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Team Needs
AFC / NFC North
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AFC North

Baltimore RavensBaltimore Ravens


Biggest Needs: TE, WR, RB

Strangely, a team that’s been devoid of offensive talent in recent years now has few holes to fill on that side of the ball. The drafting expertise of Ozzie Newsome leads me to bDamoneve the Ravens will select the right player, and in this case, I bDamoneve it will be the replacement for TE Todd Heap. Heap has been a productive TE, but his best days are clearly behind him. And acquiring Anquan Boldin via trade was the deal this off season that made the most sense. With Boldin, alongside route-running tactician Derrick Mason, the Ravens have given young Joe Flacco all the tools he needs to continue his ascension up toward the league’s best young QB list. RB Ray Rice was a gem last year and Willis McGahee had several huge games in 2009, but if the Ravens decide that McGahee’s $3.5 million salary for 2010 is too much, they could look to bring in a cheaper and younger player at that position. They may attempt to squeeze out one more productive season out of the veteran, though.

Potential Free Agent Targets: The Ravens already made the move of the off season by bringing in Boldin. He instantly upgrades a position that’s long been the source of trouble for Baltimore. Boldin has never been a TD scoring machine, but he could easily flirt with a 100-catch season in 2010 if he stays healthy.

Draft Picks 1.25, 2.25: If TE Jermaine Gresham is available late in the 1st found, count on the Ravens grabbing the former Oklahoma Sooner. Gresham isn’t quite the blocker that Heap is, but he’s a more more athletic pass catcher. This resembles the situation some years ago when the Ravens drafted Heap even though incumbent Shannon Sharpe was still a productive pass-catching TE. The Ravens could then secure the services of WR Mardy Gilyard of Cincinnati in the 2nd. The speedster is also a capable kick returner as well. Sure, they picked up veteran Donte Stallworth, but there’s a reason why the Ravens will be his fourth team in four years—he’s simply not as good as some think. So consequently, selecting Gilyard, who appears to have the qualities that Stallworth once had, appears to be a smart move.


Biggest Needs: CB, FS, DL

Safety Ed Reed has indicated he may retire at some point this off season, so securing his replacement should be at the forefront of what Baltimore does. Reed himself was a late 1st round selection (24th overall in 2002), so don’t put it past the Ravens to find quality at that stage of the draft. Reed battled a number of injuries last season, but he remains a force in the secondary. Perhaps another position that’s just as critical for Baltimore to pay close attention to during the draft is at cornerback. CB Lardarius Webb suffered an ACL late last season and his prognosis for starting the season on the active roster remains up in the air. Dominique Foxworth played well in some games, but in others he did not. It’s therefore crucial that they upgrade a position that’s important to the way Baltimore has played defense for the past decade. Haloti Ngata continues to be the real deal and Terrell Suggs remains a force on the outside, but it’s time Baltimore begins looking beyond Trevor Pryce and Kelly Gregg.

Potential Free Agent Targets: There are no real suitable options on the free agent market for Baltimore at their positions of need. Plus, they generally build and supplement their team through the draft. That’s been a successful formula for them for more than 10 years and should continue to be such moving forward.

Draft Picks: 1.25, 2.25: It’d be a crime if S Taylor Mays dropped to the Ravens at #25. Stranger things have happened, however. They would grab him in a second. Perhaps a more realistic target could be CB/KR Kyle Wilson from Boise State. Getting one of these players would free up Baltimore to take DE/OLB Ricky Sapp from Clemson.

Cincinnati BengalsCincinnati Bengals


Biggest Needs: WR, TE, OG

Ok, let me get this straight. The Cincinnati Bengals chose instead to sign WRs Matt Jones and Antonio Bryant over Terrell Owens? Am I missing something here? Indeed, Owens is far from the player he was several years ago, but at his stage of his career, he’s still a better option than One-Year-Wonder Bryant and Never-Done-Anything Jones. I guess that’s what makes the Bengals the Bengals. The need at WR aside, a pass-catching TE has been absent from this team, it seems, since Dan Ross back in the early 80s. Perhaps that’s more of a need than WR even. It should be interesting to see how 2009 1st round draft choice Andre Smith develops. The massive LT is sort of like an extra pick this year. If his development is where they hope it is, the surprisingly run-first Bengals could continue their productive conservative offensive game plan.

Potential Free Agent Targets: They’ve already done what they’re going to do in free agency with the ghastly signings of Bryant and Jones. I thought they’d be in the running for a second-tier QB to give Carson Palmer a reputable back-up (Jake Delhomme?). As it stands now, though, the Bengals have nothing behind Palmer.

Draft Picks 1.21, 2.22: While WR is the most glaring need offensively from my perspective, a dynamic TE such as Jermaine Gresham would do wonders for the Bengals. His average run-blocking ability, however, could have them looking elsewhere, but his pure pass-catching ability would give Cincy the kind of TE they’ve been lacking for a generation. Getting a play-maker in the 2nd round such as Dexter McCluster would be huge. He’s a poor man’s Percy Harvin with his multi-dimensional skill set.


Biggest Needs: FS, SS, DE

Probably against their better judgment, the Bengals resigned S Roy Williams, the former Dallas Cowboy retread. Remember when many viewed him as Ed Reed’s equal early in both their careers? Um…not quite the case now. Needless to say, getting his successor would be a major coup for the Bengals. They would also benefit from a consistent outside pass rusher. Antwan Odom was on his way last season, getting eight sacks in the season’s first six games. But an Achilles injury halted any threat the Bengals had of developing a threat in the pass rush from Odom. Look for them to address that position at some point during the draft.

Potential Free Agent Targets: Julius Peppers would have been a nice addition, but certainly the price tag was way too steep for the historically frugal Bengals. Jarvis Green could have been in the mix too, but they missed out on him. Dwan Edwards could possibly fit here, or even an Adewale Ogunleye.

Draft Picks: 1.21, 2.22: Either of the top safeties in this draft would be suitable fits in Cincy: Earl Thomas or Taylor Mays. Both are considered smart, hard-hitting and physical safeties—exactly what’s needed in the rough and tumble AFC North division. With the bad press that Carlos Dunlap has been getting, there’s a chance he drops to the second half of Round 2. If so, his history shouldn’t scare off the Bengals, who’ve taken chances before. If Dunlap is not available, they could look toward TCU DE/OLB Jerry Hughes.

Cleveland BrownsCleveland Browns


Biggest Needs: QB, RB, WR

New Cleveland Brown GM Mike Holmgren is doing the easy part of rebuilding a downtrodden franchise—getting rid of all the excess baggage. The difficult part comes with trying to rebuild it all. He’s axed QBs Derek Anderson and Brady Quinn, along with LB Kamerion Wimbley. This after the organization sent WR Braylon Edwards and TE Kellen Winslow packing last year. I’m not sure what the plan is in Cleveland, but this year’s draft should shed some light as to what they plan to do. Newly signed signal caller Jake Delhomme is nothing more than a short-term stop-gap measure at QB, and back-up Seneca Wallace is just that—a back-up. This team has a laundry list of needs on offense, but starting with QB and a RB would get them off to a good start. I remain baffled almost a year later why the Browns felt inclined to rid themselves of Edwards and Winslow. No one stepped up in their absence last year—yet the Cleveland front office brass felt it was the QBs’ fault? Interesting. I’m certainly not defending Quinn or Anderson; it’s just amazing that the organization didn’t see their struggles coming—what with stripping the offensive weapons down to the bare bones and all.

Potential Free Agent Targets: Short-term though they might be, free agent pick-ups Delhomme and Wallace represent the new regime’s course of action. They want proven productivity in lieu of potential, and on some levels that makes sense. But Delhomme seems to be damaged goods between the ears, and no team is going anywhere with Wallace as its starter. Yet, they’re the new Cleveland QBs. They could possibly target a free agent RB before or soon after the draft, but it probably won’t be anyone of any significance.

Draft Picks 1.07, 2.06: If Jimmy Clausen somehow slips by Washington, look for the Browns to grab him at #7. It’s said that many view Clausen as a West Coast style QB, which the Browns may attempt to incorporate to some degree. If this scenario plays out for Cleveland, the Delhomme gamble would have been worth it. A somewhat pedestrian Combine notwithstanding, RB Jonathan Dwyer could be a choice at the top of Round 2. His bruising style could complement Jerome Harrison’s quite well.


Biggest Needs: CB, FS, DE

The Browns have needs all over the defense. Holmgren apparently bDamoneves in addition by subtraction, as a few of his first moves on the job were sending DT Corey Williams to Detroit and Kamerion Wimbley to Oakland. Again, those are the easy moves. Now comes the opportunity for Holmgren to show the NFL universe what he’s really made of. Cleveland’s secondary is abysmal and needs immediate improvement. But with the huge question marks on offense as well, it’s anyone’s guess as to what the Browns will do with their first two picks.

Potential Free Agent Targets: It seems Cleveland is more interested in getting rid of players at this time instead of bringing new players in—especially on defense. They’ve been rather quiet outside of the Delhomme/Wallace acquisitions. Whether they become more active in free agency in the future remains a mystery. But for now, Cleveland fans must invest quite a bit of trust in Holmgren and hope that he pulls this franchise out of the doldrums of awful football with this draft.

Draft Picks: 1.07, 2.06: Cleveland could nab safety Eric Berry of Tennessee with its 1st round choice at #7. Some look at him as the next Ed Reed and the best prospect in this draft not named Ndamukong Suh or Gerald McCoy. If, in fact, he’s the next Ed Reed, he will only be as good as the front 7 playing with him. If the Browns develop no pass rush, even the best safeties and CBs would have difficulty staying with NFL receivers for an extended period of time. But Berry’s a start. This putrid defense won’t be rebuilt in one year, but he’s a really good first piece to the puzzle. Virginia CB Chris Cook is an intriguing option in the 2nd round. At 6-2 and 212 lbs., he’s a huge CB with speed (4.43 in the 40).

Pitttsburgh SteelersPittsburgh


Biggest Needs: RB, OG, OT

Willie Parker could still return to the Steelers, but it’s not probable at this stage. As such, Pittsburgh must secure a back-up RB to spell Rashard Mendenhall, who finally showed what he was capable of in 2009. The Steelers are most successful when they get back to what has been a franchise staple for 40 years: running the football. It’s easy to get infatuated with the passing game when you have a Houdini at QB, but to do so at the exclusion of the running game is a huge mistake. Pittsburgh is solid up front, but now would be a perfect time to begin grooming the next wave of O-linemen in the Steel City. A good, young LT would certainly be a sight for sore eyes in Pittsburgh.

Potential Free Agent Targets: Much like the Ravens, the Steelers generally build their team through the draft instead of free agency, although Pittsburgh recently signed WR Arnaz Battle and brought back WR Antwaan Randle El. Neither will be much of a factor in 2010, though.

Draft Picks 1.18, 2.20: RB is certainly not the biggest need on this team, but CJ Spiller is arguably the best RB in the draft, and getting the speedy Clemson product would give Pittsburgh a dynamic 1-2 punch. Another 1st round target could be USC’s LT Charles Brown. The 2nd round selection could see them taking OT/G Vladimir Ducasse from UMass.


Biggest Needs: ILB, CB, DL

NT Casey Hampton was resigned for 3 years and more than $21 million, but his replacement must be identified at some point. In fact, an upgrade along the entire front-3 should be looked at. ILB James Farrior has had a solid career, and Larry Foote, who took a one-year hiatus in Detroit, looks like he’s going to return to Pittsburgh. Both are getting long in the tooth, and it would be in Pittsburgh’s best interest to find Farrior and Foote clones in this draft. The Steelers drafted two CBs last season, but neither did much. They may have to look at that position again this year to help solidify a position that’s probably the biggest weakness on the team.

Potential Free Agent Targets: Again, don’t expect Pittsburgh to make a move worth anything in the free agent market. They may bring back Larry Foote, but they know what they are getting in a player who spent the first seven years of his career in Pittsburgh. They appear more concerned about retaining the services of their own free agents (Ryan Clark, Willie Colon) than going outside the organization. They may view their foray into free agency a success if they’re able to lock those two up.

Draft Picks 1.18, 2.20: Head coach Mike Tomlin and defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau will be all smiles if ILB Rolando McClain is there at #18. He would give the Steelers precisely what they need at the time they need it. He’s a relentless defender who finds himself all over the field, chasing down ball carriers. Remember when Oakland Raider QB Bruce Gradkowski went up and down the field against Pittsburgh late in 2009? That was Exhibit ‘A’ of why the Steelers need to upgrade their secondary. Oklahoma’s CB Dominique Franks could be the 2nd round choice, or if they’re looking for Hampton’s heir apparent now, they could grab North Carolina’s NT Cam Thomas.

NFC North

Chicago BearsChicago Bears


Biggest Needs: WR, OT, OG

While the Chicago Bears have quite a few holes to fill on their roster, they unfortunately don’t have the quantity of draft picks that typically warrant much optimism. Due to trades from the past several years, the Bears are without a draft pick in the first two rounds in this year’s draft. The only saving grace, though, is that there are definitive needs on the team, starting with the aging offensive line. The Orlando Pace experiment lasted only one year, so they will certainly look to fill the need at tackle.

Chicago has invested a lot in QB Jay Cutler, so it would behoove the organization to surround the signal-caller with better options at receiver. Honestly, is relying on a converted defensive player as your #1 receiving option the best way to go? I don’t think so. I personally thought they should have been in the running for Anquan Boldin, but what do I know? But if they stand pat at WR and new offensive coordinator is able to do special things with this unit, then he really deserves the Mad Scientist moniker bestowed him.

Potential Free Agent Targets: The only free agent remaining that’s worth going after would be WR Terrell Owens. Even with his mileage, he would instantly improve an average receiving corp and give Cutler the kind of weapon he’s going to need to take his game and the Bears’ offense to another level.

Draft Picks: 3.11, 4.11: It will be one of those best-player-available scenarios during the 2010 draft. A player such as Demaryius Thomas, WR from Georgia Tech could come into play in the 3rd round, with O-lineman Kyle Calloway from Iowa a possibility in the 4th.


Biggest Needs: CB, FS, DT

A defense that once was the signature of this team has become average over the last couple seasons. This defense is getting old and average rather quickly. Part of that decline, however, has been a porous secondary. Improving their pass rush with free agent pick-up Julius Peppers, though, will help. It will be tough for them to address all of their needs in this draft, but focusing first on getting Cutler the help he needs should be the first order of business.

In order for Julius Peppers to be worth the $42 million scratch he signed for in the off season, the interior of the defensive line must create a push. Otherwise, teams will simply put all attention on Peppers and dare the other linemen to beat them. First-time defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli will look to get the most out of the players up front, but getting a developmental young stud through the draft to complement Peppers is a matter the Bears should address.

Potential Free Agent Targets: CB Dre’ Bly is aging, but he played well in brief stretches last season with San Francisco. He’s never been a shutdown corner, but he has big-play ability. Rod Marinelli’s presence as the defensive coordinator, however, may prevent that from happening. One of Marinelli’s first orders of business when he became head coach of the Lions was to rid the team of Bly. Another player could be CB Phillip Buchanan, who mirrors Bly somewhat in his playmaking ability—although he has a tendency to be less-than-disciplined in defensive schemes.

Draft Picks: 3.11, 4.11: Perrish Cox could be a target in the 3rd round. He is a poor man’s version of Devin Hester—a CB with kick returner skills. The Bears would get better, younger and more versatile with one selection.

Detroit LionsDetroit Lions


Biggest Needs: RB, OG, OT

When you’ve won only two games in two years, obviously your needs are many. Perhaps the greatest need of all is improving the pedestrian running game. Whether it’s the offensive line or the lack of explosive play-making ability at the RB position, the fact remains that the Lions have had one of the worst running offenses the league has seen in a long time. Kevin Smith is still a question mark for the start of training camp, but even when healthy he’s a second-rate NFL running back.

The Lions could in any order spend their 2nd and 3rd round selection on a RB and an O-lineman. The passing game is coming together, with Matthew Stafford and WRs Calvin Johnson and newly-signed Nate Burleson being the main cogs. Those weapons must be fortified with a threat in the backfield if Detroit has any thoughts of improving its abysmal offensive performance in recent years. The Lions have spent both high and mid-round draft picks on offensive linemen in recent years, but none have become stars. It’s time they hit on one.

Potential Free Agent Targets: Don’t look for Detroit to be in the running for any of the available free agent RBs, and all of the good unrestricted offensive linemen were gobbled up early. Expect Detroit to remain mute on the free agent front for the rest of the off-season—unless, of course, someone of note gets cut.

Draft Pick: 1.02, 2.02: There have been rumors that since the Lions have signed defensive linemen Kyle Vanden Bosch and Corey Williams this off season, that drafting Gerald McCoy or Ndamukong Suh is now an afterthought. Some say they’ve put themselves in a position to select OT Russell Okung at #2. I don’t see it. I think a DT can have more impact on a game than an OT; plus, with head coach Jim Shwartz’s background as a defensive coach, I’d put smart money on one of the D-tackles. The 2nd round pick could be Cal’s RB Jahvid Best. Getting a multi-dimensional threat like that would do wonders.


Biggest Needs: CB, DT, FS

Even though Detroit signed and traded for several secondary players this off season, it still remains the biggest weakness on a team full of them. They need to have CBs who can at least remain in the same zip code as receivers streaking downfield. Upgrading in that area is crucial. But if Detroit drafts Suh or McCoy at #2, the Lions will have during the off-season crafted one of the best D-lines in the division. Not bad for a team that’s struggled on that side of the ball for the last four years.

It looks like the Lions may have struck gold when they selected SS Louis Delmas at the top of the 2nd round last year. Now they’d like to complement his hard-hitting ability with a free safety capable of coverage. There are some top-notch safeties in this draft; I just don’t think Detroit will spend a high pick on this position, though. They could address it in Day Three of the draft, though.

Potential Free Agent Targets: I bDamoneve the Lions are looking to get young, and as a result will stay out of the free agent game relative to defensive backs. No unrestricted free agents remain, and there’s no way the Lions part with those valuable draft picks for those restricted free agents. Look for them to address their remaining needs on defense through the draft.

Draft Pick: 1.02, 2.02: The Lions should pick Suh without looking back, then could really solidify the young defense with someone like Devin McCourty at the top of the 2nd, the speedy CB from Rutgers.

Green Bay PackersGreen Bay Packers


Biggest Needs: OG, OT, RB

Aaron Rodgers finished the season as the most-sacked QB in the league last season. That could have been a combination of Rodgers holding onto the ball too long, or it could have been that the Green Bay offensive line is aging and not as good as it needs to be. The Packers resigned Chad Clifton, but as a player with 10 years of experience, he’s no spring chicken. Mark Tauscher remains unsigned; he, too, is entering his 11th year. Needless to say, they need to infuse some youth up front.

RB Ryan Grant was solid in 2009 but far from spectacular. With a dynamic passing attack in Green Bay, it’s crucial that they improve their running game. Look for them to address that need at some point in this draft.

Potential Free Agent Targets: Don’t expect much action from Green Bay in the way of improving up front. There are a lot of aging offensive linemen in the free agent market and none of them, quite frankly, are any better than the aging players they already have on their roster. However, one intriguing free agent who could possibly find a role with the Packers is RB Brian Westbrook. I think wherever Westbrook ends up, he will be utilized as a specialized 3rd down back—exactly what Green Bay needs.

Draft Pick: 1.23, 2.24: OT Charles Brown from USC could be the pick in the first round, followed by the do-everything RB/WR/KR Dexter McCluster from Ole Miss. It’s time the Packers provide more quality and versatility in the backfield behind Ryan Grant. Brandon Jackson was supposed to be that player once upon a time, but the former 2nd round pick hasn’t panned out.


Biggest Needs: CB, S, OLB

Even though Green Bay had one of the top defenses through most of last season, the game that lingers is the playoff game against Arizona. The Packers couldn’t do anything defensively. Sure, Charles Woodson won the DPOY award, but how much longer do they expect him to keep up that pace at his age? In order for the Packers to remain a top-half defense and remain a threat in their division, they must shore up that secondary. If a CB doesn’t tickle their fancy, perhaps one of the top safeties falls to them. Either way, Green Bay needs young and talented D-backs incorporated in their scheme.

With the departure of Aaron Kampman via free agency, Green Bay must also get an outside pass rushing threat. The 3-4 defense is predicated on getting pressure on the QB from the edge, but there aren’t many options left on the roster to fulfill that mission. Look for them to target Kampman’s replacement early in Day Two of the draft.

Potential Free Agent Targets: Green Bay probably won’t look to free agency to backfill the holes in their defense. They already have older players on defense that need to be replaced with younger players. I think they improve their team almost exclusively through this year’s draft.

Draft Picks: 1.23, 2.24: A top-notch prototypical hybrid DE/OLB probably won’t be available in the second half of the first round, but a safety such as Taylor Mays possibly could be. That’d be a major coup for the Packers. Someone such as DE/OLB Ricky Sapp could be grabbed in the 2nd round, or even DE Carlos Dunlap could fall into the bottom of the 2nd round due solely to his rumored character and work ethic issues.

Minnesota VikingsMinnesota Vikings


Biggest Needs: RB, C, OG

The Vikings were unable to land RB LaDanian Tomlinson as Adrian Peterson’s primary backup. And with Chester Taylor’s exit, coupled with the alarming rate with which Peterson now coughs up the football, it’s vital that the Vikings have a solid #2 RB. The offensive line could use a little more youth and depth as well. The guards appear set with Steve Hutchinson and Anthony Herrara, but grabbing a center could be a prudent thing to do. There have been some whispers about T Bryant McKinnie beginning to show chinks in his armor. Who can forget the way Julius Peppers abused him late last season? So don’t disregard their need for an eventual replacement for McKinnie.

Potential Free Agent Targets: RB Brian Westbrook would be an interesting selection here. He’s versatile enough and secures the ball enough to be a suitable back-up to Peterson. Plus, his shifty and elusive moves would complement the bullish Peterson’s running style tremendously.

Draft Picks: 1.30, 2.31: The best case scenario for Minnesota would be if the versatile Maurkice Pouncey falls to them at the bottom of the 1st round. He plays both guard and center and could be the eventual replacement for Hutchinson. Another jackpot would be RB Joe McKnight from USC. He’s Brian Westbrook—only eight years younger. Securing these two players with the first two picks could keep the Vikings in a battle for NFC supremacy in 2010—assuming, of course, that Brett Favre returns.


Biggest Needs: CB, S, ILB

The Vikings enter this draft season with two glaring needs: cornerback and safety. Antoine Winfield suffered through injuries all last season and Cedric Griffin ripped up his knee against New Orleans in the playoffs. So depth and youth are the order of the day. Also, EJ Henderson had a horrific injury late last season. A broken leg could hamper him a bit entering training camp, and a replacement for the often-injured LB should be a priority. What’s not listed above in terms of a position of need is DT. Pat and Kevin Williams are perhaps the best combination of DTs in the NFL, but Pat is getting up there in age and has mentioned it’s 50-50 whether he will retire before the season begins. As it is now, Minnesota has to spell him throughout the game to keep him fresh. That’s a good formula indeed, but they must begin grooming his replacement at some point. Why not now?

Potential Free Agent Targets: Heading into the off season, I thought CB Leigh Bodden would have been a nice pick-up for Minnesota, but New England resigned the veteran soon after free agency began. It was a long-shot with the restrictions put on the Vikings—a final four team—but on paper it looked like a potentially good fit. Veteran LB Bertrand Berry is still available. If Minnesota maintains its win-now approach, Berry could see spot duty and help keep the Vikings’ front seven one of the best in the NFL.

Draft Picks: 1.30, 2.31: CB Devin McCourty could be a target late in the first round. Also, ILB Brandon Spikes, a surefire first rounder before the 2009 college season, could possibly fall to them late in the 2nd round. Henderson’s return to full strength is questionable, and even if he does, how effective will he be? Spikes’ presence could allow Minnesota to ease Henderson slowly back into the mix.

Next: AFC/NFC East