AFC post-draft needs
So now what?
Plenty if you’re a team that still has holes to fill.
Here’s a look at the remaining needs and/or question areas for all 32 NFL clubs as minicamps and OTA workouts get in full swing.
POST-DRAFT NEEDS: AFC | NFC
Buffalo: Quarterback – The Bills have the league’s worst veteran trio between Trent Edwards, Ryan Fitzpatrick and Brian Brohm, yet didn’t pick a quarterback until the seventh round. Even then, Troy’s Levi Brown is considered a long-term project. The trade market is also dry with Washington shipping Jason Campbell to Oakland. I suspect the Bills are keeping an eye on Miami’s Tyler Thigpen, who had some success under new Buffalo head coach Chan Gailey while they were together in Kansas City. Thigpen could become dispensable on a Dolphins roster that already has three other quarterbacks: Chad Henne, Chad Pennington and Wildcat specialist Pat White.
Miami: Tight end/free safety – The Dolphins haven’t had a legitimate receiving threat at tight end since the departed Randy McMichael in 2006. They probably won’t have one this season, either, after drafting only one offensive player (guard John Jerry). Miami flopped when trying to sign Pittsburgh safety Ryan Clark on the cheap in free agency. Last season’s fifth-round draft choice Chris Clemons, a backup last year behind the released Gibril Wilson, would start alongside Yeremiah Bell if the season began today.
New England: Outside linebacker – Second-round pick Jermaine Cunningham may bloom into a quality edge rusher, but he needs time to develop. Derrick Burgess, who struggled last year while trying to get comfortable in a hybrid 3-4 system, remains an option to re-sign.
New York Jets: Kicker – The Jets are going on the cheap at this position so money can be allocated toward signing their top young players to contract extensions. Dallas castoff Nick Folk and Clint Stitser, who hasn’t kicked professionally since leaving Fresno State in 2007, are competing to replace the departed Jay Feely (Arizona). If neither looks impressive, they could go the veteran route as a short-term fix.
Cleveland: Outside linebacker – Even after trading for ex-Philadelphia CB Sheldon Brown, the Browns opted to address their porous secondary with CB Joe Haden and FS T.J. Ward in the first two rounds. Cleveland needs 2009 second-round pick David Veikune to step up his play at OLB after a sackless rookie season.
Baltimore: Cornerback – There are no guarantees that Fabian Washington and Lardarius Webb will be ready for the start of the regular season, as both are recovering from torn anterior cruciate ligaments. The Ravens didn’t select a cornerback after reportedly being unable to swing a draft-day trade for Virginia’s Chris Cook, who instead went to Minnesota.
Pittsburgh: Running back – This may not be a need if sixth-round pick Jonathan Dwyer impresses during the preseason. The Steelers will probably lean more on their running game and starter Rashard Mendenhall early in the season during Ben Roethlisberger’s suspension.
Denver: Tight end – The Broncos didn’t draft a pass catcher to replace Tony Scheffler, who was traded last week to Detroit. Josh McDaniels’ offensive system hasn’t traditionally featured the tight end, but with WR Brandon Marshall traded to Miami, QB Kyle Orton could use another receiving target.
Kansas City: Nose tackle/right tackle – The Chiefs made some nice upgrades this offseason, but are still shaky in these two spots. The Chiefs fielded the NFL’s 31st-ranked run defense last year with Ron Edwards manning the nose. The 10-year veteran is still the odds-on favorite to start in 2010 even though he’s best suited as a backup. Shaun Smith was added this offseason, but he couldn’t stick last year in Cincinnati, Cleveland or Detroit. Glenn Dorsey’s also undersized (6-foot-1, 297 pounds) for the role and is a bad fit in Kansas City’s 3-4 scheme. Last year’s starting right tackle Ryan O’Callaghan is serviceable, but the Chiefs still need depth.
Oakland: Left tackle – It doesn’t matter whether Jason Campbell, JaMarcus Russell or even Jim Plunkett is under center – any quarterback would struggle to have success without solid blindside protection. Third and fourth-round picks Jared Veldheer and Bruce Campbell are considered projects. That means Mario Henderson, who allowed the most sacks in the NFL last season, is the favorite to start once again.
Houston: Free safety – Bernard Pollard was a great in-season acquisition last year at strong safety, but the other safety spot remains a major question mark. Both of the players listed on the final 2009 Texans depth chart (John Busing and Brian Russell) are no longer on the roster. Eugene Wilson and Dominique Barber are the two frontrunners to start.
Indianapolis: Veteran backup quarterback – Colts president Bill Polian didn’t believe much tinkering was needed this offseason on a squad that reached Super Bowl XLIV. That’s understandable. However, the Colts are proceeding without a safety net in case their star quarterback gets injured. Maybe Indianapolis wouldn’t win regardless of who their backup is if Peyton Manning went down – something that’s never happened in his 12 NFL seasons. But with long-time backup Jim Sorgi now with the Giants, the Colts have only unproven youngsters Curtis Painter and Drew Willy on the roster.
Tennessee: Linebacker – Even with the offseason signing of free agent Will Witherspoon and third-round selection of Georgia’s Rennie Curran, this is the least athletic position on the Titans roster. Don’t be surprised to see long-time starter Keith Bulluck eventually re-signed as he continues to recover from a torn ACL.