Welcome to The War Room

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Welcome to The War Room. This blog is operated by Jared Goltz (J Goltz) and Spencer Hartley (hartle44), a.k.a the younger, better versions of Todd McShay and Mel Kiper Jr. As your home for the 2015 NFL Draft, The War Room provides up-to-date analysis on the 2015 NFL Draft including team needs, positional fits, and of course, a mock draft (located at the end of the blog)

We will first address positional needs for all 32 NFL teams, starting with the NFC.

NFC East Team Needs

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Washington Redskins: DE, CB, OT, QB

After a tumultuous season, there’s one good piece of news that Redskins’ fans have: the Rams don’t own your draft pick this year. With exception to RG III’s rookie season, that trade has backfired tremendously on the Skins, and they have not been able to help their team in the draft over the past three years. Luckily for them, there is some good news that comes with finishing 4-12: they hold the 5th overall pick. They could use help at defensive end, cornerback, and the offensive line to protect Griffin if he is in fact their future at quarterback; and if not, they could target a quarterback for Jay Gruden to groom in later rounds.

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New York Giants: DT, LB, OT

The lone bright spot for the Giants’ season in 2014 was that Odell Beckham Jr. turned out to be an absolute stud after being selected 13th overall in the draft (I hope you’re reading this Martin Mayhew). OBJ finished tied for 5th in the league with 12 TD’s and was 10th in receiving yards. Not to mention, he missed the first four games of the season with a hamstring injury. While OBJ was fantastic, the rest of the Giants’ team was not. They could use some help up front on the defensive line because Jason Pierre Paul can’t do it all by himself (and he is a FA this year). An inside/outside linebacker would help them nicely in the first round too.

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Philadelphia Eagles: S, LB, WR

Rumor has it that the Eagles may be looking to trade up to draft former Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota, who would fit perfectly in head coach Chip Kelly‘s offense. Knowing how crazy Kelly is, and how he has drastically transformed his team thus far in the off-season, this wouldn’t be a surprise. The Eagles have plenty of needs to address after the roster mash-up that has taken place recently. The secondary recently added free agent Byron Maxwell and Walter Thurmond, who were both nice additions. An inside linebacker to pair with Connor Barwin and a replacement for the recently released Trent Cole on the outside would be nice additions for the Eagles as well. Another position to look out for is wide receiver, as Jeremy Maclin is now a Chief.

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Dallas Cowboys: CB, DE/DT, RB 

The Dallas Cowboys didn’t look like the usual 8-8 Cowboys and had a fantastic 12-4 season under Jason Garrett, which helped recently earn him a five-year contract extension. One of the main reasons for Dallas’ success was their massive offensive line which lead to a remarkable year for Demarco Murray. However, it looks as though Murray might not be returning to the Cowboys after they decided to franchise wide receiver Dez Bryant. With that being said, the Cowboys could be looking to add a running back in the draft, unless they are able to bring Murray back or sign someone else. Where the Cowboys need to focus in the draft is on the defensive side of the ball, particularly in the secondary where they ranked 26th in the league in pass defense.

NFC South Team Needs

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Tampa Bay Buccaneers: QB, OT, RB

 Despite finishing tied with the worst record in the league this season (2-14), the Buccaneers found themselves competing in close games with some good opponents. That being said, they lacked the talent to finish games and perform consistently on a weekly basis. The main issue with the Bucs is at quarterback, which is where they should focus on in the first round. Whether it be Marcus Mariota or Jameis Winston, the Bucs need a franchise quarterback that can throw to Mike Evans and Vincent Jackson. Although drafting a franchise quarterback would solve some of their problems, Tampa needs to also address the offensive line in the draft and free agency.

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New Orleans Saints: CB, DE, LB

The Saints had an overwhelmingly disappointing season in 2014, finishing third in the NFC South at 7-9. A lot of the blame can be pointed at Rob Ryan and his 31st ranked defense, but the offense did not perform to their normal standards this year either. Drew Brees  did not play as well as he is capable of playing, and to make matters worse, he lost his number one target Jimmy Graham in a trade with the Seahawks. One bright spot for the offense was Mark Ingram, who came into his own as the lead running back for the Saints. Still, the defense could use plenty of help at the corner position, as well as another pass rusher opposite of Cameron Jordan. Tight end is an issue now that Graham is gone. With two picks in the first round now, the Saints have a few different options they could go.

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Atlanta Falcons: DE, CB, DT, TE

Suspect coaching and the league’s worst defense found the Atlanta Falcons under .500 for the second consecutive season, and also left former head coach Mike Smith without a job. The Falcons ranked dead last in total defense in 2014. The biggest positional need lies on the defensive line, where they struggled to get pressure on opposing quarterbacks last season. The Falcons should address this need early, especially with the uncertain futures of Kroy Bierman and Osi Umenyiora, who are both free agents. Atlanta could also use some help in their secondary, where they ranked dead last in passing defense last season. The hiring of former Seahawks defensive coordinator Dan Quinn all but guarantees that Atlanta will address their defense throughout the draft.

Carolina_Panthers_logo Carolina Panthers: OT, WR, DE 

The Panthers finished 7-8-1 in 2014, which in most years, would not even come close to making the playoffs. Luckily for Carolina, they played in quite possibly the worst division in NFL history in 2014, which allowed them to win the division. Cam Newton struggled throughout most of the season due to inexperience and injuries to his offensive line, which should be a major priority for them going into the draft. They did add to their o-line with the addition of Michael Oher in free agency, but still lack overall depth on the line. Newton could also use some more weapons. Kelvin Benjamin had a tremendous rookie season, but cannot continue to shoulder the load for the team offensively for years to come.

NFC West Team Needs

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St. Louis Rams: OL, WR, QB

If this season showed anything, it’s that the St. Louis Rams have the ability to compete with almost any team in the NFL. Well, they at least have the defense to do so. Their offense took a huge leap forward this off-season when they acquired Nick Foles from the Eagles for Sam Bradford. Now that Foles is under center for the Rams, they could help him out by surrounding him with more receivers. Their leading pass-catcher in 2014 was Kenny Britt, who is not what you consider to be an elite receiver, and is also a free agent.

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San Francisco 49ers: CB, WR, DT 

After reaching the NFC Championship last season, the 49ers had a very disappointing 2014 season, finishing 7-9 and leading to former head coach Jim Harbaugh‘s departure. Colin Kaepernick struggled mightily at quarterback, and the defense wasn’t as stout as it normally is. Some of the defensive failure had to do with Patrick Willis missing an extended period of time, and he is no longer with the team after announcing his retirement. Navarro Bowman also missed the entire season, which didn’t help, but the secondary performed poorly giving up 29 passing TDs which was tied for 6th worst in the league. The Niners could use some secondary help in the upcoming draft. If they decide to go offense, Kaepernick could use some more weapons as Michael Crabtree and Brandon Lloyd could be on their way out in free agency.

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Arizona Cardinals: QB, RB, WR

The Cardinals saw their season go down the drain once Carson Palmer tore his ACL in week 10 against the Rams. Drew Stanton filled in for Palmer, but was hurt himself in week 15 against the Rams. Ryan Lindley proved to be an absolute disaster at quarterback, and the team was defeated in the first round by the Panthers. The Cardinals need to address the quarterback position at some point in this draft, because Palmer’s health has obviously become an issue and it is questionable as to whether or not he can remain healthy for the rest of his career. The team drafted Logan Thomas last season, but obviously had little faith in him with starting Lindley.

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Seattle Seahawks: WR, C, OT

There’s not much more the Seattle Seahawks need. Coming off of their Super Bowl XLVIII win over the Denver Broncos, the Seahawks followed up with a 12-4 and NFC West division championship season this year, and found themselves one yard away from repeating, if it weren’t for a terrible play-call by head coach Pete Carroll. If there is a need that the Seahawks have, it’d be at both the wide receiver position. Doug Baldwin and Jermaine Kearse are solid options at wide out, but neither is a true number one option. If they can add a true number one wideout, their offense will be nearly unstoppable, especially after trading for Jimmy Graham. In the Graham trade they lost long time center Max Unger, so they could be looking for his replacement in the draft.

NFC North Team Needs

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Chicago Bears: S, DT, CB

After adding to their defense in the off-season with the additions of Jared Allen and Lamar Houston, the Bears thought that their defense would improve in 2014. Not the case. Chicago ranked 30th in total defense, mainly because of how horrid their secondary was (30th against the pass). Rookie cornerback Kyle Fuller had a nice first half, but was exposed in the second half when matched up with receivers like Calvin Johnson (in fairness, he was injured much of the season). The Bears need to bolster their secondary in this year’s draft. They could also afford to upgrade their interior defensive line, as it is more than likely that DT Stephen Paea will leave in free agency. With the hiring of John Fox, defense will more than likely be the focus of the Bears in this year’s draft. They have already begun to address their defense with the addition of Pernell McPhee in free agency.

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Minnesota Vikings: WR, OL, CB, RB

The Vikings (7-9) performed better than most people thought they would in 2014 under first year head coach Mike Zimmer and rookie quarterback Teddy Bridgewater. Bridgewater had a solid rookie season (2,919 yds, 14 TD, 12 INT) and improved as the year went on. Bridgewater lacked protection and receiving help however, two needs in which the Vikings are desperate for. Depending on what happens with Adrian Peterson this off-season, running back may be a need for them too, as Jerick McKinnon and Matt Asiata are better suited to be change-of-pace backs rather than every down backs.

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Detroit Lions: DT, OL, CB, RB

Detroit had a very successful first year under Jim Caldwell, exceeding many peoples’ expectations by going 11-5 and playing for a division championship in the last week of the season. Much of their success had to do with their 2nd ranked defense, which improved drastically from the previous year under first year defensive coordinator Teryl Austin. Their offense was extremely disappointing, ranking 19th in the league despite the weapons at Matthew Stafford‘s disposal. In his defense, he was rarely on his feet, being sacked 45 times which was 4th in the league. An offensive lineman to help keep Stafford on his feet would be a good pick for them in the first round, or even a cornerback, given Rasheen Mathis‘ age and injury troubles this year. Ndamukong Suh took his talents to South Beach to join the Miami Dolphins on a record breaking deal, and was quickly replaced with former Raven DT Haloti Ngata, which was a great get for the Lions. However, the position is still thin as CJ Mosley, Andre Fluellen and Nick Fairley are all free agents, and it will be difficult to retain even two of them. DT needs to be addressed, whether that be in free agency or the draft. Another position to be on the lookout for is running back,  given the fact that Reggie Bush was recently released. Don’t be surprised to see the Lions take a skilled position player in the first round, as they are known for doing that each year.

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Green Bay Packers: LB, DT, CB

The Packers don’t need much help on the offensive side of the ball, especially with Aaron Rodgers returning to form with an MVP season. It helps that they were able to bring back Randall Cobb as well as Bryan Bulaga so the offense didn’t lose anyone. What they lack is help on the defensive side of the ball, where they ranked 23rd against the run in 2014. Some of that may be due to BJ Raji missing the entire season, but the defensive line could still use some help. With AJ Hawk being released and joining the Bengals, inside linebacker could be a priority for them as well. Another position to look out for is cornerback, as Tramon Williams and Davon House are both free agents

AFC West Team Needs

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Oakland Raiders: WR, DE, RB, CB

The Raaaaaaaaaaaaiiiidddddeerrrrrrrrrrrrssssssss!!!!!!!!!! Will this franchise ever get out of the gutter? Even Lion fans are laughing at this franchise…LIONS FANS!!!!!! Anyway, at least the Black and Silver won three games despite starting 0-10 and Derek Carr looked great in his rookie season. With  as many holes as they have on this roster, a few they should focus on are WR, RB, DE and CB. The Raiders are in desperate need of a #1 WR to lean on and an improvement at RB over the dead corpse of Run DMC along with a constantly injured Latavius Murray. They were dead last in the NFL in rushing last year. On defense, they need to get more pressure on the QB, finishing 2nd to last behind Cincinnati in sacks, so a pass rusher is a must. Drafting with the 4th pick gives them a bevy of options to go at, possibly Amari Cooper, Kevin White or Randy Gregory.

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Kansas City Chiefs: WR, OT, CB/S

Kansas City started strong going 7-3 in its first ten, but then the wheels fell off and they remembered that Alex Smith, nephew of the one and only John L Smith, was at the helm and finished 9-7, just missing out on the playoffs. This team has one of the best running backs in the NFL and a top 10 tight end in Travis Kelce, but may be the worst in wide receiver skill and depth. Grabbing an elite wide receiver has to be at the top of the Chiefs’ draft board, even though they recently signed Jeremy Maclin.  They could also use some help with the o-line considering Eric Fisher may not be the answer. Improving that secondary should be a focus as well, considering Eric Berry‘s health and questionable NFL future. Picking 18th in this year’s draft leaves many paths for management to chose from, possibly Landon Collins at safety or maybe DeVante Parker at wide receiver.

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Denver Broncos: OT, C, TE, DT

Oh Denver. Back to back disappointing seasons with one of the best quarterbacks in NFL history running the show has to be frustrating. Despite dominating the AFC west the last couple of years, Peyton Manning hasn’t been able to get over the hump and win his 2nd title. Denver really needs to focus on improving their offensive line through free agency and the draft, considering how it struggled down the stretch and in the postseason. With Demaryius Thomas returning via the franchise tag, the Broncos must shift their attention to the tight end and defensive tackle positions, as Julius Thomas and Pot Roast (Terrence Knighton) have both departed via free agency. The Broncos will have to address these losses in the draft and/or free agency. Drafting in the 28th spot, they can only hope that a top o-linemen or defensive tackle will fall to them and the new coaching staff.

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San Diego Chargers: OL, RB, DL

The Super Chargers had a very streaky season starting 5-1, then 8-4 and then choking at the end going 1-3 ending at 9-7 and missing the playoffs by a hair. This team got hit hard by the injury bug starting at the offensive line especially at center with Nick Hardwick suffering a career ending neck injury. They also suffered injuries at wide receiver and running back. This team was one of the worst rushing the ball and at the bottom at stopping the run as well. They really need to focus this off-season at both the OL and interior DL. It also wouldn’t hurt to add a stud running back as the injury plagued Ryan Mathews is expected to leave in free agency. Having the 17th pick gives them a few options at possibly taking the best RB on the board (Melvin Gordon/Todd Gurley) or a solid lineman on either side of the ball; possibly Malcom Brown/La’el Collins.

AFC East Team Needs

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New York Jets Needs: QB, OT, RB

With Rex Ryan’s ass on the line the Jets started the season off right by beating Oakland and there was a small sliver of hope…..but then they lost eight straight and ended the season 4-12, dead last in the AFC East. With this result, Rex was canned and rebuild mode is in full effect starting with the 6th pick in this years draft. They obviously need a quarterback that they can trust to throw the ball more than 10 yards down the field, because Geno Smith is clearly is not the answer, especially finishing the season dead last in passing yards in the NFL. The Jets offensive line has also been pretty banged up, so they could look to address that need as well. Darrelle Revis is coming home after the Patriots decided not to pick up his option, and the Jets also signed Buster Skrine, solidifying their secondary. The Jets actually have a shot to be contenders next year if they draft right.

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Miami Dolphins: LB, CB, OT

The Fins were on the cusp of making the playoffs this past season starting 7-5, but then Joe Philbin and the gang fell apart going 1-3 in the final four games. With Ryan Tannehill finding his groove and getting comfortable as the season progressed, most of this teams needs come on the defensive side and offensive line. With Miami being in the middle of the pack in most defensive categories, suring up at LB and CB is key in improving a decent 2014 defense. The Dolphins made the biggest splash (no pun intended) in free agency by signing Ndamukong Suh, which instantly gives them one of the most formidable defensive lines in the league, and will drastically help their run defense.. On the offensive side of the ball, strengthening up the offensive line around Mike Pouncey is key. Drafting at the #14 position gives them a lot of options at getting a top guy at LB, CB or OT.

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Buffalo Bills: LB, S, QB

The Bills had a surprisingly solid 9-7 record in 2014, just barley sitting on the outside of the playoff picture. This was impressive considering that they went with EJ Manuel and Kyle Orton at quarterback throughout the season, as well as having to deal with a key injury to CJ Spiller, who is no longer with the team.. The bad news is that Doug Marrone decided to opt out of his contract, leaving everyone stunned, and leading to the hiring of Rex Ryan. It doesn’t help that they lost their 1st round pick this year to Cleveland, either. The Bills made a huge trade with the Philadelphia Eagles, acquiring LeSean McCoy which will help out their offense substantially. They also acquired Matt Cassel from the Vikings, who they will call upon to be their starting quarterback this year. On defense, they were surprisingly good last season, ranking 4th in the league in total defense. Losing Da’Norris Searcy in free agency is a concern in the secondary though, and they also lost LB Kiko Alonso in the McCoy trade. They are hoping that at pick #50 they can fill the need for linebacker/cornerback.

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New England Patriots: CB, DL, RB

Congrats to Tommy “Flat Balls” Brady and Bill Cheaterchick on their 4th Superbowl Victory in 14 years, but it will be very challenging to repeat depending on how free agency goes. When it comes down to needs they need a few more play makers especially at RB and WR, because they can’t depend on Rob Gronkowski to catch 10+ balls a game and stay healthy all 16 games. New England lost its most versatile running back in Shane Vereen, so they could look for his replacement at some point in the draft. On the defensive side of the ball, they lost both of their cornerbacks (Darrelle RevisBrandon Browner) but were able to re-sign Devin McCourty. The Patriots must focus their attention on the defensive side of the ball considering their lack of depth at corner, along with the departure of Vince Wilfork. Picking at #32 is difficult, but Belichick is one of the best at finding late round talent.