSIBLE FIRST PICK: Branch; Okoye; Carriker; Meachem; LB Patrick Willis, Mississippi.
OUTLOOK: Bright, because Smith has some weapons in Gore and TE Vernon Davis, and adding CB Nate Clements was a big free-agent step. The 49ers could push the Seahawks in the NFC West.
12. BUFFALO BILLS (7-9)
LAST SEASON: Up and down, with two losses to end the season and knock them from the playoff race. Then they overhauled a portion of the roster.
THEY NEED: Cornerback; running back; linebacker.
THEY DON'T NEED: To keep thinking about the bottom line in so many personnel decisions. Too many playmakers now are gone.
POSSIBLE FIRST PICK: Hall; Willis; RB Marshawn Lynch, California; CB Darrelle Revis, Pittsburgh.
OUTLOOK: The Bills lost key defensive players in CB Nate Clements and LBs Takeo Spikes and London Fletcher. Then RB Willis McGahee was dealt to Baltimore. They took a step back, but added some help for the offensive line.
13. ST. LOUIS RAMS (8-8)
LAST SEASON: A .500 year that barely missed out on the playoffs wasn't too bad, but the defense was spotty, at times unreliable. RB Steven Jackson emerged as a force.
THEY NEED: Defensive linemen; cornerback; backup RB; kick returner.
THEY DON'T NEED: St. Louis is solid at quarterback, receiver, running back and tight end.
POSSIBLE FIRST PICK: Okoye; Branch; Anderson; Carriker; Revis; CB Aaron Ross, Texas.
OUTLOOK: Free agency helped with WR Drew Bennett, DE James Hall and TE Randy McMichael. The second season under Scott Linehan should be better than the first, but the NFC West is an improving division.
14. CAROLINA PANTHERS (8-8)
LAST SEASON: A preseason Super Bowl pick, the Panthers went into a four-game funk that cost them a playoff spot. Few teams were a bigger flop, with injuries playing a major part.
THEY NEED: Tight end; linebacker; safety; offensive line.
THEY DON'T NEED: To lose bigtime playmakers such as Steve Smith or Julius Peppers for any long periods. Both are irreplaceable.
POSSIBLE FIRST PICK: TE Greg Olsen, Miami, Fla.; Willis; S Reggie Nelson, Florida; LB Lawrence Timmons, Florida State.
OUTLOOK: This is too talented a team to be laboring at .500. The Panthers should contend if they can stay healthy and add an offensive playmaker such as Olsen. They could also use some steadiness at middle LB.
15. PITTSBURGH STEELERS (8-8)
LAST SEASON: From Super Bowl to super bust, but they rallied to get to break-even, and they stopped the rival Bengals from making playoffs. But for the first time since 1992, they have a new coach because Bill Cowher resigned.
THEY NEED: A pass rusher; power RB; WR; CB.
THEY DON'T NEED: A rocky transition to new coach Mike Tomlin, or impatience from fans who are unused to much upheaval.
POSSIBLE FIRST PICK: Carriker; Okoye; LB Paul Posluszny, Penn State; Willis; Timmons; Meachem; Hall.
OUTLOOK: It's difficult to tell with the very rare change in coaching staff and not a lot of depth. But there is plenty of leadership and Tomlin is highly regarded. QB Ben Roethlisberger must return to form.
16. GREEN BAY PACKERS (8-8)
LAST SEASON: Much better than anyone expected as Brett Favre took to the new coaching staff and he got solid contributions WR Donald Driver and RB Ahman Green.
THEY NEED: Tight end; safety; receiver; RB.
THEY DON'T NEED: A lot of changes offensively, because Favre seems comfortable.
POSSIBLE FIRST PICK: Olsen; Nelson; Lynch; Meachem; Dwayne Bowe, WR, LSU.
OUTLOOK: Favre looks like he could go a few more years, even without the departed Green, but only if the Packers stay competitive. He needs another target or two to make it happen and Olsen would be a great fit. Meachem or Bowe would help, too.
17. JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS (8-8)
LAST SEASON: Seemingly primed for a championship run, the Jaguars slipped badly, losing their final three games with a playoff berth in reach. They also created a QB controversy, using three passers.
THEY NEED: Receivers; pass rushers; safety.
THEY DON'T NEED: Uncertainty at quarterback, although coach Jack Del Rio has decided on Byron Leftwich as his starter.
POSSIBLE FIRST PICK: Nelson; Carriker; Bowe; WR-KR Ted Ginn Jr., Ohio State; DE Jarvis Moss, Florida.
OUTLOOK: A good running team that needs more stability in the passing game, the Jaguars lack a game-breaking type wideout. They have a good defense up the middle that must plug a hole at safety. But they are only third best in the AFC South.
18. CINCINNATI BENGALS (8-8)
LAST SEASON: Another team with the look of a contender that turned into a pretender, the Bengals were troubled on and off the field. They lacked leadership from the coaching staff and had too many loose cannons on the roster.
THEY NEED: Linebackers; secondary; tight end.
THEY DON'T NEED: More off-field issues taking away their focus.
POSSIBLE FIRST PICK: Posluszny; Nelson; Timmons; Ross; Revis; CB Chris Houston, Arkansas.
OUTLOOK: Their offense should rock, their defense will get rolled if it doesn't find better pass rushers and coverage guys. Cincinnati also must clean up its roster after nine players were arrested in nine months. By season's end, they lacked focus and lost their final three games.
19. TENNESSEE TITANS (8-8)
LAST SEASON: After an 0-5 start, Tennessee nearly made the playoffs behind Offensive Rookie of the Year Vince Young and CB Adam ``Pacman'' Jones. But Jones also brought major off-field issues.
THEY NEED: Receivers; defensive line; cornerback.
THEY DON'T NEED: To take a cautionary approach. This team does its best when it's beng aggressive, especially on offense with Young.
POSSIBLE FIRST PICK: Meachem; Bowe; Carriker; Moss; DE Charles Johnson, Georgia.
OUTLOOK: A team on the rise, with strong coaching, athleticism and a dash of spark thanks to Young. They'll need RB LenDale White to progress quickly if they don't trade for San Diego backup Michael Turner and must upgrade the receiving corps. The whole Jones affair could have a negative effect in the short term.
20. NEW YORK GIANTS (8-8)
LAST SEASON: Sneaked into playoffs after second-half collapse following 6-2 start. A dysfunctional locker room didn't help coach Tom Coughlin, whose job is on the line now.
THEY NEED: Linebackers; defensive backs and tackles.
THEY DON'T NEED: QB Eli Manning to take another step backward, or for Tiki Barber's replacements, RBs Brandon Jacobs and Reuben Droughns, to struggle.
POSSIBLE FIRST PICK: Posluszny; Timmons; Ross; Houston; DT Justin Harrell, Tennessee.
OUTLOOK: Coughlin must win without the retired Barber and with an inconsistent Manning, who needs a healthy Amani Toomer at wideout. The defense, other than at the ends, doesn't scare anybody, either. The secondary can be a sieve.
21. DENVER BRONCOS (9-7)
LAST SEASON: Another team that struggled down the stretch after a 7-2 start, and made the big QB change to rookie Jay Cutler. The Broncos severely underachieved in '06, but coach Mike Shanahan got a contract extension.
THEY NEED: Defensive line; safety; kick returner.
THEY DON'T NEED: A running back or a cornerback after a nice haul in free agency. The linebacking is strong, too.
POSSIBLE FIRST PICK: Moss; Harrell; S Brandon Merriweather, Miami, Fla.; WR-KR Ted Ginn Jr., Ohio State.
OUTLOOK: Cutler should make steady improvement and Denver helped itself wth free agents RB Travis Henry, CB Dre' Bly, and TE Daniel Graham. The Broncos should be better in '07 as long as Cutler progresses, they don't miss LB Al Wilson too much, and they start winning at home again (4-4 last year).
22. DALLAS COWBOYS (9-7)
LAST SEASON: Bill Parcells' final season as a coach (we've heard that one before) brought a wild-card berth and a blown playoff opportunity in Seattle. They made the QB switch to Tony Romo and found a TD machine in RB Marion Barber III.
THEY NEED: Defensive line; secondary; receiver.
THEY DON'T NEED: Comparisons of Phillips to previous coaches, particularly Parcells and Jimmy Johnson.
POSSIBLE FIRST PICK: Harrell; Ross; Bowe; Merriweather; Charles Johnson; S Michael Griffin, Texas.
OUTLOOK: Wade Phillips replaces Parcells and he knows how to run a 3-4 defense. If QB Tony Romo takes another step up and T.O. doesn't poison the locker room, Cowboys could win the NFC East.
23. KANSAS CITY CHIEFS (9-7)
LAST SEASON: Chiefs made a surprise visit to playoffs when everything fell right in final two weeks of season, but then they flopped at Indianapolis. RB Larry Johnson set a record for carries.
THEY NEED: Offensive line; receivers; defensive tackle.
THEY DON'T NEED: To think twice about cutting QB Trent Green, who struggled mightily after recovery from concussion.
POSSIBLE FIRST PICK: G Ben Grubbs, Auburn; Bowe; Ginn Jr.; Harrell.
OUTLOOK: A team in transition, probably headed in the wrong direction for a year. But coach Herm Edwards gets the best out of his players, and they have studs in Johnson and TE Tony Gonzalez. This no longer will be a high-flying offensive act.
24. NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS, from Seattle (12-4)
LAST SEASON: They were one defensive stop from another Super Bowl trip against the Colts despite injuries and more weaknesses than in recent years. Patriots stunned Chargers in playoffs before running out of gas.
THEY NEED: Safety; linebacker; receivers.
THEY DON'T NEED: More leaders, thanks to Tom Brady, Tedy Bruschi, Richard Seymour and Dan Koppen.
POSSIBLE FIRST PICK: Timmons; Merriweather; Griffin; Ginn Jr.; LB Jon Beason, Miami, Fla.
OUTLOOK: Still good after all these years, led by QB Brady, DL Richard Seymour and an excellent coaching staff. Free agency additions (LB Adalius Thomas, WR Donte' Stallworth) helped plenty, making them a strong favorite to win at least the division.
25. NEW YORK JETS (10-6)
LAST SEASON: The new regime under coach Eric Mangini made superb one-year turnaround to grab wild-card spot despite lack of star players. They lost at New England in first round of playoffs.
THEY NEED: Cornerbacks; defensive ends; receiver; offensive linemen.
THEY DON'T NEED: To wonder if Mangini is too young to be a head coach or if QB Chad Pennington can come back from two shoulder operations.
POSSIBLE FIRST PICK: Ross; Houston; DE Ray McDonald, Florida; OT Tony Ugoh, Arkansas; G-T Justin Blalock, Texas.
OUTLOOK: The Jets filled their biggest hole by trading for RB Thomas Jones. They need more offense next season and he could provide it. Their 3-4 defense should come on as LB Jon Vilma becomes more attuned to it.
26. PHILADELPHIA EAGLES (10-6)
LAST SEASON: Rescued by QB Jeff Garcia after Donovan McNabb was hurt, Philadelphia won the division and a playoff game in an impressive closing string that included wins at all three division rivals - in a row.
THEY NEED: Linebacker; defensive line; receivers; kick returner.
THEY DON'T NEED: McNabb to go own again with Garcia in Tampa Bay.
POSSIBLE FIRST PICK: Timmons; McDonald; Ginn Jr.; Merriweather; Griffin; WR Duane Jarrett, Southern California.
OUTLOOK: Well-coached and resourceful, the Eagles must get more big plays on defense to get closer to another Super Bowl trip. A healthy Jevon Kearse would help. McNabb's health is a key, but they should be a strong NFC contender.
27. NEW ORLEANS SAINTS (10-6)
LAST SEASON: One of the great comeback stories in sports history as Saints went from nomads after Hurricane Katrina to the NFC championship game. They got superb performances from QB Drew Brees and coach Sean Payton.
THEY NEED: Secondary; offensive line; linebacker; backup QB.
THEY DON'T NEED: To look back anymore. This is a franchise on the rise.
POSSIBLE FIRST PICK: Houston; Ugoh; Grubbs; Timmons; CB Jonathan Wade, Tennessee.
OUTLOOK: If the Saints can build on 2006, they could wind up in their first Super Bowl. The offense has all the tools, from Bress to RBs Deuce McAllister and Reggie Bush to the wideouts, and the defense was stronger than expected last year.
28. NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS (12-4)
LAST SEASON: On their way to AFC title game, the Pats found new stars in CB Asante Samuel and RB Laurence Maroney. They always seems to find them, even kickers (Stephen Gostkowski for Adam Vinatieri).
THEY NEED: Safety; linebacker; receivers.
THEY DON'T NEED: A whole lot to be AFC favorites.
POSSIBLE FIRST PICK: Depending on previous first-rounder, could go for Beason; Ginn Jr.; Jarrett.
OUTLOOK: With two first-round picks, the Patriots could move up higher to get a premium rookie starter.
29. BALTIMORE RAVENS (13-3)
LAST SEASON: Baltimore ran away with the usually tougher AFC North with a playmaking defense and just enough offense. But the Ravens were eliminated by Indianapolis in only playoff game - at home.
THEY NEED: Offensive linemen; fullback.
THEY DON'T NEED: Very much on defense.
POSSIBLE FIRST PICK: Ugoh; Grubbs; OT Joe Staley, Central Michigan; Blalock.
OUTLOOK: The Ravens probably will slide a bit from 13 wins, but also could be more explosive on offense with acquisition of RB Willis McGahee. He'll need better blocking than Jamal Lewis got last season.
30. SAN DIEGO (14-2)
LAST SEASON: The Chargers had the league's best record, then, as usual for a Marty Schottenheimer team, fell short in the postseason. LaDainian Tomlinson set NFL touchdown record and was MVP, and defense was loaded with difference makers.
THEY NEED: Receivers; safety; kick returner.
THEY DON'T NEED: A running back, quarterback, outside LB or tight end.
POSSIBLE FIRST PICK: Ginn Jr.; Merriweather; Jarrett; Beason; WR Sidney Rice, South Carolina; WR Steve Smith, Southern California.
OUTLOOK: New coach Norv Turner can turn quarterbacks into stars. Philip Rivers already has a solid year under his belt. Tomlinson is the league's finest offensive force, LB Shawne Merriman is the defensive stopper. There's even some depth, but Rivers needs more targets.
31. CHICAGO BEARS (13-3)
LAST SEASON: Bears lost to Indianapolis in sloppy Super Bowl, but won first conference crown since 1985. Their defense and KR Devin Hester were the primary reasons for so much success.
THEY NEED: Offensive line; running back; tight end.
THEY DON'T NEED: More criticism of QB Rex Grossman, but it will come with his first poor outing.
POSSIBLE FIRST PICK: Ugoh; Grubbs; Staley; C Ryan Kalil, Southern California; TE Zach Miller, Arizona State; RB Brian Leonard, Rutgers.
OUTLOOK: Chicago needs fewer mistakes from Grossman in clutch situations, but he also made some big plays. Another superb performance from its defense is a must - a healthy DT Tommie Harris and a resigned LB Lance Briggs would help - and more of Hester on the field would be exciting. Perhaps at wideout and cornerback?
32. INDIANAPOLIS COLTS (12-4)
LAST SEASON: The Colts won their first Super Bowl in Indianapolis, a popular victory by coach Tony Dungy and QB Peyton Manning. The defense came on in the postseason after being a sieve against the run.
THEY NEED: Linebackers; defensive line; running back.
THEY DON'T NEED: To hear any more questions of ``When, Peyton, when?'' Or ``When, Tony, when.''
POSSIBLE FIRST PICK: Beason; Wade; Leonard; McDonald; DE Anthony Spencer, Purdue; DE LaMarr Woodley, Michigan.
OUTLOOK: Now that they have gotten over the hump, the Colts could be dominant if they can stop the run. Manning probably won't even miss RB Dominic Rhodes after not missing Edgerrin James. But they are living dangerously if they don't get stingier defensively.
55. SEATTLE SEAHAWKS (9-7)
LAST SEASON: Despite a mediocre season and too many injuries, Seattle almost made NFC championship game. They fell in overtime at Chicago in a playoff game they periodically controlled.
THEY NEED: Tight end; offensive line; backup RB.
THEY DON'T NEED: Shaun Alexander and Matt Hasselbeck getting hurt again.
POSSIBLE FIRST PICK: Miller; T Doug Free, Northern Illinois; G Manuel Ramirez, Texas Tech.
OUTLOOK: The NFC West is improving throughout, so the Seahawks need a healthy Alexander and Hasselbeck, and a better overall D-line performance. They also hope key free agency signing Patrick Kerney is a force as a pass rusher.