Vito Stellino's team-by-team needs

April 14, 2000|By VITO STELLINO

AFC East

Indianapolis Colts

1999 record: 13-3 Number of picks: 7

First round: No. 28

Major needs: LB, DE, WR, OL

Outlook: After grabbing Peyton Manning and Edgerrin James the last two years, the Colts have the difficult task of finding a quality player at the 28th slot. They've got to upgrade their defense, ranked 15th last year, to complement their dynamic offense. That means they can take the best defensive players available, although a receiver to complement Marvin Harrison and a guard would help.

Buffalo Bills

1999 record: 11-5

Number of picks: 8

First round: No. 26

Major needs: OLB, DB, DL, OL, WR

Outlook: It sounds surprising that they want to upgrade their defense because they finished No. 1 in yardage allowed last year. But they have only two outside linebackers, lost cornerback Thomas Jones and safety Thomas Schultz in free agency and were forced to cut Bruce Smith. They also could use depth in the line and a receiver to replace departed Andre Reed.

Miami Dolphins

1999 record: 9-7

Number of picks: 5

First round: None

Major needs: OL, S. LB, RB, WR, DL

Outlook: New coach Dave Wannstedt finds himself in a difficult position. Dan Marino is gone, he has lots of holes and his first pick is the 53rd on the second round and he has only five overall. He probably won't take a chance on a troubled player the way Jimmy Johnson did last year with Cecil collins. His top priority is to upgrade the offensive line.

New York Jets

1999 record: 8-8

Number of picks: 8

First round: Nos. 12, 13, 18, 27

Major needs: WR. DL, TE, OT, FS

Outlook: The Jets are the first team to have four first-round picks, but that's misleading because back in the 12-team draft, it'd be like having four in the first 2 1/2 rounds. The decision by Bill Parcells and new coach Al Groh to trade their best player (Keyshawn Johnson) to Tampa Bay for the 13th and 27th picks is puzzling because the Jets were a game from the Super Bowl a year ago and now apparently are in a rebuilding mode. In another puzzling move yesterday, Parcells gave up a second-round pick to the 49ers to move from 16 to 12.

New England Patriots

1999 record: 8-8

Number of picks: 12

First round: None

Major needs: RB OL. DL, WR

Outlook Owner Bob Kraft's decision to give up his first-round pick for coach Bill Belichick astounded many Cleveland fans who remember how he all but wrecked the Browns' franchise. Now Belichick has to find a franchise running back without a first-round pick. The loss of Curtis Martin to the Jets and the injury to Robert Edwards have crippled the Patriots' running game that's also hampered by the lack of a good llne.

AFC Central

Jacksonville Jaguars

1999 record: 14-2

Number of picks: 11

First round: No. 29

Major needs: G, WR, LB, CB

Outlook: It's a sign of how good the Jaguars are that their major need is at guard, not a top priority for most teams. They also need depth at receiver because Keenan McCardell seems in decline. What the Jaguars really need is to figure out how to beat the Titans, who handed them all three defeats.

Tennessee Titans

1999 record: 13-3

Number of picks: 9

First round: No.30

Major needs: TE, OL, S. WR, LB

Outlook: The Titans were in the Super Bowl last year because Eddie George fell to them at the 14th slot in 1996 and Jevon Kearse to the 16th slot last year. They won't be so fortunate at No. 30, but they need mostly depth, mainly at tight end after losing Jackie Harris to Dallas in free agency, and in the offensive line where they lost Jon Runyon and know Bruce Matthews can't play forever.

Pittsburgh Steelers

1999 record: 6-10

Number of picks: 9

First round: No. 8

Major needs: WR, OT, CB, DL, LB

Outlook: Free agency losses and suspect drafting and coaching have eroded the team, now in a rebuilding mode under new personnel chief Kevin Colbert. Last year, they took Troy Edwards over Jevon Kearse and find themselves once again looking for a game-breaking receiver. There's been talk they could draft Chad Pennington, but they're probably not ready to give up on Kordell Stewart so they could go for a wide receiver for the second straight year.

Cincinnati Bengals

1999 record: 4-12

Number of picks: 7

First round: No.4

Major needs: CB, WR, DE, DL, OL

Outlook: The Bengals are fortunate to have the fourth pick in a four-player draft. They'll take the player left over after the first three are selected, but they're hoping Peter Warrick falls that far. With Akili Smith throwing to Warrick, Darnay Scott and Carl Pickens, they think they can have an explosive offense. They also have to decide what to do with disgruntled running back Corey Dillon. There's talk that they'll try to trade him to the Ravens for the 10th pick, but his agent, Marvin Demoff, may be starting much of that talk.

Cleveland Browns

1999 record: 2-14

Number of picks: 14

Firstround: No. 1

Major needs: WR, RB, CB, DE, LB

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