Thursday, April 19, 2007

Friday Feature Part II (of III): NFL Team Needs (The Real Ones)

I think it's safe to say that QB is a "need" position for the Raiders

I apologize in advance for the length of this portion of my tri-partite draft preview extravaganza, but it's necessary. Here's what I'm gonna do: I'm previewing team needs by telling you what the "experts" are saying and whether and why they are right or wrong. In doing that, you'll figure out what I feel is the team's true need in the draft. Later today, I'll finish this whole thing by posting my mock draft. I'm posting them back-to-back because it would be stupid to post "team needs" and then wait three days for the mock draft. And I'm not stupid. At least not that stupid. First there are a couple of general "needs-related" rules I need to address.

First things first, I took my experts "needs lists" from Scouts Inc. When you see their lists you'll notice something striking. Oakland, for instance, lists 8 positions that the Raiders are in "need" of filling. What positions are missing? Safety, DE and kicker, that's it. While I agree that the Raiders need a ton of help, listing 8 team needs isn't helpful. I'd give these experts a pass if they just did this for the Raiders. That would actually be kinda funny. But they have 9 positions listed for the Colts! The Colts NEED 9 positions filled? That's ridiculous. The reason they do it makes sense. When they miss badly with their picks, they can note that they had "LB or CB" as a "team need" and the team did themselves a good service by filling that need. It wold be pretty ingenius except that they list EVERY FUCKING POSITION AS A TEAM NEED (Check out Miami's need list below)! Assholes. For my purposes, I will only list needs I think must be filled in the first 75 picks (potential starters). Secondly, I do not accept the idea that a team has a "need" for a TE. No team NEEDS a TE in the first three rounds. Look at the Super Bowl teams. Those teams have solid TEs, but you can find a good TE anywhere in the draft and while it is nice to have a player like a Shockey, Gates or Gonzalez, it's not a "need". TE is a luxury item and can never be a "need" if you consider a "need" someone your team has to pick up in the first 2 rounds. need need need. Should I use that word anymore? Jesus I'm redundant.

Also, you may note that my draft order is not the same as the actual order. This will make more sense when my mock draft comes out, but I do think that there will be a good deal of movement in the top of the draft. The top 6 players are extremely valuable. After that, the next hundred are not. Great depth in this draft but not a ton of elite talent.

Lastly, I think it's important to realize "need" and "who they should draft" aren't necessarily the same thing. Value is important. You don't draft a "need" position if it lacks value and you may draft the top value even if you don't "need" the position. The Patriots are masters of this. When I talk about what a team needs, I am only talking about what they should try and fill with one of their first 2 or 3 picks. I am not suggesting that a team should try and reach on a guy in the first round because they need that position. Only when need and value match up should they grab a need position. Ok? Here goes:

1. Oakland
"expert" says: QB, DT, O-Line, CB, WR, TE, RB, LB
Smittblog: QB, O-Line
The Raiders do not "need" a CB. They have perhaps the most solid pass defense in the AFC outside of the Ravens. Asomugha is a Pro Bowler and Fabian Washington can hold his own. I don't think people understand just how good Oakland's D is. If they hadn't turned the ball over so much and didn't suck so much on offense, they could have been .500. Sure they need depth in the secondary (I could run by Duane Starks when he comes out in the Nickel), but who doesn't? I don't recognize that as a need. QB is the glaring need. The Raiders are pretty much the only team (with apologies to the Dolphins and the Jets) who do not have an NFL QB on their roster. Their O-Line is horrible. Gallery is a total bust and will likely have to move to guard, where he will continue to stink. They need a tackle and Joe Staley isn't strong value if he's there. With the 33rd pick, they should take whichever DE slips out of the first round. There is no place like DE to have strong depth. While it's not a need per se, there's no need to reach to fill a spot like OT when you can grab a project with upside later in the draft. Oakland is not a QB and offensive lineman away from the playoffs. They need to be smart for a change and just build their team from their strength (defense) on down.

2. Detroit
"expert" says: QB, ILB, CB, TE, S, WR, C, DT, DE
Smittblog says: CB, DE
The Lions should eventually pick a good young QB, but they don't need one. They especially don't need one this early in the draft. And they REALLY don't need one this year when there's one great QB and half a dozen decent ones like Kolb, Edwards, Stanton and to a lesser degree the medicine woman. Jon Kitna is not half bad. Don't believe me? Check out his stats. He completed 62% of his passes and was sacked once every 9 teams he dropped back to pass! If he played for the Bears, they'd be undefeated and defending champs. The only way the Lions take a QB is if Russell is available. The Lions suck at defense. And losing Dre Bly didn't help matters. If there was a top CB, they'd simply drop down to 8 and take that player. There is not a top CB. They need a ton of DE help, but the DEs are a crapshoot. Every day someone is flying up the charts while another is dropping back. They can't take one this early and likely won't move back unless Hotlanta gives up the farm. There's a player (he'll appear in my mock draft and I've mentioned him before) who is just too valuable to let go. In the second round Detroit can grab one of the DEs who fell out of the first round or grab McCauley or Wright.

3. Cleveland
"expert" says: CB, QB, RB, LOT, DL, S, OLB, WR
Smittblog says: RB, DT, (QB-Russell ONLY)
The Browns actually have some decent defensive players. Especially their linebackers if you consider Wimbley a linebacker (he's more of a DE / LB like Adalius Thomas). They could use some help on the interior defensive line with Mt. Washington relegated to about 6 plays a game and I think they could go after Okoye. The most glaring need though is RB (I don't consider Jamal Lewis a running back). They haven't had a decent RB since Ernest Byner. They need a guy who can pound it inside and take the pressure off their average QB and passing game. They can then grab Wright or McCauley (or even Reggie Nelson if he falls) in the second round. I feel bad for Cleveland fans because their team is so unelectrifying. They need an impact player like A-Pete to get them going. Match him with an impact D-back like Nelson, McCauley or Wright and this team has the beginnings of something.

4. Miami
"expert" says: OT/G, QB, DL, CB, TE, WR, S, RB, LB, C
Smittblog says: LB, CB
This expert "needs" list is funny. They literally list EVERY position. Every single position. They don't need another wide receiver. Booker and Chambers are very good. Booker had a fantastic season last year and Chambers is one of the top 10 most talented WRs in the league. They are getting a little long in the tooth on the defensive side of the ball. Especially the middle of the defense. They can't grab an LB or CB here because no one's good enough. I do think they'll move up to here to grab top talent either on O or D line because they are well aware of the talent drop off and Tampa will move with CJ off the board (unless they move up to take him). In the second round they may grab a QB or TE Zach Miller but should take a CB.

5. Arizona
"expert" says: OT, WLB, CB, DT, DE, TE, S, P
Smittblog says: OT, DT
How can you list punter as a team need? Yes, Arizona is a punter away from 9-7. Are you drunk? As if you needed another reason from me to discount the validity of "need" analysis by experts. AZ definitely needs some help on the O-line. They were hurting before they lost the shitstain that was Leonard Davis. Their dream is that Thomas falls to them but I'm not sure that will happen as some other team will likely move to Tampa's spot and grab him after CJ is taken by Detroit. They could use a ton of help on the D-line, starting with DT and moving to DE. I don't think they'll actually draft any D-linemen in the first 3 rounds as the value just isn't there. They may grab Meriweather in the 2nd round and perhaps a linebacker in the third.

6. Washington
"expert" says: DT, DE, G, S, CB, WR, OLB, QB, TE
Smittblog: DT, WR
The Skins are a paper tiger. They are very strong at critical positions. They are one of the few teams at the front of the draft who don't need to overhaul their O-line. They have a solid if aging secondary. They have decent offensive weapons and a good linebacking core. They are missing some top young talent, especially on the D-Line. They should be banking on Okoye but I'm not sure they'll get him. They could also use a big target wide receiver. If Jarrett falls deep into the second round, he could be a steal
7. Minnesota
"expert" says: WR, DE, CB, TE, C/G, QB, DT, RB
Smittblog: OT, QB
This is tough for me. I love Tarvaris Jackson and think he could do some things if given the reins. I just don't think that's gonna happen. I don't think they'll trust him and with the way the NFC North sets up, Minnesota is probably a player or two away from making the playoffs. I don't understand why they aren't more active in the Trent Green race. Right tackle is a position of major concern. They lack depth on the offensive line as it is and they literally have no one to fill the right tackle position. Any of the top 3-4 tackles would work here. They can then take value in the second round like Pittman at RB or WRs like Gonzalez or Smith.

8. Atlanta
"expert" says: S, DE, OT, CB, G, DT, RB, PK, MLB, QB
Smittblog: DE, WR
Another kicker, eh expert? How can you not list WR as a team need for Atlanta? I agree that the loss of Kerney was huge for a D that was suffering as it was. They kind of need to reconstruct that defense from the ground up. They could definitely gain from a superior pass rushing talent, but I'm not sure they're going to get it in the first round. I don't think they need a safety necessarily, but Landry would be a great pick. What they do need is a great WR. They have two picks in the second round and could move up with Detroit for CJ, but I don't think they'll make that move. Hopefully for them they grab a DE (maybe Adams or Carriker) and stock up on some other defense talent in later rounds. I'm not sure they'll get their WR this draft and may have to weight for Urrutia to come out next year.

9. Buffalo
"expert" says: RB, CB, OLB, TE, DT, FB, WR, ILB, FS
Smittblog: LB, RB
This is easy. For reasons that will become clear, I think Buffalo will move up to this position to grab a unique talent. The Bills desperately need an RB. They also need an LB and may make a second move in the second round to grab Beason. The Bills ARE another team that is a player or two away from the playoffs. O-Line depth, CB depth will help, but an RB and a top 5 linebacker puts them in playoff contention.

10. Houston
"expert" says: CB, WR, S, DT, OLB, DE, OT, RB
Smittblog: OT, S
It starts to get a little easier as you move down and the teams become less flawed. I think it's a mistake to suggest that Houston "needs" an RB. They have half a dozen of them. The Texans young defense is getting better. I think people will begin to realize that a player like Mario Williams comes along less often than a player like Reggie Bush. He's a Richard Seymour type guy. Offensive line is a serious need for Houston. They would also be well served to grab a ballhawking risk taker in the secondary like a Landry or Nelson.

11. San Francisco
"expert" says: DT/DE, OLB, S, OT, WR, RB, ILB, TE, FB, C/G
Smittblog: CB, LB
San Fran has been fairly active in the offseason. The Nate Clements grab will look a lot better if they can grab a comparable CB in the draft. That would be no "h" UGE!. They could also use some talent at linebacker with J-Pete gone. San Fran will be a darling next year pretty much no matter what they do in this draft. I would BEG them not to take Ted Ginn here though. That's pretty much the only way they can F this pick up.

12. Tampa Bay
"expert" says: WR, DT, S, DE, CB, OT, RB, TE
Smittblog: OT, CB
If I'm proven correct, Tampa will have 4 of the first 68 picks. That would help them immensely. They need help on the defensive end and that's the way their draft will go but their biggest need is OT. Unless Levi is still there, I don't think they'll get what they need and will be forced to take a DE or DT, which is not a bad thing. Tampa needs the help. They should find young talent at their other positions of need in the later rounds and are two years away from being a really solid team.

13. St. Louis
"expert" says: DT, DE, LB, CB, RB, G/C, WR, S
Smittblog: LB, CB
The Rams are a funky team. They usually draft kinda "sneaky well." They grabbed most of their good players that way. Holt, Bruce, Barron, Bulger, Little... they know what they're doing. They have NEVER had luck with CBs though. This could be the year they get one who is at least decent. They could also use help at LB, though their core group of guys are pretty talented.

14. Carolina
"expert" says: TE, S, ILB, DE, OT, WR, OLB, DE
Smittblog: OT, LB
This expert evaluation really pisses me off. How can you say this former dominant team's number one need is a TE? That's the dumbest thing I've ever heard. They're O-Line kinda broke down last year, as did they're linebacking corp. They need to invitalize those groups with some talented youth. The only place they don't need immediate help is on the D-line, yet the experts put DE as a need TWICE! Nice work. If you have a choice of Timmons or Greg Olsen at this pick, do you really think Olsen is a better fit for this team after what happened to Dan Morgan last year? Gimme a fucking break.

15. Pittsburgh
"expert" says: OLB, G, DE, CB, RB, WR, C, ILB, TE, FB
Smittblog: LB, CB
Pittsburgh doesn't have a lot of needs. They need to stay healthy. They could definitely use an athletic outside linebacker like a Timmons or Beason. They could also use some corner help because their corners kind of blow. They don't rely too much on tight corner coverage traditionally with the zone blitz and all, but they are really lacking in the corner position, even for them.

16. Green Bay
"expert" says: RB, S, TE, WR, DT, CB, OLB, G
Smittblog: RB, DT
I'm very surprised that GB didn't pick up any of the veteran RBs available in the free agent market, because there were several. I'd be surprised if they don't take a run at Corey Dillon before it's all said and done. This year's draft is not where you want to pick up your future RB unless you get the first guy off the board. At DT though, they could strike gold. There's good talent and depth at the position. I'd go DT, WR, RB if I were them. Maybe take a run at Ramonce Taylor in the later rounds.

17. Jacksonville
"expert" says: S, DE, QB, OLB, WR, CB, DT, MLB, TE, G, P
Smittblog: S
Jacksonville just needs to grow up. They have a great foundation at every position but don't really need anything other than a running mate for Darius (or replacement if he gets hurt again). They are a VERY good team.

18. Cincinnati
"expert" says: CB, DT, OLB, TE, S, OT, WR, DE, QB
Smittblog: DT, CB
Cincy doesn't need any help on offense at all. I don't care about the Henry suspension, the loss of Washington or anything, they just need to clean up defensively. They need to start with some youth at the front line of their D-line. Secure that and move onto some playmaking corners and they could have the making of a dominant team.

19. Tennessee
"expert" says: WR, DE, CB, TE, C/G, QB, DT, RB
Smittblog: WR, RB
Tennessee is on the rise. They have great talent on the defensive side of the ball and even with the loss of Jones they are still in great position in the defensive backfield. They need offense. Vince can't do it all. They really have no one for him to throw the ball to and no one who can consistently run it. This should be a fun draft for the Titans fans as they won't be making conservative picks like OG or DT. You'll be getting WRs and RBs.

20. NY Giants
"expert" says: OLB, CB, OT, DT, WR, RB, TE, G/C, P, PK, ILB
Smittblog: CB, LB
I really want to write "QB" because I think Eli Manning is one of the top 5 worst QBs in the NFL, but that just goes to show you how glaring a need the Giants have at LB and CB. There is NO WAY that the Giants can take Posluszny with this pick. That would be horrendous. The value here is with a CB. The Giants can pick up some decent LB talent later in the draft.

21. Denver
"expert" says: DE, WR, S, OT, DT, MLB, RB, CB
Smittblog: WR
This cracks me up. Denver has Champ Bailey, they traded for Dre Bly, yet they Scouts Inc. claims that they NEED a CB. Gimme a fucking break. They need a WR because Rod Smith is almost 100 years old. And that's about all they need.

22. Dallas
"expert" says: CB, WR, OT, DE, PK, C, S, NT, ILB, OLB
Smittblog: CB, DE
Dallas definitely could use someone opposite Newman who can hold his own. Not that Newman has been any great shakes himself but he's certainly capable. They can get great value for a CB at this position or they can grab a DE like a Jarvis Moss. Dallas is in a great wait and see position for this draft.

23. Kansas City
"expert" says: WR, OT, DT, CB, DE, QB, G, FB, LB, C
Smittblog: OT, OG
Kansas City won't do shit without an offensive line. They were built from the O-line out. With Shields and Roaf gone, they need to build that back up. They have significant problems on D, but they need to start with the O-line. This could be an ugly year for K.C.

24. New England
"expert" says: ILB, S, CB, OLB, RB, OT, QB, P, NT
Smittblog: CB, RB
With Samuel bitching, the Pats have a legitimate need at CB. That part is easy. With Maroney's shoulder injury, they also need to grab an RB. Those are the two easy needs. They are also old at inside linebacker but it was hard for me to list that as a "need" when they've got Thomas, Colvin, Vrabel and Bruschi on the roster. They definitely need to get younger but I don't know that LB is a greater need than RB and CB.

25. New York Jets
"expert" says: CB, OLB, TE, WR, NT, ILB,C, QB, S
Smittblog: CB, QB
The Jets need so much help at corner it's not even funny. They may have the worst set of corners in the league. The don't need a center, the don't need a safety they don't need a TE. They do need a QB, and not a backup QB. Chad Pennington sucks when he's healthy, and he's rarely healthy. They would be well served to grab Stanton or someone who can throw hard enough to break toilet paper.

26. Philadelphia
"expert" says: CB, S, DE, OLB, RB, WR, TE, MLB
Smittblog: CB, WR
There's no way the Eagles draft a WR even though they need one so badly They never do. They need corner help and will draft a corner. He will likely be a big one. That's just what the Eagles do.

27. New Orleans
"expert" says: CB, LB, DT, WR, TE, DE, G/C, QB
Smittblog: S, CB
The Saints really just need to solidify their D backfield in order to go from a very good team to the best team in the NFC. That's all they need. Period.

28. Baltimore
"expert" says: CB, OT, OLB, ILB, FB, C/G, QB, S, DE
Smittblog: OT, QB
With Ogden on the fence, the Ravens definitely need to upgrade the O-line. They also need to fill the void that will be left at QB when McNair goes out for the career with a concussion at some point this year.

29. San Diego
"expert" says: WR, S, ILB, CB, DL, RB, G, OT, OLB, LS
Smittblog: CB, WR
SD is two players away. A decent wide receiver and a good young corner. They'll get both.

30. Chicago
"expert" says: DT, OLB, WR, TE, RB, OT, QB, S, G
Smittblog: QB
They need to replace the cumslinger, stat!

31. Indianapolis
"expert" says: OLB, DT, ILB, RB, G, CB, WR, OT, QB
Smittblog: S, CB
Doss is gone and they always need CB help.

32. Seattle
"expert" says: N/A
Smittblog: CB, S
They need more talent in the defensive backfield and they need to stay healthy.

Mock Draft Next....

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