The NFL Draft starts 3 weeks from today and we can all see the teams positioning themselves for it. Many mock drafts are done and the opinions vary from team to team and from player to player. For fantasy purposes, it is always interesting to try and figure out what teams still need players and who could help them the most. If a team has needs in many areas, sometimes it can be really tough knowing which way to draft. The amount of talent still available in free agency can make that decision easier. I will look at several teams who still have $14 million or more in cap room that seem to be able to sign some free agents to help ease the need in fantasy positions.
$20M - Cincinnati Bengals
The Bengals look to have the most money available with $20 million still under the CAP. The biggest area of need for the Bengals is at wide receiver. They lost Andre Caldwell to the Denver Broncos and may lose Jerome Simpson because of drug problems. It seems like they could use 1 or 2 players to help AJ Green and Andy Dalton. Maybe one to provide some mid-field security like Jericho Cotchery and one with some straight-line speed like Lee Evans to spread the field.
$20M - Jacksonville Jaguars
Laurent Robinson capitalized on his big year with the Dallas Cowboys last year and signed a big free agent contract with the Jacksonville Jaguars. This will help spread the defense out some to keep Maurice Jones-Drew a top 5 running back. David Gerrard is young a quarterback who could use another weapon to learn the game from. Jacksonville could still be in the market for another wide receiver and the have $20 million to sign one. Just like the Bengals above, they could look at Evans and Cotchery. They could also look into a player with playoff experience and look at either Terrell Owens or Plaxico Burress .
$18M - Cleveland Browns
It was a long season for the Cleveland Browns fans last year as they showed very little offense all year. They seem to have holes everywhere on offense after losing their top player last year Peyton Hillis to the Kansas City Chiefs. The Browns do have 2 first round picks (numbers 4 & 22) and could very well target the offense at both picks. Ryan Tannehill and Trent Richardson are both linked to the #4 pick and it seems likely that the #22 pick would be on a wide receiver. If they choose Tannehill, how about going after Cedric Benson for your running back? They can still use more help at wide receiver and many are still on available. How about bringing back Braylon Edwards?? Patrick Crayton and Mark Clayton also seem to be good fits in Cleveland.
$18M - Tampa Bay Buccaneers
After a promising 2010 season, everybody was high on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for the 2011 season. It did not go as all had hoped, and all fantasy players disappointed across the board. Tampa did make some big noise earlier in free agency by signing Vincent Jackson to help Josh Freeman and the struggling passing game. Carl Nicks was also brought in to secure the offensive line in both pass and run blocking. LeGarrette Blount is a one-dimensional runner without pass catching abilities and ball security issues. Cedric Benson can protect the ball more and be less of a worry for coaches. Tim Hightower , LaDainian Tomlinson, or Justin Forcett would seem to be very good fits as a 3rd down/receiving back.
$16M - Philadelphia Eagles
After the big off-season of last year a being tagged as the "Dream Team", the Eagles have been pretty quiet this year. With over $16 million left in the bank, they have a need to back up their stud running back LeSean McCoy. Ronnie Brown signed last year but did not prove to be much help. Tim Hightower and LaDainian Tomlinson have the experience and pass catching abilities that would most seem to compliment the Eagles high-powered offense.
$14M - Minnesota Vikings
The rising stock of Ryan Tannehill puts the Vikings in a very good position going into the draft. If the stay with the 3rd overall pick, they will probably take the best tackle in Matt Kalil out of USC. They may be tempted to trade down to acquire more picks in this years draft by a team that is very needing for a quarterback, like the Miami Dolphins. The Dolphins have the #8 pick and the Vikings could take that trade to get more picks and still get the #2 tackle in Riley Reiff out of Iowa or WR Michael Floyd out of Notre Dame. The Vikings still have $14 million and could sign another wide receiver to help out with the development of Christian Ponder. A big receiver like Braylon Edwards would be ideal. If Jerome Simpson were cleared of his drug charges he would be another very good fit.
$14M - Denver Broncos
Peyton Manning coming to the mile-high city was the biggest move of the off-season. All eyes will be on Denver to see how he can perform after his injury. Denver led the NFL in rushing last season, but part of that was due to Tim Tebow. Willis McGahee led the team in rushing last year, but he is not getting any younger and has had injury issues. Knowshon Moreno was charged with a DUI since then also and may find himself on the outs. A running back to help spell McGahee and be a receiving back may be the ideal fit for the Broncos. LaDainian Tomlinson and Peyton Manning together? It may happen. If not, Joseph Addai may once again share the backfield with Peyton Manning. Another wide receiver may also help out in Denver with some speed. Lee Evans may be a good fit for a team that still has close to $14 million to spend.