Over the next couple of days Andy and I will be evaluating which teams would benefit the most by drafting a certain position. This is to say, that if your team has all pro’s at every position but quarterback, you might benefit more from drafting a quarterback than a team that has very little talent across the board. We’ll be doing this for this years draft position by position. This is part one, the offense.
Andy: Arizona Cardinals
Boy what a difference a year without Kurt Warner makes. The Cardinals certainly have the WRs (Fitzgerald, Breaston, Doucet) and a decent RB in Beanie Wells, but when you have to switch between Derek Anderson, Max Hall, and Ike Skelton in a season, you know you have issues. With a QB who can make the throws and play even at 75% of the level that Warner did, this team could be a playoff contender in the relatively weak NFC West.
Cole: Tennessee Titans
This is a tough choice for me. Certainly Arizona needs a quarterback but they’re very young. Minnesota is very old and needs one. San Francisco has the pieces to make a run and only lacks a quarterback, but my pick is Tennessee because they have been a playoff contender (nay 14-2 Playoff contender) the last few years. They’ve got a sound rushing attack in Chris Johnson and a stout defense. They’ve got a small window for their defense and offensive line, but it’s big enough that a poised rookie could take them on a few runs in the next few years a la Matt Ryan and Joe Flacco.
Andy: Seattle Seahawks
Indianapolis is a regular at this position, but Manning has covered that problem for a long time. The Seahawks tried to address this problem last year by trading for Marshawn Lynch, but his 3.5 YPC last year was the lowest of his career. The one really effective game he had last year (Wild Card vs. Saints) only emphasizes how much Seattle could benefit from a big-time RB. It seems likely that either Hasselbeck will return or the Seahawks will draft or trade for a new QB, and regardless of the QB, whether it be due to Hasselbeck’s age or a QB learning a new system, they could really benefit from a HB who can take 25-30 carries a game.
Cole: Indianapolis Colts
I think Miami would be the conventional choice here, but they have too many needs for me to say that they’ll benefit the most from taking a running back. Indianapolis has struggled since Edgerrin James left and consequently Peyton’s had to take on more of the load. He already does so much for that team, but with a slightly more balanced attack they could extend his career by lowering his passing attempts, and keep defenses honest.
Andy: St. Louis Rams
Did anybody else see how ridiculously well Sam Bradford played as a rookie QB? Did you see who his WRs were? When your best WR is Mark Clayton and he gets injured early, and then the best on the team becomes Danny Amendola, you know you have room for improvement. Bradford is only going to grow as a QB, and giving him a top-flight WR to pass to could make this team a dangerous opponent in the 2011 season.
Cole: St. Louis Rams
My three choices here were between St. Louis, Washington and Cleveland. Washington has almost 22 needs so I ruled them out as benefiting most from an A.J. Green per say. Certainly Cleveland hasn’t had a big time WR since Braylon Edwards and he had a case of the drops. Colt McCoy to A.J. Green would be a tough combination to beat, but I’ll pick St. Louis because if you put A.J. Green on last years team I think you’d see 10 wins for the Rams and a playoff berth. Cleveland might see 8 but still be well out of the playoffs. Therefore, in my mind, the Rams would benefit the most because a big time, Calvin / Andre Johnson wide out gets them to the dance.
Andy: Denver Broncos
This position has never really been a deal-maker or deal-breaker, and it’s hard to think of a team that could drastically improve from adding a good TE (especially because all-pros like Antonio Gates and Tony Gonzalez are remarkably rare). Denver won’t become a good team from adding a TE, but it sure could help. Regardless of whether it is Tim Tebow or Kyle Orton starting next year, both could benefit greatly from a sure-handed safety net to complement Brandon Lloyd and Eddie Royal.
Cole: Kansas City Chiefs
Call a spade a spade. Dwayne Bowe is a stud, but he’s the only stud the Chiefs have got for a passing situation. They need a game breaking tight end and there’s not a whole lot of need in front of them. Cassel needs a security blanket and a guy to open up the middle of the field. If Kyle Rudolph can sneak up into 1st round consideration, the Chiefs could be a good fit for him.
Andy: Indianapolis Colts
Yes, the Colts are still a playoff team, but Peyton Manning started to look human at points last year. The simple fact is he may not be able to recognize and throw as fast as he has in the past. This is not to say he is not a top 3 QB in the NFL, merely that one must recognize that he must be better protected as he is going into the final years of his career. Tackle play was not a strong suit of the Colts last year. I put them here not because they can improve too much from adding a Tackle, but do so because if they do not, their level of play could significantly decline.
Cole: Detroit Lions
Let’s use the Rams principal here to determine biggest need. The Colts win 10+ games a year with mediocre LT play. Could they use one? Sure, and they’ll address it in the draft I’m sure, but the Lions looked like an 8-8 or better team with Matt Stafford on the field last year. The problem is no one can protect him and he’s a china doll. If a left tackle for Detroit means a winning season for the Lions and 3 or so more wins for the Colts its got to be the Lions that benefit this the most.
Offensive Guard / Center
Andy: New York Giants
As Cole states below, the two strongest teams in the NFC East are also the two who need an interior linemen the most. Vick can cover up for the bad play of the line, Manning cannot. The Giants are more reliant on the running game than the Eagles are. These two simple reasons mean that the Giants need to add an interior lineman immediately, or risk being stuck in the middle of the NFC East again.
Cole: New York Giants
This is a battle between two NFC East teams – Giants and Eagles. Two factors to consider. The Giants averaged 4.6 yards per attempt rushing last season. The Eagles were 5.6. I know, I know, Vick was a big factor on that too, but that’s another reason it’s not as critical a need for them. He can disguise a poor line and keep defenses back with his escape abilities. Eli is a statue and needs protection.
Defense coming tomorrow. Look forward to it!