Answering One 2019 Draft Question for Every NFL Team
It's only December, yet many NFL fans are already eyeing the 2019 draft in April.
While contenders gear up to compete for the Super Bowl, teams outside of the playoff picture can begin focusing on how they'll address their biggest issues this offseason.
A handful of squads will be searching for a franchise quarterback. Some will aim to add skill-position talent. Others will want to address their offensive line or defense.
Though free agency and trades will shift the NFL landscape between now and April, it's never too early to look ahead to how teams will fill holes during the 2019 draft.
Arizona Cardinals: Who Will Protect Josh Rosen?
The Arizona Cardinals have their franchise quarterback in place after selecting Josh Rosen with the No. 10 overall pick in April. They now must bolster a ramshackle offensive front that's among the league's worst.
Injuries didn't help. Veteran center A.Q. Shipley suffered a torn ACL in August. Right guard Justin Pugh is also out for the year with a knee injury. The team placed its best lineman, left guard Mike Iupati, on injured reserve Tuesday with an MCL issue.
D.J. Humphries wasn't living up to his first-round billing before he was placed on injured reserve as well. Andre Smith, John Wetzel and Will Holden have all started games at right tackle. Rookie center Mason Cole is the only lineman to start every game.
Holden and Wetzel are free agents after this year, and Iupati is a potential salary-cap casualty.
Arizona needs to rebuild its offensive front, and it should start with spending a likely top-10 pick on Alabama's Jonah Williams (pictured) or Ole Miss' Greg Little. Both are elite talents with the natural ability to play the blind side, which would allow the Cardinals to shift Humphries back to right tackle.
Two problems solved with one draft pick.
Atlanta Falcons: Who Will Collapse the Pocket?
Two problems intersect along the Atlanta Falcons' defensive line.
While Vic Beasley led the NFL with 15.5 sacks two years ago, he's registered only eight over his last 26 contests. Takkarist McKinley, the No. 26 overall pick in 2017, is tied for the team in sacks with only 5.5.
The Falcons aren't getting much production from the edges despite having one of the NFL's best 3-techniques, Grady Jarrett, who is set to become one of the top available free agents. If he leaves, it will create a massive void along Atlanta's interior.
Fortunately, the upcoming draft class is loaded with defensive line talent. Alabama's Quinnen Williams and Houston's Ed Oliver may be beyond Atlanta's reach since the Falcons currently sit outside of the top five, but other talented defenders should still be on the board.
Clemson's Clelin Ferrell is a top-10 talent, and he would push Beasley back to strong-side linebacker. Michigan's Rashan Gary (pictured) is even more intriguing since he can play base end on early downs and 3-technique in sub-packages.
Baltimore Ravens: Who Will Lamar Jackson Throw To?
Everything is about Lamar Jackson now.
Head coach John Harbaugh remains noncommital regarding the Baltimore Ravens' quarterback situation, but everyone knows which way this is trending. The team didn't spend a first-round pick on Jackson only to bench him for an average starter in Joe Flacco.
The Ravens appear set at quarterback, and they have plenty of talent at running back, tight end and along the offensive line. Wide receiver remains up in the air, though.
John Brown, who leads the team with 649 receiving yards, is a free agent after the season. Michael Crabtree, who's second on the team with 536 yards, meanwhile, turns 32 next September.
Jackson isn't a fully developed passer yet, which makes it even more important for Baltimore to draft pass-catchers that will make his life easier.
Oklahoma' Marquise Brown (pictured) may be small in stature (5'10", 168 pounds), but he's a burner and is deadly working in space. Adding a dynamic threat like Brown to an offense with Jackson at the helm will create plenty of big-play opportunities.
The Ravens could also pin their hopes on more traditional targets. Iowa State's Hakeem Butler, Texas' Collin Johnson and Arizona State's N'Keal Harry are all 6'4" or taller, and they each have massive catch radiuses.
Buffalo Bills: How to Build Around Josh Allen
After some significant maneuvering, the Buffalo Bills selected Josh Allen with the seventh overall pick in April. However, they failed to place their enough surrounding talent around their young quarterback.
The Bills lack a functioning offensive line, any threat at wide receiver and must rely on a 30-year-old running back. In fact, Allen led Buffalo in rushing each of the last two weeks.
Buffalo needs to add skill-position talent and build a strong offensive front. The latter is more practical, though.
Offensive tackle Dion Dawkins is the only player in place with legitimate long-term potential, as guard John Miller is set to become a free agent. As such, Buffalo can address all five of the positions, depending on which side Dawkins plays.
Greg Little (pictured) signed with Ole Miss as an elite recruit. The 6'6", 325-pound blocker has all of the necessary traits: long arms, nimble feet, strong hands and top-notch athleticism. He's an option with the Bills' first-round pick, which now sits in the top 10.
If Buffalo goes on a late-season tear and winds up drafting later in the first round, Florida's Jawaan Taylor, Kansas State's Dalton Risner, West Virginia's Yodny Cajuste or Oklahoma's Cody Ford become options.
Carolina Panthers: Who Replaces Julius Peppers?
The Carolina Panthers built their reputation on a ferocious defensive front seven. It's falling apart, though.
The team's top two sack artists, Mario Addison and Julius Peppers, will be 32 and 39 next year, respectively. That's contingent on Peppers even wanting to play another season and re-signing.
Since the front isn't filled with prolific pass-rushers anymore, the Panthers have been leaning on more blitz packages. However, they're tied for 20th overall with 29 sacks.
Carolina must draft and develop edge-rushers to avoid the inevitable falloff when its aging defensive ends can no longer produce.
Mississippi State's Montez Sweat (pictured) may be the perfect defensive end to be mentored by or possibly replace Peppers. Like the future Hall of Fame inductee, the 6'6", 241-pound Georgia native is a long and athletic edge-rusher. He's tied for second in the SEC with 11 sacks.
Other defensive ends like Boston College's Zach Allen, Florida's Jachai Polite and Florida State's Brian Burns don't quite fit the same physical profile, but they could produce the same result.
Chicago Bears: Will They Add More Secondary Help?
Khalil Mack has been everything the Chicago Bears could have wanted when they traded a pair of first-round picks to the Oakland Raiders for him. Without a pick in the opening frame, the Bears have less of an opportunity to address potential need areas with an impact prospect.
The secondary could become a problem.
Chicago relies on Kyle Fuller, Prince Amukamara and Bryce Callahan as its top three cornerbacks. Amukamara turns 30 next year, while Callahan is a free agent.
In today's NFL, a team can't have too many cornerbacks. The Bears could fortify their secondary by adding one or two more.
Florida's Chauncey Gardner-Johnson (pictured) is an intriguing option because he can play nickel or outside corner. His NFL team could use him in multiple sub-packages where he's closer to the line of scrimmage to play the alley or blitz. Some team might bank on his potential earlier, but he's an ideal developmental option.
Cornerbacks tend to go early in bunches. Texas' Kris Boyd, Washington's Jordan Miller and Houston's Isaiah Johnson are other developmental types who may be available for the Bears in the second round.
Cincinnati Bengals: How Many Linebackers Can They Add?
So much has gone wrong for the Cincinnati Bengals this season, it's difficult to pinpoint one problem area. The defense is a good starting point, as it's been one of the worst in NFL history.
Cincinnati's defensive front has plenty of talent. The secondary has a handful of young, talented players as well. However, the team's linebackers are awful. The group is unathletic and constantly placed in mismatches in the passing game.
Preston Brown and Vincent Rey are upcoming free agents. Cincinnati shouldn't retain Vontaze Burfict beyond this season, either. The team can save $6.8 million by releasing the troubled defender, according to Spotrac.
LSU's Devin White (pictured) is a difference-maker at the second level. This year's Butkus Award winner is big enough (6'1", 240 pounds) to hold up against the run and athletic enough to defend in space. He can set the tone in the middle.
He shouldn't be Cincinnati's only linebacker addition in the draft. Michigan's Devin Bush, Clemson's Tre Lamar and Arkansas' Dre Greenlaw are possibilities at outside linebacker in the second round or later.
Cleveland Browns: How Will They Complete Their Defense?
The Cleveland Browns need to give No. 1 overall pick Baker Mayfield better wide receivers, but those can come later. Instead, they should take advantage of a stacked defensive tackle class by finding a 3-technique to complete the defensive front.
The Browns require a disruptive interior defender to place between two emerging stars in defensive end Myles Garrett and 1-technique Larry Ogunjobi. Though Trevon Coley is a replacement-level performer, he's been a starter for the past two seasons.
Luckily, at least seven defensive tackle prospects hold first-round grades coming out of college football's regular season.
Notre Dame's Jerry Tillery (pictured) finally developed into a dominant force as a senior after being moved from nose tackle to 3-technique. The 6'7", 305-pound defender is consistently disruptive, and he leads the Fighting Irish with eight sacks.
The Browns have plenty of first-round options and might prefer Clemson's Christian Wilkins, Ohio State's Dre'Mont Jones, Mississippi State's Jeffery Simmons or Miami's Gerald Willis III.
Dallas Cowboys: How Will the Cowboys Fortify Their Defensive Front?
Two key components could be missing from the Dallas Cowboys defensive front next season. Defensive end Demarcus Lawrence is set to become a free agent after he played under the franchise tag this season, as is defensive tackle David Irving.
Fortunately, a deep defensive line class should play in Dallas' favor since the team doesn't own a first-round pick after trading for Amari Cooper.
Where Miami's Gerald Willis (pictured) falls in the draft will be fascinating to watch. Willis has played like a first-round pick this season, but a checkered history—including a transfer from Florida and a decision not to play in 2017 due to personal reasons—will have to be addressed.
On the field, concerns will arise about whether he can consistently hold the point of attack. Even so, he's an ideal 3-technique in Rod Marinelli's scheme.
The Cowboys could also aim to bolster their edge rush by adding a defensive end such as Louisiana Tech's Jaylon Ferguson (the nation's leader in sacks), Clemson's Austin Bryant or Old Dominion's Oshane Ximines.
Denver Broncos: Can They Find Case Keenum's Replacement?
As currently constructed, the Denver Broncos roster isn't good enough to compete for anything more than a wild-card playoff spot. However, the team isn't bad enough to select an elite quarterback prospect to replace Case Keenum.
General manager John Elway needs to find an eventual replacement with far more upside than Keenum and allow the young quarterback to develop behind the veteran. Elway already attempted to do so with the failed Paxton Lynch experiment, but that can't deter the Broncos from finding a young, talented signal-caller.
Missouri's Drew Lock is a solid compromise.
Lock's raw arm talent is as impressive as anyone's in the upcoming class, but he's yet to fully harness his capabilities. The SEC's single-season record holder for passing touchdowns (44 in 2017) didn't develop to the level many expected as a senior, but he did improve with a career-best 63.2 completion percentage.
Lock's natural ability is still present. The Broncos could draft him in the first round, let him sit behind Keenum for a year and then make him the starter.
If the Broncos are uncomfortable doing so, they could look to another developmental prospect like Auburn's Jarrett Stidham later in the draft.
Detroit Lions: Will They Find Another Pass-Rusher?
The Detroit Lions may be looking to acquire a pair of new pass-rushers.
Ziggy Ansah is set to enter free agency after playing this season under the franchise tag, and there may be no reason for Detroit to re-sign him. Ansah's long injury history coupled with a decline in production no longer warrants top dollar.
Some other team can take the risk on a soon-to-be 30-year-old defensive end. Eli Harrold, who is tied with Ansah with four sacks, is also a free agent.
If the Lions move on from both, they must prioritize their edge rush.
Kentucky's Josh Allen (pictured) is the ideal prospect to fit into head coach Matt Patricia's defensive scheme. Allen, who leads the SEC with 14 sacks, played in a 3-4 base system where he lined up as an outside linebacker/stand-up defensive end. His flexibility to rush the passer or drop into space will bring a different dynamic to Detroit's defense.
Allen isn't the Lions' only option. They can look at Florida's Jachai Polite, USC's Porter Gustin and Alabama's Anfernee Jennings at varying points in the draft.
Green Bay Packers: Who Will They Add to Help Aaron Rodgers?
After firing Mike McCarthy, the Green Bay Packers will build their offseason around maximizing Aaron Rodgers final years. Since they already have a solid offensive line, tight end Jimmy Graham and running back Aaron Jones, they should aim to bolster their receiving core.
Davante Adams has developed into one of the game's premium targets. However, Randall Cobb may depart in free agency, while Geronimo Allison is a restricted free agent.
If both Cobb and Allison sign elsewhere, Packers could be left with Adams and 2018 draftees J'Mon Moore, Marquez Valdez-Scantling and Equanimeous St. Brown. Luckily, Green Bay will likely be in a position to draft the incoming class' top wide receiver prospect.
Arizona State's N'Keal Harry (pictured) is generally considered to be the WR1 of this class. The 6'4", 213-pound target is a dynamic outside threat who's dangerous both down the field and after the catch. Harry caught 155 passes for 2,230 yards and 17 touchdowns over the last two seasons.
Green Bay's goal should be to upgrade at wide receiver, not just add more talent. So, other top prospects like Iowa State's Hakeem Butler, Texas' Collin Johnson and Ole Miss' A.J. Brown should be under consideration as well.
Houston Texans: Who Can Protect Deshaun Watson's Blind Side?
The Houston Texans can't wait any longer to address their offensive line, specifically left tackle.
Julie'n Davenport is the league's worst blindside protector. He's struggled with technique and allowed far too much pressure in his first full season as a starter. The Texans must make a change to keep quarterback Deshaun Watson upright and healthy.
The rest of the line is below average as well, but left tackle is the primary concern.
No prospect has soared quite like Oregon's Calvin Throckmorton. The junior started at right tackle and guard last season before shifting to the blind side under the supervision of head coach Mario Cristobal.
According to Pro Football Focus, Throckmorton ranks in the top seven among all offensive tackles in overall, pass-blocking and run-blocking grades. The 6'5", 318-pound junior has yet to announce whether he'll be declaring for the draft, however.
If the Texans need to go in another direction, West Virginia's Yodny Cajuste and Washington State's Andre Dillard are both capable blindside blockers.
Indianapolis Colts: Who Will Be T.Y. Hilton's Running Mate?
T.Y. Hilton, Chester Rogers and Ryan Grant are the Indianapolis Colts' top three wide receivers this season. However, Rogers and Grant will be free agents come March.
With a league-leading $123.7 million in projected salary-cap space, the organization will be able to re-sign both Rogers and Grant if so desired. But the Colts could do far better at wide receiver.
Rogers and Grant both take significant snaps out of the slot, as does Ole Miss' A.J. Brown (pictured). Whereas that alignment was once seen as a detriment, NFL teams are now using slot receivers to consistently create mismatches on linebackers and safeties if defenses get caught in base looks.
The 6'1", 230-pound Brown displayed first-round potential with 160 receptions for 2,572 yards and 17 touchdowns over the last two seasons.
Colts general manager Chris Ballard has showed he's willing to go heavy on positions of need in the draft. Buffalo's Anthony Johnson, West Virginia's David Sills V and Ohio State's Parris Campbell would also bring varying skill sets at a discount price.
Jacksonville Jaguars: How Fast Can They Move On from Blake Bortles?
The Jacksonville Jaguars need to find an answer at quarterback this offseason. Blake Bortles isn't it.
After making it to the AFC Championship Game with Bortles under center last season, the Jaguars entered free fall this year, losing seven straight games before snapping out of their skid with an ugly 6-0 victory over the Colts on Sunday. That implosion made their issues at quarterback even more glaring.
The Jaguars will save only $4.5 million by releasing Bortles this season, but cutting bait on him is a necessary evil. They can then turn their attention to finding his replacement with their first-round pick, which is likely to land somewhere in the top 10.
Ohio State's Dwayne Haskins has been phenomenal in his first year as a starter. The Buckeye was named a Heisman finalist after completing 70.2 percent of his passes for 4,580 yards, 47 touchdowns and only eight interceptions. The 6'3", 220-pound Haskins is a natural thrower with the ability to change arm angles and work around pressure.
Haskins will be in a competition with Oregon's Justin Herbert to be the first quarterback drafted if both declare. If not, Jacksonville may have to consider less inspiring senior prospects.
Kansas City Chiefs: Who Will Be Their New Marcus Peters?
The Kansas City Chiefs own the league's worst pass defense. Andy Reid's unit surrenders 295 yards per game.
Some of this is because the Chiefs have such an explosive offense that opponents are regularly trying to play catch-up. Even so, the secondary isn't good. It could be even worse if Steven Nelson and Orlando Scandrick leave via free agency.
While the Chiefs wanted to move past Marcus Peters and his attitude, the trade with the Los Angeles Rams proved to be short-sighted. Peters would have helped the team this season if the coaching staff could have endured him another year.
Instead, the secondary lacks playmakers. Only Nelson and Ron Parker have more than one interception. Ball skills should be a priority.
Notre Dame's Julian Love (pictured) is counted among the nation's best with 16 defended passes.
"He's smart, he's quick, he's extremely detailed in his preparation," teammate Miles Boykin told the Indianapolis Star's Mike Berardino. "He's a quick-twitch type of corner. He plays the ball very well in the air."
Temple's Rock Ya-Sin and Texas' Kris Boyd are also two of the class' better ball hawks.
Los Angeles Chargers: What Will Be Added to the Defensive Interior?
The interior of the Los Angeles Chargers defense will be gutted after this season.
Brandon Mebane, Damion Square, Darius Philon, Isaac Rochell and T.Y. McGill are all scheduled to become free agents. Corey Liuget, meanwhile, will come back from a season-ending torn quadriceps tendon.
Most likely one or two of the aforementioned names will re-sign. Still, reinforcements are required.
Alabama's Raekwon Davis is a defensive end in Alabama's 3-4 base defense, but the 6'7", 316-pound defender is ideally a 3-technique who'll be given a two-way go to disrupt opposing offenses. His numbers have dipped, but they don't tell the whole story. Davis is playing next to Quinnen Williams, who experienced a breakout campaign as the nation's best defender.
The Chargers may not want to spend a first-round pick on a defensive tackle and could concentrate on other positions. If so, someone like Washington's Greg Gaines (6'2", 316 lbs) is a squat, sturdy and relentless alternative to hold the point of attack as a rotational 1- or 3-technique.
Los Angeles Rams: Who Will Fill the Defensive Holes?
The Los Angeles Rams have arguably the NFL's best roster, yet it lacks one thing: a consistent edge presence to pair with its ferocious defensive interior.
General manager Les Snead attempted to rectify the situation by trading for 2015 third overall pick Dante Fowler Jr. He has two sacks in four games since he joined the Rams in October, but he'll be a free agent after the season. The same can be said of Matt Longacre, who started seven games at outside linebacker.
Samson Ebukam is set on one side. The Rams will search for his counterpart.
Georgia's D'Andre Walker isn't a heralded prospect, yet he's been highly productive on one of college football's best defenses. Walker leads the Bulldogs with 11 tackles for loss, 7.5 sacks and 15 more quarterback hits. The 6'3", 245-pound defender slices past blockers on his way to the backfield.
Snead could address defensive tackle instead, since Ndamukong Suh will also be a free agent. Clemson's Dexter Lawrence (6'4", 350 lbs) and Auburn's Derrick Brown (6'5", 325 lbs) have the size and athleticism to pair with Aaron Donald as the Rams' 1-technique.
Miami Dolphins: Will They Dump Ryan Tannehill for Another QB?
The Miami Dolphins spent a lot of time scouting quarterbacks last season but didn't draft one. This offseason is different, though. The organization can get out from under Ryan Tannehill's contract and save $13.2 million.
The organization hasn't given its starting quarterback any assurances he'll be with the team next season.
The upcoming draft class may not be deep at the game's most position, but that shouldn't matter. The Dolphins are stuck with an average or below-average quarterback who they can dump for a younger option with more potential.
Duke's Daniel Jones (pictured) is similar to Tannehill in some ways. The junior prospect isn't a finished product and relies heavily on his athleticism. Jones is 6'5" and 220 pounds with a 59 completion percentage, 17 passing touchdowns, seven interceptions, 2,251 passing yards and 325 rushing yards. David Cutcliffe, the quarterback whisperer, has also mentored him.
Jones has yet to make his NFL intentions known.
The Dolphins may be stuck in a position where they have to sign a veteran bridge and draft a developmental prospect. They should probably go after Teddy Bridgewater, Tyrod Taylor or Nick Foles (if his mutual option isn't picked up) regardless.
Minnesota Vikings: Where Will They Find Help Along the O-Line?
Despite their numerous investments along their offensive line, the Minnesota Vikings' starting front five remains an issue. The group isn't physical enough at the point of attack, and quarterback Kirk Cousins has been sacked 30 times so far.
At a glance, this group should work.
Riley Reiff is a solid left tackle. Mike Remmers played well at guard during last year's playoff run. Pat Elflein is a talented young center. Rookie Brian O'Neill is developed at right tackle as well. But injuries have played their part, particularly with guard Nick Easton's season-ending neck issue.
Instead of targeting a specific position to address, the Vikings should just choose the best available blocker. Kansas State's Dalton Risner (pictured) may be the perfect Mike Zimmer lineman: He's tough, physical, a reliable pass-blocker, highly intelligent and can play all five positions.
It doesn't matter where Risner plays, because he'll likely excel.
Other prospects aren't quite as versatile, but options such as Mississippi State's Elgton Jenkins, Wisconsin's Michael Deiter and Ohio State's Michael Jordan are talented and present some positional flexibility.
New England Patriots: Will They Target a New Breed of Defensive Tackle?
The NFL is changing, and the New England Patriots have failed to adapt.
Today's pass-happy league is no longer about having wide bodies in the middle of the defense. Now, defensive tackles are expected to apply pressure on the quarterback.
The Patriots expected two first-round picks, Malcom Brown and Danny Shelton, to anchor the middle of the defense. Neither has played well, and both are free agents after this season. Trey Flowers, who is at his best rushing from the 3-technique, is as well.
New England needs more athletic defenders, particularly along the interior, to create more pressure.
Bill Belichick's relationship with Urban Meyer is well-known. The Patriots head coach likes to draft well-coached players from big programs. Ohio State defensive tackle Dre'Mont Jones (pictured) fits a need and the coach's preferences.
Jones is an explosive upfield defender and is one of the class' best interior pass-rushers. That basically makes him the anthesis of Brown and Shelton.
If Belichick prefers a thicker option, Mississippi State's Jeffery Simmons and Clemson's Christian Wilkins are better at the point of attack, yet they retain the ability to disrupt opposing offenses.
New Orleans Saints: Will They Select a Bigger Receiving Target?
The New Orleans Saints made two interesting midseason moves by signing bigger and more physical wide receivers in Dez Bryant and Brandon Marshall. Granted, Bryant's season-ending Achilles tendon tear precipitated Marshall's arrival, but the team clearly identified a specific type of skill set it wanted to add.
Both veterans signed a minimal one-year deal, and neither is expected back next season.
The Saints don't have a first-round pick after last year's draft-day trade with Green Bay Packers to land defensive end Marcus Davenport, but they can find bigger receiving targets in subsequent rounds.
West Virginia's David Sills V (pictured) has all of the traits needed to fill the role.
Sills, a former quarterback, stands 6'4" and weighs 203 pounds. He displays consistent hands as a proven red-zone target with a penchant for winning 50-50 balls, as his 33 touchdown receptions over the past two seasons can attest. He also plays a physical style and isn't afraid to bury a cornerback when run blocking.
If the Saints don't choose Sills, they've experienced plenty of success with small-school products. Northern Arizona's Emmanuel Butler or Northwestern State's Jazz Ferguson are bigger targets with plenty of skill.
New York Giants: Who Will Be Eli Manning's Heir Apparent?
Time keeps ticking away, and the New York Giants still don't have a long-term quarterback solution.
Eli Manning turns 38 in January, and rookie Kyle Lauletta isn't considered a legitimate replacement option. Instead of using this year's second overall pick on a quarterback, the organization decided running back Saquon Barkley was a better value.
Now, the franchise is in the same spot as it was a year ago. The longer it waits, the further it falls behind at the game's most important position.
The Giants may not even be in a position to draft a top quarterback prospect depending on whether Oregon's Justin Herbert (pictured) and Ohio State's Dwayne Haskins decide to declare. While both may be in the discussion as the top quarterback prospect, Herbert holds a slight edge since he's a tremendous anticipatory thrower and better overall athlete.
New York's front office and coaching staff may think Manning can start another year or more, but they're fooling themselves. The Giants need to find his heir apparent sooner rather than later.
New York Jets: Will Anyone Provide an Edge Rush?
Calvin Pace is the last true New York Jets edge-rusher to post a 10-sack season. He did so five years ago.
Leonard Williams is a difference-maker along the interior, but he doesn't have enough help. The Jets defense would be far more effective if it added someone who can squeeze the pocket while Williams collapses it.
Furthermore, a new defensive approach may be forthcoming since head coach Todd Bowles remains on the hot seat. The traditional 3-4 looks the current coach prefers could change to a heavy four-man front.
Clelin Ferrell (pictured) is the top-rated prospect on a loaded Clemson defensive front. At 6'4" and 265 pounds with long arms and the ability to turn the edge, he fits the mold of an NFL defensive end. Ferrell has also produced a team-leading 17.0 tackles for loss and 10.5 sacks.
Michigan's Chase Winovich, Georgia's Jonathan Ledbetter and TCU's Ben Banogu are possibilities if the current or next staff keep a similar defensive approach and wait a little later in the draft.
Oakland Raiders: Where Will They Find a Pass-Rusher?
The Oakland Raiders have to make up for their decision to trade Khalil Mack to the Bears. Without him in the fold this year, they've racked up a league-low 10 sacks, nine fewer than the next closest teams (the Patriots and Giants are tied at 19).
The Raiders own three first-round picks to address their lack of a pass rush. They would be wise to use two of those selections to do just that, including their likely top-three pick.
Alabama's Quinnen Williams (pictured) has been unblockable during his junior campaign. Williams has a rare combination of a 295-pound body with tremendous strength at the point of attack, impeccable technique and more than enough burst to consistently make plays in the backfield.
With Williams at 1-technique and Maurice Hurst at 3-technique, the Raiders can then look for a defensive end. Jon Gruden and Co. can use the Cowboys' pick to select Florida State's Brian Burns or Florida's Jachai Polite.
That would solve the Raiders' pass-rush issues, and they'd still have a first-round pick to spare.
Philadelphia Eagles: Who Will Bolster Their Depleted Secondary?
A Super Bowl victory often precedes a free-agent exodus. In the Philadelphia Eagles' case, the mass departure might happen a year after the fact.
Cornerback Ronald Darby, linebacker Jordan Hicks, running backs Jay Ajayi and Darren Sproles, and defensive ends Brandon Graham and Chris Long are on the last year of their respective deals. Wide receiver Golden Tate and defensive tackle Haloti Ngata are as well. Plus, the team may decide to move on from left tackle Jason Peters and backup quarterback Nick Foles.
The loss of Darby could mean more than most even though he's on injured reserve at the moment. The Eagles have learned in recent weeks that it's difficult to compete with an injury-ravaged secondary.
That means adding quality depth should be a priority for Philadelphia this offseason.
Georgia's Deandre Baker (pictured) is the smoothest cover corner in this year's class. He can turn and run with any receiver. However, concerns arise over his lack of size (5'11" and 180 pounds).
The Eagles may want to trend toward bigger and more physical defensive backs like Miami's Michael Jackson or Clemson's Trayvon Mullen.
Pittsburgh Steelers: Will They Add a Long-Term Solution at ILB?
Teams searching for a ready-made linebacker prospect need not look any further than Alabama. The Crimson Tide have produced first- or second-round linebackers in four of the last five draft classes.
This year won't be any different if Mack Wilson (pictured) declares early.
The junior can defend a downhill running attack and has the ability to play sideline-to-sideline as well. However, he's hinted at a possible return to Tuscaloosa on Twitter.
A draft class without Wilson will work against the Pittsburgh Steelers, who still aren't settled at inside linebacker after Ryan Shazier's career-threatening injury last season. L.J. Fort's role continues to increase at Jon Bostic's expense, but Fort will be a free agent in March.
It'd be wise for the Steelers to make a long-term investment in the position.
If Wilson doesn't declare, Notre Dame's Te'von Coney, Wisconsin's T.J. Edwards or Clemson's Kendall Joseph could fill the void.
San Francisco 49ers: Will They Ever Figure Out Their Defensive Front?
The San Francisco 49ers selected a defensive lineman in the first round of three consecutive drafts, but only one of them is playing well.
DeForest Buckner has been outstanding. Arik Armstead has not. And Solomon Thomas still isn't being used correctly.
The 49ers now must decide what to do with each player.
Buckner is a franchise cornerstone. San Francisco may release Armstead to avoid paying his $9 million fifth-year rookie option. Thomas, meanwhile, should be moved to 3-technique on a full-time basis.
All of this would pave the way for the offseason's most obvious move: drafting Ohio State defensive Nick Bosa (pictured) with the first overall pick in the 2019 NFL draft.
Bosa required surgery to repair a core muscle in September and subsequently declared for the draft. Despite the injury and lack of playing time, the 6'4", 263-pound defensive end remains the top-rated prospect in his class.
Even if the 49ers don't take Bosa, two other defensive linemen—Alabama's Quinnen Williams and Houston's Ed Oliver—are arguably the second- and third-best prospects in the class.
Seattle Seahawks: Will There Be a Legion of Boom Part 2?
Richard Sherman is gone. Kam Chancellor has a significant neck injury. Earl Thomas seems to be on his way out after a broken leg ended his season heading into free agency.
The Legion of Boom as everyone knew it is gone. The Seahawks won't be rebuilding; it's now time to reload.
Seattle has competent pieces in place with Shaquill Griffin, Justin Coleman (a pending free agent), Bradley McDougald and Tedric Thompson. But this group can still be upgraded.
Thomas was always the one who drove the Seahawks' famed secondary to success. His unequaled sideline-to-sideline range allowed him to clean up any mistake made by those in front.
Alabama's Deionte Thompson has similar ridiculous range, but he isn't likely to fall to the Seahawks in the latter parts of the first round. The team could make an aggressive move to jump up the board for him, but otherwise, it must consider other safeties.
Miami's Jaquan Johnson (pictured) isn't quite as fast or rangy as Thompson, and his draft stock took a hit this season as he dealt with a hamstring injury. However, he's a true playmaker in the secondary.
Tennessee Titans: Who Will Be Corey Davis' Running Mate?
The Tennessee Titans are incapable of pushing the ball downfield effectively. The current offensive approach is reliant on short passes and receivers creating after the catch.
The Titans are relying too heavily on Corey Davis to carry the aerial attack. The 2017 fifth overall pick has had a few standout performances this season, but he too easily becomes a non-factor.
To help out Davis and quarterback Marcus Mariota, the Titans require a more consistent presence with the ability to threaten a defense at all times.
Iowa State's Hakeem Butler (pictured) leads all receivers this season with 22.1 yards per reception. He isn't a traditional speedster, though. He's a massive target (6'6" and 225 pounds) who relies on his size, gigantic catch radius, strong hands and nuanced vertical route-running to consistently beat defenders deep.
Butler's imposing size and deep-threat capabilities are one way to attack the problem, but Tennessee could also draft smaller but more explosive route-runners who win by creating separation and being reliable options. Massachusetts' Andy Isabella, Hawaii's John Ursua and West Virginia's Gary Jennings Jr. fit the bill.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Where to Start on Defense?
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers could spend every one of their selections in the 2019 NFL draft on defensive players, and it still might not be enough.
While Tampa Bay leads the league in yards per game on offense this season, its defense has been the NFL's second-worst over the last two seasons.
The Bucs attempted to rectify that by drafting defensive tackle Vita Vea, safety Jordan Whitehead and cornerbacks M.J. Stewart and Carlton Davis in April. It wasn't enough, however, particularly in the secondary.
Vernon Hargreaves, the No. 11 overall pick in 2016, is on injured reserve with a shoulder injury and didn't play well in his first two seasons. The team's best cover corner, 35-year-old Brent Grimes, will be a free agent in March.
The Buccaneers need to add a fluid defender in coverage. Washington's Byron Murphy (pictured) isn't the biggest defensive back, but the 5'11", 175-pounder displays tremendous lower-body flexibility, instincts, route recognition and ball skills.
Doubling up on the position again might be the smart play for the Bucs. Penn State's Amani Oruwariye, Florida's Chauncey Gardner-Johnson, Kentucky's Derrick Baity, Jr. and Mississippi State's Jamal Peters also loom as targets.
Washington Redskins: Who Will Replace Alex Smith?
Alex Smith's career-threatening leg injury changed the direction of the Washington Redskins organization. Once thought to be set at quarterback, Smith's return isn't guaranteed. According to ESPN's Adam Schefter, infection set in after surgery on his leg.
With Smith facing a lengthy recovery regardless of whether he can eventually return, Washington should be searching for his successor. A strong start to the season placed the team in a difficult position, though.
Washington isn't among the league's worst teams, which likely puts an elite quarterback prospect out of reach. Senior vice president of player personnel Doug Williams must then assess the next tier.
West Virginia's Will Grier is arguably the top senior prospect and is a prolific passer. In two seasons with the Mountaineers, Grier completed 65.7 percent of his passes for 7,354 yards, 71 touchdowns and 20 interceptions while leading one of the nation's most explosive offenses.
Quarterback options will be limited, but fellow seniors Drew Lock (Missouri) and Ryan Finley (North Carolina State) should be of interest to Washington as well, either in the first or second round.