|DRAFT 2008: NFL Draft Team Capsules|
|Written by Admin|
|Wednesday, 23 April 2008 11:14|
LAST SEASON: The worst season in franchise history, including an 0-13 start, led to the Dolphins' fourth coaching change since 2004. New football czar Bill Parcells brought in coach Tony Sparano and general manager Jeff Ireland, both from the Dallas Cowboys.
THEY NEED: Name a position. The Dolphins appear set only at running back. They've made no major free-agent signings and are counting mostly on the draft to rebuild. The biggest need is in the offensive line, a chronic problem in recent seasons. The defensive front seven is also desperate for an upgrade, especially with the departure of MLB Zach Thomas.
THEY DON'T NEED: Ronnie Brown, Ricky Williams and Lorenzo Booker make running back the Dolphins' deepest position.
POSSIBLE FIRST PICK: Michigan OT Jake Long already has signed with the Dolphins as the top overall pick.
OUTLOOK: The early signing of Long indicated the Dolphins either were totally convinced he was the best prospect, or found him to be the only player who would agree to what they wanted to pay. Regardless, their right tackle spot is filled, with the hope Long eventually will man the left side. There still are lots of other holes to fill, of course.
2. ST. LOUIS RAMS (3-13)
LAST SEASON: Injuries doomed coach Scott Linehan's second season almost before it started. Orlando Pace was lost in the opener and two other offensive line starters joined him on injured reserve. So did the top pass rusher, middle linebacker and return man. The Rams lost their first eight games, had a minisurge with three wins in four games, then lost the last four to secure the second pick.
THEY NEED: Defensive line, offensive line.
THEY DON'T NEED: Running back.
POSSIBLE FIRST PICK: Dorsey.
OUTLOOK: This is the first draft for Billy Devaney, hired as head of player personnel in February after working for front offices in Atlanta and San Francisco this decade. The Rams have stressed defense in recent years, picking DT Adam Carriker last year and CB Tye Hill in 2006.
3. ATLANTA FALCONS (4-12)
LAST SEASON: Michael Vick's legal woes cast a shadow over a season of unrest. First-year coach Bobby Petrino jumped ship after 13 games, and Joey Harrington, Byron Leftwich and Chris Redman took turns as the starting quarterback.
THEY NEED: QB, DT, OL, CB, TE, DE.
THEY DON'T NEED: RB.
POSSIBLE FIRST PICK: There will be a lot of talk about Ryan, but Dorsey is the smart pick as the Falcons wait until later in draft to take a quarterback.
OUTLOOK: A few key free agents, including RB Michael Turner, PK Jason Elam and FS Erik Coleman will help. But this team is rebuilding under new coach Mike Smith after cutting Warrick Dunn, Alge Crumpler and Rod Coleman, and trading DeAngelo Hall.
4. OAKLAND RAIDERS (4-12)
LAST SEASON: The Raiders showed signs of improvement, but ended up with their fifth straight losing season. A contract dispute slowed the development of last year's No. 1 overall pick, QB JaMarcus Russell, who started only one game. The defense struggled after being the lone bright spot the previous year and could use a run-stuffer in the draft.
THEY NEED: DL, OL, WR.
THEY DON'T NEED: CB, LB, QB.
POSSIBLE FIRST PICK: Chris Long; Dorsey; Gholston; RB Darren McFadden, Arkansas.
OUTLOOK: Coach Lane Kiffin is back for a second season, despite some offseason clashes with owner Al Davis. There will be pressure for Kiffin to win early, especially after Davis went on a spending spree that brought in CB Hall, WR Javon Walker, S Gibril Wilson, DL Kalimba Edwards and OL Kwame Harris. The key for the Raiders will be how quickly Russell develops and if they can surround him with enough playmakers to upgrade the offense.
5, 17. KANSAS CITY CHIEFS (4-12)
LAST SEASON: Had the worst year and weakest offense of any Chiefs team in almost 30 years, finishing on a nine-game losing streak that was a franchise record for a non-strike year. Running back Larry Johnson missed most of the season with a foot injury, the offensive line was a mess and owner Clark Hunt promised to make the Chiefs his No. 1 priority. Mike Solari was fired as offensive coordinator and replaced by one-time Cowboys head coach Chan Gailey.
THEY NEED: A whole lot. The Chiefs must have at least three new starters on the offensive line, replacements for two aging cornerbacks and at least one safety. A starting wide receiver is another big need, and age is also creeping up on two of three starting linebackers. In addition, third-year quarterback Brodie Croyle played poorly in his first opportunity to start last year, but never had much chance with no line or running game. And they traded All-Pro DE Jared Allen to Minnesota, bolstering their collection of picks to 13 this year, but creating another need.
THEY DON'T NEED: Even one slight misjudgment on draft day. Coach Herm Edwards owns the overall No. 5 and No. 17 picks and is looking for as many as seven instant starters. If Johnson is healthy and regains his old form, Chiefs are OK at running back. Tight end Tony Gonzalez seems never to slow down. But he is in his early 30s and probably can see the end of a brilliant career.
POSSIBLE FIRST PICK: Ryan.
OUTLOOK: Chiefs are looking at one of the most crucial drafts in team history because there are needs everywhere. Blow this draft and Edwards is likely to turn over a very bad team in two or three years to another coach.
6. NEW YORK JETS (4-12)
LAST SEASON: Eric Mangini's second year as coach was a disaster. His team struggled to find consistency, was plagued by lack of big plays on both sides of the ball, and dropped from a 10-win playoff team to four wins.
THEY NEED: Big wide receiver; cornerback to complement Darrelle Revis; defensive line; linebacker.
THEY DON'T NEED: A repeat of last season's 1-8 start; defensive linemen who struggle to get to the quarterback in a 3-4 defense; skill players on offense who just can't find the end zone.
POSSIBLE FIRST PICK: McFadden; Gholston; CB Leodis McKelvin, Troy.
OUTLOOK: After addressing several of their biggest needs in free agency (G Alan Faneca, T Damien Woody, LB Calvin Pace and FB Tony Richardson) and trades (DT Kris Jenkins from Carolina), Jets head into draft able to target best talent available - whether that's a game-breaker on offense or dominant defensive player.
7. NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS: (16-0)
ss and Wes Welker.
THEY NEED: Cornerbacks after losing Asante Samuel and Randall Gay to free agency. Linebacker, with Rosevelt Colvin being allowed to leave and Junior Seau's return uncertain.
THEY DON'T NEED: Quarterback, wide receiver, defensive line.
POSSIBLE FIRST PICK: Gholston, McKelvin, LB Keith Rivers, Southern Cal.
OUTLOOK: The team that set an NFL record for points scored in one season brings back nearly its entire offense. The defense, though, will have some new faces after losing All-Pro cornerback Samuel and solid backup Gay. Patriots must do better than last year's draft that added only two players still with the team.
8. BALTIMORE RAVENS (5-11)
LAST SEASON: The Ravens went from 13-3 to last place in the AFC North, a slide that cost coach Brian Billick his job. John Harbaugh and offensive coordinator Cam Cameron have been put in charge of reviving an offense that sputtered for three quarterbacks: Steve McNair, Kyle Boller and Troy Smith.
THEY NEED: None of the three quarterbacks on the roster ranked in the top 23 in passing rating. The Ravens also need a cornerback to back up Chris McAlister and Samari Rolle, an offensive tackle if Jonathan Ogden decides to retire, and some beef at defensive end.
THEY DON'T NEED: A running back, interior linemen, punter, placekicker.
POSSIBLE FIRST PICK: Ryan; McKelvin; OT Ryan Clady, Boise State.
OUTLOOK: GM Ozzie Newsome has done a formidable job over his 12-year run in picking up talent in the first round, and this year should be no different. There are plenty of voids, and Newsome will fill at least one hole with this pick. Baltimore has only three of the top 99 picks, so Newsome might make some trades in the later rounds to get additional choices.
9. CINCINNATI BENGALS (7-9)
LAST SEASON: Coordinator Chuck Bresnahan was fired after another weak showing by the defense, but the problems run much deeper than what happened on the field. Receiver Chad Johnson kept pouting that he felt unwanted, and No. 3 receiver Chris Henry was released earlier this month following his fifth arrest.
THEY NEED: Help at defensive tackle and at linebacker, where Odell Thurman returns from a two-year suspension but must stay out of trouble. Depth on the offensive line, with RT Willie Anderson hampered by chronic foot injury. It wouldn't be a surprise if they take a receiver in the second round, giving them depth and an eventual replacement for Johnson if he keeps grousing.
THEY DON'T NEED: QB, RB or another player with issues.
POSSIBLE FIRST PICK: DT Sedrick Ellis, Southern Cal; Rivers.
OUTLOOK: Several young players - cornerbacks Johnathan Joseph and Leon Hall, safeties Chinedum Ndukwe and Marvin White - emerged late last season, providing optimism for new defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer. But the middle of the defensive line still needs improvement, and there will be problems at linebacker if Thurman can't produce or stay out of trouble. Overall, things won't turn around until coach Marvin Lewis deals with the issues in the locker room, starting with Johnson's self-centered conduct.
10. NEW ORLEANS SAINTS (7-9)
LAST SEASON: An 0-4 start was too difficult for the Saints to overcome after they lost running back Deuce McAllister to a season-ending knee injury in Week 3. Reggie Bush struggled as the featured ball carrier. The passing game, however, remained productive as Drew Brees threw for more than 4,000 yards for a second straight season. New Orleans won seven of its last 12 games, but its defense gave up big plays and more than 24 points per game.
THEY NEED: Linebacker, defensive tackle or defensive back.
THEY DON'T NEED: Quarterback, running back or receiver.
POSSIBLE FIRST PICK: Rivers; Ellis; CB Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, Tennessee State.
e Jets and the Saints signed free agent Dan Morgan. But both players have struggled with injuries in recent seasons, so landing a top prospect at linebacker should be a priority.
11. BUFFALO BILLS (7-9)
LAST SEASON: Injuries, as 17 players finished year on injured reserve, and yet another turn of the perennial revolving door at quarterback - this time it was Trent Edwards supplanting J.P. Losman as starter - led to the Bills missing the playoffs for an eighth straight season, the longest drought in franchise history. And yet, a young developing core, much of it put together by general manager Marv Levy, who retired after two seasons, showed signs of jelling.
THEY NEED: A big-bodied receiver to complement Lee Evans, who was double-teamed most of last season; cornerback to offset Nate Clements' free-agent departure a year ago; reliable pass-catching tight end; depth at DE.
THEY DON'T NEED: Another quarterback controversy; running back; linebackers.
POSSIBLE FIRST PICK: CBs McKelvin or Rodgers-Cromartie; WRs Devin Thomas, Michigan State, or Limas Sweed, Texas; DE Derrick Harvey, Florida.
ter inconsistent rookie season, and whether Stroud can upgrade defensive front against run, and free up DE Aaron Schobel to re-establish pass rush.
12. DENVER BRONCOS (7-9)
LAST SEASON: The Broncos posted their first losing season since 1999 when their experiment with defensive boss Jim Bates failed and their poor drafting record earlier this decade caught up with them.
THEY NEED: Plenty. Start with the offensive and defensive lines and continue with the secondary and the offensive backfield. Plus help at wide receiver, where Javon Walker was ditched and Brandon Marshall got hurt horsing around, cutting his right arm and requiring emergency surgery for an injury that will sideline him until camp begins. They also let 15-year stalwart Jason Elam bolt to Atlanta and cut punter Todd Sauerbrun after his latest run-in with the law.
THEY DON'T NEED: Another quarterback. Jay Cutler is entering his third year in the NFL and finally started showing leadership last month when he called out Marshall for his latest shenanigans. John Elway called out Cutler for calling out Marshall. Cutler's response? He's not like Elway on or off the field. He's his own man. Another step in the leadership ladder.
POSSIBLE FIRST PICK: Clady, Ellis.
OUTLOOK: At owner Pat Bowlen's direction, the cost-conscious Broncos fired eight front-office personnel and quit throwing monster contracts at free agents. Of the 28 players they selected in the 2002-04 drafts, only one player - linebacker D.J. Williams - is still around. They had a fantastic draft two years ago that netted Cutler, Marshall, Tony Scheffler and Elvis Dumervil, and need another similar catch to fill the many holes and end a two-year drought from the playoffs.
13. CAROLINA PANTHERS (7-9)
LAST SEASON: Quarterback Jake Delhomme's season-ending right elbow injury paralyzed the offense. Backup David Carr was so bad he was replaced by 44-year-old Vinny Testaverde and undrafted rookie Matt Moore. There was no reliable second receiver after Steve Smith and the running game did little. They had no pass rush, with DE Julius Peppers having his worst season.
THEY NEED: A tackle to immediately start. They'd like to move Travelle Wharton to guard in an offensive line overhaul. A running back to complement DeAngelo Williams after last year's starter, DeShaun Foster was released. DE with veteran Mike Rucker's future uncertain.
THEY DON'T NEED: Linebacker, receiver.
POSSIBLE FIRST PICK: T Jeff Otah, Pittsburgh; RB Rashard Mendenhall, Illinois.
gning veterans D.J. Hackett and Muhsin Muhammad, and there will be pressure on Williams to become the featured back. Peppers has to break out of his funk and he needs help on the defensive line. Linebacker is the strongest area, with Jon Beason coming off an impressive rookie season.
14. CHICAGO BEARS (7-9)
LAST SEASON: A complete mess. Quarterback Rex Grossman got benched early and returned for five games before injuring his left knee. Running back Cedric Benson went nowhere behind an aging offensive line, then had a season-ending ankle injury. LB Brian Urlacher acknowledged during the season he has an arthritic back and underwent minor neck surgery after the season. Pro Bowl defensive tackle Tommie Harris played with a bad left knee, and that's just the short list of injuries.
THEY NEED: Help just about everywhere on offense, particularly the line and running back.
THEY DON'T NEED: A return specialist. Devin Hester has 11 touchdowns in just 32 games.
POSSIBLE FIRST PICK: Otah; Clady; Mendenhall.
ensive line needs some youth along with replacements for departed veterans Fred Miller and Ruben Brown. The defense could be closer to the dominant level of recent seasons if it stays healthy.
15. DETROIT LIONS (7-9)
LAST SEASON: Lions raised eyebrows with a 6-2 start, then lost six straight and won only one of the last eight games. The seven wins were the most the Lions have had under team president Matt Millen since he took over in 2001. Believe it or not, that's progress.
THEY NEED: OT, DE, LB, RB, OG.
THEY DON'T NEED: WR, C, CB, S.
POSSIBLE FIRST PICK: OT Chris Williams, Vanderbilt.
OUTLOOK: The Lions have failed miserably in the draft under Millen, taking first-round busts Harrington, Charles Rogers and Mike Williams and struggling to find players on the second day to add depth. They took a WR in the first round last year for the fourth time in five years, so a wideout likely will not be picked No. 1 by them.
16. ARIZONA CARDINALS (8-8)
iving the job to veteran Kurt Warner, who threw for 3,417 yards, fifth most in franchise history.
THEY NEED: A cornerback, backup running back, third wide receiver, offensive lineman.
THEY DON'T NEED: Quarterback, inside linebacker, safety.
POSSIBLE FIRST PICK: Rodgers-Cromartie; RB Jonathan Stewart, Oregon; CB Aqib Talib, Kansas; Mendenhall.
OUTLOOK: The Cardinals made no big moves in the offseason, and don't know if Leinart can be a productive pro quarterback. But Whisenhunt has turned things around in the desert and believes the team should make the playoffs.
18. HOUSTON TEXANS (8-8)
LAST SEASON: Houston reached .500 for the first time despite first-year starter Matt Schaub missing five games with various injuries, Andre Johnson sitting out seven games with a knee injury and Ahman Green missing most of the season. Former top overall pick Mario Williams was much better and his 14 sacks tied for third in the league.
THEY NEED: A left tackle, with starter Ephraim Salaam entering his 11th season and Charles Spencer still out with an injury from 2006. Cornerbacks with Dunta Robinson likely out until midseason recovering from knee and hamstring injuries, and a pass rushing defensive end to play opposite Williams.
THEY DON'T NEED: Another season with Green watching from the bench.
POSSIBLE FIRST PICK: Chris Williams; Rodgers-Cromartie; CBs Mike Jenkins, South Florida, and Talib; Campbell.
OUTLOOK: Mario Williams was much improved in his second year, but could be helped by the addition of a strong end to play opposite him. Schaub should be better in his second year as a starter if Johnson and Green stay healthy.
19. PHILADELPHIA EAGLES (8-8)
LAST SEASON: Philadelphia missed the playoffs for the second time in three seasons, but finished strong as QB Donovan McNabb worked his way back from knee surgery.
THEY NEED: Secondary, wide receiver, offensive line, defensive line, kick returner.
THEY DON'T NEED: Quarterback, linebacker.
POSSIBLE FIRST PICK: Otah; Campbell; Rodgers-Cromartie; CB Antoine Cason, Arizona.
OUTLOOK: Having added CB Asante Samuel in free agency, they could be one playmaker on offense - maybe a WR they can get for CB Lito Sheppard - from making a run at the Super Bowl.
20. TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS (9-7)
LAST SEASON: Rebounded from their worst season in 15 years (4-12) to win the weak NFC South. Injuries took a toll late in the year, and coach Jon Gruden's decision to rest starters the last 2 1-2 regular-season games cost his team momentum heading into a first-round playoff loss to the Giants.
THEY NEED: Running back, receiver, cornerback. RB Carnell ``Cadillac'' Williams is coming off knee surgery and there's no guarantee he'll ever be the workhorse back he was before the injury. Outside of aging Joey Galloway, the Bucs are devoid of speed at receiver. No. 2 receiver Ike Hilliard is headed into the twilight of his career, too. Loss of CB Brian Kelly to free agency creates need for depth in the secondary.
THEY DON'T NEED: Offensive linemen. Team has invested heavily in the draft and free agency to rebuild the O-line and began to reap the benefit last season, despite having one of the youngest units in the league.
POSSIBLE FIRST PICK: Sweed; Jenkins; Talib.
OUTLOOK: QB Jeff Garcia sparked the offense in 2007, but the absence of explosive playmakers inhibits getting into the end zone. Defense reclaimed a spot among the NFL's stingiest, but faces challenge of proving resurgence wasn't the product of playing in a weak division.
21. WASHINGTON REDSKINS (9-7)
LAST SEASON: In a season overshadowed by the death of safety Sean Taylor, the Redskins rallied to win four straight and snag a playoff berth. After a first-round loss to Seattle, coach Joe Gibbs retired and was replaced by Seattle quarterbacks coach Jim Zorn.
THEY NEED: Pass-rushing DE, big WR to fit into Zorn's West Coast offense, safety.
THEY DON'T NEED: RB, TE.
POSSIBLE FIRST PICK: DE Phillip Merling, Clemson.
OUTLOOK: It's quite a leap from a Hall of Fame coach to a first-timer who has never even been a coordinator in the NFL. Zorn will have to adjust to the job. The team will have to adjust to his West Coast offense. Even the front office approached the offseason with a new attitude, emphasizing the draft over free agency. If Zorn needs time to master a steep learning curve, and if QB Jason Campbell falters while learning yet another new playbook, the momentum from last year's late-season run will be lost.
22, 28. DALLAS COWBOYS (13-3)
LAST SEASON: In their first season under coach Wade Phillips and Tony Romo's first full year at QB, the Cowboys rolled to the best start in franchise history, earning the No. 1 seed in the playoffs. But they still haven't won a playoff game since 1996.
THEY NEED: Running back to share the load with Marion Barber, cornerbacks, young receivers.
THEY DON'T NEED: Another first-round playoff loss.
POSSIBLE FIRST PICKS: RBs Felix Jones, Arkansas, or Stewart; WRs DeSean Jackson of California, James Hardy of Illinois, or Malcolm Kelly of Oklahoma.
OUTLOOK: Whether they get Pacman Jones, whether he's allowed to play next season and whether he can remain on the roster is the wild card. He fills two needs, cornerback and kick returner. Plugging those holes, and adding a young, speedy running back to complement Barber, and perhaps a young, speedy running mate for WR Terrell Owens, and the Cowboys could again challenge for the NFC's top seed. Dallas is the only team with two first-rounders, so expect Jerry Jones to be wheelin' and dealin'.
23. PITTSBURGH STEELERS (10-6)
LAST SEASON: Won AFC Central in coach Mike Tomlin's first season, but faded down the stretch and lost four of last five, including losses to Jacksonville in their final two home games. QB Ben Roethlisberger had his best season statistically (32 TDs, 11 INTs), but offense badly missed RB Willie Parker after he broke a leg in Game 15.
THEY NEED: Offensive linemen, offensive linemen and offensive linemen - plus a running back, wide receiver, safety, cornerback.
THEY DON'T NEED: Quarterback, tight end.
POSSIBLE FIRST PICK: OT Gosder Cherilus, Boston College; G Branden Albert, Virginia; Stewart; Talib, Otah.
OUTLOOK: A very important draft for the Steelers, who are thin along the OL and will badly miss All-Pro LG Alan Faneca, who signed with Jets. Steelers have not drafted particularly well in lower rounds recently, and they need a good top-to-bottom draft to build depth as more positions than usual need upgrading. They also need a backup to Parker who can get tough yards, a taller WR than they already have - and getting all the above in one draft will be difficult. Steelers are convinced there's enough OL depth that they might wait until second round to grab an OT.
24. TENNESSEE TITANS (10-6)
LAST SEASON: They improved by two wins over 2006 and reached the playoffs, where they lost San Diego 10-6. That loss summed up their biggest weakness: an offense that struggled to score points and didn't score a touchdown passing in 10 games. QB Vince Young struggled in his second season as a starter, often stuck between whether to pass or run.
THEY NEED: WR, RB, DE. Bringing back Justin Gage and signing former Titan Justin McCareins means they have some size, but still lack a speedy receiver to stretch the field. TE Alge Crumpler helps, but LenDale White and Chris Henry need more assistance. Signing Jevon Kearse is a risk if his surgically repaired knee isn't fully healed by now, and they still need help after letting Antwan Odom and Travis Laboy leave.
THEY DON'T NEED: OL. That might be a need if they don't plan on offering LT Michael Roos or RT David Stewart long-term contracts. But they already signed G Jake Scott to replace retiring Benji Olson, and center Eugene Amano will fill in for lost free agent Jacob Bell.
POSSIBLE FIRST PICK: Sweed; Jackson; Campbell; Merling.
OUTLOOK: The Titans must boost their defensive line, but otherwise return one of the NFL's stingiest units. The offense has to improve, and that's why coach Jeff Fisher brought back coordinator Mike Heimerdinger to continue developing Young. But they have to find some more weapons for Young if they want to do more than contend for a playoff spot.
25. SEATTLE SEAHAWKS (10-6)
LAST SEASON: Despite being constantly harassed, often injured and without even a respectable running game, quarterback Matt Hasselbeck set team passing records and led Seattle to its fifth consecutive NFC West title. All that passing did little good in a snowstorm at Green Bay during a season-ending playoff loss.
THEY NEED: A tight end who can block and catch passes. A running back for the future. Better offensive linemen and depth on the defensive line.
THEY DON'T NEED: Shaun Alexander anymore. Defensive backs, after drafting first and signing free agents there the last two seasons. Linebackers; they have Pro Bowlers in Lofa Tatupu and Julian Peterson, plus ballhawk Leroy Hill.
POSSIBLE FIRST PICK: TEs Justin Keller, Purdue, or Fred Davis, Southern Cal; Clady; Stewart; DL Lawrence Jackson, Southern Cal.
OUTLOOK: Alexander is as good as gone, and new arrivals Julius Jones and T.J. Duckett appear to be stopgap solutions at RB. Hasselbeck needs to be protected better. But don't be surprised if Seattle overloads by drafting more defense - defensive mind Jim Mora is taking over for Mike Holmgren as coach in 2009.
26. JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS (11-5)
LAST SEASON: Jags made the postseason for the second time in three years and won a playoff game for the first time since 2000.
THEY NEED: Defensive line help. The Jaguars chose not to re-sign DE Bobby McCray and DT Grady Jackson, then traded three-time Pro Bowl DT Marcus Stroud to Buffalo for two second-day draft picks. DE Reggie Hayward might not fully return from an Achilles' tendon injury, and fellow starters Paul Spicer and Rob Meier are over 30, so Jacksonville has a pressing need along the defensive front.
THEY DON'T NEED: QB, RB, WR. David Garrard, Fred Taylor and Maurice Jones-Drew are the backbone of the offense, and the Jaguars believe offseason acquisitions Jerry Porter and Troy Williamson will give them a legitimate deep threat for the first time since Jimmy Smith's heyday.
POSSIBLE FIRST PICK: Lawrence Jackson, or Campbell or Merling; DT Kentwan Balmer, North Carolina; S Kenny Phillips, Miami, Fla.
OUTLOOK: If the defense can replace Stroud and find a safety to play alongside last year's top pick, Reggie Nelson, the Jaguars should contend for another playoff berth. But can they close the gap on perennial AFC South champion Indianapolis?
27. SAN DIEGO CHARGERS (11-5)
LAST SEASON: The Chargers reached the AFC championship game in Norv Turner's first year as head coach before losing at New England. The starting lineup is mostly set and there's good depth. However, several front-line players, including QB Philip Rivers, TE Antonio Gates and C Nick Hardwick, are rehabbing following operations, and RB LaDainian Tomlinson is recovering from knee injury that kept him sidelined most of the Patriots game.
THEY NEED: OL depth, backup RB, CB.
THEY DON'T NEED: P, K, TE.
POSSIBLE FIRST PICK: Cherilus; CB Brandon Flowers, Virginia Tech.
OUTLOOK: Unless they make a trade, Chargers have only one first-day pick, this one, none in the second, third and fourth rounds. They have only five picks overall. Then again, the Chargers got a head start when GM A.J. Smith dealt his second-rounder to Miami for Chris Chambers at midseason to add a solid veteran to an otherwise young, inexperienced receiver corps. During last year's draft, the Chargers moved up 25 spots in the second round to pick FS Eric Weddle, who contributed as a rookie and will replace the departed Marlon McCree as a starter. Weddle came at a cost - San Diego gave Chicago its second-, third- and fifth-round picks last year, and its third-rounder this year. Bolts spent fourth-round pick by taking CB Paul Oliver in the supplemental draft.
29. SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS (5-11)
LAST SEASON: Hugely disappointing, with the 49ers stumbling to their fifth consecutive losing record after beginning the year with playoff hopes. The offense was the NFL's worst for the second time in coach Mike Nolan's three seasons, leading to big changes in the offensive coaching staff and a feud between Nolan and QB Alex Smith. Miserable finish felt even worse because the club traded its top draft pick (No. 7 overall) to New England last year, but got No. 29 from Indy.
THEY NEED: Another starting linebacker to go with last year's rookie sensation Patrick Willis, or depth at OL, WR and DL.
THEY DON'T NEED: QB, RB, TE or elite DBs.
POSSIBLE FIRST PICK: LB Quentin Groves, Auburn; Otah; Hardy.
OUTLOOK: Nolan has claimed he'll build the Niners through the draft, even during last season's free-agent spending spree. GM Scot McCloughan now has final say, but that shouldn't change much in the duo's above-average drafting history.
30. GREEN BAY PACKERS (13-3)
LAST SEASON: Brett Favre bid farewell after the Packers came within an overtime field goal of the Super Bowl. Assuming Favre really stays retired, Aaron Rodgers takes over, and could get some help if the Packers draft a tight end or offensive lineman. And while the defense was strong last season, the team has to start thinking about replacing a pair of veteran cornerbacks - especially after Al Harris struggled in the NFC title game.
THEY NEED: Tight end, cornerback, offensive line.
THEY DON'T NEED: Linebacker, defensive tackle.
POSSIBLE FIRST PICK: Keller; CB Brandon Flowers, Virginia Tech; OT Sam Baker, Southern Cal.
OUTLOOK: Packers general manger Ted Thompson lives by the ``best player available'' cliche, something he proved last year when he took Justin Harrell in the first round despite having plenty of depth at defensive tackle. So even if the Packers need a tight end, cornerback or offensive lineman going into the draft, that doesn't mean Thompson will take one. Thompson could look to fill those needs in later rounds, especially with one of those overlooked small-school players he and his staff seem to love.
31. NEW YORK GIANTS (14-6)
LAST SEASON: Giants set an NFL record by winning 11 straight games on the road en route to an improbable victory over New England in the Super Bowl.
THEY NEED: Believe it or not, the team that held the Patriots to 14 points needs defense: a safety with the loss of Gibril Wilson to free agency; another cornerback with Sam Madison nearing end of his career; maybe a linebacker with Kawika Mitchell lost to free agency and Mathias Kiwanuka coming off a broken leg; and another DE with Michael Strahan considering retirement again.
THEY DON'T NEED: With the exception of a tackle, anything on offense.
POSSIBLE FIRST PICK: S Tyrell Johnson, Arkansas State.
OUTLOOK: The first three times the Giants went to the Super Bowl, they missed the playoffs the following year. Hard to think this will be different.
NO FIRST-ROUND PICKS
INDIANAPOLIS COLTS (13-3)
LAST SEASON: The defending champs overcame injuries to Marvin Harrison and Dwight Freeney to win their fifth straight division title. But one of those losses came at home to New England, and the long-awaited playoff rematch never occurred because the Colts lost at home in the playoffs to San Diego.
THEY NEED: DE, TE, LB.
THEY DON'T NEED: QB, S.
POSSIBLE FIRST PICK: The Colts don't have a first-round pick this year, so it's hard to know who will be available. If a pass rushing end like Lawrence Jackson or Purdue's Cliff Avril slides, the Colts may take one. They could also try to replace No. 2 tight end Ben Utecht, lost in free agency, with Keller or Notre Dame's John Carlson. Or they may opt for an outside linebacker such as Virginia Tech's Xavier Adibi.
OUTLOOK: You're going to be a Super Bowl contender when you have names like Peyton Manning, Joseph Addai, Reggie Wayne and Harrison. And now the Colts have the defensive player of the year in Bob Sanders. If Freeney and Harrison are healthy, and this young team (the league's second youngest last year) continues to mature, the Colts should find themselves competing for another Super Bowl trip.
CLEVELAND BROWNS (10-6)
LAST SEASON: They turned it around. After so many seasons of injuries and ineptitude, the Browns moved back into playoff contention with a high-powered offense that can score from anywhere on the field. The defense, well, it's not so good.
THEY NEED: Outside linebackers, defensive line depth and cornerbacks. Cleveland's 3-4 defense ranked No. 30 overall and gave up 382 points. The biggest hit didn't come until after the season, when coordinator Todd Grantham was fired and replaced by secondary coach Mel Tucker. They traded CB Leigh Bodden this winter and need to replace him.
THEY DON'T NEED: A quarterback. Amen. Derek Anderson ascended from backup to Pro Bowler in '07 while Brady Quinn sat as a rookie. The Browns plan to go into this season with Anderson as their starter with Quinn waiting and watching in the wings.
POSSIBLE FIRST PICK: They don't select until No. 122, and they'll probably use it on a linebacker, who can develop into a pass rusher. Unless, of course, GM Phil Savage moves up, which is a strong possibility.
OUTLOOK: After making a big splash in last year's draft and in free agency, the Browns are content to sit back. They no longer have a dozen holes to fill, but would like to find at least two players in this year's draft who can step in and help in '08.
MINNESOTA VIKINGS (8-8)
LAST SEASON: A five-game winning streak in midseason made the postseason a possibility, but two losses to finish the schedule kept the Vikings out of the playoffs for the sixth time in seven years.
THEY NEED: A pass-rushing DE was top priority until they acquired Allen from Kansas City; former first-round picks Kenechi Udeze (leukemia) and Erasmus James (knee) are uncertain for the season. Other needs: OL, WR, TE and possibly QB.
THEY DON'T NEED: RBs and LBs.
POSSIBLE FIRST PICK: WR Mario Manningham, Michigan; OT Tony Hills, Texas.
OUTLOOK: The Vikings are going for it now, as the Allen deal shows. They could go any number of ways with the 47th overall selection, perhaps bolstering depth on the offensive line, with LT Bryant McKinnie awaiting trial on charges stemming from a nightclub brawl, or address the secondary or receiver.