NFL Teams with the Most Work to Do on Draft Day

Gary Davenport@@IDPSharksNFL AnalystMarch 29, 2019

NFL Teams with the Most Work to Do on Draft Day

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    Frank Franklin II/Associated Press

    The first phase of the NFL offseason is well underway. Granted, some prominent free agents are still available, such as defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh. But most of the big names have already found new homes.

    The Cleveland Browns and others have already made a huge splash in free agency, signing deals and swinging trades that brought multiple impact players to town. Other squads have been much quieter, either due to salary cap constraints or the decision to take a more measured approach.

    Still, whether teams were free-spending or thrifty, some front offices have a lot of work to do when the NFL draft begins on April 25. If those organizations are going to get back on track, they're going to need a successful draft to help fill multiple roster holes.

    That's true for these clubs most of all.


Arizona Cardinals

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    Rick Scuteri/Associated Press

    To say that the Arizona Cardinals are in a period of transition is putting it mildly. After posting the NFL's worst record in 2018, widespread changes are expected in the Valley of the Sun. After one disastrous season, Steve Wilks has been fired as head coach—replaced by a 39-year-old with exactly as much NFL coaching experience as I have.

    New coach Kliff Kingsbury has his work cut out for him.

    The Cardinals used a top-10 pick just last year on a quarterback. But there continues to be rampant speculation that Josh Rosen's tenure will be just about as long as Wilks'—with the Redbirds expected to use the No. 1 overall pick on Heisman Trophy winner Kyler Murray.

    Unfortunately, Murray isn't likely to have much more success than Rosen did given the pieces surrounding him.

    Yes, the Cardinals have standout tailback David Johnson and a future Hall-of-Famer in Larry Fitzgerald. But Fitzgerald is not the difference-maker he once was and Johnson averaged just 3.6 yards per carry last year behind one of the NFL's worst offensive lines (although the dreadful play-calling of since-fired OC Mike McCoy didn't help either).

    That line added Marcus Gilbert and J.R. Sweezy in free agency, but neither's a sure bet to drastically improve the unit.

    Arizona made a number of additions on defense, including edge-rusher Terrell Suggs, inside linebacker Jordan Hicks and cornerback Robert Alford. But no defense can hold up forever when the offense is averaging less than 250 yards and just 14.1 points per game, as it did in 2018.

    Adding skill-position talent and continuing to bolster the offensive front in the draft is an absolute necessity. Otherwise, 2019 will not turn out much differently than 2018.

Washington Redskins

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    Andrew Harnik/Associated Press

    What a difference six months can make.

    Last November, the Washington Redskins were a 6-3 football team in first place atop the NFC East. Then came a Week 11 matchup with the Houston Texans—and the season fell completely apart.

    The next good thing that happens to the Redskins since Alex Smith's gruesome leg injury against the Texans will be the first good thing to happen to the Redskins since that day.

    Yes, the Redskins signed safety Landon Collins away from the Giants and traded for Case Keenum as a placeholder under center with Smith unlikely to play at all in 2019. But, outside of maybe that safety spot and the offensive tackles, there isn't a position group on the team boasting superior talent.

    After Jamison Crowder left in free agency, an already-suspect wide receiver corps is a hot mess. The team's top two running backs are Derrius Guice, a second-year pro who has zero career carries after an injury last summer and Adrian Peterson, who turned 34 in March. The Redskins released their best inside linebacker in Zach Brown and lost one of their better young edge-rushers in Preston Smith.

    Unfortunately, there's also not a whole lot the Redskins can do other than play the hand they've been dealt. Last year's 7-9 finish means they won't pick until No. 15 in the 2019 draft. With just $12.5 million in cap space per Over the Cap, Washington isn't in a position to add much in the later stages of free agency either.

    The Redskins are a team that has much to do and little with which to do it—and a franchise stuck in the place no team wants to be: mired in mediocrity.

New York Jets

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    Steven Senne/Associated Press

    In fairness, there isn't a team on this list that's been more aggressive in trying to get better this offseason than the New York Jets. The team handed out big contracts on both sides of the ball to the likes of tailback Le'Veon Bell and inside linebacker C.J. Mosley.

    Combined with less-flashy signings like wide receiver Jamison Crowder and cornerback Brian Poole, there are a lot of new faces donning green and white in 2019.

    However, while much has been done, there's still a ton to do—especially on defense.

    In Mosley and Avery Williamson, the Jets appear to have a solid pair of inside linebackers. But there may not be a team in the NFL that needs pass rush help more. Defensive tackle Leonard Williams hasn't come close to living up to his 2015 sixth overall pick pedigree, and no player on New York's roster had more than seven sacks last season.

    That lack of pop in the pass rush could be a huge problem for the Jets given Gregg Williams' penchant for blitzing—especially since cornerback Trumaine Johnson struggled last season and the starting spot opposite him is an issue.

    If the Jets are serious about trading back from No. 3 overall, grabbing one of this year's top cornerbacks in the first round is an advisable course of action. An even better one might be standing pat and snaring an impact pass-rusher.

    Regardless, while there's still a lot on the Jets to-do list, the team can at least make this claim—one they haven't been able to make in a while: As things stand today, the Jets aren't the worst team playing at MetLife Stadium.

Oakland Raiders

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    Ben Margot/Associated Press

    The Oakland Raiders changed things up in a big way this offseason. Whereas last season was all about adding draft picks by trading big-name players like edge-rusher Khalil Mack and wide receiver Amari Cooper, 2019 is about aggressively adding talent.

    The wide receiver corps has been completely overhauled with the additions of Tyrell Williams and Antonio Brown. Further bolstering the passing game, Derek Carr has a new blind-side protector in Trent Brown, who the Raiders made the highest-paid left tackle in the NFL.

    All in all, head coach Jon Gruden believes the Raider rebuild is right on track.

    “We’re on schedule," Gruden told the NFL Network's Jim Trotter, via the team's website. "We had a great off-season in terms of adding free agents, we’ve got four picks in the top 35."

    However, while the Raiders have made a number of steps in the right direction, all those high draft picks are needed—because Oakland still has numerous holes to fill.

    The wide receiver position is in much better shape, but the running back and tight end spots are both substantial question marks. The addition of safety Lamarcus Joyner isn't going to single-handedly fix a leaky secondary. Ditto with Vontaze Burfict and a suspect linebacker corps.

    Never mind a "pass rush" that ranked last in the NFL with just 13 sacks—less than six players had individually.

    For all the work the Raiders have done this offseason, the team still desperately needs to hit on those high draft picks.

Miami Dolphins

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    Lynne Sladky/Associated Press

    The Miami Dolphins are a unique case among the teams listed here, as they certainly have a lot of roster work to do but don't seem to be in a huge hurry to do it.

    There's been plenty written about the notion that the Dolphins are "tanking" in 2019 in the hopes of landing a high draft pick (and franchise quarterback) in 2020. But, as Adam Maya reported for, Dolphins GM Chris Grier insisted to the Miami Herald that isn't the case.

    "We're going to keep building it from Day 1," Grier said. "We made the change. We talked about building the foundation and building it up the right way. So that's all it is. There's no tanking."

    Frankly, it's as much semantics as anything. Whether you want to call it tanking or simply a ground-up rebuild, the Dolphins are starting from Square 1.

    Miami released quarterback Ryan Tannehill and replaced him with a short-term fill-in in Ryan Fitzpatrick. While the cupboard at the offensive skill positions is as bare as in any NFL city, the Dolphins have also gutted the defensive line and are actively shopping defensive end Robert Quinn.

    The argument can be made that Miami is actually doing this the right way—that bottoming out a la Cleveland Browns in 2016 and 2017 makes more sense that patching just enough holes to go 6-10 or 7-9 (Miami's record in three of the past four seasons).

    Even so, it's fixing to be a long season in South Florida.

New York Giants

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    Julio Cortez/Associated Press

    Per Kevin Patra of, New York Giants general manager Dave Gettleman doesn't necessarily see the team as being in the early stages of a rebuild.

    "You can win while you build a roster," Gettleman said. "We do have a plan, and this is a part of it."

    To say that Gettleman's out on something of a limb with that assessment is an understatement. As a matter of fact, he might be the only person who understands what the Giants plan actually is.

    The "this" Gettleman referred to is the blockbuster trade that sent wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. to Cleveland for a first-round pick, third-round pick and safety Jabrill Peppers—just months after the G-Men signed Beckham to a five-year, $90 million extension.

    Trying to spin that deal in a way that makes the Giants look good is enough to give you vertigo. But according to Mary Kay Cabot of, that's exactly what Gettleman did.

    "In order for us to move Odell, the other team was going to have to knock it out of the park,'' Gettleman said on a conference call. "For us to get Jabrill Peppers, who we think is going to be a very good safety in this league, he's young, we've got him under contract for three years at very reasonable value."

    Yes, Peppers was a first-round pick. But he hasn't played like one. It's also not the only curious move the Giants have made this offseason. Gettleman traded the team's best edge-rusher (Olivier Vernon) and let their best defensive player overall (safety Landon Collins) depart in free agency. He also replaced Beckham by handing almost $10 million a season to Golden Tate—a slot receiver on the wrong side of 30.

    The Giants are more than just a team with holes developing in several areas on both sides of the ball. Like the Dolphins, New York can't seem to decide if they're rebuilding or trying to win now.

    It looks like they won't be doing much of either in 2019...two first-rounders or not.