The Biggest Risk Every NFL Team Is Taking in 2018

Justis Mosqueda@justisfootballFeatured ColumnistJune 4, 2018

The Biggest Risk Every NFL Team Is Taking in 2018

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    There are only so many quality football players to go around. The difference between a starting-caliber player and a backup in the NFL is considerable, which is why some veterans are paid 15 times more than others.

    Even after free agency and the draft, some teams have holes in their starting lineups. We'll look at one risk each team is taking that opponents may exploit in 2018. 

    As we sift through all 32 NFL teams, keep in mind that the new trade-heavy NFL can lead to more player movement this summer. Maybe teams will make more moves during preseason, but at the moment, these are the positions and units of exposure for every franchise.


Arizona Cardinals: Not Replacing DBs with Proven Talent

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    Rick Scuteri/Associated Press

    The Arizona Cardinals have lost a lot of defensive assets over the last few years, including defensive coordinator James Bettcher. This year, their secondary will miss hybrid defensive back Tyrann Mathieu, who played 1,053 snaps on defense in 2017, and cornerback Tramon Williams, who had a bounce-back season.

    Budda Baker, a second-year player who played just 48.4 percent of defensive snaps last year, will likely be on the field for every snap that he's healthy for. At cornerback, Williams' replacement is still a question mark.

    2016 third-round pick Brandon Williams or the recently traded for Jamar Taylor have to be the clubhouse leaders to fill in for Williams, but there is no must-start cornerback on the roster other than Patrick Peterson. Either way, the loss of a starting cornerback, an every-down safety-slot hybrid and a defensive coordinator, with no proven replacements, is a recipe for disaster.

Atlanta Falcons: Instability at Nose Tackle

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    John Bazemore/Associated Press

    Up until the draft, the Atlanta Falcons had no functional body that they could plug in at nose tackle to replace Dontari Poe. Poe, a 2017 signing, spent one year with the Falcons before signing a long-term deal with the Carolina Panthers to replace Star Lotulelei.

    While it's a stretch to assume that third-round picks will start immediately, Atlanta first drafted Deadrin Senat of South Florida on Day 2 to attempt to solve its problem. If nothing else, it had a body it could play at the position. Post-draft, the team signed Terrell McClain, who is now on his third team in three years.

    Come September, it would be an upset if those two were not the top nose tackles on the team's depth chart. McClain, who was released by Washington just one year into a four-year contract, may even be the team's starter.

    There wasn't much the Falcons could have done, considering the fact that they were pressed up against the cap before free agency began and were drafting late in the first round. It's likely that neither will be as effective as Poe.  

Baltimore Ravens: Not Adding a Backfield Pass-Catcher

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    On running plays, Alex Collins was one of the best tailbacks in the league last year. The issue is, that's not that valuable. You can argue that in today's NFL, your ability to block and catch out of the backfield is more important than running the football.

    From that perspective, Collins struggles a bit. Relative to 212 carries, Collins' 23 receptions last year are low. If you read the tea leaves in Baltimore, the Ravens want to pass more often and more efficiently. They added receivers Willie Snead, Michael Crabtree, John Brown, Jaleel Scott and Jordan Lasley, tight ends Hayden Hurst and Mark Andrews and quarterback Lamar Jackson in free agency or the draft.

    Where does that leave Collins, a clear positive on running downs but a negative on passing downs? With just Javorius Allen and Kenneth Dixon to push him for playing time, the Ravens had the breathing room for a pass-catching back to join the committee this year as a contributor. At the moment, the only "pass-catcher" on the roster is Allen, who has never rushed for four yards per carry in a single season in the NFL.

    Collins in the backfield tips off that a run is coming. Allen in the backfield tips off that a pass is coming. It would have been nice if Baltimore could have found a back who could have meshed quality rushing with quality pass-catching so that the offense wouldn't have to telegraph their plays.

Buffalo Bills: Not Surrounding the QB Position with Talent

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    Jeffrey T. Barnes/Associated Press

    Historically speaking, only five first-round quarterbacks (Ben Roethlisberger, Robert Griffin III, Dan Marino, Matt Ryan and Deshaun Watson) were significantly above-average passers as rookies. As we've seen with the development of players like Derek Carr, Carson Wentz and Jared Goff, quarterbacks are often far better in their second year than first. 

    With that in mind, it's hard to imagine that first-round quarterback Josh Allen, even without taking into account his supporting cast, would be an above-average passer immediately. When you take into account his supporting cast, the projection gets worse.

    LeSean McCoy is one of the best, if not the best, runners in the NFL, but Buffalo has no No. 1 pass threat on its roster. For example, if Kelvin Benjamin or Charles Clay, the Bills' most talented pass-catchers, were with the Kansas City Chiefs, either would likely be the fifth option behind Tyreek Hill, Sammy Watkins, Travis Kelce and Kareem Hunt.

    Throw in the turmoil on the offensive line, which includes the retirement of Eric Wood, the release of Richie Incognito and the trade of Cordy Glenn, and you have what might be a bottom-five offense this season. The rebuilding process will take time in Buffalo, and its coaching staff and front office should be afforded that time, but don't assume it's going to click in 2018.

Carolina Panthers: Not Addressing the Left Side of Their Offensive Line

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    Bob Leverone/Associated Press

    Last year, the Panthers shocked the football world by signing Matt Kalil, who peaked as a rookie with the Minnesota Vikings, to a five-year, $55 million contract. Kalil struggled last season, but the weight of his dead cap, which doesn't even drop to seven figures ($9.8 million) until 2020, will keep him on the roster for a couple more years.

    The issue is, the Panthers didn't add any competition to Kalil's position this offseason. Instead, they lost talent on the left side of the line, as guard Andrew Norwell signed with the Jacksonville Jaguars. Norwell, who signed a $66.5 million contract, is significantly more talented than Jeremiah Sirles, who is the projected starting left guard in Carolina.

    A hole at left guard might just make the Panthers' weakness at left tackle worse. Compounding offensive line issues, without adding talent, is not how you win in the NFL. In an NFC South in which the Falcons, New Orleans Saints and Tampa Bay Buccaneers have added high draft picks and valuable veterans to their defensive lines over the last few seasons, quarterback Cam Newton may be in a world of trouble.

Chicago Bears: Banking on Aaron Lynch

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    John Froschauer/Associated Press

    Aaron Lynch's football career has been one of the weirdest in recent years. He started off as a big end at Notre Dame who made Freshman All-American lists just to transfer to USF, where he would play a slimmed down pass-rushing role. After declaring as a junior, Lynch was drafted in the fifth round by the San Francisco 49ers.

    Lynch entered the league at 249 pounds and posted 12.5 sacks in his first two years. Now listed at 270 pounds, Lynch has only recorded 2.5 sacks (over just 14 games) in his last two years. The former Fighting Irish and Bulls pass-rusher has always had the talent, but his lack of consistency, due to weight fluctuation, transfer, suspension or injury, continues to mark his career.

    Every team would love to roster a player like Lynch, a high-upside flier, but the one-year, $4 million contract the Chicago Bears gave the 25-year-old in free agency now looks like a promise for playing time. Behind 2016 first-round pick Leonard Floyd and Lynch, the only noteworthy edge defenders on the Bears roster are Sam Acho, who hasn't posted more than four sacks in a season since 2011, and Kylie Fitts, a rookie sixth-round pick.

    That flier is now considered a starter. If Lynch continues to play like he has the last two seasons, that will hurt Chicago.

Cincinnati Bengals: Not Planning for Life After Dalton

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    John Minchillo/Associated Press

    We're going on Year 8 of Andy Dalton in Cincinnati without ever knowing if he's a franchise quarterback. At what point are the Bengals going to ditch this same old song and dance? Dalton was efficient when he had an innovative play-caller and a great and healthy supporting cast, but those days are long gone.

    Case Keenum has a higher adjusted net yards per attempt than Dalton over the last two years and only commanded a two-year commitment by the Denver Broncos—after the Vikings passed on an extension. Dalton, somehow, has all the job security in the world.

    This offseason, the Buffalo Bills used the first-round pick originally owned by the Cincinnati Bengals to move up to draft Josh Allen. At that point, Josh Rosen, who was drafted by the Cardinals, was also still on the board. When the Bengals did finally pick at No. 21, they passed up on snatching up former Heisman Trophy winner Lamar Jackson.

    There were opportunities for Cincinnati to look forward at quarterback. If the Bengals finish sub-.500 for the third straight season, they'll be kicking themselves for not going to bat for a young passer in a deep draft class at the position. Those opportunities may not be there in the 2019 draft. A first-round quarterback could have helped not only in 2018 but also the next decade.

Cleveland Browns: Trading Away Danny Shelton

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    Ron Schwane/Associated Press

    As you can imagine, the 1-31 Cleveland Browns have played a lot of football players over the last two years who don't belong as starters in the NFL. One player who did not fit that mold, though, was 2015 first-round nose tackle Danny Shelton.

    Shelton was traded this offseason, along with a fifth-round pick, to the New England Patriots for a third-round pick. The Patriots already turned down his fifth-year option, meaning that they believed Shelton's value on a one-year deal was roughly worth a top-100 pick in the draft.

    That begs the question: Why did Cleveland move Shelton? Shelton played the second-most snaps among defensive tackles for the Browns last year behind Trevon Coley. Despite playing nearly 200 reps fewer than Coley, Shelton finished with only one tackle at or behind the line fewer. Despite being a hulking nose tackle, Shelton was making plays in the backfield.

    On paper, there was little reason for the team to make the move. Now an interior defensive line of relative unknowns will have to fill the void. 

Green Bay Packers: Still Lacking a Second Outside Receiver

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    After releasing veteran receiver Jordy Nelson, not signing a veteran receiver and waiting until the fourth round to add a rookie, the Green Bay Packers have a question mark at the position. Davante Adams (2,811 career receiving yards and 26 touchdown catches) and Randall Cobb (5,141 yards and 39 touchdowns) are going to start, with Adams as a wideout and Cobb in the slot, but the starting wideout opposite of Adams is the position with volatility.

    After Adams and Cobb, there are seven significant names in Green Bay battling for both roster spots and playing time this year: Geronimo Allison, J'Mon Moore, Trevor Davis, Michael Clark, Marquez Valdes-Scantling, Equanimeous St. Brown and DeAngelo Yancey. Collectively, those seven have posted 47 receptions for 590 yards and three touchdowns in their NFL careers.

    Last year alone, Nelson caught 53 balls. The No. 2 outside receiver in Green Bay will be asked to contribute in a role that he never has up to this point in his NFL career. Anyone who claims to know who the Packers are going to start as their third receiver this year is lying. It will be determined in summer competition.

Dallas Cowboys: Relying on Terrance Williams

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    Dallas Cowboys receiver Terrance Williams has a dead cap number worth $2.5 million more than his cap hit this year, meaning that after years of not meeting expectations, he somehow still costs more to release than to keep. Williams' contract situation is why he is still on the 2018 roster while Dez Bryant sits in free agency.

    Unfortunately for Dallas, Williams, who posted a career-low 568 receiving yards in 2017, may have to start 16 games for the team. Here are the career receiving yardage totals from the Cowboys' top veteran receivers:

    • Williams: 3,359 yards
    • Cole Beasley: 2,599 yards
    • Allen Hurns: 2,669 yards
    • Tavon Austin: 1,689 yards
    • Deonte Thompson: 1,032 yards

    On paper, Williams and Hurns are the most likely starting outside receivers, with Beasley playing a slot role and Austin working in as a jet motion player. Michael Gallup, a third-round pick, and Cedrick Wilson, a sixth-round pick, were selected by Dallas in April's draft, but expectations for them should be nil. Over the last five years, only five of the 110 receivers drafted with the 80th pick or later were even able to match Williams' career-low 568 receiving yards as rookies.

    Williams' public intoxication arrest this offseason potentially complicates his 2018 roster status even more, but if he isn't a post-June 1st release, he's in pretty good shape to see playing time.

Denver Broncos: Replacing Aqib Talib with Youth

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    Chris Carlson/Associated Press

    While the Broncos have Chris Harris and Bradley Roby on their roster, the loss of Aqib Talib will sting. Talib has started 58 games for Denver over the last four seasons, posting 50 pass deflections and 11 interceptions over that stretch.

    For a team that has relied on top-end coverage so long, dropping from Talib's talent level to the likes of Brendan Langley and Isaac Yiadom, two third-round picks, will be felt on the field. Talib's trade to the Los Angeles Rams came from a combination of factors, with none larger than the fact that the rookie contract defenders who took Denver to the Super Bowl with Peyton Manning were now veterans raking in cash.

    Talib, who has an $11 million salary this year, was a form of cap relief on a team that is increasingly spending more on defenders. For example, pass-rusher Von Miller had a base salary of $2 million in 2016, a number dwarfed by his $17 million figure (and $25.1 million cap hit) in 2019.

    Keeping the family together was never going to be possible if everyone was paid what they were worth, which left Talib as the odd man out. Yiadom and Langley will be baptized by the fire this season, as they have played a combined 108 reps in the NFL, equivalent to about one-seventh of Talib's defensive snaps in 2017 alone.

Detroit Lions: Starting Robinson, Williams at Defensive Tackle

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    Since Ndamukong Suh left in free agency in 2015, the Detroit Lions have struggled to put together a pair of quality defensive tackles. This year, it appears that A'Shawn Robinson, a 2016 second-round pick, and Sylvester Williams, a 2018 free-agent signing, will be the team's starters.

    Robinson has not been a liability, but after just 2.5 sacks over two years—a number that ties him for ninth on the Lions alone—he hasn't lived up to the hype. Williams, who is on his third team in three years, was released by the Tennessee Titans this offseason after disappointing in his first season of what was originally a three-year deal.

    After the Lions traded away Akeem Spence, who played 60.8 percent of the team's defensive snaps in 2017, it seems clear that they're comfortable with playing this pairing for 16 games. It's difficult to imagine that anyone but fourth-round rookie Da'Shawn Hand is pushing for a starting role this year, and even projecting a fourth-round rookie to start in the NFL is a stretch.

    Expect more of the same at defensive tackle for Detroit. Hopefully, the now healthy Kerry Hyder, a hybrid end-tackle, can spell for Robinson and Williams on pass-rushing downs at least.

Houston Texans: Not Investing Enough in Bookends

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    Phelan M. Ebenhack/Associated Press

    The Houston Texans basically sat out free agency last year after losing out on the A.J. Bouye bidding war, despite the fact that they gave Cleveland draft value for taking on a Brock Osweiler contract. After a holdout in 2017, left tackle Duane Brown was traded to the Seattle Seahawks, opening another hole on the roster.

    Why they traded Brown when they spent draft value to clear up unused cap space is still a mystery, but it has led to their current offensive tackle situation. The three names to watch in Houston this year are Julie'n Davenport, a second-year player out of Bucknell, Seantrel Henderson, who has started one game in the last two years, and Martinas Rankin, a rookie third-round pick.

    As far as NFL bookend pairings go, the Texans might have the worst this season. With Deshaun Watson, a starting quarterback coming off an ACL tear, in the backfield, this should have been a red flag. This issue should have been addressed by now. Instead, Houston will roll the dice on cheaper options.

Indianapolis Colts: Not Adding More WR Talent

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    AJ Mast/Associated Press

    The Indianapolis Colts are going to need to rely on T.Y. Hilton early and often this year. Hilton, who has 6,827 career receiving yards, is light-years ahead of the rest of his peers in Indianapolis' receiver room.

    The wideouts who will most likely make the Colts roster this year other than Hilton are Ryan Grant, Chester Rogers, Daurice Fountain and Deon Cain, who have a combined 1,542 career receiving yards. Outside of the Cowboys, there is not a team with a stranger wide receiver situation in the NFL this year than Indianapolis.

    Whenever Andrew Luck starts throwing again, he'll learn quickly that he really only has one proven wideout on the roster. In an NFC South with Jacksonville, Houston and Tennessee spending money and picks hand over fist on cornerbacks over the last few seasons, that could be catastrophic. Indianapolis finally dumped enough assets into its offensive line to patch it up, so the offensive attention will shift to receiver soon.

Jacksonville Jaguars: Doubling Down on Blake Bortles

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    Adjusted net yards per attempt, a passing efficiency metric that takes into account yards per attempt, sacks, touchdowns and interceptions, is the passing stat that correlates best with wins. Since 2014, when Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles entered the league, 30 quarterbacks have thrown at least 1,000 passes.

    Among those 30, Bortles ranks 30th in ANY/A. So far, his numbers alternate from a dumpster fire (in 2014 and 2016) to average (in 2015, with the help of a lot of garbage-time touchdowns, and 2017) on a yearly basis. Somehow, that warranted a three-year, $54 million contract this offseason, which basically guarantees he will play out two years if nothing else (the team only saves $4.5 million in cap space if it releases him next year.)

    Locking Bortles up as their starting quarterback for at least two more years was a bold call by the Jaguars, considering his ANY/A of 6.21, the best of his career, was just 14th-best in the league last year. Jacksonville's defense- and run-heavy approach to football attempted to minimize the influence Bortles had on games, a stark contrast to his landing a $54 million contract.

    They are now likely to pay a passer, whom they will try to rein in on Sundays, $36 million over the next two seasons. That's an expensive liability for a team with a tight cap situation moving forward.

Kansas City Chiefs: Revolving Door at Cornerback

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    Marcus Peters was one of the team's best defenders during his run with the Chiefs but was traded to the Rams this offseason. His replacement will be Kendall Fuller, a slot cornerback acquired via the Alex Smith trade who will play a much more significant role in the Kansas City secondary this year than he did in Washington.

    With the Washington Redskins, Fuller was a cog in a secondary that also featured Josh Norman and Bashaud Breeland. With the Chiefs, he will be the guy that the team will lean on in coverage. To say the least, Fuller, who is expected to be a No. 1 cornerback this year, will not have much help.

    Of the team's six most-played cornerbacks last year, only one (Steven Nelson) returns for 2018. That means that the likes of David Amerson and Will Redmond, former high selections who have struggled to find traction in the NFL, might start alongside Fuller at the position. Turnover at cornerback is high in Kansas City, and a position of prevention is not where you want to have questions.

Los Angeles Chargers: Relying on Virgil Green

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    Last year, the Los Angeles Chargers played tight ends for a combined 1,475 snaps. With Antonio Gates on the open market and Hunter Henry having suffered an ACL injury, that depth chart has been decimated. The only healthy tight end to return to the team this year is Sean Culkin, who played 11 snaps in 2017.

    Culkin, an undrafted free agent who appeared in just one game last year, isn't the answer. Braedon Bowman, who has been on four teams in his two years in the NFL, isn't the answer. Undrafted free agents, considering the late-blooming nature of the position, aren't the answer. That leaves Virgil Green and only Virgil Green to shoulder the load.

    The 29-year-old Green has cracked 200 receiving yards just once in his seven-year career. In seven of the last eight seasons, two Chargers tight ends have eclipsed 200 receiving yards. Unless the team brings back Gates, Green will receive a drastic increase in playing time and targets, something we have no evidence he can handle.

Los Angeles Rams: Absence of Proven Outside Linebackers

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    Michael Ainsworth/Associated Press

    The Rams defensive line, with the notable pairing of Aaron Donald and Ndamukong Suh, will be discussed early and often this season, but their outside linebacker situation is just as interesting—for the opposite reason. Their top veteran pass-rushers are Matt Longacre, Samson Ebukam and Ejuan Price.

    Together, that trio has 7.5 career sacks. Though it sat out long stretches of the draft, Los Angeles added fifth-rounder Ogbonnia Okoronkwo and sixth-rounder Trevon Young to the unit. Since 2010, only three players picked outside the top 150 have recorded five or more sacks in their rookie seasons: Jonathan Newsome, Chris Jones and Pernell McPhee.

    Don't assume Okoronkwo will crack the starting lineup even though it's weak. Late-round picks just don't get shots to start in the modern NFL. Two of Longacre, Ebukam and Price are likely to play more snaps this season than Michael Brockers, who has somehow become the third man on the defensive line.

    At the line of scrimmage, the Rams might have the league's most drastic story of haves and have nots.

Miami Dolphins: Lacking an Ndamukong Suh Replacement

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    Winslow Townson/Associated Press

    Sometimes players make so much money that it's hard to rationalize keeping them. That is what happened with defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh this offseason, as he was released by the Miami Dolphins. Despite the fact that Suh not only signed his contract three years ago but also restructured the deal two years ago, the Dolphins have not prepared the way for his successor.

    Last year, Suh posted 24.5 tackles at or behind the line. Davon Godchaux, the team's top returning defensive tackle, posted just nine of those tackles. Godchaux, Jordan Phillips and Akeem Spence will play most of the snaps in Miami's defensive tackle rotation.

    The Dolphins are five deep at defensive end, with Cameron Wake, Robert Quinn, Charles Harris, Andre Branch and William Hayes making up the pass-rushing unit, but their interior line has been neglected in recent seasons.

    Defensive tackle might be the deepest position in the NFL. So, Miami should have gotten something in return for Suh, a star, and should have someone—anyone—on the interior whom opponents have to game-plan around on Sundays.

Minnesota Vikings: Not Improving the Interior Offensive Line

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    ANDY KING/Associated Press

    Minnesota's offensive line situation was an issue for the team by the time it clinched a spot in the playoffs last season. While center Pat Elflein started as a rookie, he struggled compared to other starters at the position. At guard, the Vikings have Nick Easton, Tom Compton, 2017 fifth-round pick Danny Isidora and 2018 sixth-round pick Colby Gossett.

    There is no sure thing on the interior of the line. The best option may be to kick right tackle Mike Remmers, who signed a $30 million contract last offseason, to guard. That would leave room for Brian O'Neill, a 2018 second-round pick, to contribute at right tackle opposite of Riley Reiff, who signed a $58.8 million contract in 2017.

    Right now, the Vikings have three offensive tackles, a young but struggling center and holes at guard. If one of those tackles moved inside, it would benefit everyone involved. If Remmers doesn't stick inside, it could get ugly when Minnesota plays the likes of Mike Daniels, Akiem Hicks and Kenny Clark in the NFC North.

New England Patriots: Inexperience at Left Tackle

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    Offensive line situations are fluid at this point of the offseason, with lineups often not locked in until August. Over the next few months, the Patriots will have to figure out how to replace left tackle Nate Solder, who signed with the New York Giants on a contract that made him the highest-paid offensive lineman in the sport on an annual basis.

    One of those options is Isaiah Wynn, a first-round pick out of Georgia who stands 6'2", which in today's NFL is virtually unheard of for a bookend. If Wynn has to kick inside, that will likely leave Marcus Cannon, who has experience at right tackle, and Trent Brown, who was traded by the 49ers on draft weekend, to start as the team's bookends.

    Cannon and Brown teeter on the line of serviceable starters, but no one is going to mistake them for the highest-paid offensive lineman in the NFL. A lot hinges on the Wynn experiment. He should be a quality lineman at some position, but the Patriots need a tackle more than they need a guard in 2018.

New Orleans Saints: Relying on Alvin Kamara to Handle the Load

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    Charlie Neibergall/Associated Press

    Last year, Alvin Kamara ran the ball 120 times to go along with 81 receptions. In college, Kamara topped out at 107 carries (2015) and 143 offensive touches (2016) in a season. With the suspension of Mark Ingram II, Kamara will have to carry the ball more than he has since his high school days.

    If he's unable to do that, he may have to split carries with some relative unknowns: Trey Edmunds, Boston Scott, Jonathan Williams and Daniel Lasco. Together, they have 47 career NFL carries. The drop-off from Kamara splitting backfield responsibilities with Ingram to those four backs is drastic.

    If Ingram, 28, is rusty when he comes back, Kamara's ability to be a bell-cow back could have an influence on the season well beyond September. If Kamara can't get it done, it could keep the Saints from punching a ticket to the playoffs.

New York Giants: Going from Jason Pierre-Paul to Kareem Martin

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    George Bridges/Associated Press

    Over the last two seasons, you could have argued that Jason Pierre-Paul was the Giants' top pass-rusher. Pierre-Paul's 15.5 sacks since 2016 are tied for the second-most in the NFC East, behind Washington's Ryan Kerrigan, and tied for 23rd in the league over that time.

    With the Giants transitioning from a 4-3 base defense to a 3-4 under former Cardinals defensive coordinator James Bettcher, one of Pierre-Paul and Olivier Vernon had to go. Pierre-Paul was shipped to the Buccaneers for what amounted to a third-round pick.

    As it stands, the pass-rusher most likely to fill in as a starter is Kareem Martin, who signed with New York after four years in Arizona. In his rookie deal, under Bettcher's guidance, Martin posted just 3.5 sacks in four years—less than half of Pierre-Paul's total in 2017 alone.

    Martin will likely have to be the guy as the second line of the depth chart should be comprised of Kerry Wynn, Avery Moss and Romeo Okwara, who have a combined four sacks in their NFL careers.

New York Jets: Doing Nothing at Outside Linebacker

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    Julie Jacobson/Associated Press

    The New York Jets have been awful at pass-rushing positions over the last decade-plus. Since 2006, only one edge defender, Calvin Pace in 2013, has registered 10 or more sacks in a single season. Yet again, New York didn't address this issue in the offseason.

    It's likely Jordan Jenkins (5.5 career sacks) and Josh Martin (2.5) start again for the Jets in 2018, giving the team one of the two worst edge defender situations in the league (the Rams have the other). After packaging a plethora of picks to move up from the sixth overall selection to third, the Jets weren't left with many draft assets to spend on pass-rushers.

    New York used its free-agency money on cornerback Trumaine Johnson and added interior defensive linemen Nathan Shepherd, Folorunso Fatukasi and Henry Anderson during the draft weekend. Untouched was the outside linebacker position that has haunted the team for years. The good news for Jets fans is that the 2019 draft is loaded with talent at the position.

Oakland Raiders: Settling on Derrick Johnson

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    Ed Zurga/Associated Press

    Since before Reggie McKenzie was even the general manager for the Oakland Raiders, they have had linebacker issues. While the squad did sign Tahir Whitehead this offseason, modern NFL defenses still involve two off-ball linebackers.

    It's likely the 35-year-old Derrick Johnson will fill the slot next to Whitehead. Johnson is on just a one-year, $1.5 million contract after the Chiefs released him, so it's hard to set high expectations. One of Kansas City's flaws over the years has overpaying veteran defenders, and Johnson was a cap liability relative to his talent.

    Last year, he posted only 10 tackles at or behind the line, ranking sixth on the Chiefs defense. Even Frank Zombo, a struggling 3-4 outside linebacker, beat his mark. Johnson might not have another season left in the tank because he might have run out of gas years ago. He's had a great career, but handing him a starting role is risky.

Philadelphia Eagles: Not Finding a Replacement for Patrick Robinson

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    Eric Gay/Associated Press

    It's hard to find flaws with teams that just won the Super Bowl. For the Philadelphia Eagles, who have been innovative in their cap space manipulation, the biggest regret they likely have is letting Patrick Robinson, a cornerback who bounced back under their watch, leave in free agency.

    With 2017 second-round pick Sidney Jones, 2015 second-round pick Ronald Darby, 2017 third-round pick Rasul Douglas, 2018 fourth-round pick Avonte Maddox and 2016 seventh-round pick Jalen Mills on the roster, it's not that Philadelphia doesn't have young players eager for the chance at more playing time. It's just that none of them have had the year Robinson just posted under defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz.

    We're splitting hairs, but experienced, proven cornerbacks may be the difference between the 2017 and 2018 Eagles.

Pittsburgh Steelers: Not Adding Competition at Outside Linebacker

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    The Pittsburgh Steelers offseason was odd. Their splash free-agent signing was safety Morgan Burnett, formerly of the Packers. Their first-round draft pick was Terrell Edmunds, another safety. Meanwhile, 2016 second-round pick Sean Davis, yet another safety, is on the roster.

    There were other holes that went unaddressed. For example, 2015 first-round pick Bud Dupree has only 14.5 sacks in his first three years in the NFL, a red flag for a 3-4 outside linebacker. While the team did draft T.J. Watt in the first round of last year's draft, that doesn't excuse it from ignoring the fact Dupree that has been a liability.

    For whatever reason, the team picked up Dupree's fifth-year option, making him a likely candidate to start through the 2019 season. Why is Dupree locked in to a starting role for the foreseeable future? Why are Anthony Chickillo and Keion Adams, late-round picks with 5.5 combined NFL sacks, the only competition pushing Dupree? The Steelers should have valued a starting-caliber pass-rusher over a third safety this offseason.

San Francisco 49ers: Refusing to Add Pass-Rushing Help

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    With Elvis Dumervil in free agency, the 49ers' top returning sack artists are Solomon Thomas and DeForest Buckner, who posted three sacks apiece last year. Unless Thomas takes a massive step in development this season, his second as an edge defender, the 49ers might be hung out to dry.

    Cassius Marsh will likely start opposite the 22-year-old. Marsh, who was traded by the Seahawks in September and waived by the Patriots in November, is on a two-year, $7.7 million contract. That gives us a hint at what the 49ers think of his potential, but his six career sacks make him less than a pass-rusher you can hang your hat on.

    San Francisco drafted Kentavius Street, who is overcoming an April ACL tear, in the fourth round. Long-term, Street has the talent to take the job from Marsh, but that won't help this year. A lot will fall on the shoulders of Thomas.

Seattle Seahawks: Not Improving the Offensive Line

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    Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images

    Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson scrambled for his life last season behind a crumbling offensive line. This is the same offensive line that helped Seattle running backs carry the ball 17 times inside the 10-yard line for minus-11 yards and zero touchdowns in 2017.

    There's no way to spin that. The line was awful. The worst news? The line, sans guard Luke Joeckel, returns in 2018. Joeckel, still a free agent, will likely be replaced by low-level free agent signing D.J. Fluker, most recently a fringe starter for a struggling Giants offensive line.

    If Fluker's $1.5 million contract is a reflection of what Seattle thinks of him as a player, he won't be much of an improvement over Jockel. In the draft, the Seahawks added just fifth-round bookend Jamarco Jones, valuing blocking tight end Will Dissly more than offensive line competition.

    Expect more of the same for Wilson and Co. this season, and keep them in your prayers.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Investing so Much in Defensive Linemen

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    Chris O'Meara/Associated Press

    The Buccaneers made it a point to get better on the defensive line this season. They now have a full two-deep depth chart of linemen who are paid to be contributors.

    Presumably, the starters will be Jason Pierre-Paul, whose cap hits in Tampa over the next three years will equal $39.5 million; Vinny Curry, who just signed a $23 million contract; Gerald McCoy, who is playing out a $95.2 million deal; and Vita Vea, the 12th overall pick in the draft. Behind them is Noah Spence, a 2016 second-round pick; William Gholston, who is on a $27.5 million contract; Mitch Unrein, who signed a $10.5 million deal this offseason; and Beau Allen, who signed a $15 million contract this offseason.

    At what point do you spend too much on one position? Tampa Bay is invested in eight defensive linemen, at least four of whom will be on the bench at a time, and it still has the longest odds to win the NFC South, per OddsShark. The Bucs double, tripled and quadrupled down on the position this offseason, which will likely lead to results, but it could also lead to the exposure of lack of depth elsewhere on the roster.

Tennessee Titans: Not Adding a Quality Backup Quarterback

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    Mark Humphrey/Associated Press

    Blaine Gabbert is one of the biggest draft busts in recent memory. Since he entered the league in 2011, Gabbert has posted 4.3 adjusted net yards per attempt.

    Since 2011, 58 quarterbacks have thrown at least 500 balls. Gabbert's ANY/A ranks worst. At the moment, he is the only veteran quarterback on the Titans roster behind Marcus Mariota. The only other quarterback on the roster is sixth-round pick Luke Falk, whose stats regressed across the board in his final year at Washington State.

    If Mariota goes down, Tennessee may not win a game with Gabbert or Falk behind center. With an offseason to come up with an answer to its backup quarterback situation, it will be exposed greatly if Mariota misses time. It's worth noting Mariota has yet to play a full season in his three-year career.

Washington Redskins: Lacking Interior Offensive Line Depth

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    Mark Tenally/Associated Press

    Washington's offensive tackle situation, with Trent Williams starting on the left and Morgan Moses starting on the right, is one of the best in the league. They also famously drafted right guard Brandon Scherff, who has made the last two Pro Bowls, as the fifth overall pick in 2015.

    With that being said, the offensive line is not fortified. With left guard Arie Kouandjio already out for the season, the situation has only gotten worse this offseason.

    At center, the likely starter is Chase Roullier, a sophomore sixth-round pick from Wyoming who played 45.2 percent of the snaps last season. Shawn Lauvao, whom Kouandjio replaced because of an injury in 2017, will be the team's starting left guard with Kouandjio out of the picture.

    It's hard to make the case that Roullier and Lauvao are average players. Lining them up next to each other, with virtually no depth but tackle Ty Nsekhe behind them could be what holds the team back in 2018.

    Snap counts and statistics courtesy of Pro Football Reference. Contract information courtesy of Spotrac.


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