The 1 Need Each NFL Team Must Address in the Draft, Not Free Agency

Derrik KlassenContributor IMarch 10, 2019

The 1 Need Each NFL Team Must Address in the Draft, Not Free Agency

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    Jay LaPrete/Associated Press

    The NFL draft is about more than just selecting players to fill positional needs. 

    Teams can use it to manipulate the salary cap by getting value through set rookie wages. It can give squads a chance to target position groups they cannot in free agency or to build a surplus of talent at a position to prepare for expiring contracts. No two teams' needs are perfectly comparable, nor are the ways in which they can approach them. 

    For instance, one team may prioritize drafting cornerbacks because it needs new talent on the field right away. With a weak free-agent cornerback market, that need is further stressed because there is no other avenue for this team to solve the issue.

    On the other hand, another team may need to address cornerback in preparation for the future. It may be that it doesn't need a rookie cornerback to start right away and instead prefers to build depth and groom future starters for whenever the current starters leave in free agency. Depending on the state of the rest of the roster, different teams can get away with different drafting priorities. 

    Here is one need each team must address in April's draft in Nashville, Tennessee, and how the squads can get the most value out of their picks. 


Arizona Cardinals: Wide Receiver

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    Ole Miss' A.J. Brown
    Ole Miss' A.J. BrownAssociated Press

    If there is nobody to throw the ball to, it does not matter whether the Arizona Cardinals stay committed to Josh Rosen or start from scratch with Oklahoma Sooners quarterback Kyler Murray.

    Christian Kirk is a blossoming force as an outside wide receiver, but the remains of Larry Fitzgerald, who turns 36 in August, and the rest of Arizona's ragtag unit are not enough to support a young signal-caller.

    The Cardinals should be looking to retool the wide receiver corps after the first round. Players with experience in Air Raid or spread systems are likely to be the focus for new head coach Kliff Kingsbury.

    The likes of Mississippi's A.J. Brown, Missouri's Emanuel Hall, West Virginia's Gary Jennings and Fresno State's KeeSean Johnson should be on the Cardinals radar. Kingsbury could also look to reunite with one of his receivers from Texas Tech, Antoine Wesley.

Atlanta Falcons: Defensive Line

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    Houston's Ed Oliver
    Houston's Ed OliverAssociated Press

    The Atlanta defense always feels incomplete because the Falcons have yet to assemble a respectable defensive line in the Dan Quinn era. It is not enough to just have 2015 fifth-round defensive tackle Grady Jarrett, who received the team's franchise tag Monday. The Falcons have to keep swinging up front to complete their defense.

    Houston Cougars defensive tackle Ed Oliver—if the Falcons are fortunate enough for him to slip to them at No. 14 overall—would be the easy solution. The 6'2", 287-pound Oliver is a quick, explosive player whose height concerns should not matter much to the Falcons.

    Atlanta has proved time and again that it will take defenders of all shapes and sizes and figure out the rest later. Linebacker Deion Jones and defensive tackle Grady Jarrett were considered too small to be stars at their respective positions, and they have both become cornerstones of Atlanta's defense. 

    If Oliver does not fall into their laps, the Falcons should still look to burn a Day Two pick on someone who can help fortify the interior defensive line. Look for them to target explosive players who tested well at the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis.

Baltimore Ravens: Wide Receiver

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    Arizona State's N'Keal Harry
    Arizona State's N'Keal HarryAssociated Press

    With Michael Crabtree gone (released) and John Brown on his way out (free agency), the Ravens are left only with Willie Snead IV as a rollover from last year's key contributors at wide receiver. Snead's return means precious little, considering he had a poor 2018 campaign that was littered with drops.

    The Ravens have to put a stable group of receivers around second-year quarterback Lamar Jackson. Unfortunately, the corps is so weak right now that Baltimore cannot fix it in one offseason, but it can start by investing a couple of picks into receivers Jackson can grow with.

    Contested-catch receivers and pass-catchers who win over the middle of the field fit Jackson's style the most. Arizona State's N'Keal Harry could be a viable target in the first round, while others such as North Carolina State's Kelvin Harmon and South Carolina's Deebo Samuel could be options a bit later on.

Buffalo Bills: Offensive Line

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    Washington State's Andre Dillard
    Washington State's Andre DillardAssociated Press

    Buffalo's entire offensive line is replaceable. Some players, namely left tackle Dion Dawkins, are more egregious threats to second-year quarterback Josh Allen's development and safety than others, but there is no reason not to buy into a full rework of this offensive line. The Bills cannot afford to give up a 23rd-ranked adjusted sack rate, per Football Outsiders, for another season. 

    The Bills need to keep Allen propped up and protected for him to succeed. He can make plays outside of the pocket and evade defenders, but he also likes to hang on to the ball for a particularly long time. After investing in that type of quarterback, there has to be a focus on premier pass protection when the Bills bring in new linemen.

    An athletic quarterback at the helm should move the Bills toward looking for similarly athletic offensive linemen to keep up with Allen on the fly. Washington State offensive tackle Andre Dillard or NC State interior lineman Garrett Bradbury fit the bill. A versatile five-spot players like Kansas State's Dalton Risner would also be a huge boon for this unit.

Carolina Panthers: Defensive End

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    Florida's Jachai Polite
    Florida's Jachai PoliteJonathan Bachman/Getty Images

    Teams can skate by without addressing a certain position for a number of years, typically because they have a way to make up for it. The Panthers have employed that strategy by skipping out on addressing their outside pass rush for years, with the idea that top-notch interior play and blazing fast linebackers could fill in the gaps. To some degree, it has worked out fine over the years, but there has to come a time when the Panthers flood resources into edge play.

    Multiple picks should be invested into addressing the pass-rush situation both now and for the future. The Panthers drafted Marquis Haynes in the fourth round a year ago, but they need to do more. A stable of Mario Addison, Efe Obada, Bryan Cox Jr. and Haynes is not an NFL-caliber edge group.

    Ideally, the Panthers should look to grab at least one edge-rusher with one of their first two picks, as well as take a swing on another on Day 3. Florida's Jachai Polite and Florida State's Brian Burns are explosive options for the Panthers to consider in the first two rounds. For the late-round swings, a high-upside prospect such as TCU's Ben Banogu would be worth a shot.

Chicago Bears: Secondary

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    Temple's Rock Ya-Sin
    Temple's Rock Ya-SinMitchell Leff/Getty Images

    As the unit stands now, Chicago's secondary is strong and intact. Most of the Bears' key players are returning for the 2019 season, and even the loss of either safety Adrian Amos or cornerback Bryce Callahan in free agency would not be detrimental.

    That being said, the Bears could stand to add some depth and groom potential future starters to prepare for the inevitability that one or more of the current starters cannot be re-signed in the next couple of offseasons.

    The Bears don't have a first- or second-round pick in 2019, but considering they did not need to spend that high of a pick on their secondary anyway, they're in a fine spot. They can look to use one or two of their mid-round picks to stabilize the the secondary moving forward.

    If Temple cornerback Rock Ya-Sin falls to the Bears in the third round, his press-man skills would make him the perfect potential successor to Prince Amukamara, whose contract has a team option following the 2019 season. Arkansas' Ryan Pulley and James Madison's Jimmy Moreland could be mid- to late-round picks if Chicago wants to address the nickel position through the draft.

Cincinnati Bengals: Linebacker

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    LSU's Devin White
    LSU's Devin WhiteAssociated Press

    The Bengals have been trying to get by with mediocre linebacker play for the better part of a decade now. Waves of outstanding play from Vontaze Burfict come and go, but the unit as a whole has been average at best for far too long.

    There is a case to be made that the Bengals had the worst linebackers in the NFL last season. On its way to a 26th-ranked run defense (DVOA), the Bengals defense placed 28th in second-level yards, a measure of how well linebackers are responding to run fits and minimizing gains that get past the defensive line. Additionally, the Bengals were the second-worst team in defending running backs in the passing game, per Football Outsiders. That responsibility primarily falls on their linebackers. 

    As such, the Bengals have far too many draft picks this year to not throw darts at the linebacker group. The dearth of talent across the unit right now suggests they should be looking to take at least one linebacker with a top-50 pick, but they would be foolish not to throw up a prayer with one of their eight Day 3 selections. Doing so in last year's draft should not stop them from doing it again this time around.

    In the first round, LSU's Devin White and Michigan's Devin Bush should be the targets. Both players are
    "chase" linebackers who thrive on jumping early and being faster than the offense. That style of player would provide a different pace for the Bengals, but it could be a much-needed change.

Cleveland Browns: Defensive Line

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    Clemson's Christian Wilkins
    Clemson's Christian WilkinsAssociated Press

    When in doubt, draft the trenches. The Browns have finally built a decent roster for themselves with a handful of stars, like quarterback Baker Mayfield and running back Nick Chubb, to carry the team into playoff contention. The challenge now is to use a few of their 10 draft picks to round out their defensive line, which is rather top-heavy the way it is constructed right now.

    Defensive end Emmanuel Ogbah is passable as a solid No. 2 pass rushing option, so getting help next to defensive tackle Larry Ogunjobi should be the priority. The Browns got some production out of a couple of undrafted or low-level free agents last year, but they need to inject new blood into the system.

    With Ogunjobi's prowess as a disruptor and pass-rusher, a mountain in the middle like Clemson's Dexter Lawrence would slide into the Browns defense nicely. A few others such as fellow Tiger Christian Wilkins, Notre Dame's Jerry Tillery and Miami's Gerald Willis could all be first- and second-day options for a lighter and more mix-and-match approach up front.

Dallas Cowboys: Defensive Line

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    Alabama's Isaiah Buggs
    Alabama's Isaiah BuggsAssociated Press

    Depth is bleeding out of the Cowboys' interior defensive line. Datone Jones and Caraun Reid are both set to become free agents this offseason, and David Irving is reportedly quitting the NFL. The Cowboys need to address their depth through the draft and hope to build those players up for the future.

    Without a first-round pick, the Cowboys are going to need to look at less exciting options than they hoped for.

    On the second day of the draft, Florida State's Demarcus Christmas or Alabama's Isaiah Buggs could fill the role of unmovable boulder next to more explosive options like Tyrone Crawford. Moving into the later rounds, the Cowboys may be better off looking for guys who do not need to contribute right now but could replace current starters down the line. Arizona State defensive lineman Renell Wren's lightning-quick get-off could serve as a welcome addition to an already jumpy defensive front.

Denver Broncos: Offensive Tackle

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    Wisconsin's Michael Deiter
    Wisconsin's Michael DeiterAssociated Press

    Left tackle Garett Bolles is more or less locked into a starting position in 2019. He was a 2017 first-round investment, which makes it difficult to move on so quickly, even if the team may want to draft a developmental player to eventually replace him.

    Denver's glaring and more addressable issue is right tackle. Jared Veldheer was not a quality player last year, and with his contract expiring this offseason, there is no reason to bring him back. Veldheer, as well as his offensive tackle counterpart Bolles, were the key culprits in Denver's decline to 20th in pressure rate allowed on the year, per Football Outsiders. The Broncos have to look for a new right tackle in the draft.

    Kansas State's Dalton Risner falling into Denver's lap would be the dream. Risner can play any position across the offensive line and would be especially effective at right tackle. If the cards don't fall in Denver's favor regarding Risner, however, Michael Deiter could fill that "do-it-all" role on Day 2. The Broncos also may have interest in Ohio State's Isaiah Prince, a true right tackle.

Detroit Lions: Cornerback

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    LSU's Greedy Williams
    LSU's Greedy WilliamsJoe Robbins/Getty Images

    Darius Slay needs help. Having an elite cornerback on one side is great, but if defenses can target the other side of the field with relative ease, the value of the great cornerback takes a hit.

    The Lions drafted Teez Tabor in 2017, but he played fewer than 30 percent of the team's snaps this past season. Likewise, Nevin Lawson will presumably remain on the roster but is more suited to retain his status as the team's full-time nickel cornerback. Given that the outside cornerback free-agent market is pitiful this spring, the draft has to be where the Lions look to fix this problem.

    In the event LSU's Greedy Williams makes it to the Lions' eighth overall pick, they would be silly to take anyone else. An available defensive end may be more enticing, but Williams is a dominant press-man corner who can work comfortably in deep-third and quarter-zone coverages. The Lions could also look to similar cornerbacks, such as Temple's Rock Ya-Sin and Houston's Isaiah Johnson, on Day 2 if they miss out on Williams.

Green Bay Packers: Pass-Rusher

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    Mississippi State's Montez Sweat
    Mississippi State's Montez SweatJim Lytle/Associated Press

    Aside from having a good quarterback and protecting him, getting to the opposing quarterback is the most important aspect of football. The Packers were not a great team at getting to the quarterback last year, and the possible departure of Clay Matthews in free agency would only magnify that weakness.

    Though the Packers tied for eighth in sacks (44), they ranked only 14th in pressure rate (30.8 percent), per Football Outsiders, and their sack total was inflated in part by a seven-sack performance versus a dismal Buffalo Bills offensive line. Outside linebacker Kyler Fackrell's 6.5 sacks over the back half of the season also came as a surprise, seeing as Fackrell was a largely ineffective player in his first two seasons with the team.

    With Matthews out, Nick Perry and Kyler Fackrell are the next men up. Perry is a low-end No. 2 or high-end No. 3 rusher, while Fackrell, as mentioned, has been mostly disappointing since joining the Packers. Fackrell's sudden jump in production at the end of 2018 should not sway how the team feels about their pass-rushers, though.

    Being equipped with two first-round picks, the Packers are in prime position to snag at least one premier edge-rusher, if not two. Florida's Jachai Polite, Florida State's Brian Burns and Mississippi State's Montez Sweat are popular options for the Packers to pick up, but they could also choose just one and then swing on a developmental project later on in the draft. More traditional players such as Michigan's Chase Winovich and Texas' Charles Omenihu should be on the table if defensive coordinator Mike Pettine wants to retool the unit to his specifications.

Houston Texans: Offensive Line

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    Mississippi's Greg Little
    Mississippi's Greg LittleAssociated Press

    For the Houston Texans, it's time to think about moving on from the entire offensive line, save for center Nick Martin. Left tackle Julie'n Davenport presents a legitimate risk for quarterback Deshaun Watson, who was sacked 62 times last season, most in the league. Rookie tackle Martinas Rankin had no business playing as early as he did last year, and the guard situation with Senio Kelemete and Zach Fulton is also a disaster, especially with Kelemete on the left side.

    The Texans should be looking to take any and all linemen in all rounds of the draft. Early on, tackles familiar with playing in a spread offense would be the best route to take. Washington State's Andre Dillard and Mississippi's Greg Little, both coming from some form of an Air Raid or spread system, should have the easiest transition to an open offense with Watson.

    Anyone would be an upgrade at guard at this point. Boston College's Chris Lindstrom should be the goal among interior blockers, but Arkansas' Hjalte Froholdt and Mississippi State's Shaq Calhoun are potential mid- to late-rounders who would also fit what the team should be moving toward.

Indianapolis Colts: Cornerback

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    Georgia's Deandre Baker
    Georgia's Deandre BakerAssociated Press

    Through whatever magic it was, Colts defensive coordinator Matt Eberflus found a way to turn a defensive line full of nobodies into a legitimate unit.

    Unfortunately, he struggled to find that same success with the secondary. Eberflus had his hands tied in terms of what the defense could do in coverage because the cornerbacks could not run or, frankly, do much of anything else.

    That said, the Colts will remain a heavy zone team, though they may want to transition to more one-high safety looks to get the best out of free safety Malik Hooker. In turn, Georgia's DeAndre Baker and Washington's Byron Murphy may be better fits for the Colts' style than other top cornerback Greedy Williams.

    The second round will provide the Colts an opportunity to take other zone-friendly corners such as Penn State's Amani Oruwariye, Notre Dame's Julian Love and Michigan State's Justin Layne. Of those three, Oruwariye would give Eberflus the most scheme flexibility and provide the Colts with a solid cornerstone to shape the defense around.

Jacksonville Jaguars: Quarterback

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    Ohio State's Dwayne Haskins
    Ohio State's Dwayne HaskinsAssociated Press

    Whether or not the Jaguars need to take a quarterback high in the draft is not contingent on whether they sign a free-agent signal-caller. Nick Foles, for example, should not affect how willing the Jaguars are to draft Ohio State's Dwayne Haskins. This team's current window is closing, and they've run out of time to burn another season on a subpar quarterback without a promising rookie in the wings.

    Haskins should be the guy. The Jaguars offense is ready-made for a young quarterback to step right in and perform reasonably well. His high football IQ and upgraded accuracy over Blake Bortles make him the perfect candidate to transition an erratic, turnover-heavy offense to an efficient, respectable unit.

    In the unfortunate case that Haskins is picked earlier or the Jaguars pass on him, Jacksonville would be best-served to wait on a quarterback flier until the mid-rounds. Again, the Jaguars should do everything they can to secure Haskins, or even Oklahoma's Kyler Murray, but if they miss out on a top guy, selecting West Virginia's Will Grier on Day 2 may be the direction they go.

Kansas City Chiefs: Secondary

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    Texas' Kris Boyd
    Texas' Kris BoydAssociated Press

    The Chiefs are in dire need of restructuring their entire secondary. Kendall Fuller is a nice piece to have, but he cannot be their only viable cornerback. At safety, the Chiefs have attempted to squeeze by with subpar players next to and in place of Eric Berry, who can't be relied on himself at this point considering his injury history. Everyone except for Fuller should be in question.

    In turn, the Chiefs should look to take defensive backs at any point during the draft. Texas' Kris Boyd, Temple's Rock Ya-Sin and Washburn's Corey Ballentine are realistic Day 2 options for new defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo's aggressive press-man defense. A late-round gamble on Central Michigan's Sean Bunting could also pay off for the Chiefs.

    As for safeties, versatility will remain a premium. Spagnuolo likes to blitz and move his safeties around, so versatile players such as Florida's Chauncey Gardner-Johnson, Utah's Marquise Blair, Washington's Taylor Rapp and Virginia's Juan Thornhill are all options because they can be more than "traditional" safeties and will provide Spagnuolo with the flexibility he wants. Rapp, in particular, could be enticing as a pseudo-linebacker type, similar to the role Landon Collins sometimes played under Spagnuolo with the Giants.

Los Angeles Chargers: Inside Linebacker

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    Clemson's Tre Lamar
    Clemson's Tre LamarAssociated Press

    The seven-defensive back approach versus the Baltimore Ravens was cool, but it can't be the Chargers' plan heading into next season. Even if they want to get lighter up front, they have to bring in legitimate linebackers to do it right.

    Lucky for the Chargers, this year's top two linebackers are lighter players. LSU's Devin White and Micigan's Devin Bush make sense for a team that wants to move closer to pseudo-safeties in the box instead of old-school linebackers. It would surely take L.A.'s first-round pick to net either of them, but if the team is adamant on moving the position group in this direction, this is the right class for it.

    However, the Chargers could also look for a player to slot alongside Denzel Perryman to maintain some of their beef in the front seven. Clemson's Tre Lamar or Buffalo's Khalil Hodge would be a good fit in that role and should be available on Day 2.

Los Angeles Rams: Pass-Rusher

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    Louisiana Tech's Jaylon Ferguson
    Louisiana Tech's Jaylon FergusonAssociated Press

    If acquiring outside linebacker Dante Fowler Jr. at the trade deadline is a massive upgrade for a team's edge-rushing unit, that group is in poor condition. Fowler ended up being a better addition for the Rams than many may have first assumed, but Fowler should still be a No. 2 pass-rusher. Furthermore, all of the Rams' other pass-rushing options are depth players at best.

    Where things get tricky for the Rams is that they do not have a second-round pick and their first pick is at the end of the first round. They are likely to miss out on top-tier edge guys such as Mississippi State's Montez Sweat, but they won't get an opportunity to grab the mid-tier pass-rushers without reaching for them unless they trade out of the first round or up into the second round from their picks at the end of the third round. 

    Unless Lady Luck favors head coach Sean McVay in April, the Rams are going to have to take either Louisiana Tech's Jaylon Ferguson or Miami's Joe Jackson at the back end of the first round, where they probably do not belong. Don't be surprised if McVay makes a play for Senior Bowl attendee Oshane Ximines out of Old Dominion at some point either.

Miami Dolphins: Defensive End

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    Clemson's Clelin Ferrell
    Clemson's Clelin FerrellRoger Steinman/Associated Press

    Cameron Wake may return on a short-term contract until he feels better about retiring, but the Dolphins need to usher in a new era of pass rush. They tried to do just that by drafting Charles Harris in 2017, but Harris has racked up just three sacks in two years and has yet to earn the bulk of the snaps despite being impeded only by veterans well past their prime.

    Picking in the middle of the first round should give the Dolphins a good chance to get one of the better pass-rushers in the class. One of Clemson's Clelin Ferrell or Mississippi State's Montez Sweat could fall to Miami at No. 13 overall, though Sweat, who is a more athletic and versatile player, may fit head coach Brian Flores' mold a bit more.

    On Day 2 and Day 3, do-it-all defensive ends like fellow Bulldog Gerri Green, Michigan's Chase Winovich and TCU's L.J. Collier can be catalysts for Flores bringing in a Patriots-style hybrid defense.

Minnesota Vikings: Interior Offensive Line

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    NC State's Garrett Bradbury
    NC State's Garrett BradburyButch Dill/Associated Press

    Riley Reiff is a solid left tackle with three years left on his contract for the Minnesota Vikings, and 2018 second-round pick Brian O'Neill will get another shot to prove himself at right tackle. 

    But the interior needs changes. Veteran guards Nick Easton and Tom Compton will be free agents this spring and are unlikely to be back—deservedly so given their poor play. Mike Remmers, a tackle who converted to guard last season, also didn't play well. Center Pat Elflein showed promise as a rookie in 2017 but failed to make good on it in 2018. 

    NC State's Garrett Bradbury is the clear choice at center. Bradbury is an athletic lineman whose experience and movement skills will play well in the Vikings' zone scheme. Texas A&M's Erik McCoy could also fill the same role if the Vikings want to trade down from No. 18. 

    As for guards, look for Minnesota to continue to target athletes. Chris Lindstrom would be the first option there, but Dru Samia, Michael Jordan and Ryan Bates will be possibilities on Day 2 and Day 3. Jordan and Bates also have experience at other positions. Their flexibility would be welcomed along an offensive line that will likely lack depth even after draft picks arrive.

New England Patriots: Defensive Line

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    Clemson's Dexter Lawrence
    Clemson's Dexter LawrenceJon Barash/Associated Press

    For any other team with a roster situation like the New England Patriots', wide receiver would be the obvious choice. The Patriots will likely throw a pick at the spot at some point, but Bill Belichick is notorious for a poor draft history regarding the position. Belichick also has a knack for signing successful free agents there.

    The draft just is not how the Patriots build a receiving corps.

    Defensive line is another story. And as Malcom Brown and Danny Shelton potentially leave via free agency, the Patriots will need to draft replacements.

    Belichick tends to like D-linemen with a clear strength or someone who can flip between 1- or 2-gap positions. For the first mold, it would be ideal if Clemson's Dexter Lawrence somehow fell to No. 32 to replace Shelton. Among defensive linemen who could be moved along the interior at will, Arizona State's Renell Wren and Florida State's Demarcus Christmas should be on their radar in the middle rounds.

New Orleans Saints: Tight Ends

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    UCLA's Caleb Wilson
    UCLA's Caleb WilsonAssociated Press

    Tight end Benjamin Watson served an underrated role on the New Orleans Saints for much longer than anyone could have expected, but there's a reason the Saints let him walk for a year before they brought him back in 2018 as an emergency signing.

    But without a first-round pick, the Saints will likely miss out on the pair of Iowa tight ends, Noah Fant and T.J. Hockenson. Fant might have slipped to their second-round pick (No. 62) before he killed it at the NFL combine, but he's a likely first-rounder.

    New Orleans' Day 2 consolation after the Iowa duo should be Caleb Wilson. He's an above-average athlete for the position who would fit in well with Sean Payton's spread offense—especially considering how many different schemes the target played in while at UCLA.

    Washington's Drew Sample and Notre Dame's Alize Mack could be bargain-bin options for a similar role on Day 3.

New York Giants: Secondary

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    Delaware's Nasir Adderley
    Delaware's Nasir AdderleyDon Juan Moore/Getty Images

    In just a couple of years, the New York Giants secondary has gone from a lockdown unit to a talentless void. Cornerback Janoris Jenkins is still under contract until 2020 and provides good coverage on one side, but there is a dearth of cornerback talent otherwise.

    In addition, the safety situation continues to get worse.

    Releasing Andrew Adams last season in favor of Curtis Riley was a huge mistake, and letting Landon Collins go rips any remaining talent from the safety unit. Even cornerback Eli Apple, who the Giants traded to the Saints in October, had a revival since he left.

    Defensive coordinator James Bettcher will likely target aggressive zone cornerbacks to play behind his blitz-heavy scheme. As Day 2 options, the likes of Kris Boyd and Julian Love can slide into Bettcher's system as underneath zone defenders. Both are scrappy and fight relentlessly for the ball—especially Love, who defended 36 passes in his final two seasons at Notre Dame.

    The Giants could instead use those Day 2 picks to solve their safety situation. They are likely looking for more of a true free safety, which may explain why they cut Adams. Delaware's Nasir Adderley and USC's Marvell Tell III could be second- and third-round options, respectively, to fill the void of a center fielding safety.

New York Jets: Pass-Rusher

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    Kentucky's Josh Allen
    Kentucky's Josh AllenAssociated Press

    The entire New York Jets defensive line needs a touch-up, especially with a number of interior linemen exiting in free agency. However, the pass rush must be the top priority. It has been far too long since the Jets put a serious investment into their edge unit.

    Jordan Jenkins is the team's only viable edge player, but he is more of a run-defense and utility guy than a pass-rusher. Everyone else is either potentially leaving in free agency or not more than a fourth-stringer.

    The third overall pick is prime real estate to take most any pass-rusher. A quarterback will occupy one of the first two picks, leaving the Jets with at least one of Nick Bosa or Josh Allen. New York could even reach a bit on Clelin Ferrell or Montez Sweat.

    Either way, it needs to grab a legitimate pass-rusher.

Oakland Raiders: Defensive End

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    Michigan's Rashan Gary
    Michigan's Rashan GaryPaul Sancya/Associated Press

    At No. 4, the Oakland Raiders should pick up whatever pass-rushing scraps the Jets leave behind. 

    The Raiders should hope that either Nick Bosa or Josh Allen fall. Both are deserving top-three picks but could be pushed out by quarterbacks and defensive tackle Quinnen Williams. If the two main edge-rushers are gone, Montez Sweat or Clelin Ferrell should be the targets—though it would be typical of the Raiders to take a hyped-up, underproductive athlete in Michigan's Rashan Gary.

    A top-five investment is not enough for the No. 26 defense, though. Oakland has to throw darts elsewhere, even if it's at No. 24. The team could also take chances with traditional 4-3 defensive ends such as Texas' Charles Omenihu and Boston College's Wyatt Ray on Day 2 or Day 3.

Philadelphia Eagles: Running Back

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    Alabama's Damien Harris
    Alabama's Damien HarrisVasha Hunt/Associated Press

    Running back is not typically a valuable enough position to be a team's primary draft focus, but the Philadelphia Eagles are in a unique position. Most of the rest of their roster is solid. However, their stable of running backs is clearing out and is set to leave them with Corey Clement as the top back.

    Still, they should address position on Day 2, since reaching for Alabama's Josh Jacobs isn't worth it. 

    His Tide teammate, Damien Harris, would be the easy pick. The 5'10", 216-pound Harris is a big back with surprising explosion and agility for someone his size, and he's also capable in the passing game. Big-play threats Justice Hill and Darrell Henderson would also complement a nasty Eagles offensive line and a coaching staff that's willing to embrace its playmakers.

Pittsburgh Steelers: Inside Linebacker

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    Michigan's Devin Bush
    Michigan's Devin BushPaul Sancya/Associated Press

    Vince Williams and Jon Bostic each have limited skill sets, which handcuff the Pittsburgh Steelers defense. Williams' speed complements Bostic's nastiness between the tackles, but neither provide much else.

    Devin Bush, at No. 20 overall, is the obvious first-round choice to replace Williams. The prospect exceeds the incumbent athletically in every way and plays with far more impressive processing speed. If the Steelers waited until Day 2 to address the issue, they'd still have solid options.

    If Mack Wilson falls to them in the second round, he could serve as a more complete version of Williams. Wilson's mental processing is not up to par, but he has the potential to be a valuable coverage piece and playmaker.

    Conversely, Notre Dame's Te'von Coney could be Bostic's replacement. Coney lacks elite coverage skills, but he can do the basics and find backs out of the backfield. The Steelers would draft Coney as more of a box presence anyway, which he excels at with his 6'1", 234-pound frame and hair-trigger reactions toward the ball.

San Francisco 49ers: Secondary

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    Florida's Chauncey Gardner-Johnson
    Florida's Chauncey Gardner-JohnsonAssociated Press

    The San Francisco 49ers won't spend the No. 2 pick on a defensive back. D-line studs Quinnen Williams, Nick Bosa, Josh Allen and others will be too enticing. The next couple of rounds should be used to retool the secondary, though.

    Signing Richard Sherman last offseason paid great dividends, but the rest of the group is a mess. Nickel cornerback Jimmie Ward is an impending free agent, cornerback Ahkello Witherspoon has yet to make good on his potential, and once-promising safeties Adrian Colbert and Jaquiski Tartt have fallen down a peg or two.

    The versatile Chauncey Gardner-Johnson could solve a couple of different issues between safety and nickel cornerback, depending on what the team prioritizes.

    Alabama's Saivion Smith and Houston's Isaiah Johnson could be the answer opposite Sherman at corner. Both want to play in aggressive deep-third zones and would provide more fluidity than Witherspoon.

Seattle Seahawks: Tight End

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    Iowa's T.J. Hockenson
    Iowa's T.J. HockensonHolly Hart/Associated Press

    There's no better time to be the team most in need of a tight end. With talent at the position in every tier of the draft and all types of varying skill sets available, this class is shaping up to be the best since the 2013 group of Travis Kelce, Zach Ertz, Jordan Reed and many others.

    The Seattle Seahawks shouldn't try to survive next season with Nick Vannett and Will Dissly at the spot. The pair are among the league's worst in the passing game, even in an offense that doesn't throw as much as it should.

    It would be ideal if one of the Iowa tight ends, Noah Fant or T.J. Hockenson, falls to the Seahawks at No. 21. But it'd be a nightmare scenario if offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer wants more blocking specialists at the position. That could mean players such as Kaden Smith or Tommy Sweeney end up in CenturyLink Field.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Wide Receiver

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    Ole Miss' D.K. Metcalf
    Ole Miss' D.K. MetcalfThomas Graning/Associated Press

    It's no secret head coach Bruce Arians wants the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to throw the ball. With an aggressive, sometimes careless Jameis Winston at quarterback, the Bucs will likely lean into Arians' vertical style. However, they need to fill out their depleted receiver corps to make it work.

    Mike Evans is an established star, and 23-year-old Chris Godwin is a promising young player, but the rest of the receiving cupboard is empty. Since speedster DeSean Jackson will probably opt out of his deal, and slot receiver Adam Humphries is entering free agency, the Bucs need help across the board.

    The fifth overall pick could net the team any wide receiver it wants. D.K. Metcalf—a Josh Gordon clone on the field—would be the highest-upside selection.

    This wide receiver class is deep, though. Marquise Brown, Mecole Hardman and Andy Isabella are options for Arians to grab his coveted deep threat, while more well-rounded players such as KeeSean Johnson and Gary Jennings could slot into Arians' vertical attack and still provide value elsewhere in the scheme.

Tennessee Titans: Cornerback

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    Penn State's Amani Oruwariye
    Penn State's Amani OruwariyePaul Sancya/Associated Press

    Picking up New England's cornerback scraps hasn't worked out the way the Tennessee Titans hoped. Both Logan Ryan and Malcolm Butler dropped off since they left Bill Belichick in 2017 and 2018, respectively, as have many other defenders over the years. In addition, Adoree' Jackson hasn't lived up to his 2017 first-round billing.

    The Titans need someone who is comfortable in both man and zone coverages as well as match and combination coverages. Since they are likely to miss out on Greedy Williams, Amani Oruwariye is the next-best option. Oruwariye is a multifaceted cornerback who can play any style head coach Mike Vrabel needs him to.

    On Day 2 and Day 3, respectively, the Titans could also look to Trayvon Mullen and David Long to fit that moldable style.

Washington Redskins: Quarterback

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    Mizzou's Drew Lock
    Mizzou's Drew LockL.G. Patterson/Associated Press

    Agreeing to trade for Case Keenum doesn't change Washington's draft outlook.

    Keenum will only eat $3.5 million in cap space and isn't the long-term answer. If anything, the veteran makes drafting a developmental quarterback easier—which Washington should do.

    The conundrum is Dwayne Haskins or Kyler Murray would require a trade up, but the quarterbacks after them aren't of the same caliber.

    Drew Lock would be the best consolation prize. He's an exciting playmaker, and owner Daniel Snyder should want that in a rookie. Lock tested well and had a strong showing during throwing sessions at the combine. Inconsistency plagues Lock's film catalog, but the potential to mold him into a high-level signal-caller is enticing for teams, and Keenum would buy Washington time to do that.