- Mel Kiper Jr., Football analyst
MORE DRAFT CONTENT FROM MEL KIPER
I released a look at top team needs about three weeks ago, but decided to look through it one more time. Be cautioned that most of this has not changed since then. If you had a big need at quarterback in the middle of April, I'm afraid to tell you that as far as I know help hasn't arrived just yet. As I noted then, it's never a good idea to simply say a draft was successful if a GM was able to cross a few needs off the list. You succeed in the draft first by getting the best possible players, but it's a fact that who you consider "the best possible player" can be influenced by what you lack on your roster.
Here are what I consider the top 2014 draft needs for every team. Some have more than others, but, same as last time:
• I've capped it at four per team, with a few that go to five.
• The order of teams is based on the draft order.
Let's take a look one last time before the festivities begin.
Quarterback: The need here almost certainly won't mean they take a QB at No. 1 overall, but a depth chart of Case Keenum, Ryan Fitzpatrick and T.J. Yates is among the NFL's worst in terms of potential. We haven't seen much from Keenum, but his mostly mixed results as the starter fell in line with projections. He's a backup.
Outside linebacker: Brooks Reed and Whitney Mercilus simply weren't very good in 2013. Either Jadeveon Clowney or Khalil Mack would help here, though the scheme could be tweaked some with Clowney's presence.
Defensive end: J.J. Watt is the best defensive player in the world, but the talent drop-off after him is significant, and, were Watt to miss any time, it would totally change the look of this defense.
Offensive tackle: The team re-signed Rodger Saffold, but that was to play guard. So you have Jake Long and his health questions at left tackle, and likely Joe Barksdale at right tackle. They need to select at least one tackle.
Safety: A healthy T.J. McDonald can be a pretty good player, but free safety is a problem area right now, as Rodney McLeod is the possible incumbent. Safety could be the pick at No. 13 depending on how the board breaks.