Draft Day Nostradamus

Cold, Hard Football Facts for Apr 27, 2006



The "pundits" have their useless mock drafts, and every so-called expert is laying out who they think each team will pick based upon, well, not much, really.
 
The "pundits," as loyal readers of the Cold, Hard Football Facts know, typically have no idea what they're talking about. They rely upon opinions and trends, not upon the harsh, inalterable reality of raw numbers.
 
With that said, our stance on the mock draft is well-documented. They're useless and you'll never see one here.
 
However, we did a simple exercise to show you how the draft is likely to unfold over the next two days. We pulled together the 2005 rankings for all 32 NFL teams in the eight major statistical categories:
  • total offense
  • scoring offense
  • rush offense
  • pass offense
  • total defense
  • scoring defense
  • rush defense
  • pass defense
We show the rankings – 1 to 32 – for each team below, along with an outline of what you'll probably see based upon those rankings. A spreadsheet that shows the rankings in all these categories for each and every team can be found here.
 
What emerges from these numbers is a pretty clear picture of each team last season. You'll see in no uncertain terms the areas in which teams were weak and areas in which teams were strong.
 
We don't purport, like the fraudulent "pundits," to tell you who each team is going to select. Nobody knows. But, we're fairly certain that, by the time the draft is over, you'll see each team make a concerted effort to shore up the positions and areas we outline here. Our findings are not based upon the whims of the "pundits," but upon the harsh, inalterable reality of raw numbers and the Cold, Hard Football Facts.
 
This is not intended to be a mock draft. And free agency will help teams strengthen some of these weaknesses. But we're fairly certain that, when all is said and done, you'll see teams go after the areas outlined here pretty aggressively.
 
ARIZONA
Total O
Score O
Rush O
Pass O
Total D
Score D
Rush D
Pass D
8
17
32
1
8
26
10
12
 
The Cardinals ranked No. 1 in passing offense and dead last in rush offense. And, interestingly, they rank fairly well in every statistical defensive category, except the one that matters: They were No. 26 in scoring defense. A top running back would be nice, and they filled that need by signing Edgerrin James away from Indy. Now the Cardinals are a team that needs a disruptive defensive gamebreaker.
 
ATLANTA
Total O
Score O
Rush O
Pass O
Total D
Score D
Rush D
Pass D
12
14
1
27
22
18
26
14
 
The Falcons offense is a reflexive image of Arizona's: No. 1 in rushing, but near the bottom in passing. And, like the Cardinals, the big needs for this team really are on the defensive side of the ball. The Falcons need a stud defensive lineman.
 
BALTIMORE
Total O
Score O
Rush O
Pass O
Total D
Score D
Rush D
Pass D
24
25
21
22
5
10
9
8
 
Stop us if you heard this song before: tough defense, lousy offense. It's been a Top Five hit in Baltimore for years. It worked once, in the year in which they had one of the great defenses in NFL history and the undisputed best in the league's "Live Ball" Era. Kyle Boller seemed to have silenced his critics, at least temporarily, late last season. So it appears the Ravens will benefit most from help on the offensive line.
 
BUFFALO
Total O
Score O
Rush O
Pass O
Total D
Score D
Rush D
Pass D
28
24
20
29
29
24
31
19
 
The bad news for the Bills is that they suck across the board. Not quite Houston bad (see below). But bad just the same. Buffalo's top statistical ranking was 19th in pass defense. One reason they ranked so high is because they were so easy to run the ball against, ranking 31st in that category. On a team taking on water all across the organization, the Bills need help most in their defensive front seven.
 
CAROLINA
Total O
Score O
Rush O
Pass O
Total D
Score D
Rush D
Pass D
21
8
19
17
3
5
4
9
 
Ever since their Super Bowl season in 2003, the Panthers have been labeled as a great rushing team. The Cold, Hard Football Fact simply don't support that assessment and never have. They are a PERSISTENT rushing team – in other words, coach John Fox insists on pounding the ball. But Carolina has not been particularly effective in this area, as their No. 19 ranking in rush offense can attest. The Panthers were fairly stiff on defense. What they need are some young legs to carry the rock and make Fox's insistence on running more fruitful.
 
CHICAGO
Total O
Score O
Rush O
Pass O
Total D
Score D
Rush D
Pass D
29
26
8
31
2
1
11
5
 
No team in football last year showed a greater disparity between proficiency on one side of the ball (in this case, defense) and deficiency on the other side of the ball (offense). It's never wise to pick a wide receiver early, but the Bears are one team that desperately needs someone to open up the attack. A stud offensive lineman would go a long way toward that goal, too.
 
CINCINNATI
Total O
Score O
Rush O
Pass O
Total D
Score D
Rush D
Pass D
6
4
11
5
28
22
20
26
 
The Bengals are the mirror image of the Bears – spectacular on one side of the ball (in this case, offense), but woeful on the other (defense). Cincinnati was able to stay competitive most of the year by being a league leader in forcing turnovers. But you can't count on that strategy to carry your defense each year. Clearly, this is a team that needs talent in the defensive backfield.
 
CLEVELAND
Total O
Score O
Rush O
Pass O
Total D
Score D
Rush D
Pass D
26
32
25
23
16
11
30
4
 
The Browns had trouble stopping people on the ground but became a fairly efficient defense, ranking No. 16 in scoring. The defensive needs are overshadowed by an offense that ranked dead last in scoring. The Browns clearly need help with an offensive gamebreaker, but a defensive-minded coach like Romeo Crennel may be inclined to shore up his defensive line, which was among the worst in football against the run. Clearly, that cannot sit well with Crennel.
 
DALLAS
Total O
Score O
Rush O
Pass O
Total D
Score D
Rush D
Pass D
13
15
13
15
10
12
15
11
 
Mediocrity across the board defined the Cowboys' 9-7 season. They ranked 10 to 15 in every major statistical category. Yes, it's the top half of the league in each area, but they excelled in no one phase of the game. On a team that drafted front-line defensive talent last year, look for the Cowboys to grab offensive line talent this year.
 
DENVER
Total O
Score O
Rush O
Pass O
Total D
Score D
Rush D
Pass D
5
7
2
18
15
3
2
29
 
Despite the big-name acquisition of Champ Bailey before the 2004 season, the Broncos ranked just No. 29 last year in pass defense. Sure, that's often a misleading category, as the Broncos routinely ran up leads on opponents, who also found it difficult to run against the Denver defense. Still, it remains the one statistical anomaly on a team that's otherwise strong across the board. It also contributed a No. 15 ranking in scoring defense for a team that hosted the AFC title game. Denver's biggest need is in the defensive backfield.
 
DETROIT
Total O
Score O
Rush O
Pass O
Total D
Score D
Rush D
Pass D
27
28
26
26
20
21
24
13
 
The team that has drafted three straight wide receivers in the first round ranked just 26th in passing offense last year. It's just another sign that Matt Millen is the worst GM in football. What the hell? The Lions need help everywhere on offense. They might as well draft another wide receiver. Here's hoping.
 
GREEN BAY
Total O
Score O
Rush O
Pass O
Total D
Score D
Rush D
Pass D
18
22
30
7
7
19
23
1
 
Of course, Green Bay's biggest need is at quarterback. They even attempted to do something about it by drafting Aaron Rodgers with their No. 1 pick last year. Now if they actually put him on the field, they might be getting somewhere. Interesting to note, too, that their defense – blamed for all of Brett Favre's ills – actually fared pretty well last year, ranking No. 7 in total D and No. 19 in scoring D. Bet you didn't know that, didja? Thank the Cold, Hard Football Facts for setting you free from hype. The GB D wasn't great by any stretch, but it wasn't the wet paper bag it was made out to be by the Favre apologists. However, they do have one thing right: The Packers lost a lot of great offensive lineman and that's where their greatest needs sit in this draft.
 
HOUSTON
Total O
Score O
Rush O
Pass O
Total D
Score D
Rush D
Pass D
30
26
15
30
31
32
32
24
 
Have you ever seen a team that was so poor in so many areas? Just a brutal, brutal statistical season, as evidenced by a league-worst 2-14 record. While a seemingly rare talent like running back Reggie Bush may be tough to resist with the No. 1 pick, running is the one area where the Texans actually fared pretty well last year. As the Cold, Hard Football Facts showed yesterday, Houston will be much better served trading down and bulking up their teams in multiple areas. The Texans need help everywhere BUT running back, starting with defensive line.
 
INDY
Total O
Score O
Rush O
Pass O
Total D
Score D
Rush D
Pass D
3
2
16
3
11
2
16
15
 
Clearly the Colts are set at quarterback and wide receiver. They ranked just 16th in rushing offense, but that's more indicative of a team that depended upon the pass, as they were extremely effective when they did run the ball. However, Edgerrin James is gone to Arizona, so running back is a need. However, despite fielding the No. 2 scoring defense in football last year, the Colts got steadily worse on that side of the ball as the season progressed. This is a team that could still use a stud run-stuffer on the defensive line or at linebacker.
 
JACKSONVILLE
Total O
Score O
Rush O
Pass O
Total D
Score D
Rush D
Pass D
15
12
10
19
6
6
14
7
 
The Jaguars are known for having a big, tough defensive line. But the Cold, Hard Football Facts don't see that. They ranked just 14th against the run last year. That's hardly an intimidating force. Jacksonville needs help on the defensive line, as well as at wide receiver.
 
KANSAS CITY
Total O
Score O
Rush O
Pass O
Total D
Score D
Rush D
Pass D
1
6
4
6
25
16
7
30
 
Much like Baltimore, Kansas City has become an institutionally one-dimensional team. While the Ravens always seem to be great on defense and sucky on offense, the Chiefs are routinely great on offense and lousy on defense. It makes for some exciting, high-scoring games. It even sells a lot of tickets and earns a lot of spots on the Pro Bowl roster. And those great early-season offensive outputs always seem to give the "pundits" a big chubby. They then tout the Chiefs as a "team to beat." They never are. And they never will be until they turn around their one-dimensional brand of football. Despite signing Patrick Surtain last year, Kansas City remains desperate for help in the defensive backfield.
 
MIAMI
Total O
Score O
Rush O
Pass O
Total D
Score D
Rush D
Pass D
14
16
12
16
18
15
17
20
 
When people think of the Dolphins, they think of a tough defensive squad that has difficulty moving the ball. That reputation was reinforced last year when defensive-oriented coach Nick Saban came on board to lead the team. But the Cold, Hard Football Facts show that Miami was actually better across the board on offense than it was on defense. Who knew? Oh, that's right. The Cold, Hard Football Facts knew. The Dolphins need help at many levels on defense, but Saban first needs to boost his defensive backfield.
 
MINNESOTA
Total O
Score O
Rush O
Pass O
Total D
Score D
Rush D
Pass D
25
19
27
20
21
19
19
22
 
The 2005 season was a disaster for everyone in Minnesota but its swingers community. The mock drafters all have Minnesota picking a defender, but the Vikings are more desperate for help on offense, particularly with its ground game. They need running backs and offensive linemen.
 
NEW ENGLAND
Total O
Score O
Rush O
Pass O
Total D
Score D
Rush D
Pass D
7
10
24
2
26
17
8
31
 
New England fans are sure to lament the lack of a running game and the seemingly thin corps of receivers, but the Patriots fared quite well last year on offense and their passing game ranked No. 2 in the entire league. Despite the concerns about the offense, the true needs for this time are on defense. The pass defense was among the very worst in football and the team must boost its secondary, along with its linebacking corps.
 
NEW ORLEANS
Total O
Score O
Rush O
Pass O
Total D
Score D
Rush D
Pass D
20
31
18
14
14
28
27
3
 
Would you believe the Saints had one of the top pass defenses in football last year? No? Neither would we. Like Green Bay, the ranking of the New Orleans pass defense benefited from the fact that it was simply too easy for teams to hand off the ball and run against it. New Orleans must stock up on defensive linemen and run-stuffing linebackers. Quarterback would have been its biggest concern, but the Drew Brees signing should dull that glaring weakness.
 
N.Y. GIANTS
Total O
Score O
Rush O
Pass O
Total D
Score D
Rush D
Pass D
4
3
6
11
24
14
12
27
 
The offense was prolific last year – right up until, in true Manning fashion, the playoffs, when it was shut out by Carolina. This was an offense that boasted a player, Tiki Barber, who racked up 2,390 yards from scrimmage, second most in the history of the league. Still, you have to believe that the playoff performance was an anomaly. The true needs for this team lay on defense. The Giants were near the bottom of the league in pass defense (despite being near the top of the league with 41 sacks) and must find studs in the secondary.
 
N.Y. JETS
Total O
Score O
Rush O
Pass O
Total D
Score D
Rush D
Pass D
31
29
31
28
12
23
29
2
 
The Jets offense stunk so bad last year that we saw it float up on a beach in Bayonne. Its best showing, the pass offense, ranked 28th, while Christopher Reeve could have run the ball better. The Jets are in desperate need of offensive lineman and, perhaps, a stud ballcarrier.
 
OAKLAND
Total O
Score O
Rush O
Pass O
Total D
Score D
Rush D
Pass D
21
23
29
10
27
25
25
18
 
Looks like that Randy Moss signing really paid off last year: The Raiders ranked No. 10 in passing. Too bad the rest of the team was a horror story. The "pundits" believe Vince Young, a tight end or a receiver might be in Oakland's plans. They may be right. But that would be a mistake. It would just be another failed effort to relive the Mad Bomber days of Lamonica, Stabler and Plunkett. But that system hasn't worked for more than 20 years. Just ask Moss. The truth is that Oakland must find a way to move the ball on the ground and should solidify its offensive line and its collection of ballcarriers.
 
PHILADELPHIA
Total O
Score O
Rush O
Pass O
Total D
Score D
Rush D
Pass D
19
17
28
8
23
26
21
21
 
Following four straight years as one of the NFC's dominant powers, Philly's 2005 season turned into Nightmare on South Street, with Terrell Owens as Freddy Krueger. Despite the unceremonious and long-overdue dismissal of Owens, and the injury to quarterback Donovan McNabb, the Eagles still mounted the No. 8-ranked passing attack. This team's problem remains a lack of ability – and desire – to run the football. The Eagles must find a monster on the offensive line and someone to pound the ball behind him.
 
PITTSBURGH
Total O
Score O
Rush O
Pass O
Total D
Score D
Rush D
Pass D
15
9
4
24
4
3
3
16
 
Even Super Bowl champions typically have needs, but for Pittsburgh they're hard to find. The team is solid across the board – as champions typically are – and even its apparent weakness is somewhat deceptive. The Steelers ranked just 24th in pass offense, but that was more a function of their traditional desire to grind out yardage on the ground. Pittsburgh was effective when it did choose to pass. The "pundits" generally believe the Steelers will stock up on offensive linemen. It's a perfectly sensible and noble decision if they do. But the Cold, Hard Football Facts show needs at wide receiver and in the defensive backfield.
 
SAN DIEGO
Total O
Score O
Rush O
Pass O
Total D
Score D
Rush D
Pass D
10
5
9
12
13
13
1
28
 
When you look at the across-the-board rankings, it's hard to believe this team didn't even make the playoffs. Compare San Diego's rankings to, for example, those of New England, a team which advanced to the divisional playoffs. Of course, the Chargers whitewashed the Patriots in Foxboro, bringing to an end a home win streak that lasted more than two full season and 1,000 days. Still, when a team fails to reach the playoffs, it has needs. The top need in San Diego is at coach, where Marty Schottenheimer continued his tradition of fielding high-powered teams that fail to fulfill their potential. Unfortunately for San Diego fans, you can't pick coaches in the draft. The Chargers should settle instead for cornerbacks and safeties to shore up one of the worst pass defenses in football.
 
SAN FRANCISCO
Total O
Score O
Rush O
Pass O
Total D
Score D
Rush D
Pass D
32
30
17
32
32
30
18
32
 
The biggest weakness for the 49ers is found at the helm of the ship. Owner John York has turned this once-proud gridiron juggernaut into one of the least competitive franchises in North American sports (check out the great site www.dumpyork.com). It's been an astounding transformation. But, as Chargers fans know, you can't upgrade the coaching staff or front office on Draft Day. You can only expose their weaknesses. But there is plenty of room for improvement on the field in San Francisco, too. Note that the 49ers managed to place 30th or 32nd in six of our eight categories. Look for San Francisco to seek talent at wide receiver and along the offensive line. A stud corner wouldn't hurt, either. But really, a new owner is the key.
 
SEATTLE
Total O
Score O
Rush O
Pass O
Total D
Score D
Rush D
Pass D
2
1
3
13
17
7
5
25
 
The across-the-board rankings look pretty spectacular. But keep in mind that Seattle plays in the worst division in football and in a National Football Conference that's clearly the JV of the modern NFL. The only obvious weakness is in the defensive backfield. The Seahawks were among the worst pass defenses in football, despite racking up a league-leading 50 sacks.
 
ST. LOUIS
Total O
Score O
Rush O
Pass O
Total D
Score D
Rush D
Pass D
9
11
22
4
30
30
28
23
 
Yet another team – like Kansas City and Cincinnati – that puts up plenty of pretty points, yet consistently fails to keep opposing offenses off the field and out of the end zone. The primary need for the Rams is in the defensive front line.
 
TAMPA BAY
Total O
Score O
Rush O
Pass O
Total D
Score D
Rush D
Pass D
23
20
14
25
1
8
6
6
 
No team was tougher to move the ball against all of last year. But as we discovered late in the season and again in the playoffs, the Buccaneers are a team with serious flaws on the offensive side of the football. These flaws radiate like a Chernobyl power plant when measured by the gridiron Geiger counter called the Cold, Hard Football Facts. Chris Simms showed flashes of competence and the team certainly won't grab a quarterback, so look for Tampa to prop up its receiving corps.
 
TENNESSEE
Total O
Score O
Rush O
Pass O
Total D
Score D
Rush D
Pass D
17
21
23
9
19
29
22
17
 
Hard to believe that just two years ago the Titans were one of the top teams in the NFL, lauded by "pundits" as one of the true tough teams in football. Quarterback Steve McNair, 2003 co-MVP, was "tough." Running back Eddie George was "tough." No less an ass hack than Pete Prisco insisted that Tennessee would beat eventual 2003 Super Bowl champion New England (14-2 at the time) becuase "they had more stars." It's laughable today, when McNair is a crippled old quarterback and George is out of football completely. The fortunes of the Titans have tumbled accordingly. Their biggest flaw last year was their inability to keep opposing offenses out of the end zone. This is a team in desperate need of studs at defensive line and linebacker.
 
WASHINGTON
Total O
Score O
Rush O
Pass O
Total D
Score D
Rush D
Pass D
11
13
7
21
9
9
13
10
 
Washington coach Joe Gibbs is one of our all-time favorites. How can you argue with a guy who has quietly been a Hall of Fame champion in the NFL and in NASCAR? If he ever wins an NRA skeet-shooting championship or a sophomore class keg-stand competition, we'll bear his children. He turned the lowly Redskins back into a playoff team again in just his second year of his second term in Washington. But even Gibbs is going to struggle with just two picks in the first five rounds. Not a good way to build a team showing the smallest buds of potential. Plus, the new Gibbs 'Skins have simply not been the same team on offense as the Super Bowl champions of his first term. Washington needs to find ways to strengthen its passing game.
 

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