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

Kristopher Knox@@kris_knoxFeatured ColumnistApril 20, 2020

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

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    Mary Altaffer/Associated Press

    NFL Draft Week has officially arrived, folks. The annual selection process is set to kick off Thursday, much to the delight of fans hungry for live sports-adjacent action.

    While the draft will provide a much-needed form of entertainment, it's important to remember that the selection process is (supposed to be) all about teams improving their rosters. The most exciting pick isn't always the best pick, and organizations should be striving to make the best choice with every selection.

    More importantly, though, teams should be looking to avoid major mistakes. Missing out on a future superstar stinks, but it's tolerable when a team still lands a long-term starter instead. Drafting a guy in the first round who is off the roster in three years? That hurts far, far worse.

    Unfortunately for NFL teams, the possibilities of screwing up on draft weekend are nearly endless. Whether by targeting the wrong position, passing on a premier prospect or making an ill-advised trade, mistakes will be made.

    Here, we'll examine the one big misstep each team needs to avoid in the 2020 draft.  

    Tune in to our 2020 NFL Draft Show for live, in-depth analysis on what each pick means for your team, with hosts Adam Lefkoe, Matt Miller and Connor Rogers. No fluff, no B.S. Download the B/R app and watch starting Thursday, April 23, at 8 p.m. ET.

Arizona Cardinals: Not Going Offensive Line at No. 8

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    Cardinals QB Kyler Murray
    Cardinals QB Kyler MurrayMark J. Terrill/Associated Press

    The Arizona Cardinals pulled off perhaps the coup of the offseason by trading for star wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins. That move should pay immediate dividends for second-year quarterback Kyler Murray. However, Arizona should keep piling on its offense with the eighth overall pick.

    While taking a premier defensive prospect like Clemson linebacker Isaiah Simmons would provide value, Arizona needs to do all it can to set Murray up for future success.

    Yes, Arizona ranked dead last in total defense last season (402 yards per game allowed), but Murray was also sacked an alarming 48 times. While some of those sacks were the result of the rookie being tentative in the pocket, it's not like the Arizona line is top-notch.

    Adding a prospect like Alabama's Jedrick Wills or Iowa's Tristan Wirfs would help ensure that Murray remains upright and healthy for the foreseeable future.

Atlanta Falcons: Ignoring the Pass Defense

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    Florida CB prospect C.J. Henderson
    Florida CB prospect C.J. HendersonAssociated Press

    The Atlanta Falcons finished the 2019 season ranked just 22nd in pass defense (244.9 passing yards per game allowed). They replaced pass-rusher Vic Beasley Jr. with Dante Fowler Jr.—a move that should be an upgrade—but they also parted with starting corner Desmond Trufant.

    The Falcons need to address their pass defense early and often in this year's draft. According to Bleacher Report draft analyst Matt Miller, they could trade up in Round 1 to do just that. 

    "There is a ton of smoke that these two teams are desperate to get into the top 10—the Falcons for a cornerback or defensive tackle and the Broncos for a wide receiver. It's believable that both teams could want to move up," he wrote.

    Adding a premier corner like Florida's C.J. Henderson or a defensive lineman who can pressure the quarterback alongside Grady Jarrett would make a ton of sense for Atlanta. Ignoring the pass defense in Round 1 would make zero sense.

Baltimore Ravens: Not Going with the Best Player Available in Round 1

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    Ravens GM Eric DeCosta
    Ravens GM Eric DeCostaMichael Conroy/Associated Press

    The Baltimore Ravens went 14-2 in 2019 and, unsurprisingly, don't have many significant holes on their roster.

    They could use a premier pass-rusher—they had just 37 sacks in 2019—and a true No. 1-type receiver, but reaching for either position at No. 28 would be a mistake. This is a deep draft class, especially at receiver, which is something general manager Eric DeCosta has acknowledged.

    "We think this year that there's a really good chance to get a guy that can probably be a starter for you in the fifth round of the draft," he said, per Ryan Mink of the team's official website.

    As a 14-2 squad, Baltimore can afford to take the top player on its draft board at the bottom of Round 1, regardless of position. Yes, there are some needs, but reaching to fill one is how the Ravens ended up with tight end Hayden Hurst in the first round of the 2018 draft.

    Hurst was traded to the Atlanta Falcons this offseason.

Buffalo Bills: Ignoring the Pass Rush

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    Bills edge Jerry Hughes
    Bills edge Jerry HughesLynne Sladky/Associated Press

    The Buffalo Bills addressed their biggest need this offseason by trading for wideout Stefon Diggs. The move gives Josh Allen the No. 1 receiver he has previously lacked. However, it also means Buffalo is without a first-round pick this year.

    The Bills do still have their second-rounder (54th overall), and it would be wise to use that selection on a young pass-rusher. If they don't, they should address the position soon after.

    The pass rush isn't an immediate need—Buffalo had 44 sacks in 2019—but it could be one in the near future. Jerry Hughes and free-agent addition Mario Addison are ages 31 and 32, respectively, and could soon exit their playing primes.

    Buffalo appears to have a core that can contend for the postseason for years to come. It could further increase the odds of doing just that by drafting for the future on the edge.

Carolina Panthers: Ignoring the Quarterback Position Entirely

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    Butch Dill/Associated Press

    The Carolina Panthers parted with longtime starter Cam Newton this offseason. They also added Teddy Bridgewater on a three-year deal. That means that while the Newton era has ended, the Panthers don't have to make quarterback their No. 1 priority in the draft.

    Don't expect Carolina to take a quarterback with the seventh overall pick. Do expect them to take a quarterback at some point in the draft—or at least, it's something they should do.

    Bridgewater played wonderfully in his five games as a starter in 2019. That's a limited sample size, however, and the Panthers don't have much in the way of insurance sitting behind him. The 2019 starter, Kyle Allen, was traded to the Washington Redskins and former head coach Ron Rivera, leaving 2019 third-round pick Will Grier as the understudy.

    If the Panthers were sold on Grier as a future franchise signal-caller, they probably would have inked Bridgewater to a shorter contract. As it stands, both will become free agents after the 2022 season.

    With Allen out, it makes sense to add another young quarterback to the mix.

Chicago Bears: Not Drafting a Tight End

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    Notre Dame TE prospect Cole Kmet
    Notre Dame TE prospect Cole KmetMichael Conroy/Associated Press

    The Chicago Bears may have a new starting quarterback this year as they traded for Nick Foles during the offseason. Whether it's Foles or Mitchell Trubisky under center, however, they need to support him with a dynamic tight end.

    The Trey Burton experiment failed, and he was released last week. Chicago did add veteran Jimmy Graham on a two-year deal, but he is no longer the playmaker he once was—just ask Green Bay Packers fans who watched him slog down the field the past two seasons.

    Even if Graham is a viable starter this season, he won't be one for the long haul.

    Chicago doesn't have a first-round pick due to the Khalil Mack trade, but it does own a pair of second-rounders, one of which came from the Las Vegas Raiders as part of that same deal. Using one of them on a tight end like Notre Dame's Cole Kmet would go a long way toward improving the Bears' passing attack.

Cincinnati Bengals: Completely Ignoring Offers for the No. 1 Pick

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

    The Cincinnati Bengals are widely expected to use the No. 1 pick in the draft on LSU quarterback Joe Burrow. The reigning Heisman winner is considered closest to a sure thing at quarterback in this class—though, of course, there is no such thing.

    Cincinnati doesn't appear likely to give up the chance to grab Burrow, either.

    "You know, people all the time ask me what would it take to give up that pick and if there's somebody there that people are willing to give up a lot for, that they believe in, then that just really verifies what we think about those players as well," head coach Zac Taylor said on the Dan Patrick Show.

    If another team is so infatuated with Burrow that it is willing to give up three or four first-round picks to get him, the Bengals should absolutely listen.

    While Burrow had a historic season in 2019, he does carry question marks. That was the only strong season of his college career, he spent it surrounded by elite talent, and he has an arm that is just above average at best. Even if he lives up to the hype, the Bengals aren't a quarterback away from contention—or even relevance.

    If a trade would allow the Bengals to completely reshape their roster, they have to at least consider it.

Cleveland Browns: Getting Cute with the Offensive Tackle Position

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    Georgia OT prospect Andrew Thomas
    Georgia OT prospect Andrew ThomasCharlie Neibergall/Associated Press

    The Cleveland Browns need a new left tackle. Their 2019 starter, Greg Robinson, was arrested on felony drug charges in the offseason but wasn't being retained anyway, according to Nate Ulrich of the Akron Beacon Journal.

    The good news is that Cleveland should be able to land a prospect like Alabama's Jedrick Wills or Georgia's Andrew Thomas with the 10th overall pick. However, the Browns are reportedly considering trading down to get the tackle they want.

    "I mentioned this a few weeks ago, but a Browns trade back for OT Ezra Cleveland would be the least surprising move on draft day," The Athletic's Dane Brugler recently tweeted.

    While the Boise State tackle might be a future star at the left tackle spot, trading down for a prospect isn't the safest of strategies. Even if Cleveland is as good as the Browns believe he is, there's no guarantee that he'll be available several spots later.

    If the Browns believe he is as good as or better than guys like Wills and Thomas, they should just go ahead and pull the trigger at No. 10.

Dallas Cowboys: Not Adding a Cornerback Early

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    Utah CB prospect Jaylon Johnson
    Utah CB prospect Jaylon JohnsonMichael Conroy/Associated Press

    The Dallas Cowboys could go a variety of directions with the 17th pick in the draft. They could use a new center in the wake of Travis Frederick's retirement. They could use a new edge-rusher after losing Robert Quinn in free agency.

    However, the team's biggest need is at cornerback as former No. 1 option Byron Jones is now a member of the Miami Dolphins.

    Jones inked a five-year, $82.5 million deal with Miami—the sort of deal Dallas had no chance of matching.

    While the Cowboys probably won't have a shot at cornerbacks like Ohio State's Jeff Okudah or possibly even Florida's C.J. Henderson, a prospect like Utah's Jaylon Johnson should be available at No. 17. If so, the Cowboys should be quick to pounce.

    If Dallas believes that one of its other needs should supersede the hole at cornerback, it should come back to the position on Day 2.

Denver Broncos: Overspending to Get a Wide Receiver

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    Alabama WR prospect Jerry Jeudy
    Alabama WR prospect Jerry JeudyMichael Conroy/Associated Press

    As previously mentioned, the Denver Broncos are reportedly interested in moving up for a wide receiver. While making a trade to grab a prospect like Alabama's Jerry Jeudy or Oklahoma's CeeDee Lamb would be tempting, the Broncos have to be careful not to overpay in such a deal.

    As we've also already mentioned, this is believed to be an extremely deep draft class at receiver. While Denver might not be able to get its No. 1 choice, it can land a No. 1-type wideout at 15th overall—and potentially much later than that.

    The Broncos might have to move into the top 10 to get the top receiver on their board. If they can do so at a reasonable price, great. If such a move is going to cost a pair of Day 2 selections or an additional first-rounder, they should balk.

    Denver is not just one receiver away from being a Super Bowl team. It's not worth giving up the chance to add an additional starter when high-end wideouts will be available throughout Round 1.

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

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    Lions head coach Matt Patricia
    Lions head coach Matt PatriciaCharlie Neibergall/Associated Press

    Jeff Okudah and C.J. Henderson are widely considered the top two cornerbacks in this draft class—they're the top two on Miller's big board. The Detroit Lions should have their pick of the two with the third overall selection, which is fortuitous.

    Detroit finished the 2019 season ranked dead last in pass defense (284.4 passing yards per game allowed).

    Grabbing the corner of choice would make a lot of sense for the Lions. However, Detroit could be in a position to add to its draft haul by trading down. A quarterback-needy team like the Miami Dolphins or Los Angeles Chargers could be willing to move up and surrender significant compensation to do so.

    Presumably, Joe Burrow will be off the board by No. 3. However, prospects like Alabama's Tua Tagovailoa and Oregon's Justin Herbert should be there. Miami and Los Angeles own the fifth and sixth picks in the draft, respectively. If Detroit can move down two or three spots and snag a Day 2 pick in the process, it should do so.

    One of the top two corners should still be available there.

Green Bay Packers: Ignoring the Offensive Line

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    Packers OT David Bakhtiari
    Packers OT David BakhtiariDylan Buell/Getty Images

    The Green Bay Packers need to add a wide receiver at some point in this draft. They lack a reliable No. 2 opposite Davante Adams, and this must be remedied. However, it's just as important—and perhaps more so—that they address their offensive line.

    Green Bay lost right tackle Bryan Bulaga in free agency. While it did add Rick Wagner, losing last year's starter is huge. Additionally, the Packers could potentially lose left tackle David Bakhtiari next offseason. He is scheduled to be a free agent.

    While quarterback Aaron Rodgers is still supremely talented, he is also 36 years old. That is not the point in his career for Green Bay to roll out a questionable offensive line.

    If the Packers want to get the most out of their remaining window with Rodgers, they need to ensure that they have a long-term plan in place at offensive tackle. They need a better option at right tackle and an insurance policy at left.

    Ideally, Green Bay can find a lineman who can fill both roles.

    While it might make the most sense to target a receiver in Round 1, the Packers need to add a tackle shortly thereafter.

Houston Texans: Not Addressing the Pass Defense

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    Texans head coach Bill O'Brien
    Texans head coach Bill O'BrienMichael Hickey/Getty Images

    While Houston Texans head coach Bill O'Brien has endured plenty of criticism for trading away DeAndre Hopkins—and perhaps rightfully so—the offense should still be functional in 2020. Quarterback Deshaun Watson will miss the reliability of Hopkins, to be sure, but the additions of Randall Cobb, Brandin Cooks and running back David Johnson will help alleviate the loss.

    Houston's pass defense is a different story.

    The Texans were terrible against the pass in 2019; there's no other way to put it. They ranked 29th in passing yards allowed (267.3 per game) and allowed 33 passing touchdowns, tied for fourth-most in the league.

    The Texans did little this offseason to address their pass defense aside from re-signing Phillip Gaines, Vernon Hargreaves and Bradley Roby. This is an area Houston must address early and often on draft weekend.

Indianapolis Colts: Ignoring the Quarterback Position

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    New Colts QB Philip Rivers
    New Colts QB Philip RiversCharlie Riedel/Associated Press

    Like the Panthers, the Indianapolis Colts have immediate options at quarterback. They still have 2019 starter Jacoby Brissett, and they added veteran Philip Rivers in free agency. The problem is that both are scheduled to become free agents next offseason.

    Neither Brissett nor Rivers is a long-term option for Indianapolis. Rivers is 38 years old, and if the Colts were sold on Brissett, they wouldn't have added the veteran.

    Do the Colts need to make quarterback a priority early? No, but if the right opportunity presents itself—say, Tagovailoa falls out of the first round—they should be prepared to pounce. They don't have a first-round pick because of the DeForest Buckner deal, but they do have the 34th pick in the draft.

    Waiting until next year to draft a future franchise signal-caller is an option, but it's not a great one. The problem with adding Rivers is that he is still talented enough to get Indianapolis into the postseason. That's good for 2020 but not so great for the Colts' 2021 draft position.

Jacksonville Jaguars: Staying Too Committed to Gardner Minshew II

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    Jaguars QB Gardner Minshew II
    Jaguars QB Gardner Minshew IIAssociated Press

    The Jacksonville Jaguars may have lucked into a franchise quarterback. Rookie sixth-round pick Gardner Minshew II showed plenty of poise and promise last season, finishing with 3,271 passing yards, 21 touchdowns and six interceptions.

    Jacksonville felt good enough about him to trade away Nick Foles. However, the Jaguars shouldn't be so committed to the Washington State product that they ignore quarterback options in the draft.

    A prospect like Tua Tagovailoa could easily slide to Jacksonville at No. 9—and possibly much further.

    "You hear people in the league saying he could fall, and everybody is doing their due diligence," ESPN's Mel Kiper Jr. told WEEI's Ordway, Merloni & Fauria recently.

    Like the Indianapolis Colts, the Jaguars should be prepared to pull the trigger if the right quarterback becomes available. Jacksonville has to truly believe in a signal-caller before drafting him, of course, but assuming Minshew is the answer based on one promising season would be a mistake.

Kansas City Chiefs: Not Adding a Run Defender

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    Oklahoma LB prospect Kenneth Murray
    Oklahoma LB prospect Kenneth MurrayAssociated Press

    The Kansas City Chiefs might just have the most explosive offense in the NFL. As a result, opposing teams are likely to play a brand of ball-control offense to keep Patrick Mahomes and Co. off the field moving forward.

    That's a problem given Kansas City's 26th-ranked 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, allowing an average of 128.2 rushing yards per game.

    Adding a premier run-stuffer such as Oklahoma linebacker Kenneth Murray late in Round 1 could pay immediate dividends. Further strengthening the linebacker corps and the defensive front throughout the draft would be advisable, as well.

    Kansas City essentially ignored its defense in free agency aside from franchise tagging defensive tackle Chris Jones and re-signing cornerback Bashaud Breeland.

Las Vegas Raiders: Passing on a Wide Receiver in Round 1

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    Oklahoma WR prospect CeeDee Lamb
    Oklahoma WR prospect CeeDee LambCharlie Riedel/Associated Press

    This one might seem a little counterintuitive as we've already mentioned that teams shouldn't reach for a wide receiver or overpay to trade up for one in this draft. However, the Las Vegas Raiders are in a different position than most teams.

    For one, the Raiders lack any semblance of a No. 1 wide receiver. While the Baltimore Ravens and Denver Broncos need wideouts, they do have Marquise Brown and Courtland Sutton, respectively. The Raiders have Tyrell Williams, Hunter Renfrow and Nelson Agholor—all complementary receivers at best.

    The Raiders also have two first-round selections, one at No. 12 and another at No. 19. Las Vegas should use one of them on a receiver and can do so without reaching.

    If a guy like Jerry Jeudy or CeeDee Lamb is available at No. 12, the Raiders could pull the trigger. If not, they could draft the best player available at another position of need and circle back to receiver seven spots later. It's imperative, however, that they exit the first round with a new go-to option.

Los Angeles Chargers: Ignoring the Quarterback Position

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    Chargers QB Tyrod Taylor
    Chargers QB Tyrod TaylorKelvin Kuo/Associated Press

    Like the Indianapolis Colts, the Los Angeles Chargers have a stopgap option in place at quarterback. They have Tyrod Taylor, and head coach Anthony Lynn is "legitimately bullish" on him, according to NBC Sports' Peter King.

    Does that mean the Chargers can ignore the quarterback position during draft weekend? No. No, it does not.

    While the Chargers don't necessarily have to grab Tua Tagovailoa or Justin Herbert with the sixth pick in Round 1, they should take a chance on a quarterback at some point. Taylor has not proved himself to be more than a temporary option during his time in the NFL—he lasted three seasons in Buffalo before being replaced by Josh Allen.

    If the Chargers don't like their options in Round 1, that's fine. However, they should then take a flier on a prospect like Oklahoma's Jalen Hurts or Georgia's Jake Fromm later in the draft. Unless L.A. is sneakily trying to tank for Trevor Lawrence in the 2021 draft, heading into the season with only Taylor and Easton Stick would be a mistake.

Los Angeles Rams: Ignoring the Offensive Line

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    Rams head coach Sean McVay
    Rams head coach Sean McVayMichael Conroy/Associated Press

    The Los Angeles Rams don't need a quarterback, but they need to invest in the guys blocking for signal-caller Jared Goff. L.A. lost both center John Sullivan and guard Rodger Saffold last offseason, and the results were discouraging.

    "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.

    While the Rams did re-sign Whitworth to a new three-year deal this offseason, he is 38 years old and almost certainly nearing the end of his career. Therefore, the Rams could justify drafting a guard, a center or a tackle early on draft weekend.

    The one thing the Rams cannot do is ignore those three positions while using high draft choices elsewhere.

Miami Dolphins: Forcing a QB Pick in the Top Five

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    Alabama QB prospect Tua Tagovailoa
    Alabama QB prospect Tua TagovailoaRogelio V. Solis/Associated Press

    Like other quarterback-needy teams this year, the Miami Dolphins would be unwise to go through the entire draft without taking a chance on a signal-caller. Ryan Fitzpatrick is not a long-term answer, and Josh Rosen doesn't appear to be, either.

    However, it could be an even bigger mistake to use a top-five pick on a quarterback the Dolphins don't feel comfortable with, and both Tua Tagovailoa and Justin Herbert carry serious questions.

    Tagovailoa's injury history is well-documented. While Herbert is healthy and has plenty of physical upside, he lacks the intangibles great quarterbacks usually possess.

    "I think he's stiff, he's analytical, he doesn't post-snap process," one NFC coach said, per NFL Media's Tom Pelissero. "I don't think he anticipates and throws well in windows versus zone."

    The fifth overall pick in this draft class is far too valuable to waste on a quarterback the Dolphins aren't sold on. If they're not comfortable with the signal-callers who are available there, they should take the best player available or trade down.

    Miami could grab a guy like Utah State's Jordan Love later in the first round or bag a prospect like Jake Fromm later in the draft.

Minnesota Vikings: Reaching for a Receiver at the Bottom of Round 1

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    Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer
    Vikings head coach Mike ZimmerCharlie Neibergall/Associated Press

    If the Las Vegas Raiders would be smart to take a receiver at No. 12 or No. 19, the Minnesota Vikings have to take one at No. 22 or No. 25, right? Well, not exactly.

    While Minnesota does have a major need at receiver following the trade of Stefon Diggs to the Buffalo Bills, it has other needs, as well. Cornerback is the most pressing one after Xavier Rhodes, Trae Waynes and Mackensie Alexander all departed in the offseason.

    If Minnesota can grab a top-tier receiver prospect with one of its picks, great. Three or four receivers could be off the board by Las Vegas' pick at No. 19, however, and there's a strong chance the Philadelphia Eagles grab one at No. 21.

    The Vikings could be looking at the sixth—or even seventh—receiver on their board by No. 22. Pulling the trigger at that point could be a mistake, especially if a quality corner is available.

    Minnesota has a No. 1 receiver in Adam Thielen and two capable receiving tight ends in Kyle Rudolph and Irv Smith Jr. With the Vikings fielding a run-based offense anyway, reaching for a receiver doesn't make sense.

New England Patriots: Getting Too Cute at Quarterback

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    Patriots head coach Bill Belichick
    Patriots head coach Bill BelichickCharles Krupa/Associated Press

    The New England Patriots need a quarterback for the first time in a long time. Why? They lost Tom Brady in free agency. If they're planning on drafting his successor this year—and with Brian Hoyer and Jarrett Stidham on the roster, they may not be—they can't get too cute with their decision-making process.

    According to ESPN's Mike Reiss, the Patriots have looked into sleeper prospects like Florida International quarterback James Morgan. This doesn't mean that the Patriots are going to turn a middle-round prospect into the next Brady.

    Yes, New England did luck into Brady, but it largely has an uneven draft record since doing so. Names like Cyrus Jones and Aaron Dobson should be a reminder that while Bill Belichick may be the greatest coach in league history, he is no draft genius.

    If the Patriots find themselves staring at a prospect like Tua Tagovailoa or Jordan Love at 23—and they believe he can be a quality NFL starter—they need to make the pick. Waiting until the later rounds and acting like they're the smartest guys in the room could bite the Patriots hard—because in the draft they usually aren't.

New Orleans Saints: Overcommitting to Taysom Hill

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    Saints QB Taysom Hill
    Saints QB Taysom HillJason Behnken/Associated Press

    The New Orleans Saints are in a unique position among teams that should target a quarterback. They have Drew Brees under contract for two more years and they seem to like the idea of Taysom Hill being his successor.

    "I think Taysom sees himself as being a starting quarterback in this league, and we do too," head coach Sean Payton told ESPN last month (h/t Michael David Smith of Pro Football Talk).

    There are two problems with banking on Hill as a long-term option. The first is that he is a restricted free agent who is scheduled to hit the open market next offseason. The second and most important reason is that Hill hasn't started a game at quarterback since 2016 with Brigham Young.

    Like other teams listed here, the Saints don't need to force an early quarterback selection. However, it would be foolish to pass on a quarterback early in the draft simple because Hill is under contract for the next 11 months.

New York Giants: Ignoring Trade Offers at No. 4

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    Giants GM Dave Gettleman
    Giants GM Dave GettlemanMichael Conroy/Associated Press

    New York Giants general manager Dave Gettleman has never traded down in the first round of the draft. That could change this year, and Gettleman would be foolish not to at least consider doing so as an option.

    The Giants, it seems, are keen on taking an offensive tackle at the top of Round 1.

    "It is by no means a lock this early in the process, but the consensus of sources who spoke to SNY is that the Giants will take a tackle at No. 4," SNY's Ralph Vacchiano wrote.

    If the Giants do want an offensive tackle, they could realistically move down a handful of spots and still get one of the top ones on the board. Any such deal would have to be worth it, of course, but if New York can move back two or three spots, grab a franchise offensive tackle and pick up an additional Day 2 prospect in the process, it would be a mistake not to.

New York Jets: Not Drafting with Sam Darnold in Mind

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    Jets QB Sam Darnold
    Jets QB Sam DarnoldDavid Dermer/Associated Press

    The New York Jets have a plethora of needs heading into the draft, including a new No. 1 cornerback, an edge-rusher, a premier wide receiver and a franchise offensive tackle to secure the line.

    This year, offense should take precedence in the draft.

    Jets quarterback Sam Darnold is entering his third pro season, and New York still doesn't know if he's a franchise signal-caller. He has plenty of arm talent and athleticism, but Darnold also has a penchant for making bad decisions and a lack of pocket awareness. In 26 games, he has turned the ball over 33 times—and the number could be higher.

    Darnold fumbled 11 times last season, but only three resulted in turnovers.

    This is the year in which the Jets need to find out what they have in Darnold. To do that, they need to draft with him in mind. They should focus almost exclusively on the offensive line and the wideout position over the first two days of the draft.

    With a better roster around him, Darnold would give a better indication of what his ceiling is.

Philadelphia Eagles: Undervaluing Receivers Early in the Draft

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    LSU WR prospect Justin Jefferson
    LSU WR prospect Justin JeffersonAssociated Press

    The Philadelphia Eagles managed to win the NFC East despite struggling to field healthy wide receivers near the end of the 2019 season. This is largely because they still had premier tight ends Zach Ertz and Dallas Goedert and because young wideouts like Greg Ward emerged.

    Wide receiver is still a position that Philadelphia cannot undervalue in the draft. The Eagles lost Nelson Agholor in free agency and are ready and willing to move fellow wideout Alshon Jeffery, per Jeff McLane of the Philadelphia Inquirer.

    The Eagles don't have to reach for a receiver at 21, but if a guy like Alabama's Henry Ruggs III or LSU's Justin Jefferson is there, Philadelphia would be wise to act. If not, receiver should be a prime target on Day 2.

    If Jeffery doesn't have a long-term future in Philadelphia, the Eagles need to find a new go-to target who does.

Pittsburgh Steelers: Banking Too Heavily on Ben Roethlisberger's Return

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    Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger
    Steelers QB Ben RoethlisbergerRick Scuteri/Associated Press

    Though he hasn't supported the Pittsburgh Steelers drafting quarterbacks in the past, Ben Roethlisberger has changed his tune a bit this year.

    "They have to do what they have to do," Roethlisberger told SiriusXM Radio (h/t Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk).

    What the Steelers have to do is not bank too heavily on Roethlisberger getting back to 100 percent and then staying there. The former Miami University star is under contract through 2021. He's also 38 years old and coming off a serious elbow injury. There's no guarantee that he can get back to preinjury form or even stay healthy for two more seasons.

    There's also no guarantee that Pittsburgh can reach the postseason with the duo of Mason Rudolph and Devlin Hodges under center. It couldn't in 2019, and there's no reason to think that one of them will spontaneously transform into a quarterback of the future. 

    The Steelers don't need to force a quarterback pick, but going into the draft as if Roethlisberger will play for the next half-decade would be a major misstep.

San Francisco 49ers: Ignoring the Offensive Line

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    49er head coach Kyle Shanahan
    49er head coach Kyle ShanahanCharlie Neibergall/Associated Press

    The San Francisco 49ers don't have many glaring holes on the roster—which isn't surprising, considering they reached the Super Bowl in 2019. However, they do need to address their long-term plan along the offensive line.

    Several linemen suffered injuries in 2019—Joe Staley, Mike McGlinchey, Mike Person and Weston Richburg all missed time. Person was released this offseason, and while Staley is an elite tackle when healthy, he's also 35 and has yet to confirm that he'll play this season. 

    San Francisco needs to add a wide receiver after losing Emanuel Sanders in free agency. Now that it has the 13th overall pick (via Indianapolis), drafting one highly could be an enticing option. If the 49ers can get an elite offensive tackle there, however, they should.

    At some point, Staley won't be able to anchor the line at a high level. Grabbing his replacement now would allow the 49ers to plan for that scenario while also adding depth to protect against another round of injuries that could come in 2020.

Seattle Seahawks: Not Making the Pass Rush a Priority

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    LSU edge prospect K'Lavon Chaisson
    LSU edge prospect K'Lavon ChaissonAssociated Press

    Pressuring the quarterback was a struggle for the Seattle Seahawks in 2019. Though they added Jadeveon Clowney and Ezekiel Ansah last offseason, they still only managed to produce 28 sacks as a team. Only the Dolphins produced fewer.

    Ansah and Clowney both remain unsigned. Last year's first-round pick L.J. Collier showed virtually nothing as a pass-rusher in limited action—he had just three tackles in 11 games. While free agent Everson Griffen could be an option—he's interested in Seattle, according to Chris Tomasson of the St. Paul Pioneer Press—the Seahawks would be smart to target an edge-rusher early this weekend.

    If they can get their hands on a high-end prospect like LSU's K'Lavon Chaisson or Penn State's Yetur Gross-Matos with the 27th pick, they should grab hold tightly. Seattle might even be wise to consider trading up to get one of the top edge defenders in this class.

    If the Seahawks cannot improve their pass rush, they're going to struggle to get any further in the postseason than they did a year ago.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Passing on an Offensive Tackle in Round 1

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    New Buccaneers QB Tom Brady
    New Buccaneers QB Tom BradyCharles Krupa/Associated Press

    The Tampa Bay Buccaneers made one of the biggest splashes in free agency when they signed six-time champ Tom Brady to be their next quarterback. While targeting his successor wouldn't be the worst idea during the draft—Brady only signed a two-year deal—keeping Brady upright should be a bigger priority.

    Therefore, the Buccaneers should be focused on solidifying the offensive line, which has a hole at right tackle. Last year's starter Demar Dotson remains unsigned, and Tampa did nothing in free agency to replace him.

    Even with Dotson on the roster, Jameis Winston was sacked 47 times in 2019.

    While the Buccaneers may have to trade up from 14 to land one of the top tackle prospects in this class, it's important that they get one. Brady will turn 43 before the start of the regular season, and it's not like he was an escape artist in his younger days.

    If Tampa cannot properly protect Brady, the TB12-in-TB era may go off the rails.

Tennessee Titans: Ignoring the Running Back Position

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    Boston College RB prospect AJ Dillon
    Boston College RB prospect AJ DillonKeith Srakocic/Associated Press

    The Tennessee Titans used the franchise tag on running back Derrick Henry this offseason. While that does mean they should have the 2019 rushing champ back for 2020, it doesn't mean that Tennessee is committed to him long term.

    In fact, the Titans' unwillingness to sign him to a long-term deal this offseason could mean they don't have him in their long-term plans at all. They may be willing to run him into the ground this season and then discard him next spring. If so, they'll need a succession plan at running back.

    Even if they do want Henry beyond 2020, it would be a mistake for the Titans to ignore the running back position in this year's draft.

    Adding insurance for Henry should be one goal. He's carried the ball 804 times as a pro during the regular season alone. Though he's been durable so far, an unexpected injury or a decline in performance could occur at any time. The Titans could use a backup/change-of-pace back anyway after parting with Dion Lewis this offseason. Lewis was not heavily utilized in 2019—he had just 79 touches—but he was there to give Henry a breather.

    The Titans should not assume that Henry will be able to handle 300-plus carries again while still performing at a high level.

Washington Redskins: Overthinking the No. 2 Pick

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    Ohio State edge Chase Young
    Ohio State edge Chase YoungAssociated Press

    If Washington can get a hefty return by trading the No. 2 pick, then it should consider doing so. But it shouldn't be quick to pass on Ohio State edge-rusher Chase Young for anything less than multiple first-round picks.

    Young is a blue-chip pass-rushing prospect coming off a 16.5-sack season. The Maryland native is also eager to play for Washington—something that can't often be said when a 3-13 team is involved.

    "It definitely would be an honor to play at home," Young said, per ABC 7's Scott Abraham.

    If Washington isn't sold on its quarterback options—Dwayne Haskins and Kyle Allen—then a signal-caller could also be an option with the No. 2 pick. However, passing on a sure thing and a future face of the franchise like Young could prove to be a massive mistake.


    All contract information via Spotrac


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