HOU | IND | JAX
| TEN | ATL
| CAR | NO | TB
Biggest Needs: RB, OG, OT
The Houston Texans were a popular selection of many pundits to
ascend to the top of the AFC South division in 2009. But a slow
start to begin the season put them behind the eight ball early
and left them scrambling during the second half of the season.
Houston’s passing game has matured into one of the league’s
best, but fortifying the offensive line would make improving the
entire offense as a whole a much easier task. Even though the
Texans signed veteran offensive lineman Wade Smith for depth,
there remains a need up front.
Steve Slaton was one of the biggest sleepers heading into 2009
after a stellar rookie campaign in 2008. But a serious case of
fumble-itis during the season, coupled with neck surgery in the
off-season has placed a huge question mark over his long-term
prognosis as the starting RB in Houston. Other ball carriers on
the roster don’t scare anyone; so securing a solid RB at
some point in the draft would be a good move.
Potential Free Agent Targets: If
the Texans were willing to gamble on a few available free agents,
they’d certainly have their pick of the litter. Free agent
O-linemen Shawn Andrews and Flozell Adams are available and could
possibly add stopgap production to a unit that could use a bit
of depth. The Texans would benefit from a between-the-tackles
RB—someone reminiscent of a Larry Johnson-type. But since
LJ signed with the Washington Redskins, there aren’t many
other options left, unless you consider the flirting-with-retirement
Draft Picks: 1.20, 2.19: It is
said that the 2010 NFL draft is fairly deep with offensive line
talent. If that is indeed the case, the Texans should find gems
in tackles Charles Brown from USC or Anthony Davis of Rutgers
available when they select in the first round. Or, if they decide
to improve their running attack, they could elect to draft Fresno
State’s Ryan Mathews. At 6-0 and 218 lbs, he has the measurables
to add an element to Houston’s running game that they’ve
been lacking for some time.
Biggest Needs: CB, FS, DT
Dunta Robinson’s departure leaves a huge void in the Texans’
secondary. Even when he was on the roster, the secondary proved
to be one of the weakest links on the team. So certainly, selecting
a defensive back in the first round, I believe, takes precedence
over other team needs. USC safety Taylor Mays has put up tremendous
numbers during his off-season workouts. He’s a hard hitter,
but his coverage skills have been questioned a bit. Nevertheless,
Mays could improve Houston’s secondary tremendously if he’s
selected. Depth on the interior defensive line is a need as well.
Potential Free Agent Targets: Houston has a lot of good, young
talent on defense, but they’re light on veteran leadership
on that side of the ball. While D-backs Dre’ Bly and Anthony
Henry won’t remind many of Deion Sanders in his prime, both
could had depth to a secondary desperate for it. Chances are it
won’t happen, but an infusion of talent and experience is
Draft Picks: 1.20, 2.19: As mentioned
above, Taylor Mays should be in the cross-hairs of Texans’
front office personnel. He’s everything the Texans are NOT
in the secondary. While Houston’s front seven is as talented
as any in the league, putting the pieces together in the team’s
last line of defense could finally propel the Texans to their
first playoff appearance in franchise history.
Biggest Needs: OT, OG, RB
The Colts have few needs on offense. Offensive line depth was
solidified when they picked up Andy Alleman and Adam Terry this
off-season, but those moves shouldn’t preclude Indy from
picking up an O-lineman or two in the draft. And believe it or
not, a back-up QB should be on the agenda as well. Sure, Peyton
Manning hasn’t missed a game during his career, but Jim
Sorgi’s ouster means there’s no one on the roster
that’s intimately familiar with the intricacies of the Colts’
offense. Plus, long-time offensive coordinator Tom Moore rode
off into the retirement sunset after last season; how much that
affects the team’s offense remains to be seen. Manning,
though, is the unquestioned OC on the field, so it’ll probably
be a moot point. Don’t count out the Colts drafting a RB,
since Joseph Addai becomes a free agent after next season. That
could be an interesting situation to follow.
Potential Free Agent Targets: There are a number of available
free agent offensive linemen but none that really fit the type
of player the Colts usually seek. Players such as Damion McIntosh,
Seth McKinney, Montrae Holland, and others have experience but
either are beyond their productive years or simply don’t
fit the kind of scheme Indy runs.
Draft Picks: 1.31, 2.31: Indy would
do backwards flips if C/G Maurkice Pouncey were available at the
tail end of round one. His ability to play both guard and tackle
makes him an intriguing prospect and paves the way for him to
eventually replace the aging-but-still-productive center Jeff
Saturday. Tackle/guard Vladimir Ducasse is another two-position
player on the offensive line that could be had in round two.
Biggest Needs: CB, DE, FS
DE Raheem Brock and CB Marlin Jackson were both shown the door
this off-season and their replacements must come in the draft.
Robert Mathis and Dwight Freeney remain one of the best DE duos
in the league, but a defense can never have enough horses up front.
Plus, we remember how much the Colts struggled in the Super Bowl
when Freeney was far from 100 percent. And honestly, Jackson’s
departure could be considered addition by subtraction. He never
quite lived up to the hype that accompanied his draft position.
As dynamic a safety as Bob Sanders is, the fact remains he simply
can’t stay healthy, and the Colts can’t continue to
rely on him. Getting his replacement as soon as possible should
be a high priority for Indy.
Potential Free Agent Targets: Don’t hold your breath waiting
for the Colts to pick up a free agent defensive player at this
stage of the off-season. I think they’re content with holding
off until the draft and attempt to improve their defensive holes
there. However, Alex Brown’s recent release from Chicago
should have perked up a few ears in Indy’s war room. Brown’s
release had more to do with Julius Peppers’ arrival than
it did Brown’s production. Keep an eye on Brown this off-season.
He will get picked up soon; whether it’s the Colts is a
Draft Picks: 1.31, 2.31: CB Devon
McCourty would be a nice pick-up at the end of round one, and
so would DE Everson Griffen from USC. DE Jermaine Cunningham could
be a target late in round two.
Biggest Needs: WR, OL, QB
Let’s face it, the Jacksonville Jaguars’ offense is
short of talent but long on questions marks. There are a few bright
spots, but all and all, there are glaring holes on that side of
the ball. It was quickly and painfully obvious that WR Torry Holt
was a complete shell of himself, and if not for the out-of-nowhere
emergence of Mike Sims-Walker, the Jags’ passing game would
have been beyond anemic. They need speed and youth in the receiver
position. QB David Garrard is an average QB and quite frankly
is better suited to being a high-quality back-up.
Potential Free Agent Targets: The free agent pickings are slim
and not much is out there for what the Jags need. I think this
team plans to rebuild through the draft. And after pursuing and
ultimately signing DE Aaron Kampman to a big-money deal, perhaps
the coffers are exhausted of funds—especially when you consider
the Jags’ home games are often about half-full of spectators
at home games. So suffice it to say it may be in the best interest
of Jacksonville on several levels to concentrate on strengthening
the team through the draft.
Draft Picks: 1.10, 3.10: Unfortunately
for Jacksonville, no receiver is worth a top 10 pick this year.
Consequently, they may have to look at another position to strengthen
with the tenth pick, which could be Florida Gator QB Tim Tebow.
I personally don’t agree with Tebow going this high, but
mocks have him going anywhere from #10 overall to Jacksonville
to as late as the mid-third round. Translation: no one knows.
WR Andre Roberts of The Citadel may be available in round three.
He has less than ideal size but can still do a few things on the
field that players last year could not do for the Jags.
Biggest Needs: DE, OLB, FS
Jacksonville had a ridiculously-low 14 sacks all of last season,
so getting the athletes up front to put pressure on opposing QBs
should be priority #1. Aaron Kampman was signed to help in that
area, and the Jags are also hoping 2008 first round draft pick
Derrick Harvey starts to show his worth. Even if Kampman maintains
his high level of play and Harvey turns into a pass rushing stud,
the Jags must remain vigilant in improving their pass rush. Consider
the QBs in their division: Manning, Schaub, and an emerging Vince
Young. So putting the heat on the opposition’s passer is
critical to the overall success in the AFC South.
Potential Free Agent Targets: I like Alex Brown here. The former
Chicago DE still has a lot of production left to give and this
could be a nice landing spot for him. And who knows? Even a Terrell
Owens could help the passing game in Jacksonville.
Draft Picks: 1.10, 3.10: DE Derrick
Morgan seems to be the logical choice at #10. It’s important
that Jacksonville strikes gold with their first round pick, considering
they lack a #2 this year. Round three could see Jacksonville taking
Morgan’s Georgia Tech teammate in FS Morgan Burnett.
Biggest Needs: WR, OG, C
Tennessee has been without a legitimate #1 WR since Derrick Mason
skipped town to go to Baltimore. If they want Vince Young to continue
his upward momentum, and if they hope to keep teams from stacking
8 and 9 men in the box in an effort to stuff the run game, they
have to provide a way for Young to have viable options down field.
This is not the draft if you’re a team in need of a WR,
though. Offensive line is a need, especially at center where veteran
Kevin Mawae remains unsigned. Even if the 16 year vet does sign
with the team, his playing days are numbered and his replacement
must be identified soon.
Potential Free Agent Targets: I’m reminded how years ago
the Titans drafted WR Kevin Dyson over Randy Moss. What would
have been had Tennessee drafted Moss? Anyway, I digress. Vince
Young had an unexpected resurgence last season, and that has many
Titan fans thinking the QB has finally turned the corner. That
corner won’t be completely turned, though, until he gets
help on the outside. How about Terrell Owens? It intrigues me
why he remains unsigned and players like Antonio Bryant and Arnaz
Battle have deals. Sure he’s 35. Big deal. A one-year deal
won’t upset the apple cart too much.
Draft Picks: 1.16, 3.13, 3.33:
The only WR that would make sense to draft in the first half of
the draft is Dez Bryant. It’s a possibility that Seattle
can grab him, but if he’s there at #16, the Titans should
look long and hard about drafting him. He lacks the top-end speed
Tennessee has grown accustomed to from its draft selections, but
they need a reliable threat in the worse way. The two third round
selections could be centered on the offensive line, with Jon Asamoah
and John Jerry being viable options at that point. I wouldn’t
be all too surprised if the Titans addressed their needs on the
offensive line at #16, however.
Biggest Needs: DE, ILB, CB
The departures of DE Kyle Vanden Bosch and DT Albert Haynesworth
over the last two seasons have left Tennessee thin up front. Getting
reliable replacements for those two should be addressed in this
draft. Keith Bulluck’s days as a Titan appear to be over.
His production could possibly be replaced, but his leadership
will be difficult to duplicate.
Potential Free Agent Targets: I will keep suggesting DE Alex
Brown to teams in need of a pass rusher. Exiled from Chicago,
the eight-year pro has been a steady producer. While he’s
far from All-Pro status, the ability he brings to a team would
certainly add quality depth. Brown is currently the best available
free agent DE in the league, and teams would be foolish not to
check him out.
Draft Picks: 1.16, 3.13, 3.33:
DE Carlos Dunlap is the consensus pick at #16 in most mock drafts,
but his work ethic and apparent poor decisions off the field may
be too much of a risk for the Titans. The last time they took
a chance on such a player (Packman Jones) it blew up in their
face. Dunlap’s approach to preparation may not vibe well
with head coach Jeff Fisher’s style. CB Cortland Finnegan
is a Lone Ranger in the secondary. CB and kick returner Akwasi
Owusu-Ansah could be a possibility in the third. His five returns
for TDs in 2009 were solid examples of his playmaking ability.
Biggest Needs: WR, TE, OG
Is it time for Atlanta to attempt to upgrade the WR position opposite
Roddy White since it’s clear Michael Jenkins isn’t
the answer? I think so. But much like the other teams in need
of an upgrade at the WR position, this isn’t quite the draft
to shore up that part of your roster. And TE Tony Gonzalez, while
still productive, is on the back-nine of his career for sure.
Maintaining productivity at that position and giving QB Matt Ryan
the reliable outlet receiver that Gonzalez was for the youngster
last year is a much-needed commodity even WHEN Gonzalez hangs
up his cleats.
Potential Free Agent Targets: Don’t look for the Falcons
to do much in the way of free agent pick-ups at this time of the
year offensively. WR Terrell Owens, though, will be an interesting
story to watch as the off-season continues on. Who will sign him?
The Falcons could kick the tires on him.
Draft Picks: 1.19, 3.19, 3.34:
TE Jermaine Gresham is coming off a knee injury, but the talented
pass-catching TE would benefit from a year of tutelage from Gonzalez.
Selecting Gresham at 19 over WR Dez Bryant is the prudent thing
to do, because I think Bryant should have ‘BUYER BEWARE’
tattooed on his forehead. I don’t think Atlanta can afford
to swing and miss at another first round WR. They could wait to
address their WR needs until the third round, where WR/KR Jacoby
Ford should be available.
Biggest Needs: DE, CB, OLB
After three full seasons, 2007 draft pick Jamaal Anderson has
only 2 ½ sacks. That alone is reason enough to move on.
The Falcons added CB Dunta Robinson this off-season, but they
still must upgrade a secondary that will have to contend with
their pass-happy divisional foe New Orleans Saints two times a
Potential Free Agent Targets: It’s safe to consider Atlanta
being done with its free agent shopping after they signed Robinson.
Surprise cuts happen often, but if no one of significance is handed
a pink slip, I think the Falcons are set until the draft.
Draft Picks: 1.19, 3.19, 3.34:
As mentioned above, Anderson’s 2 ½ sacks during his
three-year career should have Falcon fans anxious to move on.
Armed with those facts, DE Brandon Graham from the University
of Michigan would look good in the black and red of the Falcons.
Many consider him a Lamarr Woodley clone—able to beat the
opposition with either bull rush or speed and agility tactics.
Consider Graham a lock if he’s there at 19. Veteran linebacker
is getting up there in age and it’s time they look to find
his replacement in the third round. An AJ Edds from Iowa, Dekoda
Watson from FSU or Clemson’s Ricky Sapp are all possible
targets in the third round.
Biggest Needs: WR, QB, OG
I think the bottom will fall out of the Panther’s 2010 season.
This team is a mess and getting worse. WR has been an issue for
some time, but it’s not that they’ve ignored the position.
Dwayne Jarrett has had trouble beating out 37-year-old Muhsin
Muhammad, and Jarrett’s long-term prognosis for NFL stardom
has gone the way of the dinosaur. QB Matt Moore takes over at
QB now that Jake Delhomme is gone. They need to bring in a young
signal-caller and groom him in the event Moore stinks up the joint.
Potential Free Agent Targets: I believe this team will look to
rebuild through the draft. Bringing in aging free agents does
nothing at this point. This team will have to be blown up real
soon if the Panthers have any thoughts of returning to past glory
any time in the next half-decade.
Draft Picks: 2.16, 3.14: The Panthers
are without a first round selection, so their front office brass
must ensure they’ve done their homework. There are holes
all over this roster, but if they decide to go offense with their
first selection, drafting Mardy Gilyard would be a step in the
right direction. He could be looked at as a poor man’s Steve
Smith: a versatile, dual threat player capable of running precise
routes while equally suited to return kicks. Guard John Jerry
from Ole Miss could be looked at in the third round.
Biggest Needs: DE, DT, OLB
Let’s see, Carolina has lost Julius Peppers, Na’il
Diggs, Landon Johnson, Ma’ake Kemoeatu and Damione Lewis
this offseason. Yes, I think that classifies as an overhaul by
any definition. Head coach John Fox may not even make it through
next season, so it remains to be seen how much influence he has
in the war room. If his word carries any weight, we should expect
to see a draft defense-heavy—and rightfully so.
Potential Free Agent Targets: It’d be interesting if former
Chicago DE Alex Brown goes to Carolina after Peppers’ arrival
in the Windy City expedited Brown’s departure. That’d
be the only sensible free agent pick-up I see happening at this
Draft Picks: 2.16, 3.14: DE/DT
Alex Carrington or DE/OLB Koa Misi are solid choices in the second
round. Mike Neal, DT from Purdue, could possibly soften the blow
after the departures of Kemoeatu and Lewis.
Biggest Needs: TE, RB, C
The Saints have an embarrassment of riches on offense. There are
no glaring needs on that side of the ball, but maybe depth at
TE and RB are areas they may look to address. Upgrading the offensive
line could also be a target. No offense to Pierre Thomas, but
I still believe New Orleans would be better off getting a better
quality runner. Whether or not they find that in the draft remains
to be seen. Nonetheless, Thomas is a good back, but even though
there’s a glutton of talent on the team, no position should
be ignored when it comes to trying to improve the team as a whole.
Potential Free Agent Targets: I think the only free agents New
Orleans is worried about are their own. Thomas has yet to sign
his tender, but many expect him to do so soon. Lance Moore is
another one waiting to sign his tender, along with O-linemen Jamaal
Brown and Jahri Evans. None of these players are expected to move,
but it goes to show that the Saints have their hands full and
probably haven’t had much time nor interest in free agents
from other teams.
Draft Picks: 1.32, 2.32: Even though
this isn’t a need, how about WR Golden Tate at the end of
the first round? Stranger things have happened, of course. Perhaps
more realistically, though, is offensive linemen Maurkice Pouncey
or RB Ryan Mathews. But honestly, the pick at the bottom of the
first round could be anyone—especially if they go offense.
Biggest Needs: DT, OLB, FS
Good thing the Saints have such a great offense because they may
need to be every bit as explosive as they were in 2009. The defense
may take a step back. They’ve had so many departures, and
with some of their free agents having not yet signed, the defense
we saw help win a Super Bowl last season could have a different
look in 2010. DE Charles Grant was released, DT Anthony Hargrove
and SS Roman Harper have yet to sign their tenders, and FS Darren
Sharper and DE Paul Spicer have not resigned yet. Weather they
all come back remains to be seen, but we at least know that many—if
not all—of these positions will be addressed in the draft.
Potential Free Agent Targets: As mentioned above, the Saints
are looking more at their own free agents than other teams’
free agents. But perhaps a veteran defender gets released that
raises the curiosity of New Orleans brass. I personally believe
that Sharper and Hargrove resign with the team, but the team may
look at youngsters in the draft to replace the others.
Draft Picks: 1.32, 2.32: DT Brian
Price or DE Everson Griffen are potentials at the end of round
one. OLB Daryl Washington from TCU could seamlessly replace Scott
Shanle at the LB position.
Biggest Needs: WR, OG, OT
There’s virtually no chance the Bucs go offense with the
#3 overall pick in the draft. It’s not that they’re
loaded on offense. They simply have enough young players at key
positions that really haven’t shown if they will be capable
players or busts. But as it stands right now, that #3 pick will
almost assuredly be a defensive player.
Potential Free Agent Targets: The Bucs traded for WR Reggie Brown
this off-season. He didn’t do much in Philadelphia with
an All-Pro QB throwing to him, so the chances of him fulfilling
the promise he had when he was drafted with an unproven QB throwing
to him are slim. He’s a step down from the departed WR Antonio
Bryant, and in my eyes that’s saying a lot.
Draft Picks: 1.03, 2.03, 2.10:
As mentioned above, expect the #3 overall selection to be a defensive
player. But if they surprise the NFL world and go offense, it
could be interior offensive lineman Bryan Bulaga. WR Arrelious
Benn has good size and could be a target at the top of the second
round, and so could WR Demaryius Thomas from Georgia Tech with
the second selection in round two.
Biggest Needs: DT, DE, FS
Tampa Bay has been looking for that 3-technique DT for years.
Former Buc Warren Sapp is the quintessential 3-technique DT, and
many feel both Gerald McCoy and Ndamakung Suh are tailor made
for that style of defense. So if ever need fit availability, the
Bucs are it. Expect one of the top DTs to be selected by the Bucs
Potential Free Agent Targets: The Bucs are in full-fledge rebuild
mode, and signing free agents for their defense at this stage
seems counterproductive. This defense will be rebuilt through
the draft. Period.
Draft Picks: 1.03, 2.03, 2.10:
This will probably be the easiest selection of ‘em all come
the draft. Tampa Bay will pick whichever DT remains. If both are
gone, DE Jason Pierre Paul is a likely candidate at #3. Some have
argued that S Eric Berry could go at #3, but that’s entirely
too early to pick a safety. CB Devin McCourty may be available
at the top of the second, and so should DT Geno Atkins. Atkins,
by the way, ran a 4.75 40-yard dash at the Combine. That should
be illegal for a 293 lbs. DT to do that.