Every NFL Team's Biggest Remaining 2022 Offseason Need

Gary Davenport@@IDPSharksNFL AnalystMay 15, 2022

Every NFL Team's Biggest Remaining 2022 Offseason Need

0 of 32

    Icon Sportswire/Getty Images

    The 2022 NFL draft has come and gone, but free agency rolls on. Just this week, we saw former Pro Bowl wide receiver Jarvis Landry find a new home with the New Orleans Saints, and big-name players such as edge-rusher Jadeveon Clowney and wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. have yet to pick a team.

    But for the most part, we have a good idea what the NFL's 32 teams will look like in 2022—and it's significantly different than a year ago.

    The changes run the gamut from the top of the league to the bottom. The reigning AFC champion Cincinnati Bengals fortified the offensive line in free agency and the defensive backfield in the draft. The Landry signing was just one piece of a roster renovation by the Saints, who are looking to get back into contention after a down 2021. Even bottom feeders such as the Jacksonville Jaguars spent big bucks and high draft picks on shaking off the funk of last year's misery.

    Some teams have done a better job of filling needs, at least at first glance. But regardless of how well a team has done and how many holes have been patched, no roster is perfect. Every team in the NFL still has at least one need that stands out above all others.

Arizona Cardinals: Edge-Rusher

1 of 32

    Ross D. Franklin/Associated Press

    The Arizona Cardinals had two primary needs in the offseason. Both were addressed—but that comes with a caveat.

    On offense, the loss of wide receiver Christian Kirk left the Cardinals with a sizable skill-position hole. The trade that brought Marquise Brown to the desert went a long way toward compensating for Kirk's departure, but the six-game suspension levied against DeAndre Hopkins for a violation of the league's performance-enhancing drug policy put the team right back in a hole.

    It's a similar situation at edge-rusher. Chandler Jones and his 71.5 sacks over six seasons in the desert are gone after the 32-year-old signed a three-year, $51 million contract with the Las Vegas Raiders. That left a massive hole opposite Markus Golden—a hole the team tried to fill on the second day of the draft by spending third-round picks on Cameron Thomas of San Diego State and Cincinnati's Myjai Sanders.

    Both youngsters have potential. But Thomas doesn't possess exceptional athleticism, and the 255-pound Sanders needs to get both bigger and stronger. Neither is anywhere close to a sure thing.

    The Cardinals have Super Bowl aspirations—aspirations that the team will be hard-pressed to fulfill if it can't get after opposing quarterbacks.

Atlanta Falcons: Edge-Rusher

2 of 32

    Phelan M. Ebenhack/Associated Press

    It's hard to pinpoint just one need as the biggest on an Atlanta Falcons roster that has so many.

    To their credit, the Falcons tried to address some of those many needs in this year's draft. But this is still a roster filled with a lot more questions than answers.

    Atlanta had a fistful of picks over the first two days of the draft. Drake London was brought in to serve as Atlanta's new top wide receiver. Desmond Ridder was drafted on Day 2 as a potential heir to placeholder Marcus Mariota under center. Atlanta added a pair of edge-rushers in Arnold Ebiketie of Penn State and Western Kentucky's DeAngelo Malone.

    But while there's some optimism in Atlanta, there's also plenty of cause for concern.

    Ridder was Bleacher Report's top-ranked quarterback prospect in this class but wasn't viewed in the same light as Trevor Lawrence, Joe Burrow or even Baker Mayfield. London is a promising young pass-catcher, but there's a fat bag of nothing behind him on the depth chart, with Calvin Ridley suspended through at least the 2022 season for betting on games.

    Still, the biggest worry has to be asking a pair of unproven rookies to anchor a pass-rush that had fewer sacks as a team in 2021 (18) than Pittsburgh's T.J. Watt had by himself (22.5).

Baltimore Ravens: Wide Receiver

3 of 32

    Nick Wass/Associated Press

    A compelling argument can be made that as with the teams listed before them, the Baltimore Ravens' biggest need is on the edge. But listing "edge-rusher" 32 times would get rather boring, and once David Ojabo's Achilles is healthy, the second-rounder from Michigan may be one of the biggest bargains of the 2022 draft.

    Of course, while the Ravens were filling one hole in the draft, the team created another by trading Marquise Brown to the Arizona Cardinals.

    That trade netted the Ravens a Round 1 pick and arguably the draft's best interior lineman in Iowa's Tyler Linderbaum. But it also leaves Baltimore's roster precariously short on talent at wide receiver. The leading wideout still on Baltimore's roster (second-year pro Rashod Bateman) had 46 catches for just 515 yards as a rookie. Sammy Watkins (who was fourth on the team in receiving yards last year) will be catching passes from Aaron Rodgers in Green Bay.

    It's hardly a secret that the Ravens like to run the football.

    In 2022, Baltimore might have to be run-heavy as much from necessity as from desire.

Buffalo Bills: Cornerback

4 of 32

    Icon Sportswire/Getty Images

    The Buffalo Bills may well have the most talented, balanced roster in the NFL. And to his credit, Bills general manager Brandon Beane did another fine job plugging holes, whether it was at cornerback in Round 1 with Florida's Kaair Elam or at running back in Round 2 with Georgia's James Cook.

    However, despite Elam's arrival, the defensive backfield (and specifically cornerback) is still a potential concern for a team that has its sights set squarely on Glendale, Arizona, and Super Bowl LVII.

    That's no knock on Elam, who was a top-15 prospect in his draft class, according to Bleacher Report's scouting department. The 6'1", 191-pounder is likely headed toward a starting gig from Day 1 opposite Tre'Davious White.

    But Buffalo was motivated to use its first pick on Elam in large part because the Bills lost one of their starters, Levi Wallace, to the Pittsburgh Steelers. Throw in that White tore his ACL in late November 2021, and you have a potential weakness that opponents will no doubt look to exploit.

Carolina Panthers: Quarterback

5 of 32

    Grant Halverson/Getty Images

    Entering the 2022 draft, there was no question what the Carolina Panthers' biggest need was. The team's owner, David Tepper, has been clear time and again how much he values having a high-end quarterback. There have been an equal number of attempts to obtain one, but those attempts have produced little in the way of results.

    Teddy Bridgewater played one uninspiring year as the starter in 2020 before giving way to Sam Darnold, who was similarly unimpressive. The team was a finalist for the services of Deshaun Watson and took a run at Russell Wilson.

    Finally, the Panthers settled on going the rookie route, snaring Matt Corral of Ole Miss in the third round of April's draft. But it is in no way a sure thing that Corral will be the answer at quarterback any more than Bridgewater and Darnold were.

    Yes, Corral is an athletic player with a live arm. But at 6'2", 205 pounds, he's also on the smaller side and played in an offensive system that didn't exactly prepare him for the NFL.

    At best, Corral is a project and will take time to acclimate to the NFL. At worst, he'll be lucky to evolve into even a steady backup.

Chicago Bears: Wide Receiver

6 of 32

    Nic Antaya/Getty Images

    There's no shortage of pressure on Chicago Bears quarterback Justin Fields to make a leap in 2022. But the former Ohio State star hasn't exactly been put in a position to succeed.

    Chicago's wide receivers are a mess. Darnell Mooney quietly caught 81 passes and topped 1,000 yards last season, but even if you believe in Mooney as a No. 1 wideout, there's precious little behind him outside uninspiring veterans such as Byron Pringle and unproven youngsters like rookie third-round pick Velus Jones Jr.

    Per Josh Shrock of NBC Sports Chicago, new Bears offensive coordinator Luke Getsy dismissed concerns about the team's pass-catchers.

    "Everybody wants Davante Adams," Getsy said. "Who wouldn't want Davante Adams, right? That's part of it. But Davante wasn't Davante until he became Davante. I think the system will enable some of these guys to play at their potential. And so, we'll see what we can do. We'll give them an opportunity to show them what they got."

    That Getsy compared this menagerie of mediocrity to Adams is either delusional, the height of wishful thinking or a little bit of both.

Cincinnati Bengals: Cornerback

7 of 32

    Icon Sportswire/Getty Images

    There was no question that the biggest issue facing the Cincinnati Bengals in the 2022 offseason was the offensive line. Joe Burrow was sacked 70 times last year if you count the postseason. Only two quarterbacks in NFL history have been sacked more times in a campaign.

    The Bengals hit that need hard in the offseason, adding a trio of veteran starters in guard Alex Cappa, center Ted Karras and tackle La'el Collins. But Cincinnati didn't have as much success on the opposite side of the ball.

    It's not that the Bengals didn't make additions in the secondary. The Bengals spent their first-rounder on Michigan's Daxton Hill, a talented young player with experience playing both safety and in the slot. The team's second pick was used on a similarly versatile defensive back in Nebraska's Cam Taylor-Britt.

    But neither of those rookies has experience or (at first glance) the skill set to be a difference-maker on the boundary. The Bengals hit the jackpot last year in free agency with the addition of Chidobe Awuzie, but the other outside spot (presently held by journeyman Eli Apple) is a weakness the Rams exploited in their victory over Cincy in Super Bowl LVI.

Cleveland Browns: Defensive Line

8 of 32

    Icon Sportswire/Getty Images

    It's still possible that the Cleveland Browns will address their biggest remaining need soon. They continue to be closely connected to Jadeveon Clowney, who logged nine sacks last year in his first season in Cleveland. Bleacher Report's Jake Rill mentioned another veteran edge-rusher as a possible target for the Browns (Tampa's Jason Pierre-Paul) if the pursuit of Clowney doesn't pan out.

    But whoever the Browns sign, it's apparent that the defensive line is easily the team's weakest spot.

    They did some work on the interior of the defensive line in the draft, bringing in Oklahoma's Perrion Winfrey in the fourth round. There was also an offseason trade with the New England Patriots that landed fourth-year edge-rusher Chase Winovich in Cleveland.

    But there's a reason Winfrey fell to the third day of the draft, and Winovich (while a third-round pick in 2019) has just 11 sacks over his first three professional seasons.

    Cleveland's D-line is Pro Bowl edge-rusher Myles Garrett and three other guys. And if the Browns don't upgrade the talent around him, Garrett will only see that much more attention from opposing offenses in 2022.

Dallas Cowboys: Wide Receiver

9 of 32

    Icon Sportswire/Getty Images

    In the days leading up to the 2022 draft, a compelling argument could be made that the guard spot was the biggest weakness on the Dallas Cowboys after the team watched Connor Williams depart in free agency. But a team that has never been shy about addressing the O-line in the early rounds attacked that weak spot with the addition of Tulsa tackle Tyler Smith, who will kick inside in the pros, Cowboys executive vice president Stephen Jones told PFT PM (h/t NFL.com's Nick Shook).

    The team also added a wide receiver relatively early in this year's draft, selecting South Alabama's Jalen Tolbert in Round 3. The 6'1", 195-pounder can play both on the boundary and in the slot and has a good mixture of size and speed.

    Still, there's uncertainty at wide receiver with Amari Cooper gone. CeeDee Lamb is a dangerous weapon who topped 1,100 receiving yards last year, but behind him the questions start piling up. Can Michael Gallup return to form quickly after tearing his ACL at the end of last season? Can James Washington become a consistent contributor after showing flashes in Pittsburgh? Can Tolbert make a quick jump from small-school standout to the NFL?

    Given the Texas-sized expectations the Cowboys enter every season with, the team needs answers for those questions.

Denver Broncos: Defensive End

10 of 32

    Icon Sportswire/Getty Images

    The Denver Broncos fixed the quarterback situation with the addition of Russell Wilson, and given the talent the team possesses on both sides of the ball, many have pegged the Broncos as contenders in 2022.

    However, some position groups are underwhelming, and none more so than at defensive end.

    The team's best defensive end from a year ago, Shelby Harris, is in Seattle thanks to the Wilson trade. Fourth-year pro Dre'Mont Jones has shown flashes, racking up 12 sacks over the past two seasons. But he has also missed time in each of first three years in Denver.

    Go past Jones, and there's not a lot on the depth chart—DeShawn Williams and Jonathan Harris are average at best, and one of Denver's biggest offseason acquisitions, D.J. Jones, was in the middle of the line.

    If there's a hole in the defense for opponents to exploit, it's likely in the trenches. The team was middle of the pack against the run last year, allowing slightly over 111 yards per game on the ground.

    The Broncos may be hard-pressed to match even that in 2022.

Detroit Lions: Safety

11 of 32

    Abbie Parr/Getty Images

    The Detroit Lions fielded the league's fourth-worst defense in 2021, allowing almost 380 yards of offense per game. Improving that defense was a priority in the draft—starting with edge-rusher Aidan Hutchinson at No. 2 overall, the Lions spent six of their eight picks on that side of the ball.

    Unfortunately, the back end of that defense is still a potential problem.

    The Lions have one solid veteran starter at safety in Tracy Walker III, who has eclipsed 100 tackles in two of the past three seasons. But beyond him, the waters muddy quickly. DeShon Elliott tallied 80 tackles in 16 starts for the Ravens in 2020, but he missed most of last season with arm and chest injuries. Third-round rookie Kerby Joseph was capable in coverage at Illinois, but he's a liability against the run and hardly a proven commodity.

    After Joseph, the Lions safeties are unimpressive and unproven in equal measure, and that leaves a Detroit team that likes to play three safeties with some regularity in a sizable bind if there's an injury or Joseph struggles in adjusting to the NFL.

Green Bay Packers: Wide Receiver

12 of 32

    Icon Sportswire/Getty Images

    The Green Bay Packers have won 13 games in each of the past three seasons. The team was the NFC's No. 1 seed in 2021. But that success may be hard to replicate in 2022 for a couple of reasons.

    The first is the offensive line. Green Bay lost Billy Turner and Lucas Patrick to free agency, and with Elgton Jenkins' early-season availability in doubt as he recovers from a knee injury, multiple spots along the offensive front could be problematic.

    But the bigger issue is Aaron Rodgers' weapons in the passing game—or lack thereof. Yes, the Packers drafted a pair of receivers in small-school star Christian Watson (Round 2) and Nevada's Romeo Doubs (Round 4). The team also signed a veteran wideout in Sammy Watkins.

    But Watkins hasn't had even 500 receiving yards in a season since 2019 and has missed games in seven of his eight professional campaigns. Watson is big and fast but raw. Dobbs barely ranked inside the top 20 among this year's wideout class, per B/R's Scouting Department, and could use some refinement.

    Expecting those players to replace Davante Adams and Marquez Valdes-Scantling goes several miles past wishful thinking, especially when you look at the past numbers of rookies and new faces playing with Rodgers.

    If Rodgers doesn't develop a rapport with one of those newcomers quickly, the Packers offense will backslide big-time.

    And if Green Bay is going to get back to the Super Bowl, the team simply can't afford that.

Houston Texans: Edge-Rusher

13 of 32

    Matt Patterson/Associated Press

    It's hard to find a spot on the roster where the Houston Texans don't need help. On either side of the ball.

    But after the team managed just 32 sacks last year (fifth-fewest in the NFL), improving the pass rush may well be the most pressing of the lot.

    Third-year pro Jonathan Greenard was a pleasant surprise in a season that was short on those, tallying eight sacks. But Greenard needs a running mate. A complement who will take some of opposing blockers' attention away. And right now, who that will be is uncertain.

    The Texans added multiple edge-rushers in free agency, but Ogbonnia Okoronkwo is an unproven youngster with just 4.5 sacks in three seasons. Mario Addison and Jerry Hughes are both at least 33 years old, and the last time either matched Greenard's 2021 sack numbers was in 2019 when Addison did it with the Carolina Panthers.

    If the Texans can't pressure the quarterback, then an equally suspect secondary anchored by No. 3 pick Derek Stingley Jr. will be exposed.

    And if that happens, the Texans are in deep trouble.

Indianapolis Colts: Wide Receiver

14 of 32

    Icon Sportswire/Getty Images

    After watching the 2021 season end in the most disappointing manner imaginable (losing a win-and-in Week 18 tilt with the Jacksonville Jaguars), the Indianapolis Colts swapped out quarterbacks in the offseason, sending Carson Wentz packing in favor of Matt Ryan.

    It's uncertain if Ryan will have much more success than Wentz did, though, especially when you take into account the passing-game weaponry at his disposal.

    In fairness, the Colts didn't sit on their hands in that regard, spending a second-round pick on Cincinnati's Alec Pierce. He has an intriguing blend of size and 4.33-second speed, and he's refined enough as a route-runner to potentially make an immediate impact.

    But even if Pierce does start immediately, there's little behind him and top dog Michael Pittman Jr. Parris Campbell has missed more than twice as many games as he has played in over his first three pro seasons, and after him come Keke "Who?" Coutee and Dezmon "Are you sure this name isn't made up?" Patmon.

    If Campbell gets hurt again or Pierce takes time to develop (a pair of reasonable possibilities), then defenses are just going to bracket Pittman all game long.

Jacksonville Jaguars: Guard

15 of 32

    Al Pereira/Getty Images

    The Jacksonville Jaguars were one of the busiest teams in free agency this year, spending big bucks on wide receiver Christian Kirk and guard Brandon Scherff. Combine that with the arrival of No. 1 overall pick Travon Walker, and on paper at least the Jags appear to have improved considerably.

    Kirk and Zay Jones were signed to bolster a wide receiver corps that includes veteran Marvin Jones Jr. and youngster Laviska Shenault Jr. In addition to signing Scherff, the Jaguars applied the franchise tag to left tackle Cam Robinson and used a Day 2 pick on Kentucky center Luke Fortner. Walker is an impressive athlete who could combine with Josh Allen to create a formidable duo off the edge.

    But you don't get the No. 1 overall pick in consecutive drafts by accident, and Jacksonville still has some areas that need work. That includes an offensive line that Pro Football Focus ranked in the bottom 10 last year. Scherff's arrival offset the loss of Andrew Norwell, but the other guard spot is manned by Ben Bartch, a third-year pro who allowed three sacks in just over 700 snaps last year.

Kansas City Chiefs: Edge-Rusher

16 of 32

    Icon Sportswire/Getty Images

    The Kansas City Chiefs have won the AFC West each of the last six years and hosted four straight AFC Championship Games. But it's been a rocky offseason for Patrick Mahomes and Co.

    The team watched its top cornerback depart when Charvarius Ward signed with the 49ers, although first-round rookie Trent McDuffie can help fill that void. There was a massive hole at wide receiver after Tyreek Hill was traded, but Kansas City added veterans and rookies alike to address that in JuJu Smith-Schuster, Marquez Valdes-Scantling and Skyy Moore.

    With their second first-round pick this year, the Chiefs looked to strengthen the pass rush with the selection of Purdue's George Karlaftis, Bleacher Report's second-ranked edge-rusher and No. 8 prospect overall. Karlaftis is a talented youngster whom Derrik Klassen compared to former Pro Bowler Ryan Kerrigan, but that talent didn't equate to big-time production in college—just 14 sacks total and 4.5 a year ago.

    If that doesn't change quickly, the Chiefs will have a problem. Only three teams had fewer sacks last year than Kansas City's 31, and in an AFC West that now includes Russell Wilson in addition to Derek Carr and Justin Herbert, the inability to make quarterbacks uncomfortable is a recipe for disaster.

Las Vegas Raiders: Right Tackle

17 of 32

    Icon Sportswire/Getty Images

    The Las Vegas Raiders made multiple impact moves over the offseason, whether it was trading for star wide receiver Davante Adams or signing edge-rusher Chandler Jones in free agency.

    Those moves would appear to indicate a team with aspirations of a deep postseason run. But there's an issue facing the Raiders that could derail a potential return to the playoffs.

    An offensive line that not that many years ago was a strength of the Raiders is now a weakness.

    The right side of a line that Pro Football Focus ranked as the league's fifth-worst in 2021 is especially atrocious. 2021 first-round pick Alex Leatherwood was supposed to be the future at right tackle, but his present has been putrid—eight sacks allowed and 14 penalties against him in 1,104 snaps split between guard and tackle last year. When the team kicked Leatherwood inside and started Brandon Parker at tackle, things didn't get better—the fifth-year veteran allowed eight sacks and was assessed nine penalties.

    The Raiders did at least use a third-round pick on Memphis guard Dylan Parham, but whether it's Leatherwood or Parker at tackle, the right end of the line in Vegas is a glaring liability.

Los Angeles Chargers: Right Tackle

18 of 32

    Icon Sportswire/Getty Images

    Is there an echo in here?

    Just like their AFC West rivals in Las Vegas, the Los Angeles Chargers were busy making big offseason moves. The team gave a large contract to cornerback J.C. Jackson and traded for edge-rusher Khalil Mack, who will line up opposite another high-end pass-rusher in Joey Bosa. On paper, the Chargers have a roster that can hang with the Raiders, Chiefs and Broncos in the AFC West.

    And just like the Raiders, the Chargers have a sizable hole at right tackle that could gum up the works.

    For the most part, the rest of the offensive line is solid. Rashawn Slater is a gifted young left tackle. Corey Linsley is a capable veteran center. The team invested a first-round pick in a new starter at guard in Boston College's Zion Johnson.

    But after getting just 11 games in two years from veteran Bryan Bulaga, the Chargers have handed starting duties at right tackle to Storm Norton, who has a great name and not-so-great game. In 1,078 snaps in place of the injured Bulaga last year, Norton was a turnstile, allowing nine sacks.

    At least Justin Herbert is right-handed and can see the pass-rushers coming.

Los Angeles Rams: Edge-Rusher

19 of 32

    Icon Sportswire/Getty Images

    The Los Angeles Rams are the defending champions—and a team in the thick of realizing that staying on top can be harder than getting there.

    For the most part, the Rams did a good job of keeping the band together. The team even made an addition or two, bringing in Allen Robinson II as the team's new No. 2 receiver and bringing back veteran slot corner Troy Hill.

    But there have been some departures, and none stands to impact the Rams more than Von Miller's defection to the Buffalo Bills.

    The cupboard isn't completely bare on the edge—the Rams still have Leonard Floyd, who has amassed 20 sacks over the past two years. But the starter opposite Floyd will be fourth-year pro Justin Hollins, who has just six sacks over three seasons in Denver and L.A.

    Unless Hollins takes a big step forward in 2022, both Floyd and All-Everything defensive tackle Aaron Donald can expect to receive substantially more attention from opposing blockers.

Miami Dolphins: Center

20 of 32

    Michael Reaves/Getty Images

    The Miami Dolphins made a number of big moves on offense, whether it was signing tackle Terron Armstead and guard Connor Williams or the blockbuster trade that brought wide receiver Tyreek Hill to South Beach.

    The addition of Armstead and Williams should go a long way toward solidifying an offensive line that PFF ranked last in the NFL last season. The former is a three-time Pro Bowler. The latter has started 51 games over four pro seasons.

    Now, the team needs to shore up the middle of the offensive line.

    In fairness, fourth-year center Michael Deiter wasn't terrible last season—the 2019 third-round pick from Wisconsin allowed one sack in 546 snaps. However, he's also not especially talented, and after all the moving and shaking over the offseason, Deiter is the weak link on what appears to be an otherwise relatively solid line.

    If there's a bright side to this one, it's that the Dolphins have done an excellent job of shoring up the weak links in their chain—so much so that an "OK" player stands out as a potential weakness.

Minnesota Vikings: Tight End

21 of 32

    Icon Sportswire/Getty Images

    Not that long ago, the Minnesota Vikings' defensive backfield stuck out like a big sore purple thumb as their biggest weakness. And to be fair, it still could be—there will be quite a bit of pressure on veteran corner Patrick Peterson to turn back the clock and on rookies Lewis Cine and Andrew Booth Jr. to step into prominent roles.

    But given those additions (and the return of Peterson), that secondary appears much better off than it was at the end of the 2021 season—and that vaults another position into the lead for biggest potential need in the Twin Cities.

    Tight end Irv Smith Jr. showed signs of real improvement in his second NFL season—the 2019 second-round pick out of Alabama averaged over 12 yards per reception and found the end zone five times.

    The first problem is that Smith showed that improvement in 2020. He missed all of last season with a torn meniscus in his knee.

    The second problem is that with Tyler Conklin no longer in town, the depth chart behind Smith at tight end in Minnesota is barren.

    No one wants to see Ben Ellefson or Johnny Mundt starting games for the Vikings.

New England Patriots: Cornerback

22 of 32

    Icon Sportswire/Getty Images

    The New England Patriots headed into the draft with a pair of glaring needs. On offense, the team traded guard Shaq Mason and watched fellow guard Ted Karras sign with the Cincinnati Bengals. That need was hit first thing in the draft, and while the use of a first-round pick on Cole Strange of Chattanooga was the, um, strangest pick of Day 1, he should slide into the starting lineup from the get-go.

    On defense, the team watched yet another undrafted free agent land a massive contract with another franchise. In 2018, it was Super Bowl XLIX hero Malcolm Butler and the Tennessee Titans. This time, it was ball hawk J.C. Jackson and the Los Angeles Chargers.

    The team isn't bereft of talent at the position, whether it's Butler (who rejoined the Pats in free agency), veteran Jalen Mills or seventh-year pro Jonathan Jones. All have substantial experience in Bill Belichick's zone-heavy coverages.

    But the closest thing to a "shutdown" corner is Butler, who didn't play a snap last season. And in an AFC East that just added Tyreek Hill and rookie Garrett Wilson to a group of opposing receivers that included Stefon Diggs, Jaylen Waddle, Corey Davis and Elijah Moore, that's concerning.

    Or at least it would be if Darth Hoodie was capable of emotions like worry.

New Orleans Saints: Edge-Rusher

23 of 32

    Icon Sportswire/Getty Images

    It's not easy to find a team that has been more aggressive in attacking needs this offseason than the New Orleans Saints.

    Last year's shaky wideout corps added a couple of players in first-round pick Chris Olave and veteran slot man Jarvis Landry in addition to the potential return of Pro Bowler Michael Thomas. New Orleans used its second first-rounder on Northern Iowa's Trevor Penning in an effort to replace Terron Armstead. The team spent big bucks to turn over its safeties with the signings of Marcus Maye and Tyrann Mathieu. The Saints added depth at cornerback as well with the selection of Tennessee's Alontae Taylor in the second round.

    Say what you will about Saints general manager Mickey Loomis, but the man doesn't sit on his hands.

    After all those additions, the biggest need in the Big Easy is one that wouldn't even have made the list not that long ago.

    Last year, Marcus Davenport finally started to play like a first-round pick, tallying nine sacks after just 12 over his first three seasons. Cameron Jordan rebounded from a down 2020 campaign, posting 12.5 sacks.

    But while Jordan has been to the last five Pro Bowls, he'll also turn 33 before the season begins. Davenport has to show that he can back up last year's breakout. And the team could use marked improvement from 2021 first-rounder Payton Turner, who was all but invisible as a rookie.

    There's no such thing as too many capable pass-rushers.

New York Giants: Cornerback

24 of 32

    Icon Sportswire/Getty Images

    The New York Giants entered the Joe Schoen/Brian Daboll era with holes galore on both sides of the ball. And Schoen did what he could to fill those holes in free agency and the draft.

    The addition of veteran center Mark Glowinski and rookie tackle Evan Neal should help strengthen an offensive line that has been mostly awful in recent years. Rookie Kayvon Thibodeaux can be the kind of force off the edge that the G-Men haven't had since Jason Pierre-Paul left town in 2018.

    But there's still work to be done.

    The release of veteran cornerback James Bradberry may have been a financial necessity for a cap-strapped Giants team weighed down in the past by bad contracts. But it also left the team in a precarious situation at the position. Adoree' Jackson has been inconsistent, and Aaron Robinson and Darnay Holmes don't strike fear into the hearts of opposing quarterbacks.

    The Giants took a cornerback in Round 3 in LSU's Cordale Flott, but unless Thibodeaux, Leonard Williams and the pass rush get home with regularity, this secondary could be exposed on Sunday afternoons.

New York Jets: Offensive Tackle

25 of 32

    Icon Sportswire/Getty Images

    A funny thing has happened at Jets headquarters.

    New York has quietly assembled a relatively solid, balanced roster.

    Granted, its fortunes will still depend largely on the development of second-year quarterback Zach Wilson. But the Jets have done what they could to put talent around him. The offense added some dangerous skill position talent in the draft in wide receiver Garrett Wilson and running back Breece Hall.

    The defense got a boost along the front with the first-round selection of edge-rusher Jermaine Johnson II and on the back end with the signings of cornerback D.J. Reed and safety Jordan Whitehead. The offensive line ranked just outside the top 10 last year, according to PFF.

    However, that line suffered a sizable loss when right tackle Morgan Moses left for Baltimore. The Jets still have the duo of veteran George Fant and youngster Mekhi Becton manning the outside spots, but while Becton is a mountainous 2020 first-round pick and Fant is coming off the best year of his career, one has struggled to stay on the field and the other has been known to just struggle.

    If Fant regresses or Becton continues to miss significant time, the line could backslide.

    The Jets can't afford that.

Philadelphia Eagles: Cornerback

26 of 32

    Icon Sportswire/Getty Images

    The Philadelphia Eagles were a playoff team a year ago, and at first glance Philly's roster doesn't have a lot of holes.

    On offense, the team made the biggest splash move of Day 1 of the draft with a trade for star receiver A.J. Brown. The Eagles have a top-five offensive line, per PFF, and a running attack that paced the league in yards per game last season.

    Defensively, a stout front seven added a pair of impact players in the early stages of the draft. Tackle Jordan Davis gives Philly depth in the middle and an heir to Fletcher Cox. If he's healthy—which he says he is—Georgia linebacker Nakobe Dean may be the steal of his class.

    However, once you get behind Dean, the questions begin to mount. Veteran corner Darius Slay will turn 32 on New Year's Day. Avonte Maddox allowed over 75 percent of the passes thrown in his direction to be completed last season. Zech McPhearson was a pleasant surprise as a rookie, but it's unclear if he can back up that success. And once you get behind that trio, it's a whole lot of "who?"

    The Eagles need depth and talent at cornerback.

Pittsburgh Steelers: Offensive Tackle

27 of 32

    Icon Sportswire/Getty Images

    The Pittsburgh Steelers are at the dawn of a new era. For the first time in the better part of two decades, the team is heading into a season without Ben Roethlisberger. And whether veteran Mitch Trubisky earns the starting job and a chance to revive his career or the Steelers turn the reins over to rookie first-round pick Kenny Pickett, one thing is abundantly clear in the Steel City.

    An offensive line that PFF ranked as the NFL's seventh-worst last season needs work. Quite a lot of it.

    It's especially true of the tackle spots, which will presumably be manned by Chukwuma Okorafor and Dan Moore Jr. in 2022. The duo combined to allow nine sacks and commit 16 penalties last year. Were it not for Roethlisberger's ridiculously quick release, the former number likely would have been considerably higher, and it has been several years since the Steelers had any sort of sustained success running the ball.

    On a good day, Pittsburgh's offensive tackles are average. On a bad day, they are horrible.

    And no matter who the Steelers starting quarterback is, it's going to be difficult to succeed with matadors at either end of the offensive line.

San Francisco 49ers: Guard

28 of 32

    Icon Sportswire/Getty Images

    The San Francisco 49ers have enjoyed the success they have the past few years in large part because of one of the league's most effective rushing attacks. The names of the running backs may change, but the Niners just keep chewing up yards on the ground.

    And the Niners keep doing so because one of the league's best offensive lines wins consistently in the trenches.

    That line is facing some adversity in 2022. The team lost a pair of quality starters when right tackle Tom Compton and left guard Laken Tomlinson departed in free agency. The team is hopeful Mike McGlinchey can step back into the starting lineup at tackle after an injury-shortened 2021 season, but there are questions at guard.

    Aaron Banks (who is slated to replace Tomlinson) was a second-round pick last year, but he also played all of five snaps as a rookie. Right guard Daniel Brunskill was far and away the lowest-graded starter on the 49ers front last season at Pro Football Focus with a 62.2

    As goes the line, so goes the entire offense in San Francisco. And those guard spots appear shaky.

Seattle Seahawks: Quarterback

29 of 32

    Icon Sportswire/Getty Images

    Few people expected the Seattle Seahawks to be barreling toward a camp competition under center between Geno Smith and Drew Lock.

    And yet, here we are.

    That the Seahawks didn't sign a veteran quarterback wasn't all that surprising. There was some speculation connecting the team to a trade for Cleveland's Baker Mayfield, but it never became more than that. The biggest surprise was likely in the 2022 draft, where the Seahawks passed on this year's top prospects time and again while addressing other positions.

    Per Liz Mathews of Seahawks Wire, head coach Pete Carroll said Smith's knowledge of the offense affords him an early edge over Lock, who joined the Seahawks in the Russell Wilson trade.

    "It's really obvious, Geno has come back," Carroll continued. "Like we said, he has so much command of what we're doing, that he just automatically is ahead. He's trying to ride that and build on that. I'm proud of the way he's taking to it."

    After watching Smith underwhelm in three starts for Seattle a year ago and watching Lock win just eight of his 21 starts with the Broncos, it's awfully hard to get excited about either quarterback in 2022—or the Seattle offense.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Tight End

30 of 32

    Icon Sportswire/Getty Images

    The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are short on holes and long on talent. The moment Tom Brady announced he was coming back for 2022, veteran players started flocking back to the team. And many of the holes Tampa did have along the offensive line and defensive line were addressed at least to an extent in the 2022 draft.

    It's possible that the Buccaneers will still fill the hole at tight end before training camp starts as well. As Debbie Emery wrote for SB Nation, Rob Gronkowski has made it clear that if he does join Brady in playing one more season, it will be in Tampa.

    "The Buccaneers situation is just too good if I decide to go back and play," Gronkowski said. "Like I said, I love all my teammates there. They are all great teammates and all selfless players, they are there for the team and what's best for the team and the whole organization. If I do play football again, it'll be for the Bucs."

    The Buccaneers added a measure of insurance against Gronkowski's retirement by spending Day 3 picks on Washington's Cade Otton and Minnesota's Ko Kieft, but given how much Brady trusts his longtime teammate in the red zone, if Gronk decides his playing days are done, it will be a blow for the Buccaneers.

Tennessee Titans: Offensive Line

31 of 32

    Icon Sportswire/Getty Images

    The Tennessee Titans tied for the AFC's best record last season at 12-5, but the team succeeded as much in spite of its middle-of-the-pack offensive line than because of it. That line was highly effective on the ground, but according to PFF's Sam Monson, only the Miami Dolphins were worse in pass-blocking efficiency.

    That line is facing adversity in 2022 at a couple of spots.

    At right tackle, David Quessenberry is gone, which sets up 2021 second-round pick Dillon Radunz as the new starter. But Radunz barely played as a rookie, and when he did, he didn't fare well—a pair of sacks allowed in fewer than 125 snaps.

    The Titans also have an opening at left guard after veteran Rodger Saffold was released to clear cap space. That spot will be manned by third-year pro Aaron Brewer, who was mostly terrible in his 508 snaps last year, surrendering half a dozen sacks.

    It's likely that at least one of these players will struggle this year, and entirely possible that both will. Even if the Titans get one viable starter out of the pair (say, Radunz at tackle or guard) Tennessee will still have an obvious weak spot up front.

    If both fall flat, there will be two, and the sledding will be that much more difficult for both running back Derrick Henry and quarterback Ryan Tannehill.

Washington Commanders: Wide Receiver

32 of 32

    Scott Taetsch/Getty Images

    The good news for the Washington Commanders is the team used its first pick in the 2022 draft to improve the wide receivers around Terry McLaurin. Jahan Dotson of Penn State has 4.43-second speed and excellent route-running ability. He was Bleacher Report's fourth-ranked wide receiver in the class.

    The bad news is that Dotson's arrival doesn't fix all that ails the team's pass-catching corps. Not even close.

    McLaurin is a star. And Dotson could make hay from the first time he steps on an NFL field. But behind that pair is—not a lot.

    Since signing with the Commanders a year ago, Curtis Samuel has six catches—and twice as many games missed because of injury. The team used a third-rounder last year on Dyami Brown, who was also a non-factor in Washington's offense, catching 12 passes and failing to find the end zone.

    Only one wide receiver on Washington's roster (McLaurin) had even 400 receiving yards last season. The team's second-leading wideout (veteran Adam Humphries) is gone. So is the No. 3 wideout from a year ago in terms of yardage, DeAndre Carter.

    Dotson was a start to adding talent around McLaurin.

    But the job is a long way from finished.


    Stats provided by Pro Football Focus and Pro Football Reference unless otherwise noted.