2019 NFL Draft: Reviewing Every Team's Biggest Need

Ian Wharton@NFLFilmStudyFeatured Columnist IVApril 23, 2019

2019 NFL Draft: Reviewing Every Team's Biggest Need

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    The 2019 NFL draft kicks off Thursday night in Nashville, Tennessee, after a long offseason that had teams scrambling to fill needs via trades and free agency. The following three days will change the landscape of the league as teams acquire franchise-changing talent.

    The draft's unpredictability is exhilarating. Analysts, experts and fans alike have spent months digging deep into prospects, gathering information and projecting how it will play out. But it's impossible to predict what each team will do.

    We can, however, review every team's top need. We'll consider last year's on-field performances, offseason moves and current roster to determine the biggest draft need. Not every top need will require a first-round pick, but this will help give direction for what early strategies could be.

         

Arizona Cardinals: Wide Receiver

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    Arizona Cardinals general manager Steve Keim has aggressively signed veterans to improve the league's worst roster so the team doesn't end up picking No. 1 again in 2020. New head coach Kliff Kingsbury has his work cut out for him, especially if the team opts to take quarterback Kyler Murray and punt on Josh Rosen as the face of the franchise.

    Rosen will have been a wasted use of assets even if the Cardinals can recoup some value in a trade for him. But if Murray is viewed as a better prospect, it's hard to fault the franchise.

    Regardless of who the Cardinals pick No. 1—Murray or Nick Bosa—the team still needs to add a quality receiver by the end of Day 2. The Cardinals don't have a proven talent at the position beyond the ageless Larry Fitzgerald or second-year receiver Christian Kirk.

    They may opt for a big-play threat like Marquise Brown from Oklahoma or an athletic, physically dominant talent like Iowa State's Hakeem Butler or Mississippi's A.J. Brown. Any of these options would boost what was an anemic passing offense in 2018.

Atlanta Falcons: Pass-Rusher

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    Injuries played a major factor in the Atlanta Falcons defense's collapse in 2018. Not only did the team miss Deion Jones and Keanu Neal for significant time, but Vic Beasley Jr., Desmond Trufant and Robert Alford also declined in performance. The Falcons can't afford to finish 31st in defensive defense-adjusted value over average again this fall.

    The easiest way to bolster the defense would be to add another impact pass-rusher. With the 14th pick, general manager Thomas Dimitroff has the flexibility to look at both edge-rushers and interior defensive linemen who can get into the backfield. Outside of Grady Jarrett, the rotation simply lacks the consistency needed to compete for a Super Bowl.

    Beasley and Trufant will need bounce-back years for the unit to reach its potential, and Atlanta will rely on second-year corner Isaiah Oliver to blossom as a starter. Another corner or two is also recommended as the Falcons revamp their depth on the back end.

Baltimore Ravens: Edge-Rusher

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    Very quickly, the Baltimore Ravens roster has turned into quite the project for general manager Eric DeCosta. The receiving room is barren but needs to help ease Lamar Jackson's development, the linebacker room will be heavily reliant on unproven youngsters, and the pass-rusher situation is bleak.

    Assisting Jackson's growth as a passer is crucial, but the roster needs impact edge talent more. The departures of Terrell Suggs and Za'Darius Smith left only Matthew Judon, Tyus Bowser and Tim Williams in the rotation. Finding the next star to create consistent pressure is the top need for the future of the defense.

    Since the Ravens could use help all over, they may not force an edge-rusher pick in the first-round if an unexpected impact talent at another position is available at No. 22. They can't wait too long, though, as the odds of landing a franchise building block dip every round. DeCosta should swing for the fences; the roster could use a home run selection.

Buffalo Bills: Tight End

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    It's been a busy offseason for the Buffalo Bills as they've signed 16 free agents. The infusion of veterans across the offense in particular should prove helpful after the Bills ranked 31st in passing DVOA last year. There's no question the receiving corps and offensive line are stronger units than they were.

    Continuing to build around Josh Allen must be the edict. Taking a one-year flier on Tyler Kroft at tight end could pay off nicely, but it's possible Kroft proves unavailable since he missed 11 games last season. The Bills need a long-term partner for Allen at the tight end position.

    Luckily for them, this is arguably the best tight end class in years thanks to the depth available. General manager Brandon Beane may not be inclined to take one at No. 9, but a trade down or selecting one on Day 2 can address the position sufficiently without over-allocating assets. The position rarely pays off quickly, as tight ends can take several years to flourish, so Beane will need to be realistic.

Carolina Panthers: Wide Receiver

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    For the Carolina Panthers to get back to the team that started 6-2 in 2018, they'll have to continue bolstering the offense. Losing Devin Funchess in free agency wasn't crucial, but it reinforced the team's need for another playmaker for Cam Newton. Funchess was the team's third-leading pass-catcher last year and lone receiver over 6'0".

    Already possessing two speedsters in DJ Moore and Curtis Samuel, the Panthers can opt for a big-bodied threat like N'Keal Harry, Kelvin Harmon, or J.J. Arcega-Whiteside. Each boasts advanced route-running for their size and a large catch radius for Newton. Finding the right value will matter, though.

    The Panthers still need another pass-rusher in addition to safety and linebacker help on defense. Taking a receiver in the first round is more likely to be a reach considering the depth of the class at the position. Focusing on an edge-rusher early looks likely based on the lack of evident dominant receiver talent and the potential of landing a Year 1 starter at end.

Chicago Bears: Running Back

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    Arguably the best roster in the league belongs to the Chicago Bears. Stacked with talent at every starting spot, general manager Ryan Pace has significant flexibility. The position most lacking is running back, even though the duo of Mike Davis and Tarik Cohen should be enough to form a productive unit.

    The loss of Jordan Howard isn't a major one considering Howard's decreased efficiency in Matt Nagy's offense. Davis theoretically is a better fit because of his one-cut style, even if his resume is less accomplished. But there's not a star in the backfield to handle the lead role like other contenders boast.

    Pace may opt to wait to find a great value to add to the rotation. Since there doesn't appear to be an obvious first-round running back talent, Pace shouldn't force need over positional importance and long-term roster consideration. Ohio State's Mike Weber or Memphis' Darrell Henderson would be quality Day 2 options if they're available.

Cincinnati Bengals: Linebacker

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    For years the Cincinnati Bengals have lacked defensive playmaking and range in the second level. Projected 2019 starting linebackers Nick Vigil, Preston Brown and Jordan Evans combined for just six tackles for loss last year. It's critical the Bengals find a star linebacker to push the defense to a new level.

    They may be able to snag either LSU's Devin White or Michigan's Devin Bush at No. 11. Both are good athletes with sky-high potential to be three-down stars. Selecting an off-ball linebacker in the first round isn't necessarily a value-based decision based on how the position's players are paid relative to others, though.

    Minnesota's Blake Cashman or Washington's Ben Burr-Kirven also offer hope for the Bengals if they should pass on the position early on. Both tested well, and their film matches the combine results. Combined with Vigil and 2018 third-round pick Malik Jefferson, there'd be a path for the Bengals to have one of the most athletic units in the league.

Cleveland Browns: Cornerback

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    There's no question Cleveland Browns general manager John Dorsey has assembled the best roster the franchise has had since it was rebooted. There's arguably only one starting job up for grabs thanks to his aggressiveness in free agency and effectiveness in the draft.

    That position is cornerback.

    Though the Browns received solid contributions from Terrance Mitchell in the eight games he played in 2018, he's only played more than that once in his career. He's also been a streaky player known for allowing too many big plays. The Browns must add a projected future starter across from Denzel Ward to protect themselves from another Mitchell injury or drop in performance.

    They may not be able to land an instant contributor with only two picks in the top 81. Forcing a corner at No. 49 isn't necessary as the team could use depth elsewhere on the roster and there may be a better overall talent who will help in the future more than a reach at corner. But Dorsey can't afford to end Day 2 without one corner.

Dallas Cowboys: Defensive Tackle

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    Calling a team an offseason winner without seeing its draft haul is usually impossible, but it's been a productive free agency for the Dallas Cowboys. Re-signing Demarcus Lawrence and acquiring Randall Cobb, Robert Quinn and George Iloka helped answer several roster questions. They now have an ancillary need for a star defensive tackle.

    Barring a breakout by Maliek Collins, there's not a dynamic pass-rushing presence along the interior line. It'll be difficult to land one in the 2019 class without a first-round pick, but Dallas has the assets to move up if one falls unexpectedly into Day 2. It should remain aggressive with its six picks.

    Possible Day 2 targets include Ohio State's Dre'Mont Jones, UCF's Trysten Hill and Western Illinois' Khalen Saunders. Each have a great first step with which they penetrate the pocket and create pressure. The Cowboys have enough veteran presence at the position to ease any of them into a low-risk role and develop them throughout the season.

Denver Broncos: Quarterback

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    The Denver Broncos have had one of the most fascinating quarterback rooms in the league since Peyton Manning retired. General manager John Elway has failed to find anything more than a mediocre stopgap despite dumping resources into the position. He's again tried a Band-Aid solution by swapping out Case Keenum for Joe Flacco.

    Flacco won't be more than an average player if his play since 2014 is any indicator. Though the Broncos could use some help at right guard and tight end, their draft will be built on how they attack the quarterback position. They appear positioned to land a future starter at No. 10 if mock drafts bear any weight.

    Of course it depends on which quarterback they decide on. Dwayne Haskins is a cerebral passer considering he was a one-year starter and could prove to be a steal like Patrick Mahomes and Deshaun Watson. If they wait until Day 2 to add a lower-upside prospect, Boise State's Brett Rypien has the accuracy and experience to effectively run a playoff-caliber offense.

Detroit Lions: Edge-Rusher

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    On paper, the Detroit Lions were a major winner in free agency. Even though they went former New England Patriots-heavy with their acquisitions, the signings of Trey Flowers, Jesse James, Danny Amendola and Justin Coleman certainly boosted the roster. All but Amendola addressed a massive need.

    The pass-rushing duo of Flowers and Romeo Okwara is an upgrade, but there's still room for one more impact player on the edge. Since Flowers is versatile enough to slide inside on passing downs, head coach Matt Patricia shouldn't be complacent with these two. The Lions are in prime position at No. 8 to land a Year 1 rotational difference-maker.

    Whether it be a speed rusher like Montez Sweat or Brian Burns or the polished Josh Allen, the defense can be transformed if Detroit lands one of this class' top talents. Creating a fearsome trio along the line could help the Lions against divisional foes in Chicago, Green Bay and Minnesota more than anything else.

Green Bay Packers: Wide Receiver

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    Green Bay Packers general manager Brian Gutekunst doesn't have to look further than his 2018 draft class to find a good recipe for addressing needs. He was aggressive bolstering the secondary with back-to-back cornerback selections in the first two rounds. While he shouldn't need to allocate such extreme resources to the receiver room, he must add a dynamic talent with one of his first two picks.

    Quarterback Aaron Rodgers will need more than star Davante Adams for the offense to return to peak form. Fifth-rounder Marquez Valdes-Scantling looked like a potentially solid contributor, but it's easy to envision a much more explosive offense with one of the top 2019 rookies in the lineup. Gutekunst and new head coach Matt LaFleur can't be complacent with their young depth chart.

    There should be a solid array of options for the Packers to choose from in the first two rounds. Landing a playmaker like D.K. Metcalf or Marquise Brown would be a no-brainer, but even A.J. Brown, Deebo Samuel, Emanuel Hall and J.J. Arcega-Whiteside project as excellent fits with Adams and Rodgers.

Houston Texans: Offensive Line

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    The team that most disappointed in free agency was the Houston Texans. Despite being armed with copious amounts of cap space, general manager Brian Gaine mostly sat on his hands, watching key offensive line free agents and Le'Veon Bell take better offers elsewhere. This free-agency period will be viewed as a massive failure regardless of whether he's able to extend Jadeveon Clowney.

    Luckily, he still has the draft to help keep Deshaun Watson upright and healthy. The offensive line needs significant help since the Texans only added Matt Kalil this offseason. Relying on Kalil and second-year tackle Martinas Rankin to be more than potential starters would be dangerous since neither is proven.

    At least two of their four top-87 picks should be allocated to the line. Gaine can overhaul this group quickly if he adds two capable starters in Year 1, with special attention needed at left tackle and right guard. Kansas State's Dalton Risner and Washington's Kaleb McGary would be ideal first-round targets.

Indianapolis Colts: Wide Receiver

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    The Indianapolis Colts have a promising roster even though the situation looked bleak only one year ago. Their list of needs is small since they've injected so much youth into the team over the last two offseasons. But they could stand to find more explosiveness at the receiver spot.

    The Colts have drafted only two receivers in the first round since Reggie Wayne in 2001. Neither Anthony Gonzalez nor Phillip Dorsett panned out, but the Colts can't let their history deter them from adding around Andrew Luck. Their receiving corps takes a dramatic drop in proven talent after T.Y. Hilton and, to a lesser degree, Devin Funchess.

    Like the Packers, they can afford to take a swing on a potential game-changing talent in Round 1. N'Keal Harry of Arizona State, Ole Miss' A.J. Brown and N.C. State's Kelvin Harmon fit the bill as sturdy targets with plus route-running ability.

Jacksonville Jaguars: Tight End

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    The Jacksonville Jaguars still boast a roster that's top-heavy with defensive talent even though the team dropped from fourth in defensive DVOA to ninth last season. While linebacker Telvin Smith Sr. will need a bounce-back year and there's pressure on second-year defenders Taven Bryan and Ronnie Harrison to fill roles, the onus is on the offense.

    That starts with everything around Nick Foles.

    The receiving corps lacks a star, but it's deep with quality contributors. The offensive line must get improvement from right guard A.J. Cann and a clear answer at right tackle. But the offense lacks an impact tight end to bolster everyone else on the unit.

    The lack of rookie tight end production may persuade the Jaguars to look elsewhere in Round 1, but they'll need to address that need sooner than later. Alabama's Irv Smith Jr., Ole Miss' Dawson Knox or San Jose State's Josh Oliver appear to be strong Day 2 options.

Kansas City Chiefs: Edge-Rusher

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    The vast majority of transactions for the Kansas City Chiefs this offseason have been centered on fixing their woeful defense. Instead of retaining talented but expensive veterans Justin Houston, Eric Berry and Dee Ford, the Chiefs reallocated that money to try to see if fresh faces will boost the unit. There's little question they're still short on talent, though.

    Acquiring Alex Okafor and Emmanuel Ogbah will help the defense be more balanced and defend the run better, but there's still not a star edge-rusher for offenses to be mindful of. There's little reason to think second-year rusher Breeland Speaks or third-year rusher Tanoh Kpassagnon will be ready to take a leap forward, so general manager Brett Veach must be aggressive in finding one. He may need to trade up in the first round, even.

    Veach has flexibility with his two second-round picks. Landing an impact defender in the first and then adding someone like Chase Winovich or Ben Banogu to the edge rotation could boost the defense closer to a championship level.

Los Angeles Chargers: Cornerback

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    There's been a significant focus during the offseason on how poorly the Los Angeles Chargers defense played against the New England Patriots in the AFC divisional round. While the Chargers must continue to add versatile playmakers at linebacker to avoid being so vulnerable in their Cover 3 scheme, the lack of upside across from Casey Hayward Jr. is an issue that must be remedied. Relying on Trevor Williams and Michael Davis will leave the defense short-handed against elite foes.

    Both players are quality technicians but lack the turnover potential and athletic ability to win on an island reliably. Even if Gus Bradley were to be less reliant in his schematic preference, he wouldn't be able to ask Williams or Davis to handle as much as Hayward can. The only fix is to add another athletic body to develop into a plus starter.

    The Chargers are in a good position to have their pick of talent either late on Day 1 or with their second-round selection at No. 60. Temple's Rock Ya-Sin, Central Michigan's Sean Bunting or Auburn's Jamel Dean would challenge for playing time and be a starter in time as they master their technique.

Los Angeles Rams: Cornerback

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    A team's depth and drafting ability gets tested quickly after the roster becomes expensive. As veterans are rewarded for their contributions, sacrifices are made elsewhere to afford a competitive roster. The Rams are at that point where they're relying on 2017 and 2018 draft picks in starting roles.

    General manager Les Snead must continue to address future needs. Continuing to collect offensive playmakers to help Jared Goff would be wise, as would restocking along the offensive line. But cornerback is the most pressing need.

    Both Aqib Talib and Marcus Peters are in the final year of their contracts amid a deep group of internal free agents in 2020. As was evident last year when Talib missed time with injury, there's not enough in place to handle any missed time by the duo. Pumping in a future starter for Wade Phillips to groom would maximize the long-term health of the position.

Miami Dolphins: Defensive Line

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    Choosing which need is the greatest for the Miami Dolphins wasn't an easy task. While they need a quarterback, they appear unlikely to land any of the top three at No. 13. And the roster is arguably the worst in the league, so building it up for a quarterback in 2020 might make the most sense for the franchise.

    The next-most valuable position to build is the defensive line. With Charles Harris entering a critical year for his development and only an intriguing platoon at defensive tackle in place, general manager Chris Grier will need to land stars to revamp the unit. An impact edge-rusher and penetrating tackle must be priorities considering the timeline for this team and depth of both positions in the class.

    Grier doesn't need to force his selections on ready-to-play talent, though. Mississippi State's Jeffery Simmons is coming off a torn ACL but has immense talent worth waiting for. A Day 2 edge talent like Oshane Ximines or Jaylon Ferguson can also prove a valuable piece for new head coach Brian Flores.

Minnesota Vikings: Offensive Line

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    The Minnesota Vikings figured they'd have enough to back Kirk Cousins with a decent pass-protecting line and quality run-blocking unit in 2018. But injuries and disappointing play across the unit plagued the offense.

    Pro Football Focus graded left tackle Riley Reiff as the only respectable blocker on the line last year. That must change, and having both Pat Elflein and Brian O'Neill for the full year should help. The signing of Josh Kline to play right guard should also be an upgrade.

    More work needs to be done, though. Moving Elflein to left guard would be ideal based on his play at Ohio State and performance at center last season. Watch for Garrett Bradbury, Dalton Risner or Elgton Jenkins to land in Minnesota as the answer at center for the Vikings.

New England Patriots: Tight End

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    For as much fun as it'd be to see another superstar-level receiver in New England with Tom Brady, it has not been in the Patriots DNA to draft a receiver early. They've had more success with shiftier receivers who are undervalued and beating teams down the seams with tight ends. With Rob Gronkowski and Dwayne Allen gone, they'll need to reload at the position.

    It's a great class for Bill Belichick to double dip if he so chooses. NFL.com's Lance Zierlein has 10 tight ends graded as potential NFL starters or better, meaning there'll be a big run on the position throughout the first two days of the draft. The Patriots have four picks by the end of Day 2.

    A first-round tight end looks unlikely considering Iowa's Noah Fant and T.J. Hockenson should go before No. 32. But Kahale Warring of San Diego State, Jace Sternberger of Texas A&M and Foster Moreau of LSU have the athleticism and experience as receiving tight ends to play early. Two picks from this group would continue to keep the offense humming.

New Orleans Saints: Offensive Line

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    While the majority of the top 2018 Super Bowl contenders spent the offseason losing talent to richer deals elsewhere, the New Orleans Saints added worthwhile players in free agency. Veterans Jared Cook, Malcom Brown and Nick Easton will theoretically allow general manager Mickey Loomis to go best player available in the draft. But Loomis and head coach Sean Payton must prioritize keeping the offensive line strong.

    Losing center Max Unger to retirement was a blow. Easton needs to stay healthy enough to contribute after he missed the 2018 season with a neck injury suffered in August. The Saints must have a backup plan in case he can't stay on the field.

    Quarterback Drew Brees will also need better play from the guard positions. Andrus Peat has been below-average as a pass-blocker because of his slow reaction speed and inconsistent placement in hand battles. Larry Warford is average, ranking 31st among guards, according to Pro Football Focus. Bolstering this unit with several developmental future starters would keep this offense rolling even after Brees, 40, is gone.

New York Giants: Cornerback

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    There's little agreement with what direction the New York Giants should go compared to where they appear to be headed. A quick glance at their offense shows a unit set to be threatening and competitive within the NFC East. But their defense has glaring holes.

    Their primary pass-rusher situation isn't promising as only Kareem Martin, Markus Golden and Lorenzo Carter have shown any type of production. They'll need to add another talent there as well as a defensive tackle next to Dalvin Tomlinson. Those roster flaws still don't compare to the issue at cornerback, though.

    Veteran Janoris Jenkins will be 31 in October, and the depth is dubious beyond him. Sam Beal is coming off a torn ACL and missed his rookie season, and Tony Lippett is another unproven youngster who may never fully recover from an Achilles injury. If the Giants take a quarterback at No. 6, they could justify taking a corner like Greedy Williams or Deandre Baker at No. 17 or one of the numerous Day 2 options that will fall.

New York Jets: Cornerback

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    The free-agency period went wonderfully for the New York Jets. After they landed stars Le'Veon Bell and C.J. Mosley and help at offensive line and wide receiver, there are not many glaring holes left. Even with Henry Anderson back, another pass-rusher would solidify a strong defensive front.

    But cornerback lacks clarity. The decision to not re-sign Morris Claiborne left a massive opening across from Trumaine Johnson since Brian Poole is a nickel corner. No. 3 overall will be too early to take a corner in this class, and the Jets don't pick again until the top of the third round.

    Notre Dame's Julian Love, Michigan's David Long and Miami's Michael Jackson may find their way to that range. The Jets need a ready-to-play corner barring a veteran acquisition. Relying on Rashard Robinson or Darryl Roberts again would be a disaster waiting to happen.

Oakland Raiders: Edge-Rusher

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    With the No. 4 pick and two other first-rounders, the Oakland Raiders will have the chance to fast-track their rebuild. Their future is directly tied to Jon Gruden's and Mike Mayock's evaluation skills since they won't be relying on their scouting staff. Only time will tell whether that's good or bad.

    Drafting for need shouldn't be a major concern for the duo since the Raiders simply lack playmakers on defense. Few starters should be considered locks for long-term roles. That gives Gruden and Mayock flexibility to take the best overall player with each pick.

    Ideally, the Raiders would find an edge-rusher at No. 4. The presences of Maurice Hurst and P.J. Hall at defensive tackle doesn't mean Quinnen Williams or Ed Oliver wouldn't play, but the best allocation of resources would be to complement their talents. Look for the Raiders to add multiple edge players with their eight picks.

Philadelphia Eagles: Linebacker

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    There hasn't been a team as good at manipulating the cap and contract loopholes over the last few years as the Philadelphia Eagles. General manager Howie Roseman has leveraged his veteran contracts as much as he can in order to continue adding contributors to their deep roster. He's done well by restocking with cheap depth in the draft, too.

    Losing Jordan Hicks was a blow to what was a rangy linebacker group. Stalwart Nigel Bradham is still around, and Kamu Grugier-Hill played well enough in 2018 to be a starter again. But the Eagles can't have career backup L.J. Fort manning the middle and expect a high-end run defense.

    It's not a deep linebacker draft, and both Devin White and Devin Bush should be long gone by the Eagles' first pick, No. 25. Other potential options could include Alabama's Mack Wilson and Minnesota's Blake Cashman, and the Eagles may be able to trade out of the first-round and still land one of them. Cashman in particular would fit as a three-down linebacker with sky-high potential because of his athleticism.

Pittsburgh Steelers: Edge-Rusher

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    Yet another contender needing an edge-rusher is the Pittsburgh Steelers. The scarcity of impact rushers and importance of the position has dramatically driven their price up. For a team like the Steelers, who are averse to free agency, the draft is the only way to land a regular contributor at the position.

    T.J. Watt doesn't need a similar star across from him, but there must be a better option than Bud Dupree to create pressures and finish opportunities. This class lacks Round 1 options for Pittsburgh at No. 20 unless a talent drops surprisingly. But because the Steelers also need help at cornerback and linebacker, general manager Kevin Colbert can be flexible with his strategy.

    Moving back from No. 20 or up on Day 2 could lead to D'Andre Walker, Ben Banogu, Justin Hollins or Shareef Miller. The key will be filling the need for athleticism but also identifying who can rotate with Dupree. Dupree was too much of an extreme of an athlete who lacked the prowess to be more than a situational rusher, and the Steelers can't repeat that mistake.

San Francisco 49ers: Edge-Rusher

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    The difficult part of roster building is trying to project future draft position. When the San Francisco 49ers selected Solomon Thomas in the 2017 draft, they likely planned on picking much lower than second overall in 2019. With Thomas struggling to settle in as a reliable edge defender, they must address the need. While it's not always wise to force a selection, the talent at edge-rusher in this class means the 49ers would be making a mistake if they passed on one with their top selection.

    Should the Cardinals pick Kyler Murray at No. 1, general manager John Lynch could make the obvious pick of Ohio State's Nick Bosa. If the Cardinals aren't actually interested in Murray and end up taking Bosa, then things will get dicey for the 49ers.

    A move down could be on tap, since the 49ers would still likely be able to land Kentucky's Josh Allen, Mississippi State's Montez Sweat or Florida State's Brian Burns later in the top 10. Another edge-rusher would complete San Francisco's young defensive front and maximize its potential. The team still lacks the talent needed to win the NFC West after acquiring Dee Ford from the Chiefs. Forcing the pick of Alabama defensive tackle Quinnen Williams would create a logjam with DeForest Buckner and the ascending Arik Armstead.

Seattle Seahawks: Pass-Rusher

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    One factor that made the Seattle Seahawks a surprising rebound team after their 0-2 start was their reliance on unknown defenders. Their fast-tracked defensive rebuild worked wonderfully as Jarran Reed and Tre Flowers emerged as impact starters. With those two alongside Frank Clark, Bobby Wagner and Shaquill Griffin, the Seahawks have quite the core.

    But the unit only logged 19.5 sacks outside Clark and Reed's combined 23.5 sacks. While the total was enough to finish tied for 11th, another prominent pass-rusher could make this unit elite. Counting on 2018 third-round pick Rasheem Green to suddenly break out is too risky.

    Chances are solid that a capable rotational rusher will be available come pick No. 21. Even a penetrating defensive tackle would work well in tandem with Reed and next to Clark. Ideally, though, an edge player such as Clemson's Clelin Ferrell or Michigan's Rashan Gary will be on the board.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Defensive Back

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    The difficult part of moving on to a new staff but retaining the front office is trying to figure out how recent draft picks will fit into plans. Tampa Bay Buccaneers general manager Jason Licht devoted three picks to the secondary last year, so he must continue to give them time despite varying results. There's also a decision to be made on 2016 first-round pick Vernon Hargreaves.

    Though Hargreaves has played poorly and dealt with injuries, new head coach Bruce Arians told The Athletic's Greg Auman he has confidence in Hargreaves staying outside and that they just need a nickel corner. That doesn't seem to be a wise decision based on Hargreaves clearly showing more talent in the nickel spot in 2017.

    Carlton Davis showed enough to continue starting and developing, but M.J. Stewart will need to be deemed either the nickel or a safety candidate. There's a lot of uncertainty within this group, but the Buccaneers can't afford to avoid adding another prototypical outside corner to pair with Davis. Anything they get out of Hargreaves should only be considered an unexpected bonus based on his on-field struggles and limited availability last year.

Tennessee Titans: Wide Receiver

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    One of the more difficult head coaching hires from this most recent cycle to evaluate was Green Bay's decision to promote former Tennessee Titans offensive coordinator Matt LaFleur. It's not that LaFleur couldn't put together interesting formations and scheme receivers open, but the talent he was working with was too limited to take advantage. Only Corey Davis had more than 466 receiving yards on the team in 2018.

    The rest of the receiving corps beyond Davis was plagued with costly drops and a lack of separation ability. The signing of slot specialist Adam Humphries will be a significant upgrade for the unit, but there's still a need to find a contributor over Tajae Sharpe and Taywan Taylor. Those two cannot be guaranteed significant playing time this season.

    In what's a crucial season for quarterback Marcus Mariota, the Titans need speed and playmaking after the catch. Oklahoma's Marquise Brown fits the bill perfectly, but also watch for South Carolina's Deebo Samuel or Missouri's Emanuel Hall in Round 2. Each has game-breaking ability with speed, agility and reliable hands.

Washington Redskins: Quarterback

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    The Washington Redskins handed quarterback Alex Smith arguably the league's worst deal (four years, $94 million) after they traded for him in 2018. While it's impossible to predict a career-ending or -altering injury, the Redskins are on the hook for a massive amount of dead cap for the next three seasons even if Smith doesn't play again.

    It'll ruin their cap for years.

    Because of the financial obligations to Smith and reality of his injury, Washington must be aggressive in landing its next quarterback. Either trading up from No. 15 or making a strong offer for Josh Rosen, if he becomes available, can help the transition.

    Head coach Jay Gruden and a solid offensive line would help ease a young starter into the fold. Gruden creates advantageous pre-snap looks for his quarterbacks, and his route combinations help a mediocre receiving corps find separation. Rosen or Dwayne Haskins stand out as potential stars thanks to their intelligence and ability to win on short and intermediate attempts.