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Tag:Branden Albert
Posted on: December 30, 2011 4:57 pm
Edited on: December 30, 2011 4:58 pm
 

Top Ten with a Twist: Draft needs

A. Luck should be a No. 1 selection in next year's draft. Who will select him, though (US Presswire).

By Josh Katzowitz

As we enter the final weekend of the season, a number of squads are just playing out the string, hoping to put a solid performance on film, ready to clean out their lockers and look ahead to next year. While only four games on this week’s schedule mean absolutely nothing in terms of the postseason, quite a few of those teams are just looking to play spoiler.

And looking to the 2012 draft, where they can begin to rebuild their team or shore up that one position that could put them over the hump for next season. That’s why we’re taking the 10-worst teams in the league this year and finding one major flaw that needs to be fixed from April 26-28 in New York City’s Radio Music Hall.

For these teams -- and their fans -- the time has come to salivate at the prospects of landing the exact right guy that could change their fortunes for years to come.

10. Bills: Defensive line -- I didn’t like the Ryan Fitzpatrick $59 million extension earlier this year, and I hate it now. But I think Buffalo has other concerns for the moment, and they come on defense. For one, Buffalo has a tough time stopping the run. First-round pick Marcell Dareus has been a bit inconsistent at the nose tackle, but he also has the ability to play like a monster. The 3-4  ends, though, need to be better. Injured tackle Kyle Williams obviously will help when he returns next season, but the ability to rush the passer once in a while also would help (Buffalo’s 25 sacks ranks 30th in the league).

9. Dolphins: Quarterback -- Look, the Dolphins have some talent. They proved that when Tony Sparano’s job was on the line, and they started winning games. They proved it by nearly beating Tom Brady, and they proved it by nearly beating Tim Tebow (that last point was a joke). While Matt Moore has been much better than expected after taking over for Chad Henne, he’s a Band-Aid. I think most of us would agree that Henne isn’t the answer as the starter, and perhaps, he and Moore could have a battle to see who could back-up a legit starting quarterback. Reggie Bush established himself as a 1,000-yard rusher, and with a talented quarterback like Robert Griffin III (if he lasts that long in the draft), the Dolphins could begin pushing for AFC East crowns.

8. Browns: Pass rushers -- Cleveland got two defensive linemen early last year (tackle Phil Taylor in the first round and end Jabaal Sheard in the second), and they’ve done a nice job on the left side of the defensive line. But the defense ranks 25th in the league in sacks, and defensive end Jayme Mitchell hasn’t had a great season. Marcus Benard, coming off a solid rookie season last year, is on IR, and if the Browns could get one more high-end rusher in the draft, they’d have talent and depth.

7. Redskins: Quarterback -- It’s probably time for Mike Shanahan to come to the realization that his quarterback picks the past two years have been disastrous (Donovan McNabb, Rex Grossman, John Beck). He said the other day that the rebuild of this franchise has taken more time than he thought, but a standout quarterback obviously would help that process along. Shanahan also said that there was no question in his mind that he’d be back next season, but unless he finds a way to invigorate his offense, that might be a different story this time next year.

6. Chiefs: Right tackle -- Looking across Kansas City’s depth chart, there’s not one position group that so obviously needs to be overhauled. The Chiefs have talent, even if some of those positions don’t have much depth. But right tackle Barry Richardson has badly struggled this season. According Pro Football Focus, Richardson is the worst-rated offensive tackle in the league (the decision to cut Jared Gaither near the end of the season was a bad one). Left tackle Branden Albert is solid, but the right side of the line needs to be reworked.

Minnesota's secondary has been a big concern this year (US Presswire).5. Buccaneers: Run defenders -- The Buccaneers tried to shore up their defensive end spots last draft, taking Adrian Clayborn in the first round and Da’Quan Bowers in the second round. Considering Tampa Bay ranks dead last in sacks, the experiment hasn’t paid off immediate dividends. But the Buccaneers are also terrible against the run, and even though tackle Albert Haynesworth has played better than most of us had a right to expect, there are still huge holes to fill in the lineup.

4. Vikings: Secondary -- The Vikings rank as the 31st-worst defense in the NFL, but in reality, their front seven has talent (for instance, Jared Allen, Kevin Williams and Chad Greenway). Minnesota lost Antoine Winfield (its best corner) early in the year, Chris Cook has legal troubles, safety Jamarca  Sanford has struggled badly and the rest of the safeties have been ravaged by injuries. It’s no  wonder opposing quarterbacks dominate the Vikings defensive backs. On the season, Minnesota has recorded seven interceptions, worst in the NFL. The Vikings need to find somebody who can force turnovers in order to improve this unit.

3. Jaguars: Receivers – Oh, how they need receivers. Yes, Blaine Gabbert has been, by far, the worst rookie quarterback to play this year, but Jacksonville, even with new ownership and a new coach, probably needs to give him more than a season to see if he’s a quarterback of the future. He also needs somebody who can catch his passes. Here are Jacksonville’s top-three receivers: Mike Thomas, Jarret Dillard, and yeah, nobody else. In fact, there’s a good chance running back Maurice Jones-Drew will end up as the team’s leading pass-catcher this season. Hard to blame Gabbert completely when his receiving corps is so bad.

2. Colts: Running backs -- Assuming Peyton Manning returns healthy next season -- admittedly, a huge assumption -- his receivers should continue to be fine (this, of course, depends on what happens with free agents Reggie Wayne and Pierre Garcon). But we’ve seen this year that without a running game, a Manning-less Colts squad has very little chance of doing anything (mostly because Manning makes up for SO many team deficiencies). Joseph Addai, who’s averaging 3.8 yards per carry and probably won’t get to 500 rushing yards on the season for the second year in a row, might be released into free agency, and Donald Brown, while improved, isn’t a legit No. 1 running back. The Colts obviously have a big decision to make regarding Manning and Andrew Luck, but taking a running back probably wouldn’t be a bad idea.

1.Rams: Offensive linemen -- There’s been talk that maybe the Rams should grab Luck if they end up with the No. 1 pick. Which, with Sam Bradford on the team, would be ludicrous. Instead, St. Louis should be focused on how to put together an offensive line that doesn’t lead the league in sacks allowed. The biggest problem, not including injuries to Jason Smith and Jacob Bell that have hurt the unit, has been the line’s interior. Linemen aren’t the sexiest position, but damn, St. Louis needs to find some that can stay healthy and keep Bradford and Steven Jackson out of danger.

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Posted on: September 30, 2011 11:52 pm
 

Allen still feels slighted by his time in KC

AllenPosted by Josh Katzowitz

When Vikings defensive end Jared Allen faces off against the Chiefs in Kansas City this Sunday, he won’t have great memories of his departure from there the last time.

That’s because he started his career with the Chiefs, who drafted him 2004 but then traded him to Minnesota in 2008 for the draft picks they eventually would use to select Branden Albert, Jamaal Charles and DaJuan Morgan.

At the time, Allen was coming off his career-high 15 ½ -sack season, but he and then-general manager Carl Peterson couldn’t come to an agreement on a new contract. So, Allen made it clear that he wanted out, and he got what he wanted.

But Allen is obviously still fueled by the end of his tenure in Kansas City, and he lashed out at Peterson, who’s no longer in pro football, this week when discussing it.

After he was asked why he wanted to leave Kansas City, Allen said (via the Kansas City Star), “His name was Carl Peterson. You can write that in caps. Obviously I guess I had a problem with (owner) Clark (Hunt), too, because he chose Carl over me.”

The main problem was that Allen feels like Peterson lied to him. And apparently it still stings.

“When everything went down there,” Allen said, “I didn’t appreciate being lied to. I was told I’d be getting a (contract) extension and everything and the way things played out…

“My biggest thing was, ‘Listen, I never lied to you guys. I show up and I bust my tail for you. Please don’t lie to me.’ After so many times of hearing they’re going to take care of you and they don’t and hearing the words Carl had to say about me, it’s tough to give it your all for somebody like that.”

CBSSports.com sent Peterson an e-mail requesting comment, but the message was not returned. Instead, we’re left to record what former Chiefs coach Herm Edwards said.

“You never like to trade good players, especially guys that can rush the quarterback,” Edwards told the paper. “He’s a unique player. But there are times where you’re forced to do it. In the situation we were in, I don’t think we had any possibility of signing the guy. He felt like he wanted to move on and we were trying to rebuild. We needed players. It worked out well for Minnesota. It worked out for the Chiefs. They got some more players.”

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Posted on: August 11, 2011 12:43 pm
 

Jared Gaither to start over with Chiefs

GaitherPosted by Josh Katzowitz

With Jared Gaither helping hold down the Ravens offensive line, Baltimore was consistently one of the best running teams in the league. Last season, though, Gaither missed the entire year with a back injury, and perhaps not coincidentally, the Ravens running game became rather mediocre.

But with Baltimore set at the T position this season with Michael Oher and Oniel Cousins, the Ravens declined to sign the free agent Gaither -- which, as it turns out, opened the door for the Chiefs, who signed a deal with Gaither on Thursday.

The 6-foot-9, 340-pound Gaither played LT with the Ravens in 2008 and 2009. It’s not immediately clear on what side of the OL he’ll play for Kansas City, though it stands to reason that, assuming Gaither is healthy, he’s a more enticing tackle than Branden Albert on the left side or Barry Richardson on the right side.

There was a thought, though, that if the Ravens re-signed Gaither, they could return him to LT and switch Oher -- who struggled badly at times trying to protect QB Joe Flacco last season -- to the right side of the line.

But either Baltimore is extremely confident in Oher or not so confident in Gaither’s back, and now it’s up to the Chiefs to discover what Gaither has -- or doesn’t have -- left in his body.

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The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com