With the 2019 NFL draft nearly at hand, here’s a look at the top positional needs of each team before the selections begin Thursday.
Needs: TE, WR, CB, DT
Analysis: The return of Jason Witten from retirement and ESPN’s “Monday Night Football” broadcast booth is, at best, a partial and temporary repair for the Cowboys’ tight end situation. They need help there, and adding a wide receiver also should be a priority in case the arrival of Randall Cobb does not compensate for the departure of Cole Beasley. The Cowboys are without a first-round pick after sending it to the Raiders in the Amari Cooper trade.
New York Giants
Needs: QB, WR, offensive line, pass rusher, S
Analysis: The Giants’ roster should be considered a total rebuilding project, even if general manager Dave Gettleman won’t acknowledge that. The Giants took a win-now approach last year by keeping Eli Manning, drafting running back Saquon Barkley instead of a quarterback and giving wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. a huge contract. One terrible season later, Beckham has been traded but Manning remains in place. It’s beyond time to put Manning’s successor in place.
Needs: RB, LB, offensive line, CB, pass rusher
Analysis: The Eagles traded for Jordan Howard to solidify their running back situation but probably still need another option there. Jason Peters is back for another season at left tackle but it might be wise for the Eagles to add his eventual replacement. The roster remains solid, with the Eagles one season removed from their Super Bowl title, and this is more about tweaking and adding depth than about addressing many glaring immediate needs.
Needs: QB, WR, offensive line, CB, pass rusher
Analysis: The Redskins need a young quarterback to go with Case Keenum and Colt McCoy, whether that means trading for Josh Rosen or using an early-round pick. The free agent exit of Jamison Crowder increases the need for the wide receiver corps must be addressed. The signings of guard/tackle Ereck Flowers and cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie certainly don’t preclude further moves in those areas.
Needs: K, CB, RB
Analysis: The Bears don’t have a pick until the third round, in part because of last year’s trade that sent their first-rounder to Oakland for Khalil Mack. There certainly are no regrets there. It wouldn’t be surprising to see the Bears use a draft pick on a kicker after releasing Cody Parkey following his double-doink miss in the NFC playoffs.
Needs: Pass rusher, CB, WR, TE, offensive line
Analysis: The Lions added Trey Flowers in free agency but a pass-rushing complement to him would be a welcome draft-night addition. They also need help in the secondary. There were moves made at wide receiver in free agency with the signings of Danny Amendola and Tommylee Lewis and at tight end with the addition of Jesse James. But more could be done at both positions.
Green Bay Packers
Needs: Offensive line, WR, TE, CB, S
Analysis: General manager Brian Gutekunst was active in free agency, addressing the need for pass-rush help by signing Za’Darius Smith and Preston Smith. The biggest issues to be addressed during the draft could be on offense. A retooling of the offensive line must begin soon. More playmakers at wide receiver and tight end would greatly help quarterback Aaron Rodgers as he transitions to the offense of Green Bay’s new head coach, Matt LaFleur.
Needs: Offensive line, RB, WR, TE, DT, S
Analysis: The Vikings’ first season with Kirk Cousins as their quarterback was a major disappointment. Since there’s no way to undo the Cousins deal now, the Vikings must focus on upgrading his offensive line. Adding a third wide receiver to go with Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs would help, and replacing departed running back Latavius Murray should be on the to-do list. The defensive line must be bolstered, and they need a safety to replace Andrew Sendejo.
Needs: Offensive line, pass rusher, CB, LB
Analysis: Adding guards James Carpenter and Jamon Brown in free agency helped the offensive line but the Falcons shouldn’t stop there. The defensive front also should be addressed, most notably with another pass rusher.
Needs: Offensive line, WR, TE, pass rusher, LB, S
Analysis: Giving Cam Newton more help on offense is a must. The wide receiver group still needs attention and the Panthers suffer whenever tight end Greg Olsen is not in the lineup. The free agent addition of center Matt Paradis was a plus for the offensive line but more could be done there. On defense, another pass rusher would make a difference. The exit of linebacker Thomas Davis creates a need.
New Orleans Saints
Needs: Offensive line, WR, S, pass rusher
Analysis: The retirement of center Max Unger leaves the Saints needing to restock the interior of their offensive line. The lack of a viable complementary wide receiver to go with standout Michael Thomas could be addressed, along with certain spots on defense.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Needs: LB, pass rusher, S, CB, RB, WR
Analysis: There are plenty of needs here but the most glaring are probably on defense. Linebacker Kwon Alexander exited in free agency to sign with the 49ers, and there also are holes to be filled in the secondary. It’s a defense-first draft, and the Buccaneers seem likely to try to take full advantage of that beginning with the No. 5 overall selection.
Needs: QB, offensive line, WR, TE, pass rusher
Analysis: It’s almost unthinkable that the Cardinals are back in the QB market a year after trading up to select Josh Rosen 10th overall. But many are convinced they will use the No. 1 overall choice on Kyler Murray and trade Rosen, deeming Murray too perfect for Coach Kliff Kingsbury’s offense to pass up. But there are many other holes on their roster, including offensive line and pass rusher.
Los Angeles Rams
Needs: DT, RB, offensive line, pass rusher
Analysis: The knee issues that plagued running back Todd Gurley at the end of last season could lead the defending NFC champs to fortify that position. Left tackle Andrew Whitworth opted against retiring but the Rams will need to plan for the future there, and guard Rodger Saffold left in free agency. With Ndamukong Suh not re-signed, a defensive tackle could be added to complement Aaron Donald.
San Francisco 49ers
Needs: Pass rusher, S, WR
Analysis: A top pass rusher such as Ohio State’s Nick Bosa or Kentucky’s Josh Allen would be a good fit for the 49ers with the No. 2 overall selection. The trade for Dee Ford and the selection of Bosa or Allen would give the Niners a formidable pass rush.
Needs: S, pass rusher, CB, WR
Analysis: Seattle franchise-tagged DE Frank Clark but could use a complementary pass rusher. The remaking of the secondary must continue following the departure of safety Earl Thomas. On offense, it’s time to bolster the receiving corps, particularly given the injury issues of Doug Baldwin.
Needs: Pass rusher, WR, offensive line, RB, TE
Analysis: whether Josh Allen develops into a franchise QB, the Bills are committed to finding out what he can do. They added receivers Cole Beasley, John Brown and Andre Roberts in free agency, but still can do more there and along the offensive line. On defense, getting another pass rusher should be the top priority.
Needs: QB, offensive line, WR, RB, pass rusher
Analysis: The Dolphins parted with Ryan Tannehill and failed to land Teddy Bridgewater to take over at quarterback. They added Ryan Fitzpatrick, but that’s hardly the answer. The Dolphins simply must get a passer early in this draft, whether that means staying put at No. 13 or trading up.
New England Patriots
Needs: TE, WR, offensive line, pass rusher, QB
Analysis: The Patriots just secured yet another Lombardi Trophy but there are issues to be addressed. Rob Gronkowski’s retirement leaves a void at tight end. The receiving corps is depleted. The free agent exits of left tackle Trent Brown and pass rusher Trey Flowers were significant losses. Will the Patriots put Tom Brady’s eventual successor in place? Brady and Bill Belichick should never be underestimated, but the Patriots’ roster needs some help from this draft class.
New York Jets
Needs: Pass rusher, CB, offensive line
Analysis: The Jets were very active in free agency by adding running back Le’Veon Bell, receiver Jamison Crowder and linebacker C.J. Mosley. But plenty of work remains for GM Mike Maccagnan to bolster the roster around second-year QB Sam Darnold. The offensive line must be upgraded and the defense must be fortified, particularly with a pass rusher.
Needs: Pass rusher, LB, WR
Analysis: The defensive front seven must be addressed following the free agent departures of linebackers C.J. Mosley, Terrell Suggs and Za’Darius Smith. The Ravens also must provide some pass-catching help for second-year quarterback Lamar Jackson. They’ve made it clear that their offense will be taking a run-first approach, but they need to be able throw the ball efficiently to keep defenses honest.
Needs: LB, S, offensive line, QB, TE
Analysis: It’s a new era in Cincinnati with the coaching change from Marvin Lewis to Zac Taylor. It will be interesting to see if the Bengals add a young quarterback to compete with Andy Dalton. The offensive line needs attention, and a tight end might be targeted, even with the re-signing of Tyler Eifert. On defense, the Bengals could use a playmaking linebacker after parting with Vontaze Burfict.
Needs: Offensive line, S, CB, LB
Analysis: The Browns have created plenty of buzz and are well stocked at the skill positions on offense after their trade for Odell Beckham Jr. But the offensive line needs attention, especially after guard Kevin Zeitler was dealt to the Giants. Safety is a top priority on defense after Jabrill Peppers went to New York in the Beckham trade.
Needs: WR, CB, LB, offensive line
Analysis: JuJu Smith-Schuster takes over as a capable No. 1 wideout after the trade of Antonio Brown to the Raiders, but the Steelers must add further receiving options for QB Ben Roethlisberger. The situation probably is fine at running back, with James Conner and Jaylen Samuels, even without Le’Veon Bell. But losing players like Brown and Bell necessitates an infusion of playmaking talent. The defense must be tweaked at inside linebacker and in the secondary.
Needs: Offensive line, WR, CB, S
Analysis: The Texans allowed QB Deshaun Watson to be sacked 62 times last season. Upgrading the offensive line is an absolute must, and it would be prudent for the Texans to invest multiple picks in trying to bring that about. The secondary has been revamped this offseason and more additions could be made there.
Needs: Pass rusher, CB, DT, WR
Analysis: Few did better in last year’s draft than the Colts and GM Chris Ballard, emerging with guard Quenton Nelson and linebacker Darius Leonard. Both were named first-team all-pro as rookies. For an encore, Ballard will try to improve a playoff team. The defense needs some pass-rush and secondary help. The offense would benefit by giving QB Andrew Luck another playmaking receiver to go with T.Y. Hilton and free agent pickup Devin Funchess.
Needs: Offensive line, TE, WR, S
Analysis: The Jaguars made a major free agent investment in Nick Foles at quarterback. Now they must give him some help. His offensive line needs to be better. He needs a tight end and perhaps another wide receiver. On defense, the safety situation must be addressed.
Needs: TE, WR, DT, pass rusher
Analysis: The Titans have the personnel to run the football effectively but must be more dynamic in the passing game. That begins with having quarterback Marcus Mariota healthy but also means giving Mariota more pass-catching help. Getting a tight end to eventually replace Delanie Walker would be wise. On defense, adding a defensive tackle to go with Jurrell Casey would help, as would an infusion of young talent at edge rusher.
Needs: QB, CB, WR, offensive line, TE
Analysis: The trade for Joe Flacco provides a stopgap measure, but there remains no long-term solution at quarterback. Front office football czar John Elway has gone from Brock Osweiler to Trevor Siemian to Paxton Lynch to Case Keenum and now to Flacco without fixing the franchise’s post-Peyton Manning QB situation. They could also add help at receiver, tight end and along the offensive line.
Kansas City Chiefs
Needs: Pass rusher, CB, RB, offensive line, WR
Analysis: The biggest needs are on defense. The trade of Dee Ford necessitates a move for a pass rusher, and the secondary must be addressed. But reigning MVP Patrick Mahomes needs playmakers around him, and running back Kareem Hunt is gone while wide receiver Tyreek Hill’s playing status is unclear because of off-field issues.
Los Angeles Chargers
Needs: DT, CB, LB, offensive line, WR
Analysis: This is an extremely talented team that must take a win-now approach as quarterback Philip Rivers’s Super Bowl chances dwindle. So drafting for immediate needs makes sense here. That means fortifying both the offensive and defensive lines.
Needs: Pass rusher, offensive line, RB, TE, LB
Analysis: The success of Jon Gruden’s return to coaching could hinge on how he and new GM Mike Mayock fare in this draft. The Raiders possess a trio of first-rounders after last year’s trades of Khalil Mack to the Bears and Amari Cooper to the Cowboys. The Mack-less defense must have a pass rusher, among other positions. The Raiders restocked at wide receiver this offseason by trading for Antonio Brown and signing Tyrell Williams, so getting a running back and tight end are probably bigger issues on offense.
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