1. Wide Receiver
It’s starting to look like the Pittsburgh Steelers will let Mike Wallace sign elsewhere, opening up a hole in their receiving corps. Ben Roethlisberger has asked for a tall receiver in the past and instead was given Wallace (6’0″), Antonio Brown (5’10”) and Emmanuel Sanders (5’11”). This is a deep class of receivers, making it the perfect time for the Steelers to finally grant Big Ben his wish.
2. Outside Linebacker
James Harrison turns 35 in May is only a shell of his former self. The Steelers may chose to save some money and cut him loose this offseason. Jason Worilds will be first in line for his starting job, but some depth is needed.
3. Offensive Line
The Steelers continue to surround Ben Roethlisberg with one of the league’s worst offensive line. As he enters his 10th year in the league, protecting him becomes even more important. Max Starks and Ramon Foster are unrestricted free agent who may be let go. The Steelers may do some reshuffling of the line, so it’s tough to say which positions need to be filled, but they definitely need to address the situation.
1. Wide Receiver
The St. Louis Rams need to upgrade the supporting cast around Sam Bradford. Even if Danny Amendola is re-signed, the Rams need to find Bradford a legitimate No. 1 receiver. After a hot start, Amendola came back down to earth and ended his season with a thud. In the final three weeks, Amendola caught just 12 of 25 passes thrown his direction.
2. Offensive Line
Rodger Saffold is a quality start, but may be better suited to shift to the right side of the line. The Rams could also use an upgrade over free agent left guard Robert Turner. Right tackle Barry Richardson is also an unrestricted free agent.
3. Strong-side linebacker
Veteran Rocky McIntosh is a free agent and likely won’t be back. The Rams lack depth at linebacker and don’t have anyone capable of stepping up to fill his shoes. This could be a position addressed on day two of the draft.
1. Outside Linebacker
The New Orleans Saints are in the process of transitioning to a 3-4 defense under the guidance of Rob Ryan. And it could be a difficult switch of they can’t add the necessary puzzle pieces this offseason. Will Smith could potentially play with his hand off the ground, but he’s a candidate to be a cap casualty. If Smith is cut loose, the Saints may need two new starting outside linebackers.
2. Defensive Line
Akiem Hicks may be able to play nose tackle, but it’s a role in which he has limited experience – and none in a 3-4 system. If Sedrick Ellis is not re-signed, they’ll also need a defensive end.
Roman Harper and Malcolm Jenkins are both coming off disappointing seasons and probably aren’t in the Saints long-term plans. Harper is due to earn over $11 million combined over the next two seasons, making him a candidate for release.
1. Defensive Tackle
The Carolina Panthers selected Sione Fua and Terrell McClain in the third round of the 2011 draft to solidify their interior line. McClain is now gone and Fua is coming off another disappointing year. The Panthers top priority this offseason needs to be to solve their issues up front on defense.
2. Wide Receiver
Steve Smith is still playing at a high level and Brandon LaFell was a solid contributor this year. But Cam Newton needs another weapon to help continue his development as a passer. In the second or third round the Panthers should consider bringing another receiver aboard.
3. Offensive line
Jordan Gross and Ryan Kalil are still locked in to starting roles. And left guard Amini Silatolu will be given at least one more year to develop. But the right side of the line is a liability. Veteran guard Geoff Hangartner and right tackle Byron Bell could both be replaced this offseason.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have been thin in the secondary for a few years. They added a major piece of the puzzle with Mark Barron last year, but they still need to upgrade the situation at cornerback. Eric Wright was overpaid last offseason and is now likely to be cut loose.
2. Inside Linebacker
2011 third-round pick Mason Foster has failed to develop and the Bucs could take advantage of a deep class of inside linebackers. Alec Ogletree and Kevin Minter could be first-round options.
3. Defensive tackle
Gerald McCoy is locked in as a starter as the three-technique, but the Bucs could use a nose tackle to plug in next to him. Brian Price failed to fill that hole. Roy Miller stepped in for Price and did an adequate job, but he’s a free agent and likely to be allowed to sign elsewhere.