Pat Kirwan breaks down each team's positional needs, listed in order of importance, entering the draft.
Analysis: The Bills have a new coach, but they don't have a proven quarterback. As if that wasn't enough of a concern, they are also installing a new defense. Free-agent signings OT Cornell Green, DE Dwan Edwards and LB Andra Davis do not exactly instill confidence. Notre Dame QB Jimmy Clausen, Oklahoma OT Trent Williams and Oklahoma State WR Dez Bryant should all be on the board when the Bills select at No. 9. It looks more and more like they will take an offensive tackle. Don't be surprised if a receiver like Georgia Tech's Demaryius Thomas gets in the mix with new coach Chan Gailey running the show. Gailey knows a lot about Thomas after the receiver was recruited to Georgia Tech during his tenure as the Yellow Jackets' coach.
On the beat mock draft
Watch as writers and broadcasters play general manager for a day and make the first-round picks for the teams that they cover. The series kicks off with picks Nos. 1-8. More ...
Analysis: The Dolphins spent big money to get LB Karlos Dansby and now they can turn their attention to other defensive needs. NT Jason Ferguson, 35, is coming off a season-ending quadriceps injury and will miss the first eight games of the season due to a league-imposed suspension. Paul Soliai is not the answer as a starting nose tackle. Bill Parcells has a long history with pass rushing outside linebackers (Lawrence Taylor, Carl Banks, DeMarcus Ware) and I would not be surprised if that's the first issue Miami addressed. Somewhere in the draft a wide receiver will get consideration, but not necessarily in the first or second round. The signing of Richie Incognito probably takes Miami out of the offensive line business. The Dolphins could also use a safety with the coverage skills to play the deep middle.
Draft choices: Nos. 12, 43, 73, 110, 173, 174, 179, 212, 219 and 252
» Miami Dolphins' draft history
Analysis: The Patriots re-signed a number of their veteran players, but questions remain about the pass rush. The team needs to get someone who can come off the edge. New England also needs a five-technique defensive end, given the losses of Richard Seymour and Jarvis Green over the past couple years. A player like Penn State DE Jared Odrick would be a solid choice in the first round. As usual, the Patriots have multiple second round picks (three) and they should come away with two solid contributors, and maybe an experimental player like Florida's Tim Tebow. Bill Belichick is close friends with Gators coach Urban Meyer and Tebow's name had to come up in conversations between the two this spring.
Draft choices: Nos. 22, 44, 47, 53, 119, 190, 205, 229, 231, 247, 248 and 250
» New England Patriots' draft history
Analysis: The Jets tapped into the Chargers' roster by trading for CB Antonio Cromartie and signing free-agent RB LaDainian Tomlinson. They seem to be having trouble locking up KR/RB Leon Washington to long-term deal. There are also some age issues along both lines with DE Shaun Ellis and OT Damien Woody both in the twilight of their careers. Former first-round choice Vernon Gholston doesn't look like he can be counted on at outside linebacker, and unless they are able to pluck Adalius Thomas from the Patriots, they will need to address that position in the draft. Picking 29th overall makes it difficult to target a certain player, but an excellent receiver may drop to them, which would make sense with Braylon Edwards under contract for just one year after signing his restricted tender.
Analysis: The Ravens fixed their receiver issues by trading for Anquan Boldin, picking up Donte' Stallworth in free agency and re-signing Derrick Mason. Now they can turn to other needs in the draft. The Ravens lost two defensive linemen in free agency (Justin Bannan and Dwan Edwards), and Trevor Pryce is getting older, so look for them to target a defensive lineman early. Signing veteran Cory Redding is a stopgap measure. Cornerback is a glaring need and some of the veteran candidates may not be ready for camp or even Week 1 as they return from injuries. Ed Reed hinted at retirement after the season due to a lingering neck ailment, which means the team must start looking to the future and find a possible future replacement. Keep in mind, Baltimore lost safety Jim Leonhard last year to the Jets. While TE Todd Heap is coming off a solid year, he has a shaky medical history, so the position could be enticing in the early rounds.
Analysis: Signing WR Antonio Bryant helped fill the void left by the departure of T.J. Houshmandzadeh last offseason and the death of Chris Henry. The Bengals need to upgrade at safety and a player like USC's Taylor Mays would be a good fit. I can't even imagine how teams would matchup with the offense if the Bengals had a vertical threat tight end, and it appears Chase Coffman is not going to fill those shoes. Veteran kicker Shayne Graham might not return, so the position could be looked at late in the draft. The defense played well last season, but could use some solid young players on the line in order to take that next step and become a great unit.
Analysis: Enter Mike Holmgren and Tom Heckert as the decision makers and the West Coast offense is on its way to the Browns. There has been lots of turnover and it will continue beyond the draft. The Browns need to draft a young quarterback, but before they do that, defensive help is needed at corner, safety and outside linebacker. Cleveland traded Kamerion Wimbley, and he had more success than most Browns at getting to the QB. Serviceable additions like LB Scott Fujita, TE Ben Watson and OT Tony Pashos give the new front office a chance to skip those positions in the draft until the later rounds. Cleveland has five picks in the top 92 and 12 in the top 186 to overhaul this roster.
Draft choices: Nos. 7, 38, 71, 85, 92, 105, 134, 137, 146, 160, 177 and 186
» Cleveland Browns' draft history
Analysis: The Steelers quietly helped their special teams this offseason by adding Arnaz Battle, Antwaan Randle El, Larry Foote and Will Allen. Now they can go after their other needs. They could use a starting cornerback, and picking at No. 18 could provide the opportunity to grab a player like Joe Haden or Kyle Wilson. Their first-round selection from a year ago, Ziggy Hood, added depth to the defensive line, but don't be surprised to see the Steelers tap the position again this time around. Running back Willie Parker is unsigned, so a solid complement to Rashard Mendenhall in the middle rounds is a good idea. Many of the sacks QB Ben Roethlisberger takes are his fault, but nonetheless it is time to add some young talent to an average line.
Draft choices: Nos. 18, 52, 82, 116, 151, 164, 166, 188, 225 and 242
» Pittsburgh Steelers' draft history
Analysis: The Texans' situation in the AFC South reminds me of when I was with the Jets, and we had Dan Marino and Jim Kelly in the division. We got better, but no one knew it because we couldn't beat either QB on a consistent basis. Houston has Peyton Manning blocking its growth and the pressure of building a pass rush and a secondary to contend with him never goes away. The Texans need a bell cow running back to help keep Manning off the field. Houston needs a wide body on the interior of its defensive line, especially since Jacksonville and Tennessee plan on running the ball 30 times a game. Houston figures to focus on defense in the selection process.
Analysis: The Colts are built in a unique way with Peyton Manning running the offense and the defense built purely for speed. Manning covers up subpar line play with his quick decisions, but sooner or later they need to get a franchise left tackle. The offseason addition of Andy Alleman and Adam Terry helps the group, but not enough. The next question: How long can center Jeff Saturday lead the offensive line? A center like Maurkice Pouncey, a four-year starter at Florida, might be the right guy to take in the first round and play him at guard to learn all the things Saturday does. I would like to see the Colts add a big defensive tackle to clog up the run lanes and bounce things to their speedy linebackers. A corner should be on the list as well, with all the injuries Indy has had in the secondary.
Analysis: Jacksonville is a team struggling to sell tickets and has a coach in some turmoil. Making short-term decisions vs. what is good for the club in the long run is always a challenge in these situations. Defensive end Aaron Kampman was signed quickly in free agency for big money. The Jags need him healthy for 16 games and they also need his leadership with the younger players. That's a lot to ask of a guy coming off a major injury. The long-range QB issue looms and the politics of picking Tim Tebow, a hometown favorite, could drive draft decisions. The Jags played more rookies than any team in the league last season, and seemed oblivious to the criticism that their inexperience might have hurt the team. Jacksonville doesn't expect to go so young in 2010, but it promises to be active on draft day, nevertheless.
Analysis: The Vince Young era is officially here for the second time. Coach Jeff Fisher told me his team was undergoing a youth movement, which is why Kevin Mawae was told he could only return as a reserve. The draft could also provide a replacement for LB Keith Bulluck and DE Kyle Vanden Bosch, two defensive leaders of the past. The Titans need help in the secondary and at receiver, but without a second-round pick, they will have to target those areas with their two third-round selections.
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Analysis: Denver fans wonder where the playmakers have gone. Jay Cutler was traded last offseason and WR Brandon Marshall could be gone by the draft. The good news, Denver went out and bought a defensive line in free agency, as the Broncos continue the conversion from a 4-3 defense to a 3-4 scheme. At this point, the Broncos need to address the other components of a 3-4, namely the inside and outside linebackers. LB Rolando McClain would be a great fit inside and next on the list would be a pass rusher to complement Elvis Dumervil. The Broncos traded a 2010 first-pick in order to draft corner Alphonso Smith a year ago, and the jury is still out on that move. Still, Denver has the 11th overall choice thanks to the Cutler trade. Whatever compensation the Broncos get for Marshall -- most likely a second-round pick -- needs to be used on a receiver.
Analysis: The Chiefs rebuilding project continues. The 3-4 defense that was installed a year ago is far from complete. Look for general manager Scott Pioli to add at least three players to that side of the ball. Before he does, he may take an offensive tackle to protect Matt Cassel. Left tackle Branden Albert could move to the right side, if the Chiefs take someone who can play on the left. Forget about this regime taking high-risk athletes with exceptional talent. The Chiefs want rock-solid citizens and a tackle like Bryan Bulaga is their kind of guy. Kansas City fortified its receiving corps by adding Jerheme Urban and re-signing Terrance Copper and Chris Chambers. They also stabilized the interior of the offensive line with signing Casey Wiegmann. Despite the Wiegmann acquisition, a bright, talented guard-center type in a later round would help.
Analysis: The quarterback situation has to be resolved. The Raiders are not likely to get Donovan McNabb in a trade with one year left on his contract and the veteran not willing to do a long-term extension. There are major questions about JaMarcus Russell's lack of development. The Raiders would be wise to take a QB in the third round and start the process of life after Russell. The Raiders also need offensive tackle help and it's time to take someone who's just a solid football player and doesn't necessarily win the "measurable" contest. The team might look to replace a few linebackers and find a corner. This isn't a bad football team. Coach Tom Cable could lead the Raiders to eight wins if he was left alone to make the picks.
Analysis: The Chargers have been very quiet when it comes to acquiring players, while talent has been allowed to leave. Gone are RB LaDainian Tomlinson, CB Antonio Cromartie, TE Brandon Manumaleuna and backup QB Charlie Whitehurst. The draft is where this team builds the roster. There will be a solid running back to consider early in the draft, possibly Ryan Mathews. Replacing a corner, tight end and securing a right tackle will also be priorities.