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. LB - 4.0
2. DE - 3.5
3. S - 2.5
4. WR - 2.5
5. TE - 2.5
6. RB - 2.0
7. K - 2.0
Position by Position Breakdown
Quarterback - Sanchez made some strides, but he's still not a guy that they fully trust. But they made their bed with him, and won't give a thought to moving in a new direction until at least a year from now. Clemens is a free agent, and not expected back. Brunell is a capable No. 2, and they'll continue to develop O'Connell as the No. 3, which means their need here is minimal. NEED: 0.5
Running Back - Tomlinson and Greene split carries this past year, and that seemed to work out best for both of them. There is talk they could let go of LT this off-season, but even if they bring him back there is a need to get stronger here. Greene did not shine when he was the lead back. McKnight had a great game against the Bills in the season finale, but it remains to be seen if he can be a reliable option for 16 weeks if he takes over LT's role. They should bring in another back in the LT mold via the draft as depth and insurance. NEED: 2.0
Fullback - They drafted Conner to be the replacement for Richardson, and it seems likely that will become the case next year. NEED: 0.5
Wide Receiver - They have to make decisions on Edwards and Holmes, both free agents. They can probably afford to keep one, but both seems out of the question. Which it is remains to be seen, although I'd imagine Holmes would get the slight nod, but they'll likely draft another guy to add depth. Brad Smith is also in need of a new deal, but he won't be a high priority. Having Cotchery gives them an insurance policy as a starter. NEED: 2.5
Tight End - Keller has become less a factor in the offense with the additions and changes they've made in recent years, but the departure of one of the WRs should help bring him back into the fold. BUt as their offense stands now, they need a guy that is a better blocker than Keller. Hartsock is a nice role player in that role, but they could get better. NEED: 2.5
Offensive Tackle - Woody only has two more years left on his contract, and they need to find his heir apparent and future successor. That player could be Vlad Ducasse, but they still envision him as an option at guard. They will likely draft a backup tackle since Wayne Hunter isn't expected to return. NEED: 1.5
Offensive Guard - Slauson beat out Ducasse for the starting job, and wasn't great, but was decent enough to keep his job for another year. Moore is solid on the other side, but will be 31 this year and is only signed through 2012. Ducasse could be considered an heir apparent, but they need to add more depth and insurance to build towards the future. NEED: 1.5
Center - Mangold is solid in the middle. If there is any concern here it's getting a better backup than Robert Turner, but it's not going to be a huge priority. NEED: 1.0
Defensive Tackle - They are hopeful to get Jenkins back next year, but he's only played in 7 games the past two years, so they don't consider him a reliable option. Pouha has been a solid reserve, but he's entering his contract year and will be 32 this year, so his long-term future isn't solidified. So adding another young nose tackle into the mix would be a smart move. NEED: 1.5
Defensive End - This position is in need of an upgrade. Ellis is coming off a strong year, and Pryce was a nice addition. But both are free agents, and will be 33 and 36, respectively this year. Ellis should return, but they need to get some young bodies here to solidify the other spot. DeVito and Gholston are just role players. NEED: 3.5
Linebacker - They want to get a strong pass rusher on the outside. The trio of Taylor, Thomas, and Pace are a capable group, but none provides the consistent pressure up front they need. They are more two-down players at this point in their careers. Inside, locking up Harris long-term will be a high priority. They'll likely try and add some depth there in the middle/late rounds as well. NEED: 4.0
Cornerback - They have to decide whether Cromartie is worth the extension. He's such an integral part of their defense that even though his play wasn't stellar, he's much more valuable. But having Wilson gives them an insurance policy, although his rookie year wasn't as strong as hoped. Bringing back Coleman would also be a smart move for depth purposes. Losing Cromartie would cause them to seek more help here. NEED: 1.5
Safety - Pool and Smith are free agents, and they'd probably like to bring back both, but that may not be an option. Pool is the better player, but Smith has the value of being quality depth. Either way, they'll likely draft some insurance by adding a good cover safety in the draft if they lose one or both. NEED: 2.5
Kicker - Folk isn't super reliable, but overall was good enough to merit being brought back for another year. But they would definitely add a player to push him. NEED: 2.0
Punter - Weatherford is a serviceable guy over most of his career, but is coming off his best season and probably will be back for another year. NEED: 1.0
The year's upcoming draft and the college game can be discussed here.
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