AFC Team Needs Heading Into 2012 NFL Season

The Draft is over and most teams are feeling good about their choices. But you cannot fill every need in one Draft so we are going to sit down and take a gander at each team and identify their three biggsest needs heading into the 2012 season.  The AFC is up first.

AFC NORTH

Pittsburgh Steelers
1. Cornerback - The Steelers have some youth at corner but no one has yet to step up to become a solid starter.  A lot of their corners are undersized as well, and this could evolve into the team’s biggest need as the season progresses. 

2. Wide Receiver - This need would get pushed up if the team isn’t able to resign Mike Wallace.  They have two other good options in Antonio Brown and Emmanuel Sanders, but Wallace and his home run ability is the key.

3. Safety – Polamalu is great, but is getting up their in age and there is little behind him in terms of depth.  Ryan Mundy isn’t anything special at free safety and the team could stand to upgrade this entire unit.

Baltimore Ravens
1. Safety –
The team is perilously thin at this position and waited until round 4 of the draft to address it.  Ed Reed doesn’t have much left in the tank, and the lack of depth here could really hurt the team this season, especially if Reed goes down with injury.

2. Left Tackle –
Braynt McKinnie played well for the team last season but his best years are behind him.  Oher is better suited on the right side so the team could very well use an early 2013 pick to find the future blindside protector of Joe Flacco.

3. Center –
Birk has at best two years left in him, and it remains to be seen if 2012 third round choice Gino Gradkowski can fill his shoes. 

Cincinnati Bengals
1. Running Back  –
The Bengals added the lawfirm Benjarvis Green-Ellis in free agency to be their featured back but he does little to excite me.  I would like to see them get an all around back who is also a threat receiving the ball out of the backfield.

2. Defensive End –
The Bengals are solid with Geathers, Dunlap, and Johnson, but they need more depth.  A talented young pass rusher would definitely solidify this unit.

3. Linebacker –
The Bengals are set with the starting trio of Howard, Maualuga, and Lawson but more depth is needed. 

Cleveland Browns
1. Safety – The Browns are solid at cornerback, but their starting safeties leave a lot to be desired.  If the Browns secondary struggles this may emerge as their number one priority heading into next year’s draft.

2. Wide Receiver  – Greg Little is a nice player but is more of a no. 2 type possession guy.  If they are picking high again in next year’s draft they may use an early pick to give Brandon Weeden a new favorite target.

3. Tight End – If this team wants Weeden to succeed it’ll need to surround him with weapons.  Evan Moore/Ben Watson aren’t exactly tight ends to get excited about.  This team needs a dynamic pass catcher who can be a safety net for Weeden.

AFC EAST

New England Patriots
1. Wide Receiver –
The Patriots have a couple of great receivers in Wes Welker and Brandon Lloyd but they lack a big bodied receiver who can take over a game.  They could very well use an early 2013 pick to get just that type of player.

2. Defensive Tackle/Defensive End – The Patriots often switch between a 3-4 base defense and a 4-3 front. They could use a young, versatile defensive lineman who can provide interior pass rush in the 4-3 and anchor against the run in their 3-4 front.

3. Guard – The Patriots failed to address this need in the 2012 Draft and need youth here with Mankins injury and Waters advanced age.

New York Jets
1. Outside Linebacker –
The Jets surprised a lot of people on Draft Day when they bypassed pass rushers like Ingram and McClellin for Quentin Coples who I feel is a questionable fit in their scheme.  If the sacks don’t increase in 2012, this will be their main focus in the ’13 offseason.

2. Guard – The Jets want to get back to the ground and pound running game but did little to improve the interior of their offensive line which was awful last season. 

3.  Safety – The Jets added LaRon Landry in free agency and used a couple of later picks on the position, but unless one of the young guys emerges this will be a high priority once again in 2013.

Buffalo Bills
1. Left Tackle – The Bills used a high second round pick on Georgia’s Cordy Glenn in last year’s draft but his big bodied frame is more suited to play guard or right tackle.  They may try Glenn at LT and if he fails, this could become a big time need next year.

2. Wide Receiver – Stevie Johnson is an emerging star and David Nelson is a decent second option but the team could really use another stud in their receiving corps.

3. Quarterback – Fitzpatrick is good and Thigpen is an adequate backup, but the Bills will be in the market for a long term answer at the position if they falter in 2012.

Miami Dolphins
1.
. Wide Receiver – This team lacks a no. 1 target and really even a no. 2 target.  This is arguably the worst group of pass catchers in the league and an injection of high end talent is needed.

2. Defensive End – The team was able to land Oliver Vernon in round 3 of the 2012 Draft, and that was a good start, but they could still use about 4 more pass rushers.

 3. Safety – The Dolphins were so thin at safety they went out and signed Tyrell Johnson who couldn’t even start for a terrible Minnesota secondary last season.  This group needs help as it lacks youth and talent across the board.

AFC SOUTH

Houston Texans
1. Right Tackle – The Texans surprisingly released Eric Winston last offseason and will look to young Rashad Butler to replace him.  If that fails, this will be the team’s biggest need.

2. Nose Tackle – The Texans seems content enough with undersized Shaun Cody and Earl Mitchell playing nose for them.  If they can’t hold up this season, they may finally look for a big, squatty anchor in next year’ s Draft.

3. Tight End – Owen Daniels has been battling injuries for years and Joel Dreessen left for Denver. That leaves only Garrett Graham and FB James Casey as options.  A young tight end isn’t a huge priority for this team, but one that should be addressed fairly early in next year’s Draft.

Tennessee Titans
1. Guard –
The Titans interior offensive line struggled mightily last season and all they did to address it was add Steve Hutchinson who is in the twilight of his career.  They need to look for help with a high level free agent or an early draft pick.

2. Cornerback – The team lost Cortland Finnegan in the offseason and while Verner and McCourty are two good corners they still are thin at the position, and only added 4th rounder Coty Sensabaugh in the Draft.

3. Center – The Titans kicked the tires on a bunch of free agent centers but decided to stick with Amano for the 2012 season.  If he struggles again they’ll kick him to the curb and get a replacement.

Jacksonville Jaguars
1. Defensive End –
Andre Branch was a nice get in the second round, but even if he has a 10 sack season the Jaguars need a few more pass rushers.

2. Cornerback – The Jaguars resigned Rashean Mathis but he is coming off an injury and is getting up there in age.  They could use a young stallion and could look for one early in the coming Drafts.

3. Quarterback – Blaine Gabbert’s rookie season was awful and if he struggles again with Justin Blackmon and Laurent Robinson in the mix, they’ll hand things over to Chad Henne.  If that doesn’t work out they may look to draft a QB early once again.

Indianapolis Colts
1. Outside Linebacker –
The Colts are converting to a 3-4 defense and lack parts for it.  They used up most of their 2012 Draft on getting weapons for Andrew Luck and will likely spend the majority of their 2013 picks on the defensive side of the ball.

2. Wide Receiver –  The Colts have a bunch of tight ends and really only Reggie Wayne, concussed Austin Collie, and rookie TY Hilton as receivers.  Wayne doesn’t have many years left on this Earth and they will need to bring in some more options for young Mr. Luck to throw to.

3. Cornerback – The Colts really need help at every defensive position but cornerback sticks out more than some, as there is a glaring lack of talent.

AFC WEST

Denver Broncos
1.  Cornerback –
Champ Bailey can only play so long, and while Omar Bolden was a nice find in the fourth round last Draft, they still need to bring in more talent at this position.

2. Defensive Tackle – Derek Wolfe could turn out to be a solid player for the team but more depth is needed here.

3. Defensive End – Dumervil is a stallion but the team could look for a young stud to play opposite him as Robert Ayers has been disappointing so far in his career.

San Diego Chargers
1. Offensive Tackle –
The Chargers resigned Jared Gaither and while he played well last season, his health is always a concern.  They have Jeromy Clary at right tackle and he has been solid but they still need a young guy to add depth and eventually solidify one of those spots long term.

2. Running Back – Ryan Mathews is on the verge of a breakout season, but his durability has been suspect.  They lost Mike Tolbert in free agency and little else on the depth chart excites anyone.

3. Inside Linebacker – Takeo Spikes and Na’il Diggs are both ancient and the Chargers should look to bring in some younger talent opposite Donald Butler.

Oakland Raiders
1. Tight End –
The Raiders have by far the worst group of tight ends in the league.  They need a major infusion of talent at this position.

2. Linebacker – This should actually be higher on the list as the lack of talent here is appalling.  Rolando McClain’s situation with the LAW is up in the air and who knows what his long term future witht the team will be.  They added a couple of players through the Draft but depending on them this season could be costly.

3. Quarterback – Carson Palmer is getting up there in years and I’m not a believer in Terelle Pryor.  This team needs a quarterback they can build their franchise around for the future.

Kansas City Chiefs
1. Quarterback –
This team will go as far as Matt Cassel can take them.  They actually have a lot of talent surrounding him this season and if he fails, they’ll know they need to look for a young ball slinger in next year’s Draft.

2. Inside Linebacker -This is a little nitpicky as Jovan Belcher is a decent player but the team could upgrade over him if they felt the urge.

3. Safety – Not a glaring need by any means but an area where the team could use a little more depth.

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