State of Teams Drafting Early: Part Three
TENNESSEE TITANS PICK 11
The Titans, a team that has had lots of continuity at HC are starting over.
They don't have any top free agents to retain, but they are right at the cap, and will need to clear room to even sign their draft picks. So look for some highly paid Titans veterans nearing the end of their big deals to possibly hit the market.
One thing new head coach Ken Whisenhunt has going for him in Tennessee is the weakness of the division, so a total rebuild may not be what he goes after.
Receiver Kenny Britt, the only free agent of note, has talent, but I doubt he returns.
That means the Titans could be looking wide receiver with their first pick, unless a defensive end falls who is too hard to pass up to fill their biggest need.
NY GIANTS - Pick 11
Another club in a division that's up for grabs, the Giants are in a real state of flux.
They have $11 million or so in cap, but have a huge total of NINE starting players, plus a couple key backups, heading to free agency.
Don't look for Coughlin to do anything but try to win the division any way he can, because he cannot afford another average year, let alone a really bad one like 2013.
He may be #1 on the coaching hot seat in fact, even with the two rings.
They have to decide whether to keep Hakeem Nicks, first and foremost, and one would think they will, though the Giants are notoriously tight when it comes to overpaying oft injured guys.
Others like DE Justin Tuck, CB Corey Webster, G Kevin Boothe, LB Keith Rivers, S Stevie Brown, could be headed elsewhere, as could RB Andre Brown, DT Linval Joseph, and both their tight ends.
This would make one think that the G-men would look to deal down, but the Giants have always been a team that stayed put, and didn't trade away picks to move up either, except for Eli Manning of course.
The Giants pick, if at 12, could go any diraction, based on whick veterans they bring back.
The talent pool at 12 would seem to favor WR, DT, CB, or LB for the Giants, but if one running back really shoots up draft boards, Tom Coughlin may not be able to resist, especially if Nicks and other key guys are brought back.
If they go receiver, Marquise Lee could be the guy, and CJ Mosely certainly would be in the mix too, as could DT Timmy Jernigan.
RAMS - Pick 13
Most all know this situation by now
The Rams don't have a ton of cap room, and their draft may depend on who they get back on the O-line, who they can add via trade or free agency at safety or cornerback, and also who they took with their first pick.
The talent seems to line up to be at WR, CB, maybe safety. That fits what the Rams might go for, and i would not rule out a deal down here either if the price is right.
CHICAGO BEARS - PICK 14
The Bears expect to win the division with Cutler 100%, so this won't be some rebuilding year at all there.
The Bears are about $5.5 million under the cap not enough to sign big free agents without adding cap room.
They will use their cap to re-sign DT Henry Melton, and perhaps CB Charles Tillman, WR Devin Hester, and guard Roberto Garza, their top free agents.
Don't see the Bears dealing, but do see them taking a defensive player, most likley a D-lineman with their pick. DT Timmy Jernigan seems like a very good fit, or whatever pass rushing DE is right behind the top two this year.
PITTSBURGH STEELERS -Pick 15
Another old school team that doesn't make tons of moves on draft day usually, the Steelers may have to add some picks because they are in really bad cap shape, $13 million over as we speak. They are also not a really young team.
Veteran free agents like DE Brett Keisel, and Safety Ryan Clark are as good as gone, and they will be hard pressed to re-sign valuable players in DL Ziggy hood and WR Emmanuel Sanders.
Those with contracts who could be cut loose for cap reasons are CB Ike Taylor, and TE Heath Miller, and possibly even Troy Polamalu, who at age 32 is not worh his $11 million cap number on a team this desperate to add cap room.
Should they stay put, the Steelers seem most likely to look at defensive back or offensive tackle here, with receiver, even tight end an outside shot . If Clark and Polamalu are not there, a safety could be the target if one is a value there.