The Biggest Flaw Every NFL Team Still Must Address After the Draft
The NFL featured 32 teams working through seven rounds over three days of 250-plus selections. It even continued to feature droves of undrafted free agents signing with teams as they fill out 90-man rosters.
Yet, each team still has a glaring weakness.
Impressive, though not unordinary. Drafting for value instead of need, having a position float in injury limbo and personnel question marks under new coaches are all factors that manage to leave flaws unaddressed even after the draft. Undrafted and veteran free agents, as well as trades, are some of the ways teams could still right these wrongs over the course of the summer.
These flaws, which could have a big impact over the short and/or long term, must still be addressed.
Arizona Cardinals: Offensive Line
The Arizona Cardinals did the predictable (depending on who gets asked) thing and grabbed Kyler Murray first overall.
Outside of that, Byron Murphy shores up a corner problem, Andy Isabella is a nice, reliable threat, and Hakeem Butler can be a red-zone specialist.
But the Cardinals seemingly forgot the offensive line.
Their first pick for the unit came at No. 179 in the sixth round with Lamont Gaillard, which doesn't do much to help a line that coughed up 52 sacks last year. The Cardinals still have problems at most of the spots up front, which is a bad sign for Murray and can only be fixed with free agents and late cuts at this point.
Atlanta Falcons: Defensive Tackle
Unlike the Cardinals, the Atlanta Falcons didn't ignore the trenches up front, taking Chris Lindstrom and Kaleb McGary in the first round.
But the strategy passed over everything else.
The Falcons didn't pick again until the fourth round and from there addressed a hodgepodge of areas, none of them defensive tackle. The front office did a good job of keeping star interior pass-rusher Grady Jarrett in free agency, but the problem next to him persists.
Said problem is part of the reason the Falcons gave up 26.4 points per game last year and ranked 25th against the rush at 124.9 yards allowed per game.
Baltimore Ravens: Linebacker
New Baltimore Ravens general manager Eric DeCosta set out to beef up the offense around Lamar Jackson.
To that end, wideouts Marquise Brown and Miles Boykin in the top-100 picks should help. Fourth-round pick Justice Hill should complement new arrival Mark Ingram well while running behind fellow fourth-rounder Ben Powers.
But what about the defense?
The Ravens lost Terrell Suggs and C.J. Mosley up front. Jaylon Ferguson in the second round is a nice get up front, but the linebackers behind the trenches are hurting.
Granted, Baltimore has a history of restocking on defense without much of a problem. But as one of the biggest losers of sheer talent in free agency this offseason, mostly ignoring the defensive side of the ball comes at a big risk.
Buffalo Bills: Offensive Skill Positions
It's all about Josh Allen in Buffalo.
Bills general manager Brandon Beane set out with this goal in mind and had a stellar top-40 performance, getting a defensive centerpiece with Ed Oliver in the top 10 and right tackle Cody Ford at No. 38.
But those didn't do much to boost the cast of weapons around Allen, who so far only notably has the free-agent addition of Cole Beasley to lean on next year.
Waiting on a tight end until the third round with Dawson Knox could prove questionable with only free-agent add Tyler Kroft coming over from Cincinnati. Outright ignoring wideouts on draft day could be troublesome, too, though perhaps fixable by some late-summer signings.
Carolina Panthers: Wide Receiver
Fresh off an offseason of worry when it comes to the health of Cam Newton, the Carolina Panthers went big with Greg Little in Round 2, which shores up a big spot and lets Daryl Williams move to a different spot. Call it a two birds, one stone sort of thing.
But the move there and draft strategy overall didn't help the set of weapons Newton has to work with once he drops back behind the new line.
Wideout Terry Godwin was the only pick in this regard and came in at No. 237. No wideout on the team scored more than five times a year ago, and while DJ Moore could still develop into a No. 1, the rest of the depth chart is a question mark.
Maybe better timing behind an improved line helps, but not having to rely on a Jarius Wright, who only scored once in his first season with the team, would have been nice.
Chicago Bears: Safety
In the grand scheme of things, this is the Khalil Mack draft for the Chicago Bears so only making five picks isn't a big deal.
It was a little weird, though, to see the team roll with running back David Montgomery in the third round after shipping away Jordan Howard instead of addressing a bigger need like safety.
The Bears, for all their strengths last year, have a hole at safety next to Eddie Jackson. Ha Ha Clinton-Dix is back again, but there is a reason the Green Bay Packers were so comfortable shipping him away in the middle of last season and the Washington Redskins didn't bring him back.
Unless one of the two corners the Bears drafted after the 200th pick transfer to safety and pull off a borderline miracle, Clinton-Dix will continue to be a part of opponents' game plans.
Cincinnati Bengals: Linebacker
The Cincinnati Bengals and new head coach Zac Taylor went into the draft knowing linebacker was the roster's biggest issue.
Understandably, they pulled the trigger on Jonah Williams at No. 11 in the name of value and long-term outlook. But taking a blocking tight end (Drew Sample) in the second round and using draft assets to trade up and get a backup quarterback like Ryan Finley in the fourth round was odd to see.
The Bengals did add Germaine Pratt in the third round, and he has a chance to be good. But they did the same with Malik Jefferson last year, and he was a bust. Jordan Evans hasn't been any better.
Unless Pratt is an unexpected savior, the Bengals still don't have a passing-down middle linebacker or surefire thing on the weak side.
Cleveland Browns: Offensive Tackle
On paper, the rich appear to get richer when it comes to the Cleveland Browns.
This is the Odell Beckham Jr. draft, and the front office managed to get some incredible value with name-recognition picks like Greedy Williams and Mack Wilson.
But like some of the teams mentioned already, the Browns decided to overlook the trenches. The line permitted 38 sacks last year, and Chris Hubbard was a liability on the right edge, which is why he was available in free agency the year prior in the first place.
The Browns did get better this offseason, but it takes one errant hit on Baker Mayfield to make most of the hard work a moot point. It's a fitting way for these Browns to go about things, but there is a lot of room for poor trench play to backfire.
Dallas Cowboys: Safety
Where is the safety help?
A year ago, the Dallas Cowboys were blunt about attacking their biggest need with Leighton Vander Esch, and that worked out just fine.
This year, after sacrificing a first-round pick for Amari Cooper, the Cowboys walked to the podium for the first time at No. 58 with Virginia safety Juan Thornhill on the board and went with UCF defensive lineman Trysten Hill.
The Cowboys didn't hit safety until the sixth round with Donovan Wilson at No. 213. Unless he's an unexpected star, Dallas goes into next year with guys like Jeff Heath, not an Earl Thomas or recognizable rookie, manning the spots.
Denver Broncos: Linebacker
The Denver Broncos look like one of the draft's more polarizing performers. Noah Fant in the first round after a trade back, and Dalton Risner in the second, looked good. Complicating the Joe Flacco dynamic with Drew Lock in the second, not so much.
There is the problem of linebacker, too. General manager John Elway and Co. didn't hit the position until No. 156 in the fifth round with Oregon's Justin Hollins, who might be limited to special teams as a rookie.
In other words, the Broncos might be poised to trot out an underwhelming tandem like Josey Jewell and Todd Davis in the middle, a year removed from the defense ranking in the 20s against the pass and rush.
Denver will always have the strong pass rush, but the middle of the defense could still be a problem.
Detroit Lions: Pass-Rusher
Detroit Lions general manager Bob Quinn seemed to hit one out of the park with T.J. Hockenson in the top 10.
Otherwise, this was a Matt Patricia defensive-minded draft with ball-hawking linebackers (Jahlani Tavai) and safeties who can help right away (Will Harris).
Curiously, though, Detroit didn't seem to do much about the pass rush.
The Lions only generated 43 sacks a year ago, relying on a random-seeming outbreak from Romeo Okwara (7.5) and a handful from linebacker Jarrad Davis (6). The unit also lost Ezekiel Ansah to free agency, so unless fourth-round pick Austin Bryant can have a bigger-than-expected impact, this is going to be a problem for Detroit in the high-flying NFC North next season.
Green Bay Packers: Wide Receiver
Speaking of the NFC North, the Green Bay Packers went all-in on the idea Aaron Rodgers could drag along whatever they throw out there on the offensive side of the ball.
Defensive coordinator Mike Pettine got his big disruptor in the first round with Rashan Gary at No. 12, then got a hard-hitting safety with Darnell Savage a bit later at No. 21. Rodgers didn't get a weapon at wideout until, well, never.
Unless the Packers are going all-in with tight end Jace Sternberger from the third round as a wideout, Rodgers is again stuck with guys like Equanimeous St. Brown and Geronimo Allison flanking Davante Adams.
A season ago, non-Adams receivers had no more than two touchdowns, and only one broke the 500-yard mark.
Houston Texans: Running Back
Houston Texans general manager Brian Gaine isn't earning any strong instant praise for his 2019 draft class.
Both Tytus Howard in the first round and Max Scharping in the second felt like major reaches, which isn't a good sign. Generally, trying to protect a quarterback in Deshaun Watson who took 62 sacks last season would demand at least one of the team's three top-55 picks actually obtain a surefire starter on the left side.
Part of this is having a strong running game, too, something Bill O'Brien has always struggled with. The Texans didn't even draft a running back a year removed from getting just 973 yards and five scores from Lamar Miller and not much else.
The Texans seem content with a committee approach, but it would be making the same mistake as a year ago.
Indianapolis Colts: Running Back
It is becoming more and more difficult to pick a hole in the plan of Indianapolis Colts general manager Chris Ballard.
Ballard got out of the first round and grabbed four potential starters on Day 2 with corner Rock Ya-Sin, edge-rusher Ben Banogu, wideout Parris Campbell and linebacker Bobby Okereke.
If one had to nitpick, running back alongside Marlon Mack remains a question mark.
Mack ran for 908 yards and nine scores a year ago, but the team could still use a better complement. Nyheim Hines caught 63 passes but struggled on the ground, and Jordan Wilkins is a work in progress. At worst, it wouldn't have hurt to see the Colts pick up a less predictable back with one of their 10 picks.
Jacksonville Jaguars: Wide Receiver
The Jacksonville Jaguars had an elite edge-rusher prospect fall into their laps at No. 7 with Josh Allen, then had the same thing happen in the second round with offensive tackle Jawaan Taylor.
But the Jaguars didn't have any such luck with wide receivers, nor did they try to make their own.
In fact, they ignored the position outright, which is a stunning move considering they just gave Nick Foles a contract that could pay him north of $100 million.
Dede Westbrook led the Jaguars in receiving last year with 717 yards but only scored five times. Only Donte Moncrief also dipped over the 500-yard mark. No other receiver weapon hit the mark nor scored more than one touchdown unless counting running back T.J. Yeldon (four).
Unless Foles magically boosts the weapons around him, it could be a long season for the Jacksonville passing attack.
Kansas City Chiefs: Offensive Line
The Kansas City Chiefs are all over the place.
Gone are Dee Ford, Justin Houston and Eric Berry. Frank Clark, Tyrann Mathieu and Bashaud Breeland are in the fray now. Second-round pick Juan Thornhill should pair well with Mathieu. Another second-round pick, Mecole Hardman, is Tyreek Hill insurance.
But the offensive side of the ball is the problem there, strange as that sounds for a team with Patrick Mahomes under center. Typically, it would be the defense undergoing a scheme change.
Mahomes took 26 sacks last year, and that number could only climb with Kareem Hunt and possibly Hill gone as the offense looks to throw other names into the fire. Players up front like Laurent Duvernay-Tardif and Austin Reiter could then become sour points as the offense doesn't match last year's numbers.
Los Angeles Chargers: Offensive Tackle
The Los Angeles Chargers like winning via defense lately, hence the Derwin James addition last year. He's got a new running mate in second-round pick Nasir Adderley, and Jerry Tillery from the first round can help ease the loss of free-agent pass-rusher Darius Philon.
But the line in front of Philip Rivers still needs some help.
Yes, the Chargers hit this area in the third round with Trey Pipkins. But we're talking about a prospect from Sioux Falls who classifies as a project, not a guy who can get in the lineup right away and send a liability like Sam Tevi to the bench.
With Rivers managing games still, maybe it isn't the end of the world. And if this is the biggest complaint, the Chargers are doing just fine in the bigger picture.
Los Angeles Rams: Defensive Tackle
The rich are clearly going to keep getting richer when it comes to the Los Angeles Rams.
Los Angeles' front office moved back and still got Taylor Rapp in the second round to replace Lamarcus Joyner. Maybe the exception to this rule—and surprise—was failing to address the loss of Ndamukong Suh until the fourth round with Greg Gaines.
Gaines is interesting, but he might not be an every-down player like Suh could be. This was a depth draft, which would explain why they grabbed up running back Darrell Henderson close after Rapp to serve as Todd Gurley insurance.
This strategy overall, though, means entrusting an interior spot to a rotation with guys like Tanzel Smart, which could end up backfiring as a long season progresses.
Miami Dolphins: Edge-Rusher
The league's most extensive rebuild and arguably its worst roster got off on an odd foot with Christian Wilkins at No. 13. But the home run with Michael Deiter at No. 78 shored up a big need for the offensive line in front of Josh Rosen, whom the Miami Dolphins ripped off the Cardinals in obtaining.
But it would have been nice to see more from the Dolphins when it comes to acquiring a rebuilt pass rush in a draft supposedly deep with it.
Wilkins might be a fine player, but he isn't making up the production of both Robert Quinn and Cameron Wake, who combined for 12.5 of the team's 31 sacks a season ago.
Maybe an undrafted player or late-summer singing bolsters the edges because if not, the Dolphins will cross fingers and hope guys like Charles Harris and Jonathan Woodard can make up the difference.
Minnesota Vikings: Defensive Tackle
There were probably few happier teams than the Minnesota Vikings during the first round of the draft when Garrett Bradbury fell into their laps at No. 18, which reshuffles an entire line that wants to get back to running the football.
In fact, the team's first four rounds all went toward this offensive makeover. Nice, but it also didn't patch a hole in the middle of the defense.
Minnesota ranked 15th against the rush last year and didn't get much next to Linval Joseph. They did grab Armon Watts in the sixth round, but hoping a rotation can make things passable instead of drafting a premium talent outright isn't the ideal move for a team that fancies itself a contender around a big-money quarterback.
The ripple effect of letting this need persist could be felt against competition that knows how to exploit it.
New England Patriots: Tight End
The New England Patriots seemed like a rich-get-richer candidate right at the end of the first round by grabbing Arizona State wideout N'Keal Harry. Adding a pass-rusher like Chase Winovich and a running back like Damien Harris in the third round only made things sweeter.
Yet, a Rob Gronkowski-sized hole remains in the offense.
Granted, knowing Bill Belichick, he'll find some way to replicate Gronk's blocking impact with multiple players and scheme more of the offense to wideout. That or Austin Seferian-Jenkins will turn into a superstar.
It's always something with Belichick, right? But on paper, it was odd to see the position go completely unaddressed, and it looks like a problem heading into the summer.
New Orleans Saints: Wide Receiver
The New Orleans Saints put up walls and don't care much for how different their approach is compared to elsewhere, hence the big move for Marcus Davenport last year.
This year, the Saints didn't pick until the second round, only had five picks overall and didn't address wide receiver.
Odd, considering the aim right now should be getting as much as possible out of Drew Brees' final years. After Michael Thomas last year, only one other wideout broke the 400-yard mark (Tre'Quan Smith), and being unable to name Brees' targets became a meme of sorts.
The Saints look like a contender to make another Dez Bryant-type move, and even he isn't guaranteed to be ready for training camp.
New York Giants: EDGE
If it works, it works.
It is funny to stress over the New York Giants and the decision to get Daniel Jones at No. 6. But it quietly glosses over a rather strong defensive class for the New York front office—except at edge-rusher.
The Giants at least tried to address it with Oshane Ximines in the third round. But he's a project from Old Dominion, not an instant-impact starter who is going to come in and provide a serious boost to a pass rush that could only cobble together 30 sacks last year, led by seven from Olivier Vernon, now in Cleveland.
With Ximines expected to be a work in progress, the Giants might have similar issues generating pressure again next season.
New York Jets: Wide Receiver
Quinnen Williams at No. 3 might end up being the best player in the draft, and it is hard not to like Jachai Polite in the third round considering much of the theme this offseason for the New York Jets has been about the defensive turnaround.
But what about Sam Darnold?
Plenty of other teams here have focused on going all-in around young passers. The Jets, on the other hand, didn't draft a wideout at all. Keep in mind Robby Anderson led the team in receiving last year at 752 yards and six touchdowns, while the next-closest receiver scored once.
Granted, the Jets added Jamison Crowder in free agency. But he only played in nine games last year and has scored more than three times once in four years.
Oakland Raiders: Tight End
Derek Carr really doesn't have any right to complain about what the Oakland Raiders did in the draft.
Khalil Mack and Amari Cooper might be gone, but Antonio Brown has arrived, and Tyrell Williams is set for a massive breakout. Hunter Renfrow at No. 149 could provide a boost, too.
On paper, though, it would have been nice to see the Raiders do something about tight end much higher in the order. Jared Cook led the team in receiving and touchdowns last year at 896 and six, respectively, before going to join Brees in New Orleans.
That leaves an uninspiring unit to pick up the slack, headlined by a hodgepodge of names like Lee Smith. Feel free to sprinkle in No. 137 pick Foster Moreau. Wideout should produce just fine, but defenses shouldn't have to worry about the tight end group.
Philadelphia Eagles: Safety
The Philadelphia Eagles have quietly had a really nice offseason, patching roster holes with savvy moves like Jordan Howard at running back and bringing back DeSean Jackson.
Then in the draft, Andre Dillard is a nice long-term outlook player at No. 22. These were the sort of moves the Eagles figured to make with a limited number of selections, yet safety went unaddressed.
Safety isn't overly hurting right now in Philadelphia, but it figured to get some sort of addition with Malcolm Jenkins sitting on 31 years of age.
Instead, the Eagles spent four of five picks on the offensive side of the ball, crossing fingers that Jenkins can stay healthy and Rodney McLeod next to him can be effective.
Pittsburgh Steelers: Wide Receiver
Losing Brown wasn't going to get smoothed over with one draft pick.
But the Pittsburgh Steelers sure tried. After moving up for Devin Bush in the first round, the Steelers spent their next pick (third round, No. 66) on Diontae Johnson out of Toledo, seemingly trying to get some of that MAC action going again.
But Johnson is more project status than expected, as NFL.com's Lance Zierlein pointed out: "The athleticism and quickness should allow for a wide range of usage on offense but his hands might always be a concern for him. He's a little small and wasn't as fast or quick at the combine as expected, so Day 3 in the draft is his likely landing spot as a WR3/WR4 talent."
That's not the sort of move a team trying to win now should be making after losing a superstar. JuJu Smith-Schuster should still produce, but James Washington caught all of 16 passes last year when asked to join the rotation.
San Francisco 49ers: Offensive Line
The San Francisco 49ers weren't shy about where they wanted to get better this offseason, trading for Dee Ford and signing Kwon Alexander before drafting Nick Bosa at No. 2.
Yet, the line in front of Jimmy Garoppolo didn't get addressed until the sixth round, which is a little odd considering the team watched him suffer a season-ending injury last year.
Granted, draft picks Deebo Samuel and Jalen Hurd should help open up the passing game and limit Garoppolo's exposure. But it would have been nice to see earlier picks address something like guard up front after the entire unit allowed 48 sacks last year.
This is especially jarring considering the 49ers grabbed a punter in the fourth round just outside of the top 100.
Seattle Seahawks: Tight End
It is hard to knock a team that made 10 picks, especially when that team usually marches to the beat of its own drum and does it quite well.
Going into the draft, Seahawks fans probably weren't looking at L.J. Collier or Marquise Blair, yet those were the top-50 picks. Big name D.K. Metcalf fell to them at No. 64, which could be a major boon with Doug Baldwin's career in doubt.
But that Baldwin unknown is critical given his importance to the passing game. It puts more stress on a position like tight end, which only got shrug-worthy production from Nick Vannett and Will Dissly last year. No Baldwin on the field could make things even more difficult for the group.
For all the wheeling and dealing the Seahawks did to obtain and then make 10 picks, outright ignoring tight end could cause bigger problems than anticipated.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Wide Receiver
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have been one of the NFL's oddest teams this offseason.
Unlike another Florida team, the Buccaneers have shrugged off a rebuild and rallied around Jameis Winston. The big change is moving from a 4-3 to a 3-4 on the other side of the ball, hence the team's first five picks going toward defense until the front office grabbed a kicker in the fifth round.
None of which does much to help Winston.
The Winston and Ryan Fitzpatrick combo had an embarrassment of riches at wideout despite their middling passing numbers. The trio of Mike Evans, Chris Godwin and Adam Humphries was stellar. But Humphries is in Tennessee, Jackson in Philadelphia, and tight end Cameron Brate put up 289 yards and six scores after signing an odd six-year deal.
Point being, Winston is going to need some more help after his unit went ignored during the draft process.
Tennessee Titans: Defensive Tackle
The Tennessee Titans were one of the quieter teams in the draft process once again, making only six selections.
But the first right up front was a real head-scratching affair. Jeffery Simmons was a good value at No. 19—but he might have to sit out his entire first season after tearing an ACL in February.
In other words, the Titans will essentially be asking Jurrell Casey to do it all on his own again inside for a unit that only notched 39 sacks last season. What makes it odd is the Titans could have easily grabbed a pressure generator like Montez Sweat or Jerry Tillery who was still on the board, perhaps even after a trade down while grabbing more picks.
Over the long term, the Simmons pick could turn out to be a major win. But the Titans need more help up front in a division that continues to improve in terms of passing offenses.
Washington Redskins: Offensive Line
The Washington Redskins shocked most by hanging out and letting the good decisions flow. They grabbed Dwayne Haskins at No. 15, then moved back up almost quietly and got Sweat at No. 26. Adding Haskins's collegiate teammate in the top 100, Terry McLaurin, boosts the chances he succeeds.
But the offensive line is still a problem that could end up getting in Haskins' way.
While the Redskins added Wes Martin and Ross Pierschbacher in the mid rounds, neither will challenge for the starting gig left of center, where the underwhelming Ereck Flowers is set to get the nod.
That spot has been a problem for years in Washington and so has general offensive line health, with Trent Williams only playing in 13 games and Brandon Scherff in eight last year alone, while multiple guys played hurt.