What Every NFL Team's Rookie Class Must Accomplish in 2019
Talent acquisition is not quite the same as team-building. An NFL organization can't just draft an exceptional class without plans to maximize that incoming potential. Specific parameters are needed to better understand how each franchise expects its rookies to fit into the team's vision.
Mike Mayock is new at this general manager thing. But he sure seemed to know what he was doing in his first draft with the Oakland Raiders, unlike some of his colleagues. Mayock understands not every prospect is a fit for each particular situation, per The MMQB's Albert Breer:
What are you looking for in an Oakland Raider? And I think the teams that consistently win are most consistent in that philosophy. Pick a team. You look at the way the Ravens have drafted over the years with Ozzie [Newsome], or Kevin Colbert and the Pittsburgh Steelers. You look at that, you go, 'OK, those guys know what a Pittsburgh Steeler looks like and smells like. Doesn’t matter who the head coach is, the type of kid is very similar.' And from draft to draft to draft, they get their kind of kid.
Front offices and coaching staffs know an infusion of talent can help a team achieve its goals if properly employed. Every roster has weak spots. Each rookie class enters its new situation with a specific goal to help their teams improve in 2019.
Ease Transition of Kliff Kingsbury's Offensive Scheme
Two words continued to come up before the Arizona Cardinals chose quarterback Kyler Murray with the first overall pick in the 2019 NFL draft: system fit.
Murray's draft standing was due, in part, to how he projected in Kingsbury's Air Raid scheme. His versatile skill set and experience in a similar system at Oklahoma make him the ideal signal-caller for the new head coach.
The Cardinals didn't stop at quarterback. The front office added significant talent to the wide receiver position with the additions of UMass' Andy Isabella, Iowa State's Hakeem Butler and Fresno State's KeeSean Johnson. Mr. Irrelevant, Caleb Wilson can be another factor as a hybrid tight end best served by working in space.
Arizona's offense now drives everything the team does, starting with Murray and all of his new weapons.
Solidify the Offensive Line
Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan took a beating last season, taking the eighth-most sacks in the league. General manager Thomas Dimitroff made it a priority to protect the former MVP.
"We realized, and I have realized over the years, that we want to continue to protect and make sure that Matt is in a really good place and protect it properly," Dimitroff said, per Will McFadden of the team's official site. "We're not going to be the team we need to be if we're not moving people around and operating well on the O-line."
The front office used two first-round picks to upgrade the offensive line. Boston College's 6'4", 308-pound Chris Lindstrom and Washington's 6'7", 317-pound Kaleb McGary will immediately help at guard and right tackle, respectively. Both will address the holes up front while adding a new level of physicality to the unit.
Give Quarterback Lamar Jackson More Weapons
The Baltimore Ravens developed a dangerous and unique ground attack once quarterback Lamar Jackson entered the lineup. The presence of a true dual-threat behind center kept opposing defenses on their heels.
As difficult as the Ravens' running game was to defend, the aerial attack faltered to a degree. Jackson struggled with consistency and the wide receiver group didn't do much to help threaten secondaries.
The additions of Oklahoma's Marquise Brown and Notre Dame's Miles Boykin should change everything. Both Brown and Boykin are blazing fast receivers who stretch defenses vertically. They can open up the entire field and pull extra defenders out of the box.
Added speed can be found at running back as well with the addition of Justice Hill, who ran a 4.4-second 40-yard dash at the NFL Scouting Combine.
Continue to Build Around Quarterback Josh Allen
The Buffalo Bills landed the steal of the draft when Ed Oliver fell to them at ninth overall. Oliver is a wrecking ball along the defensive interior, completing an already stingy defense.
However, far more work needed to be done on the offensive side of the ball to make sure quarterback Josh Allen realizes his potential.
The Bills spent significant money in free agency to fortify their offensive front and add weapons in the passing game. They continued to do so with the three draft picks after Oliver.
Second-round pick Cody Ford adds yet another name to a growing list of new offensive linemen. At 6'4", 329 pounds, Ford is a big and physical blocker who can start at right tackle or guard. A pair of third-round picks, running back Devin Singletary and tight end Dawson Knox, should also become early contributors.
Create More Defensive Flexibility
Carolina Panthers head coach Ron Rivera prefers a multiple-front defensive approach.
Free-agent addition Bruce Irvin, who can play defensive end and linebacker, replaces a 39-year-old Julius Peppers. But the front office didn't stop there. Carolina selected Florida State's Brian Burns with the 16th overall pick.
"You see him not just on the right side. You see him on the left side. You see in the two-point (stance). You see him in the three-point [stance]," Rivera said, per Bryan Strickland of the team's official site. "A couple of times you see him back off the ball and drop into coverage ... He’s a heck of a football player that has enough athleticism to be a part of what we’re trying to do."
In the fourth round, the Panthers drafted Christian Miller, an outside linebacker who excelled in Alabama's 3-4 base scheme.
Add to the Skill Positions
The Chicago Bears lacked the draft capital to make significant gains. Though, even without first- and second-round selections, the Bears were still able to help their attack. In the third round, Chicago selected running back David Montgomery to help replace Jordan Howard, last year's leading rusher who was traded to the Philadelphia Eagles.
"It's everything you look for in a running back starting with his instincts, his vision and his ability to make players miss," general manager Ryan Pace said of Montgomery, per the Bears' Twitter.
Montgomery showed great balance and outstanding ability to break tackles at Iowa State, rushing for 2,362 yards and 24 touchdowns over his last two seasons. The Bears might have landed their starting back, and complement to Tarik Cohen, at a discount price.
A round later, Pace chose wide receiver Riley Ridley to supplement Allen Robinson II, Taylor Gabriel and Anthony Miller. Like his older brother, Atlanta's Calvin Ridley, the Georgia product is an advanced route-runner.
Begin Fleshing Out Zac Taylor's Offense
The Cincinnati Bengals already had a few key pieces in place to implement head coach Zac Taylor's offensive scheme. Quarterback Andy Dalton, running back Joe Mixon and wide receiver A.J. Green provide a stable set of triplets.
But the incoming rookie class should be quite effective, starting with offensive lineman Jonah Williams, this year's 11th overall pick. As part of the Rams offensive staff, Taylor benefited from the team's addition of Andrew Whitworth. Williams can have a similar impact as the class' most prepared and technically sound blocker. Cordy Glenn currently mans the blind side, but Williams will immediately push the seven-year veteran to start.
In the second round, Cincinnati chose a well-rounded tight end in Washington's Drew Sample. Sample is a true Y-tight end with the ability to block and contribute to the passing game.
Build Depth and Long-Term Flexibility
The Cleveland Browns entered the 2019 NFL draft without a single obvious need after the additions of Odell Beckham Jr., Olivier Vernon, Sheldon Richardson and Morgan Burnett.
However, the loaded starting lineup only goes so far. Cleveland needed to inject quality depth at multiple positions, especially to build long-term viability.
The organization achieved this goal.
First, general manager John Dorsey traded up in the second round to acquire the class' best pure cover corner, Greedy Williams, to push starters Denzel Ward and Terrance Mitchell. Second, the organization added a pair of linebackers in Sione Takitaki and Mack Wilson. They'll immediately contribute on special teams and possibly replace Christian Kirksey and Joe Schobert down the road.
Fourth-round pick Sheldrick Redwine is insurance at safety since Burnett is 30 years old and Damarious Randall is in the final year of his rookie contract.
Provide Reinforcements to the Fronts
The Dallas Cowboys didn't own a first-round pick thanks to the Amari Cooper trade. Instead, the front office decided the defensive and offensive lines required later-round reinforcements.
"That's where you want to be strong, on the fronts," executive vice president Stephen Jones said, per ESPN.com's Todd Archer. "... That's where we want to dominate. And if you can dominate those fronts, then good things happen."
Dallas drafted an ideal 3-technique for Rod Marinelli's system in this year's 58th overall pick, Trysten Hill. The 308-pound defensive lineman shows an explosive first step and relentless approach. Hill can help offset David Irving's retirement.
On offense, rookie Connor McGovern will back up all three interior spots. Travis Frederick is expected back at center, but the team now has more depth if Frederick's health becomes an issue or Connor Williams struggles during his sophomore campaign.
Maximize the New Offensive Scheme
The Denver Broncos understand their offense was their downfall. Poor quarterback play, inconsistent offensive line performances and an inability to consistently get the ball to their weapons resulted in the league's 24th-ranked scoring offense.
New head coach Vic Fangio hired Rich Scangarello as the team's offensive coordinator. Scangarello served as Kyle Shanahan's quarterbacks coach the last two seasons. This is important on two levels.
First, tight end will be a focal point of the scheme. Last year, Scangarello watched as San Francisco 49ers tight end George Kittle rewrote the record book. Now, the Broncos have Noah Fant to use as a ready-made mismatch after selecting the tight end with the 20th overall pick.
Furthermore, the Broncos traded up in the second round to select quarterback Drew Lock, who Scangarello will be tasked with developing and potentially game-planning for if Joe Flacco doesn't play well.
Better Represent Matt Patricia's Approach
Any time a new head coach is named, an entire organization must pivot. Matt Patricia is now in his second year with the Detroit Lions, and the roster is more indicative of his belief system than last year's group.
Detroit's first two draft picks are perfect examples of fit over pure value.
This year's eighth overall selection, tight end T.J. Hockenson, gives the Lions a Rob Gronkowski-like Y-tight end.
"He's someone we fully vetted and kind of put a lot of time and effort into making sure he was a good fit for us on the field, as well as off the field," general manager Bob Quinn said, per the Detroit News' Justin Rodgers.
The team's second-round selection, linebacker Jahlani Tavai, provides ideal scheme flexibility.
"You've got to kind of move on from those guys and reinvent what you're doing up front when the coaching changes and the coaches want certain types of players to really execute the scheme," Quinn said.
Green Bay Packers
Provide the Green Bay Packers with Different Looks
Brian Gutekunst's vision is much different than previous Green Bay general manager Ted Thompson.
First, Gutenkunst is looking for a different type of player along his defensive front. As a result, he signed Preston Smith and Za'Darius Smith before drafting Rashan Gary and Kingsley Keke.
"Not a coincidence, there's no doubt," Gutekunst said, per Packers News' Tom Silverstein. "These are big men with length and power and speed. I felt we needed to get bigger in the front, and we have. Those are the body types we're looking for."
Green Bay's second first-round pick, safety Darnell Savage Jr., brings versatility. According to The MMQB's Albert Breer, a veteran evaluator saw him as a free safety with the flexibility to play cornerback.
At 6'4", 310 pounds, second-round pick Elgton Jenkins is a bigger, more physical blocker at center than the Packers usually opt for.
Protect Quarterback Deshaun Watson
If the Houston Texans can't protect Deshaun Watson better than last season, when he took the most sacks in the league, nothing else will matter. The draft additions to the Texans offensive line will draw the most scrutiny.
After the Philadelphia Eagles traded ahead of them to take the class' best pass blocker, Andre Dillard, the Texans settled for Alabama State's Tytus Howard with the 23rd overall pick. The 6'5", 322-pound Howard is still growing into the position after converting from quarterback and tight end to left and right tackle.
Houston smartly doubled down on the tackle position with Max Scharping's acquisition in the second round. Scharping allowed only one sack in the last three seasons.
Third-round selection Kahale Warring can help as well. Like Howard, Warring is a developmental prospect, but the tight end already shows plenty of toughness and willingness as a blocker.
Build Upon Last Year's Rookie Success
The 2019 Indianapolis Colts rookie class will be asked to do the impossible: Follow in the footsteps of the 2018 class.
General manager Chris Ballard drafted two All-Pro performers, a starting right tackle, two rotational pass-rushers and the team's second- and third-leading rushers. The incoming rookies are set up to fail if anyone thinks the Colt can replicate that success.
The new group just needs to contribute as part of a playoff-caliber squad.
Ben Banogu is hybrid defender and athletic pass-rusher. Cornerback Rock Ya-Sin was the most competitive and physical cornerback in this year's class. He has the potential to develop into a strong complementary piece opposite Pierre Desir. Wide receiver Parris Campbell adds a dynamic speedster to the offense. Linebacker Bobby Okereke brings length and a nose for the football.
Live Up to Expectations
Every rookie class carries expectations. The Jacksonville Jaguars' incoming group is a little different because the organization lucked into a pair of highly rated prospects expected to be off the board long before they actually were.
The 2018 SEC Defensive Player of the Year, Josh Allen, was a lock to be a top-five pick, until he wasn't. Allen led all Power Five Conference defenders with 17 sacks. He created pressure on 23.4 percent of his pass-rush snaps last season, per Pro Football Focus. The Jaguars couldn't pass on Allen at No. 7 even if he didn't fill an immediate need.
Right tackle Jawaan Taylor did. But he tumbled out of the first round even though he was generally viewed as a top-10 talent. Jacksonville didn't want to lose out on the physical blocker and traded up in the second round to select him.
Now, both are expected to become difference-makers. No pressure.
Kansas City Chiefs
Replacements Better Produce
Patrick Mahomes' MVP campaign helped to disguise a flawed Kansas City Chiefs roster. In many ways, the Chiefs spent all offseason trying to rectify the situation.
But the organization became reactionary once Tyreek Hill's future came into question. The Chiefs barred Hill from team activities upon the release of a recording that seemingly implicates him in the mental and physical abuse of his three-year-old son. His future in the NFL is still being decided.
As a result, Kansas City selected Georgia wide receiver Mecole Hardman in the second round, even though head coach Reid wasn't willing to admit the correlation.
"We like his speed," head coach Andy Reid said, per the Kansas City Star's Brooke Pryor. "But he's more than that. He can play inside and play outside. He did both at Georgia. He's a phenomenal returner. Arguably the best returner in the draft. ... Doesn't have anything to do with what's going on now."
A look at the rest of the draft shows the Chiefs scrambled to replace Eric Berry, Steven Nelson and even Kareem Hunt with Juan Thornhill, Rashad Fenton and Darwin Thompson, respectively.
Los Angeles Chargers
Fill Roster Holes
The Los Angeles Chargers came into the draft with four significant needs: defensive interior, back-line safety, right tackle and a development quarterback. The team addressed all four.
First-round pick Jerry Tillery developed into an outstanding 3-technique during his final season on campus. The 6'6", 295-pound defender used his length and athleticism to create 48 quarterback pressures, which ranked third among all draft-eligible interior defenders, per Pro Football Focus.
Los Angeles bookended its draft with fellow defensive tackle Cortez Broughton in the seventh round. He tied for first among all Group of Five defenders with 47 total stops, according to PFF.
Second-round safety Nasir Adderley shows tremendous range as a former cornerback, and he's more than willing to hit ball-carriers.
In the third round, the Chargers found a Sam Tevi understudy in Sioux Falls' Trey Pipkins. Meanwhile, the coaching staff can develop fifth-round quarterback Easton Stick behind Philip Rivers and Tyrod Taylor.
Los Angeles Rams
Maintain Super Bowl Standard
The Los Angeles Rams reached the Super Bowl last season, but it didn't come without a cost.
The Rams won't be the same team after losing Lamarcus Joyner, Roger Saffold, Mark Barron, John Sullivan and C.J. Anderson. Also, Ndamukong Suh remains a free agent.
Thus, general manager Les Snead had to make corresponding moves. He did sign Eric Weddle and Clay Matthews in free agency, but they're likely on their last contracts.
The draft is a team's lifeblood. The Rams infused talent at multiple positions.
The secondary drew the most attention with second-round safety Taylor Rapp and third-round cornerback David Long. Rapp is a physical tone-setter, who can immediately serve as the team's big nickel. Long is a shutdown man-cover corner.
Fellow third-round pick Darrell Henderson is an ideal fit in the Rams' zone-heavy run scheme. He'll take some pressure off of Todd Gurley.
Los Angeles' final third-round selection, Bobby Evans, provides much-needed depth along the offensive line.
Find Out Who the Miami Dolphins Are
The Miami Dolphins incoming rookie class is already in a difficult position. The belief outside the organization is the Dolphins are possibly tanking for next year's top prospects. The team maintains it's not doing so, while placing a priority on culture.
This year's 13th overall pick, defensive tackle Christian Wilkins, encapsulates both approaches. The front office decided to pass on a quarterback prospect (not knowing it would trade for Josh Rosen) in favor of a defensive lineman. But he's a unique defensive lineman.
"He's tough, he's smart, leader, two-time team captain, productive on the field, prototype player, so we're very excited," general manager Chris Grier said, per Christopher Hanewinckel of USA Today's Dolphins Wire.
Two rounds later, the Dolphins chose another collegiate team captain in Wisconsin's Michael Deiter, who started 54 straight games.
These type of acquisitions are straight out of the New England Patriots handbook.
Emphasize the Offensive Front
The Minnesota Vikings had an offensive line problem and, outside of signing Josh Kline in free agency, did little to address the front.
General manager Rick Spielman's decision to draft three blockers, including first-round center Garrett Bradbury, certainly answered any lingering questions.
Spielman told reporters that Bradbury is a "perfect fit for what we were looking for” as the offense transitions to an outside-zone scheme. The 306-pound pivot is an exceptional reach blocker. His addition should allow Pat Elflein to move to guard, a position he excelled at in college.
A starting front of Riley Reiff, Elflein, Bradbury, Kline and Brian O'Neill is an athletic bunch.
The Vikings weren't done there, though.
In the fourth and sixth rounds, Spielman chose Oklahoma's Dru Samia and Elon's Olisaemeka Udoh. Neither is expected to start, but they provide depth for a unit that lacked quality options last season.
New England Patriots
Provide Own Unique Skill Set
None of the New England Patriots' rookies must replace Rob Gronkowski, Trey Flowers or even Josh Gordon. The Patriots constantly evolve, and the coaching staff gameplans according to available talent.
Even so, N'Keal Harry is the only first-round wide receiver ever drafted by Bill Belichick.
"I would say that one of the things he does well is he plays the ball in the air," director of player personnel Nick Caserio said, per NBC Sports Boston's Phil Perry. "I'd say the coverage in this league is tight, regardless of the type of player or receiver that you are. The coverage is tight. You're going to have to make some plays in some tight quarters."
Second-round pick Joejuan Williams is a 6'4", 211-pound cornerback to match up against the league's bigger targets. Two of the team's three third-round picks, running back Damien Harris and defensive end Chase Winovich, are automatic rotational players.
New Orleans Saints
Secure the Offensive Interior
Having only one pick from the first two days severely limits what the New Orleans Saints' rookie class is capable of achieving.
But the organization made a big splash when it traded up in the second round and chose Texas A&M's center Erik McCoy.
Former starting center Max Unger retired this offseason, and the Saints place a priority on the offensive interior since Drew Brees is a 6'0" pocket passer.
McCoy allowed only one sack during his three years as a starter, according to Pro Football Focus.
"He's one of those players that, in the process, stood out," head coach Sean Payton said, per John Sigler of USA Today's Saints Wire. "See his strength on tape in each game. Really had a high grade on him. Played at obviously a high level of competition. See the consistency."
New York Giants
Change the Narrative
The New York Giants dominated draft coverage for all the wrong reasons. Numerous outlets panned the team's class, particularly this year's sixth overall selection, quarterback Daniel Jones.
"I don't know what the outcome is going to be, and certainly [general manager Dave] Gettleman is not doing a good job selling his vision and actions to the media," an anonymous NFL executive told ESPN.com's Mike Sando. "It is so weird."
Was the Jones pick a surprise so high in the draft? Yes. But Gettleman didn't have to rationalize the pick, which he tried to do.
Ultimately, the players will determine whether they were good or poor selections. Jones will learn behind Eli Manning and eventually take over the offense. Defensive tackle Dexter Lawrence needs to be a load in the middle of the defense. And cornerback Deandre Baker's competitiveness must translate to the professional level.
New York Jets
Find a Way to Challenge the New England Patriots
A lot will be asked of the New York Jets' incoming draft class because loosening the New England Patriots' stranglehold on the AFC East is a significant task.
A year ago, the Jets finally found their franchise quarterback in Sam Darnold. Now, they must find ways to counter Tom Brady. Three specific selections could help achieve this goal.
Defensive tackle Quinnen Williams was 2019's best overall prospect. He, alongside Leonard Williams, will make life uncomfortable for all opposing quarterbacks with their ability to collapse the pocket.
They'll be joined by the team's initial third-round pick, Jachai Polite. The defensive end graded as a first-round talent based on his play, but he butchered the predraft process.
Finally, tight end/fullback/H-back Trevon Wesco isn't an obvious solution, but his punishing blocks will help lead the way for Le'Veon Bell to control the clock in certain situations.
Build a New Culture
The Oakland Raiders needed someone to provide a path toward respectability. After last year's bumbling 4-12 campaign, Mike Mayock joined the organization as general manager.
He knew well before the draft that the Raiders didn't just need talent; the team had to discern the type of player it wanted in the locker room.
"Just me, [head coach Jon Gruden] and the entire coaching staff grinding tape together and arguing about players, and I was vehement about the kind of guys we want to bring in this building," Mayock said after the draft, per NBC Sports' Scott Bair.
It's easy to see what Mayock wanted: productive team leaders, who excelled in the biggest moments.
All three of the team's first-round picks—defensive end Clelin Ferrell, running back Josh Jacobs and safety Johnathan Abram—fit the mold to a tee.
Develop to Be Ready to Start When Needed
The Philadelphia Eagles made only five draft selections, and none of them have an immediate path toward starting, though a couple should be expected to take over roles at some point during the season.
General manager Howie Roseman traded up to the 22nd overall pick to land Jason Peters' eventual successor, Andre Dillard.
"We have a Hall of Fame left tackle, and again, he's got a great opportunity to come in and learn from Jason and at some point in time get an opportunity to play," Roseman said, per Chris McPherson of the team's official site.
Running back Miles Sanders will immediately break into the running back rotation, but he'll likely be stuck behind Jordan Howard for a period. Wide receiver JJ Arcega-Whiteside is in a similar position behind Alshon Jeffery.
Get the Defense Back on Track
The Pittsburgh Steelers finished sixth in total defense last season, yet no one considered the unit elite. Pittsburgh suffered from poor inside linebacker play and secondary lapses.
General manager Kevin Colbert made sure to land linebacker Devin Bush Jr. by trading up for the 10th overall pick.
"As an inside linebacker, his game is really predicated on what is needed to play the position in modern-day NFL football because he can not only play the run, but he's got exceptional cover abilities, and he can also rush the passer," Colbert told reporters after the move.
The general manager found a gem in the third round with defensive back Justin Layne. The Michigan State product is a long and aggressive man-cover corner who could challenge for a starting spot opposite Joe Haden.
San Francisco 49ers
Solve the Team's Two Biggest Conundrums
The San Francisco 49ers struggled to solve two issues during Kyle Shanahan's first two seasons as head coach.
The staff never found the right defensive line combination and never developed a No. 1 wide receiver. It's no coincidence general manager John Lynch addressed both positions with the team's top two draft picks.
No. 2 overall pick Nick Bosa instantly provides an edge presence at right or left defensive end.
"We've been hoping and trying to build our D-line since we've been here," Shanahan said, per 49ers Webzone's David Bonilla. "We came here, and there was a few to start. This kind of solidifies our edge."
Second-round pick Deebo Samuel may not physically fit the profile the coach once featured in his scheme. However, his open-field shiftiness and ability to create after the catch should become staples in the 49ers offense.
Replace wide receiver Doug Baldwin
According to NFL Network's Mike Garafolo, Doug Baldwin is "leaning toward retirement" and the "likelihood remains he's played his last down."
In potentially moving on from Baldwin, the Seahawks drafted three receivers with an emphasis on speed.
DK Metcalf is the focal point after falling to the 64th overall selection. The physically impressive target is a limited route-runner, but he can take the top off a defense. Fourth-round pick Gary Jennings ran a 4.42-second 40-yard dash at the NFL Scouting Combine. Seventh-round pick John Ursua posted a 4.56-second time at Hawaii's pro day despite a lingering hamstring issue.
"That was really the No. 1 thing: We wanted to get fast and make sure that we can ... take advantage of Russell [Wilson's] ability to throw the ball down the field, which is awesome, and be able to complement the work that we were able to do with Tyler [Lockett] and make sure that he's not the only fast guy that really can take the top off," head coach Pete Carroll said, per ESPN.com's Brady Henderson.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Make the Defense Relevant Again
The Tampa Buccaneers haven't fielded a top-20 defense since the 2015 campaign. The team previously threw money and draft picks at that side of the ball to no avail.
The Buccaneers may have gotten it right this time. Six of the team's eight draft picks, including the first five, play on defense.
Linebacker Devin White is the class' crown jewel and organization's new defensive cornerstone.
"The tape speaks for itself," head coach Bruce Arians said of the fifth overall pick, per Pro Football Talk's Michael David Smith. "... He fits everything we want as a human being and a football player."
General manager Jason Licht then spent two consecutive picks on athletic cornerbacks with high upside in Sean Murphy-Bunting and Jamel Dean. Safety Mike Edwards and defensive end Anthony Nelson are expected to crack their respective position's rotation.
Make Life Easier on Quarterback Marcus Mariota
The Tennessee Titans made a long-term investment with first-round defensive tackle Jeffery Simmons. The team might not benefit from his inclusion until the 2020 campaign since he's still recovering from an ACL tear suffered during predraft training. His talent is undeniable, though.
Beyond Simmons, the Titans looked for another weapon at wide receiver. General manager Jon Robinson selected A.J. Brown in the second round.
"I like his size," Robinson told reporters. "I like his play strength. He's strong with the ball in his hands. He can catch the ball, break tackles, and he's good on the contested catches. He creates competition in that position group."
Brown will immediately push 2017 fifth overall pick Corey Davis to become Tennessee's WR1.
Also, the Titans' third-round pick, Charlotte's Nate Davis, will compete for the starting right guard spot.
Develop Quarterback Dwayne Haskins as Quickly as Possible
The Washington Redskins had to draft a quarterback. With Alex Smith's career up in the air and an underwhelming veteran duo of Case Keenum and Colt McCoy atop the depth chart, the organization needed a major infusion of talent and, frankly, hope.
Dwayne Haskins provides both.
"We have a great system and a great environment to develop a quarterback," team president Bruce Allen said Tuesday on ESPN's First Take (via ESPN.com's John Keim).
Some might chuckle at the remark considering its source. But Allen isn't wrong in this case. Smith became an ideal mentor to Patrick Mahomes before being traded. The team's veteran backups—whichever is retained—also have a wealth of experience.
Haskins' natural passing coupled with a strong running game featuring Adrian Peterson and a returning Derrius Guice make Washington a much-improved offense.