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Draft Needs For All 32 Teams – Stacking Up Well For Texans

By JOHN P. LOPEZ
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2011 NFL Scouting Combine - Day 3
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Here’s a team-by-team look at the top three draft needs for each team, in order of how they will draft.

Carolina Panthers:

QB – The No. 1 overall pick and a total lack of production leads to the obvious pick.

DT – New head coach Ron Rivera knows exactly how to build a winning defense – from the inside-out.

CB – Chris Gamble was unreliable and free agency could affect depth.

Denver Broncos:

NT – They’ll try to find some help via free agency, if and when that happens. But the long-term solution is a young, big playmaker at No. 2.

RB – Many have tried, few have succeeded in recent years. A true go-to back solution must be found.

ILB – If you’re going to build a 4-3, nothing is more important than a middle-backer who can run the show.

Buffalo Bills:

OLBRyan Fitzpatrick may be feeling pressure, but the Bills need to pressure the opposing QB. A swift, playmaking outside backer or rush end is must.

DT – Stuffing the middle and collapsing the pocket makes this defense much better.

QB – Fitzpatrick had a better season than critics give him credit for. Still, depth is necessary.

Cincinnati Bengals:

QB – You can’t build anything without prioritizing the most important position on the field. There are other glaring needs, but none as big as this.

S – The Bengals have options in the secondary, but not a true, young, hard-hitting game-changer.

DE – Depending on free agency, the entire unit could look different in 2011. Finding depth is a must.

Cleveland Browns:

DE – Moving to a 4-3 means the Browns must bolster the outside rush with bigger bodies able to stop the run.

WR – Colt McCoy has very few viable targets and none that can break across the middle.

RT – There may be need at DT, but it’s not as pressing as protecting McCoy and establishing an edge offensively.

San Francisco 49ers:

QB – David Carr … repeat, David Carr. That’s Jim Harbaugh’s leading candidate right now. Niners need an upgrade fast.

DE – Patrick Willis covered a lot of ground and mistakes for a lagging DL. In a deep draft for ends, he’ll finally get some help.

CB – Press coverage skills are the first to go with age. This team needs more athleticism.

Tennessee Titans:

QB – Vince Young is gone, Rusty Smith is not the answer and Kenny Britt and Chris Johnson need help.

DE – Long known for their rush ends, the last edge rusher left town with Jason Babin’s free agency.

G/C – Mike Munchak has an eye for line talent. A crumbling interior line and young QB could be a recipe for disaster.

Dallas Cowboys:

CB – Terrence Newman turns 33 in 2011 and despite some individual successes, the Cowboys gave up too many big plays in the passing game.

OT – The franchise QB missed the end of the season with a broken collarbone. That’s a sign: The guys up front have been giving up big hits for two years now.

Washington Redskins:

WR – Santana Moss is the only legitimate front-line receiver in uniform and he’s 32. Size and speed were nowhere to be found in 2010.

OT – The ‘Skins need an anchor on the line that can be counted upon for 12 or so years.

QB – With no QB a sure thing, expect Mike Shanahan to solidify WR and OT, then go after a project with promise.

DT – Once the strength of the defense, DTs need an upgrade and infusion of youth.

Houston Texans:

CB – First-round pick Kareem Jackson had a disastrous rookie year and a lack of man-to-man talent and experience abounds.

OLB – New DC Wade Phillips is all about rushing off the edge. Big help is needed.

S – Bernard Pollard is gone and cover skills are horrendous up and down the depth chart.

Minnesota Vikings:

QB – Finding a franchise QB is an absolute must. There is no option but to draft a QB, either as a potential franchise player or developmental project.

WR – Patience is always difficult, but building around a QB and front-line receiver could pay long-term dividends.

DT – Kevin Williams is a good piece, but beyond that, there are gaps to fill.

Detroit Lions:

DE – The makings of a truly dominant DL, a la the Giants of recent vintage, would be there with Ndamukong Suh next to a top-shelf end.

LT – Matt Stafford must have his blindside protected.

OLB – Corner may be in the mix as well, but the secondary gets a lot better when the front seven is upper-echelon.

St. Louis Rams:

WR – Sam Bradford has all the skills and put them all on display in 2010. Give him a game-breaker and let the fun times begin anew.

SS – The linebacking corps is average. That means a play-making and sure-tackling becomes a priority.

DE – Bookend DEs that can pinch the pocket make everyone better. A complement to Chris Long is crucial.

Miami Dolphins:

RB – Ricky Williams and Ronnie Brown have had diminishing returns the past two seasons. Miles are stacking up. New legs are necessary.

OG – If things have been unsettled and unproductive between the tackles and it’s cost the Dolphins games.

QB – The Dolphins have reached and made a lot of mistakes on QBs. They’re still looking.

Jacksonville Jaguars:

DE – Every year, Jags have fallen short when it comes to pressuring quarterbacks and disrupting opposing backfields.

S – The last line of defense must be bolstered. They need better tackling and better cover skills at safety.

LB – Some may say QB, but outside of Daryl Smith, Jags’ backers are just a bunch of guys.

New England Patriots:

DE – In a year when top-tier rush ends are available, the Pats desperately need to scoop one up early.

WR – There’s no longer a true deep threat on the roster. Tom Brady needs one to be Super.

OL – Across the board, money and age issues have the Pats looking to bolster things up front.

San Diego Chargers:

LB – The entire unit is in a state of flux, with a speed and hard-hitting playmakers a priority.

DE – Outside of Luis Castillo, the Chargers have an array of question marks and unproven talent.

S – Defense, defense, defense. The Chargers need help on all three levels.

New York Giants:

OLB – In this ground-oriented division, it’s imperative the strong-side has a tough, playmaking linebacker.

DL – It’s what the Giants do. It’s a Draft tradition unlike any other. Draft defensive ends. Or, tackles.

RB – The miles are racking up on Ahmad Bradshaw and Brandon Jacobs and it shows. The Giants need another back.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers:

DE – The most glaring weakness defensively may be priority No. 1 and No. 2.

RB – LaGarrette Blount is a live wire and about all the Bucs have. They need an explosive No. 2.

CB – There may be some shifting in the secondary, with Ronde Barber aging. Drafting a corner gives the Bucs options.

Kansas City Chiefs:

WR – Dwayne Bowe has been sensational beating defenses all by himself. Imagine how he’ll be with a viable complement on the other side.

OLB – A play-making speed rusher opposite Tamba Hali could turn this Chiefs D into a destructive force.

QB – Matt Cassel may have answered questions, but he still needs a back-up and someone who could push him.

Indianapolis Colts:

OT – If you can’t run the ball or stop the run, you lose in the post-season. With Peyton Manning running for his life, too, Colts MUST start on the offensive side.

DT – See above. Too often, the inside of the Colts defense was pushed around and gashed for big yardage.

S – Bob Sanders is gone and never was reliable, health-wise. His backups have been injured or ineffective.

Philadelphia Eagles:

RT – Some say defense should be the priority, but if Michael Vick is your franchise QB, he needs protection on his blind-side.

CB – The Eagles may be the leader for F.A. Nnamdi Asomugha, but with no guarantee before the draft, an athletic corner is a must.

DE – The Eagles pass rush has gradually diminished into a near non-factor the last two years.

New Orleans Saints:

DT – Sedrick Ellis had a healthy 2010, but that was a rarity. Depth is thin, too.

OLB – Free agency could devastate Gregg Williams’ attacking edge rush.

RB – Reggie Bush may not be fully healthy, ever, again. And Pierre Thomas was injured, too.

Seattle Seahawks:

OG – The Seahawks tried a number of combinations in the trenches, but the talent just wasn’t there.

QB – Pete Carroll needs to develop a true franchise QB. A journeyman stop-gap player won’t cut it.

OT – Only one player (Chris Spencer) started every game in 2010. The Seahawks need help across the board.

Baltimore Ravens:

CB – A lot of red flags were raised over the course of the season. Reaching the next level requires more speed and cover ability.

WR – Aging and unproductive, this unit fell well short of expectations in 2010.

OG – The interior line must improve and get stronger.

Atlanta Falcons:

DE – For a defense that knew how to come up big, another play-maker on an aging defensive front will keep things going.

RB – Michael Turner needs a sleeker, more explosive third-down complement.

WR – Too many of Roddy White’s complementary receivers could not make consistent plays.

New England (2nd pick)

See above.

Chicago Bears:

OT – Mike Tice and Mike Martz did a good job adjusting to their deficiencies up front. But the deficiencies are still there.

DT – Tommie Harris (injuries) and Anthony Adams (free agency) cannot be relied upon for 2011. Henry Melton isn’t the answer.

WR – Johnny Knox and Devin Hester are valuable assets, but not big go-to receivers under pressure for Jay Cutler.

New York Jets:

WR – Mark Sanchez is ready to take another big step forward. He goes nowhere without playmakers outside.

OG – Age and inconsistency hindered the inside-running game and inside protection in 2010.

OLB – Jets are aging fast at a key spot in Rex Ryan’s pressure-oriented defense.

Pittsburgh Steelers:

OL – Across the board up front, the Steelers offense needs help moving forward. Guard is a particular priority.

CB – At times it looked like Troy Polamalu covered the entire field. But he can’t.

DE – Dick LeBeau has a lot of weapons at his disposal, but a deep DE class may be too tempting to pass.

Green Bay Packers:

OLB – With Clay Matthews making plays all over on one side of the field, fortifying the opposite ‘backer limits options for opponents.

OL – Tackles are aging and guard Daryn Colledge could opt for free agency.

KR – Aaron Rodgers had a superb season, despite fighting uphill when it came to field-position.

Oakland Raiders (no 1st-round pick):

CB – Nnamdi Asomugha is moving on. This absolutely is a must-get position high in the draft.

C – More specifically, interior line. Position switches notwithstanding, bulking up against tough NTs is a priority for a team that likes play-action.

OG – See above. Al Davis wants his teams to stretch the field, but you can’t do that without success in the middle and protecting the QB.

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