At PFF we’re not big on telling you things we don’t know about first hand, so saying who a team should draft is not something you’ll see here. However, giving you our view on areas of need, is another matter. With free agency essentially in the books, we thought this might be a good opportunity to give you a pre-draft look at the areas they should look to address either via the draft or otherwise .
You know how much we like colour-coding everything and this set of articles (one for each division) is no exception. Before you dig in we’d highly recommend you check out the legend – these are not player grades as in our projected line-ups series, we are grading need. Obviously, to some degree, they are related but not always. Let’s be clear, the fact that in the AFC East Review we have the Patriots QB situation as a slightly higher need than that of the Jets does not mean we are saying Geno Smith is a better QB than Tom Brady; just that Smith has shown enough to say he deserves a decent shot and with Michael Vick backing him up there is no immediate need to draft another QB while in New England it may be time for them to consider a successor to the great man particularly given Ryan Mallett is a free agent next year and shown very little in recent preseasons.
In some of the grades we are also considering the depth behind the player listed so, for example, with Buffalo’s slot corner position the fact they have Nickell Robey as well as Corey Graham ensures this is a straight dark green. However, where this is the case, I’ll mention it in the text below relating to each team.
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Probably the most obvious of all team needs is that of the Cowboys for defensive linemen. That said, the paucity of talent across the whole defense is starting to become apparent as are some of the poorer free agency decisions (Brandon Carr and Nate Livings, for example). Injuries to great players like Sean Lee are also starting to take a toll as even these positions now can’t be relied upon. The situation is so bad I wouldn’t be surprised if only a single offensive player is taken overall and the notion of a first round quarterback (especially given Tony Romo’s contract situation) vaguely comical.
The Giants made some shrewd moves in free agency, shoring up a number of holes in the process, but that still leaves them with much to do. Tight end, in particular, is a wasteland and it’s no shock that some of Eli’s better seasons have coincided with having a good target at that position. It’s also been a long time since the team has done much to address it, but linebacker has been our bugbear with their defense for many years now. They seem to believe they can get by with sub-optimal players (or overrate what they have) and that lack of ability leaves a void particularly in their coverage.
The suddenly dangerous Eagles look a wide receiver away (DeSean Jackson, anybody?) from an incredibly potent offense and that may be the only area they need to address on that side of the ball. On defense, however, the back seven/eight are a patch-work of free agent optimism and aging stars. If they spent their first two picks in the secondary and then revisited that group later in the draft it wouldn’t be an unreasonable option and who’s to say they won’t?
For clarity here, just because we believe Malcolm Jenkins wasn’t a value selection at free safety doesn’t mean we think it’s a need here. They now have to concentrate on turning that superior athletic ability he’s always had into on-field production.
The Redskins are now reaping the whirlwind sown by their trade for Robert Griffin III and subsequent sub-optimal drafting with what remained. They’ve got holes everywhere but at the skill positions and with only one person on the O-line (Trent Williams) reasonably likely to deliver a competent performance in 2014, it’s obvious what their key need is. Additionally, London Fletcher’s retirement is now laying in clear relief just how little Perry Riley has matured and the secondary’s lack of depth is highlighted by the fact getting a reasonable but not top-tier CB like DeAngelo Hall back has to be considered a big plus.
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