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Earlier this week, XN Sports named the six NFL teams we’re ready to stick a fork in and pronounce dead for the 2014 season. Today, we’ll offer them a solution.
No one fix can change the direction of an entire NFL franchise, but sometimes adding the missing piece can make the next season look that much brighter.
Here are the six instant fixes for the six NFL teams forked for 2014:
1. Jacksonville Jaguars
You can make an argument that many different positions need to be addressed by the Jaguars this spring, but that will likely be the case with most of these teams. There is no question, however, that the offensive line in Jacksonville needs fixing.
The Jags spent a first-round pick on Luke Joeckel a couple years ago. Joeckel struggled as a rookie in 2013, and those woes have continued into the first six weeks of this season. Whether the Jags consider Joeckel a bust at left tackle after this year or opt to give him a chance to slide over to the right side remains to be seen, but offensive tackle again should be in their draft plans for 2015.
Among the top offensive tackle prospects this year include Brandon Scherff of Iowa, Cedric Ogbuehi of Texas A&M, Andrus Peat of Stanford, and La’el Collins of LSU.
2. Oakland Raiders
Like Jacksonville, the Raiders have a number of holes to fill this offseason, ranging from the skill positions on both sides of the ball and both the offensive and defensive lines. Well, at least they found a quarterback, right?
The Raiders rank 31st in the NFL in sacks with 5.0, ahead of only the historically terrible Rams in that category. The signings of Justin Tuck, Lamarr Woodley, and Antonio Smith were merely stop-gap fill-ins to try and bring veterans with strong resumes on board; they’re has-beens at this point in their careers, though.
Now Oakland needs to find another pass-rusher opposite 2014 first-round linebacker Khalil Mack. Clemson’s Vic Beasley nearly entered the draft last year and was touted as one of the top pass-rushers. UCS’s Leonard Williams, Nebraska’s Randy Gregory, Ketucky’s Alvin Deupree, and UCLA’s Owamagbe Odighizuwa should also warrant consideration.
3. Tennessee Titans
Quarterback is very much still a point of contention in Nashville. Coach Ken Whisenhunt continues to state Jake Locker is the Titans’ quarterback despite injuries hampering his season. Backup Charlie Whitehurst is nothing more than just that, and Zach Mettenberger is expected to see some time behind center so the coaching staff can see if he has a chance at being this franchise’s future at the position.
Whatever Tennessee decides to do, it doesn’t seem like Locker is the answer. Does the future even include Mettenberger?
The Titans could be among five or six teams selecting a quarterback in the first round, and they’ll likely have their pick of the top three or four prospects. That includes UCLA’s Brett Hundley, Michigan State’s Connor Cook, Oregon’s Marcus Mariota, and Baylor’s Pryce Petty.
4. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Consider the Buccaneers also in the mix to draft a quarterback, should they decide their investment in career journeyman Josh McCown was an utter mistake and Mike Glennon just doesn’t have the moxie to cut it in the NFL.
The thing is, though, when has Lovie Smith drafted a quarterback in the first round? Jay Cutler was acquired via trade, and before that Kyle Orton ascended from being a fourth-round pick. Smith inherited Rex Grossman, a first-rounder back in 2003.
Would Lovie bite on one of the aforementioned top quarterbacks? Or is he going to address Tampa’s other glaring need at offensive line? The odds point to the latter, simply given Smith’s track record.
5. New York Jets
The Jets’ biggest need is at quarterback, simply put. Through two seasons Geno Smith has offered Jets fans almost nothing, despite the team’s attempt to surround him with talent and a reliable defense to keep games close. Rex Ryan will likely be fired after the season, and perhaps the same fate awaits general manager John Idzik. Then the next front-office regime has to decide which player will give the Jets the brightest future.
In New York, a name like Jameis Winston is flashy. In the big city with a team that makes the back cover every day for all the wrong reasons, Winston could be a shimmer of hope or another high draft choice wasted on a quarterback.
The next GM needs to decide to go with the best talent, not the biggest name. The best bet is Mariota, but if the team wants to try and wait until a later round, then perhaps Colorado State’s Garrett Grayson is a name to remember.
Washington, too, has a predicament at quarterback, but one that will likely be decided between Robert Griffin III and Kirk Cousins. RGIII, the 2012 Offensive Rookie of the Year, has been injured in each of the past two seasons, and began this one with ineffective play. In his place, Cousins has helped the offense move up and down the field, but turnovers have been a complete disaster for the third-year quarterback.
Because of the name recognition between those two quarterbacks, Washington will opt to go in another direction. Perhaps defense is the best route.
The secondary needs to get younger and more athletic, with veterans like DeAngelo Hall and Ryan Clark on the roster. Corners Ifo Ekpre-Olomo of Oregon, Ronald Darby of Flordia State, and Marcus Peters of Washington are worth consideration. Safeties like Darron Smith of Fresno State, Landon Collins of Alabama, and Trae Waynes of Michigan State are names to remember, too.
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