Certain teams have gaping holes that they either neglected to fill in free agency, or that were opened up by free agent defections. Smarter franchises, or cash strapped ones, usually opt to fill in the blanks on Draft Day. Let's take a look at 5 teams and the players they should have their eyes on.
1. Carolina Panthers Odell Beckham, WR, LSU
Any NFL fan who's even playing the smallest level of attention knows how dire the Panthers' WR situation is. As victims of their own success, they won't come up on the board until 28th. Right now, Carolina's top 3 receivers are Jerrico Cotchery, Jason Avant and Tiquan Underwood. All of them could fit the bill at the second and third WR slots, but none is a proven #1. Enter Odell Beckham. He's a multifaceted play making threat who can score from anywhere on the field, just what the doctor ordered for a Panthers offense that struggled to create big plays, outside of the departed Ted Ginn. His specialty is yards after the catch, and his selection would undoubtedly make Cam Newton very happy.
2. Atlanta Falcons Carlos Hyde, RB, Ohio State
The good news for the Falcons is that they can wait until the 2nd or even 3rd round to address their need at the running back position. Jacquizz Rodgers is a nice complementary back, but Steven Jackson's days as a lead feature back seem to be behind him. The teams that are finding consistent postseason success tend to have players who can run between the tackles (Marshawn Lynch, Frank Gore, LaGarette Blount). Hyde is a punishing, physical runner who gets yards after contact, but still has the ability to turn the corner for chunk yardage. He would fit perfectly in Atlanta, and take a great deal of pressure off Jackson, Matt Ryan and the Atlanta offense.
3. New York Giants CJ Mosley, ILB, Alabama
The once mighty Giants' defense has fallen precipitously as of late, and the cupboard is bare at many key positions. The front four may rebound next year with Jason Pierre-Paul already in the fold, but the linebacker position is a question mark. Jon Beason has been injury plagued, and the Giants shouldn't be banking on a full season from him. Mosley's versatility would be an excellent salve for the Giants' wounds. He's a three down LB, equally adept at defending the run or the pass. For a team that needs all the help on the defensive side of the ball they can get, Mosley would be a steal at #12.
4. New Orleans Saints Tom Savage, QB, Pitt
Drew Brees can't possibly play at this level forever, and the Saints need to start thinking about the future. Tom Savage has all the physical tools to be a capable starter in the NFL and has been flying up draft boards after an eye opening performance at the combine. However, any team that tabs Savage to be their starter this season or even next will be extremely disappointed. A team like New Orleans would be the best landing spot. He can learn behind one of the best QBs in the game and benefit from the tutoring of Sean Payton, a brilliant offensive mind in his own right. While I don't believe his ceiling is as high, the Aaron Rodgers program of listening and watching a pro's pro is the best possible outcome for him and his new team.
5. Dallas Cowboys Dee Ford, DE, Auburn
DeMarcus Ware's exodus to Denver leaves massive shoes to fill for Dallas' pass rush. Considering Dallas' dearth of inexpensive talent and inability to secure quality depth (the real reason for their annual fades, not Tony Romo), I believe they should trade down into the lower reaches of the first round. Many of the top DEs are not predicted to come off the board until the 20s. Ford would be able to play some outside linebacker in a pinch, and is regarded as one of the most explosive edge rushers in the draft. Playing in the ultra competitive SEC, Ford displayed great speed off the line, showed supreme anticipation and will make for a great addition to a defense lacking talent at all three levels.
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