Certain problems crept out of the woodwork for playoff teams who were sent home in the wild card round. How does this change their 2014 NFL draft plans?
Kansas City Chiefs – Linebacker
Injuries ravaged the Kansas City Chiefs during their loss to the Indianapolis Colts, especially on defense. As the game wore on Andrew Luck found more and more openings in the secondary, but it all started with the inability of the Chiefs to consistently pressure him. They still have problems at the linebacker spots, both inside and outside. Justin Houston couldn’t stay healthy down the stretch and Tamba Hali wasn’t the same without him. As much as the Chiefs would love to add another playmaker for Alex Smith, the defense was the reason they lost the game and is something they have to get better depth on if they want to erase memories of that epic collapse.
Philadelphia Eagles – Safety
It wasn’t glaring during the game but when the Philadelphia Eagles needed big plays from their safeties, more often than not those prayers went unanswered. Whether it was big plays or bad penalties, Patrick Chung and Nate Allen just couldn’t summon enough to shut down drives when they had to. New Orleans took advantage of some key moments and won the game on a winning field goal. Allen and Chung don’t deserve all of the blame for the loss, but it is clear competition may be coming to that position when the draft rolls around next May.
Cincinnati Bengals – Quarterback
Geno Atkins was sorely missed by the Cincinnati Bengals but in reality that game falls squarely on the shoulders of Andy Dalton. With more than one chance to take advantage of some prime opportunities, the third-year quarterback literally and figuratively fumbled them away. On the day he finished with over 330 yards passing but threw two critical interceptions and lost a fumble. The San Diego Chargers capitalized and extended Marvin Lewis’ winless streak in the playoffs to 0-4. Though their position in the 2014 NFL draft is not ideal, it is becoming clearer that the one position holding the Bengals back from contention is Dalton who consistently seems to play his worst in big games.
Green Bay Packers – Linebacker
Injuries have become a regular problem every year for the Green Bay Packers, especially on defense. Nowhere was it more apparent than their linebacking corps. Not only was Clay Matthews out at the start of the 49er game, they also lost two others in the contest, not to mention the other names inhabiting the injured list they had already replaced. The Packers gave it a heck of an effort but in the end whenever San Francisco needed a drive they got one thanks to the running of Frank Gore and Colin Kaepernick. Getting healthier may help next year but Green Bay has to start finding players at that position who can stay healthy.