Colts Need Andrew Luck, Patriots to Target Defensive Playmakers in 2012 NFL Draft

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Colts Need Andrew Luck, Patriots to Target Defensive Playmakers in 2012 NFL DraftIt's mock draft season, but before assessing each team's ideal target, it's important to run through the needs of each organization.

Of course, those teams will begin to plug some of their holes when free agency begins March 13, and each situation will remain fluid through the weekend of the draft. But this is a good exercise to look back upon 2011 as it relates to the 2012 offseason.

NESN.com's first NFL mock draft will run Feb. 23 and continue every Thursday through April 26, which is the first day of the draft. For now, let's run down the needs of all 32 teams.

(* denotes pick will be determined by a coin flip during the scouting combine.)

1. Indianapolis Colts
2011 Record: 2-14
Positional Needs: Quarterback, cornerback, guard, center, defensive tackle, wide receiver, outside linebacker, safety
Analysis: The football world is witnessing one of the greatest offseason storylines of all-time unfold before its very eyes, as the Colts struggle to weigh the fate of quarterback Peyton Manning. Regardless of Manning's future in Indy, the Colts will take Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck, whose bright future adds to the dynamic of the storyline.

2. St. Louis Rams
2011 Record: 2-14
Positional Needs: Tackle, wide receiver, cornerback, guard, outside linebacker, safety, defensive tackle, running back
Analysis: Two elite players will be sitting there for the Rams, and they could use both. USC left tackle Matt Kalil would be the responsible choice, but Oklahoma State wide receiver Justin Blackmon would be the fun selection.

3. Minnesota Vikings
2011 Record: 3-13
Positional Needs: Tackle, wide receiver, cornerback, safety, guard, outside linebacker, defensive tackle, running back
Analysis: The Vikings will gladly take Matt Kalil or Justin Blackmon here, but another question will come later in the draft. How long will they wait to target a running back due to Adrian Peterson's ACL injury?

4. Cleveland Browns
2011 Record: 4-12
Positional Needs: Quarterback, wide receiver, running back, cornerback, defensive end, tackle, guard, outside linebacker
Analysis: The general feeling is the Browns will take Baylor quarterback Robert Griffin III, but he'll need time to develop. While that happens, Colt McCoy will have a brief audition to show he can still start somewhere. The Browns also have the 22nd pick, so they've got a chance to add some pieces to a budding young core.

5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
2011 Record: 4-12
Positional Needs: Cornerback, inside linebacker, outside linebacker, wide receiver, tackle, guard, running back
Analysis: The Bucs made 2010 look like an aberration, and now, they're completely starting over. The good news for them is they'll find a marquee player at this spot.

6. Washington Redskins
2011 Record: 5-11
Positional Needs: Quarterback, wide receiver, guard, cornerback, tackle, tight end, safety
Analysis: If the Redskins can land a competent quarterback, they'll have a chance to compete for a playoff spot. There's a belief they'll trade up for Robert Griffin III, but there's no guarantee head coach Mike Shanahan can survive another year with a poor record, which would be the gamble if he relied on Griffin in 2012.

7. Jacksonville Jaguars
2011 Record: 5-11
Positional Needs: Wide receiver, quarterback, cornerback, defensive end, safety, tackle
Analysis: Quarterback Blaine Gabbert has already been counted out by many after a disappointing rookie season, but the Jaguars owe it to themselves to give him one more shot. They've got to give Gabbert some weapons and find a few players who can make a difference on defense.

*8. Carolina Panthers
2011 Record: 6-10
Positional Needs: Defensive tackle, outside linebacker, inside linebacker, cornerback, safety, tackle, wide receiver
Analysis: Cam Newton completely turned the franchise around last season, and defensive-minded head coach Ron Rivera needs to go heavy on that side of the ball to complement his offense. Otherwise, they'll continue to get eaten up by the likes of the Saints and Falcons.

*9. Miami Dolphins
2011 Record: 6-10
Positional Needs: Quarterback, defensive end, outside linebacker, defensive tackle, inside linebacker, tight end, safety, wide receiver
Analysis: The Dolphins have a messy situation on their hands, and there are very few players to build around. Just keep drafting the best player available.

10. Buffalo Bills
2011 Record: 6-10
Positional Needs: Defensive end, outside linebacker, cornerback, tackle, wide receiver, inside linebacker
Analysis: The Bills played over their heads on their way to a 3-0 start, and at 5-2, they were still tied for the AFC East lead heading into Week 9. They were then crushed by injuries, so a good draft and some better fortune should put them back in a good position in 2012.

*11. Kansas City Chiefs
2011 Record: 7-9
Positional Needs: Tackle, defensive tackle, outside linebacker, quarterback, wide receiver, tight end, running back
Analysis: The needs could really shift with the Chiefs based on the health of a rash of players returning from injury, along with the decisions of cornerback Brandon Carr and wide receiver Dwayne Bowe in free agency.

*12. Seattle Seahawks
2011 Record: 7-9
Positional Needs: Quarterback, defensive end, defensive tackle, inside linebacker, outside linebacker, cornerback, guard
Analysis: This is a huge offseason for head coach Pete Carroll and the Seahawks' front office. They've got a bevy of free agents to retain, and they didn't spend much last year, which will give them flexibility to throw around more money now. If they don't get aggressive, they won't have a chance to get back to the playoffs.

13. Arizona Cardinals
2011 Record: 8-8
Positional Needs: Tackle, inside linebacker, outside linebacker, wide receiver, tight end, quarterback, cornerback
Analysis: Quarterback Kevin Kolb wasn't the answer last season, but there were too many injuries to completely close the book on him. The Cardinals need better consistency in that area and more punch on defense to make a run at the 49ers.

14. Dallas Cowboys
2011 Record: 8-8
Positional Needs: Cornerback, safety, guard, inside linebacker, defensive end, center, defensive tackle, outside linebacker
Analysis: This pick will likely address the secondary or the interior of the offensive line. The other needs are more about depth than anything.

15. Philadelphia Eagles
2011 Record: 8-8
Positional Needs: Inside linebacker, outside linebacker, safety, guard, wide receiver, defensive tackle, cornerback
Analysis: The Eagles are talented enough to contend again in 2012, but they need to change the culture in the locker room. There were too many egos and missed meetings for this group to overcome last season.

16. New York Jets
2011 Record: 8-8
Positional Needs: Outside linebacker, safety, tackle, defensive tackle, wide receiver, tight end
Analysis: Speaking of locker room chemistry, can the Jets draft Gandhi?

17. Cincinnati Bengals
2011 Record: 9-7
Positional Needs: Cornerback, running back, wide receiver, safety, guard, defensive end
Analysis: This pick came from the Raiders as part of the Carson Palmer trade (the Raiders' team needs are listed below).

18. San Diego Chargers
2011 Record: 8-8
Positional Needs: Outside linebacker, safety, cornerback, wide receiver, tight end, guard, tackle
Analysis: Another year, another late-teens draft pick. Head coach Norv Turner's group is nothing if not consistent, or something like that.

19. Chicago Bears
2011 Record: 8-8
Positional Needs: Wide receiver, tight end, tackle, guard, safety, cornerback, running back
Analysis: Quarterback Jay Cutler needs a hug in the form of a new offensive line, a few fresh targets and a contract extension for running back Matt Forte.

20. Tennessee Titans
2011 Record: 9-7
Positional Needs: Guard, center, safety, outside linebacker, defensive end, wide receiver
Analysis: The Titans just missed the playoffs while overachieving due to their ability to take advantage of a weak division, which might be just as weak in 2012 if Peyton Manning leaves Indy. But they did this despite running back Chris Johnson's poor year and inconsistency at quarterback. It's time to give the keys to Jake Locker.

21. Cincinnati Bengals
2011 Record: 9-7
Positional Needs: Cornerback, running back, wide receiver, safety, guard, defensive end
Analysis: With two selections in the middle of the first round, the Bengals will have a great opportunity to boost a team that raised eyebrows in 2011. If they can walk away from these two picks with a cornerback and an extra weapon for quarterback Andy Dalton, they'll be off to a good start.

22. Cleveland Browns
2011 Record: 4-12
Positional Needs: Quarterback, wide receiver, running back, cornerback, defensive end, tackle, guard, outside linebacker
Analysis: This pick came from the Falcons as part of the Julio Jones trade (the Falcons' team needs are listed below).

23. Detroit Lions
2011 Record: 10-6
Positional Needs: Cornerback, safety, tackle, center, defensive end, outside linebacker
Analysis: This roster still has its fill of flaws, but the offense is good enough to overcome them to an extent. Nevertheless, this is a really important offseason for the Lions. If they can build upon their 2011 momentum, they'll put themselves in position to contend for several more years.

24. Pittsburgh Steelers
2011 Record: 12-4
Positional Needs: Tackle, guard, cornerback, inside linebacker, defensive tackle, running back
Analysis: The Steelers could be in serious trouble. Earlier this month, NFL.com reported they'd be $22.5 million over the salary cap entering the new league year, so the Steelers' holes could really widen.

25. Denver Broncos
2011 Record: 8-8
Positional Needs: Defensive tackle, inside linebacker, safety, cornerback, wide receiver, running back
Analysis: As much help as the Broncos need on defense, they will really create a stir if and when they use a mid-round pick on a quarterback.

26. Houston Texans
2011 Record: 10-6
Positional Needs: Wide receiver, outside linebacker, defensive tackle, guard, center, safety, cornerback
Analysis: One might guess the Texans would exchange all of their draft picks for a peaceful contract resolution with free agent outside linebacker Mario Williams. Without that, they'll need to add another presence to the edge, as well as some more receiving targets.

27. New England Patriots
2011 Record: 13-3
Positional Needs: Safety, outside linebacker, defensive end, wide receiver, cornerback
Analysis: This pick came from the Saints as part of the Mark Ingram trade (the Saints' team needs are listed below).

28. Green Bay Packers
2011 Record: 15-1
Positional Needs: Outside linebacker, defensive end, safety, cornerback, running back
Analysis: The Packers are still in tremendous position to make a run in 2012. More than anything, they just need to beef up their core of edge rushers and add some depth to the secondary.

29. Baltimore Ravens
2011 Record: 12-4
Positional Needs: Inside linebacker, wide receiver, tackle, center, safety, outside linebacker
Analysis: The Ravens lack lateral quickness over the middle, which caused them to continuously lose tight ends Aaron Hernandez and Rob Gronkowski and wide receiver Wes Welker in the playoff loss. And once again, the Ravens still need another receiver for quarterback Joe Flacco.

30. San Francisco 49ers
2011 Record: 13-3
Positional Needs: Wide receiver, cornerback, safety, outside linebacker, tackle, guard, quarterback
bThe draft needs will be determined by the fate of cornerback Carlos Rogers, safety Dashon Goldson and outside linebacker Ahmad Brooks. If the Niners retain all three, they can focus on the offensive line and draft for luxury.

31. New England Patriots
2011 Record: 13-3
Positional Needs: Safety, outside linebacker, defensive end, wide receiver, cornerback, defensive tackle
Analysis: The Patriots are still in great shape, but they need playmakers at safety, on the edge of the defense and at wide receiver. Since there's a deep crop of talent at defensive tackle, don't be surprised if the Patriots add depth there, too, to preserve Vince Wilfork, or at least add to his positional flexibility.

32. New York Giants
2011 Record: 9-7
Positional Needs: Inside linebacker, tight end, safety, cornerback, guard, defensive tackle, wide receiver
Analysis: The Super Bowl champs will need a contingency plan after tight end Jake Ballard tore up his knee, and wide receiver Mario Manningham is a free agent who might be able to cash in elsewhere.

Atlanta Falcons (first pick at No. 55 overall)
2011 Record: 10-6
Positional Needs: Defensive end, linebacker, safety, cornerback, tackle, guard, running back, tight end
Analysis: Bottom line, the Falcons need to get tougher, and their biggest improvements should be through free agency, particularly on defense.

New Orleans Saints (first pick at No. 59 overall)
2011 Record: 13-3
Positional Needs: Outside linebacker, wide receiver, guard, defensive tackle, safety
Analysis: The Saints would ideally like to add some defensive playmakers, but they might have to replace guard Carl Nicks and wide receiver Marques Colston, among others. Plus, quarterback Drew Brees will either take on a gigantic cap number with the franchise tag or a slightly less gigantic number with a contract extension. And since the Saints don't have any first-round picks, they'll have very little room for error this offseason.

Oakland Raiders (first pick scheduled for fifth round, pending awarding of compensatory selections)
2011 Record: 8-8
Positional Needs: Cornerback, defensive tackle, safety, guard, outside linebacker
Analysis: Even if they get the first compensatory pick, which is the 97th overall selection, the Raiders will have a very difficult time addressing their needs in this draft. They simply must hope the trade for Palmer was the right move.

Have a question for Jeff Howe? Send it to him via Twitter at @jeffphowe or send it here. He will pick a few questions to answer every week for his mailbag.

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