2012 NFL Draft: AFC help wanted

3:18 PM, Apr 26, 2012   |    comments
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Tom Pedulla of USA TODAY Sports looks at AFC team needs heading into the NFL draft, with each team's first pick in parentheses:


Baltimore Ravens (29th overall)   

   Help wanted:     OL, S, WR. The losses of free agent G Ben Grubbs and run-stopping LB Jarret Johnson were  setbacks. They might want to consider finding a successor to star S  Ed Reed.  Errant K Billy Cundiff will long lament the Super Bowl berth that got away. The Ravens are  aware that the window of opportunity can close quickly.


Buffalo Bills (10th)

   Help wanted:     T, G, WR. GM Buddy Nix transformed his defensive front by paying big money for Mario Williams and adding DE Mark Anderson. It is imperative that he devote the same attention to the O-line in the draft.  If the Bills can better protect QB Ryan Fitzpatrick and provide him with a top target beyond WR Stevie Johnson, the Bills might finally have a shot at competing for their first playoff berth since 1999.

Cincinnati Bengals (17th)

   Help wanted:     WR, CB, DL. the Bengals, who also pick  21st overall, would do well to provide a strong complement to standout rookie WR A.J. Green. The secondary and DL  are short on depth.  The Bengals are  positioning themselves for a bright future with the drafting last year of QB Andy Dalton  and Green and the signing of  RB BenJarvus Green-Ellis. They must use their two first-round picks to supplement that nucleus.


Cleveland Browns (fourth)

   Help wanted:     RB, WR, TE. They have the 22nd overall pick as well. The Browns, ranked 30th in scoring (13.6 points a game last season). QB Colt McCoy took much of the blame for that. He cannot fairly be judged, however, until his supporting cast is improved. That could start with Alabama RB Trent Richardson.  The defense ranked fifth (19.2 points per game allowed), but improvement can only come if the offense is enhanced at skill positions. With 13 selections, this draft can be pivotal for the long-suffering Browns.

Denver Broncos (25th)

   Help wanted:     RB, DT, CB. Denver will want to keep as much pressure off 36-year-old Peyton Manning as possible. A quality RB to support Willis McGahee would help. DT Brodrick Bunkley left as a free agent, weakening the interior DL, already a concern.  Denver may be asking too much of Manning to return to his form, and he  acknowledged when he signed that he is not all the way back.


Houston Texans (26th)

   Help wanted:     OL, WR, CB, OLB. Houston lost three quality free agents in DE Mario Williams, RT Eric Winston and RG Mike Brisel  to create obvious holes. Persistent hamstring issues that hindered all-pro WR  Andre Johnson point to the need for fresh legs there.  Keeping QB Matt Schaub healthy is critical.


Indianapolis Colts (1st)

   Help wanted:     QB, OL, DL, CB. There are issues everywhere after the Colts' mighty fall. They're fortunate to have a talent such as QB Andrew Luck available to succeed Peyton Manning. Long-term success will depend on bolstering both lines and the secondary.  Luck has huge shoes to fill. So does GM Ryan Grigson, taking over for Bill Polian.


Jacksonville Jaguars (7th)

   Help wanted:     WR, DE, OLB. the Jags ranked 29th in points (15.2) and last in passing yards (136.2), not all rookie QB Blaine Gabbert's fault. Mike Thomas, his leading receiver, made 44 catches for 415 yards. Defensively, the Jaguars need to bring more pressure. New ownership and new coach Mike Mularkey offer hope. Much will depend on whether Gabbert can develop into the passer GM Gene Smith envisioned when he moved up to draft him 10th last year.


Kansas City Chiefs (11th)

   Help wanted:     NT, LB. The Chiefs  ranked 26th in allowing 132 rushing yards a game. Offensively, the Chiefs and new coach Romeo Crennel regain from injury some excellent offensive talent in RB Jamaal Charles and TE Tony Moeaki. This roster is good enough to win the AFC West if QB Matt Cassel plays to his capabilities and they draft well.


Miami Dolphins (8th)

   Help wanted:     QB, DE, WR, S. After missing on free agents Peyton Manning and Matt Flynn, GM Jeff Ireland faces immense pressure to draft a QB capable of exciting a disgruntled fan base. He also has openings for two DEs and a big-play WR after Brandon Marshall bolted. If Miami is in position to draft QB Ryan Tannehill, a converted wideout who made 19 starts at Texas A&M, he will need to sit behind Matt Moore and David Garrard before taking over.


New England Patriots (27th)

   Help wanted:     DE, DT, S, RB. New England ranked 31st in surrendering 293.9 passing yards. A D- line that struggled to exert pressure lost DEs Mark Anderson and Andre Carter (both 10 sacks). The Patriots must also address a replacement for RB BenJarvus Green-Ellis. The AFC champions already signed  WR Brandon Lloyd . With four of the top 62 picks, they can plug other holes this week.


New York Jets (16th)

   Help wanted:     LB, OL, WR, RB. Age is creeping into a LB unit that does not  penetrate backfields as it should. Wayne Hunter fell short at RT. No WR  strikes fear into foes beyond  Santonio Holmes.  Mark Sanchez must deal with a QB controversy with newly acquired  Tim Tebow. The arrow  points down.


Oakland Raiders (97th)

   Help wanted:     OLB, TE, CB. New GM Reggie McKenzie released LB Kamerion Wimbley, CB Stanford Routt and TE Kevin Boss to cut costs.  QB Carson Palmer could use a pass-catching TE. The secondary is lacking.  McKenzie and new coach Dennis Allen inherit a miserable situation with bad contracts and few high draft choices.


Pittsburgh Steelers (24th)

   Help wanted:     NT, OL, LB. A top priority is a potential replacement for NT  Casey Hampton. The O-line and LB corps would benefit from more youth. Change, and lots of it, marked Pittsburgh's offseason with the retirement of WR Hines Ward, departures of DE Aaron Smith and LB James Farrior and hiring  Todd Haley as the new O-coordinator. Art Rooney II also said QB Ben Roethlisberger needs to "tweak" his game in order to get hit less. The Haley-Roethlisberger relationship bears watching.


San Diego Chargers (18th)

   Help wanted:     LB, RB, OL. San Diego absorbed a big loss when WR Vincent Jackson left as a free agent. GM A.J. Smith has  signed WRs Robert Meachem and Eddie Royal and added LB Jarret Johnson . He would like to draft a RB to replace  Mike Tolbert.  Could this be Smith's and Norv Turner's last chance to take San Diego deep into the playoffs?



Tennessee Titans (20th)

   Help wanted:     CB, LB, DE. CB Cortland Finnegan  will be missed. New GM Ruston Webster is eager to pump up his pass rush with LB and DE upgrades. Signing LB Kamierion Wimbley was a great addition.  Assuming WR Kenny Britt is healthy, the Titans will be formidable in the AFC South.




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