Updated Needs for Every NFL Team Entering 2021 NFL Draft

Brent Sobleski@@brentsobleskiNFL AnalystApril 15, 2021

Updated Needs for Every NFL Team Entering 2021 NFL Draft

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    Justin Edmonds/Associated Press

    A lively debate ensued on social media in recent weeks (what's new?) over the viability of taking one position over another high in the draft. 

    The topic centered on whether the Cincinnati Bengals should select the top offensive tackle or wide receiver with this year's fifth overall pick 

    Whichever way a person leans in this particular discussion doesn't really matter, because the truth is the team needs to address both positions. It's not an either/or situation. 

    The conversation serves as a microcosm of what every organization is currently contemplating. 

    Even with the opportunity to address problem areas through trades and free agencywhere plenty of movement occurred over the past monthrosters aren't complete. 

    Signings and deals help accentuate lineups but they're only the starting point. The NFL draft serves as the lifeblood of actual team-building. From April 29 through May 1 in Cleveland, each of the 32 teams will attempt to fill their biggest need areas with the best available talent.

    Before reaching that point, those weak spots must be identified.

Arizona Cardinals

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    Bill Kostroun/Associated Press
    • Cornerback
    • Guard
    • Tight end 

    The Arizona Cardinals certainly added significant name power this offseason with the acquisitions of defensive lineman JJ Watt, wide receiver AJ Green and even running back James Conner to a lesser degree. 

    While all three should significantly help the Cardinals, the team didn't actually address three of its biggest problem areas. 

    Cornerback was already a major issue before Patrick Peterson's departure. Malcolm Butler's addition doesn't solve the position, because the 31-year-old is a short-term fix. Byron Murphy Jr. is solid but better working the slot. Butler and Robert Alford could use significant help on the outside. 

    Meanwhile, right guard still looks like a potential hole along the offensive line and the team's current tight ends produced very little last season. 

    Potential Early-Round Fit: South Carolina CB Jaycee Horn

Atlanta Falcons

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    Kevin Sabitus/Associated Press
    • Edge
    • Secondary
    • Offensive interior 

    The Atlanta Falcons have been looking to generate more of a pass rush for years, hence why the organization signed Dante Fowler Jr. to a three-year, $45 million contract last offseason. Yet, Fowler generated only three sacks last season. 

    In fact, no defender on the Falcons roster managed more than 4.5 sacks and the number actually came from linebacker Deion Jones. Significantly more pressure needs to be created along the defensive front, which will only help a suspect secondary that also requires improvements. 

    Atlanta owns this year's fourth overall pick and could go in two completely different directions by selecting either a quarterback or an offensive weapon like Florida tight end Kyle Pitts. Both could be too tempting based on their value at the top of the draft. Once that decision is made, the Falcons can double-back on Day 2 by adding some much-needed pass-rush punch. 

    Potential Early-Round Fit: Oklahoma DE Ronnie Perkins

Baltimore Ravens

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    Brett Carlsen/Associated Press
    • Edge
    • Right tackle
    • Tight end

    Baltimore Ravens general manager Eric DeCosta has some tinkering to do. The franchise, known for successfully drafting year after year, has major transitions occurring along sides of the trenches. 

    Defensively, the unit lost a significant portion of its pass-rush capabilities with Matthew Judon and Yannick Ngakoue leaving in free agency, though Tyus Bowser and Pernell McPhee remain. 

    On the other side of the ball, Orlando Brown Jr. could potentially be traded before or during the draft, which will create a hole at right tackle. Center was already an issue after last year's disappointing performances by multiple options. 

    While tight end doesn't seem like a major concern with Mark Andrews on the roster, the offense took a significant step back in 2020 when utilizing 12 personnel far less. 

    Potential Early-Round Fit: Miami DE Jaelan Phillips

Buffalo Bills

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    Rick Scuteri/Associated Press
    • Edge
    • Cornerback
    • Tight end 

    The Buffalo Bills feature a stacked roster and general manager Brandon Beane did a wonderful job this offseason retaining multiple key free agents. With right tackle Daryl Williams, linebacker Matt Milano and cornerback Levi Wallace re-signed, the Bills will now enter the draft without a single glaring weakness. 

    Instead, Beane and Co. can concentrate on improving rotations in the short term while addressing positions over the long haul. 

    Defensive end remains a particular sticking point due to the ages of Jerry Hughes, 32, and Mario Addison, 33. A.J. Epenesa brings some potential to the position but he needs a running mate. 

    A similar argument can be made at cornerback. Wallace's return creates stability, but he's not signed beyond the 2020 campaign. Tre'Davious White could use a long-term bookend. 

    Potential Early-Round Fit: Penn State DE Jayson Oweh

Carolina Panthers

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    David Berding/Associated Press
    • Left tackle
    • Tight end
    • Safety

    The Carolina Panthers made two of the league's most head-scratching moves at the onset of free agency when they quickly signed offensive linemen Cameron Erving and Pat Elflein. 

    To be fair, Carolina should have prioritized its offensive line. At the same time, the rush to sign Erving and Elflein, who weren't even close to Tier 1 free agents and barely register as potential starting options, wasn't the obvious path toward improvement. But they're on the roster.

    A legitimate left tackle to bookend Carolina's franchise player, right tackle Taylor Moton, will help complete whatever plan the Panthers have for rebuilding their offensive front and protecting new quarterback Sam Darnold. 

    The addition of a capable tight end to help in blocking schemes while adding to the passing game couldn't hurt, either. 

    Potential Early-Round Fit: Northwestern OT Rashawn Slater

Chicago Bears

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    Kamil Krzaczynski/Associated Press
    • Quarterback
    • Right tackle
    • Wide Receiver

    The Chicago Bears sit in an extremely difficult position.

    The organization seems relegated to starting Andy Dalton at the game's most important position. As owners of the 20th overall pick, Chicago sits behind multiple other quarterback-starved organizations. The Bears' slotting basically takes them out of the quarterback conversation. 

    The same could be true of the tackle position, at least in the first round. This year's offensive line class is deep, though the top four offensive tackle prospects could easily be off the board before Chicago selects. 

    If that were to happen, wide receiver should take priority. Yes, Allen Robinson II is back for this season. What about next year, though? Besides, Chicago should emphasize the addition of more weapons to help Dalton as much as possible. 

    Potential Early-Round Fit: Minnesota WR Rashod Bateman

Cincinnati Bengals

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    Wilfredo Lee/Associated Press
    • Offensive tackle
    • Offensive interior
    • Wide receiver 

    The only correct way to build around a young franchise quarterback is by making sure he's properly protected. The Cincinnati Bengals failed last year's No. 1 overall pick, Joe Burrow. They can't do so again. 

    The allure of drafting an elite wide receiver is certainly present. The idea of pairing Burrow with his favorite collegiate target, Ja'Marr Chase, makes sense on some level. 

    But a quarterback can't take advantage of amazing weapons if he's pressured and on his back the bulk of the time. 

    Cincinnati didn't do much to address its offensive line in free agency aside from signing nine-year veteran Riley Reiff. It's not enough. Reiff can play tackle or guard so there's no reason why an offensive tackle shouldn't be added. 

    As the owners of the fifth overall pick, the Bengals will almost certainly have the opportunity to take the best blocker in this year's class. The decision is a no-brainer. 

    Potential Early-Round Fit: Oregon OT Penei Sewell

Cleveland Browns

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    Kirk Irwin/Associated Press
    • Cornerback
    • Edge
    • Wide receiver

    The Cleveland Browns knew their defense had to be better than the unit everyone watched during the team's playoff run. As such, general manager Andrew Berry set about making significant offseason changes to that side of the ball. 

    He began with the free-agent signings of safety John Johnson III, cornerback, Troy Hill, defensive end Takkarist McKinley, defensive lineman Malik Jackson and linebacker Anthony Walker Jr. It's a good start, but the group is far from complete. The team recently added Jadeveon Clowney, too. 

    Outside corner remains a major question mark since Greedy Williams missed all of last season with nerve damage in his right shoulder. Clowney, McKinley and Jackson will operate under one-year contracts. The team's linebackers still aren't very good. 

    The Browns now have one of the NFL's best rosters, but Berry must make sure the defense is no longer a hindrance. 

    Potential Early-Round Fit: Florida State CB Asante Samuel Jr.

Dallas Cowboys

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    Corey Sipkin/Associated Press
    • Cornerback
    • Defensive tackle
    • Tight end

    The Dallas Cowboys offense is loaded, especially after the organization finally reached a long-term deal with quarterback Dak Prescott. The defense? Not so much. 

    Last season, the Cowboys finished 23rd in total defense and 31st against the run. 

    Of the two areas of concern, cornerback carries a much higher value. Dallas currently has Trevon Diggs, Anthony Brown and Jourdan Lewis but lacks a true No. 1 cornerback. The team could very well have its choice of the top three cornerback prospectsAlabama's Patrick Surtain II, South Carolina's Jaycee Horn and Virginia Tech's Caleb Farleywith this year's 10th overall pick. 

    The possibility of adding an elite talent at a premium position trumps concerns along the defensive interior, though the Cowboys must get far stronger at the point of attack. Neville Gallimore and Trysten Hill aren't the solution. 

    Potential Early-Round Fit: Alabama cornerback Patrick Surtain II

Denver Broncos

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    David Zalubowski/Associated Press
    • Quarterback
    • Linebacker
    • Running back 

    Publicly, Drew Lock is the Denver Broncos' starting quarterback. Privately, the team is pursuing avenues to upgrade the position. 

    According to Sports Illustrated's Albert Breer, the organization made a strong play for Matthew Stafford before the Los Angeles Rams completed a deal with the Detroit Lions. NBC Sports' Peter King described Lock's hold on the position as "tenuous." 

    Basically, Denver is in the quarterback market. Lock didn't do enough a season ago to warrant another approach. 

    But the Broncos could very well find themselves on the outside looking in with this year's ninth overall pick. If that turns out to be the case, linebacker remains a sticking point since both A.J. Johnson and Josey Jewell are free agents after this season. 

    Another running back later in the process could help Lock as well if the third-year signal-caller remains the starter. 

    Potential Early-Round Fit: Penn State LB Micah Parsons

Detroit Lions

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    Duane Burleson/Associated Press
    • Wide receiver
    • Wide receiver
    • Linebacker

    No, a typo doesn't appear in the Detroit Lions' team needs. The double-listing is simply a reflection of the current sad state of the Lions wide receiver corps. 

    Detroit's previous top three receiversKenny Golladay, Marvin Jones Jr. and Danny Amendolaare no longer with the team. Instead, the organization signed free agents Breshad Perriman and Tyrell Williams. Quintez Cephus is the squad's top returning wide receiver after last season's 20-reception effort as a rookie.

    Yeah, it's bad. Really bad. As in, the Lions' wide receivers may be the worst position group in football entering the draft. 

    Fortunately, another deep class with ample talent near the top of the draft afford the Lions the opportunity to instantly upgrade the position. 

    Once that's accomplished, Detroit can look to improve other positions. 

    Potential Early-Round Fit: Alabama WR DeVonta Smith

Green Bay Packers

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    Mike Roemer/Associated Press
    • Cornerback
    • Wide receiver
    • Offensive interior 

    The Green Bay Packers' primary issue is the same today as it was this time last year. 

    "They need somebody that can take the pressure off Davante [Adams] and make plays as well," an anonymous front-office executive told ESPN's Rob Demovsky. "[Marquez] Valdes-Scantling is fine if he’s your [No. 3] or 4 or 5 [receiver]. If he's your fifth receiver, then you’ve got great depth." 

    An argument can be made that beyond Adams, the Packers receivers actually outperformed expectations in 2020. Conversely, Green Bay shouldn't rely on those same targets to continually do so when an opportunity exists to finally put a first-round offensive weapon around reigning MVP and future Hall of Fame quarterback Aaron Rodgers

    Sure, a much bigger hole exists at cornerback. But the team is built around Rodgers. The organization's primary directive should be to make the quarterback happy, though it regularly falls short of its mission. 

    Potential Early-Round Fit: WR Kadarius Toney, Florida

Houston Texans

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    Kirk Irwin/Associated Press
    • Offensive interior
    • Wide receiver
    • Edge 

    The Houston Texans no longer look like the organization that slowly crumbled under the supervision of previous head coach and general manager Bill O'Brien.

    New general manager Nick Caserio brought in a whopping 24 free agents and traded for defensive end Shaq Lawson, offensive tackle Marcus Cannon and tight end Ryan Izzo. 

    Caserio addressed every single level of the team, but it's not enough. 

    The offensive line, in particular, still requires fortifications. Even with the assumption Cannon will move to guard and Cole Toner can play center, the team can still get better up front. Basically, the tackles are set with Laremy Tunsil and Tytus Howard and Max Scharping at left guard.

    If a quality interior prospect remains available when the Texans are finally on the clock in the third round, Cesario should shore up the trenches and make them into a much stronger unit.

    Potential Early-Round Fit: Wisconsin-Whitewater C Quinn Meinerz

Indianapolis Colts

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    Rick Osentoski/Associated Press
    • Left tackle
    • Edge
    • Cornerback 

    The acquisition of Carson Wentz put a completely different spin on the Indianapolis Colts' offseason. Now, the franchise doesn't have to search far and wide to replace the now-retired Philip Rivers. Wentz enters a situation where he should be comfortable due to his previous working experience with head coach Frank Reich, wide receivers coach Mike Groh and senior offensive assistant Press Taylor. 

    Now, the new Colts quarterback needs to be comfortable working in the pocket. In order to do so, left tackle must be addressed. Anthony Castonzo walked away from the game this offseason after 10 rocksteady seasons. 

    With the 21st overall pick, Indianapolis may be just outside of the range for one of the top three or four offensive tackle prospects. However, starting options should be available well into the draft's second day. 

    As long as Wentz's blindside is secured, the Colt can continue building upon their top-10 defense. 

    Potential Early-Round Fit: Notre Dame OT Liam Eichenberg

Jackonville Jaguars

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    Brian Blanco/Associated Press
    • Quarterback
    • Tight end
    • Safety

    Well, Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence will be the No. 1 overall pick in the 2021 NFL draft. 

    Does anyone doubt this? No? OK, good. Let's move on to what the Jacksonville Jaguars can do next. 

    Jacksonville is loaded with draft picks. Beyond the opening slot, the team owns nine more selections, including this year's 25th overall pick. 

    The Jaguars were aggressive in free agency and signed cornerback Shaquill Griffin, safety Rayshawn Jenkins, tight end Chris Manhertz, defensive end Jihad Ward and defensive tackles Roy Robertson-Harris and Malcom Brown.

    Those additions are mainly filler. There's nothing wrong with that approach. But the idea Jacksonville is set at certain positions simply because the team signed someone to play the spot doesn't make any sense.  

    Jacksonville can spend the rest of the draft properly building around Lawrence and improving the defense. 

    Potential Early-Round Fit: Clemson QB Trevor Lawrence

Kansas City Chiefs

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    Steve Luciano/Associated Press
    • Offensive tackle
    • Edge
    • Cornerback 

    The Kansas City Chiefs' Super Bowl LV effort showed everyone on thing: The organization must protect quarterback Patrick Mahomes at all costs. 

    So, the organization immediately went about deconstructing its previous starting front by releasing offensive tackles Eric Fisher and Mitchell Schwartz and letting center Austin Reiter leave. Kansas City then splurged in free agency with the acquisition of top-rated guard Joe Thuney. The team doubled and even tripled down along the interior by signing Kyle Long and Austin Blythe. 

    Guard to guard, the Chiefs are set. Offensive tackle remains a sore spot with no real starting option available on Mahomes' blind side. 

    The defense needs help, too. But the Chiefs must finish rebuilding their offensive front first. 

    Potential Early-Round Fit: North Dakota State OT Dillon Radunz

Las Vegas Raiders

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    Kirk Irwin/Associated Press
    • Right tackle
    • Safety
    • Linebacker 

    The Las Vegas Raiders' approach to team-building can be best described as questionable. 

    The organization invested a lot in its offensive line over the years only to trade right tackle Trent Brown, guard Gabe Jackson and center Rodney Hudson this offseason. The team turned around and handed left tackle Kolton Miller a contract extension with an average annual salary of $18 million. 

    What position do the Raiders need to address in the draft? The offensive line, particularly right tackle. 

    Las Vegas splurged in free agency last year by signing linebackers Cory Littleton and Nick Kwiatkoski. Those two deals may be mistakes and linebacker is back on the table as an area of need. 

    The Raiders have two former first-round picks at safety on their roster with Johnathan Abram and the recently reacquired Karl Joseph, yet the defense lacks a true deep defender. 

    Potential Early-Round Fit: Oklahoma State RT Teven Jenkins

Los Angeles Chargers

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    Peter Joneleit/Associated Press
    • Left tackle
    • Edge
    • Cornerback 

    The Los Angeles Chargers' path back to long-term respectability and possible playoff appearances now revolves around quarterback Justin Herbert. As good as the reigning NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year was last season, he didn't receive much help from his offensive front. 

    In fact, Pro Football Focus graded the Chargers offensive line as the league's worst. 

    Dan Feeney, Forrest Lamp, Cole Toner, Sam Tevi and Mike Pouncey are all gone. Right tackle Brian Bulaga is the lone holdover. The organization signed Corey Linsley, Matt Feiler and Oday Aboushi to handle the offensive interior. A void still exists at left tackle. 

    The idea of Los Angeles not taking a top-ranked blocker with the 13th overall pick seems far-fetched. Once that's settled, the Chargers can spotlight concern areas on defense with the team's three Day 2 draft picks. 

    Potential Early-Round Fit: Virginia Tech offensive tackle Christian Darrisaw

Los Angeles Rams

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    Daniel Kucin Jr./Associated Press
    • Left tackle
    • Edge
    • Linebacker 

    Andrew Whitworth is truly special. The Los Angeles Rams' left tackle turns 40 later this year yet remains one of the league's most consistent blockers. 

    His status on the Rams roster isn't in question, but the Rams should prepare for the future. A transition will already occur at center where Brian Allen is expected to take over for Austin Blythe, who signed a free-agent deal with the Kansas City Chiefs. 

    Los Angeles may have more pressing needs, particularly on the defensive side of the ball. However, no first-round pick should force the Rams to see who becomes available once they're on the clock in the second. The offensive tackle class is extremely deep and the possibility of landing a quality prospect to eventually replace Whitworth and protect quarterback Matthew Stafford can't be overlooked. 

    Furthermore, the team has a pair of third-round selections to flesh out the defense. 

    Potential Early-Round Fit: Northern Iowa OT Spencer Brown

Miami Dolphins

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    Doug Murray/Associated Press
    • Receiver
    • Edge
    • Running back 

    With the Miami Dolphins trading out of this year's third overall pick, the speculation of another first-round quarterback selection quickly faded in favor of the team properly building around quarterback Tua Tagovailoa. 

    By trading back up from the 12th to the sixth overall pick, the Dolphins clearly have their eye on a premium talent. 

    The best way to look at the situation is by simply saying the team needs an offensive weapon. Technically, Florida's Kyle Pitts and LSU's Ja'Marr Chase play different positions but they're both the type of go-to targets who will make Miami's offense far more potent. DeVante Parker would certainly benefit from either being on the field at the same time. 

    In the backfield, Myles Gaskin, Salvon Ahmed and the recently signed Malcolm Brown can form an effective committee approach, whereas a true feature back has the potential to change the entire offensive approach. 

    Potential Early-Round Fit: Florida TE Kyle Pitts

Minnesota Vikings

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    Jim Mone/Associated Press
    • Offensive tackle
    • Edge
    • Guard 

    The Minnesota Vikings own this year's 14th overall pick with significant needs at two premium positions. 

    The organization already had a problem generating pressure last season. The return of Danielle Hunter from a season-ending neck injury isn't the sole solution to said problem. So, defensive end is on the list. 

    Meanwhile, general manager Rick Spielman created another hole with Riley Reiff's release, though the team needed to create some salary-cap flexibility. Maybe Ezra Cleveland moves from right guard to left tackle. 

    Minnesota still decided to address cornerback and the defensive interior with the signings of Patrick Peterson and Dalvin Tomlinson. 

    Basically, the Vikings will be forced to choose between two positions once they're on the clock. The first-round decision will likely come down to who's still available before addressing the other on Day 2. 

    Potential Early-Round Fit: Michigan DE Kwity Paye

New England Patriots

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    Elise Amendola/Associated Press
    • Quarterback
    • Cornerback
    • Wide receiver 

    The New England Patriots' organizational approach to this year's free agency showed a different side to the decaying dynasty. 

    New England went all-in with the signings of Jonnu Smith, Hunter Henry, Matthew Judon, Jalen Mills, Nelson Agholor, Kendrick Bourne, Davon Godchaux and Kyle Van Noy. The franchise also re-signed Cam Newton, David Andrews, James White and Lawrence Guy. 

    As the roster currently stands, the Patriots can compete for a playoff spot. But they can be even better. 

    Even with Newton's return, quarterback can't be settled. An aggressive move in the draft to obtain one of the top-five quarterback prospects should be in play. Newton isn't the long-term answer. The possibility of a Justin Fields or Mac Jones surrounded by the team's current supporting cast is an exciting proposition. 

    Sure, the Patriots could add more to other areas but the possibility of not getting a quarterback of the future would make the entire process a major disappointment. 

    Potential Early-Round Fit: Alabama QB Mac Jones

New Orleans Saints

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    Kamil Krzaczynski/Associated Press
    • Cornerback
    • Wide receiver
    • Quarterback 

    The fact the New Orleans Saints can field a team at all after the salary-cap maneuvering they were forced to undertake this offseason is a miracle unto itself. 

    Concessions were made, though. Trey Hendrickson, Sheldon Rankins, Janoris Jenkins, Jared Cook and Emmanuel Sanders are no longer with the team. The list doesn't even include the now-retired Drew Brees

    As a result, holes have appeared in what was one of the league's most complete rosters. 

    A true outside cornerback opposite Marshon Lattimore doesn't really exist. Wide receiver Michael Thomas could use significant help in the passing game. The defensive interior requires some more bulk as well. 

    On top of those problem areas, the quarterback position isn't settled. Yes, Jameis Winston and Taysom Hill are still on the roster. Neither could turn out to be the answer, though. Quarterback shouldn't be ruled out entirely. 

    Potential Early-Round Fit: Georgia CB Eric Stokes

New York Giants

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    Kamil Krzaczynski/Associated Press
    • Edge
    • Offensive interior
    • Nose tackle 

    The New York Giants started slowly in free agency only to come on strong with an exceptional offseason effort. 

    The back-to-back signings of wide receiver Kenny Golladay and cornerback Adoree' Jackson make the team much better outside the numbers on both sides of the ball. Wide receiver, in particular, was a massive need area coming into the new league year but general manager Dave Gettleman signed one of the top available targets. 

    Edge is the other position of major concern that has yet to be properly addressed. Leonard Williams is the Giants' disruptive force up front. But the Giants could use someone screaming off the edge to make Williams even more effective. 

    While those two are working, someone to clog the middle would help as well since Dalvin Tomlinson left in free agency. Danny Shelton is nothing more than a Band-Aid. 

    Potential Early-Round Fit: Georgia edge Azeez Ojulari

New York Jets

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    Jeff Swinger/Associated Press
    • Quarterback
    • Cornerback
    • Edge

    New York Jets general manager Joe Douglas and new head coach Robert Saleh evaluated quarterback Sam Darnold and went in another direction. New York traded Darnold to the Carolina Panthers for a 2021 sixth-round and 2022 second- and fourth-round draft picks. 

    With this year's second overall pick, the Jets will choose a quarterback, likely BYU's Zach Wilson. The Jets then have another first-round selection, the 23rd overall pick, thanks to last year's Jamal Adams trade. 

    The opportunity to draft a potential franchise quarterback is always exciting. It's what the Jets do next to build up the rest of the roster. Douglas already signed wide receiver Corey Davis and running back Tevin Coleman to help on offense. 

    Defensively, New York's projected starting corners and subsequent depth are suspect. The team's crown jewel in free agency, edge Carl Lawson, could use a running mate. 

    Potential Early-Round Fit: BYU QB Zach Wilson

Philadelphia Eagles

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    Adam Hunger/Associated Press
    • Wide receiver
    • Cornerback
    • Linebacker 

    No one within the Philadelphia Eagles organization seems to know whether Jalen Hurts is truly the guy. 

    "What you saw [in the four games Hurts started last year], I think you see a guy who has an arm and is versatile, with his legs, but we're still waiting to see—you know, [with Hurts as] QB 1, what we can do in a full season. ... He carries himself like a veteran," right tackle Lane Johnson told the Philadelphia Inquirer's Les Bowen

    With the Eagles trading out of this year's sixth overall pick, Hurts appears to be the solution, at least in the short term. He needs help, though.

    Now sitting at No. 12, Philadelphia will likely still be in a position to land one of the premier weapons in the draft class. Florida's Kyle Pitts and LSU's Ja'Marr Chase will likely be off the board, but one of the Alabama wide receiversDeVonta Smith or Jaylen Waddle—could realistically be available. 

    Potential Early-Round Fit: Alabama WR Jaylen Waddle

Pittsburgh Steelers

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    Don Wright/Associated Press
    • Quarterback
    • Offensive Line
    • Running back 

    The current Pittsburgh Steelers are one step away from a complete rebuild. 

    Somehow, the organization didn't plan ahead for the inevitable decline of a 39-year-old quarterback, even though he required season-ending elbow surgery a year ago. So, the Steelers are stuck with Ben Roethlisberger for another campaign. The best thing general manager Kevin Colbert can do is draft a developmental quarterback prospect and hope he shows long-term starting potential. 

    The next step should be trying to build up the offense around Roethsliberger in hopes of maximizing what the two-time Super Bowl champion has left in the tank. 

    Left tackle and center both present significant obstacles after Maurkice Pouncey's retirement and Alejandro Villanueva's free-agent status. 

    A strong front can help pave the way toward improvement over last year's 32nd-ranked rushing attack, which could use a workhorse in the backfield. 

    Potential Early-Round Fit: Stanford quarterback Davis Mills

San Francisco 49ers

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    Charles Krupa/Associated Press
    • Quarterback
    • Cornerback
    • Offensive interior

    The San Francisco 49ers made their intentions quite clear when the organization decided to flip three first-round picks to the Miami Dolphins for this year's third overall selection and grab a new franchise quarterback. 

    Jimmy Garoppolo's status doesn't really matter because he's operating on borrowed time. 

    Everything leading up to the draft is about selecting the right quarterback to make the 49ers more dynamic on offense. And, no, Mac Jones doesn't fit the bill. 

    Once the quarterback is in place, the 49ers still have seven more draft picks, including a second-round selection.

    General manager John Lynch did a good job rebuilding a secondary that could have been decimated by free agency. But Jason Verrett, K'Waun Williams and Jaquiski Tartt signed one-year deals, which makes defensive back a priority even with their returns to the lineup. 

    Potential Early-Round Fit:  Ohio State QB Justin Fields

Seattle Seahawks

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    Tony Avelar/Associated Press
    • Cornerback
    • Offensive interior
    • Wide receiver 

    The Seattle Seahawks currently owns three total draft picks.

    General manager John Schneider is a wizard when it comes to manipulating the draft. He'll likely be forced to move all over the board again this year since the Seahawks require help at multiple key areas. 

    As of now, the team's three picks can be found in the second, fourth and seventh rounds.

    Still, there's work to be done, particularly in the Seahawks' secondary after Shaquill Griffin's free-agent departure. Tre Flowers will man one outside corner spot with Ugo Amandi over the slot. Seattle signed cornerback Ahkello Witherspoon in free agency, but his inconsistent performances prevented him from becoming a full-time starter with the San Francisco 49ers. 

    Maybe Seattle strikes gold with another mid-round pick-turned-starer along the offensive interior like it did last year with Damien Lewis. 

    Potential Early-Round Fit: Syracuse CB Ifeatu Melifonwu

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

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    Jason Behnken/Associated Press
    • Defensive interior
    • Edge
    • Wide receiver 

    Amazingly, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers will have all 22 starters returning from last year's Super Bowl-winning squad. Somehow, general manager Jason Licht retained free agents Chris Godwin, Lavonte David, Shaquil Barrett, Rob Gronkowski, Ndamukong Suh and Leonard Fournette.

    The franchise didn't need to bring in anyone else of note because the core remains intact. However, planning for the future is the correct pathway now. 

    Suh and Jason Pierre-Paul are 34 and 32, respectively. Neither is under contract beyond the upcoming season. The same can be said of the much younger Godwin, who is currently under the franchise tag. 

    The fact Tampa Bay retained all of its key contributors is amazing. No one should expect it to happen again next offseason. As such, cheap alternatives acquired through the draft are the best way to extend the organization's championship window. 

    Potential Early-Round Fit: Louisiana Tech DT Milton Williams

Tennessee Titans

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    Bruce Kluckhohn/Associated Press
    • Cornerback
    • Wide receiver
    • Right tackle 

    One free-agent signing can shift a team's entire offseason approach.

    In the Tennessee Titans' case, Bud Dupree's acquisition finally gave the team someone to pair with fellow edge Harold Landry III after last year's dismal attempt to address the position by signing Vic Beasley Jr. and Jadeveon Clowney

    From there, the Titans can go from working on the defensive front to concentrating on the defensive backfield after releasing both Adoree' Jackson and Malcolm Butler. Currently, the team expects to rely on second-year cornerback Kristian Fulton, along with the free-agent additions of Janoris Jenkins and Kevin Johnson. 

    While cornerback is the most immediate concern, the losses of wide receiver Corey Davis and right tackle Dennis Kelly can't be overlooked. Josh Reynolds and Kendall Lamm are merely placeholders at those positions. 

    Potential Early-Round Fit: Northwestern CB Greg Newsome II

Washington Football Team

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    Daniel Kucin Jr./Associated Press
    • Quarterback
    • Left tackle
    • Linebacker 

    Ryan Fitzpatrick and/or Taylor Heinicke may be good enough behind center for the Washington Football Team to claim another NFC East title in 2021. But the organization's current quarterback situation is far from the franchise's end game. 

    Washington should be doing everything in its power to trade up and claim one of this year's top-five quarterback prospects. The front office could very well be on its way to doing so. 

    According to former NFL general manager and The Athletic analyst Michael Lombardi, Washington "loves [North Dakota State's Trey] Lance." 

    An aggressive move up to grab the franchise's quarterback of the future can be the start of settling the entire offense, as long as Washington retains a Day 2 pick to address left tackle among a deep line class. 

    Potential Early-Round Fit: North Dakota State QB Trey Lance


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