Draft Dose: NFL coaching changes

Posted March 02, 2011 @ 12:19 p.m.
Posted By Andrew Struckmeyer

With the usual flurry of coaching moves in the offseason, many new regimes are beginning in NFL franchises. They can set the tone for the direction of their franchises with their first draft. In the 10th installment of the Draft Dose series, we take a look at where these new head coaches might look with their first picks, listed in order of selection in the first round of April's draft.

Ron Rivera, Panthers

Rivera inherits a team that previous head coach John Fox built around running the ball and playing sound defense. However, the cupboard in the passing game is pretty bare, starting with the quarterback position. Rivera will have to determine whether QB Jimmy Clausen is the quarterback of the future, or whether he needs to bring in someone else. Obviously, Andrew Luck would have been a perfect fit here had he elected to come out. Now the Panthers must decide between Missouri QB Blaine Gabbert or a host of defenders, such as Alabama DE Marcell Dareus and Clemson DE Da'Quan Bowers. Given Rivera's defensive background, and the Panthers' inability to replace departed DE Julius Peppers last season, don't be surprised if Bowers ends up in Carolina.

John Fox, Broncos

Fox, the head coach of the Panthers for the past nine seasons, takes the reins in Denver and inherits the second overall pick in the draft. Fox, a defensive-minded coach, could look to target one of the top D-linemen — Bowers, Dareus or Auburn's Nick Fairley. Even with Champ Bailey re-signed, Fox also could look at Patrick Peterson, the dynamic cornerback and punt returner from LSU.

Pat Shurmur, Browns

Shurmur has some skill pieces in place on offense, with QB Colt McCoy potentially the team's QB of the future, and RB Peyton Hillis fresh off of a breakout campaign. Shurmur could look to add a skill player to help McCoy's development, and Georgia WR A.J. Green or Alabama WR Julio Jones could be a potential fit for the Browns.

Jim Harbaugh, 49ers

Harbaugh will need to do something with the quarterback system, which was led by Alex and Troy Smith this past season. There should be a number of options available at No. 7, including Cam Newton, Jake Locker and Ryan Mallett. Look for the former QB to grab a young signalcaller who can direct his offense.

Mike Munchak, Titans

After longtime head coach Jeff Fisher and the Titans parted ways, Tennessee promoted from within, tabbing Mike Munchak, who has been the offensive line coach for the Titans since 1997. With the eighth pick in the draft, the Titans should be looking for a quarterback, given Vince Young’s imminent departure from the club. It doesn’t get any bigger than a new coach picking a quarterback with his first pick, so Munchak will need to choose wisely on a pick that ultimately could define his legacy. Of course, if Munchak doesn’t believe there is a quarterback worthy of the eighth overall pick, he could decide to play it safe and address the defense to help bolster a "D" that ranked 26th in the league last season.

Jason Garrett, Cowboys

After grabbing the head-coaching job full-time, Garrett could look to address the defense, which took a step back last year. Garrett already has his franchise QB in Tony Romo, and a variety of options for Romo to utilize. The issue is the defense, which ranked 31st in the league in points allowed in 2010. The passing defense was particularly bad, and with a talented corner like Nebraska's Prince Amukamara potentially available, a new secondary member could be the Cowboys' first-round pick.

Leslie Frazier, Vikings

Now that Frazier has had the interim tag removed from his title, he can set in on putting his stamp on this Vikings team. Minnesota needs a young quarterback to groom, and there are a number of options that should be available when the Vikings pick at No. 12. Frazier, however, comes from a defensive background and has emphasized stopping the run and running the ball. It wouldn't surprise us to see Frazier take a front-seven player.

Hue Jackson, Raiders

The Raiders replaced Tom Cable with offensive coordinator Hue Jackson. Given that Jackson was retained and, after Al Davis' staunch defense of QB Jason Campbell, it seems unlikely that the Raiders will look for a quarterback, but then again you never know with the Raiders. Look for Jackson to concentrate on the secondary with Nnamdi Asomugha likely leaving via free agency. The Raiders are without a first-round pick after trading it to New England in the Richard Seymour deal.