What We've Learned About Every NFL Team so Far This Offseason

Sean Tomlinson@@SeanGTomlinsonNFL AnalystJune 14, 2017

What We've Learned About Every NFL Team so Far This Offseason

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    Brandin Cooks' arrival signaled a new direction for the Patriots.
    Brandin Cooks' arrival signaled a new direction for the Patriots.Associated Press

    We can learn a lot during an NFL offseason as roster blueprints are laid out.

    It's a time when the league's thinking gradually evolves and trends take shape. A few offseasons ago, for example, it would have felt bizarre for a running back to be selected in the first round of the draft. In late April two heard their names in the top 10 picks.

    Broadly, we learn how the league is changing and how certain teams are shifting their approach. One of the most dramatic changes in 2017 came from the New England Patriots, a typically conservative franchise that took major plunges both in free agency and on the trade market. Then on the opposite end of the spectrum and in the same division there's the New York Jets, a team determined to not win a game in 2017.

    Slowly the NFL has revealed itself. And now with spring turning to summer and minicamps drawing to a close, it's a good time to reflect on what we've learned about each team.

AFC East

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    Gregory Payan/Associated Press

    New England Patriots: Keeping Their Championship Window Open

    The Patriots are self-aware enough to break character and move away from how they usually conduct business.

    Usually we'd never see a major free-agent spending splash such as the signing of cornerback Stephon Gilmore, which came with $40 million in guaranteed money. And usually we see the Patriots clinging tightly to their draft picks instead of trading them to acquire several key offensive pieces, most notably wide receiver Brandin Cooks.

    But the Patriots know their all-galaxy quarterback Tom Brady is about to turn 40 years old in August. So they tore up the typical offseason road map to keep their championship window open as long as possible.


    Miami Dolphins: Saw the Importance of Retaining Key Pieces

    Sometimes the best offseason moves are a little less sexy because they don't add a shiny name. Instead a key core piece is retained.

    The Dolphins re-signed several such players, showing they rightfully believe their team is heading in a promising direction after years of misery. They need to maintain the young core in place, and the re-signings of wide receiver Kenny Stills and safety Reshad Jones highlighted that.

    Stills is a 25-year-old who scored a career-high nine touchdowns in 2016 while averaging 17.3 yards per reception. Jones, meanwhile, is 29 years old and should have plenty of prime seasons left. He missed the final 10 games of 2016 with a torn rotator cuff, but is only one season removed from recording 10 passes defensed and five interceptions.


    Buffalo Bills: Depth Concerns at Wide Receiver Aren't Going Away

    The Bills are once again taking a risk by relying on Sammy Watkins, hoping the wide receiver doesn't break anything in 2017.

    They selected promising wide receiver Zay Jones early in the second round, and his ceiling is high after 1,746 receiving yards on 158 catches during the 22-year-old's final season at East Carolina. But leaning on a rookie receiver is dangerous since Jones may need time to adapt to the pros.

    But Jones will move to the forefront if Watkins misses more time due to injury. He's missed 11 games over three NFL seasons and is recovering from another foot issue.


    New York Jets: Might Not Win a Game

    If the Jets win a single game in 2017, that will be considered a failure. They've spent an offseason trying to execute the most obvious tank job in league history by jettisoning talent.

    The latest two victims were wide receiver Eric Decker and linebacker David Harris. That's the Decker who, if healthy, is still a red-zone behemoth and scored 12 receiving touchdowns in 2015. And it's the Harris who, yes, may be aging at 33 years old, but he's not showing it on the field yet and was still effective in 2016 with 95 tackles.

    It's been clear for some time that the Jets are gutting their roster and trying to secure the No. 1 overall draft pick in 2018. That was obvious months ago when they released wide receiver Brandon Marshall, cornerback Darrelle Revis and center Nick Mangold. But now they're not even pretending to put a watchable product on the field.

AFC North

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    Keith Srakocic/Associated Press

    Baltimore Ravens: Focused on Building Up Their Defensive Strength

    The Ravens defense will induce nightmares for opposing offensive coordinators.

    They already had a unit that ranked just outside of the top five in 2016 while allowing 322.1 yards per game. Now their secondary has added safety Tony Jefferson, and cornerbacks Marlon Humphrey and Brandon Carr.

    Humphrey is a first-round pick who allowed only half the throws into his coverage to be completed over the past two seasons, according to Pro Football Focus. Jefferson is a fast-rising defender who has recorded 10 passes defensed and two interceptions since 2015. And after a bounceback season in 2016, Carr offers the size (6'0", 210 lbs) and physicality to match up well against equally physical receivers.


    Pittsburgh Steelers: Assembled an Offensive Juggernaut

    Already a top-five unit, the Steelers offense will be a blow torch every week, roasting opposing defenses with a steady barrage of sailing footballs whenever running back Le'Veon Bell isn't gashing fronts with his signature patient style.

    Bell is one of the league's most dynamic talents, and that led to 1,884 yards from scrimmage in 2016. And wide receiver Antonio Brown is arguably the NFL's best route-runner. An offense that includes those two is already explosive enough. But the Steelers have re-added Martavis Bryant following his return from a suspension, and they spent a second-round pick on receiver Juju Smith-Schuster.

    Bryant scored 14 touchdowns over only 21 regular-season games prior to his suspension. And Smith-Schuster logged two double-digit touchdown seasons at USC.


    Cincinnati Bengals: Finally Surrounded Green and Dalton with a Quality Supporting Cast

    For years the Bengals provided mediocre support to complement wide receiver A.J. Green. Now they finally made a draft investment to help him, and a significant one.

    It all started with the selection of wide receiver John Ross in the first round. Ross provides secondary-dismantling speed with his record-setting 40-yard dash time of 4.22 seconds. That led to 1,150 receiving yards in 2016 for the Washington Huskies.

    Then the Bengals continued to support both Green and quarterback Andy Dalton by adding a more multifaceted presence in their backfield. Their selection of running back Joe Mixon in the second round instantly added a weapon that can be used in a variety of ways. Mixon averaged 194.7 yards from scrimmage per game throughout his collegiate career.


    Cleveland Browns: It's Safe to Hope Again

    The sting of the Cleveland Cavaliers' NBA Finals loss is still fresh. But the Cavs are one year removed from a championship and have played in three straight Finals. Then there's the Cleveland Indians, who came within an eyelash of winning the World Series in 2016.

    And now it's safe to be hopeful about the Browns. That's right, Cleveland, the last layer of your losing sports history may only be hanging on by a thread.

    Some patience is still required, as at least one more season is left in the Browns' latest rebuilding process. But an innovative front office made significant strides during the offseason by flexing its draft muscle the right way.

    First, the Browns made the no-brainer decision to draft defensive end Myles Garrett with the first overall pick. Then they weren't willing to dive into a risky quarterback talent pool, so a trade back with the Houston Texans netted another first-round pick in 2018. And their next three 2017 selections added impressive athleticism in areas where it's desperately needed: safety Jabrill Peppers, tight end David Njoku and quarterback DeShone Kizer.

    Years of hope followed by misery has surely made Browns fans hesitant to jump aboard and risk their heart's going through more crushing darkness. But for the first time in a long time it feels like the right moves are being made, and there's a patient, deliberate Browns rebuild taking place.

AFC South

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    Mark Humphrey/Associated Press

    Houston TexansFinally Taking Their Offensive Development Seriously

    Whenever we look at the Houston Texans while assessing both what they did in the 2017 offseason and what lies ahead, the focus has been on quarterback Deshaun Watson. The Texans were finally aggressive in their pursuit of a franchise-changing pivot after years of promising seasons' being derailed by replacement-level quarterback play.

    But what we learned about the Texans this offseason actually came a few picks later, in the third round. That's when they selected running back D'Onta Foreman, and the Texans showed they see the value in preserving Lamar Miller's body.

    Miller, who's still atop the running back depth chart, recorded his first 250-plus-carry season in 2016. He was effective while logging four 100-plus-yard rushing games. But there were also times when he labored, and overall the 26-year-old averaged only four yards per carry. He also missed two games due to an ankle issue.

    Behind him Alfred Blue also plodded while averaging 4.2 yards per carry. Foreman is a sizable upgrade after totaling 2,103 yards from scrimmage during his final year at Texas. He'll add quality depth to the Texans backfield and reduce the pounding Miller has to endure.


    Jacksonville JaguarsDefense Could Be One of the NFL's Most Dangerous

    The Jaguars defense now has the talent to fire-roast your pride every week and then serve it back to you.

    They're loaded on that side of the ball after bullying their way through free agency. The headlining names were cornerback A.J. Bouye and defensive end Calais Campbell. Bouye recorded 16 passes defensed in 2016 with the Texans and shined under a bright spotlight with two interceptions during the playoffs. And Campbell is still going strong while getting set to enter his age-31 season. The two-time Pro Bowler finished with eight sacks and 53 tackles in 2016.

    The Jaguars also added safety Barry Church to a stacked defense that already included defensive tackle Malik Jackson and cornerback Jalen Ramsey. They should finally rise and be competitive in the AFC South if quarterback Blake Bortles can avoid crumbling again.


    Indianapolis ColtsDawn of a New Era Under GM Chris Ballard

    New Colts general manager Chris Ballard took a different approach to solving his team's annual pass-rush problem. It was the smart, economical solution, and one that could shine a light on how the Colts will conduct themselves going forward.

    He signed outside linebackers Jabaal Sheard and John Simon to contracts that will pay them a combined base salary of $4 million in 2017, per Spotrac. For that price he received two pass-rushers who could easily blossom after a change of scenery. 

    Simon totaled 8.5 sacks in limited playing time with the Texans over the past two seasons. And although Sheard fell out of favor in New England, he's not far removed from an eight-sack year in 2015.


    Tennessee TitansMarcus Mariota Poised to Take a Big Step Forward

    The Titans have a growing young team. Quarterback Marcus Mariota took bounding leaps forward in his development during his second season. And the 23-year-old did it with Tajae Sharpe and Rishard Matthews as two of his main targets. They didn't provide much of a downfield threat and combined to average only 13.8 yards per catch.

    Now the talent level among Mariota's targets has taken a swift turn north after Corey Davis and Taywan Taylor were added over the first three rounds. Davis put together three straight 1,400-plus-yard seasons at Western Michigan, and Taylor finished with 1,730 yards and 17 touchdowns during his final year at Western Kentucky.

AFC West

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    Rick Scuteri/Associated Press

    Kansas City Chiefs: It's Almost the End of the Line for Alex Smith

    The Chiefs know the end is near for quarterback Alex Smith. Or at least it needs to be, because a game-managing 33-year-old quarterback isn't pushing an otherwise talented roster forward.

    The Chiefs have made the playoffs in three of the four seasons since Andy Reid took over as head coach, winning 11-plus regular-season games in those postseason years. And yet they have just one playoff win to show for it.

    Smith has averaged only 6.8 yards per attempt throughout his career. He's a safe quarterback, and one who can keep his interception total low while not making many late-game errors. But safe rarely wins championships.

    The Chiefs know that, which is why Patrick Mahomes is on their roster now and temporarily behind Smith on the quarterback depth chart. The Chiefs made a massive investment in Mahomes, swapping first-round picks with the Buffalo Bills while also sacrificing a third-rounder and another first-round pick in 2018.

    In the next year or two we'll find out if Mahomes can live up to that price. For now, though, the Chiefs' stance on Smith is clear.


    Denver Broncos: The Broncos' Run Defense Could Struggle Again

    The Broncos prioritized their offensive line by signing guard Ronald Leary and spending a first-round pick on tackle Garett Bolles. That was an area of need after quarterback Trevor Siemian was sacked 31 times over only 14 starts.

    But it meant only veteran second-tier free-agent defensive tackle Domata Peko was added to a struggling defensive interior that could get gashed once again. The Broncos went from allowing only 83.6 rushing yards per game in 2015, to 130.3 in 2016.


    Oakland Raiders: Not Afraid to Take a Major Character Risk

    Gareon Conley could quickly emerge as the best cornerback in his draft class. The Raiders' 24th overall pick gave up a minuscule 14 receptions during his final year with Ohio State in 2016, per PFF. He's exactly the kind of shutdown corner the Raiders need after their defense allowed 7.9 yards per attempt.

    But he was blaring character risk after being accused of sexual assault the week of the draft. The investigation is still ongoing, and general manager Reggie McKenzie told Gil Brandt of NFL Radio (via Sporting News) he's "very comfortable" with the pick. His decision is extra dangerous during a time when the league is hypersensitive to all sexual and domestic abuse allegations.


    Los Angeles Chargers: They Have a Defense That Will Rise Fast

    The Chargers just secured outside linebacker Melvin Ingram on a long-term deal. Ingram registered 18.5 sacks the past two seasons and will play alongside Joey Bosa for years. Bosa was the Defensive Rookie of the Year in 2016 after incredibly recording 10.5 sacks in only 12 games.

    And the Chargers are also about to get cornerback Jason Verrett back from his torn ACL. Verrett recorded 12 pass deflections and three interceptions in 14 games in 2015, when he was last fully healthy. 

    Oh, and fellow cornerback Casey Hayward is fresh off a seven-interception year. The Chargers defense is going to rise, and rise fast.

NFC East

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    Charles Rex Arbogast/Associated Press

    Washington Redskins: Turns out They're Not Off-Base with Handling of Cousins

    The Redskins understandably wanted quarterback Kirk Cousins to prove himself over a full season before making a long-term financial commitment. So they franchise-tagged him for 2016, and then he napalmed opposing secondaries while averaging 307.3 passing yards per game and 8.1 per attempt.

    The next logical step was to sign him to a contract extension. Sure, that might sting a bit, but the price of a 28-year-old quarterback just entering his prime isn't about to lower. And the alternative of starting over is terrifying. The supply of franchise quarterbacks already doesn't comes close to meeting demand.

    So of course the Redskins then tagged Cousins again, making him the first quarterback to be tagged in back-to-back seasons. If that wasn't enough, Redskins team president Bruce Allen told JP Finlay of CSN Mid-Atlantic a third tag is also a possibility.

    Those comments came in late May, though, and it seems sanity has prevailed in the weeks since.

    Adam Schefter of ESPN reported that Cousins and the Redskins have been talking, fueling optimism a deal will be reached before the July 15 deadline. Even if that fails, the seeds have been planted to reach an agreement before Cousins would hit the open market in 2018.

    So to review then: A team with a franchise quarterback no longer seems determined to avoid paying him like a franchise quarterback.


    Philadelphia Eagles: Uncertainty Lies in the Backfield

    We've learned plenty about the Eagles' wide receiver depth chart and what they thought of it prior to the 2017 offseason. The team threw itself after solutions in free agency, heaving money at wideouts Alshon Jeffery and Torrey Smith.

    But what kind of backfield support will quarterback Carson Wentz get now? And who will he get it from?

    That's still uncertain, though the default answer to the latter question right now is LeGarrette Blount. But he's a 30-year-old running back whose body took lots of abuse in 2016 over 334 carries, including the playoffs. And although Blount is still a highly effective goal-line back with 18 touchdowns in 2016, he largely plodded while averaging only 3.9 yards per carry.

    If Blount either sputters or ages fast, then the Eagles have two similar passing-down running backs behind him in Darren Sproles and Donnel Pumphrey. Wendell Smallwood could emerge in his second season after flashing potential as a rookie.


    New York Giants: Eli Manning Is out of Excuses

    In 2016 Eli Manning started to look like a quarterback who was closing in on his 36th birthday. His arm strength faltered at times, and his ball placement led to many obscenities being screamed at televisions. As a result, Manning finished with a per-attempt passing average of only 6.7 yards, his lowest single-season output since 2007.

    General manager Jerry Reese's offseason response was to erase any excuse for his quarterback to age fast. Reese added wide receiver Brandon Marshall, who has made a career out of catching wayward balls. Marshall has six 100-reception seasons on his resume.

    Then during the draft Reese used his first-round pick on tight end Evan Engram, who finished his time at Ole Miss with 926 receiving yards and eight touchdowns in 2016.


    Dallas Cowboys: A Bulldozing Offensive Line May Take a Slight Step Back

    The emphasis is on slight, because when you're at the mountaintop there's a long way to come down.

    The salary cap creates a sort of gravity around the league, and eventually the money crunch makes it difficult to retain every core piece throughout the roster. The Cowboys found this out when a 26th-ranked pass defense lost four defensive backs during free agency.

    That hurt, and so did the loss of guard Ronald Leary along with the retirement of Doug Free, the long-time anchor at right tackle.

    The Cowboys are still overflowing with talent among the brutes up front, especially with La'el Collins sliding in seamlessly to replace Leary. But offensive line play is often centered around continuity, and the departure of two pillars will be felt.

NFC North

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    Jeff Haynes/Associated Press

    Minnesota Vikings: Returning to Their Run-Focused Roots

    The Minnesota Vikings were always at their best offensively whenever running back Adrian Peterson was pummeling defenses into submission. They won 11 games and their division as recently as 2015 when Peterson ran for 1,485 yards and 11 touchdowns.

    Then with Peterson injured in 2016 the Vikings' offensive foundation began to first decay, and then fall through. They won eight games with a rushing offense that averaged a mere 75.3 yards per game.

    They needed someone who could restore that power-running focus. And the Vikings found their man in Dalvin Cook.

    The running back from Florida State should rejuvenate Minnesota's rushing offense after his two straight 1,600-plus-yard rushing seasons in college. He's versatile, too, and became a reliable pass-catcher in 2016, finishing with 488 receiving yards.


    Green Bay Packers: Busy Stockpiling Running Back Lottery Tickets

    The Eddie Lacy era came to its inevitable end for the Packers, and along the way an unexpected backfield hero surfaced: wide receiver-turned-running back Ty Montgomery. Desperate times led to a position switch for the 24-year-old, and he responded by averaging 5.9 yards per carry over 77 regular-season attempts in 2016.

    But he's still new to the role and hasn't had to go through the NFL running back meat grinder yet. So while he's talented, it's difficult to gauge how Montgomery will fare over a full season. The Packers' solution was the best one possible: Throw middle-round picks at a position with lots of annual turnover and see what sticks.

    They did that by selecting Jamaal Williams, Aaron Jones and Devante Mays on Day 3 of the draft. Williams was the highest pick at 134th overall after he ran for 1,375 yards during his final year at BYU. He'll likely be the first in line to share carries with Montgomery.


    Detroit Lions: A Rejuvenated Offensive Line Can Give Lions New Life

    The Lions offensive line has resembled a soft, cozy blanket far too often in recent years. Quarterback Matthew Stafford has been sacked 126 times since the beginning of 2014. Worse, in 2016 there was little room available for Lions running backs, resulting in a 30th-ranked rushing offense that averaged only 81.9 rushing yards per game.

    General manager Bob Quinn threw fistfuls of money at the problem, giving guard T.J. Lang a contract that guarantees him $19 million over three years, and tackle Ricky Wagner got $20.5 million guaranteed.

    If they both live up to those contracts, the Lions offense will become a more multi-dimensional unit and less reliant on Stafford's late-game heroics. And if they don't, the offensive line musical chairs in Detroit will continue.


    Chicago Bears: Desperation Led to a Risky Quarterback Gamble

    We get it, Bears. Frustration had reached a boiling point at the quarterback position after years of Jay Cutler's injuries and interceptions (109 of them over eight seasons). And it's difficult to gaze into the future and know when another opportunity to draft a franchise-changing arm will come along.

    All those factors combined to give general manager Ryan Pace an itchy trigger finger when the possibility of landing Mitchell Trubisky arose. But now he's given a quarterback with 13 college starts an impossibly high draft status to justify.

    To move up one spot, Pace swapped first-round picks with the 49ers, and then also sent third- and fourth-round picks in 2017 to San Francisco, as well as a third-round pick in 2018. He did that for a wildly inexperienced quarterback, even after giving Mike Glennon $18.5 million in guaranteed money.

    If Trubisky is the answer at quarterback, then we'll all forget what the Bears gave away in the trade to get him. But if he flops, then the Bears have wasted four early picks.

NFC South

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    Chris O'Meara/Associated Press

    Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Jameis Winston Has a Ton of Weapons

    The 2016 Buccaneers offense was talented but still predicable. Quarterback Jameis Winston was magnetized to Mike Evans. That resulted in Evans' accounting for 96 of the 208 balls caught by the Buccaneers' top three wide receivers.

    The Buccaneers needed more depth at the position and deep speed to pair with Winston's deep arm. Consider that box checked.

    Winston's offseason gift was wide receiver DeSean Jackson, who has averaged 17.7 yards per reception throughout his career. Then Winston unwrapped even more offseason goodies during the draft when Tampa selected tight end O.J. Howard in the first round and wide receiver Chris Godwin in the third. Howard recorded 1,197 receiving yards over his final two years at Alabama, and Godwin scored 11 times for Penn State in 2016.

    After a 9-7 season, the Bucs are ready to do more than just challenge for a playoff spot with that offense.


    Atlanta Falcons: They May Have a Pass Rush That's Gone From Feeble to Fierce

    The Falcons had the league's leading pass-rusher in 2016. So it's telling that even with Vic Beasley's 15.5 sacks, Atlanta ranked a mid-pack 16th with 34 team sacks.

    The Falcons weren't getting pressure from anyone other than Beasley for much of the season. And if he was slowed for a stretch in any game, the Falcons secondary was left exposed.

    Enter defensive end Takkarist McKinley, the Falcons' first-round pick who finished his career at UCLA with 10 sacks in 2016. He aims to bring the pain on the outside while newly signed defensive tackle Dontari Poe does the same on the interior. Poe has struggled with injuries in recent years, but the Falcons are hoping he can return to his 2014 form when the now 26-year-old had six sacks.


    New Orleans Saints: The New Darren Sproles May Have Arrived

    The Saints have a long history of carving up opposing defenses with skilled pass-catching running backs who are slippery in space. Darren Sproles caught 232 balls for 1,981 yards over only three seasons in New Orleans, and Reggie Bush logged 2,142 receiving yards over five seasons.

    Now head coach Sean Payton may have found both his next Sproles-like running back, and more importantly, yet another weapon as quarterback Drew Brees enters his twilight years.

    The Saints selected Alvin Kamara early in the third round. He's a slashing, multi-purpose threat who had 74 receptions out of the backfield over two years for the Tennessee Volunteers. He's been added to a deep Saints backfield that includes Mark Ingram and Adrian Peterson, three running backs likely to have distinct roles, all easing the burden on Brees' arm.


    Carolina Panthers: The Panthers Think Matt Kalil Is Still a Starting-Caliber Tackle

    There was little to choose from for offensive tackle-needy teams during both the draft and free agency. Inevitably, that leads to sizzling prices for mediocre talents. And the Panthers ended up footing the bill for tackle Matt Kalil.

    Over the past four seasons Kalil has given up 23 sacks and 160 pressures, per PFF. That means he's averaging nearly six sacks allowed per year, which is being generous because Kalil played just two games due to injury during one of those seasons.

    He cost the Panthers $31 million in guaranteed money, and now Kalil is part of the solution for keeping quarterback Cam Newton in one piece after he recovers from a shoulder issue. Newton was sacked 36 times in 2016, and those frequent hits will likely keep coming.

NFC West

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    Jeff Chiu/Associated Press

    San Francisco 49ers: John Lynch Is a Natural GM

    The fiery flameout of Matt Millen in Detroit came to mind when the 49ers hired John Lynch to be their new general manager. Like Millen, he had no front-office experience after years in the broadcast booth. How would he navigate the land mines waiting every year during the draft and avoid coming away with a few busts?

    The answer was to fleece the Bears.

    Lynch made a savvy move by taking advantage of his team's draft position. The 49ers had multiple needs and weren't going to pursue one of the top quarterbacks. But the Bears were thirsty enough for quarterback competence to swap first-round picks to move up just one spot to No. 2, while also trading away their third- and fourth-round picks in 2017 and a third-round pick in 2018.

    Lynch then landed defensive end Solomon Thomas at No. 3, which is the same pick he would have made at No. 2. And then he bolstered his 32nd-ranked defense further by using the draft capital he had accumulated to trade back into the round and select linebacker Reuben Foster. Just like that, Lynch had two of the top three players on his draft board, according to the MMQB's Peter King.

    His next trick will be to find an answer at quarterback. But Lynch is off to a fine start.


    Seattle Seahawks: Offensive Line Questions Aren't Going Anywhere

    The Seattle Seahawks have annually risked letting an inept offensive line ruin otherwise promising seasons. And they could do it again in 2017.

    Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson has been sacked 172 times over the past four seasons. In 2016 that thumping eventually wore on his body. Wilson didn't miss any starts, but he wasn't his usual elusive and mobile self, which changes the character of the Seahawks offense.

    Their solution this offseason was to take a flier on Luke Joeckel and to use a late second-round pick on center Ethan Pocic, who received PFF's No. 3 grade among power-five centers. He'll likely move to guard.

    There's hope for Pocic to mature quickly. But there's also a strong possibility Wilson is left exposed for yet another season.


    Arizona Cardinals: The End of an Era Is Near, Just Not Quite Yet

    Cardinals quarterback Carson Palmer is 37 years old and has suffered multiple severe knee injuries during his long career. He won't say for sure if 2017 is his final season yet, according to Kyle Odegard of Cardinals.com, but the end is near.

    And Larry Fitzgerald, the Cardinals' top receiver for 13 years, has said he'll address his future once during training camp, and only once, per Josh Weinfuss of ESPN.com. That hints strongly at 2017's being the soon-to-be 34-year-old's last year as well.

    The core of the Cardinals offense is about to fade after likely one more season, and the reset button will have to be smashed, fast.


    Los Angeles Rams: Jared Goff's Receiving Support Is Questionable at Best

    Rams quarterback Jared Goff had trouble adapting to a pro-style system during his rookie season after being the first overall pick in 2016. That's why he wasn't given an opportunity to start until Week 11. Over seven games he completed just 54.6 percent of his passes.

    Shaky offensive line play didn't help matters, as Goff was sacked 26 times on just 205 attempts. That problem has been addressed now after the signing of left tackle Andrew Whitworth.

    But the pass-catchers available to Goff are pedestrian at best. The Rams signed wide receiver Robert Woods after Kenny Britt departed. Woods has averaged only 613 receiving yards per year over four NFL seasons. And alongside him on the depth chart is Tavon Austin. He's averaged 9.1 yards per catch since the Rams used a first-round pick on him in 2013.

    The Rams selected Cooper Kupp in the third round, and his future is promising after posting 3.32 yards per route run in 2016, per PFF. But relying on a receiver from Eastern Washington is less than ideal.


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