2009 Team Needs
free agency and the draft
By Jay Goldberg
Not a need
||I Like Edwards and believe
he will be a solid NFL starter, but then I thought I saw something
in Losman as well. In any case, Losman is an UFA so the
Bills need to address backup quarterback. A late round pick
on a young developmental quarterback could also be added.
||Lynch and Jackson (a RFA)
form a good one-two punch. Look for the Bills to draft a
young back on day two to compete with Omon for #3, and be in place
in case Jackson leaves in 2010.
||Hardy was drafted to start
opposite Evans, who is a star, and he disappointed. I
wouldn't give up on him just yet; however, adding a veteran to
compete to start would be a good idea. Parrish is best
served as a returner/#4 and Reed as a #3.
||With Evans always gaining
the attention of opposing defenses, and the Bills unable to find a
receiver to take advantage of that situation to play opposite
Evans; a tight end who could get open down the seam in the middle
of the field would be a Godsend to young Mr. Edwards. The
catch here is that the Bills need a tight end who can also block
since they use their tight end in the running game. If the
Bills don't select a tight end early, there is a young kid who
could "fit the bill" who could be available day two in
the draft (see my observations from the East West Shrine Games).
||The Bills gave up too many
sacks. The lack of a cohesive unit for the Bills started
with Peters' holdout. With Preston and Fowler UFAs, the
Bills will need to address center in the offseason. They
could also look to bring in some guards who could compete to
||The Bills addressed
defensive tackle before the 2008 season began and improved, but
still finished 22nd in the league against the run. However,
they have a bigger need at end. Schobel is a good player but
is coming off injury and none of their other players are starting
caliber. Kelsay, Denney and Ellis are best served as
||The Bills linebacking unit
is solid and they will be fine with the players they have.
However, a dominate sideline to sideline WILL would make this unit
special. Crowell could have been the guy, but he got injured
and is now an UFA.
||I think this unit could
become one of the best secondaries in the NFL next season. I
like their corners McKelvin and McGee a lot, and safety Whitner is
also top drawer. With these three cornerstones in place, the
Bills just need the finishing touches. Simpson has been
inconsistent, but I still like his skill set and wouldn't give up
on him yet. However, there is usually good value at
safety on day two of the draft and the Bills should add one to
their mix. At the nickel, Greer is an UFA and I'm not sold
on Corner so resigning Greer or adding a corner is
||The Bills' special teams
are a strength.
Not a need
||With Pennington for now and
Henne for later, the Fins are set at quarterback. I am not a
Beck fan (football, not music) so moving him in the offseason to a
team that like him and drafting or signing a new #3 makes sense.
||Brown made the Pro Bowl,
but averaged less than 50 yards rushing a game over his last 6
regular season and 1 playoff games. Add to that that Ricky
Williams is an UFA, Cobbs is a better receiver than runner and the
Dolphins lost promising practice squad player Parmalee during the
season and what many think of as a strength, is, in my opinion, a
||Ginn Jr. finally started to
pay dividends at receiver. He is best served as a #2 who
needs attention, thus forcing opposing defenses to choose to play
a safety over the top of the teams' #1 wideout, or risk Ginn Jr.
getting open deep. Of course a team could double both, but
that would open up the running game. Therefore, a true #1
receiver would transform this offense more than almost any other
offense in football. Camarillo, if he comes back from injury
okay, Bess and even London offer good depth.
||Fasano played well in his
first year with Miami and Martin is a good receiver at tight end
who can make plays downfield. Haynos is a good blocker.
||Carey is an UFA and the
team will need to resign or bring in a right tackle since there is
no replacement for him on their roster. At guard, Thomas
looked promising before his injury and Smiley is solid.
Satele is okay, but replaceable at center. He would be
perfect as a center/guard backup. The Fins need at least one
tackle (Carey or a starter) and possible a second to provide
better depth. A center is also a possibility.
||This is a very underrated
unit. At end I love the potential of Langford. He will
blossom into a Pro Bowl caliber player next year. Holliday,
Starks and Merling provide good choices and depth opposite
Langford. Ferguson still gets it done at a high level on the
nose. Soliai looks the part, sometimes plays the part, but
Miami will probably bring in some competition for him in the
||Porter's rebirth was fun to
watch, but I don't think Miami will put all their eggs in that
basket next year. In fact they signed former Penn State DE/OLB,
Wake, who had over 20 sacks in Canada last year as a free
agent. Wake was a player with great measureables who didn't
stick with the Giants as an undrafted free agent in 2005. I
liked him then and believe he could be the surprise of Miami's
offseason. Roth was fine playing opposite Porter but will
need to improve in coverage to keep that job long term.
Inside Crowder is an UFA and may not be back, and Ayodele is
steady, but replaceable as a starter. Look for Miami to
address inside linebacker in the draft.
||The Dolphins' secondary was
a unit I thought would be a mess at the beginnig of the
season. However, they came together and played fairly well
as the season progressed. At corner, Will Allen was reborn
and looked like he did in his younger days with the Giants.
Goodman suddenly developed into a top cover corner. late in
the year, Nathan Jones became a big play nickel, especially on
blitzes. At safety, Bell was a tackling machine and Hill was
steady and reliable. A big play free safety would help this
unit take the next step. A young corner could also be added
since Allen is aging and Jones isn't starting material.
||Rookie kicker Carpenter was
a nice find. Paired with punter Fields, the Dolphins kicking
game is solid. Bess is a solid punt returner, but not a
game-breaking threat. Ginn Jr hasn't developed as a deference-making
return man as envisioned when he was drafted. Upgrades in
the return game could be addressed in the offseason.
Not a need
||Brady is coming off a
serious injury and Cassell is an UFA. If Brady is healthy,
O'Connell, a third round pick who made my list of underrated
players in the draft, should be the next Cassell, a developing
player to play behind Brady. However, when the Pats have to
decide on Cassell, Brady's status will be unknown.
Therefore, quarterback could be a need depending upon Brady's
health and where Cassell ends up.
||I'm officially off Maroney
as the Pats long term feature back. Think the Pats wish they
would have gone DeAngelo Williams instead of Maroney. I had
Williams clearly ahead of him on my draft board. Jordan is a
free agent but will not be a major loss if he leaves. Morris
is better than many think, but has gotten banged up too much
recently. Faulk is a steady third down back. If the
Pats can upgrade this position, it would be advisable.
||Moss and Welker are two of
the best. Gaffney is okay but is an UFA, and should be their
#4 not their #3. Washington is a good special teams
player. The Pats like using three wide receiver sets so they
definitely need to upgrade the bottom of their roster.
||Watson and Thomas are a
good one-two, although Watson should be a more explosive weapon in
the passing game than he has been. Depth is needed.
||Surprisingly, the Pats gave
up the 5th most sacks in the league (and FYI were 12th in the
league in pass attempts). A lot of that was due to injuries
and Cassell adjusting to the starting role. Their line is a
very good run-blocking line. Look for the Pats to add some
offensive lineman in the draft, a challenger for Kaczur at RT is
possible, as is a versatile inside lineman who can play multiple
||This is a major strength
with Seymour, Wilfork and Warren starting and Green, Wright and
Smith rotating in. While this is not a need position, if the
PAts find fit and value in the draft here, they will add to their
||This position is starting
to transition to a younger unit. Mayo was a great addition
as a rookie, and Guyton showed promise. Thomas has not had
the impact I expected after he was signed as a free agent and
Vrabel still plays hard but his sacks were way down. The
Pats need a playmaker at outside linebacker and possibly, another
young inside backer.
||The Pats need a shut down
corner. Hobbs is a solid starter. Wilhite, Wheatley
and O'Neal are nickel and dime types. Both the injured
Harrison and Sanders are UFAs. Meriweather played well and
will get better. The Pats need to find a long term
answer to pair with Meriweather.
||The Pats need an upgrade at
punter. They also use a starting corner to return kicks
(Hobbs) and a starting receiver (Welker) to return punts. If
either got hurt in their special team roles the team would lose a
valuable defensive/offensive player. Therefore, a full time
returner should be added.
Not a need
||Favre no. Clemens no with
emphasis. Ratliff, maybe, but not now. He looked very
good in preseason. The Jets quarterback situation is mess.
||Thomas Jones led the AFC in
rushing yards and that was not a fluke. He is a solid back
who has mileage left on him. Washington is as good as it
gets as a change-of-pace, third-down back. Some want to use
him more but that would be a mistake. Brain Westbrook he is
not. Richardson is still a very effective fullback.
Chatman is an UFA, so adding depth via the draft is possible.
||Many say the Jets need a
speed receiver. However, I like Clowney when he was drafted
by the Packers, a team too deep at receiver to give him time to
develop. I loved it when the Jets signed him to their
practice squad. I wrote watch him in camp last year and he
was the talk of camp (with Ratliff) until he got hurt. Now
I'll say that this year he carves out a significant role as a
speed receiver in the Jets offense. I also like the tough,
Kennan McCardell-like Cotchery and do-a-little-of-everything Brad
Smith. The player who keeps getting it done, but it seems
like you're pulling teeth to get results is Coles. I would
look to replace him now rather than wait. I think he could
be one of those players that falls off abruptly.
||Kellar is a stretch-the
field, bulked-up wide receiver playing tight end. He's a
keeper. Baker is underrated. He does everything well,
nothing great. Franks place on the roster could be tied to
||The Jets' line improved
significantly, but they still had some spotty play. However,
as a whole the line is solid. Bringing in some young players
to provide depth and push the starters is what will most likely
happen in the offseason.
||Ellis, Jenkins, and Coleman
are a good 3-4 front. However, better depth is needed.
Especially since Jenkins wore down late in the year.
||Inside Barton and Harris
were solid, but Barton is an UFA and may very well be on another
team next year. On the outside Thomas and Pace are okay but
replaceable (yes, even Pace). I firmly believe Gholston will
have a breakout year under new coach Ryan. He should play
the Suggs-role as a hybrid end/linebacker and get double-difgit
||The Jets have two studs and
two holes. Revis and Rhodes are the studs. The Jets
need a find a corner to play opposite Revis and a strong safety to
pair with Rhodes. Elam,. last year's starting strong safety
is an UFA and the Jets will probably let him walk. None of
the corners that played with Revis last year are starting
||Both Jets' kickers (Nugent,
Feely) are UFAs. They need to resign one of them. The
Jets need an upgrade at punter. I liked Hodges coming out of
college and thought he might finally get it together with the
Jets, but he was too inconsistent. Washington is a terrific
Not a need
||Romo may not be winning the
big games right now, but I have no doubt that he will be winning
big games as his career progresses. He is a very good
quarterback who needs the team to get rid of T.O. so he can grow
into more of a vocal leader. T.O. is a quarterback killer,
not just because of his selfishness, not just because of his
spotty ands and rout-running, but because he makes it hard for a
quarterback (particularly a young quarterback) to take charge of
his team. The Cowboys need better back ups than Johnson and
||With Barber as a starter
you need solid backups. Not because of his talent but because
of his reckless running style. He is a top back. I
know the Cowboys fans were probably laughing at me when I said
that the Cowboys should have drafted Johnson instead of Jones, and
that Choice could be a better back for Dallas than Jones. I
don't look so foolish now. Not that Jones played
poorly. He didn't, he played well before getting hurt.
With Barber, Jones and Choice the Cowboys are set at running back.
||On paper, greatness.
In real life, a mess. I would get rid of T.O. When he
called out Romo for throwing to Witten too much in key
situations, I would have said, "T.O. is a great
playmaker. When I want a big play, I look for T.O.
first. However, T.O. is not a great receiver. He drops
passes. He doesn't always finish routes. I'm not
always confident he'll be where he is suppose to be when I throw
before he's open. Therefore, when I need to convert a third
down, Witten is my guy." Roy Williams has very good
talent. He won't show it until he becomes their #1
receiver. Crayton is solid. Austin has promise.
I would draft a young receiver to start as #3 and eventually
replace Crayton as a starter, and of course, cut "the
||Witten and Bennett is the
best one-two punch at tight end in the league.
||The Cowboys line looks
better than it is in pass protection because of Romo. Their
interior line with Kosier coming back from injury is very
good. But it's time to replace Flozell Adams at left tackle.
||Ratliff had a breakout
season on the nose. Spears and Canty are solid, but
unspectacular players at end. However, Canty is an UFA who
will have suitors. There is no starter waiting in the wings
for him. Depth needs to be addressed.
||Ellis, Spencer and of
course Ware give Dallas a terrific trio outside. Bradie
James had a monster year inside and deserved to go to the Pro
Bowl. Zach Thomas is an UFA who may look to go back to a
team that plays a 4-3. However, he played well enough for
the Cowboys to resign him. By the way here is a typical
Jerry Jones situation. One where it looks good on paper and
for a time on the field, but wrecks team chemistry and
growth. If Ray Lewis an UFA isn't tagged and moves on, Jones
could sign him, be applauded in the press, but stunt the growth of
young Mr. James, a player who is working his way towards being the
vocal leader of this defense.
||Look for Scandrick, one of
my underrated players in last year's draft to win the corner spot
opposite Newman. This will allow Henry to be the nickel,
where he'll excel. At safety, Hamlin is solid, but a strong
safety who can cover and play in the box is needed. It's
time to move on permanently from Roy Williams.
||Folk and McBriar are
fine. However, the Cowboys need an upgrade in their return
game. They tried with Pacman but that failed on many levels
("Levels, Jerry, Levels" - Cosmo Kramer).
Not a need
||Manning is a solid
quarterback you can win with. He is not a top tier guy and
will never be. Carr looked fine as his backup but is an UFA.
||Both Ward and Jacobs are
free agents. The Giants will likely get only one back.
That should be Jacobs, with Bradshaw ready to take Ward's role in
the offense., and RFA Ware ready to take Bradshaw's role.
||The Giants will need a
make-over at receiver. Burress could be welcomed back, but
he also could be in jail, or playing for another team. You
have to plan as though he's gone. Toomer is an UFA whose
starting days are most likely behind him. That leaves Hixon
and Simth as sure contributors; Moss and Tyree as possible; and
Manningham a player who needs to improve top contribute. The
Giants need a top flight receiver.
||Boss played well enough to
keep his job and expect improvement in his second year as a
starter. Matthews is a good blocker. Johnson does
everything okay. Upgrades, especially behind Boss could be
||The Giants' line is very,
very good. But it could be special if a dominate left tackle
is added and Diehl goes back to guard. In any case, depth is
||With Umenyiora coming back
to pair with Tuck and Kiwanuka, the Giants have the best trio of
defensive ends in the NFL. Cofield and Robbins are solid at
tackle and Alford is growing into a relaible rotation player as
||Pierce is the one given in
this unit, but his play was down a bit from his prior two
years. Blackburn and Clark are okay but replaceable
starters. Wilkinson was thought to be a starter, but
injuries have probably robbed him of that chance. Kehl, Goff and
DeOssie are all good athletes who could see their roles increase, especially
Kehl, but none play the middle.
||The Giants have an
excellent secondary. At corner Ross and Webster are a good,
young duo. Dockery is a good #3 corner but is an UFA. If he
leaves, Thomas should replace him and perform well. At
safety Butler and Johnson start and are solid but not
playmakers. Phillips, is the better playmaker and should
move into the starting lineup next year.
||The Giants kicker and
punter went to the Pro Bowl, but they also are eligible to play in
old-timer games. Bradshaw and McQuarters are fine returnmen
but a game-breaker could be added as an upgrade.
Not a need
||McNabb is under contract,
should be back and will be back. If the Eagles trade him and
go to Kolb they will be in trouble. I expect Kolb's success
to more like Beck the Miami quarterback than Beck the
singer. I'm not convinced that A. J. Feeley isn't the better
option at backup quarterback.
||Westbrook is a great
back. Buckhalter is underrated and an UFA who some team
could give a chance to compete for significant playing time.
Booker was a disappointment. Look for the Eagles to add a
banger in the draft to help in short yardage and goal line
situations and possibly replace Buckhalter as Westbrook's primary
backup. There are good options in the draft.
||This unit is much maligned
but is better than given credit for. I like the
Jackson. I like Curtis. Both can stretch the
field. Jackson can take a short pass and go the
distance. Curtis has reliable hands and is a great route
runner. Avant, Baskett, Brown and Lewis are all NFL-caliber
receivers, but yes upgrades can be found. What is needed
here is a big receiver to pair with Curtis moving Jackson to the
slot. However, you can do a lot worse than having Jackson
and Curtis as your starters.
||Smith is an UFA, and with
Celek passing him by, he will most likely move on. That
means the Eagles will need a quality tight end to pair with Celek.
||For a team that throws as
often as the Eagles do, the Eagles were 7th in the league giving
up only 23 sacks. However, starting tackles Runyon and
Thomas are UFAs and at their advanced ages decisions have to made
as to whom to resign (my guess LT Thomas is back, RT Runyon is
not). Inside the Eagles blocked well and Jean-Gilles started
showing the talent I knew he had before getting injured. A
right tackle will probably be needed.
||This is a team
strength. At end the team goes five deep. Inside
Patterson and Bunkley form a terrific young duo and Haws is a fine
young third tackle.
||Bradley played better than
I expected in the middle. Gocong looks like a keeper at
SAM. Gaither took a step back this year and was replaced by
Jordan who looked very good in the regular season but was no where
to be found during the playoffs. An upgrade at WILL is
||Samuel and Brown are a top
pair starting corners. Hansen's solid play makes trading
Sheppard more likely. At safety starter Dawkins and
backup/special teams ace Considine are UFAs. Dawkins is
probably going nowhere, but the Eagles have his replacement in
place with Quintin Demps. Mikell has developed into a top
||A very solid unit wit
Akers, Rocca, Demps and Jackson.
Not a need
||With Campbell, a young
quarterback I like and believe will grow into a top tier QB, the
vet Collins and the surprising Colt Brennan, the Redskins are fine
||Portis is starting to show
his age. I know he had a a very productive year, but he was
banged up all the time and missed a lot of practice time during
the week. While he did get his yards per rush back up over
4.0 (4.3), he only averaged 3.5 yards a run during the second half
of the season and his long run was only 29 yards. Portis
came into the league as a speed back with home-run hitting ability
and has admirably transformed into a between the tackles, move the
chains type. While his toughness and mind say yes to that
role, his body is quickly saying no. Betts has shown flashes
in his career, but time is passing him by. He will remain a
solid backup even when Portis is replaced.
||Randle El and Moss are a
talented but mismatched pair of starting receivers. I can
see starting one or the other, but not both. Thomas and
Kelly were nowhere to be found their rookie years. Thomas
should come on nexst year, I'm not as convinced about Kelly.
||Cooley is great for this
offense and an underrated player. Fred Davis should develop
into a reliable #2 tight end. Yoder is okay but could be
replaced by a blocking tight end.
||The line started off great
but were not as successful in the second half. Was it them
or Campbell and Portis? Kendall is an UFA so analyzing this
correctly is important. I vote for the line's poor play in
the pass offense, Portis in the run offense. In any case, a
make over will be needed whether for the upcoming year or for a
short time down the line.
||Starters Evans and Golston
are UFAs. The other two Griffin and Carter are the better
players. The line played well against the run, but offered
little in the way of a pass rush. Hopefully Jason Taylor
will be back and healthy to help with the pass rush. How
ironic is it that Taylor wanted out because the Dolphins were
rebuilding and it ended up that Miami made the playoffs and the
Redskins did not. Oh well. Washington needs to upgrade
this unit. They need a pass rusher and a defensive tackle if
rolling on at a very high level and McIntosh looks like an
emerging talent. Washington has never recovered enough from
injuries to be the force he once was. It's time to move on.
||Rogers, Hall and the
veteran Springs give the Redskins three good corners. Smoot
may not be as good as he once was, but as a fourth corner you
couldn't ask for more. Landry and Horton make up one of the
best young safety combos in the league. Doughty is an
UFA so depth at safety needs to be added.
||Suisham is an UFA.
One of the Jets' UFA kickers (Feely or Nugent) could be an
upgrade. Plackemeier is also replaceable. Cartwright
and Randle El's best return days may be behind them.