Vito Stellino's analysis of team-by-team needs

April 14, 1996|By VITO STELLINO

AFC East

Buffalo Bills

1995 record: 10-6 (won division)

First-round pick: No. 24

Total selections: 10

Outlook: The Bills are trying the difficult trick of overhauling an aging team while drafting late every year. They would like to grab a wide receiver on the first round because it's such a good draft for receivers. Their other priorities are offensive tackle and safety.

Indianapolis Colts

1995 record: 9-7 (wild-card berth)

First-round pick: No. 19

Total selections: 8

Outlook: Priorities are likely to be cornerbacks, offensive and defensive linemen and wide receivers. They're looking for a cornerback after losing Ashley Ambrose in free agency. They need offensive-line help because Will Wolford was lost in free agency.

Miami Dolphins

1995 record: 9-7 (wild-card berth)

First-round pick: No. 20

Total selections: 8

Outlook: He's tanned, he's rested, he's ready, he's a legend in his own mind and he's got a new hair commercial. After a two-year sabbatical, Jimmy Johnson will try to work the same magic in Miami that he did in Dallas. He needs help on defense after losing Marco Coleman, Troy Vincent and Bryan Cox. Johnson says he'll draft what he calls "special players" regardless of position, and don't be surprised if he makes a few deals.

New England Patriots

1995 record: 6-10

First-round pick: No. 7

Total selections: 8

Outlook: The Patriots could use a big-time receiver to complement tight end Ben Coates. But don't be surprised if they pass a wide receiver on the first round because Bill Parcells is a defensive coach with a defense that ranked 28th last year. He may gamble on defensive lineman Daryl Gardener, though he was an underachiever.

New York Jets

1995 record: 3-13

First-round pick: No. 1

Total selections: 6

Outlook: It's difficult to try to figure out what coach Rich Kotite is going to do. Last year, he made tight end Kyle Brady a surprise ninth pick. There isn't one standout player in the draft, so the Jets would like to trade down and get two first-rounders. The Rams have said no, but Kotite still hopes the Ravens will go for it. If not, he'll choose between Keyshawn Johnson and Kevin Hardy as the top pick.

AFC Central

Baltimore Ravens

1995 record: 5-11

First-round pick: Nos. 4 and 26

Total selections: 10

Outlook: The Ravens will provide a lot of opportunity for their draft picks. Sixteen players have departed or been released since the end of last season and the club has added only two, so it needs depth. The major need is at running back; Leroy Hoard led the club with only 547 yards rushing last year. The Ravens appear ready to gamble on Lawrence Phillips.

Cincinnati Bengals

1995 record: 7-9

First-round pick: No. 10

Total selections: 7

Outlook: The Bengals have, in effect, two first-round picks. Running back Ki-Jana Carter, who sat out last year with a knee injury, is scheduled back for what amounts to his rookie season. Now, they would like to give him an offensive tackle to run behind. Willie Anderson is their first choice.

Houston Oilers

1995 record: 7-9

First-round pick: No. 9

Total selections: 7

Outlook: A running back and a pass rusher are their top two priorities. A pass rusher would be an asset, because the team had just 30 sacks last year. The Oilers figure to take running back Eddie George in the first round.

Jacksonville Jaguars

1995 record: 4-12

First-round pick: No. 2

Total selections: 11

Outlook: The Jaguars face a quandary with the second pick in the draft. They're not sure there's a player worth taking there, and would be willing to trade down. One of the candidates may be the Ravens, who could move up to get Phillips. If they stay No. 2, the Jaguars figure to wind up with Keyshawn Johnson or Kevin Hardy.

Pittsburgh Steelers

1995 record: 11-5 (won division, lost in Super Bowl)

First-round pick: No. 29

Total selections: 10

Outlook: With Bam Morris' future in doubt because of his arrest on a drug charge, the Steelers' major need is a running back. Erric Pegram can't carry the load himself. The Steelers could attempt to trade up to get a better runner. Despite the loss of Neil O'Donnell, they don't seem to rate quarterback a major priority. They're willing to go with their trio of Jim Miller/Mike Tomczak. OK, that's just two names, but the slash is Kordell Stewart, who wants to prove he's more quarterback than all-purpose player.

AFC West

Denver Broncos

1995 record: 8-8

First-round pick: No. 15

Total selections: 8

Outlook: The Broncos could go in either direction. They could trade up for a pass rusher or trade down to stockpile picks if they can't get one at this spot. In any case, the Broncos want defense. In the sixth or seventh rounds, coach Mike Shanahan plans to select a quarterback to start grooming for the future. One of the candidates is Maryland's Scott Milanovich.

Kansas City Chiefs

1995 record: 13-3 (won division)

First-round pick: No. 28

Total selections: 11

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