NFL Draft 2014: Pinpointing Top Position of Need for Every Team
Super Bowl XLVIII has come and gone. Now it's time for all 32 NFL teams to focus on the offseason and prepare for the upcoming 2014 NFL draft in May. Each team has the same goal at this point in the year: get better.
Building through the draft is absolutely crucial for the success of any NFL franchise. Each team has holes that need filling—some more so than others. This could be due to players hitting the free-agent market or just simply not working out. Whatever the circumstance may be, bringing in a solid draft class is key.
No matter how deep each team's roster may be, every single franchise has one glaring position of need. Let's take a look at the position that is the absolute top priority for every NFL team heading into the draft.
Cleveland Browns: Quarterback
The Browns have been in absolute disarray regarding the quarterback position for years. In 2013, the team started three different quarterbacks over the course of the season. Cleveland has now started multiple quarterbacks each season for the last 12 years.
I asked Josh Gordon if Brian Hoyer should be the starter: 'Man, that's above my head, but Brian's a great guy, great quarterback.' #Browns— Marc Sessler (@MarcSesslerNFL) January 31, 2014
The last time a Browns quarterback started a full 16-game season was Tim Couch in 2001. That absolutely needs to change for this franchise.
This year, the Browns are fortunate enough to have two first-round draft selections. Their first pick comes at No. 4 overall—a perfect spot for a top-tier quarterback.
With four quarterbacks who could possibly be top-10 selections, the Browns have a great chance to get their man. Whether that player is Teddy Bridgewater, Johnny Manziel, Blake Bortles or Derek Carr, the Browns will finally have a solid, young quarterback to build around.
#Browns QB Brian Hoyer on team's draft plans: "It's inevitable -- they will draft a quarterback. ... The question is where at?"— Tony Grossi (@TonyGrossi) January 31, 2014
Once their new quarterback is locked up, they can concentrate on other areas; however, a new signal-caller is priority No. 1.
Atlanta Falcons: Defensive End
Ever since the Falcons parted ways with John Abraham due to cap space, they have simply not been able to muster any kind of a pass rush. Atlanta attempted to put a band-aid in the form of Osi Umenyiora at right defensive end. He did finish the 2013-14 season with 7.5 sacks; however, the team failed to generate constant pressure.
#Falcons could be looking at 2 potential options with first 2 picks: Clowney and OT Martin/Turner, or OT Robinson/Matthews and Trent Murphy— Eric Galko (@OptimumScouting) January 24, 2014
As a team, the Falcons finished the regular season with just 32 sacks. Only the Chicago Bears and Jacksonville Jaguars finished with less.
Luckily for Atlanta, it holds the No. 6 overall selection in this year's draft.
Due to the need for quarterbacks ahead of the Falcons, there is a possibility of defensive end and freak athlete Jadeveon Clowney falling to them. That would absolutely be the best-case scenario for this franchise. If head coach Mike Smith was told he would be getting Clowney at six overall, it's easy to assume he would be overjoyed.
Even if Clowney does not fall to Atlanta, it still has other options in Khalil Mack and Anthony Barr—two pass-rush specialists who would surely be a huge upgrade.
Baltimore Ravens: Wide Receiver
The Ravens took a dramatic decline over the 2013-14 season. Going from Super Bowl champions to a .500 team that failed to make the playoffs must continue to sting for this club. Fortunately, Baltimore is in prime position to get back to its old ways through the draft.
After trading wide receiver Anquan Boldin to the San Francisco 49ers, the Ravens were left without a legitimate No. 1 target for quarterback Joe Flacco. After all, Torrey Smith and Jacoby Jones are speedsters, and Tandon Doss and Marlon Brown are inexperienced. Not one of them is a true top target.
Due to insufficient weapons, Flacco had his worst career year last season. He completed 59.0 percent of his passes for 3,912 yards, 19 touchdowns and 22 interceptions for a passer rating of 73.1. A huge drop-off from his 87.7 rating one year prior.
At 16 overall, Baltimore will get a chance to grab its wide receiver of the future. Wide receivers Sammy Watkins, Mike Evans, Marqise Lee, Kelvin Benjamin, Allen Robinson, Odell Beckham and Brandin Cooks are all expected to go in the first round.
Take your pick, Baltimore.
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