With the NFL Draft coming up tonight, it’s time to get excited again for the nation’s most popular sport. At this point, hope fills the air because everyone’s team, no matter how terrible, is in the hunt. With many of the major free agents signed, the draft is the last chance for many teams to fill their needs headed into training camp.

I have found four teams that are one piece away from serious Super Bowl contention headed into the draft. This is NOT for fans of teams that are elite already (New York Giants, Green Bay, Houston). This is also NOT for teams with horrible, crippling issues (Cleveland, St. Louis, Tampa Bay).

Which teams could make a huge leap with a good draft on Thursday? Let’s take a look:

Detroit Lions:

Missing Piece – Secondary

Forgive me for including the Lions here. I’ve been a fan my whole life, and we sucked until last year. The offense carried the team to 10 wins and a playoff berth last year. A quick analysis of last year’s results show one thing; the Lions need serious help on defense.

After using last year’s first round pick on Nick Fairley, the defensive line and (to a lesser extent) linebacker’s aren’t a pressing concern for this team right now. The biggest need is in the secondary. The Lions have to play Aaron Rodgers and Jay Cutler twice every year, and the corpses and scarecrows they currently have propped up in the secondary won’t cut it. Shoring up the defensive backfield with the best Cornerback or Safety available is the right move for my beloved Lions.

See Also:  What's a Point Guard Anyway: The Curious Case of Russell Westbrook

The Pick: Janoris Jenkins (and his weed dealer), CB from North Alabama

Chicago Bears:

Missing Piece – Defensive End

As much as I hate to say it (see above), the Bears were a dangerous team last year before key injuries ruined the season. With a healthy Jay Cutler, Matt Forte, and Brandon Marshall, this team has great potential on offense. They also have one of the best special teams players ever in Devin Hester. Without a few lucky (sorry, I’m still a Lions fan) injuries, this team would have been a threat to win the NFC.

The plan for the Bears, then, is to inject some youth on the defensive line. Julius Peppers and Israel Idonije were productive catalysts for one of last year’s best defenses, but they are both 32 years old. The Bears should use their first round pick to take the best Defensive Lineman available and pray for health.

The Pick: Nick Perry, DE from USC

Dallas Cowboys:

Missing Piece – Secondary

The Cowboys are one of the league’s most frustrating teams. Watching a team with this much talent cost themselves games and continually underperform is hilarious if you’re a Giants or Redskins fan but aggravating if you live in northern Texas.

On the positive side, Tony Romo is a great quarterback (despite his Lebron-like 4th quarters) and they uncovered a hidden gem in DeMarco Murray. Dez Bryant and Miles Austin are potential pro bowlers as well.

See Also:  4 Sports Podcasts to Get You to Football Season

The Cowboys need help on defense, specifically the Secondary. The ‘Boys took a Cornerback with their first pick last year, but they definitely need more help in that area.

The Pick: Mark Barron, SS from Alabama

Philadelphia Eagles:

Missing Piece – Defensive Line

The “Dream Team” Eagles had a rough year by fan and media standards last year. On the bright side, the offense was often fun to watch. Mike Vick and LeSean McCoy are elite talents when healthy, and locking up DeSean Jackson with a five-year contract should ease many of the concerns that affected his play last season.

The Eagles’ biggest concern lies on the defensive line. The team boasts a talented defensive backfield that should improve in its second year together. Acquiring Demarco Ryans in the offseason filled a need at Linebacker, so the Eagles should solidify the defensive line with this pick.

The Pick: Quinton Coples, DE from University of North Carolina

What do you think? Can you see these teams making a leap to the big game next year? What is your team lacking?

Addendum: I couldn’t address every team with unique needs. Namely: the Atlanta Falcons (heart), New York Jets (competence), Baltimore Ravens (a QB not named Flacco), and Pittsburgh Steelers (a fountain of youth).

See Also:  Can the Heat Close it? The SBM Sports NBA Finals Preview

Just not sure you can draft those things. Good luck to you if these are your teams though!