Projecting Every NFL Team's Starting Lineup for 2019
After a busy NFL offseason, it's time to start projecting what will happen on the field. Rosters are nearly set since there are few impactful players still on the free-agent and trade markets, so we can have some confidence in forecasting the season.
The majority of teams work in 11 personnel offenses (one running back and one tight end) and nickel defenses (a 4-2 with a fifth defensive back), which is how we determined the lineups.
Taking into account injuries, suspensions and unsettled positional battles, these are our projections for what we'll see in Week 1.
Offense: QB Kyler Murray, RB David Johnson, WR Larry Fitzgerald, WR Christian Kirk, WR Andy Isabella, TE Charles Clay, LT D.J. Humphries, LG J.R. Sweezy, C Mason Cole, RG Justin Pugh, RT Marcus Gilbert
Defense: DL Corey Peters, DL Darius Philon, DL Zach Allen, ED Chandler Jones, ED Terrell Suggs, LB Haason Reddick, LB Jordan Hicks, CB Patrick Peterson, CB Robert Alford, S Budda Baker, S D.J. Swearinger Sr.
Changes came quickly for the Arizona Cardinals after they hired Kliff Kingsbury as their head coach. Their status as the worst team in the NFL after a disastrous 2018 campaign led to several key veteran signings who will serve as stopgaps. Charles Clay, Marcus Gilbert, Terrell Suggs and Robert Alford will plug what were weaknesses.
The Cardinals now have depth, even if all but Suggs brings their own issues with effectiveness and decline. There will be battles for playing time at receiver, at tight end, along the defensive line and within the secondary.
The key offensive struggle to watch is second-round pick Andy Isabella, Chad Williams and fourth-round pick Hakeem Butler for the third and fourth receiver roles. Each is a vertical receiver, but Williams and Butler are bigger bodies who can play inside or out, while the smaller Isabella is more of an outside threat despite his size. The first receiver to establish a rapport with Kyler Murray can secure a valuable starting role in Kingsbury's spread offense.
Defense: DL Grady Jarrett, DL Deadrin Senat, ED Vic Beasley Jr., ED Takkarist McKinley, LB Deion Jones, LB De'Vondre Campbell, CB Desmond Trufant, CB Isaiah Oliver, S Damontae Kazee, S Keanu Neal, S Ricardo Allen
The Atlanta Falcons already possess an established offense, so they had just two needs for the unit this offseason: right guard and right tackle. They not only addressed those positions but also treated them as dire weaknesses by using first-round picks to acquire Chris Lindstrom and Kaleb McGary. If they live up to expectations as Year 1 starters, the offense should again be perched near the top of the league.
There's a little more uncertainty on the defensive side but not much. Grady Jarrett, Deion Jones and Keanu Neal are stars, and veterans Vic Beasley Jr. and Desmond Trufant need to get back to that level after down years. Young defenders Deadrin Senat and Takkarist McKinley will be asked to fulfill their draft expectations as well.
The unit must also flesh out playing time at cornerback. Isaiah Oliver, a 2018 second-rounder, and Kendall Sheffield, a 2019 fourth-rounder, will have chances to earn starting jobs. Both are athletes who lack the technical refinement to be reliable contributors at this early juncture. If either develops, they can lock in a job.
Offense: QB Lamar Jackson, RB Mark Ingram II, FB Patrick Ricard, WR Marquise Brown, WR Willie Snead IV, TE Mark Andrews, LT Ronnie Stanley, LG Alex Lewis, C Matt Skura, RG Marshal Yanda, RT Orlando Brown Jr.
Defense: DL Brandon Williams, DL Chris Wormley, DL Michael Pierce, LB Matthew Judon, LB Kenny Young, LB Patrick Onwuasor, CB Jimmy Smith, CB Marlon Humphrey, CB Tavon Young, S Tony Jefferson, S Earl Thomas III
Joe Flacco passed the torch to Lamar Jackson last season, and the Baltimore Ravens fully embraced Jackson's unique skill set. While his progression as a passer will be a major talking point, what's around him is just as important. The Ravens are deep with similar tight ends but must determine which of their young receivers are reliable.
Marquise Brown can be an explosive weapon, and Miles Boykin has the athleticism to blossom as well. Veteran Willie Snead IV should have a leg up on unproven options Chris Moore and Jordan Lasley thanks to his route running, ability to play in the slot and reliable hands. But he's not a long-term fix because of his limited burst and explosiveness.
The defense is rebuilding but has incredible talent in the secondary. The battles for playing time at linebacker and pass-rusher will be critical, as Tim Williams, Tyus Bowser and Jaylon Ferguson each could grab a major role. Their performance across from Matthew Judon is the single most important defensive question that must be answered.
Offense: QB Josh Allen, RB Lesean McCoy, WR John Brown, WR Zay Jones, WR Cole Beasley, TE Tyler Kroft, LT Dion Dawkins, LG Wyatt Teller, C Mitch Morse, RG Cody Ford, RT Ty Nsekhe
Defense: DL Ed Oliver, DL Star Lotulelei, ED Trent Murphy, ED Jerry Hughes, LB Matt Milano, LB Tremaine Edmunds, LB Lorenzo Alexander, CB Tre'Davious White, CB E.J. Gaines, S Jordan Poyer, S Micah Hyde
No team was busier than the Buffalo Bills when it comes to revamping a roster with new starters. Their dreadful offense will at least feature much different personnel this season, and they should get a nice boost because of that. At least six positions will be manned by a newcomer.
The positional battles on offense include receiver, as either Zay Jones or Robert Foster can land a starting job. Also look to left guard, where Wyatt Teller played well as a rookie but has limited experience. Veteran Quinton Spain struggled with the Tennessee Titans but has a fresh start with Buffalo in an open competition.
The defense is much more settled with established talent. The second cornerback position could be a weakness despite the scheme protecting the position via linebacker and safety help. Veterans E.J. Gaines and Kevin Johnson will try to fight off second-year corner Levi Wallace to become the team's No. 2 corner.
Offense: QB Cam Newton, RB Christian McCaffrey, WR DJ Moore, WR Curtis Samuel, WR Chris Hogan, TE Greg Olsen, LT Taylor Moton, LG Greg Van Roten, C Matt Paradis, RG Trai Turner, RT Daryl Williams
Defense: DL Kawann Short, DL Dontari Poe, ED Brian Burns, ED Mario Addison, LB Luke Kuechly, LB Shaq Thompson, LB Christian Miller, CB James Bradberry, CB Donte Jackson, S Rashaan Gaulden, S Eric Reid
There were two iterations of the 2018 Carolina Panthers, with the 6-2 version showing the upside of a Cam Newton-Christian McCaffrey tandem. But the downfall came quickly as Newton's shoulder injury crippled the offense. The lack of impactful acquisitions besides center Matt Paradis shows the franchise has faith Newton will be healthy enough to get the team back on track in 2019.
The offense is mostly ready to go, only needing to clear up which mediocre veteran will assume the third receiver role. Chris Hogan is the best pure slot receiver, while Torrey Smith and Jarius Wright are middling options who lack the efficiency and well-roundedness needed for the unit to take the next step. It's a major weakness of the offense.
Things are more interesting on defense, as Brian Burns and Christian Miller will inject pass-rusher talent. The battles for slot cornerback and safety jobs are the biggest storylines, with veteran Ross Cockrell and second-year safety Rashaan Gaulden looking like the front-runners for each spot. Watch for 2018 undrafted free-agent Quin Blanding to push Gaulden even though the team has less capital invested in him. Blanding is more of a roaming presence in coverage than Gaulden.
Offense: QB Mitch Trubisky, RB Tarik Cohen, WR Allen Robinson II, WR Taylor Gabriel, WR Anthony Miller, TE Trey Burton, LT Charles Leno Jr., LG James Daniels, C Cody Whitehair, RG Kyle Long, RT Bobby Massie
Defense: DL Eddie Goldman, DL Akiem Hicks, ED Khalil Mack, ED Leonard Floyd, LB Roquan Smith, LB Danny Trevathan, CB Kyle Fuller, CB Prince Amukamara, CB Buster Skrine, S Eddie Jackson, S Ha Ha Clinton-Dix
The Chicago Bears have one of the best rosters in the NFL, which allowed them to address depth and future needs in the draft more than trying to plug gaps. That means there will be few camp battles of consequence. That's a reflection of general manager Ryan Pace's doing well in recent offseasons.
The key battle for snaps on offense will come at running back, as incumbent Tarik Cohen is easily the most explosive presence. Veteran Mike Davis and rookie David Montgomery are better interior runners but pale in comparison with Cohen's fit in the passing game. Though Cohen may not end the season with the most carries, he'll be a go-to in clutch situations because of his ability to create.
The defense is nearly set. The line rotation will again be stout as Bilal Nichols and Jonathan Bullard spell each other, and linebacker Nick Kwiatkoski returns as one of the best linebackers in the NFL who's not a full-time starter. The secondary appears set as well, as big money has been handed out to veterans Kyle Fuller, Prince Amukamara and Buster Skrine.
Defense: DL Geno Atkins, DL Andrew Billings, ED Carlos Dunlap, ED Jordan Willis, LB Nick Vigil, LB Preston Brown, LB Jordan Evans, CB William Jackson III, CB Dre Kirkpatrick, S Shawn Williams, S Jessie Bates III
The Cincinnati Bengals have been a frustrating franchise in recent years, as they've done well to add valuable playmakers in recent drafts but have failed to augment their roster in free agency. There's also a lack of creativity and willingness to move on from older archetypes. We'll find out soon if new head coach Zac Taylor will buck that trend or if the organization as a whole is still lacking.
The offense has solid playmakers with A.J. Green, Joe Mixon, Tyler Boyd and John Ross. They should consider Ross' success in the red zone (five of his seven touchdowns) and immense speed. Tight end Tyler Eifert was also a wise buy-low, high-ceiling risk. The biggest question is whether the team will kick first-round pick Jonah Williams inside to guard so it can play recently extended tackle Bobby Hart.
The defense also has a few questions. Despite issues in the past with athleticism at linebacker, the team re-signed plodder Preston Brown via a three-year deal. The unit's upside would be much higher if it can sneak Germaine Pratt or Malik Jefferson onto the field, as both possess much better range and coverage talent than the run-stuffing Brown.
Offense: QB Baker Mayfield, RB Nick Chubb, WR Odell Beckham Jr., WR Jarvis Landry, WR Rashard Higgins, TE David Njoku, LT Greg Robinson, LG Joel Bitonio, C JC Tretter, RG Austin Corbett, RT Chris Hubbard
Defense: DL Larry Ogunjobi, DL Sheldon Richardson, ED Myles Garrett, ED Olivier Vernon, LB Joe Schobert, LB Genard Avery, LB Christian Kirksey, CB Denzel Ward, CB Terrance Mitchell, S Damarious Randall, S Morgan Burnett
It took only two offseasons for Cleveland Browns general manager John Dorsey to build one of the best starting lineups in the NFL. His acquisitions of Odell Beckham Jr. and Olivier Vernon were steals and helped bolster two needs at impactful positions. And don't sleep on tackle Sheldon Richardson's presence, as he's a fantastic interior defender.
How the Browns will divvy up snaps at running back with Duke Johnson Jr. behind Nick Chubb will be interesting, and the issue will flair up when Kareem Hunt is back from his eight-game suspension. Johnson could be used more as a receiver, but the Browns are deep there as well, meaning a trade could make sense for the explosive veteran. Chubb and Hunt will be one of the elite duos in the NFL.
The cornerback situation is one to watch, as second-round pick Greedy Williams was a steal. Defensive coordinator Steve Wilks will need to show adaptability after he ran so much zone in Arizona last year. He has two press specialists in Williams and Terrance Mitchell, who will compete for a starting gig across from Denzel Ward. The rest of the unit appears set with starting roles and young backups looking to position themselves as the future.
Offense: QB Dak Prescott, RB Ezekiel Elliott, WR Amari Cooper, WR Michael Gallup, WR Randall Cobb, TE Jason Witten, LT Tyron Smith, LG Connor Williams, C Travis Frederick, RG Zack Martin, RT La'el Collins
Defense: DL Maliek Collins, DL Antwaun Woods, ED Demarcus Lawrence, ED Robert Quinn, LB Leighton Vander Esch, LB Jaylon Smith, CB Byron Jones, CB Chidobe Awuzie, CB Anthony Brown, S Xavier Woods, S Jeff Heath
The Dallas Cowboys entered last season with an unproven roster. Many players had to step into bigger roles, but the Cowboys' playoff appearance reflected how well the team reacted to the opportunity.
This season will feature most of the same faces in the starting lineup. New additions slot receiver Randall Cobb, veteran Jason Witten and pass-rusher Robert Quinn are clear starters, but the rest of the roster remains intact. Backups Connor McGovern, Mike Weber Jr., Christian Covington and George Iloka will also bolster the team's depth.
Training camp will mostly be about determining the roles of backups and how much they'll rotate into the lineup. Because the Cowboys have a good blend of established veterans and blossoming young talent with experience, their upside will be tied to the development of Chidobe Awuzie, Maliek Collins, Jaylon Smith and Dak Prescott come along. If they hit their peaks, this team can compete with any.
Offense: QB Joe Flacco, RB Phillip Lindsay, WR Courtland Sutton, WR Emmanuel Sanders, WR DaeSean Hamilton, TE Noah Fant, LT Garett Bolles, LG Ron Leary, C Connor McGovern, RG Dalton Risner, RT Ja'Wuan James
Defense: DL Adam Gotsis, DL Shelby Harris, DL Derek Wolfe, ED Von Miller, ED Bradley Chubb, LB Josey Jewell, LB Todd Davis, CB Kareem Jackson, CB Chris Harris Jr., S Justin Simmons, S Will Parks
The Denver Broncos quietly built one of the more interesting and high-upside offenses minus the quarterback position with their work this offseason. The additions of offensive linemen Dalton Risner and Ja'Wuan James give them one of the most athletic groups in the league and should shore up a unit that struggled to stay healthy last year. This will only help star running back Phillip Lindsay continue his ascent.
Joe Flacco will be the key factor. He'll need to be a solid starter for the Broncos to compete in the deep AFC West, but he has the weapons to be one as Courtland Sutton, DaeSean Hamilton and Noah Fant are oozing with talent. It will become an even stronger group if Emmanuel Sanders can get back to 100 percent after a torn Achilles.
The defense doesn't offer the same clarity, as star corner Chris Harris Jr.'s status is up in the air following his demand for a new contract. Losing him would leave the unproven Isaac Yiadom to start. Also look for defensive tackles Dre'Mont Jones and DeMarcus Walker to push Adam Gotsis and Shelby Harris for snaps in sub-packages since both are penetrators who can help the pass rush.
Offense: QB Matthew Stafford, RB Kerryon Johnson, WR Kenny Golladay, WR Marvin Jones Jr., TE Jesse James, TE T.J. Hockenson, LT Taylor Decker, LG Frank Ragnow, C Graham Glasgow, RG Kenny Wiggins, RT Rick Wagner
Defense: DL Damon Harrison Sr., DL A'Shawn Robinson, ED Trey Flowers, ED Romeo Okwara, LB Jarrad Davis, LB Devon Kennard, LB Christian Jones, CB Darius Slay, CB Justin Coleman, S Quandre Diggs, S Will Harris
One of the big spenders this offseason was surprisingly the Detroit Lions. They cashed in to plug major weaknesses, and on paper, this is a much better team. Detroit can throw out several looks on both sides of the ball, which will make it a tough matchup.
The key battle on offense is at right guard, as Kenny Wiggins and Tyrell Crosby are the best candidates for the final line spot. The rest of the unit is at least average if not one of the better pass-blocking groups in the league. Crosby may offer more as a run-blocker than the stoic Wiggins.
The defense must clean up some of the questions about the back seven. Second-round linebacker Jahlani Tavai can push Christian Jones for his starting role since he's a more athletic and rangy option. Also, the second safety position will be a toss-up between 2019 third-round pick Will Harris and veteran Miles Killebrew.
Harris is a much more versatile coverage option than Killebrew—almost like a supercharged Tavon Wilson—than he is comparable to the box safety mold.
Green Bay Packers
Offense: QB Aaron Rodgers, RB Aaron Jones, WR Davante Adams, WR Marquez Valdes-Scantling, WR Geronimo Allison, TE Jimmy Graham, LT David Bakhtiari, LG Lane Taylor, C Corey Linsley, RG Billy Turner, RT Bryan Bulaga
Defense: DL Kenny Clark, DL Mike Daniels, ED Za'Darius Smith, ED Preston Smith, LB Blake Martinez, LB Kyler Fackrell, CB Jaire Alexander, CB Kevin King, S Darnell Savage, S Adrian Amos, S Josh Jones
While the Green Bay Packers devoted almost all their offseason assets toward revamping their defense, they left the offense basically untouched. The same playmakers are back, and the two significant additions of Elgton Jenkins and Jace Sternberger will surely be backups. Right guard Billy Turner was the only starter added, and he's a mediocre talent.
A breakout by one of the team's young receivers would change the outlook of the unit, though. Equanimeous St. Brown, Geronimo Allison, Trevor Davis and J'Mon Moore are fighting for the team's third receiver role, but each has flaws that hold them back. This is a worrisome issue because the team lacks star power around Davante Adams.
The defense should be a strength. Having Dean Lowry, Josh Jackson and Rashan Gary as rotational players instead of starters speaks to the impressive depth of the unit. It's likely the secondary's depth will be deployed often since the Packers have three quality safeties in Darnell Savage, Adrian Amos and Josh Jones.
Offense: QB Deshaun Watson, RB Lamar Miller, WR DeAndre Hopkins, WR Will Fuller V, WR Keke Coutee, TE Ryan Griffin, LT Tytus Howard, LG Senio Kelemete, C Nick Martin, RG Zach Fulton, RT Seantrel Henderson
Defense: DL J.J. Watt, DL D.J. Reader, DL Brandon Dunn, ED Jadeveon Clowney, ED Whitney Mercilus, LB Zach Cunningham, LB Benardrick McKinney, CB Johnathan Joseph, CB Bradley Roby, S Justin Reid, S Tashaun Gipson Sr.
There may not have been a more disappointing offseason that the Houston Texans', especially considering what's at stake and their available assets. Despite being armed with more than $70 million in cap space entering free agency, the Texans signed only one notable player in Bradley Roby and downgraded from Tyrann Mathieu to Tashaun Gipson Sr. The Texans failed to upgrade an already thin offense.
As a result, the Texans will have several battles at key positions on offense. They must find viable second and third receivers as Will Fuller V returns from a torn ACL and Keke Coutee comes off an injury-ridden season. There's a lack of certainty behind DeAndre Hopkins.
The offensive line must also be sorted out. First-round tackle Tytus Howard and second-round lineman Max Scharping can compete right away despite being raw because the incumbents are inadequate.
At least there's more clarity on the defensive side. Aaron Colvin should be able to win the starting nickel corner job, and 2019 second-round pick Lonnie Johnson Jr. will fight to earn rotational snaps with Johnathan Joseph. The remainder of the unit looks set and comprises a strong starting lineup.
Offense: QB Andrew Luck, RB Marlon Mack, WR T.Y. Hilton, WR Devin Funchess, WR Parris Campbell, TE Eric Ebron, LT Anthony Castonzo, LG Quenton Nelson, C Ryan Kelly, RG Mark Glowinski, RT Braden Smith
Defense: DL Denico Autry, DL Margus Hunt, ED Jabaal Sheard, ED Tyquan Lewis, LB Justin Houston, LB Darius Leonard, LB Anthony Walker, CB Pierre Desir, CB Kenny Moore II, S Malik Hooker, S Clayton Geathers
The team that has easily benefitted the most in terms of optimism and projection since last year's iteration of this article is the Indianapolis Colts. Numerous players on both sides of the ball outperformed expectations thanks to a new coaching staff and individual growth. The Colts maximized their collective talent and elevated their play to strengthen the team.
The offense appears set, as T.Y. Hilton and Devin Funchess are two talented receivers to go with Eric Ebron and Jack Doyle. Second-round pick Parris Campbell brings pure speed and upside as a gadget player, which will allow him to separate from Chester Rogers and Daurice Fountain. The offensive line is also returning all five starters, with running back Marlon Mack behind them.
Because so many of the team's draft assets were allocated to the defense, expect more competition and camp battles. Second-round pass-rusher Ben Banogu and cornerback Rock Ya-Sin should be high-end rotational pieces if not starters, and second-year pass-rusher Kemoko Turay has upside to become a starter over Tyquan Lewis or Jabaal Sheard. Expect a fierce battle in the trenches with playing time available.
Offense: QB Nick Foles, RB Leonard Fournette, WR Dede Westbrook, WR Marqise Lee, WR Chris Conley, TE Josh Oliver, LT Cam Robinson, LG Andrew Norwell, C Brandon Linder, RG A.J. Cann, RT Jawaan Taylor
Defense: DL Calais Campbell, DL Marcell Dareus, DL Abry Jones, ED Yannick Ngakoue, ED Josh Allen, LB Myles Jack, CB Jalen Ramsey, CB A.J. Bouye, CB D.J. Hayden, S Ronnie Harrison, S Jarrod Wilson
Two years removed from having an elite defense and an offense that was seemingly just a piece or two away from making the team a Super Bowl threat, the Jacksonville Jaguars appear to be a shell of that situation. Both the offense and defense are transitioning after failed heavy spending and costly cuts slashed the roster's talent. The highest ceiling for this team looks like mediocrity unless Nick Foles is much better than the roller coaster he provided even in Philadelphia.
The offense has talent at receiver but no clear star nor a path to one. Second-year receiver DJ Chark Jr. has a special skill set but is unproven and behind veterans who've shown enough flashes to earn the first looks. Tight end is weak overall with former Cowboy Geoff Swaim having to beat out third-round rookie Josh Oliver.
The defense has enough talent to be a difference-maker even after the loss of Telvin Smith Sr. Taven Bryan, a first-rounder in 2018, must earn playing time for the unit to reach its upside, but that won't be an easy task with Calais Campbell and Marcell Dareus likely to win starting snaps. The other position to watch is free safety, as Jarrod Wilson and Cody Davis are uninspiring starting options.
Kansas City Chiefs
Offense: QB Patrick Mahomes, RB Damien Williams, WR Sammy Watkins, WR Demarcus Robinson, WR Mecole Hardman, TE Travis Kelce, LT Eric Fisher, LG Cam Erving, C Austin Reiter, RG Laurent Duvernay-Tardif, RT Mitchell Schwartz
Defense: DL Chris Jones, DL Derrick Nnadi, ED Alex Okafor, ED Frank Clark, LB Reggie Ragland, LB Anthony Hitchens, CB Bashaud Breeland, CB Charvarius Ward, CB Kendall Fuller, S Juan Thornhill, S Tyrann Mathieu
The Kansas City Chiefs' offseason looked like a mess until they acquired star pass-rusher Frank Clark. They shedded long-term salary and aging talent for more versatile and healthier bodies on defense, which could make the unit at least worthy of playing with one of the league's best offenses. But there are question marks on both sides of the ball.
The Chiefs must prepare for life without Tyreek Hill until they learn whether he will be suspended. Speedsters Mecole Hardman and Demarcus Robinson are unknowns and unlikely to replace Hill by themselves, but the duo may do enough to keep the offense humming. Their battle will be the biggest storyline for the offensive starters.
The defense will need to unearth a starting end across from Clark in either Emmanuel Ogbah and Alex Okafor. It should also be a priority to develop Dorian O'Daniel, a third-round pick in 2018, as his coverage skills will be valuable against contenders with elite weapons. He'll need to win snaps from Reggie Ragland in nickel formations.
On the back end, there's the safety matter, as second-rounder Juan Thornhill appears perfectly built to complement Tyrann Mathieu. But Jordan Lucas and Armani Watts are talented enough to earn roles too, so keep an eye on that competition.
Los Angeles Chargers
Offense: QB Philip Rivers, RB Melvin Gordon III, WR Keenan Allen, WR Mike Williams, WR Travis Benjamin, TE Hunter Henry, LT Russell Okung, LG Dan Feeney, C Mike Pouncey, RG Michael Schofield III, RT Sam Tevi
Defense: DL Jerry Tillery, DL Brandon Mebane, ED Joey Bosa, ED Melvin Ingram III, LB Jatavis Brown, LB Thomas Davis Sr., LB Denzel Perryman, CB Casey Hayward, CB Trevor Williams, S Nasir Adderley, S Derwin James
Arguably the best roster in the NFL belongs to the Los Angeles Chargers when factoring in playmaking depth, upside and their ability to rotate in potential solutions. It's not a perfect roster thanks to question marks at middle linebacker and cornerback, but few teams offer the same individual talent. That starts with a powerful offense.
The offense is complete with Hunter Henry back from his torn ACL. Quarterback Philip Rivers is coming off one of his finest seasons thanks to the plethora of receivers and backs at his disposal. And the offensive line additions over the last three years have been tremendous (Mike Pouncey, Dan Feeney and Sam Tevi).
The defense only had a few openings to address this offseason. Defensive tackle Jerry Tillery will add to a deep group in the trenches, and safety Nasir Adderley is a rangy option to complement Derwin James and Adrian Phillips. The biggest spot—despite the lack of competition—with a question mark is Denzel Perryman, who is coming off another injury-shortened season.
Los Angeles Rams
Offense: QB Jared Goff, RB Todd Gurley II, WR Robert Woods, WR Brandin Cooks, WR Cooper Kupp, TE Gerald Everett, LT Andrew Whitworth, LG Joseph Noteboom, C Brian Allen, RG Austin Blythe, RT Rob Havenstein
Defense: DL Aaron Donald, DL Michael Brockers, DL Tanzel Smart, ED Dante Fowler Jr., ED Samson Ebukam, LB Cory Littleton, LB Clay Matthews, CB Marcus Peters, CB Aqib Talib, S John Johnson III, S Eric Weddle
There's always an exodus after a Super Bowl run because talent gets expensive and tough decisions have to be made. The Los Angeles Rams fell victim to the cap crunch as several key veterans walked away, but they had properly prepared in previous offseasons with a contingency plan. Even as several new starters are set to take over, there won't be many positional battles.
The tight end position is the biggest starting job up for grabs. Gerald Everett led the group in production last year and should have a leg up on Tyler Higbee even though each brings something different to the unit. Everett is not quite the blocker but is more explosive post-catch and more of a mismatch in coverage.
The defense must replace Ndamukong Suh, and Tanzel Smart or Sebastian Joseph-Day appears to be in line for the nose tackle spot. Everyone else will be looking to establish themselves as a primary backup for 2019 and potential starter for 2020 after more veterans are recycled. Watch for second-round pick Taylor Rapp to earn significant snaps even if he won't start over John Johnson III.
Offense: QB Josh Rosen, RB Kenyan Drake, WR Kenny Stills, WR DeVante Parker, WR Jakeem Grant, TE Mike Gesicki, LT Laremy Tunsil, LG Michael Deiter, C Daniel Kilgore, RG Jesse Davis, RT Jordan Mills
Defense: DL Christian Wilkins, DL Davon Godchaux, ED Charles Harris, ED Tank Carradine, LB Jerome Baker, LB Raekwon McMillan, LB Kiko Alonso, CB Xavien Howard, CB Bobby McCain, S Reshad Jones, S Minkah Fitzpatrick
The Miami Dolphins are expected to be a bad team, as they cleaned house this offseason in search of a proper rebuild. There are still talented players who can help them, but their margin to win will be more affected by quality coaching and breakout youngsters than anything else. Expect competition to be rampant.
It starts at quarterback, as the team swapped a second-round and fifth-round pick for Josh Rosen. Rosen should be given the opportunity to prove himself, but he'll have to beat out veteran Ryan Fitzpatrick first. We'll also see competition at receiver as Brice Butler and Jakeem Grant fight for a starting job open until Albert Wilson returns from injury.
The offensive line will have to figure out a playable lineup, too. The guard situation may come down to rookie Michael Deiter and incumbent Jesse Davis with razor thin depth behind them. Right tackle features the uninspiring group of Jordan Mills, Zach Sterup and Isaiah Prince competing to start in 2019.
The defense also has some low-upside battles, including for the end spot across from Charles Harris. It's not good that either Jonathan Woodard or Tank Carradine could start, but Miami failed to find a viable young option in the draft. The cornerback room also has competition for the second job in nickel formations since Bobby McCain should be in the slot whenever possible. Eric Rowe and Cordrea Tankersley are the two best options there if Tankersley is healthy.
Offense: QB Kirk Cousins, RB Dalvin Cook, WR Stefon Diggs, WR Adam Thielen, WR Laquon Treadwell, TE Kyle Rudolph, LT Riley Reiff, LG Pat Elflein, C Garrett Bradbury, RG Josh Kline, RT Brian O'Neill
Defense: DL Linval Joseph, DL Shamar Stephen, ED Danielle Hunter, ED Everson Griffen, LB Anthony Barr, LB Eric Kendricks, CB Xavier Rhodes, CB Trae Waynes, CB Mackensie Alexander, S Harrison Smith, S Anthony Harris
A disappointing 2018 campaign aside, the Minnesota Vikings again have a good team on paper. They possess two great receivers, a solid tight end and running back, and the offensive line has seemingly finally been solidified. Now it's up to Kirk Cousins to earn his massive paychecks with all these pieces in place.
The biggest battle on offense will be at right guard. The three-way competition will feature free-agent signee Josh Kline, fourth-round pick Dru Samia and Danny Isidora. Kline and Samia are powerful blockers who project better as pass protectors than run-maulers with their physical profiles, but Kline struggled with the Titans in 2018.
The defense only has minor starting questions. Mike Hughes is returning from a torn ACL. The battle for starting defensive tackle across from Linval Joseph will feature Jaleel Johnson, Jalyn Holmes and free-agent pickup Shamar Stephen. The veteran unit is otherwise set to avenge a letdown season.
New England Patriots
Offense: QB Tom Brady, RB Sony Michel, WR N'Keal Harry, WR Julian Edelman, WR Phillip Dorsett, TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins, LT Isaiah Wynn, LG Joe Thuney, C David Andrews, RG Shaq Mason, RT Marcus Cannon
Defense: DL Lawrence Guy, DL Mike Pennel, ED Michael Bennett, ED Chase Winovich, LB Dont'a Hightower, LB Kyle Van Noy, CB Stephon Gilmore, CB Jason McCourty, S Duron Harmon, S Patrick Chung, S Devin McCourty
Whenever the league starts trending one direction, you can be certain the New England Patriots will start gravitating the opposite way and still be successful. While many teams are loading up with multiple tight ends and burners at receiver, the Patriots continue to invest in running backs and receivers who create after the catch. Their biggest offensive additions this offseason included Demaryius Thomas, N'Keal Harry and Damien Harris.
There's little competition for the defending Super Bowl champions as they continue to stay stable along the offensive line and have clear roles for their playmakers. The backs will have to duel for playing time, but Sony Michel will be the lead back with James White serving as the primary back on third downs. Occasionally they'll unleash Harris or Rex Burkhead to frustrate a defense, as seemingly everyone the team trots out is productive.
Pay attention to the defense for battles. Third-rounder Chase Winovich will fight Deatrich Wise Jr. to replace Trey Flowers on the edge. And linebacker will feature incumbent Elandon Roberts trying to beat out 2018 fifth-round pick Ja'Whaun Bentley, who stood out in limited time last year.
New Orleans Saints
Offense: QB Drew Brees, RB Alvin Kamara, WR Michael Thomas, WR Ted Ginn Jr., WR Tre'Quan Smith, TE Jared Cook, LT Terron Armstead, LG Andrus Peat, C Nick Easton, RG Larry Warford, RT Ryan Ramczyk
Defense: DL Sheldon Rankins, DL David Onyemata, ED Cameron Jordan, ED Marcus Davenport, LB Demario Davis, LB A.J. Klein, CB Marshon Lattimore, CB Eli Apple, CB Patrick Robinson, S Marcus Williams, S Vonn Bell
The New Orleans Saints had a quiet offseason after a great campaign. They're going to run back most of what they did well, having made two moves to become younger and fresher. The Saints allowed Mark Ingram II to depart and replaced him with Latavius Murray, and center Max Unger retired and was replaced by Nick Easton.
The potentially unit-changing move was the signing of Jared Cook. The Saints needed a vertical tight end, and Cook was easily the best on the market. He'll quickly establish himself as a new favorite of Drew Brees.
The defense nabbed Chauncey Gardner-Johnson and Malcom Brown, both of whom can be role players. But neither will receive the bulk of snaps at defensive back or tackle unless injury strikes. A potential lineup change will come at slot corner, where Patrick Robinson returns from a broken ankle and will challenge P.J. Williams.
New York Giants
Offense: QB Eli Manning, RB Saquon Barkley, WR Golden Tate, WR Sterling Shepard, WR Corey Coleman, TE Evan Engram, LT Nate Solder, LG Will Hernandez, C Jon Halapio, RG Kevin Zeitler, RT Chad Wheeler
Defense: DL Dexter Lawrence, DL Dalvin Tomlinson, ED Oshane Ximines, ED Kareem Martin, LB Alec Ogletree, LB B.J. Goodson, LB Lorenzo Carter, CB Janoris Jenkins, CB Deandre Baker, S Antoine Bethea, S Jabrill Peppers
The New York Giants possess a strange roster with unique strengths and major flaws. While the offensive line is solid from the left tackle position to right guard, right tackle is an eyesore. The same can be said at edge-rusher, where there's not a qualified starter.
The offense has no openings up for grabs. The starting lineup has no competition because of a lack of depth, which is a reflection of the poor job Dave Gettleman is doing. Even though the line is improved, there are fatal flaws in that unit.
The defense will have more battles, at least. The line can squeeze out a productive lineup with Dalvin Tomlinson, Dexter Lawrence, B.J. Hill and RJ McIntosh. But two of Kareem Martin, Oshane Ximines, Markus Golden and Lorenzo Carter must prove efficient and productive as pass-rushers, or else the rest of the defense will be vulnerable against even mediocre offenses. We'll also see whether Julian Love can beat out Sam Beal for the nickel cornerback spot.
New York Jets
Offense: QB Sam Darnold, RB Le'Veon Bell, WR Robby Anderson, WR Quincy Enunwa, WR Jamison Crowder, TE Chris Herndon, LT Kelvin Beachum, LG Kelechi Osemele, C Jonotthan Harrison, RG Brian Winters, RT Brandon Shell
Defense: DL Leonard Williams, DL Quinnen Williams, DL Henry Anderson, ED Jordan Jenkins, ED Jachai Polite, LB C.J. Mosley, LB Avery Williamson, CB Trumaine Johnson, CB Brian Poole, S Jamal Adams, S Marcus Maye
The Bills weren't the only AFC East team to drastically overhaul their roster by splurging with their available assets. The New York Jets added unquestioned starters in Le'Veon Bell, Jamison Crowder, Kelechi Osemele, Quinnen Williams and C.J. Mosley. The influx of veterans especially makes this team much more intriguing as a potential playoff threat.
The offense won't have many positional battles, though. Tight end is deep now, as Chris Herndon looks to hold off Jordan Leggett and fourth-round pick Trevon Wesco. Herndon showed down the stretch last season that he's a talented and capable starter with physical upside.
The key positions for the Jets are pass-rusher and cornerback. Rookie Jachai Polite was fantastic on film at Florida but had a horrible draft process. If he can shake off a bad offseason, there's room for him to start as a rush linebacker.
Cornerback has a major weakness across from Trumaine Johnson, too. Brian Poole is a slot corner who is in line to start outside because of a lack of other options. They Jets would be wise to dip into the veteran free-agency pool for a better fit.
Offense: QB Derek Carr, RB Josh Jacobs, WR Antonio Brown, WR Tyrell Williams, WR Hunter Renfrow, TE Derek Carrier, LT Kolton Miller, LG Denzelle Good, C Rodney Hudson, RG Gabe Jackson, RT Trent Brown
Defense: DL Maurice Hurst, DL Johnathan Hankins, ED Clelin Ferrell, ED Arden Key, LB Brandon Marshall, LB Vontaze Burfict, CB Gareon Conley, CB Daryl Worley, S Johnathan Abram, S Karl Joseph, DB Lamarcus Joyner
There's no question the Oakland Raiders have a better, deeper roster with a clearer direction and path to success in 2019. Their acquisition pattern this offseason screams that they want to be more competent even if there's a lower ceiling on this group than if they had swung for higher-upside prospects in the draft. Many of their rookies will play often since they're from Clemson and Alabama.
The offense added next to no competition from backups. The main battle will be at slot receiver, as Hunter Renfrow will try to fend off the speedy J.J. Nelson, but Renfrow should have the upper hand as a traditional, shifty slot. Tight end will feature a smaller battle with Derek Carrier, Luke Willson and Foster Moreau working to earn playing time.
Once again the Raiders loaded up on veterans on defense, but it remains to be seen whether the group will be dramatically better. Veteran linebackers Brandon Marshall and Vontaze Burfict are on the edge of being too old and on the decline, and there's no viable options behind them. The good news is the secondary looks like a legitimate group now with the additions of Lamarcus Joyner, Johnathan Abram and Trayvon Mullen as possible instant contributors.
Offense: QB Carson Wentz, RB Jordan Howard, WR Alshon Jeffery, WR Nelson Agholor, WR Desean Jackson, TE Zach Ertz, LT Jason Peters, LG Isaac Seumalo, C Jason Kelce, RG Brandon Brooks, RT Lane Johnson
Defense: DL Fletcher Cox, DL Malik Jackson, ED Brandon Graham, ED Derek Barnett, LB Nigel Bradham, LB Zach Brown, CB Jalen Mills, CB Rasul Douglas, S Malcolm Jenkins, S Rodney McLeod, DB Sidney Jones
At least right now, the Philadelphia Eagles don't have much to worry about as far as figuring out starting roles. But that could change quickly, as they boast significant depth at receiver, running back, defensive end and cornerback. Injuries and developmental curves can throw wrenches into the plan.
The future of Nelson Agholor could be up in the air, as he's on his fifth-year option, an expensive cost for a team that drafted receiver J.J. Arcega-Whiteside in the second round this year. Running back is the other place where a rookie could supplant a veteran, as Miles Sanders is more explosive and well-rounded than Jordan Howard, but the steadiness of Howard will be attractive until the team needs more big-play ability.
The battle at cornerback is the other major storyline. Ronald Darby's recovery from a torn ACL is something to watch, but the team must also consider the unit played better with Rasul Douglas and Avonte Maddox in the lineup over Darby and Jalen Mills. Philadelphia must give an opportunity to each of these players in addition to 2017 second-round pick Sidney Jones.
Offense: QB Ben Roethlisberger, RB James Conner, WR JuJu Smith-Schuster, WR James Washington, WR Eli Rogers, TE Vance McDonald, LT Alejandro Villanueva, LG Ramon Foster, C Maurkice Pouncey, RG David DeCastro, RT Matt Feiler
Defense: DL Cameron Heyward, DL Stephon Tuitt, ED T.J. Watt, ED Bud Dupree, LB Mark Barron, LB Devin Bush, CB Joe Haden, CB Steven Nelson, CB Mike Hilton, S Sean Davis, S Terrell Edmunds
Unlike in past years, when we referred to the Pittsburgh Steelers lineup as mostly set, this year's iteration lacks depth after offseason losses. There's no longer the same pipeline of playmaking talent that there once was, making the team's margin for error smaller. There's also less proven talent on the roster than there's been in some time.
The battle at receiver will be key for Ben Roethlisberger. Veterans Eli Rogers, Donte Moncrief and Ryan Switzer and rookie Diontae Johnson will likely rotate as the season progresses, but it's critical the Steelers give the younger players a chance to develop. They'll already be relying on James Washington for a bigger target load, but Rogers and Moncrief are unlikely to be anchors for this passing game.
There's not much more intrigue on defense since the Steelers were so pointed with their acquisitions. They upgraded at linebacker and were wise to bolster the corner positions. We may see a competition between 2018 fifth-round pick Marcus Allen and incumbent safety starter Sean Davis, but it's unlikely that bodes well for the Day 3 pick even though Davis has been mediocre.
San Francisco 49ers
Offense: QB Jimmy Garoppolo, RB Tevin Coleman, WR Deebo Samuel, WR Marquise Goodwin, WR Dante Pettis, TE George Kittle, LT Joe Staley, LG Laken Tomlinson, C Weston Richburg, RG Mike Person, RT Mike McGlinchey
Defense: DL DeForest Buckner, DL Arik Armstead, ED Nick Bosa, ED Dee Ford, LB Kwon Alexander, LB Fred Warner, CB Richard Sherman, CB Ahkello Witherspoon, CB Jimmie Ward, S Jaquiski Tartt, S Adrian Colbert
Though the San Francisco 49ers were incorrectly tabbed as the team to break out in the NFC West in 2018, they have enough talent to make a run in 2019. It depends on health, as Jimmy Garoppolo comes back from a torn ACL, but also defensive cohesion after a disastrous year under coordinator Robert Saleh. He must get this unit under control now that there's more talent at his disposal.
There's room for spots to be earned at receiver and running back since the team added significant talent. Day 2 draft additions Deebo Samuel and Jalen Hurd made the receiver room deeper, and incumbents Marquise Goodwin and Dante Pettis are already promising talents. And at running back, Jerick McKinnon—coming off a torn ACL—will compete with Tevin Coleman.
There's much more clarity on defense despite the issues last year. The key player on the unit is Jason Verrett. It's a long shot he'll stay healthy based on his history, but Verrett could be an elite starter if he can extend his limited time on the field for a full season. Otherwise, expect Jimmie Ward and K'Waun Williams to provide the most interesting defensive battle, for the slot cornerback job.
Offense: QB Russell Wilson, RB Chris Carson, WR David Moore, WR Tyler Lockett, WR DK Metcalf, TE Nick Vannett, LT Duane Brown, LG Mike Iupati, C Justin Britt, RG D.J. Fluker, RT Germain Ifedi
Defense: DL Jarran Reed, DL Nazair Jones, ED L.J. Collier, ED Rasheem Green, LB Bobby Wagner, LB K.J. Wright, CB Shaquill Griffin, CB Tre Flowers, S Tedric Thompson, S Bradley McDougald, S Marquise Blair
Another year, another transitional phase for the Seattle Seahawks. But this group nailed it last year en route to another playoff appearance, so it's best to not doubt Pete Carroll and Co. Most of the battles in Seattle will be because of its quality young depth.
The offense is stacked with receivers even after the departure of Doug Baldwin. Tyler Lockett, David Moore and DK Metcalf make up an explosive trio, but they could be pushed by Jaron Brown, Gary Jennings and Amara Darboh. Running back will also feature competition, as Rashaad Penny might have a chance to push Chris Carson aside even though Carson was a more impressive player in 2018. This is a good spot for Russell Wilson.
Few holes exist on the defense. The tackle position must churn out someone, meaning 2017 third-round pick Nazair Jones must eat snaps and blocks next to Jarran Reed. In the secondary, second-round pick Marquise Blair will act as a slot safety, or Kalan Reed could emerge as a pure nickel corner.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Offense: QB Jameis Winston, RB Peyton Barber, WR Mike Evans, WR Chris Godwin, TE O.J. Howard, TE Cameron Brate, LT Donovan Smith, LG Ali Marpet, C Ryan Jensen, RG Caleb Benenoch, RT Demar Dotson
Defense: DL Gerald McCoy, DL Vita Vea, ED Carl Nassib, ED Noah Spence, LB Lavonte David, LB Shaquil Barrett, LB Devin White, CB Carlton Davis, CB Vernon Hargreaves III, S Justin Evans, S Mike Edwards
Changes are coming for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers because they'll be forced to make a move in order to sign their rookie class. They're too close to the cap limit, meaning Gerald McCoy or Cameron Brate could be out soon. Losing either would be a tough blow considering they're both quality players.
There would be fallout to either move. The Buccaneers lack great receiving depth beyond Mike Evans and Chris Godwin, with Breshad Perriman parlaying a decent season with the Browns into a third receiver role.
Losing McCoy would sting much more after the Jason Pierre-Paul accident that might keep him out for the year. There's not a replacement for McCoy on the roster. The Buccaneers must also find two pass-rushers out of William Gholston, Noah Spence and Anthony Nelson to go with Carl Nassib. The scheme should be perfect for Spence, whereas Nelson is big enough to be an outside linebacker like Shaquil Barrett.
The secondary spots will be hotly contested as well. Vernon Hargreaves III, M.J. Stewart, Jamel Dean and Sean Murphy-Bunting will fight for starting roles just at corner. Stewart could move to safety and be in competition with Mike Edwards and Jordan Whitehead. It's easily the most contested position group in the NFL since there's no clarity or proven talent in the pool.
Offense: QB Marcus Mariota, RB Derrick Henry, WR Corey Davis, WR A.J. Brown, WR Adam Humphries, TE Delanie Walker, LT Taylor Lewan, LG Rodger Saffold, C Ben Jones, RG Nate Davis, RT Jack Conklin
Defense: DL Jurrell Casey, DL DaQuan Jones, ED Cameron Wake, ED Harold Landry III, LB Jayon Brown, LB Rashaan Evans, CB Adoree' Jackson, CB Malcolm Butler, CB Logan Ryan, S Kevin Byard, S Kenny Vaccaro
The Tennessee Titans did a fantastic job adding talent to their offense in free agency and the draft. The two spots where there could be starting job competitions are at right guard with Kevin Pamphile and third-rounder Nate Davis and tight end with the aging Delanie Walker and Jonnu Smith. The rest of the unit looks set to play tomorrow.
In base defense, it'll be tough for the Titans to take off one of the following linebackers: Rashaan Evans, Wesley Woodyard, Kamalei Correa and Jayon Brown. They have more depth than most teams at the position, and that gets harder to pare down in nickel situations.
The signing of Brent Urban also bolstered a line that already had a quality block-eater in Austin Johnson. Johnson should win that starting job since he was adequate in his third year. He's a candidate to continue growing now that he's closing in on his prime years.
Offense: QB Dwayne Haskins, RB Adrian Peterson, WR Josh Doctson, WR Paul Richardson Jr., WR Terry McLaurin, TE Jordan Reed, LT Trent Williams, LG Wes Martin, C Chase Roullier, RG Brandon Scherff, RT Morgan Moses
Defense: DL Jonathan Allen, DL Daron Payne, DL Matt Ioannidis, ED Ryan Kerrigan, ED Montez Sweat, LB Reuben Foster, LB Mason Foster, CB Josh Norman, CB Fabian Moreau, S Landon Collins, S Montae Nicholson
The Washington Redskins might as well start the Dwayne Haskins era. They boast a great offensive line and scheme for him, and the receiver room has improved enough to have him start over Case Keenum. Plus, Haskins entered the league more mentally prepared than almost all young quarterbacks considering the scheme he came from and how well he protected the ball at Ohio State.
Washington has a deep backfield headlined by Adrian Peterson, but there's a lot of room for role players. Derrius Guice is tremendously talented, but he, Bryce Love and Chris Thompson are returning from major injuries. Even Samaje Perine has shown NFL skill in limited opportunities. The running back position needs to produce three capable contributors from this group.
The cornerback position opposite of Josh Norman will be the other playmaker spot with major competition. Fabian Moreau has played sparingly but looks like the early favorite over veteran Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie. He has the size, speed and fluidity to be good, but a lack of experience was an issue for him in 2018.