The Biggest Question for Every NFL Team After the 2019 Draft
For every team in the NFL, the goal in the offseason is the same. Improve the roster. Fill holes on the depth chart. Add depth.
Some teams fared better in that regard than others. Some answered questions we'd never think to ask, such as, "What are the odds Odell Beckham Jr. isn't in New York come Week 1 despite signing a massive extension less than a year ago?"
As it turns out, 100 percent.
But no matter how good the league's teams are at answering those questions in free agency and the draft, no team can answer them all. Not all in one offseason. Whether it's a gap in the starting lineup in the present or a decision facing the organization in the near future, every team still has questions after the 2019 draft.
Here's the biggest one for each squad.
Are Kliff Kingsbury and Kyler Murray Ready for the NFL?
There isn't a team in the NFL with a more obvious question hanging over it than the Arizona Cardinals. Last year's disastrous 3-13 season led to Steve Wilks' firing and Josh Rosen's trade to the Miami Dolphins. In 2019, it will be the Kliff Kingsbury and Kyler Murray show—for better or worse.
The hiring of Kingsbury as head coach and Murray as the team's starting quarterback has injected a bolt of enthusiasm into the fanbase—the young, offensive-minded head coach and the talented Heisman trophy-winning quarterback. Much of what the Redbirds did in the offseason was geared around helping Murray succeed, whether it was upgrading the offensive line in free agency or drafting a trio of wide receivers.
But at the end of the day, we're still talking about a coach who had two winning seasons in six years at Texas Tech and a quarterback whose next NFL snap will be his first at the helm of a team that's better (in theory) but still flawed.
Will the Atlanta Defense Rebound in 2019?
The Atlanta Falcons had a season to forget in 2018—largely because of an injury-ravaged defense that lost its two best players (safety Keanu Neal and inside linebacker Deion Jones) for much of the season and finished the year 28th in the league in total defense.
That defense got Jones back toward the end of last season, and Neal's recovery from an ACL tear is reportedly progressing well. Just getting that duo back on the field will go a long way toward setting the stage for a defensive rebound.
However, the Falcons also have to improve in getting after the quarterback after ranking 22nd in sacks a year ago. Grady Jarrett's six sacks return, compliments of the franchise tag, but Atlanta needs young edge-rushers Vic Beasley and Takkarist McKinley to take a major step forward in 2019.
That the Falcons didn't take any major steps toward bolstering the pass rush would seem to indicate at least some confidence that will happen.
Who Will Rush the Passer in Baltimore?
It was something of a rocky offseason defensively for the Ravens. Inside linebacker C.J. Mosley is in New York now. Edge-rusher Terrell Suggs is in Arizona. Fellow EDGE Za'Darius Smith signed a big contract to join the Green Bay Packers.
The latter losses are the more concerning for the Ravens.
Yes, Baltimore added an edge-rusher in the third round of the 2019 draft in Louisiana Tech's Jaylon Ferguson. But there's going to be a time of transition for the youngster, and even if he's a quick study, Ferguson isn't going to single-handedly replace the 35-plus percent of the team's total sacks that departed in free agency.
Matt Judon is now the Ravens' most proven pass-rusher, and he's tallied 19 total sacks in three seasons. But Judon, Ferguson and 2017 second-round pick Tyus Bowser are all going to have to step up their games if the Ravens are going to generate consistent pressure on Baker Mayfield and Ben Roethlisberger this year.
Who Will be Josh Allen's No. 1 Wide Receiver?
To be fair, the Bills are better at wide receiver than they were at the conclusion of the 2018 season. The team added a pair of veteran pass-catchers in free agency in Cole Beasley and John Brown.
But while Josh Allen may have more options at his disposal in the passing game, the Bills still don't have a true No. 1 receiver.
Beasley's a 30-year-old slot receiver who has never had 850 receiving yards in a season. Brown had a 1,000-yard season back in 2015 with the Arizona Cardinals, but last year was just the second time in five years that Brown played in all 16 games. Third-year pro Zay Jones was better in 2018 than the season before, but he remains a work in progress.
There's not a true "go-to" receiver among them—no player who jumps out as a dependable option for Allen to target in big moments.
How Big a Concern is Cam Newton's Shoulder?
The Carolina Panthers absolutely fell apart over the second half of last season, in part because of a drop-off in play from quarterback Cam Newton caused by continued soreness in his throwing shoulder.
Newton had surgery on that shoulder in the offseason, and he recently insisted to ESPN's David Newton that his rehab is going swimmingly.
"I'm feeling great now," Newton said. "I feel like I do have full strength right now. But me telling the doctor, that is different than, you know, whatever the clearance process may be."
However, as Josh Alper reported for Pro Football Talk, Newton has yet to begin throwing, and there isn't a definitive timetable for him to do so. It's also not known if Newton will receive that clearance ahead of training camp.
It's a situation that shares just enough similarities with Andrew Luck's lost 2017 campaign to make a lot of people very nervous.
Why Can't the Bears Find a Kicker?
Kicker is admittedly not the most important position in professional football. But after watching their playoff hopes crushed last year by a double-doink that will live forever in Chicago sports infamy, getting a more dependable kicker was arguably the Bears' biggest offseason priority.
As Colleen Kane reported for the Chicago Tribune, the Bears spent their recent rookie minicamp putting no fewer than eight kickers through the paces. When the dust settled, two (Chris Blewitt and Elliott Fry) remained in the running to kick for the Bears in 2019.
Fry most recently played in the now-defunct AAF, making all 14 of his field-goal attempts for the Orlando Apollos. But over his collegiate career at South Carolina, Fry managed just a 75 percent success rate. Blewitt's was even worse at Pitt—he failed to convert 70 percent of his field-goal attempts in college.
The Bears could still add a veteran later this summer, but for now, this has the makings of a position battle that's equal parts important and uninspiring.
How Big a Liability are the Bengals Linebackers?
The Cincinnati Bengals ranked dead last in the NFL in defense in 2018, allowing a staggering 413.6 yards per game. There were a number of reasons for this face-plant, but one of the biggest was a linebacker corps that struggled with both injuries and poor play.
That cadre of linebackers remains a potential area of weakness for the Bengals. The team brought back veteran Preston Brown, who missed nine games in his first season with the team. Cincinnati also used a third-round pick on Germaine Pratt of North Carolina State.
But while Brown's been a productive player throughout his career, he's no world-beater. Pratt's got talent, but he's an unproven commodity still learning to play linebacker after converting from safety.
The Bengals need Brown and Nick Vigil to stay healthy and for Pratt to be a quick study in the pros. Otherwise, it's apt to be another rotten season defensively for the Bengals.
And a long year for fans in the Queen City.
How Will the Browns Respond to Increased Expectations?
There's something new in Cleveland this year—something that hasn't been seen in the city since the Browns returned to the NFL back in 1999.
Expectations of success.
After a 7-8-1 2018 season and a successful offseason that included the addition of superstar wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr., the Browns have been installed by many as the favorites in the AFC North.
Per WKYC, first-year head coach Freddie Kitchens had an interesting take on those expectations.
"I'm fine with the expectations but those expectations can't be what we're focused on," Kitchens said. "Everybody else, the only reason they're putting expectations on us is to watch us fall. It's the same reason that, when you drive by an accident on the highway, you slow down. It's the same thing. People want to build you up so they can tear you down. They want to build you up so they can watch the crash. That's the excitement for them."
Kitchens can pretend the pressure to perform isn't there this year until he's blue in the face. But wins in Cleveland aren't pleasant surprises anymore. They're expected.
And if the Browns get off to a slow start, it won't take long for the grumbles to start.
Is the Safety Position the Defense's Achilles' Heel?
The Dallas Cowboys are the defending champions of the NFC East and potential Super Bowl contenders in 2019. The team has talent galore on both sides of the ball, whether it's Ezekiel Elliott and Dak Prescott on offense or Demarcus Lawrence and Jaylon Smith on defense.
However, the back end of the Dallas defense could be a problem. Strong safety Jeff Heath is an average talent at best. Free safety Xavier Woods has had both up and down moments. And reserve George Iloka is on his third team in as many years.
Per ESPN's Todd Archer, executive vice president Stephen Jones isn't concerned about the team's talent or depth at safety.
"We felt better than people from the outside looking in feel about our safety position," Jones said. "I've mentioned time and time again that we don't have as much resources allocated to that position, and it is probably not by accident."
That tune may change if opponents start attacking the deep middle with regular success this year.
Does Joe Flacco Have Anything Left?
As Ryan Greene reported for CBS4 in Denver, since arriving in the Mile High City, veteran quarterback Joe Flacco has made quite an impression on Broncos wide receivers like Courtland Sutton.
"I like how much of a teacher he is," said Sutton. "You see him all the time coaching guys up on what he's looking for on certain routes … and also getting feedback from us, where we like the ball lead and what to expect when the ball's coming out, and I really like that and appreciate that."
That's all well and good, but how long Flacco holds off rookie Drew Lock and remains the Broncos starter will depend a lot more on how he throws a football than his ability to mentor young pass-catchers.
Flacco hasn't hit 4,000 passing yards since 2016 and hasn't thrown 25 touchdown passes or posted a passer rating of over 90 since 2014. Unless that trend reverses, it won't be long before fans start clamoring for Lock.
Is This Lions Team Any Better Than Last Year's 6-10 Squad?
After having their worst season since going 4-12 in 2012, there's no shortage of pressure on second-year head coach Matt Patricia to get the Detroit Lions turned around quickly. The Lions added talent in the offseason, whether it was a big-money free agent like Trey Flowers or first-round pick T.J. Hockenson.
And yet, this Lions team doesn't look substantially better than the 2018 iteration. Flowers got $18 million a season despite never having more than 7.5 sacks in a season. Hockenson's a gifted, NFL-ready tight end, but given the team's other needs and the Lions' recent history with Round 1 tight ends, spending a top-10 pick on Hockenson was a curious choice in the eyes of some.
The trenches are still an issue for the Lions on both sides of the ball, and the skill-position talent on offense is the weakest in the division.
In other words, this looks a lot like a last-place team—again.
Green Bay Packers
Will Green Bay's Pass-Rush Spending Spree Pay Off?
It's a new day in Titletown. Though former general manager Ted Thompson made Ebenezer Scrooge look generous where free agency's concerned, Brian Gutekunst hasn't been even a little shy about breaking out the checkbook.
Upgrades on the edge were the priority in 2019, and Thompson doled out $29.5 million per season to secure the services of two of the top pass-rushers available, Washington's Preston Smith and Baltimore's Za'Darius Smith.
The Packers were a respectable eighth in the NFL last year with 44 sacks. If the Smith boys play up to those deals, Green Bay could have one of the best pass rushes in the league.
But neither of those edge-rushers has ever had a 10-sack season, Preston's coming off a down 2018, and the recent history of Ravens players turning breakout years into big deals hasn't been great.
See Kruger, Paul. And McPhee, Pernell.
Will Deshaun Watson Survive the 2019 Season?
The Houston Texans won the AFC South last year and are poised to contend again in 2019. It's a team with young talent on both sides of the ball and one of the most exciting pitch-catch duos in football in Deshaun Watson and DeAndre Hopkins.
However, the Texans also have one glaring problem. The offensive line was horrible last year, surrendering a league-high 62 sacks.
The Texans did make an effort to bolster the line in free agency and the draft. But veteran tackle Matt Kalil is a first-round bust who missed all of the 2018 season, and rookie first-rounder Tytus Howard played collegiately at tiny Alabama State.
Neither those players nor fellow small-school rookie Max Scharping are any kind of sure bet to make a Week 1 impact—or even a 2019 impact.
If they don't, Watson's odds of making it through the season if he takes that sort of punishment again are even worse.
Is it Super Bowl or Bust for the Colts?
After six games of the 2018 season, had you suggested that the Indianapolis Colts would enter the summer of 2019 as arguably the best team in the AFC, you'd have been laughed at—hard.
And yet, here we are.
After peeling off nine wins in 10 games to close out last year before winning a postseason game, the Colts came into the offseason with more cap space than any team in the league. And while they didn't go wacky in free agency, the additions of wide receiver Devin Funchess and edge-rusher Justin Houston could pay dividends.
The Colts then had a fine draft, bringing in more weaponry for Andrew Luck in wide receiver Parris Campbell and improving the secondary with cornerback Rock Ya-Sin.
Only five teams have better odds to win Super Bowl LIV, and the Colts are far and away the favorites to win the AFC South.
But given Luck's so-so postseason record of 4-4 and the talent on this team, just winning the South may not be enough. This is a team that's expected to make a real run at Miami.
Can Nick Foles Save the Day?
After advancing to the AFC Championship Game two years ago, the wheels fell off for the Jacksonville Jaguars in 2018. Coming off that mess, it was the worst-kept secret in the league that the Jags were going to take a hard run at veteran quarterback (and Super Bowl LII MVP) Nick Foles.
Sure enough, the Jaguars got their man, signing Foles to a four-year, $88 million contract that hopefully solved the team's biggest problem and thrust the Jags back into contention.
Here's the thing, though—yes, Foles was great at times for the Philadelphia Eagles the past two years, but he's a sub-.500 quarterback in 12 starts in his other two stops. He struggled with turnovers in 2018, tossing eight picks in seven games (postseason included).
Also, while the Jaguars aren't without talent in the receiving corps, the team doesn't have a true "go-to" receiver.
If the Jags start hot, Foles will be the talk of the town. But if the team struggles out of the gate, the honeymoon could end quickly.
Kansas City Chiefs
Will Kansas City's Awful Defense Doom the Team Again?
The Kansas City Chiefs didn't lose the AFC Championship Game because the NFL's overtime rules aren't fair.
They lost to the Patriots because the team's defense was a dumpster fire.
There have been numerous changes to that defense in the offseason. There's a new scheme and coordinator in Steve Spagnuolo's 4-3. There have been numerous personnel additions, including edge-rusher Frank Clark, safety Tyrann Mathieu, cornerback Bashaud Breeland and rookie safety Juan Thornhill.
There have been losses as well, though. Longtime defensive stalwart Justin Houston is in Indianapolis now. Dee Ford's in San Francisco. Steven Nelson's in Pittsburgh. And Eric Berry is just...gone.
The Chiefs are a different defensive team, but that doesn't mean they are a better defensive team. And unless they are, the hot mess that is the Tyreek Hill situation could be the least of Kansas City's problems.
Los Angeles Chargers
Is the Offensive Line a Potential Problem Area for the Bolts?
The Los Angeles Chargers are a loaded, balanced football team. Whereas the Kansas City Chiefs will all but surely lean on their potent offense again in 2019, the Chargers have just as much talent on defense as offense. A defensive line featuring ends Melvin Ingram and Joey Bosa and rookie three-technique Jerry Tillery is among the best in football.
The offensive line is another story.
Mind you, that line was hardly terrible in 2018—the Chargers ranked inside the top half of the league in pass protection and in the top five in run blocking a year ago, per Football Outsiders. But young linemen like guard Dan Feeney and tackle Sam Tevi were up and down at times in 2018, and the Bolts did little to bolster the unit outside adding a developmental prospect in the draft.
Getting a healthy Forrest Lamp back will help, but the Chargers have had rotten luck with injuries on the O-line in recent years.
The day may come that the team wishes the depth was better in front of Philip Rivers.
Los Angeles Rams
How Bad is Todd Gurley's Knee?
It's been a rough several months for Los Angeles Rams tailback Todd Gurley. After being an MVP candidate for part of the season, Gurley's production fell off a cliff in the playoffs. He was a non-factor in L.A.'s Super Bowl loss, and reports emerged after the season that Gurley has a degenerative arthritic condition in his knee.
As Lindsey Thiry reported for ESPN, Gurley hasn't confirmed those reports—but he also didn't bother to deny them, either.
"All I need to worry about is how I'm feeling right now," Gurley said. "I don't know how I'm going to be feeling six months from now. So like I said, just kind of keep working hard, doing what I've been doing these past couple of years."
If that wasn't enough to give Gurley's fantasy owners a case of the vapors, the Rams not only matched the offer sheet for Malcolm Brown but also traded up in the third round of this year's draft to select Memphis tailback Darrell Henderson.
But still, everything's fine. No need to worry. All is well.
Unless it isn't.
Is Josh Rosen Doomed?
The Miami Dolphins have made it quite clear the team is in the opening stages of a ground-up rebuild—a rebuild the team hopes to have been able to accelerate a little on the cheap with the acquisition of quarterback Josh Rosen for a late second-round pick.
It's a no-risk move. If Rosen plays well, then the Dolphins won't be forced to spend next year's high first-round pick on a quarterback. If he doesn't, Miami really isn't out that much.
That's a good thing because the chances of the No. 10 overall pick in the 2018 draft having a good 2019 season are about as good as your chances of winning Powerball.
The offensive line in Miami is better than the mess Rosen played behind in Arizona last year, but the skill-position talent around him might be the weakest in the league. The Dolphins spent much of the offseason cutting veteran defenders in an effort to free up future cap space.
Rosen may somehow have landed in a worse situation than last year.
And that's hard to do.
Can Kirk Cousins Turn It Around?
Last year, the Minnesota Vikings gave quarterback Kirk Cousins a three-year, fully guaranteed $84 million contract to be the final missing piece in Minny's march to the Super Bowl.
That's not what happened, of course. Cousins' raw numbers were fine, setting career highs in both completion percentage (70.1) and touchdown throws (30). But the Vikings went 8-7-1 and missed the playoffs altogether—reinforcing the notion that Cousins is a stat-padder who shrinks in big games.
Cousins has no shortage of skill-position talent around him, as Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen are as good a wideout duo as you'll find in the league. Minnesota spent its first pick in this year's draft on bettering Cousins' protection with the selection of center Garrett Bradbury. And regardless of what happens with the Vikings this year, Cousins is going to be back in 2020—the Vikings can't afford to eat upward of $30 million in dead money.
But the pressure on Cousins is higher now than ever. If the Vikings miss the playoffs again, he'll join a club no one wants to belong to as one of the biggest free-agent busts ever.
New England Patriots
How Will the Patriots Replace Rob Gronkowski?
The New England Patriots have displayed some annoying qualities over the past two decades. The first has been the team's maddening tendency to win all the time.
Some people. I swear.
The second is an ability to keep winning despite personnel losses. The faces around Tom Brady and Bill Belichick are ever-changing, but the Pats just keep motoring along.
In 2019, the Patriots have to replace last year's starting left tackle and last year's best edge-rusher. But there's another player who left, who is essentially irreplaceable.
Tight end Rob Gronkowski.
It's not just the massive target Gronkowski gave Brady in the passing game. Gronk was a mauling run blocker as well, a key contributor to last year's march to another ring.
That the Patriots spent their first draft pick in 2019 on a big-bodied receiver in Arizona State's N'Keal Harry shows that Belichick knows there's work to do.
But this might finally be a loss the "Patriot Way" can't paper over.
New Orleans Saints
Who Will Step Up at Wide Receiver Opposite Michael Thomas?
In his three NFL seasons, Michael Thomas has become one of the best wideouts in the game. He's improved every year, culminating in a jaw-dropping 125 receptions for 1,405 yards and nine touchdowns in 2018.
However, outside of the former Ohio State standout, the cupboard's pretty bare at wide receiver in the Big Easy. There isn't a wide receiver on the roster in New Orleans who had even 30 catches last year, and for whatever reason, the Saints didn't do much to upgrade the pass-catchers in this year's draft.
This isn't to say the Saints did nothing—after a career year in Oakland, veteran tight end Jared Cook joined the team in free agency. And Alvin Kamara remains one of the most dangerous pass-catching backs in the sport.
But with New Orleans' sights firmly set on the Super Bowl, it would be of great help if somebody were to step up to draw at least a modicum of coverage away from Thomas.
New York Giants
What is The Plan?
There hasn't been an offseason that has been more pilloried than that of the New York Giants. But as ESPN's Jordan Ranaan reported, team co-owner Steve Tisch insisted there is a plan in place for rebuilding the NFC East cellar-dwellers in 2018.
"We know where we need to build certain positions," Tisch said. "[General manager] Dave [Gettleman] has a plan. He discusses it with [coach] Pat [Shurmur]. Pat has a plan. He discusses it with Dave. There is a plan."
That plan is either so Machiavellian that mere mortals can't comprehend it or simply terrible—because little the G-Men have done this offseason makes sense.
The final haul for trading wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr.? Defensive tackle Dexter Lawrence, safety Jabrill Peppers and edge-rusher Oshane Ximenes—oh, and a $37 million contract for an aging wideout (Golden Tate) signed to replace OBJ.
The selection of Duke quarterback Daniel Jones at No. 6 overall was a reach in the eyes of most. The Giants got better on the offensive line with Kevin Zeitler, but that trade with Cleveland cost New York its best edge-rusher in Olivier Vernon.
Maybe the plan is that you have to get worse before you can better.
Because the Giants are just that—worse.
New York Jets
Can Sam Darnold Take a Second-Year Step?
There weren't many teams in the league that were busier this offseason than the New York Jets. In free agency, the Jets shelled out big money to add potential impact players in tailback Le'Veon Bell and inside linebacker C.J. Mosley.
In the 2019 draft, the Jets used the No. 3 overall pick to bring in a player some thought to be the top overall prospect in the class in Alabama defensive lineman Quinnen Williams.
There were also secondary signings like wide receiver Jamison Crowder and later-round draft picks like Florida edge-rusher Jachai Poilte.
On paper at least, this Jets team looks significantly better than last year's model. But all the signings and picks aren't going to matter unless the team's young quarterback gets better too.
Sam Darnold showed flashes as a rookie. But he was inconsistent and prone to turning the ball over.
If Darnold can cut down on the mistakes and level out those ups and downs, the Jets could be a surprisingly tough out in 2019.
Who's Going to Rush the Passer?
The Oakland Raiders had just a bit of trouble in 2018 when it came to sacking opposing quarterbacks. The Raiders were dead last in the NFL in sacks by a staggering margin, with just 13 for the season.
There were six players in the NFL who had more by themselves than Oakland had as a team.
The Raiders addressed that non-existent pass rush with their first of three first-rounders in the 2019 draft. And to be fair, Clemson's Clelin Ferrell is a tough two-way defensive end who should be a fine pro. But asking a first-year edge-rusher to carry the day is one tall order.
The problem is that there's not a lot behind him. End Arden Key and tackle Maurice Hurst are unproven youngsters who combined for five sacks in 2018. Veteran Benson Mayowa is a journeyman with 13 sacks over six seasons.
The Raiders may pile up more than 13 sacks in 2019, but Oakland remains the odds-on favorite to bring up the rear in that category again.
Can Carson Wentz Stay on the Field?
The Philadelphia Eagles have had quite a bit of success in the playoffs in recent years. An upset of the Bears in Chicago last year. A march to a Super Bowl title in 2017. Philly's a talented team on both sides of the ball with a young franchise quarterback in Carson Wentz who was an MVP front-runner two years ago.
That great season was ended by an ACL tear. Last year, it was an injured back. None of those playoff successes came with Wentz in the game—and now the quarterback who was (Nick Foles) is in Jacksonville.
Wentz told Evan Macy of the Philly Voice that his rehab is going well, although he still has a way to go.
"I am throwing some, running some and I feel good," he said. "There's really no time table, no rush. I feel good with the progression."
The 2019 Eagles will go as far as Wentz takes them—and he can't take them anywhere from the sideline.
Who Will Help Out JuJu Smith-Schuster?
In the days and weeks leading up to the 2019 NFL draft, this would have been a different question. But Pittsburgh's 10-spot move up in Round 1 of the draft to select Michigan's Devin Bush went a long way toward addressing the void at inside linebacker for the Steelers.
So now, it's a matter of figuring out who's going to be the top sidekick for the Steelers' new No. 1 receiver.
JuJu Smith-Schuster broke out in a big way a year ago, reeling in 111 passes and topping 1,400 yards. But as talented as he is, Smith-Schuster also benefitted from Antonio Brown drawing coverage away from him.
Whether it's veteran Donte Moncrief, second-year pro James Washington or rookie Diontae Johnson, someone's going to have to keep opponents honest across from Smith-Schuster.
Otherwise, Smith-Schuster's third season is going to feature a ton of safety help and bracket coverage. And last year's production is going to be a hard bar to clear in 2019.
San Francisco 49ers
How Good Can These 49ers Be?
A year ago at this time, the San Francisco 49ers were getting a lot of run as a dark-horse playoff contender. Quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo had peeled off a hot streak to end the 2017 season, and general manager John Lynch was aggressive in adding talent around him.
Then injuries swept through the team like wildfire, and the season came off the rails.
The silver lining to that disaster was the No. 2 overall pick in the NFL draft—a pick the Niners used on Ohio State edge-rusher Nick Bosa. Paired with fellow new arrival Dee Ford, the 49ers now have five first-round draft picks on the defensive front.
There's plenty to like on offense as well. Tailback Tevin Coleman joined the 49ers in free agency. Second-round pick Deebo Samuel is one of the more NFL-ready wideouts in this class. Tight end George Kittle was a revelation for the team during last year's nightmare.
Maybe all that hype wasn't misplaced so much as premature.
What Will Seattle's WR Corps Look Like?
It seems that with each passing season, the Seattle Seahawks are becoming less and less what people had come to expect since Russell Wilson was drafted.
Oh, Wilson's still there. But the vast majority of the stalwarts from the team's Super Bowl trips are gone. Earl Thomas joined the Baltimore Ravens in free agency. As Andy Benoit and Gary Gramling reported for the MMQB, veteran wideout Doug Baldwin may have played his last NFL game because of injuries.
The Seahawks certainly appear to be more than a little worried. The team used a pair of draft picks on receivers, including a second-rounder on DK Metcalf of Ole Miss.
In theory, Metcalf has the size, speed and athletic ability to be a No. 1 receiver in the NFL. But he's far from a finished product. Much the same can be said about fourth-rounder Gary Jennings, although he's more possession receiver than burner.
Combined with 2018 breakout Tyler Lockett, it's a receiving corps long on talent—and short on NFL resume.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Will it be Make or Break for Jameis Winston in 2019?
To say that this is a big season for Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston is an understatement. Playing under the fifth-year option, Winston has one more opportunity to show he was worth the No. 1 overall pick in the 2015 draft. One more chance to show he's the long-term answer under center for the Buccaneers.
One more chance to earn a contract that will sail past $100 million like it's standing still.
In fairness, Winston's had his moments—his completion percentage has increased every year he's played, and he would appear a good fit for the vertical passing offense of new Tampa head coach Bruce Arians.
But Winston has also thrown 58 career interceptions in 54 career starts and is 12 games under .500 as the team's starter with zero playoff trips. For every good throw, there's been a bad one.
Both Winston and the Buccaneers are at a crossroads in 2019. And the path they take in the upcoming season could impact the franchise for years to come.
Where Will the Pass Rush Come From?
It was tempting to mention the presence of two veteran first-round quarterbacks in Nashville (and the controversy that could cause) as the biggest post-draft question facing the team. But Mike Vrabel continues to insist that Marcus Mariota (if healthy) is the unquestioned starter, so I'll hold off until October when the Titans are 2-3 or 1-4 and everyone starts yelling for Ryan Tannehill.
Besides, Tennessee might have a bigger problem than who plays QB.
The Titans surprisingly did very little to improve the pass rush after losing Derrick Morgan and Brian Orakpo in the offseason. First-round pick Jeffery Simmons should eventually be a force on the inside, but he's going to miss his rookie season after tearing his ACL.
Free-agent addition Cameron Wake has had a great career, but he's 37 and started looking his age last year. Second-year pro Harold Landry is a work in progress after 4.5 sacks as a rookie. Outside of defensive end Jurrell Casey, the Titans have one returning player who had five sacks in 2018—inside linebacker Jayon Brown.
If Landry doesn't improve substantially in 2019, the Titans have problems.
How Long Until We See Dwayne Haskins?
By most objective measures, the Washington Redskins had a good 2019 draft. The team added potential impact players on both sides of the ball in quarterback Dwayne Haskins and edge-rusher Montez Sweat.
Of course, no sooner had the Redskins drafted Haskins at No. 15 overall than the big question around Washington shifted from Will the Redskins draft a quarterback this year? to When will Haskins make his first start for the Redskins?
The Redskins have a capable bridge starter in veteran Case Keenum, and with just 14 collegiate starts under his belt, Haskins doesn't impress as being especially pro-ready.
But it's a lot easier to preach patience and caution in May. If Haskins shows well in OTAs and training camp, the calls for him to start are going to happen. Ditto if Keenum struggles at any point.
It's the latter that's going to be key. Assuming Keenum starts the 2019 season as the team's starting quarterback, he'll keep the job as long as he keeps the Redskins competitive in the NFC East.