- Paul Kuharsky, ESPN Staff Writer
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NFL Nation previews the 2013 scouting combine by identifying the most important thing for each team to learn about its greatest area of need.
Houston Texans: Andre Johnson still dictates matchups, but the Texans lack sufficient options in the receiving group after him. Last year they tried to fill out the position with a third-rounder (DeVier Posey) and fourth-rounder (Keshawn Martin). Both have promise, but aren’t especially dynamic. And Posey is recovering from an Achilles injury suffered in the playoff loss at New England. So the combine question is, can a receiver who can stretch the field and qualify as a No. 1 guy in a few years be there for them at No. 27? Cordarrelle Patterson from Tennessee and Keenan Allen from Cal could be gone. Does DeAndre Hopkins of Clemson have enough speed? Does Tavon Austin of West Virginia have enough size?
Indianapolis Colts: How do the cornerbacks run? The Colts have a lot of needs, but none ranks bigger than cornerback, where they need a second starter and perhaps a nickel, as well as depth. Alabama’s Dee Milliner seems largely regarded to be the top guy at the spot heading into the combine. Odds are he’ll be gone by the 24th pick. So how do the next guys run, and how capable are they of playing man-to-man coverage? I think sorting through that for Florida State’s Xavier Rhodes, Washington’s Desmond Trufant and Mississippi State’s Johnthan Banks could be the biggest thing Indianapolis needs to do at this combine.
Jacksonville Jaguars: Who are the two best pass-rushing defensive ends in this draft class for a Gus Bradley/Bob Babich defense? That’s the biggest question for the team holding the No. 2 pick in the April draft. Because if the Chiefs take a pass-rusher first overall, then the Jaguars can do no worse than get their second-favorite guy. Certainly they can go in virtually any direction given the state of their roster. But coming off a season that saw the Jags produce fewer sacks (20) than J.J. Watt had by himself for Houston (20.5), they need to answer a long-standing problem. A new defense simply has to get to the quarterback more than the old defense did. Is Bjoern Werner from Florida State or Damontre Moore of Texas A&M a potential answer?
Tennessee Titans: A pass-rusher and a strong safety are big needs. But they won’t help Jake Locker the way an interior offensive lineman (or two) can. So the Titans need to see if they rate Alabama’s Chance Warmack and North Carolina’s Jonathan Cooper as highly as many analysts do, and if they find one or both worth the No. 10 pick if they are available. If they don’t think they are, is there a second- or third-round prospect they believe can be an immediate and long-term starter? If Tennessee doesn’t find a guard scenario it loves, perhaps it will be more likely to shop for a free agent for the interior.