|Published:||Apr 19, 2012 11:32 PM EDT|
|Updated:||Apr 20, 2012 6:31 AM EDT|
Needs and outlooks of the 32 teams heading into the NFL draft, which begins Thursday night:
1. INDIANAPOLIS COLTS (2-14)
LAST SEASON: Peyton Manning's injury led to complete collapse and demonstrated how many flaws four-time league MVP covered up during career. Owner Jim Irsay made only decision he could, rebuilding from ground up. In two months, Colts have gutted roster that made NFL record-tying nine consecutive playoff appearances and won more games in one decade than any in league history. Purge included front office, coaching staff, both defensive captains, and, of course, Manning. Indy's new-look offense will have at least six new starters in 2012.
THEY NEED: QB, TE, DT, WR, RB.
THEY DON'T NEED: DE.
POSSIBLE FIRST PICK: QB Andrew Luck.
OUTLOOK: Rebuilding project starts at QB, where Colts are looking for first new starter since 1998. They are likely to Luck out with rare opportunity to replace one star with younger, cheaper future star. Unless something crazy happens, pencil in Stanford QB as No. 1 pick. Indy also will try to go big early, especially at DT and LB, to anchor coach Chuck Pagano's new-look 3-4 defense. New GM Ryan Grigson will try to give Luck additional help at WR and TE during draft weekend.
2. WASHINGTON REDSKINS (5-11)
LAST SEASON: Coach Mike Shanahan opened camp by staking reputation on quarterbacks Rex Grossman and John Beck, then spent entire season probably wishing he'd kept his mouth shut. Grossman had 25 turnovers in 13 starts, and Beck went 0-3 to remain winless as NFL starter. Injuries to TE Chris Cooley, WR Santana Moss and several offensive linemen didn't help, nor did drug-related four-game suspensions to LT Trent Williams and TE Fred Davis. Defense improved with the additions of DT Barry Cofield, DE Stephen Bowen and rookie LB Ryan Kerrigan.
THEY NEED: QB, OL, DB, LB.
THEY DON'T NEED: TE, DL, RB.
POSSIBLE FIRST PICK: QB Robert Griffin III.
OUTLOOK: After two decades of doldrums, Redskins envision Griffin as type of player who can transform franchise, his personality and talent steadying a team that has used 21 starting quarterbacks over 19 seasons. Much will hinge on Griffin's ability to mesh with Shanahan father-son tandem: coach Mike and offensive coordinator Kyle. If Mike Shanahan thought his reputation was on line last year, it truly is now. His two Super Bowl titles with John Elway came in last millennium, and he's only active NFL coach who hasn't reached playoffs in last five full seasons in charge.
3. MINNESOTA VIKINGS (3-13)
LAST SEASON: Leslie Frazier's first full year as coach was rough. Using Donovan McNabb as stopgap for rookie quarterback Christian Ponder ended after six games. Lacking solid blocking and field-stretching, game-breaking receivers, Ponder mostly struggled after a couple of promising performances. Then franchise star RB Adrian Peterson tore left ACL in 15th game. Peterson is expected back for start season, but even if he's at full strength right away Ponder needs more help. As does secondary, which was thin to begin with last year and further depleted by injuries and legal trouble for Chris Cook. Cook off hook and Antoine Winfield returns, too, but cover cornerbacks and ball-hawking safeties badly needed.
THEY NEED: OT, WR, CB, S, DT.
THEY DON'T NEED: QB, TE, DE.
POSSIBLE FIRST PICK: OT Matt Kalil.
OUTLOOK: While Vikings are fully engaged in rebuilding mode, Frazier will need more wins to keep job. Good news for everyone in organization is they have 10 picks, starting with third overall where Kalil is slam-dunk choice - unless GM Rick Spielman, running draft with full authority for first time - is enticed to move down for more picks. Vikings could look to WR Justin Blackmon or CB Morris Claiborne to fill holes. Vikings currently have first crack at best non-quarterback.
4. CLEVELAND BROWNS (4-12)
LAST SEASON: There weren't many positives following coach Pat Shurmur's first season, as tumultuous as any since Browns' expansion return. Lockout, costly injuries, dropped passes, endless drama surrounding running back Peyton Hillis and tough division combined to keep Browns among NFL's worst teams. QB Colt McCoy didn't develop as hoped in first full season, which ended with a concussion. Browns scored 218 points as lack of playmakers inhibited McCoy's progress and sent team on failed offseason pursuit of Robert Griffin III.
THEY NEED: RB, WR, OT, LB.
THEY DON'T NEED: K, DE.
POSSIBLE FIRST PICK: RB Trent Richardson, Blackmon.
OUTLOOK: With 13 picks, GM Tom Heckert is armed to dramatically improve Cleveland's roster. Offense needs most help, making Richardson and Blackmon safest picks. But there are questions on both players, so it's possible Browns could take best defensive player available (Claiborne) to put on opposite side of Joe Haden. Browns need to get early picks right as most will be expected to start right away.
5. TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS (4-12)
LAST SEASON: A year after looking like team headed in right direction under Raheem Morris, Bucs did an about-face in 2011, going from 10 wins and narrowly missing playoffs to 4-12 record that included 10 consecutive losses to end last season. Collapse following 4-2 start cost Morris his job and raised questions about development of young QB Josh Freeman, who took a step back after exceeding expectations as second-year pro in 2010.
THEY NEED: CB, RB, LB, S.
THEY DON'T NEED: QB, DE, PK, P.
POSSIBLE FIRST PICK: Claiborne, Richardson.
OUTLOOK: Former Rutgers coach Greg Schiano hired as Morris' replacement and vows to build physical team that will thrive on running football and playing stingy defense. Bucs didn't do either well a year ago, when ground game was inconsistent, passing attack sputtered and defense set franchise record for points allowed. After bolstering offense through acquisitions of WR Vincent Jackson and All-Pro guard Carl Nicks in free agency, a tough, every-down running back could be draft priority. But so is finding eventual replacement for aging cornerback Ronde Barber.
6. ST. LOUIS RAMS (2-14)
LAST SEASON: Injuries and ineffectiveness across board led to huge step backward from seven-win season in 2010 that appeared to indicate franchise on the rise, costing coach Steve Spagnuolo and GM Billy Devaney their jobs. Offense was NFL's worst with or without QB Sam Bradford, who missed six games (high left ankle sprain), and finished with three linemen on injured reserve. Defense threatened dubious franchise record for yards allowed, special teams were inept. Rams had been set to pick first or second overall for fourth time in five seasons before new regime of coach Jeff Fisher and GM Les Snead pulled off huge deal with Redskins that landed them Washington's sixth overall pick and second-round pick this year plus first-rounders in 2013 and 2014.
THEY NEED: WR, DT, OL, OLB, backup RB, P.
THEY DON'T NEED: QB, MLB, starting RB, PK.
POSSIBLE FIRST PICK: Blackmon, Claiborne, Kalil.
OUTLOOK: Contrary to rumors Rams might trade down for more picks, it's likely they'll stay put and plug one of many holes. No matter how first five picks fall, they would be happy with Blackmon, Claiborne or Kalil. RB Trent Richardson also is option for future, although Steven Jackson is still going strong after becoming seventh player in NFL history to rush for 1,000 yards in seven straight seasons.
7. JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS (5-11)
LAST SEASON: Jaguars had most tumultuous season in their 17-year history. Starting QB David Garrard was cut days before opener, coach Jack Del Rio was fired after 3-8 start and team was sold to billionaire Shad Khan. RB Maurice Jones-Drew, who led NFL in rushing, and stingy defense were lone bright spots for franchise that missed postseason for 10th time in last 12 seasons.
THEY NEED: More talent.
THEY DON'T NEED: More small-school players who fail to pan out.
POSSIBLE FIRST PICK: Blackmon, Claiborne, DE Melvin Ingram, DT Fletcher Cox.
OUTLOOK: Former Bills coach and Falcons offensive coordinator Mike Mularkey replaced Del Rio. Mularkey and GM Gene Smith are committed to QB Blaine Gabbert and want to surround him with more talent in hopes of improving NFL's worst offense. They have holes on both sides and might need to replace starting DT Terrance Knighton, who will miss majority of offseason following unplanned eye surgery. Best-case scenario seems to be for Jaguars to trade down and garner extra picks.
8. MIAMI DOLPHINS (6-10)
LAST SEASON: Dolphins started 0-7 and endured third consecutive losing season, team's longest such streak since 1960s. Series of offseason decisions and misadventures drew national ridicule and had fans lobbying for GM Jeff Ireland to be fired. Dolphins were rebuffed in courtship of Jeff Fisher, then hired Joe Philbin as seventh coach in past eight years. Perennial search for franchise QB hit another dead end when Peyton Manning turned down Miami, increasing likelihood team will use first-round pick for potential successor to Matt Moore. Traded three-time Pro Bowl receiver