NEEDS RATING KEY
5.0 - High priority. This is a position that is a glaring weakness and there is the likelihood that this team cannot compete next year without making a major addition here.
4.0 - Medium Priority. This is an area that is an obvious weakness, but the team isn't quite desperate to make a major move here possibly because they have some young potential. But this is an area that if the team cannot fix via free agency, will definitely use one of their picks in the first three or four rounds to supplement.
3.0 - Upgrade Potential. This is a position that isn't a weakness per se, but there is significant room for an upgrade. If the right player comes along they will certainly snag him, but if they don't fix this position with a major free agent addition or early round pick, then it's not the end of the world.
2.0 - Depth Need. An area where there is a need to add depth. Perhaps there is an aging veteran and they might want to start to look at grooming his heir apparent or replacement. Not likely to be a high priority and a position that more than likely will be address in the middle and late rounds rather than with a top pick.
1.0 - Future Need. This is an area that is not a priority, and doesn't initially appear as a need. But there is some room to develop some depth for perhaps two or more years down the line. This is usually an area that a team will look at in the late rounds if at all.
0.0 - Non-need. This is a position that is a strength of their team, they have a solid starter, capable depth, and/or a young player at the position that they like and want to develop. Very little possibility this area is addressed and would be the equivalent of a wasted draft pick.
Top 7 Needs
1. S - 4.5
2. CB - 4.5
3. DE - 4.0
4. WR - 3.0
5. QB - 2.5
6. OG - 2.0
7. TE - 2.0
Position by Position Breakdown
Quarterback - Garrard had a nice productive year, but the team feels he is not their long-term solution, just more of a stopgap. They will definitely draft a QB to develop for the future, but having Garrard gives them the luxury that they can groom said player for at least one or two years. They would probably prefer to use a 2nd/3rd round pick on a passer, but it's possible if the right guy at the Top of ROund 1 falls to the middle of the draft, they could use their top pick on this position. There is some possibility that if the right offer comes along, they could deal Garrard this off-season. NEED: 2.5
Running Back - MJD had a solid year, and Rashad Jennings showed enough as a backup to think he can be a decent reserve option. But he's no Fred Taylor, and the team certainly could look for more depth in the middle to late part of the draft. NEED: 1.5
Fullback - Greg Jones is solid at this position, although arguably underused in Koetter's offense. NEED: 0.0
Wide Receiver - Sims-Walker's contract is up, but he should be back. He looks like he's just a complementary guy instead of the potential go-to guy they were hoping he would turn into this past year. But he's a nice No. 2 option. Mike Thomas showed good ability as a playmaker and is another solid complementary option. But they really need a true blue No. 1 target here. NEED: 3.0
Tight End - Marcedes Lewis is a good option because of his value as a blocker and redzone target. He's solidly been one of the better two-way tight ends in the league the past few years. They need to lock him up long-term this off-season. Zach Miller is a nice option in their dual tight end sets as a receiver, but there is room for improvement here to get better depth. NEED: 2.0
Offensive Tackle - Monroe has had his struggles against premier pass rushers like Trent Cole and Dwight Freeney, but they still like his potential and it's hard to find a more talented left tackle than he is. Eben Britton isn't anything special, and will be coming off a shoulder injury. They certainly could use some depth and adding a swing tackle there would help depth. Having Haslam on the roster means that will likely come in free agency than the draft. NEED: 1.5
Offensive Guard - This is a position that makes sense for them to try and get younger at in the draft. Nwaneri was given an extension, so there is reason to think he'll be around for a number of years, and he has the ability to play either guard or center. Manuwai is solid, but is entering the final year of his contract, has durability concerns, and will be 31 at the start of the season. So it makes sense to draft his heir apparent this April. Smiley is probably a backup-level player at this point in his career, but is a nice backup and insurance policy to have on the bench. NEED: 2.0
Center - Meester had a nice rebound season when there was talk last off-season or replacing him with Nwaneri. He'll be 34 this upcoming season, and they may be in the market for using a late round pick on another developmental option at this spot. NEED: 1.5
Defensive Tackle - The youth movement they opted for this year seemed to pay off with Knighton and Alualu having nice seasons. Getting D'Anthony Smith back from injury should also help here. If anything, they'll bring in a veteran to bolster depth. NEED: 1.0
Defensive End - Kampman was a nice addition, but it's clear he's on the decline and at age 31 and coming off an ACL injury, there is no telling how much he has left in the tank. Mincey, Lane, and Hart flashed ability as situational pass rushers, but the team is on the verge of giving up on Derrick Harvey being a factor. Getting a young pass rusher that they can build around in the future will be a priority. NEED: 4.0
Linebacker - Morrison and Durant are both prospective free agents, and while decent players aren't the caliber of guys in the nickel to be considered strong long-term options. They would be smart to bring back one as a starter, but they should try and find a starter that can be a playmaker on every down. Daryl Smith is their best player. Depending on whether they bring back Morrison or Durant will determine whether they target an inside or outside guy. NEED: 3.0
Cornerback - Both Cox and Mathis had early struggles, but got better as the year wore on. But while they could live with Cox as a starter, he's probably a better fit in the nickel. Mathis will be 31 and entering the final year of his contract, so they need to find a replacement this off-season that can be their top cover guy and match up with guys like Reggie Wayne and Andre Johnson. This is a position that they will address early in the draft and wouldn't be surprising if they used several picks here like they did with defensive line last year. NEED: 4.5
Safety - They were forced to go young here last year with Courtney Greene and Don Carey as their starters. Neither player did much to like their chances going forward, but the team is perhaps hopeful that one can make strides next year. But this is a position devoid of any redeemable talent. Considine is a good backup, but a free agent and was asked to be a major contributor most of the season. They need to use an early pick here to find some sort of playmaker, preferably a ballhawk that can help in coverage. NEED: 4.5
Kicker - Scobee has never developed the sort of consistency they have been looking for, struggling in the second half of the year. He's entering the final year of his contract and it would be smart to add someone that can push him. NEED: 1.5
Punter - Podlesh is a free agent, but has played well enough that he should be brought back. NEED: 0.5
The year's upcoming draft and the college game can be discussed here.
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