Original post: April 4, 2016
We recently released our Pre-Draft Rookie Report, and we thought we should take a quick look at some of the potential landing spots for some of 2016’s top prospects. With free agency mostly in the rearview mirror, draft needs are coming more into focus for each franchise. In this article, we examined what all 32 teams need at the different fantasy positions heading into the draft on April 28-30.
First choice: #19 overall
QB: Tyrod Taylor will get another chance to lead this offense, but they aren’t convinced he’s the answer at the position. E.J. Manuel has been a huge bust as a 1st-round pick in 2013, and he’ll likely be gone after he plays out the final year of his contract in 2016. The Bills could draft a QB late in the draft to develop for the future.
RB: LeSean McCoy is locked in as the starter here, and the Bills knocked out of the park with their selection of Karlos Williams in the 5th round last year. Mike Gillislee also played well when given the chance, but the Bills could look for a RB late in the draft with Williams’ concussions and other injury issues from last season.
WR: The Bills have spent high picks on Sammy Watkins (2014 1st round) and Robert Woods (2013 2nd round) in recent years, but they still desperately need help at WR. The #2 WR spot is wide open behind Watkins, and they could add a WR in the first three rounds to compete with Woods.
TE: The Bills spent in free agency in 2015 to bring in Charles Clay, and they have a number of capable backup TEs behind him in Jim Dray, Chris Gragg, and Nick O’Leary, so they don’t have a pressing need at the position.
Other Needs: The Bills front seven didn’t cut it last season, and with Rex Ryan’s background we’re guessing he looks to upgrade his LBs and D-line early in the draft. They also could look to upgrade at RT, as Seantrel Henderson and Cyrus Kouandjio have mostly disappointed since being drafted in 2014.
First choice: #13 overall
QB: The Dolphins are likely committed to Ryan Tannehill for at least two more years based on his cap number. They also have a solid backup in Matt Moore and a project in Logan Thomas, so they are unlikely to look at QB in the draft.
RB: It feels like every RB in the league has spurned the Dolphins this off-season, including Lamar Miller who bolted for Houston. Jay Ajayi is the top remaining RB on the roster, so they’ll definitely be bringing in some competition early in the draft, even if they would happen to sign Arian Foster before the draft.
WR: The Dolphins watched Rishard Matthews head to Tennessee, and they cut Greg Jennings, so they are a little thinner at the position than they were in 2015. They could use some depth behind their young WRs Jarvis Landry, DeVante Parker, and Kenny Stills, so a mid-round WR makes some sense.
TE: Jordan Cameron had an extremely disappointing first season with the Dolphins, but they’ll give him another chance in Adam Gase’s offense. Dion Sims is a more than capable backup, and they added MarQueis Gray in free agency. The Dolphins have more pressing needs in the draft.
Other Needs: The Dolphins eventually need to upgrade this offensive line – specifically at OT and OG – for Tannehill to have a better chance at success. They traded for CB Byron Maxwell and LB Kiko Alonso, but they could still use some help at both positions. They also need to add some youth to DE with Cameron Wake coming back from an Achilles injury and after signing Mario Williams and letting Olivier Vernon walk.
New England Patriots
First choice: #61 overall
QB: There’s a chance Tom Brady could lose his Deflategate appeal, which would force him to serve his four-game suspension. Jimmy Garoppolo is the only other QB on the roster and would start in his place, and the Patriots could look for a young QB at the end of the draft to be the #3 QB.
RB: The Patriots signed Donald Brown, but he’s more of a passing-down back like Dion Lewis and James White. We wouldn’t be surprised if they look for a downhill, between-the tackles runner in the middle rounds to fill the role left behind by LeGarrette Blount.
WR: The Patriots have swung and missed with a ton of WR picks in the last decade (Aaron Dobson, Josh Boyce, Taylor Price, Brandon Tate, and Chad Jackson), but that shouldn’t stop them from trying to upgrade the position this year. They don’t have an imposing physical WR or a true speedster on the outside, which they could look for in the draft in the middle rounds.
TE: The Patriots easily have the scariest TE tandem between Rob Gronkowski and Martellus Bennett, and they added the skilled Clay Harbor to be their #3 TE/H-back, so we don’t envision them spending a pick on the position.
Other Needs: The Broncos exposed the Patriot offensive line in the AFC Championship – Brady got hit a whopping 20 times – and that is the top spot they’ll be looking to upgrade, especially at RT with Sebastian Vollmer turning 32 this season. The Patriots could also look for CB and LB depth, and they need to develop another pass rusher after trading Chandler Jones to Arizona.
New York Jets
First choice: #20 overall
QB: The Jets are in limbo right now with Ryan Fitzpatrick still unsigned as of late March. Obviously, if they don’t re-sign Fitz, the Jets could potentially spend a high pick on a QB to compete with Geno Smith for the starting job. The Jets did spend a 4th-round pick on Bryce Petty last year, so they won’t be rushing to take another QB if Fitz does return.
RB: Chris Ivory left for Jacksonville during free agency, but they quickly reloaded by signing Matt Forte and Khiry Robinson and re-signing Bilal Powell. They also still have Zac Stacy in the fold, so they have plenty of depth at RB right now.
WR: The Jets are top heavy at WR between Brandon Marshall and Eric Decker, and they also spent 2nd-round pick on Devin Smith in 2015. They could use some depth at the position since Chan Gailey uses a lot of 3- and 4-WR sets, but it’s unlikely that they spend another high pick at the position this April.
TE: The Jets got just 8 catches from their TEs Jeff Cumberland and Kellen Davis last season, and the team doesn’t appear to be too high on 2014 2nd-round pick Jace Amaro, who missed all of last season. The Jets could look to take a TE fairly high in the draft to upgrade the position.
Other Needs: The Jets desperately need to inject some youth into their aging offensive line, with LT D’Brickashaw Ferguson and C Nick Mangold entering their 11th seasons. They could also easily upgrade the right side of their line between RT Breno Giacomini and RG Brian Winters. The Jets could also use some depth at CB, and they don’t have a true edge pass rusher at OLB.
First choice: #6 overall
QB: Joe Flacco made 122 straight starts to begin his career before a torn ACL and MCL ended his 2015. They Ravens signed Ryan Mallett to a two-year deal at the end of last season, so they are unlikely to use a draft pick on a QB.
RB: The Ravens have an older back in Justin Forsett and a bunch of younger options behind him, led by Buck Allen, who could compete for the starting job with Forsett in training camp. The Ravens don’t have a standout at the position, but they also aren’t hurting for depth and don’t need to draft a RB too high.
WR: The Raven had one of the worst WR corps in 2015, but the group could be much better in 2016 if Breshad Perriman and Steve Smith come back healthy, which is a big if. They also added Mike Wallace to go along with holdover Kamar Aiken, so they suddenly don’t have huge need to draft a WR until late in the draft.
TE: The Ravens signed Ben Watson to lead their young TEs until Maxx Williams is ready to step up and take control of the starting job. The Ravens have drafted three TEs the last two years – Williams (2015 2nd-rounder), Nick Boyle (2015 5th-rounder), Crockett Gillmore (2014 3rd-rounder) – so they are unlikely to use another pick on TE this year.
Other Needs: The Ravens will look to add a pass rusher in the early rounds after a season-ending injury to aging OLB Terrell Suggs left them hurting last season. They also could use another ILB next to C.J. Mosley. The Ravens got exposed in the secondary and they’ll need more CBs to compete against the likes Antonio Brown and A.J. Green in their division. The Ravens also need some help along the left side of their offensive line after Kelechi Osemele bolted for Oakland and with Eugene Monroe’s recent injury issues.
First choice: #24 overall
QB: Andy Dalton was having a career year before a thumb injury in Week 14 ended his season, and backup A.J. McCarron played well as his replacement in his first career NFL action. The Bengals are unlikely to draft a QB in this year’s class.
RB: Tandem Jeremy Hill and Giovani Bernard disappointed last season, but they are still young and aren’t going anywhere. Still, it’s not out of the question that the Bengals use a mid-round pick on a RB to actually give them a #3 RB and another option if Hill struggles again early in the season.
WR: This is by far the biggest need for the Bengals in the draft after Marvin Jones and Mohamed Sanu both bolted during free agency. They currently have A.J. Green, Brandon LaFell, who really struggled in 2015, and a bunch of no-names. The Bengals could certainly take Laquon Treadwell, Josh Doctson, Corey Coleman, or another WR in the 1st round this year.
TE: Tyler Eifert finally stayed on the field and had a breakout season, and they used a 3rd-round pick on Tyler Kroft and 5th-round pick C.J. Uzomah in last year’s draft, so they aren’t likely to draft a TE.
Other Needs: The Bengals are starting to get a little long in the tooth on defense, and they could use some depth throughout their defense, especially at DT and at LB. They could also upgrade at C over Russell Bodine, who has been the weak link for this O-line.
First choice: #2 overall
QB: The Browns signed Robert Griffin III to a two-year deal this off-season, but that move won’t preclude them from drafting Carson Wentz or Jared Goff at #2 overall. Even if they do pass on a QB in the 1st round, we still see them taking a QB by Day Two of the draft.
RB: Duke Johnson and Isaiah Crowell certainly weren’t special last season, but they are still young talents at the position and they have much bigger needs with this roster that is full of holes. They could potentially draft a RB late to compete for a roster spot with Glenn Winston.
WR: The Browns might get Josh Gordon back if the league reinstates him, but they still desperately need some help for whoever is quarterbacking this offense next season after letting Travis Benjamin walk. This is another position we envision the Browns spending a pick by the end of Day Two of the draft.
TE: Gary Barnidge turned out to be quite the revelation as a 30-year-old breakout star in the Browns offense in 2015, and they gave him a three-year extension mid-season. Still, the Browns have almost no depth behind him and could use young TE late in the draft to compete for the #2 role.
Other Needs: The Browns need help everywhere, but especially with their O-line after C Alex Mack and RT Mitchell Schwartz bolted during free agency. They also could use an ILB and a DE to bolster their defense but they have holes everywhere, so every position is fair game in this draft.
First choice: #25 overall
QB: Ben Roethlisberger has never been the picture of durability with his style of play, but at least Landry Jones played relatively well in limited action. Still, the Steelers will likely bring in another QB to compete with Jones for the backup role in training camp, whether it’s a veteran free agent or a late-round QB.
RB: The Steelers have been burned the last two years in the playoffs by their lack of depth at running back. It would be wise for them to draft a RB in the middle rounds to battle Fitzgerald Toussaint for the #3 RB spot and to build some actual depth behind Le’Veon Bell and DeAngelo Williams.
WR: The loss of Martavis Bryant suddenly has the Steelers in need of depth at the position. They’ll expect Sammie Coates to step up into a more prominent role after being invisible as a rookie, but they’ll likely add yet another WR through the draft in the mid rounds for the fourth straight year – Markus Wheaton (2013 3rd-rounder), Bryant (2014 4th rounder), and Coates (2015 3rd-rounder).
TE: Heath Miller left a giant void for the Steelers at TE, but they quickly filled that hole by signing one of the top free agent TEs Ladarius Green. The Steelers also liked the progress of TE Jesse James as a rookie last year and Matt Spaeth is still around, so they would only look at a TE project late in the draft.
Other Needs: It’s pretty simple, the Steelers need a lot of help throughout their secondary, specifically at CB. They also relied too heavily on OLB James Harrison last season and 1st-round picks Bud Dupree and Jarvis Jones have disappointed. They’ll likely look to draft yet another edge pass rusher in the first couple rounds. The Steelers will also look for some depth for the interior of the O-line with LG Ramon Foster turning 30 and C Maurkice Pouncey constantly hurt.
First choice: #22 overall
QB: The Texans addressed their biggest need by giving Brock Osweiler a massive four-year, $72 million contract at the start of free agency. For now, Brian Hoyer is still the mix as his backup but that could change by the time the draft rolls around. They signed Brandon Weeden to a two-year deal to be the backup and they have project Tom Savage as the #3 QB. If the Texans do get rid of Hoyer, they could look to draft another QB late in the late rounds.
RB: The Texans addressed their second biggest need by giving Lamar Miller a four-year, $26 million contract at the start of free agency. The Texans were a mess at RB last season after Arian Foster went down, and they could use an upgrade over Alfred Blue, Chris Polk, and Jonathan Grimes. However, they are unlikely to use anything more than a late-round pick on another RB.
WR: DeAndre Hopkins has developed into one of the best WRs in the league, but they have almost no depth after him. Jalen Strong showed some promise to develop into a #2 WR at the end of his rookie year, but they need to look at bringing in another mid-round WR to push him in training camp.
TE: The Texans have been devoid of talent at the position since Bill O’Brien showed up in 2014. C.J. Fiedorowicz hasn’t worked out as a 3rd-round pick in 2014 and Ryan Griffin is just a backup at the position, so the Texans could look to the draft early to bolster the position.
Other Needs: The Texans are in definite need of some bodies on their O-line, with RG Brandon Brooks and C Ben Jones leaving in free agency and LT Duane Brown coming off a torn quadriceps in Week 17 last year. They also need a DE to lineup across from J.J. Watt and a SS to play next to Andre Hal in the secondary.
First choice: #18 overall
QB: The Colts obviously aren’t going to be in the market for a big-time rookie QB with Andrew Luck leading the franchise, but his injuries last year showed they need some quality depth behind him. They brought in Scott Tolzein to be their top backup and Stephen Morris is a project behind him, but the Colts could use a late pick on a QB to bring in some added competition.
RB: We wouldn’t be surprised to see the Colts use a Day Two draft pick on a RB with Frank Gore nearing the end of his career. Robert Turbin and Jordan Todman are below average back-up options, and the Colts desperately need to inject some youth and talent behind Gore in the draft.
WR: The Colts surprised everybody last year by picking Phillip Dorsett in the 1st round, but we’d be shocked if they went WR early again this year. Still, they don’t have any depth behind T.Y. Hilton, Donte Moncrief, and Dorsett, and they should pick a WR in the middle rounds.
TE: The Colts lost some TE depth with Coby Fleener leaving for New Orleans, but they have used Jack Doyle the last two years and they feel like he can be a solid #2 TE behind Dwayne Allen. The Colts have plenty of holes in this roster, and TE doesn’t appear to be a top priority in the draft.
Other Needs: O-line, O-line, and more O-line. Luck certainly didn’t help himself with his playing style last year, but this O-line played a major role in his injuries and the team’s lost season. They also need a pass rusher badly, as they can’t go another season with 35-year-old Robert Mathis as their top edge guy. The secondary is a work in progress as well, as they need a FS and some depth at CB behind Vontae Davis and Patrick Robinson.
First choice: #5 overall
QB: Blake Bortles started to look like the franchise QB they envisioned when they drafted him #3 overall in the 2014 draft, and they retained his backup QB Chad Henne this off-season. They don’t have a #3 QB on their roster right, so they could potentially consider a QB late in the draft.
RB: The Jaguars realized they needed more depth at RB after Denard Robinson’s shaky showing at the end of last season, and they brought Chris Ivory into the fold to split the work with second-year pro T.J. Yeldon. It’s not a pressing need for the Jaguars, but they could look at RB late in the draft to bring some competition for Robinson in the #3 role.
WR: The Jaguars loaded up at WR in 2014 with Allen Robinson, Allen Hurns, and Marqise Lee, and the organization is also high on 2015 5th-round pick Rashad Greene. This is one position they don’t need help in, but almost every team takes a WR, so they could look at WR late in the draft.
TE: The Jaguars retained free agent Marcedes Lewis to backup Julius Thomas and to use in 2-TE sets, so the Jags are unlikely to spend much time worrying about the position in the draft.
Other Needs: The Jaguar defense was downright dreadful last season, but they have picked away at some of their deficiencies in free agency by signing DE Malik Jackson, FS Tashaun Gipson, and CB Prince Amukamara. They still need to add another CB, SS, and some competition for Dan Skuta and Paul Posluszny at LB. Another pass rush to pair with Dante Fowler wouldn’t hurt either. They also need an interior O-lineman after cutting Zane Beadles and letting C Stefen Wisnewski go this off-season.
First choice: #1 overall
QB: The Titans selected Marcus Mariota #2 overall in 2015, and they have Zach Mettenberger and Matt Cassel behind him for depth, so they won’t be in the market for a QB in this year’s draft.
RB: DeMarco Murray will be the no-doubt lead back for the Titans this season, and they have young RBs David Cobb, Antonio Andrews, and Bishop Sankey behind him. The position isn’t a need for the Titans, but it’s not like any of Murray’s backups are studs, so they could add more competition with a late-round pick.
WR: The 2016 Titans WR corps will likely hinge on just how much Dorial Green-Beckham develops in his second season, but they brought in Rishard Matthews to be a steady option for Mariota. They also have Kendall Wright, Harry Douglas, and Justin Hunter, so WR isn’t a pressing need in this year’s draft.
TE: Delanie Walker has been a revelation for the Titans the last three years, and they kept blocker Craig Stevens to serve as a backup along with Anthony Fasano. The Titans could use some youth at the position, but it’s not urgent they take a TE in this year’s draft.
Other Needs: The consensus heading into the draft is that they’ll draft Laremy Tunsil to solidify their LT spot and anchor this O-line in front of Mariota. The Titans also have a glaring weaknesses in their secondary, and they’ll need to add cornerbacks and safeties through the draft. They also need some depth at both linebacker spots, as they need another edge-pass rusher and an inside backer.
First choice: #31 overall
QB: The Broncos are scrambling to fill their QB spot after losing both Peyton Manning and Brock Osweiler this off-season. They traded for Mark Sanchez and have a total unknown Trevor Siemian behind him, who they drafted in the 7th round last year. The Broncos are also working on a potential deal for Colin Kaepernick, but the deal is hung up over his contract. The Broncos will likely go with Sanchez early next season. If the Broncos don’t acquire Kap, we’re guessing they spend an early pick on a QB to be the future of the franchise.
RB: The Dolphins tried to steal C.J. Anderson away from the Broncos, but Denver matched the restricted FA’s offer to bring him back to be the lead back. The Broncos are pretty thin at RB behind Anderson right now with just Juwan Thompson the top backup, but they could also still bring back Ronnie Hillman. Still, they could bring in some competition with a mid-round pick at the position.
WR: The Broncos have one of the better tandems at WR between Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders, but they are quite thin behind them with 2014 2nd-round pick Cody Latimer slow to develop. The Broncos will be breaking in a new QB this season, and it would be wise to give him some more talent at WR with a mid-round pick.
TE: The Broncos will essentially be getting 2015 3rd-round pick Jeff Heuerman back off a medical redshirt after he tore his ACL last May. Gary Kubiak has high hopes for him and they still have Virgil Green as a fallback plan, but they could still add another TE with a late-round selection.
Other Needs: The offensive line was one of the bigger issues for the Broncos in their run to the Super Bowl. They did add LT Russell Okung and RT Donald Stephenson in free agency, but we imagine they’ll use an early pick to bolster the group even more. The Broncos also need to replenish the cupboard on defense at all three levels – specifically at DE, ILB, and S – after DE Malik Jackson, ILB Danny Trevathan, and SS David Bruton left in free agency.
Kansas City Chiefs
First choice: #28 overall
QB: Former backup QB Chase Daniel followed his OC Doug Pederson to Philly, and we’ll see just how much faith Andy Reid has in Aaron Murray and/or Tyler Bray to serve as backups. If Reid thinks highly of his young QBs, the Chiefs are unlikely to draft a QB this April. If Reid has some questions about his young QBs, the Chiefs will draft a QB this April.
RB: Jamaal Charles is coming off his second major knee injury and will turn 30 years old in December, and the Chiefs must be pretty happy with Charcandrick West and Spencer Ware, as they gave them contract extensions at the end of March. West and Ware played well as replacements for Charles, but they are little more than backup types going forward, so we could see the Chiefs use a mid-round pick at RB.
WR: The Chiefs aren’t exactly loaded at WR after Jeremy Maclin, but they have decent pieces in Rod Streater, Albert Wilson, Chris Conley, and De’Anthony Thomas behind him. They could still look to add another WR in the later rounds to compete with this mediocre group behind Maclin.
TE: The Chiefs are loaded with young, freak basketball athletes at the position, starting with Travis Kelce and followed by Demetrius Harris and James O’Shaughnessy. This is one position they don’t need help at.
Other Needs: The Chiefs have some major questions at OLB all of a sudden with Justin Houston’s 2016 season up in the air because of an ACL issue and Tamba Hali turning 33 in December. They knocked it out off the park with last year’s 1st-round pick CB Marcus Peters, and they need another CB early this year after Sean Smith left to join the rival Raiders. The Chiefs will also look to add some depth on the O-line, especially at guard.
First choice: #14 overall
QB: Derek Carr has established himself as the franchise QB, so they won’t be spending an early pick on QB for many years. Matt McGloin is an adequate backup, but the Raiders could draft a quarterback late in the draft to push him for the #2 role.
RB: The Raiders addressed many of their holes in free agency, but RB is the one spot they haven’t touched. Latavius Murray proved to be nothing special in his first season as a starter, and they have absolutely no one behind him after Roy Helu’s disappointing first season with the franchise. The Raiders should spend a Day Two pick on a RB to compete with Murray for touches next season.
WR: The Raiders drastically improved their WR corps in just one off-season, with the additions of Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree in 2015. Seth Roberts and Andre Holmes have also flashed talent and ability as the #3 and #4 WRs, but the Raiders will add another body to the group with a later pick in this year’s draft.
TE: Clive Walford slowly progressed as a 3rd-round pick in 2015, and they’re expecting big gains from him as a sophomore this season. They also have decent backups in Mychal Rivera and Lee Smith – although they are open to trading Rivera – and they don’t need to spend a draft pick at the position this season.
Other Needs: The Raiders did a great job bolstering their roster by signing OL Kelechi Osemele, CB Sean Smith, and LB Bruce Irvin, but they still have some holes to fill on defense. They still need more help for Smith in the secondary at CB and at safety after Charles Woodson’s retirement, and they could also upgrade at MLB too.
San Diego Chargers
First choice: #3 overall
QB: Philip Rivers isn’t going to lead this offense forever, but he is under contract through 2019, so it might not be the time to start grooming an eventual replacement. Still, it wouldn’t hurt to draft a QB in the middle rounds to compete with Kellen Clemens for the back-up role and to be a potential stopgap if things would go south for Rivers earlier than expected.
RB: Melvin Gordon had a disastrous rookie season as a 2015 1st-round pick, but the Chargers shouldn’t compound the mistake by taking another RB early in the draft. They could potentially draft a RB late in the draft to compete with Branden Oliver for the handcuff role.
WR: The Chargers brought in Travis Benjamin to replace the speed left behind by Malcom Floyd, but the team still needs to add more depth behind Keenan Allen, Stevie Johnson, and Benjamin. They could look for a big, physical outside receiver in the middle rounds.
TE: Antonio Gates is sticking around for at least another season, but they lost the future of the position when Ladarius Green bolted for Pittsburgh in free agency. The Chargers have little behind Gates now, and they’d be wise to look for a young project at the position in the middle rounds.
Other Needs: The Chargers have plenty of holes to fill in the draft, starting with their O-line, which was ravaged by injuries and couldn’t hold up in either game the run or the pass game. They also need to bolster all three levels of their defense, and they especially need to replace FS Eric Weddle and to actually develop some pass rushers.
First choice: #4 overall
QB: There have been “rumors” for a few years now that the Cowboys want to draft the eventual successor to Tony Romo, dating back to Jerry Jones’ apparent infatuation with Johnny Manziel in 2014. Well the rumors make even more sense now, given Romo is about to turn 36 and is coming off collarbone surgery. That said, former Cowboy executive Gil Brandt reported in early March that Jones does not want to use his top-five pick on a QB. Whatever the case, we have to consider QB a “need” here, since Kellen Moore is currently Romo’s top backup, even if the Cowboys aren’t keen on drafting Romo’s eventual successor this year.
RB: This isn’t so much a need for the Cowboys after they re-signed Lance Dunbar and added Alfred Morris, giving them two relatively young guys alongside Darren McFadden. It’d be surprising if the Cowboys used an early pick on a back, but they could certainly add one to the mix in the later rounds.
WR: The Cowboys have precious little depth behind Dez Bryant. Cole Beasley is a completely fine #3, certainly a reliable chain mover for Tony Romo. But “#2” Terrance Williams is inconsistent at best. Beyond those three, the Cowboys have a bunch of projects (Devin Street, Vince Mayle, Brice Butler) who have proven absolutely nothing thus far.
TE: Following the re-signing of James Hanna (the Cowboys also still have Gavin Escobar and Geoff Swaim on the roster), it seems unlikely Dallas would invest draft capital in this position. Jason Witten still has another good year or so left.Other Needs: Dallas has a young, gifted offensive line. While we can’t rule out the club adding some depth there, most of the Cowboys’ needs lie on the defensive side of the ball. The Cowboys could use another corner or two, even after bringing back Morris Claiborne. They also need pass rush (Greg Hardy is still unsigned), and depth at LB behind the oft-injured Sean Lee is not a bad idea.
New York Giants
First choice: #10 overall
QB: The Giants recently signed Eli Manning to a huge extension, and young backup Ryan Nassib is entering his fourth year (the final year of his rookie deal). QB isn’t likely a need for the team, but there’s a chance they prepare for life without Nassib behind Eli.
RB: The Giants’ run game was less than ideal last year, mostly because they stubbornly kept giving carries to Andre Williams. Things got a lot better late in the year when Rashad Jennings and Shane Vereen basically split all the touches. But Jennings is 31 and is oft-injured, plus Vereen isn’t a “traditional” RB. Orleans Darkwa is also in the mix, but the Giants could use an upgrade here. Ezekiel Elliott has been floated to them at #10 overall, but they could just as easily add a solid prospect in Round 2 or 3.
WR: While Rueben Randle may be no big loss, the Giants’ top receivers behind Odell Beckham are currently Victor Cruz (who hasn’t played football in about 18 months) and Dwayne Harris, who is more of a return specialist. The Giants could absolutely use somebody reliable opposite OBJ.
TE: The Giants are one of the most TE-needy teams in the entire league. Will Tye filled in decently this past year, but Larry Donnell is coming off a serious neck injury, and all in all the Giants don’t have anything but a couple place holders at the position. They could consider taking a TE early.
Other Needs: The Giants still need major help along the offensive line, as Ereck Flowers struggled terribly at tackle as a rookie, and vet Marshall Newhouse wasn’t much better. Their defense improved this off-season with the signings of Jason Pierre-Paul, Olivier Vernon, Damon Harrison, and Janoris Jenkins, but they are still thin at LB (they did sign Keenan Robinson) and at safety. It could be an OL-heavy draft for the Giants, though they have plenty of needs at the skill positions.
First choice: #8 overall
QB: The Eagles aren’t precluded from drafting a QB despite signing both Sam Bradford and Chase Daniel this off-season apparently. They set up a private workout with Cal QB Jared Goff, who could be right in their wheelhouse at the #8 pick, and they’ve also met with North Dakota State’s Carson Wentz. It seems obvious the Eagles have interest, but to us it still doesn’t make sense that they’d sign both Bradford and Daniel and still spend a first-round pick on someone like Goff (even though neither QB has a long-term contract). We expect the Eagles to draft a QB at some point, as owner Jeffrey Lurie said he’d like to do, but we’ll believe it when we see it in the first round.
RB: After the trade of DeMarco Murray, the Eagles have a clear hole at RB. Ryan Mathews is still around, but he’s often injured, and vet Darren Sproles is in the final year of his contract. We’d expect Philly to address RB, perhaps as early as #8 overall with stud Ezekiel Elliott.
WR: The Eagles are just trying to see what sticks at WR. Jordan Matthews may move outside, though he’s never really played there in his NFL career, and we did have some concerns about his ability to get off press coverage on his college tape. Nelson Agholor lost most of his rookie season to injuries and mistakes, and Josh Huff never really took the next step. The Eagles added vets Rueben Randle and Chris Givens for depth/competition, but they still have a need for speed at this position.
TE: The Eagles signed Zach Ertz and Brent Celek to multi-year extensions this off-season. With the talented Trey Burton also on the roster (he may play some FB/H-Back), we’d be surprised if the Eagles spent a pick on a TE.
Other Needs: The Eagles addressed perhaps their most glaring need with the signing of former Texan OG Brandon Brooks and former Raider/Jaguar G/C Stefen Wisniewski, but they still need plenty more depth along the offensive line, including an heir apparent for LT Jason Peters (or, more likely, for Lane Johnson at RT when Johnson slides over to LT). They’re in solid shape defensively, but could use another pass rusher and another corner. They could potentially spend high picks on all these positions.
First choice: #21 overall
QB: Washington franchised Kirk Cousins this off-season and is likely working on a long-term deal for him as we speak. Following the re-signing of Colt McCoy, the club is pretty set at the position for 2016, though it’s not outrageous to suggest they may take a developmental prospect, especially if it doesn’t appear that talks are going well with Cousins.
RB: Alfred Morris has moved on to Dallas. While Washington coaches have been very supportive publicly of Matt Jones as a lead back, we’re still not convinced they can be all in on him given the way he struggled last year, especially with ball security. Chris Thompson is a very nice passing-down option, but Washington does need someone who can manage to carry a load if Jones were to go down. We expect they’ll draft a back, though it could be an early or late pick.
WR: The Redskins have solid depth at WR all around, as Jamison Crowder had a nice rookie year behind Pierre Garcon and DeSean Jackson, but we can’t rule out Washington drafting a prospect with some size.
TE: Jordan Reed established himself as a star last year, Niles Paul (ankle) should be able to return by the start of the regular season, plus Washington re-signed Logan Paulsen and added Vernon Davis this off-season. This isn’t likely to be a position the club focuses on during the draft.
Other Needs: Washington has a pretty solid roster top to bottom, as the offensive line has been consistently improving, and they have a decent defense. However, Washington could absolutely use pass-rush help and more bodies in the secondary, and that’s where we’d expect to see a big focus during the Draft.
First choice: #11 overall
QB: Jay Cutler is entering year three of a seven-year contract extension, but could be cut following the 2016 season with minimal cap hit. With really only David Fales behind him on the depth chart, the Bears are a team that should consider a developmental QB in the Draft. In fact, it’s not outrageous to think they could take one in the first round, putting intense pressure on Cutler to perform.
RB: The Bears let Matt Forte walk without a contract offer, and coach John Fox has talked up both Jeremy Langford and Ka’Deem Carey this off-season (Chicago also re-signed Jacquizz Rodgers). However, the Bears also had interest in RFA C.J. Anderson this off-season, suggesting they are looking for an upgrade at the position. If the Bears get the opportunity to draft a back they like early, we’d expect them to.
WR: Alshon Jeffery is back on the franchise tag, Kevin White is expected to be healthy, Eddie Royal is around, and Marquess Wilson is still a solid depth option. The Bears could potentially use another slot option given Royal’s health issues, but this isn’t a huge position of need.
TE: The Bears traded Martellus Bennett, and though they signed vets Zach Miller and Rob Housler to contracts, they offered RFA Josh Hill a contract before the Saints matched. Suffice it to say Chicago is looking for more upgrades here, given Miller’s health history.
Other Needs: The Bears need offensive line help badly, and we’d expect that will be a popular pick at #11 in mock drafts leading into the actual Draft. Though their defense is miles ahead of where it was last year at this time, Chicago still needs significant pass rush and secondary help.
First choice: #16 overall
QB: The Lions have Matthew Stafford under contract for two more seasons, and they re-signed Dan Orlovsky to a one-year deal this off-season to back him up. It shouldn’t be a major priority for Detroit, but a developmental prospect would make sense.
RB: The Lions could spend a mid-late pick on a power back to replace Joique Bell, but remember that Zach Zenner is coming off injury and could be tabbed for that role, and they also signed Stevan Ridley for competition. Ameer Abdullah and Theo Riddick make this a well-rounded backfield.
WR: Some guy you might have heard of, Calvin Johnson, retired this off-season. While the Lions signed Marvin Jones to help fill the void, they certainly could use another talented player to help soften the blow. One thing they lack at WR is size – Jones is the only of their projected top four WRs over 6’0”.
TE: The Lions have Eric Ebron and Tim Brown under contract, though Brandon Pettigrew seems likely to miss a large part of 2016 following his late 2015 ACL tear. If the Lions add a TE, it’s likely to be a blocking specialist in the later rounds.
Other Needs: The Lions could use some tackle help, and though their line is young and improving, it wasn’t very good overall last year. They especially could upgrade on C Travis Swanson, who was horrendous by ProFootballFocus ratings last year. Defensively, the Lions could use some interior DL depth and a solid corner opposite stud Darius Slay.
Green Bay Packers
First choice: #27 overall
QB: The Packers have Aaron Rodgers, and he’s good. Behind him, though, second-year man Brett Hundley is currently the top backup. Ostensibly, Green Bay let Scott Tolzein walk to make Hundley the #2, but how much faith do they have in him? Regardless, this position is obviously not “a need.”
RB: The Packers re-signed veteran James Starks this off-season, obviously for reliability purposes given Eddie Lacy’s weight problems. Lacy, to his credit, has been working like crazy on his conditioning, using P90X to drop weight this off-season. That said, the Packers may feel they need to draft even more insurance for Lacy, perhaps even in the third round or so.
WR: In theory, the Packers are loaded at WR if Jordy Nelson returns from his ACL injury. But as we saw last year, “depth” only exists until it doesn’t, especially since Randall Cobb played through a shoulder injury and didn’t look like himself. The Packers still don’t trust Jeff Janis for some reason, and Davante Adams has been atrocious in his NFL career thus far. Still, with those four, plus Ty Montgomery and Jared Abbrederis, the Packers don’t have a pressing need at WR.
TE: Richard Rodgers had a solid 2015 season, and the Packers also added some theoretical “upside” in vet Jared Cook to the position. TE isn’t a position of need.
Other Needs: The Packers had injury problems on the line last year, so they may like some OL depth, but all in all they have a very good group of starters there. One area they really need help defensively is at linebacker, where Sam Barrington and Jake Ryan just didn’t cut it in 2015.
First choice: #23 overall
QB: The Vikings have Shaun Hill under contract behind Teddy Bridgewater for one more year. Beyond those two, they have only second-year UDFA Taylor Heinicke at QB on the roster. They may not take a QB early, but they could develop a backup with a later pick.
RB: After re-signing Matt Asiata, the Vikings are pretty well set at RB with Adrian Peterson and Jerick McKinnon (who had an impressive run to end 2015) already on the roster. Obviously, this isn’t a major need.
WR: Here’s an area Minnesota could use some major improvement. Stefon Diggs had an impressive rookie year, held back mostly by the QB play and offensive system, but beyond him Minnesota has the disappointing Cordarrelle Patterson, the disappeared Charles Johnson and a decent slot receiver in Jarius Wright. The Vikings could take multiple WRs in this draft, and perhaps spend a very early pick on one.
TE: The Vikings are unlikely to spend draft resources at TE. Kyle Rudolph is on a long-term contract, they re-signed Rhett Ellison this off-season, and second-year man MyCole Pruitt is an intriguing talent.
Other Needs: The Vikings’ biggest need heading into the off-season was on the offensive line, and they’ve tried to attack that by signing a bunch of FAs – Phil Loadholt (re-signed), Alex Boone and Andre Smith. They could still use plenty of upside there. Defensively, Minnesota’s biggest need is at linebacker, alongside star Anthony Barr.
First choice: #17 overall
QB: The Falcons have their franchise QB in Matt Ryan, signed Matt Schaub to be the backup this off-season, and still have Sean Renfree under contract. QB isn’t likely to be a focus for them come late April.
RB: The Falcons could use a #3 back (though Terron Ward has some experience), but they’re in pretty good shape with Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman as their top two backs. Talent and youth is an excellent combo.
WR: The Falcons dropped big money on Mohamed Sanu to line up across from Julio Jones, but we’re still not totally convinced he’s a viable long-term #2. With Justin Hardy coming off a disappointing rookie season, we absolutely see reason to believe the Falcons could be targeting a WR at some point in the draft.
TE: We’ve been saying the Falcons could be a candidate to draft a TE early for seemingly years now, but they haven’t taken one since Levine Toilolo in the 4th round in 2013. They have Toilolo and Jacob Tamme, but once again should be in contention to select a talented developmental prospect.
Other Needs: After the signing of C Alex Mack to upgrade the interior of the offensive line (which still isn’t perfect, but few teams are truly satisfied there), most of the Falcons’ needs are on the defensive side of the ball. They spent a high pick on Vic Beasley last year but still had an atrocious pass rush, so that should once again be an area of focus. The Falcon LBs also were poor last year, and aside from top CB Desmond Trufant, their secondary had some really bad moments last year. Expect coach Dan Quinn and company to once again focus on improving the D.
First choice: #30 overall
QB: The Panthers have Derek Anderson and Joe Webb behind Cam Newton, each under contract for two more seasons. This isn’t a position of need for Carolina.
RB: We could see the Panthers going either way at RB during the draft. Jonathan Stewart had a great season, but again got hurt, resting down the stretch. Behind him, the Panthers have Fozzy Whittaker and Cameron Artis-Payne. We weren’t CAP fans in last year’s draft, and think the Panthers can absolutely upgrade on him, but Carolina may not view this as a real position of need, especially after re-signing FB Mike Tolbert this off-season. Still, their run game is critical to what they do, and getting a true heir apparent to Stewart may be wise.
WR: The Panthers are getting Kelvin Benjamin back from injury in 2016, which will be huge, especially since Devin Funchess started to show real improvement down the stretch. However, Ted Ginn is entering the final year of his contract, and Philly Brown has had long stretches of ineffectiveness and inconsistency. The Panthers could choose to add some speed to their receiving corps during the draft.
TE: Greg Olsen is a star, and he’s under contract for three more seasons. He’s also one of the most durable players in the entire sport. However, Olsen is 31, and Ed Dickson is merely a decent backup, so the Panthers could choose to add some upside depth here.
Other Needs: The Panthers are generally in great shape on both sides of the ball, but they could use offensive tackle help, especially if they aren’t confident Michael Oher can repeat his solid performance from 2015. The Panthers will always be looking for more pass rush help, and more stability at corner opposite Josh Norman.
New Orleans Saints
First choice: #12 overall
QB: It feels unlikely the Saints will spend a pick on a QB, after using an early pick on Garrett Grayson last year and re-signing Luke McCown this off-season. They’re set behind Drew Brees.
RB: This is an interesting position for the Saints. C.J. Spiller was a massive free-agent bust last year, and while Mark Ingram had an excellent year, he’s also not the perfect picture of health at the position. Additionally, the Saints lost Khiry Robinson in free agency to the Jets, after surprisingly not tendering him an RFA offer. But this is also the team that has had unreal success with UDFAs at the position (Robinson and Chris Ivory), and is the team that got a career resurgence out of Tim Hightower last year. Hightower remains unsigned, and the Saints’ depth chart is still uncertain at the RB position (they also have Marcus Murphy and Vick Ballard on the roster). They can invest some picks here, but recently, that hasn’t been the Saints’ style.
WR: An era ended this off-season when the Saints released Marques Colston, the club’s all-time leading receiver (and all-time leader in a bunch of other categories). Last season, Willie Snead was a revelation, and Brandin Cooks had a very nice second year in the league. But the Saints desperately need size at the position, as Brandon Coleman cannot run. We’d expect the Saints to be very interested in adding a Colston-like possession receiver to the fold.
TE: The Saints spend big money at this position this off-season. They brought in Coby Fleener, re-signed Michael Hoomanawanui, and matched the Bears’ RFA offer sheet for Josh Hill. We’d be stunned if they used anything more than a late flier pick on a tight end.
Other Needs: Defense, defense, defense. In all, the Saints’ offensive line is fine, especially if 2015 first-round pick Andrus Peat improves this coming season. But their defense stunk last year, and they need players at every level, especially in the front seven. Pass rush, linebackers, and a corner opposite Delvin Breaux should be focuses.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
First choice: #9 overall
QB: Jameis Winston had a very nice rookie season, and Mike Glennon is considered one of the top backups in the NFL. However, Glennon is entering the final year of his contract, and it appears likely he’ll search for starting jobs next off-season (and his name has constantly popped up in trade rumors). It wouldn’t be shocking to see the Bucs try to add a developmental backup with more upside than #3 QB Ryan Griffin.
RB: The Bucs had one of the NFL’s best RB duos last year with Doug Martin and Charles Sims, which they’re hoping to replicate after re-signing Martin to a big contract. Mike James is also on the roster, and Bobby Rainey remains a free agent, so this isn’t a huge area of need for the Bucs. They should be able to find a nice late-round or UDFA player to come in and compete if they don’t sign Rainey.
WR: We’re excited to see what 2015 fifth-round pick Kenny Bell can do after missing his entire rookie season with a hamstring injury, but the fact of the matter is the Bucs have zero proven depth behind Mike Evans and Vincent Jackson. With Jackson at 33 and entering the final year of his contract, the Bucs could absolutely use an early pick on a receiver.
TE: On paper, the Bucs seem to have a ton of depth at TE. But Cameron Brate and Brandon Myers are entering the final years of their contracts, and Luke Stocker has just two years left. Of course, starter Austin Seferian-Jenkins is very gifted, but he simply hasn’t been able to stay on the field in his young NFL career thus far. The Bucs could add a developmental mid-round prospect for sure, though we doubt it’s one of their highest priorities.
Other Needs: Pass rush and corners are the Bucs’ biggest needs. They’re hoping they can get a good year or two out of vet CB Brent Grimes, but beyond him they don’t have much. DE Robert Ayers was a big off-season signing for them, but they absolutely need more in that department as well.
First choice: #29 overall
QB: The Bucs have Carson Palmer and Drew Stanton on multi-year deals, and Matt Barkley is the #3 with another year left on his contract. We can never rule out Bruce Arians using a pick on a developmental QB, but it’s likely not a top priority for the Cards.
RB: The Cards have David Johnson, Andre Ellington, Chris Johnson, Stepfan Taylor, and Kerwynn Williams all under contract. We doubt they’ll spend a pick on a back this year.
WR: The Cardinals have an excellent set of receivers. While Larry Fitzgerald is up there in age, he’s still productive. Michael Floyd had a very good 2015 season, and John Brown is an emerging star. Add in solid depth players like J.J. Nelson and Jaron Brown and this doesn’t appear to be a huge area of need for the club.
TE: The Cards have vets Darren Fells and Jermaine Gresham anchoring the position for now, as they hope 2014 second-round pick Troy Niklas is capable of staying on the field and developing. Unfortunately, Niklas’ development has been far behind where he needs to be, and you wonder if the Cards are looking to make an upgrade there.
Other Needs: The Cardinals have arguably one of the best rosters in the entire NFL, so there aren’t many pressing needs currently. That said, secondary depth, pass rush, and interior DL all need boosts. They could also look for more OL depth to push last year’s top pick, OT D.J. Humphries.
Los Angeles Rams
First choice: #15 overall
QB: If you can hear past the sound of the world snickering, you may hear the Rams reiterating multiple times that they’re looking to go into 2016 with Case Keenum as their starting QB. Suuuuuure. Even if that’s the case for Week 1, Los Angeles needs a developmental prospect. Nick Foles stinks, and Sean Mannion reminded us of Foles coming out of Oregon State. The Rams are prime candidates to take a QB in the first round, and perhaps trade up for one.
RB: The Rams have an absolute stud RB in Todd Gurley, and they have a reliable coaches’ favorite behind him in Benny Cunningham (though Cunningham, a RFA, is as of yet unsigned). However, their depth took a potential huge hit this off-season when Tre Mason was arrested for marijuana possession in his home state of Florida. Mason was really bad last year after a very nice rookie year, and the Rams may look to draft a back and cut ties with him.
WR: The Rams haven’t had a great receiver since Torry Holt. Right now, they have a smorgasbord of mediocrity on their roster, trying to hit something. Tavon Austin had a promising 2015, but he’s a gadget player. Brian Quick is extremely gifted, but has had the last two seasons ruined by a nasty shoulder injury. Kenny Britt is a chronic underachiever, and is best suited as a #3 type. The Rams have a major need at this position.
TE: The disappointing Jared Cook is gone, but the Rams don’t have a whole lot otherwise – Lance Kendricks is fine, but he’s about it. They could absolutely look for a young TE to pair with Kendricks.
Other Needs: The Rams had one of the NFL’s worst offensive lines last year, and while it’s fair to expect some of their younger players to improve, they need help in that department. They also could use some safety help on defense, but their defense is one of the NFL’s best, and their offense one of the worst. It’s clear where the focus should be.
San Francisco 49ers
First choice: #7 overall
QB: Who knows what Chip Kelly is thinking. We have heard rumors all off-season about the Niners wanting to rid themselves of Colin Kaepernick, and though they reportedly made progress on a deal with Denver, it’s not done yet. Blaine Gabbert was decent enough last year, and Kelly has talked him up, but he’s given us no reason to believe he can actually be a long-term answer for any team. We firmly believe the Niners have a need here, and are candidates to select a QB as early as the first round.
RB: Carlos Hyde should be an excellent fit in Kelly’s offense, provided he’s healthy. The Niners re-signed Shaun Draughn this off-season, a solid backup, and they also have DuJuan Harris and second-year man Mike Davis on the roster. Still, it wouldn’t be surprising to see Kelly and company add a versatile speedster to this group.
WR: Kelly loves big receivers, and the Niners don’t really have any, unless you count second-year man DeAndre Smelter returning from injury. Excited though the Niners may be about him, they still need a lot of depth at the position alongside deep threat Torrey Smith and promising youngster Bruce Ellington.
TE: The Niners seem set at TE, with Vance McDonald, Blake Bell, and Garrett Celek as their top three. Nobody is “proven,” per se, but they have far bigger needs elsewhere on the roster.
Other Needs: The Niners have major needs along the offensive line and on defense, especially at linebacker and with the pass rush. Quite frankly, it’s a bad roster with holes everywhere, and where there aren’t holes, there is a lack of depth.
First choice: #26 overall
QB: The Seahawks need a backup QB. Tarvaris Jackson remains a free agent, and the only other QB on the roster aside from star Russell Wilson is project Phillip Sims. We’d expect the Seahawks to look here if they don’t re-sign Jackson.
RB: Marshawn Lynch retired, but the Seahawks had a great find in Thomas Rawls last year, and they re-signed prodigal son Christine Michael in the off-season. They could use a third-down specialist, however, and this is a fantastic draft in which to find one.
WR: The Seahawks are actually pretty solid at WR, after surprisingly re-signing Jermaine Kearse this off-season. That gives them Kearse, Doug Baldwin, Paul Richardson, and 2016 breakout candidate Tyler Lockett at the position. They could use some size, but it’s not likely to be a top priority for them.
TE: How will Jimmy Graham’s recovery from a patellar tear progress? That’s the big question here. The Seahawks have solid backups in Luke Willson and Cooper Helfet, but if Graham isn’t going to be ready to go, the Seahawks could look to the future as well.
Other Needs: OFFENSIVE LINE. The Seahawks had one of the NFL’s worst offensive lines last year, and only Wilson’s ability to make plays out of nothing salvaged a solid offensive performance (it was easily Wilson’s best year in the NFL, for multiple reasons). The Seahawks will always look for developmental prospects on defense, but we’d be shocked if they don’t spend multiple picks on offensive linemen this year.
Source: Fantasy Guru
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