1 Mistake Every NFL Team Must Avoid Making in the 2020 NFL Draft

Kristopher Knox@@kris_knoxFeatured ColumnistFebruary 18, 2020

1 Mistake Every NFL Team Must Avoid Making in the 2020 NFL Draft

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    JASON DECROW/Associated Press

    Fans and media members alike love to assign the label "winner " or "loser" to each team immediately after the NFL draft. It's entertaining, it creates talking points, and, in the short-term, it's a way to gauge which teams hit proverbial home runs on draft weekend.

    Over the long haul, however, a franchise's draft success is often defined more by the mistakes it avoided than big-time successes. There's nothing wrong with netting a handful of solid starters through the draft. There's a lot wrong with swinging for the fences and ending up with JaMarcus Russell or Johnny Manziel.

    Whether it's selecting the wrong position or the wrong player, accepting a bad trade or passing on a good one, some teams are going to make mistakes in the 2020 draft. Here, we'll examine the biggest one each team needs to avoid in April.


Arizona Cardinals: Not Drafting the Best Weapon at No. 8

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    Cardinals QB Kyler Murray
    Cardinals QB Kyler MurrayMarcio Jose Sanchez/Associated Press

    The Arizona Cardinals should look to build around second-year signal-caller Kyler Murray in 2020. This means that in the draft, they should be seeking to surround him with talent.

    While taking a high-end defensive prospect such as, say, Auburn defensive tackle Derrick Brown will be tempting, Arizona needs to focus on offense with the eighth overall pick.

    Arizona doesn't have to force a pick or reach, though. Between a tremendous receiver pool and a handful of elite tackle prospects, someone will be available who can directly aid Murray's development.

    Whether it's Oklahoma's CeeDee Lamb or Georgia's Andrew Thomas, the Cardinals need to buttress the offense and not overthink the selection. Helping Murray improve has to be the team's top priority.

Atlanta Falcons: Bypassing a Pass-Rusher

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    LSU's K'Lavon Chaisson
    LSU's K'Lavon ChaissonEric Gay/Associated Press

    Over the last half-decade, the Atlanta Falcons have invested heavily in edge-rushers. In 2015, they picked Vic Beasley Jr. eighth overall. In 2017, they used the 26th pick on Takkarist McKinley. The problem is that these moves haven't yielded an elite pass rush.

    The Atlanta defense produced only 28 sacks in 2019 (only the Miami Dolphins recorded fewer), and the team has already announced that it won't try to re-sign Beasley in free agency.

    The Falcons cannot let past draft disappointments steer them away from a pass-rusher in Round 1.

    Atlanta isn't going to have a shot at Ohio State's Chase Young, the top edge-defender and potentially the top player in this draft. However, prospects such as LSU's K'Lavon Chaisson and Notre Dame's Julian Okwara could be available with the 16th pick in Round 1. The Falcons must make the move.

Baltimore Ravens: Reaching for a Pass-Rusher at No. 28

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    Wisconsin LB Zack Baun
    Wisconsin LB Zack BaunJustin Casterline/Getty Images

    While the Falcons need to focus on an edge-rusher at No. 16, the Baltimore Ravens shouldn't reach for a sack artist at No. 28. They could be tempted to do so, as adding a pass-rusher is a draft priority.

    "The Ravens are expected to go after pass-rushers who can attack the opposing offense once Lamar Jackson and Co. build a lead," Bleacher Report draft analyst Matt Miller wrote in early January. "That's the plan here."

    Baltimore must avoid reaching to fill a position of need. That's how it ended up with first-round disappointment Hayden Hurst in the 2018 draft. The Ravens selected the former South Carolina star with the 25th pick—they passed on Lamar Jackson to do so—and they've gotten all of 512 yards and three touchdowns in return.

    If a quality prospect such as K'Lavon Chaisson or Wisconsin's Zack Baun is sitting there at No. 28, that's fine. However, Baltimore is in position to pick the best player available and shouldn't force things.

Buffalo Bills: Ignoring Speed at Wide Receiver

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    Colorado WR Laviska Shenault Jr.
    Colorado WR Laviska Shenault Jr.Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

    The Buffalo Bills fielded a functional offense in 2019—one that was good enough to reach the postseason—but they struggled to consistently stretch the field. Given the incredible amount of arm strength possessed by quarterback Josh Allen, that's a problem.

    It's a problem that the Bills have to address in the draft.

    The receiving corps is comprised of complementary players. John Brown and Cole Beasley are fine pass-catchers, but they don't regularly win at all three levels of the field. The Bills need to add an explosive playmaker who can do just that.

    Whether it means picking a prospect such as Alabama's Henry Ruggs III or Colorado's Laviska Shenault Jr. late in Round 1 or targeting a burner on Day 2, the Bills need to add speed, and they need to do it early.

Carolina Panthers: Talking Themselves Out of a Quarterback at No. 7

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    Utah State QB Jordan Love
    Utah State QB Jordan LoveGrant Halverson/Getty Images

    The Carolina Panthers have an interesting quarterback situation. They have Cam Newton under contract for one more season, but they may part with him in the offseason. They have Kyle Allen and Will Grier behind him, but there's no telling if either can be the long-term answer. Carolina could find that answer in the draft.

    However, the Panthers could talk themselves out of doing so. At No. 7, the top three signal-callers—LSU's Joe Burrow, Alabama's Tua Tagovailoa and Oregon's Justin Herbert—may already be off the board.

    Carolina could view that selection as too high for a prospect such as Utah State's Jordan Love and bypass the quarterback position in Round 1, potentially missing out on a new signal-caller altogether. That would be a mistake.

    If—and only if—the Panthers believe Love or someone else can be a high-end starter, they have to get him where they can get him. The short-term criticism of taking a prospect "too high" would be a small price to pay for avoiding years of quarterback mediocrity. If they Panthers don't view any available prospects as high-level starters, then this potential pitfall doesn't exist.

Chicago Bears: Ignoring the Quarterback Position

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    Bears QB Mitchell Trubisky
    Bears QB Mitchell TrubiskyHannah Foslien/Getty Images

    The Chicago Bears do not have a first-round selection because of their trade to acquire Khalil Mack. Therefore, it may be hard to land a quarterback who could challenge Mitchell Trubisky for the starting job. However, the Bears should still consider a signal-caller if the opportunity to get one presents itself.

    Publicly, Chicago is supporting Trubisky. However, the 2017 second overall selection is arguably the weakest link on the team—he has a career passer rating of just 85.8—and could keep the Bears out of contention in 2020.

    If Chicago believes a second-round prospect such as Georgia's Jake Fromm can upgrade the position, it has to make the pick. Sticking by Trubisky would be a big mistake.

Cincinnati Bengals: Blocking Out Trade Offers for the No. 1 Pick

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    LSU QB Joe Burrow
    LSU QB Joe BurrowGerald Herbert/Associated Press

    It feels increasingly likely that the Cincinnati Bengals are going to select Joe Burrow with the No. 1 overall pick. Given Burrow's Heisman Trophy- and national championship-winning campaign in 2019, it's hard to see Cincinnati going in a different direction.

    "Barring some kind of Ricky Williams trade up the board, they're taking [Burrow]," one coach told Bleacher Report's Matt Miller.

    However, the Bengals would be unwise to ignore massive trade offers for the No. 1 pick. Burrow is an elite quarterback prospect, but Cincinnati is not a quarterback away from postseason contention. If, for example, the Dolphins offer up all three of their first-round picks to move up from No. 5, the Bengals must give it serious consideration.

    No prospect is a sure thing. Ignoring the possibility of upgrading multiple positions to chase one unproven player would be foolhardy.

Cleveland Browns: Passing on a Tackle at No. 10

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    Georgia OT Andrew Thomas
    Georgia OT Andrew ThomasButch Dill/Associated Press

    Armed with the 10th overall pick, the Cleveland Browns could be tempted to select a flashy offensive or defensive playmaker. However, they need to go the boring route and get a new offensive tackle.

    Left tackle Greg Robinson is set to become a free agent, and right tackle Chris Hubbard—responsible for eight penalties and six sacks in 2019, according to Pro Football Focus—should be expendable. Ideally, Cleveland will upgrade both tackle spots this offseason.

    Barring an unforeseen run on tackles during the first nine selections, the Browns must grab the best one available.

    Whether it's a left tackle such as Georgia's Andrew Thomas or a right tackle such as Iowa's Tristan Wirfs, Cleveland's first-round pick should be a boon to the offensive line.

Dallas Cowboys: Drafting to Make a Splash in Round 1

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    Cowboys owner Jerry Jones
    Cowboys owner Jerry JonesRon Jenkins/Associated Press

    Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones enjoys being in the spotlight, but he'll need to avoid reaching in the draft. Depending on how free agency unfolds, the Cowboys could have numerous needs that have to be filled.

    Key players Dak Prescott, Amari Cooper, Byron Jones, Robert Quinn, Randall Cobb, Maliek Collins, Jason Witten and Sean Lee are all scheduled to hit the open market. There's no way the Cowboys can bring everyone back.

    Dallas is likely to have enough needs that it won't have to reach to address one in the first round.

    Therefore, the Cowboys should focus on those needs, even if that doesn't result in a buzz-worthy selection. If Dallas brings back Cooper and Cobb, it cannot afford to draft, say, Clemson receiver Tee Higgins just because it might lead to a flashier offense.

Denver Broncos: Staying Too Committed to Garett Bolles

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    Broncos LT Garett Bolles
    Broncos LT Garett BollesTimothy T Ludwig/Getty Images

    In a situation similar to the one involving Mitchell Trubisky and the Bears, the Denver Broncos may be tempted to ignore the left tackle position because they drafted Garett Bolles with the 20th pick in 2017. Doing so would be a massive mistake.

    Bolles has shown promise, but he's a penalty machine—he racked up 17 of them in 2019, per Pro Football Focus.

    "He's got to continue to get better because we can't afford to have those holding penalties," Broncos general manager John Elway told Ryan O'Halloran of the Denver Post.

    If a premier left-tackle prospect such as Georgia's Andrew Thomas or Louisville's Mekhi Becton is available at No. 15, Elway cannot ignore the opportunity. The Broncos must at least consider the option of upgrading the line's most important position and moving on from Bolles after the 2020 season.

Detroit Lions: Ignoring Trade Offers for the No. 3 Pick

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    Lions general manager Bob Quinn
    Lions general manager Bob QuinnGregory Shamus/Getty Images

    Though there has been chatter to the contrary, the Detroit Lions are unlikely to trade quarterback Matthew Stafford before the draft.

    General manager Bob Quinn called the rumors "100 percent false," according to Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press.

    Therefore, Detroit probably won't be in the market for a quarterback with the third pick in the draft. It'll have its pick of players not named Joe Burrow or Chase Young—and may have a crack at one of them if there is a trade—and a chance to grab a prospect such as Ohio State cornerback Jeff Okudah.

    The Lions ranked dead-last in pass defense in 2019.

    However, they would be unwise to focus too heavily on a single player and ignore trade offers for the third pick. There may be teams desperate to get ahead of the Dolphins at No. 5, and they may be willing to part with several picks to do so.

Green Bay Packers: Ignoring the Offensive Line

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    Louisville OT Mekhi Becton
    Louisville OT Mekhi BectonJoe Robbins/Getty Images

    The Green Bay Packers have a couple of glaring needs. They could desperately use a reliable No. 2 receiver and a run-stuffing linebacker. Offensive tackle is not one of Green Bay's deficiencies. That could change in the near future, however.

    Right tackle Bryan Bulaga is scheduled to become a free agent in March. Left tackle David Bakhtiari is scheduled to become a free agent next offseason.

    While the Packers shouldn't reach for a tackle in Round 1—especially if a premier receiver or high-end defensive prospect is available—ignoring the position entirely would be unwise. The Packers should, at least, add some insurance for Bakhtiari's possible departure in 2021.

    If Bulaga leaves in free agency this year, tackle will be a more immediate need, and Green Bay will need to address it as early as possible.

Houston Texans: Ignoring the Pass Defense

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    Ohio State CB Damon Arnette
    Ohio State CB Damon ArnetteJoe Robbins/Getty Images

    Because of their trade for Laremy Tunsil, the Houston Texans aren't scheduled to pick until late in the second round of the draft (57th overall). Unless the draft value is completely out of whack, the Texans need to use that pick on a defensive back or an edge-rusher.

    To put it bluntly, the pass defense was terrible in 2019. The Texans allowed 267.3 yards per game through the air. Only three teams allowed more.

    If Houston hopes to take the next step and become a title contender, it needs to shore up its pass defense. Otherwise, teams such as the Kansas City Chiefs will continue to be a major mismatch in the postseason.

    While the Texans won't be in position to pick one of the top pass-defenders, Day 2 prospects such as Ohio State cornerback Damon Arnette and Michigan edge-rusher Josh Uche should be at the top of Houston's draft board. Going any other route would be a mistake.

Indianapolis Colts: Reaching for a Quarterback at No. 13

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    Colts QB Jacoby Brissett
    Colts QB Jacoby BrissettHarry Aaron/Getty Images

    The Indianapolis Colts don't appear to be sold on Jacoby Brissett as a long-term answer at quarterback.

    "The jury's still out," general manager Chris Ballard said in early January, per The Athletic's Zak Keefer.

    However, this doesn't mean Indianapolis should reach for quarterback with the 13th pick in the draft. While passing on a potential franchise signal-caller would be equally problematic (see the Panthers), reaching at the game's most important position could be disastrous.

    Brissett may not be an elite quarterback, but he knows the offense and is capable of holding down the position for at least another year. Indianapolis cannot be in a rush to draft, say, the fourth or fifth quarterback on its board, unless, of course, it believes there are five franchise quarterbacks in this class.

    If Brissett plays poorly in 2020, the Colts could wind up with a top-10 selection and a better chance of grabbing his permanent replacement next year.

Jacksonville Jaguars: Remaining Too Committed to Leonard Fournette

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    Jaguars RB Leonard Fournette
    Jaguars RB Leonard FournetteCarmen Mandato/Getty Images

    Three years ago, the Jacksonville Jaguars used the fourth overall selection on former LSU running back Leonard Fournette. While he's shown glimpses of greatness, he hasn't proved to be as special as backs such as Christian McCaffrey and Ezekiel Elliott.

    Fournette did have his best season as a pro in 2019, rushing for 1,152 yards and catching 76 passes. However, one strong season doesn't mean he will become a perennial All-Pro.

    Even if Fournette does continue improving, the Jaguars may not want to pay what he's seeking once he reaches free agency—after this season or next, depending on whether the Jaguars exercise his fifth-year option.

    If the opportunity to add a complementary back and eventual replacement for Fournette presents itself on Day 2 or later, the Jaguars shouldn't avoid it simply because they have a top-five selection already invested in the position.

Kansas City Chiefs: Failing to Address the Run Defense

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    Oklahoma LB Kenneth Murray
    Oklahoma LB Kenneth MurrayRon Jenkins/Getty Images

    The Chiefs are the reigning Super Bowl champions, and they looked virtually unstoppable for most of the postseason. One might think they don't have needs to address during the draft, but that isn't the case.

    Kansas City is not a perfect team. Quarterback Patrick Mahomes is good enough to mask many of the issues because he can bring the Chiefs back from almost any deficit. However, they have some areas that need upgrading, most notably the run defense.

    While the Chiefs limited the Tennessee Titans and San Francisco 49ers during the playoffs, they struggled against the run during the regular season. Adding a premier run-stuffer such as Oklahoma linebacker Kenneth Murray late in one of the first few rounds of the draft could change that.

    Opponents are going to want to run to keep Mahomes and Co. off the field. Not preparing for that would be a mistake.

Las Vegas Raiders: Being Too Eager to Move Up

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    Raiders QB Derek Carr
    Raiders QB Derek CarrJustin Edmonds/Getty Images

    The Las Vegas Raiders are armed with two first-round picks. If they want to move into the top five of the draft—possibly for a quarterback—they can likely get it done.

    However, this doesn't necessarily mean that Las Vegas should package several of its picks to select a certain player. While the Raiders proved in 2019 that they are close to contention, they are not one or two pieces away from being a championship team.

    Unless the Raiders are 100 percent convinced the next Peyton Manning is in this draft class, they would be better served by letting the draft come to them and filling as many needs as possible. Moving from Nos. 12 and 19 to, say, No. 3 to get ahead of the Dolphins and the Los Angeles Chargers may cost them.

    Mortgaging much of the future for a quarterback with question marks—no matter how eager the Raiders may be to move on from Derek Carr—would more likely than not end poorly.

Los Angeles Chargers: Overdrafting a Quarterback

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    Chargers QB Tyrod Taylor
    Chargers QB Tyrod TaylorJustin Edmonds/Getty Images

    Just as the Raiders shouldn't sell out to grab a quarterback they aren't sold on, the Chargers should be careful about doing the same thing with the sixth overall selection. If a team does trade up, three quarterbacks may be off the board by the time Los Angeles is on the clock.

    If the Chargers aren't sold on the remaining options, they should not draft a signal-caller strictly because they have moved on from Philip Rivers.

    Los Angeles has backup Tyrod Taylor and second-year man Easton Stick, and the Chargers aren't ignoring them.

    "I like our internal options," general manager Tom Telesco told AM 570 L.A. Sports last week (via The Athletic's Daniel Popper).

    They could also find a stopgap quarterback in free agency or even a potential long-term answer in someone such as Teddy Bridgewater.

    It would be much smarter to snag a surefire starter at No. 6 than to pick a quarterback who may not be any better than the options already in front of the Chargers.

Los Angeles Rams: Ignoring the Offensive Line

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    Michigan G Ben Bredeson
    Michigan G Ben BredesonMitchell Layton/Getty Images

    The Los Angeles Rams gambled big during the 2019 offseason, parting with both center John Sullivan and guard Rodger Saffold III. The result was an interior offensive line that struggled to spark the running game and often failed to protect quarterback Jared Goff.

    "Those were really good football players, and it's not fair for these young guys to even have the expectation that they're going to play like that yet," left tackle Andrew Whitworth said on The Herd with Colin Cowherd.

    Poor line play was one reason why the Rams went from being a Super Bowl team to an also-ran.

    Los Angeles must address the interior offensive line, ideally in the draft, and ideally with one of its first two selections. The Rams don't have a first-round pick because of their trade for Jalen Ramsey, but a player such as Michigan's Ben Bredeson should be a target on Day 2.

Miami Dolphins: Overthinking Tua Tagovailoa's Recovery

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    Alabama QB Tua Tagovailoa
    Alabama QB Tua TagovailoaVasha Hunt/Associated Press

    If the Bengals select Joe Burrow with the first overall pick, the Dolphins may eye Tua Tagovailoa at No. 5. According to Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald, however, Miami has an "increasingly positive" view of Justin Herbert.

    This could be because it loves Herbert's upside. It could also be because the Dolphins are concerned about Tagovailoa's recovery from a fractured and dislocated hip. Unless the Miami medical staff strongly cautions against taking a chance on Tagovailoa, the quarterback's recovery shouldn't be a major sticking point.

    In no way should the fact that Tagovailoa cannot work out before the draft impact Miami's decision. He's put enough on film that some—such as NFL.com's Bucky Brooks—view Tagovailoa as the top signal-caller in this class.

Minnesota Vikings: Not Addressing the Secondary Early

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    Virginia CB Bryce Hall
    Virginia CB Bryce HallLynne Sladky/Associated Press

    The Minnesota Vikings have to address their secondary early in the draft, preferably in Round 1.

    While the Vikings defense was good in 2019—it ranked fifth in points allowed—it is likely to lose some significant pieces in free agency. Defensive backs Anthony Harris, Trae Waynes, Andrew Sendejo and Mackensie Alexander are all scheduled to hit the open market.

    With Minnesota projected to be well over the cap, retaining all of them or even more than one could be impossible. The secondary could be the Vikings' biggest weakness after free agency. 

    Minnesota should target players such as Virginia cornerback Bryce Hall and LSU safety Grant Delpit with the 25th pick, and it should add to the secondary later in the weekend.

New England Patriots: Failing to Give Tom Brady Weapons

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    Patriots QB Tom Brady
    Patriots QB Tom BradyBill Sikes/Associated Press

    There's a big caveat with this one. It's only a mistake to avoid if the New England Patriots actually bring back Tom Brady for another run. If they do not, then building for a future without him should be the top priority.

    If Brady is back, however, New England must ensure he has the pieces around him to take one last shot at a title. This means that Band-Aid options such as Ben Watson at tight end or Mohamed Sanu Sr. at wide receiver aren't going to cut it.

    The Patriots have to get Brady some dynamic, field-stretching pass-catchers, and if that means picking a player such as Laviska Shenault Jr. or Henry Ruggs III in Round 1, so be it. The fact that New England used a first-round pick on wideout N'Keal Harry last year should not play a factor.

    New England has a championship-caliber defense—one that ranked first overall in 2019—but if the Patriots cannot put points on the board, Brady will have no shot at winning his seventh Lombardi Trophy.

New Orleans Saints: Overcommitting to Taysom Hill

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    Saints QB Taysom Hill
    Saints QB Taysom HillBrett Duke/Associated Press

    This is a potential mistake that will begin in free agency. The New Orleans Saints may have Drew Brees back for another year—or he could retire. They may have backup Taysom Hill as well, and they may be seeking a Brees-to-Hill transition at quarterback.

    "As one source explained it to PFT, the Saints wants Brees back for what would essentially become a transition year, from Brees to Taysom Hill with Hill becoming the starter in 2021," Pro Football Talk's Mike Florio wrote in late January.

    The problem with this scenario is that Hill hasn't been a starting quarterback since 2016—at Brigham Young. There's no way New Orleans can know if Hill is an NFL starter.

    If the Saints want to focus on adding pieces for another run with Brees, that's fine. However, they cannot overlook every quarterback in this class because they believe Hill can be the guy down the road. Doing so could cause them to miss out on tremendous value, especially if one of the top prospects tumbles.

New York Giants: Passing on an Offensive Tackle Early

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    Alabama OT Jedrick Wills Jr.
    Alabama OT Jedrick Wills Jr.John Raoux/Associated Press

    The New York Giants need to address their offensive line. Left tackle Nate Solder has been a massive disappointment—he allowed 11 sacks in 2019, according to Pro Football Focus—and protecting Daniel Jones should be priority No. 1.

    The Giants cannot fail to pick an offensive tackle early, ideally with the fourth selection in the draft, as they may have their choice of linemen. A prospect such as Alabama's Jedrick Wills Jr. or Georgia's Andrew Thomas could give New York its left tackle for the next decade-plus.

    If New York decides to trade out of the spot—or decides that a receiver such as Oklahoma's CeeDee Lamb is too good to pass on—it'll want to turn its attention to offensive tackles with its second-rounder (36th overall).

    While there still may be a franchise offensive tackle available early on Day 2, banking on that would be a big risk, which is why the Giants would be wise to pick their tackle of choice at No. 4. Failing to upgrade the line would be a huge mistake.

New York Jets: Passing on a Wide Receiver Early

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    Alabama WR Jerry Jeudy
    Alabama WR Jerry JeudyVasha Hunt/Associated Press

    The New York Jets may or may not have a franchise quarterback in Sam Darnold. The USC product has flashed promise—he went 6-2 in the final eight games of 2019—but he has also struggled with ball security (13 picks, three lost fumbles in 2019) and decision-making.

    One of the things holding Darnold back could be the lack of a No. 1 receiver. Robby Anderson and Quincy Enunwa are fine complementary receivers, but they aren't go-to targets when Darnold needs to make a play.

    The Jets cannot pass on a premier wide receiver early if the opportunity is there. They won't necessarily have to pick one in Round 1—A.J. Brown, Terry McLaurin and DK Metcalf were Day 2 picks last year—but using the 11th pick in the draft on a receiver wouldn't hurt. This would be especially true for a premier prospect such as Alabama's Jerry Jeudy.

    Regardless of when, the Jets have to find a No. 1 receiver.

Philadelphia Eagles: Overvaluing the Need for a Receiver

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    Eagles WR Greg Ward
    Eagles WR Greg WardMatt Rourke/Associated Press

    The Philadelphia Eagles struggled to field healthy and reliable wide receivers near the end of the 2019 season. They shouldn't let that cloud their decision-making early in the draft.

    Philadelphia has pass-catchers. It has two premier tight ends in Zach Ertz and Dallas Goedert. It has rising wideout Greg Ward and a pass-catching back in Miles Sanders. Adding a receiver in Round 1 could help improve the offense, but the Eagles have bigger needs.

    If the Eagles hope to get back to the Super Bowl, they need to address their secondary. They ranked just 19th in pass defense in 2019, and they could lose defensive backs Ronald Darby, Malcolm Jenkins and Rodney McLeod in free agency.

    The allure of a No. 1 receiver will be there, but the Eagles will be wise to target a defensive back such as Alabama's Xavier McKinney or Florida's CJ Henderson with the 21st pick.

Pittsburgh Steelers: Overestimating Ben Roethlisberger

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    Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger
    Steelers QB Ben RoethlisbergerAdam Hunger/Associated Press

    Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger is coming back from elbow surgery. He is 37 years old, and there is a chance he won't return to his pre-injury form. Yet the Steelers are preparing to have prime Roethlisberger under center in 2020.

    "I have no hesitation," coach Mike Tomlin said on First Take (h/t Chris Adamski of the Tribune-Review).

    With Mason Rudolph and Devlin Hodges also on the roster, Pittsburgh could ignore quarterback prospects in the draft. This would be a mistake.

    The combination of Rudolph and Hodges proved to be incapable of leading the Steelers to the postseason in 2019—despite Pittsburgh's fifth-ranked defense. The Steelers have to at least consider other quarterback options with their first pick, which comes in Round 2, both for this season and for the post-Roethlisberger era.

    The Steelers' next franchise quarterback is not on the roster.

San Francisco 49ers: Ignoring the Offensive Line

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    49ers OT Joe Staley
    49ers OT Joe StaleyTed S. Warren/Associated Press

    At first blush, it may not seem like the 49ers need to address their offensive line—and it's true that the line isn't an immediate need. However, ignoring the line entirely in the draft could prove to be disastrous.

    Several linemen suffered injuries in 2019—Joe Staley, Mike McGlinchey, Mike Person and Weston Richburg all missed time—and while San Francisco survived and still made it to the Super Bowl, it may not be as fortunate in 2020.

    Adding line depth should be a priority, and it would be smart to start planning to replace the 35-year-old Staley.

    The 49ers don't need to target an offensive lineman in the first or second round, but ignoring the position because the unit was good enough even with so many injuries in 2019 would be a mistake.

Seattle Seahawks: Ignoring the Running Back Position

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    Seahawks RB Rashaad Penny
    Seahawks RB Rashaad PennyMatt Rourke/Associated Press

    The Seattle Seahawks' top two running backs, Chris Carson (fractured hip) and Rashaad Penny (torn ACL) are both coming off significant injuries. This is a notable issue, as it's impossible to tell when either will return or if they'll regain pre-injury form.

    Penny was back on the exercise bike last week, but that's a long way from being able to cut and juke on the playing field.

    Seattle cannot bank on having a healthy backfield next season without adding a little insurance. A young and affordable depth option in the draft would be great, and the fact that Penny was a first-round pick two years ago should be irrelevant.

    Targeting a back on Day 2 or Day 3 would ensure that the Seattle ground game is operational early in the season. The worst-case scenario then would be that the Seahawks have too many talented runners—which really isn't a worst case at all.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Passing on a Franchise Offensive Tackle

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    Buccaneers LT Donovan Smith
    Buccaneers LT Donovan SmithRick Scuteri/Associated Press

    If the Tampa Bay Buccaneers don't retain Jameis Winston or add another signal-caller in free agency, then quarterback could be their target with the 14th overall pick. If they have their signal-caller, however, they cannot afford to let a franchise offensive tackle pass by.

    Right tackle Demar Dotson is scheduled to be a free agent this offseason, and left tackle Donovan Smith is a middle-tier starter at best—he was responsible for nine penalties and five sacks in 2019, according to Pro Football Focus.

    Smith can also be released next offseason without the Buccaneers incurring a cap hit.

    If a top tackle such as Iowa's Tristan Wirfs, Georgia's Andrew Thomas or Louisville's Mekhi Becton is available at No. 14, the Buccaneers need to pick him. If all goes well in 2020, Tampa Bay may not have a shot at a franchise tackle in next year's draft.

Tennessee Titans: Ignoring the Secondary

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    Florida CB CJ Henderson
    Florida CB CJ HendersonJeff Roberson/Associated Press

    Things could change if the Titans do not bring back the duo of Ryan Tannehill and Derrick Henry. However, Tennessee's top priority should be its secondary

    Yes, the Titans have 2017 first-round pick Adoree' Jackson and former Patriots Logan Ryan and Malcolm Butler on their roster. However, pass defense was still an issue in 2019—they finished ranked 24th. Ryan is also scheduled to be a free agent.

    Targeting a cornerback such as Florida's CJ Henderson or Utah's Jaylon Johnson at the bottom of Round 1 would be wise. Even if the Titans are good enough defensively to make it back to the postseason, playoff matchups against teams such as the Chiefs and Texans could prove difficult without an upgraded secondary.

Washington Redskins: Overvaluing Trade Offers for the No. 2 Pick

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    Ohio State DE Chase Young
    Ohio State DE Chase YoungRick Scuteri/Associated Press

    Teams are likely to call the Washington Redskins for the No. 2 pick, either so they can draft a quarterback or Ohio State's Chase Young. If Washington decides to trade, it better be sure it's getting a monumental haul in return.

    Trading down for just a couple of extra picks would be a mistake, as Young is as close to a can't-miss prospect as there is in this class.

    "Young possesses superior traits and the ability to wreck and alter offensive game plans as a perennial All-Pro," NFL.com's Lance Zierlein wrote.

    If Washington can secure multiple first-round picks, then a trade down could be worthwhile. Offers of anything less, however, should be ignored even if they require moving down just a few spots.


    Contract and salary-cap information via Spotrac.