Every Team's Biggest Need Entering 2022 NFL DraftApril 27, 2022
Every Team's Biggest Need Entering 2022 NFL Draft
The primary waves of free agency have come and passed, with stars finding new homes via trades or signings. The salary cap played a big part in certain moves as a few positions saw a major boom in contract values. All of the moves either answered a team's biggest need or created a new one.
A whopping eight teams will enter Thursday night's NFL draft in Las Vegas with multiple first-round picks. That type of capital is enough to alter a playoff race.
Drafting purely for need isn't an effective long-term strategy, but that must be considered. All 32 teams have key weaknesses that could be fatal come playoff time. The right rookie can at least solidify a position enough to raise the ceiling of his unit, but it's unfair to ask a first-year player to be a transcendent star right away.
We're going to look at every team's most glaring weakness at this crucial stage of the offseason.
Positions that often earn larger free-agent contracts and higher draft investments are more critical. For example, there are teams with a need for a starting cornerback and running back. Because of the importance of a cornerback and general ease of finding a competent back, we'll rank the cornerback need higher even if the incumbent rusher is worse than the incumbent starting corner in question.
Arizona Cardinals: Edge-Rusher
Paying Chandler Jones as he turned 32 this offseason was clearly not in the plans despite the Arizona Cardinals being in win-now mode. Avoiding the $51 million commitment to him was understandable even if it stings to lose a star on a Hall of Fame sack pace. But losing Haason Reddick after 2020 and not having a successor in-house to replace Jones have left the Cardinals' front seven lacking.
For now, the combination of J.J. Watt (has missed 18 games over the past three seasons), Markus Golden and Devon Kennard is one of the least inspiring in the league. This unit desperately needs an injection of explosiveness and reliability. This draft is deep with edge options, but the position's hit rate beyond the first round is abysmal.
Arizona can't force the pick considering it has needs at guard and wide receiver as well. Picking up a veteran like Melvin Ingram should be attractive, but the Cardinals can't just rely on stopgaps. Drafting someone like Minnesota's Boye Mafe, Oklahoma's Nik Bonitto or Penn State's Arnold Ebiketie would create much more optimism around this defense's potential.
Atlanta Falcons: Quarterback
The decision to trade Matt Ryan, 36, amid a rebuild may have come a year too late in terms of maximizing the team's return, but it was the right call to move on. Signing veteran Marcus Mariota to a two-year deal, with an out after 2022, was a shrewd move as well since other options included moving assets for quarterbacks with similar questions about their ceilings.
However, head coach Arthur Smith still needs a long-term answer under center.
Armed with the eighth overall pick, the Atlanta Falcons may be in position to draft Liberty's Malik Willis. Willis has superstar potential but lacks the accuracy and resume that Justin Fields offered when the Falcons passed on him with the fourth overall pick last year. Atlanta may feel like its roster isn't ready to compete, so there's no need to force its pick on a talented but developmental quarterback in the first round.
The Falcons still need more receiving weapons after losing the trio of Julio Jones, Calvin Ridley (suspension) and Russell Gage over the last year. They could also use a pass-rusher after taking tight end Kyle Pitts over Micah Parsons in 2021.
But creating a competent plan to land their quarterback of the future over the next two drafts is the priority.
Baltimore Ravens: Center
Injuries drastically changed how the Baltimore Ravens had to play in 2021. While their decision to throw the ball more was intentional and a necessary development, the slew of offensive line injuries exposed Lamar Jackson to an unsustainable amount of pressure. The quarterback eventually missed five games with a bone bruise in his ankle.
Getting left tackle Ronnie Stanley back in 2022 after he dealt with an ankle injury will be huge, and the signing of Morgan Moses should solidify the right tackle position. But the Ravens allowed center Bradley Bozeman to depart for a mere $2.8 million deal.
Getting a more proficient pass-blocker at center would be ideal. Baltimore has built its line with massive bruisers who move well but also win on solo blocking assignments.
This is a quality center class, so the Ravens may not need to spend their 14th overall pick on a fit. They could justify taking Iowa's Tyler Linderbaum or Boston College's Zion Johnson in the first round; however, their history would suggest they'll opt for a Day 2 value option like Nebraska's Cam Jurgens or UCLA's Sean Rhyan.
Buffalo Bills: Cornerback
The Buffalo Bills aggressively chased answers to their question marks along the defensive line by bringing in Von Miller, DaQuan Jones, Tim Settle and Shaq Lawson. They also upgraded their slot receiver position by signing Jamison Crowder over keeping Cole Beasley. This strong roster has three positions it could upgrade in the draft: cornerback, running back and left guard.
As fun as it is to imagine Iowa State running back Breece Hall in Buffalo's high-powered offense, the Bills don't need to force that pick. The combination of Devin Singletary, Zack Moss and Duke Johnson is good enough to win a Super Bowl even if it's absent of a star. And left guard is usually a position that can be addressed with a Day 2 pick.
Instead, Buffalo is in a perfect position at No. 25 to grab whichever physical cornerback falls to them. The second cornerback spot is a major question mark, as Tre'Davious White is recovering from a torn ACL suffered in late November.
Nabbing Florida's Kaiir Elam, Clemson's Andrew Booth Jr. or Washington's Trent McDuffie would upgrade a position that should see plenty of action against elite quarterbacks come playoff time.
Carolina Panthers: Quarterback
The quarterback market rarely has a great playmaker available without significant concerns. The Carolina Panthers are one of three teams with a clearly unsettled quarterback position, and it's surprising there's even a veteran option to trade for. Either Baker Mayfield or Jimmy Garoppolo would theoretically help the Panthers win more than a rookie in 2022.
Head coach Matt Rhule has won five games in consecutive years and has been outscored by 152 points in 33 contests. His defense is more than talented enough to help a healthy offense close games out, but the offensive line and quarterback spots have lacked consistency.
Adding an offensive tackle at No. 6 would solidify the line after the team brought in right guard Austin Corbett and center Bradley Bozeman in free agency. The cost would be passing on Liberty's Malik Willis or another quarterback, but then Carolina could trade a 2023 asset for Mayfield or Garoppolo.
If the trade doesn't work out, both signal-callers will be free agents next year anyway.
Chicago Bears: Wide Receiver
The Chicago Bears are revamping their expensive, aging roster this offseason. The offense has some intriguing new starters, but the unit could lack the speed and reliability that Justin Fields will need to look like the future star the team believes he is.
Instead of betting that veterans Byron Pringle and Equanimeous St. Brown will be enough as secondary options to Darnell Mooney in 2022, the Bears need to consider adding a wide receiver with one of their two second-round picks. Fields excelled with speedy targets Chris Olave and Garrett Wilson at Ohio State. Investing in players who can create quick separation can ease his development as a second-year quarterback.
A best-case scenario would be for new offensive coordinator Luke Getsy to get the most out of veteran pickups Lucas Patrick and Dakota Dozier on the interior of the line. Right tackle Larry Borom graded as a below-average starter as a rookie last year, according to Pro Football Focus, but giving him a full offseason to improve could also answer another long-term positional question mark.
Helping Fields reach his ceiling as soon as possible has to be the priority, though. The glaring hole at receiver will prevent that more than anything right now.
Cincinnati Bengals: Cornerback
Already possessing one of the scariest offenses in the NFL in 2021, the Cincinnati Bengals added three new starters along the offensive line after the unit allowed quarterback Joe Burrow to be sacked 70 times over the regular season and playoffs. Cincinnati could continue investing into the unit by adding a first-round left guard, but it's more prudent to turn toward the defense.
While the defense helped carry the Bengals to the Super Bowl with great performances against the Las Vegas Raiders, Tennessee Titans and Kansas City Chiefs, there's not a young emerging star at cornerback.
A rookie corner may not start over veterans Eli Apple and Chidobe Awuzie but rather slide into the rotation with Apple as an eventual successor. Baltimore used this strategy to ease Marlon Humphrey into his 2017 rookie season, and it paid off. Washington's Kyler Gordon or Clemson's Andrew Booth Jr. would look especially good in the Bengals' stripes.
Cleveland Browns: Wide Receiver
The Cleveland Browns' controversial decision to trade for Deshaun Watson—who has 22 civil lawsuits filed against him by women alleging sexual assault or misconduct—immediately piqued interest from playmakers. New wide receiver Amari Cooper expressed happiness about the deal, while free-agent DeSean Jackson expressed interest in joining the contender.
With the second-most cap space in the NFL, Cleveland has the financial ability to re-sign Jadeveon Clowney to start across from edge-rusher Myles Garrett.
So wide receiver is the Browns' biggest need entering the draft. Cleveland has three Day 2 picks to find a quick playmaker who can complement possession threats Cooper and Donovan Peoples-Jones. The team has speed in Anthony Schwartz (4.27 40-yard dash) and Jakeem Grant (4.37), but neither has proved to be a consistent receiving threat. Slot receiver Jarvis Landry has yet to re-sign.
This class has plenty of mid-round options. Western Michigan's Skyy Moore, Boise State's Khalil Shakir and Memphis' Calvin Austin III headline the smaller mold of receivers that would benefit Cleveland. These players win right off the line of scrimmage and are ideal for third downs and red-zone plays that will get the ball out of Watson's hand quickly.
Dallas Cowboys: Interior Offensive Line
Few teams have had a rougher offseason than the Dallas Cowboys. Losing key playmakers Amari Cooper and Randy Gregory sting. But reuniting Dante Fowler Jr. with defensive coordinator Dan Quinn helped alleviate the team's need for a pass-rusher, and signing James Washington for one year to help replace Cooper was a nice low-risk deal.
The interior offensive line is the next key position. The Cowboys offense hasn't remained effective whenever an injury occurs to the unit. Investing so much capital into the line isn't ideal, but an elite center or guard prospect can slide into the starting unit Day 1. In turn, we'll see the best of quarterback Dak Prescott and this offense.
Center Tyler Linderbaum is a perfect scheme fit for Dallas' zone-running attack. If he's off the board when the Cowboys are on the clock at No. 24, it's easy to also see Texas A&M's Kenyon Green or Boston College's Zion Johnson playing center or guard. This line class is versatile and deep, and that is a major factor for why Dallas can blend value with filling a need.
Denver Broncos: Edge-Rusher
The Denver Broncos have one of the strongest rosters in the NFL and few glaring weaknesses. Every roster wants depth in the trenches and secondary above any other spot, and Denver is no different. The Broncos offensive line boasts a quality starting five despite being thin beyond the starters, and the secondary lost some of the veteran depth from last year.
General manager George Paton doesn't have to force anything with his three top-100 picks. Adding a capable Day 1 contributor to the edge position could prove helpful as the season progresses, though. Incumbent starter Bradley Chubb has missed 23 games over the last three seasons because of a variety of injuries and hasn't been nearly as effective since his 12-sack rookie year.
Finding a pass-rushing specialist who can earn snaps as a late second-rounder is a tough task. Cincinnati's Myjai Sanders, USC's Drake Jackson and Kentucky's Josh Paschal could each fit the bill, though. New defensive coordinator Ejiro Evero will need to focus on developing sub-package players to make sure his bench is ready to play if it's called to action.
Detroit Lions: Edge-Rusher
Armed with two first-round picks, including No. 2 overall, the Detroit Lions can reshape their roster in a hurry. No one should blame them if they go all-in on remaking an offense that lacks speed and dynamic ability by taking Liberty quarterback Malik Willis and a wide receiver. However, with Jared Goff as a fine placeholder through 2022, the Lions can afford to be patient at quarterback.
Instead of forcing attention to their long-term need there, Detroit can apply aggressiveness to the defense.
It's in prime position to take whichever pass-rusher the Jacksonville Jaguars don't select at No. 1. Michigan's Aidan Hutchinson, Georgia's Travon Walker or Oregon's Kayvon Thibodeaux would immediately add an immensely gifted athlete to a rotation that managed the third-fewest sacks in 2021, forming a fierce package with Charles Harris and Romeo Okwara.
Of course, Harris must prove 2021's 7.5-sack season wasn't a fluke, and Okwara must regain explosiveness coming off a torn Achilles. At worst, the No. 2 pick will be the new face of the rebuilding defense. The No. 32 pick can then be used to address receiver, cornerback or linebacker.
Green Bay Packers: Wide Receiver
Losing the best wide receiver in the NFL vaulted the position to the top of the Green Bay Packers' to-do list. Davante Adams had perfect chemistry on the field with Aaron Rodgers but opted for a fresh start with his college teammate Derek Carr in Las Vegas. Green Bay's answer to fill Adams' shoes has been to sign Sammy Watkins.
Watkins isn't enough of an addition to make this offense respectable for the playoffs. The Packers continue to act like receivers aren't worthy of major investments, but having the worst receiving room in the league won't work come January. Individual talent matters.
This draft class has receivers of every style. A dominant jump-ball player such as Georgia's George Pickens or a speedy big play threat such as Jahan Dotson would drastically help the unit.
Whether the Packers use one of their two first-rounders on a receiver doesn't necessarily matter, but they can't afford to ignore the position beyond their No. 59 selection. Few impact rookies are found after the second round, and Green Bay needs someone who is ready to contribute.
Houston Texans: Edge-Rusher
Taking over a bad roster that lacks playmakers is a tough task. It was fair to give Houston Texans general manager Nick Caserio some slack for not chasing young and budding free agents in 2021 since so much work was needed to make a difference on this team. However, another botched coaching search this offseason and a lack of sensible upside signings in favor of middling veterans have left the Texans needing talent all over.
The third and 13th picks can help a ton if Houston hits on both. The team's trench play on both sides of the ball has been severely lacking. Pairing an edge-rusher at No. 3 with massive Georgia defensive tackle Jordan Davis at No. 13 would be ideal.
The Texans should be thrilled if Travon Walker or Aidan Hutchinson is available with their first selection.
Because of Houston's need for talent, it can also justify taking an offensive lineman or cornerback at No. 3. Caserio has made it clear he's looking at prospects' personalities and characters as much as their on-field abilities. The strategy of equally valuing character and talent hasn't led to wins or a more competitive roster so far, and it makes the Texans a wild card Thursday.
Indianapolis Colts: Left Tackle
By trading a third-round pick for quarterback Matt Ryan and then signing cornerback Stephon Gilmore to a two-year, $20 million deal, the Indianapolis Colts wisely cashed in on their assets. They had been avoiding big-money external additions despite being flush with cap space and picks over the last few years, and it became frustrating to watch their sabotage. Their 2021 decision to buy into Carson Wentz for premium picks predictably failed but showed the aggressive mindset general manager Chris Ballard had avoided in his first few seasons.
The pressure is on with Ryan at the helm. The Colts will be improved with Ryan, who turns 37 in May, but the offensive line isn't set. No team has a bigger question at left tackle than the Colts.
Some left tackle options are available in free agency. Former Colt Eric Fisher and Duane Brown, who'll also be 37 next season, are veteran starters who played reasonably well last season. Pairing one of them with a second-round rookie such as Nicholas Petit-Frere, Bernhard Raimann or Abraham Lucas could be a perfect bridge situation for a team that is blending competitiveness with long-term sustainability.
Jacksonville Jaguars: Edge-Rusher
Holding the No. 1 pick for the second year in a row, the Jacksonville Jaguars have less certainty in this decision than they did in 2021. The 2022 class lacks an obvious superstar at the top. With days remaining, the Jaguars are reportedly considering four players for the top pick.
The strength of the class includes pass-rushers and offensive linemen. The idea that Jacksonville would take a potential guard convert at No. 1 in Ikem Ekwonu and then extend Cam Robinson to play left tackle while 2021 second-round pick Walker Little sits on the bench seems like a misuse of assets. Instead, Jacksonville should draft the best edge-rusher at No. 1 and pair Josh Allen with a forceful presence.
Pros and cons exist regardless of whether the Jaguars go with Aidan Hutchinson, Travon Walker or Kayvon Thibodeaux. Each has explicit strengths with how they find success and projects to be a quality starter. None of the three is blemish-free, though.
The best use of this asset would be to address the most premier position. Since 2020 first-rounder K'Lavon Chaisson looks like a bust, no one on the roster is keeping the Jaguars from choosing an edge-rusher.
Kansas City Chiefs: Cornerback
Discussion of the Kansas City Chiefs' offseason has understandably revolved around how they will replace Tyreek Hill. Kansas City could use another receiver, but the defense needs talent more. The roster doesn't have a star cornerback or edge-rusher.
General manager Brett Veach may be in a good position to add a useful player at each position with two first-round picks. Corner should be more important considering the loss of Charvarius Ward. The remaining group of L'Jarius Sneed, Rashad Fenton and Deandre Baker isn't dynamic or reliable enough to compete in the AFC West.
With other contenders also eyeing the corner group, trading up with one of their extra mid-draft picks to lock in their preferred option might make sense. Pairing one of the first-rounders with the 94th or 103rd pick should be enough to leap corner-needy teams such as Buffalo, Tampa Bay and Tennessee. Moving into the teens would likely take both first-rounders this year or a future first.
A polished but explosive option such as Kyler Gordon, Kaiir Elam or Trent McDuffie would be a great immediate starter in this secondary. Veach would have more flexibility with his other first-round selection, knowing he has a bevy of remaining picks to beef up the defensive line, receiver unit and right tackle spot.
Las Vegas Raiders: Right Tackle
After trading their first two draft picks for star wide receiver Davante Adams, the Las Vegas Raiders have just five selections. The good news is they don't have many glaring holes. The biggest is at right tackle.
Relying on a third-round rookie to walk into a starting role on a playoff competitor might be unwise. New head coach Josh McDaniels found considerable success with mid-draft blockers with New England but may not want to put all his chips on hoping his preferred option will still be available at No. 86. Signing a veteran such as Bobby Massie to go with a rookie would be more viable.
Other options include depth along the defensive line, at receiver and in the secondary. This roster has gone from intriguing to well built and relatively deep. The key is to avoid a catastrophic drop-off by finding capable backups who can contribute when called upon.
Los Angeles Chargers: Right Tackle
Free agency sometimes just doesn't work out for reasons beyond anyone's control. The Los Angeles Chargers grabbed former Packers tackle Bryan Bulaga two years ago, but Bulaga was plagued by injuries. For as successful an offseason as the Chargers have enjoyed, there's still a big question mark regarding Bulaga's successor.
The free-agent market doesn't have many options beyond Bobby Massie, but a trade for Eagles backup Andre Dillard could be possible. The alternative is to sit tight at No. 17 and take the best remaining blocker or move up to jump the competition. Someone must be added, though.
Quarterback Justin Herbert has one of the strongest centers, left guards and left tackles in the league. And Los Angeles can't let Herbert take a beating like Joe Burrow has with Cincinnati. The Chargers must be aggressive in filling this critical need to maximize their championship window in 2022 and beyond.
Los Angeles Rams: Edge-Rusher
Certain playmakers with one singular talent simply can't be replaced. The moment Von Miller departed the Super Bowl champion Los Angeles Rams, they faced an impossible task. Instead of throwing their available money at the next-best option, the Rams moved on and landed Bobby Wagner.
That doesn't mean the edge position is set with just Leonard Floyd. The rest of the depth chart is headlined by 2020 third-rounder Terrell Lewis, who had three sacks last year. General manager Les Snead could look to the veteran market to fill the need and add a rookie with the 104th or 142nd pick.
Los Angeles needs more depth along the offensive line after losing starters Andrew Whitworth and Austin Corbett this offseason. The cornerback room thinned out as well with Darious Williams' departure. Life gets harder after winning the Super Bowl, and the Rams must prove up to the challenge.
Miami Dolphins: Linebacker
After a slow start to free agency, the Miami Dolphins landed a pair of star offensive cornerstones in Tyreek Hill and Terron Armstead. The offense is mostly set, with an internal competition to hash out the right tackle spot and help at center needed. These are key holes, but head coach Mike McDaniel has experience elevating lesser-known talent.
The defense is also promising, but the middle could get better. Depth at defensive tackle and an impactful inside linebacker to go next to Jerome Baker would maximize the rest of the opportunistic unit. The duo of Elandon Roberts and Duke Riley lacks coverage ability and explosiveness.
With just four picks and two of them in the seventh round, the Dolphins have only two realistic chances to add a rosterable player. Montana State's Troy Andersen, Oklahoma's Brian Asamoah and Penn State's Jesse Luketa are third-round options for Miami to consider. It could also turn to Anthony Barr, Kwon Alexander or K.J. Wright for a veteran option in free agency.
Minnesota Vikings: Cornerback
For months the Minnesota Vikings have been projected to select a cornerback with their first-round pick. Even after their signings of Patrick Peterson and Nate Hairston, that shouldn't change. Minnesota needs impactful young talent for the unit to develop.
Cameron Dantzler is a decent starter, and Peterson showed a little life in 2021 with the Vikings. But nothing we saw was good enough for the team to avoid investing more in the unit. Platooning a rookie such as Derek Stingley Jr. with Peterson would be an ideal way to ease the transition into the NFL without hurting Minnesota's chances to win.
The Vikings have an otherwise attractive roster. They need to stay healthy, and head coach Kevin O'Connell's staff must help the players hit the ground running. With most of their best talent back, it's not unrealistic to expect a playoff push with the right draft additions.
New England Patriots: Linebacker
New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick has put together a strange offseason. The Patriots offense had a need for speed, but instead of chasing a burner, New England acquired DeVante Parker as another possession threat. J.C. Jackson and Shaq Mason departed for little return.
The defense is slated to look drastically different without Jackson and middle linebacker Dont'a Hightower calling the shots. Hightower could be retained, but Belichick will likely favor a younger option. Georgia's Nakobe Dean fits the bill as an explosive downhill finisher who would thrive as the new captain of the unit.
One way the Patriots defense could take a leap is for recent pass-rusher additions Josh Uche and Ronnie Perkins to develop into regular contributors. It's uncommon for New England to lack a dominant front seven. For now, though, it has anything but a feared group.
New Orleans Saints: Left Tackle
The constant cap machinations by New Orleans Saints general manager Mickey Loomis have been impressive. But after Deshaun Watson was traded to Cleveland, longtime left tackle Terron Armstead opted for Miami. In order to add needed help there and at wide receiver, the Saints traded future draft picks for a second first-round pick this year.
Having the 16th and 19th picks puts them in the mix for their choice of several options. Ohio State's speedy Chris Olave would be a perfect fit next to former Buckeye Michael Thomas. Tulsa offensive tackle Tyler Smith has been a riser as well and is reminiscent of Armstead as a prospect.
New Orleans' bold decision to mortgage future picks for the right to choose twice in the top 19 could pay off handsomely. It may also be foolish to think the Saints are another rookie away from contending. Quarterback Jameis Winston is coming back from a torn ACL and will need all the help he can get on top of improving his own developmental curve.
New York Giants: Offensive Tackle
Impressing the new head coach and general manager is usually an important thing for young players. Trade rumors began circling around New York Giants 2021 first-rounder Kadarius Toney after he missed the start of voluntary training camp. However, Toney showed up, and it's unlikely the Giants would move one of their few young assets for missing a voluntary camp.
Instead of replacing Toney, the Giants can focus on beefing up premium needs at offensive tackle, edge-rusher and cornerback. Having two first-round picks at No. 5 and No. 7 will allow them to grab one of the best prospects at two of those spots. The board may also fall in a way that dictates which position the Giants won't address.
Since Carolina shares the massive need for an offensive tackle, New York should prioritize getting a tackle first. Andrew Thomas, a 2020 first-rounder, is capable of playing left or right tackle. Beefing up the line for head coach Brian Daboll and quarterback Daniel Jones is imperative so the team has the chance to find success in 2022.
New York Jets: Edge-Rusher
Between adding a handful of impressively talented young players throughout the last two drafts and augmenting their rebuilding efforts through free agency, the New York Jets will soon have their grand vision come together. With the fourth and 10th picks, general manager Joe Douglas will have two opportunities to add difference-makers. He could use the selections on rookies or offer one to the San Francisco 49ers for Deebo Samuel.
Assuming the deal for Samuel doesn't go through by Thursday night, the Jets must decide whether to focus their efforts on the pass rush, cornerback spot or receiver room. Their choice at No. 4 will have a direct impact on the rest of the top 10. The decision could be made for them if the top three pass-rushers are chosen before them.
New York should hope one of Aidan Hutchinson, Kayvon Thibodeaux and Travon Walker is on the board to help solidify a wonderful defensive line. Giving head coach Robert Saleh another premier force to pair with Carl Lawson and Quinnen Williams has to be the priority. Even if those three are gone, then Purdue's George Karlaftis should be a priority at No. 10.
This class is deep at receiver, and the Jets would likely have their pick of Jameson Williams or Garrett Wilson at No. 10. They could also get Derek Stingley Jr. then or wait until the 35th pick to address corner or receiver in a strong class for both positions.
Philadelphia Eagles: Wide Receiver
Instead of hoarding three mid-first-round picks, the Philadelphia Eagles accumulated future assets by swapping first-rounders with New Orleans. Now with the 15th and 18th picks, the Eagles should be looking to solidify their receiver and cornerback positions. These are two glaring holes on an otherwise well-rounded team.
Pairing 2021 first-rounder DeVonta Smith with Drake London or Jameson Williams would give the Eagles a more reliable and dangerous unit. Jalen Reagor, a first-round pick in 2020, must earn his roster spot after a horrible start to his career. Spending another first on the position will be tough to swallow but necessary considering how the franchise has struggled to acquire star wideouts.
Other roster needs such as corner and safety are important but less pressing considering the class depth at those spots. The receiver class features a significant dip after the top five or six names. The Eagles can't miss out on the playmaker run.
Pittsburgh Steelers: Quarterback
The retirement of longtime Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger left the franchise to explore every quarterback in the draft. The Steelers have been tied to Liberty's Malik Willis and Pitt's Kenny Pickett. They are different in their skill sets and styles, but Pittsburgh has clearly done its homework.
It's possible the Steelers can wait until the 20th pick to choose the first quarterback of the class, but it's unlikely. The last time the first quarterback was selected at No. 20 or later was 1997, when Jim Druckenmiller was drafted 26th. Pittsburgh may be able to wait for Pickett, but it's less likely Willis will fall.
A trade could be necessary. Carolina at No. 6 and Atlanta at No. 8 are two potential fits, followed by New Orleans at No. 16 and No. 19. Don't sleep on Tennessee trading up for a quarterback if their guy falls into the teens.
It won't be the end of the world if Pittsburgh doesn't pick a quarterback thanks to the signing of Mitch Trubisky. The Steelers' attention should shift to the cornerback and safety positions if a quarterback isn't obtainable.
San Francisco 49ers: Offensive Line Depth
The cost of trading three first-round picks for Trey Lance in the 2021 draft will put a strain on the San Francisco 49ers as they build out their roster. The margins shrink considerably as each round passes. Teams that misjudge the quality of their rosters and make massive trades can be handicapped for half a decade.
San Francisco made its move knowing it needed personnel tweaks rather than an overhaul. After free agency, the 49ers are sitting pretty. They need depth over an immediate starter.
The freedom to plan for the future at left tackle, center, receiver or defensive end is huge. Expect general manager John Lynch to maximize his assets and select the best player available. He's shown in his five years that he's a shrewd talent evaluator and will make the most of an opportunity.
Seattle Seahawks: Quarterback
The Seattle Seahawks haven't had to worry about the quarterback position since Russell Wilson walked in the door in 2012. The franchise star missed just two games in his 10-year stint, both last season. But now, all that exists is worry since the two best options are Geno Smith and Drew Lock.
Seattle needs to address both offensive tackle positions and to find another edge-rusher, but none of that will matter without an impactful quarterback. Neither Lock nor Smith has shown the qualities needed to win consistently. Adding a quarterback at No. 9 is the only move that can elevate the roster beyond mediocrity or worse.
Replacing Wilson with dynamic dual-threat option Malik Willis would be perfect. However, Cincinnati's Desmond Ridder would also be a good fit as a smart, consistent passer who can manage an offense and has a high floor. He's been underrated throughout the draft process and could challenge to start from day one.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Secondary Depth
There aren't many rosters as stacked as the Tampa Bay Buccaneers'. Years of quality drafting and development to go with solid free-agent additions mean they have few needs. The most important thing in this draft is to beef up the depth at safety and cornerback.
Luckily this is a great class from which to add a playable rookie at either position in the first two rounds. The loss of safety Jordan Whitehead via free agency was lessened by the signing of veterans Logan Ryan and Keanu Neal, but they have their limitations in coverage. Michigan's Daxton Hill would bring tremendous speed and perfectly complement Antoine Winfield Jr. in the long term.
The Bucs' starting corners are strong, but last year's unit was wiped out by injuries. A developmental talent such as Sam Houston State's Zyon McCollum, Cincinnati's Coby Bryant or Clemson's Mario Goodrich would allow Tampa Bay to avoid having to bring in an aged veteran like it did with the Richard Sherman experiment in 2021. This pick could become a full-time starter once the cost of the incumbent starters rises and the Buccaneers look to save money instead.
Tennessee Titans: Offensive Line
The plan for the Tennessee Titans offensive line is a mystery that'll soon be revealed. The left guard spot has no clear leader between Jamarco Jones or Aaron Brewer. And 2021 second-round pick Dillon Radunz could also be moved after he didn't get much playing time as a rookie.
Regardless, there's a major lack of experience at two positions from left guard to right tackle. Right guard Nate Davis will be a free agent after this season, and Taylor Lewan will turn 31 in July. This team needs to reinvest in the unit to keep its running game dominant and quarterback Ryan Tannehill upright.
The end of the first round may not offer a viable option for right tackle if Trevor Penning and Tyler Smith are gone. If the Titans are confident in Radunz's ability to start at tackle, though, they should have several strong guard options. Memphis' Dylan Parham and Texas A&M's Kenyon Green would be great fits with this powerful group.
Washington Commanders: Wide Receiver
The second-leading receiver on the 2021 Washington Commanders not only trailed leader Terry McLaurin by 656 yards but was also a backup running back: J.D. McKissic. In fact, McLaurin almost outproduced the rest of the receiving corps, which recorded 1,165 yards to McLaurin's 1,053. Washington can't allow that to happen again.
At No. 11, there's no excuse for the Commanders to pass on the position. They'll have their crack at one of the top few playmakers. They could pair McLaurin with another former Buckeye in Garrett Wilson or Chris Olave or give Carson Wentz a similar option to former teammate Alshon Jeffery in Drake London.
Wentz is at his best with an array of pass-catchers. With McLaurin, Logan Thomas returning from a torn ACL, the developing Dyami Brown and the No. 11 pick, Wentz could lead the Commanders to the playoffs even if he's not a star every week. He's a capable game manager who plays to the level of talent around him, so Washington needs to up that bar.