Sunday Night Football represented essentially the halfway point of the NFL season. And at this stage, personnel folks for NFL teams are quite aware of where the biggest voids on the roster exist. They've seen plenty of reps against good and bad competition, and injuries have allowed them to go deeper into the roster for help. So while the scouting process is a perpetual one, at this point you can start to get a better sense of what you'll need to look at in the offseason.
So let's take a first look, as if the NFL draft were being held tomorrow. The draft portion of this is mostly for fun -- all juniors mentioned here aren't even guaranteed of being in the draft -- but we'll put a name in for each team just to get you more familiar with some of the top prospects in my rankings.
The ever-important parameters:
" Having spoken to folks from a number of teams and evaluated the teams, I'll take a look at some emerging needs.
" I'll suggest a prospect who could fill a void if the draft were held tomorrow -- these are not based on value or draft position, just a good fit.
" Because "picks" are more about need, a few top prospects are passed over.
Again, the draft element here is just for an introduction to prospects, because for all teams, the draft board is a long, long way from complete -- just like mine. But here's to getting way ahead of ourselves …
Top emerging needs: WR, QB, DL
Analysis: It's been a disappointing start for the Bills after what I considered a good draft that followed an exciting acquisition of Mario Williams in free agency. Two areas really stand out in terms of struggles: The Bills have one of the most inefficient passing attacks in the NFL, and teams run on them consistently. That's a bad combination, where teams can grind them and remain multiple on offense, and the Bills are ineffective playing catch-up. They need another weapon in the passing game -- an actual matchup problem -- and I'm certainly not sold on the ceiling of Ryan Fitzpatrick, who is far too mistake-prone. Remember, Fitzpatrick will be 30 this month. They have to consider his long-term prospects sooner rather than later.
Drafting tomorrow: Terrance Williams, WR, Baylor