Updated 12/11- We’re looking ahead to the off-season and each team’s needs.

AFC East

New England Patriots

1 – OLB

2 – ILB

3 – RB

4 – G

5 – DE

Bill Belichick’s defense is no longer a reliable force, and the main reason is the lack of pass rushers off the edge. While his young defensive backs are learning the nuances of NFL passing games, there needs to be more pressure coming off the edge and Niners’ castoff Tully Bunta-Cain is not going to cut it.


Miami Dolphins

1 – OLB

2 – RB

3 – NT

4 – G

5 – OT

As long as Bill Parcells is in the picture, Miami will be looking to pile on the pass rushers. There is a sense of urgency in that department right now because the best days are clearly behind starters Jayson Taylor and Joey Porter. With Ronnie Brown heading towards retirement and Ricky Williams already proclaiming 2010 as his farewell tour, the backfield will need a power runner for the future.

New York Jets

1 – S

2 – WR

3 – G

4 – OLB

5 – OT

While searching for an Ed Reed type ballhawk may be near impossible, Rex Ryan needs a rangy enforcer at the back of his defense. Kerry Rhodes does not fit the scheme and Erik Smith is stopgap option but he can be exposed too easily in deep coverage. The future of Braylon Edwards may not reside in New York and Jericho Cotchery is not the kind of receiver that can hold a number one spot.

Buffalo Bills

1 – QB

2 – OT

3 – DT

4 – OLB

5 – WR

The Trent Edwards experiment isn’t going to bring the Bills anywhere and if they had good play from the quarterback position the past couple of years, they could have been right in the thick of things. The interior blocking has and will continue to improve but the edges need to be sealed up, especially on the left side.

AFC North


Cincinnati Bengals

1 – S

2 – G

3 – WR

4 – TE

5 – LB

The Bengals defense is an improved unit that is tough to score on, but a there needs to be a stronger presence in the middle of the secondary. They can be passed on and their strong corners can only do so much. Bobbie Williams is playing very well but his days are numbered, and that offensive line needs to remain strong if Palmer is going to get this team to the Super Bowl.

Pittsburgh Steelers

1 – OT

2 – CB

3 – FS

4 – ILB

5 – G

The offensive line was once an underrated group but it has now gotten to the point where they are now overrated. There needs to be more stability on the edges and even Big Ben will not be able to take this kind of pounding for long. The Steelers may have the worst group of corners in the league among the defenses that play at a high level. An improvement there will get this unit back to the top.

Baltimore Ravens

1 – CB

2 – WR

3 – DE

4 – NT

5 – TE

The Ravens have completely lost their identity as they continue to lose a key defensive player with each offseason that passes. While they have a few younger pieces in place, they need to obtain another cover man on the outside. Strong cornerback play was an overlooked aspect to their aggressive defense that allowed the complex blitzing schemes to take full effect on opposing quarterbacks but as seen with this unit in 2009, lack of ability on the outside really hinders their play as a whole.


Cleveland Browns

1 – RB

2 – TE

3 – S

4 – OLB

5 – G

With Brady Quinn in the drivers seat with a sense of security, he seems to be performing like a young signal caller with a bright future. What he needs however is a reliable running game and an underneath target to offset the young threats they have at wide receiver. If those two elements to the offense can be implemented, the Cleveland offense could start evolving in to a formidable unit.

AFC South

Indianapolis Colts

1 – S

2 – DE

3 – OT

4 – DT

5 – G

We may never see another year where Bob Sanders is on the field from September through January. He is a great player but the options behind him could be upgraded. Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis are still on top of their games respectively, but the lack of depth behind the edge rushing pair could come back to bite them hard down the in the latter parts of the future seasons. And Peyton Manning’s security is the most vital part of the game with the Colts and that offensive line is good, but not great.

Jacksonville Jaguars

1 – S

2 – DE

3 – OLB

4 – C

5 – G

The Jaguars have gotten more out of their 2009 draft class than any team in the league, but there still a lot of building to do on the defensive side of the ball. Reggie Nelson has been nothing short of a major disappointment and the defense needs that rangy cover man in the middle. The pass rush needs a major boost if this team is going to continue to contend with the Colts and Texans, two top tier passing attacks and that rush needs to come from the edge.

Tennessee Titans

1 – DE

2 – MLB

3 – WR

4 – G

5 – DT

It is has been a tale of two seasons for the Titans but one constant has remained throughout, the pass rush needs to be overhauled. There is rarely a consistent force coming off the edge and without Albert Haynesworth in the middle eating up double and triple teams, the lack of talent on the outside is being exposed. Stephen Tulloch is a solid thumper in the middle but a middle linebacker with more range could do wonders for that unit.

Houston Texans

1 – G

2 – CB

3 – DT

4 – S

5 – RB

The Texans are fully capable of putting up 30+ points week in and week out, but they are so up and down because of the inconsistency in the trenches. While the offensive line is light years ahead of what is was during the David Carr era, they are too often being pushed in to the backfield, making it very difficult for the backs to find lanes. The defensive issue reside at cornerback as they lack a true playmaker back there and at defensive tackle, where blockers are often reaching the second level with ease making it difficult for their strong, effective young linebackers.

AFC West


San Diego Chargers

1 – S

2 – RB

3 – NT

4 – OT

5 – OLB

The Chargers defense is stronger against the run than it has been in quite some time, but they are still weak in the middle at the deep level. Eric Weddle is a nice complement type player, but he needs a stronger presence at strong safety next to him. There is a legit chance that both Tomlinson and Sproles could be elsewhere in 2010, and that would leave the balanced offense of San Diego without a true running back.

Denver Broncos

1 – NT

2 – DE

3 – G

4 – WR

5 – ILB

The Broncos have the be the most surprising team in the league, but in order for them sustain this kind of success, they need to boost the young depth in the trenches. The most effective strategy to build a year in and year out contender, assuming the quarterback is already there, is to build up both lines. If that defense can get their hands on a big body in the middle that can fit the scheme, the unit as a whole could be one of the best in the game very soon.

Oakland Raiders

1 – OT

2 – DT

3 – C

4 – MLB

5 – DE

The Raiders are not as far off as some may think, they simply need to just boost their play in the trenches, most notably on offense. While the quarterback situation needs to be worked out, an improved unit up front could shed some more light on what they really do have in JaMarcus Russell. The defensive line is full of players that can rotate inside and out, but a true presence that can control the A gaps would be a huge benefit.

Kansas City Chiefs

1 – WR

2 – NT

3 – S

4 – RB

5 – ILB

The Chiefs are going to enter the 2010 offseason with a longer list of holes that need to be filled than arguably any team in the AFC. Scott Pioli is confident in Matt Cassel but even he cannot fully evaluate him until he has some more legit options on the field with him. They need a receiver that can do it all for them. Defensively the unit needs to build from the middle, and they lack a true nose tackle, making it nearly impossible to really start a progressive move forward.