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 North Team Needs

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Pittsburgh Steelers: CB, S, OLB, RB

The Steelers reputation for having a good defense did not prove to be true in the 2014 season. The “Steel Curtain” had a lot of holes as they ranked 27th in pass defense. Look for Pittsburgh to bolster up their secondary, as veteran Troy Polamalu is mulling retirement and Ike Taylor might be on his way out. The defense actually fared well against the run in 2014, but could still use a pass rushing outside linebacker to help out that secondary. As far as the offense is concerned, everyone saw what happened All-Pro running back Le’Veon Bell was unavailable go. The position drop off after him was astounding, and Mike Tomlin was forced to start two guys that would have never seen the field for another team (Josh Harris and Dri Archer). A backup running back could be a possibility in later rounds.

Cincinnati Bengals: DE, DT, OG, QB

As much as every Bengals fan would love to not watch Andy Dalton again next year, it isn’t going to happen in 2015. “The Red Rifle” is still owed $9.6M of guaranteed money next year in the final year of the “player-friendly” portion of his contract. However, with that being said don’t be surprised if Mike Brown and Marvin Lewis bring in a QB to compete alongside A.J McCarron. Outside of the QB position, the Bengals offense is solid with running back Jeremy Hill having a breakout rookie season, and AJ Green continuing to do his thing (when he wasn’t injured of course). On the defensive side of the ball, the could look to bring in a defensive tackle to go alongside Geno Atkins in the middle, as well as a pass rushing specialist, considering that their team was dead last in sacks last season.

Baltimore Ravens: CB, DT, RB, WR

The Ravens experienced a lot of ups and downs throughout the 2014 season, and perhaps the biggest down was when they lost their number one corner Jimmy Smith. The ninth worst pass defense needs some help at the corner position as well as safety. Matt Elam is still maturing as a player and the absence of James Ihedigbo proved to be detrimental as he had a great season in Detroit. Haloti Ngata was also dealt to the Lions, so defensive tackle all of the sudden is a need. The Ravens could also look to add their running back of the future in this draft. Justin Forsett had a stellar season filling in for Ray Rice, but he is approaching 30 years old and could be on his way out of Baltimore via free agency. Another position to keep in mind is wide receiver. Torrey Smith is now a 49er and Steve Smith is entering the twilight years of his career at age 35. The Ravens have a lot of holes to fill in the upcoming draft.

Cleveland Browns: WR, OT, DT, QB

To say that it has been a tumultuous off-season for the Cleveland Browns would be an understatement. Star wide receiver Josh Gordon has been suspended for the entire 2015 season after another failed drug test, and their first-round pick, Johnny Manziel, checked himself into rehab in an effort to salvage his NFL future with the team. As far as the offense goes, Andrew Hawkins was a nice surprise last season, but Manziel, or whoever the Browns quarterback will be next year (recently signed Josh McCown), need another weapon or two on the outside. Look for the Browns to address their wide receiver need throughout the draft, with one of them more than likely coming in the first round. The offensive line is going to need to be addressed as well. When Alex Mack went down last season, the heart and soul of the Browns offensive line did as well. The rushing attack suffered and the quarterback hurries and sacks went up. With Mack being an established (and probably best) center in the league, the Browns could look to build around him and Joe Thomas in this year’s draft.

AFC South Team Needs

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Indianapolis Colts-  OT, OLB/DE, WR

Andrew Luck is the truth. He’s proven that already, and the Colts have a shot to be perennial playoff team over the next decade with him under center. If they want a shot at super bowl though, they are going to need some upgrades on both sides of the ball. T.Y Hilton needs some help out there, we saw the Patriots bracket him almost every play of the AFC Championship game and no one else was able to help out Luck. Colts legend Reggie Wayne was also released recently, making wide receiver an even greater positional need. It is also time to cut their losses with former 3rd overall pick Trent Richardson. Frank Gore recently signed with the team and will more than likely move forward as the number one back in Indy. Former first round pick Bjoern Werner decided to disappear for the second half of the season and wasn’t even active for the AFC Championship game. GM Ryan Grigson is going to need to bring in a pass rusher and some O-Line help as well, especially if the NFL’s highest paid right tackle, Gosder Cherilus, continues to be the bust that he was when the Lions took him 17th overall back in ’08.

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Jacksonville Jaguars: OT, DE, RB, CB

The Jaguars have done a lot of rebuilding since Gus Bradley came to town and seem to be turning things around. Blake Bortles has played solid enough to be solidified as the teams franchise quarterback (for now), and he has some skilled wide receivers that were acquired in last years draft (Allen Robinson, Marquise Lee, Allen Hurns), as well as the addition of TE Julius Thomas via free agency. Now they just need to protect their franchise QB. The Jags allowed a league high 71 sacks this year, 12 more sacks then the seconds worst team (Washington Redskins). Luke Joeckel has yet to establish himself after being selected 2nd overall in 2013, although he did have his moments toward the end of the year. Running back is also a need that will need to be addressed in the draft. Toby Gerhart was never really healthy all year, and wasn’t able to get things going, which left the door open for the teams leading rusher, and lone bright spot in the backfield, Denard Robinson. Although Robinson had a solid season, he is not an every down back in the NFL. On the bright side for the Jags, their D-Line was able to cause havoc toward the end of the year, and Johnathan Cyprien looks to be a future stud in the back end.

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Tennessee Titans: QB, DE/OLB, WR, NT

The transition from the 4-3 to the 3-4 for the Titans was anything but smooth. Couple that with inconsistent QB play, an injury plagued wide receiver corps, and an overrated rookie running back and what do you get? Ding, Ding Ding, a 2-14 record! The biggest question heading into the draft for the Titans is going to be: Will they stick with sophomore QB Zach Mettenberger? Once they answer that, then they can decide how to rebuild the D-Line. A plethora of picks will be used on players familiar with the three-man front, as well as a speed rusher or two on the outside. If they do decide to stick with  Mettenberger, he is going to need some more weapons around him to take some of the pressure off.

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Houston Texans: CB, OT, WR

The Texans had a lot of bright spots throughout the season, particularly on the defensive side of the ball. The brightest of spots was non-other than the NFL’s defensive MVP, J.J Watt. He is virtually impossible to block and if former #1 overall pick Jadeveon Clowney can come back healthy, the Texans have chance of being one of the best defenses in football. A stud nose tackle would go a long way for this defensive front, as Ryan Pickett may in fact be older than dirt now. Some depth at the corner position is needed as well. A.J Bouye was suspect in man coverage at times as the nickel. Like the Titans, the Texans also have some questions at the QB position. Will it be Brian Hoyer, or Ryan Mallett in 2015? Whoever the starter will be is going to miss Andre Johnson, who is no longer with the team.