NFL Draft Daily: Each team’s biggest draft need following free agency

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The bulk of the free agency frenzy has wrapped up by this point and I think the NFL has surpassed its quota for blockbuster trades this offseason. That leaves us with a few weeks until the draft and plenty of holes still to fill on each NFL roster. Let’s take a look through each team’s biggest remaining need and how they might go about addressing it.

Arizona Cardinals
Biggest need: Edge rusher
Arizona lost one of the best players in the franchise’s history this offseason when Chandler Jones left to join the Raiders. Markus Golden did lead the team with 11 sacks this past season, but they need someone to line up across from him. There are a few veteran options available in Jason Pierre-Paul and Anthony Barr, but it would not surprise me to see the Cardinals target edge rusher in the first round of the draft.

San Francisco 49ers
Biggest need: Guard
The 49ers lost Laken Tomlinson and Tom Compton in free agency, leaving David Brunskill, Colton McKivitz, Aaron Banks and Justin Skule to compete for the two starting guard positions. There are a number of veteran guards they could sign to compete for a starting spot, but I still think they will need to address the position in the draft. Without a first-round pick, I could see San Francisco using another Day 2 pick to bolster their offensive line.

Seattle Seahawks
Biggest need: Quarterback
Russell Wilson is gone and I don’t feel overly confident that Drew Lock is going to be the long-term answer at quarterback. However, Seattle has plenty of other needs, including at offensive tackle and essentially every level of its defense. Drafting a quarterback with the ninth pick is not out of the question, but I think we will see the Seahawks focus on rebuilding their roster and use their additional draft capital over the next two years to acquire their next franchise quarterback. Baker Mayfield is also an option.

Los Angeles Rams
Biggest need: Right guard
Well, I had to rewrite this one after the Rams made a huge move to bring in Bobby Wagner. Brutal for the Seahawks seeing him stay in the division. With that move, Los Angeles can turn its attention to shoring up its offensive line. Andrew Whitworth retired and Austin Corbett left for Carolina. 2019 draft pick Bobby Evans is relatively untested and struggled in limited action. The Rams will have to wait a while to pick in the 2022 draft, but I expect one of their first picks to go towards an interior lineman.

Atlanta Falcons
Biggest need: Wide receiver
Who is the Falcons’ No. 1 receiver right now? That’s a genuine question. It might be Olamide Zaccheaus, which is not a great outlook for the offense. Atlanta is strapped for cash after trading away Matt Ryan. Marcus Mariota is clearly a stop gap, but whoever eventually succeeds him will definitely need more weapons to work with than Kyle Pitts. If Atlanta does not use the No. 8 pick on a receiver, I would be shocked if they ignore the position again in the second round.

Carolina Panthers
Biggest need: Quarterback
Sam Darnold and Cam Newton are clearly not the answer at quarterback. Carolina still needs an upgrade at left tackle and maybe some depth in the secondary, but this team will just continue to spin its wheels without an upgrade under center. If the Panthers feel strongly about one of the top prospects in this class, whether it’s Malik Willis, Kenny Pickett or Matt Corral, they could pull the trigger. Don’t rule out a move for Baker Mayfield or Jimmy Garoppolo either with the rest of this roster being close to competing.

New Orleans Saints
Biggest need: Wide receiver
You could make an argument for quarterback here, but the combination of Jameis Winston and Andy Dalton makes me believe that this team will pass on the position in 2022. It’s unlikely that either of them will really be the long-term answer at the position, but the team seems to like Winston a lot. He needs more targets to throw to. Michael Thomas will hopefully be back. Marquez Callaway and Tre’Quan Smith are solid players, but neither is really good enough to pair with Thomas, assuming the latter can even stay healthy. In a deep receiver draft, I think we will see New Orleans grab on by Day 2 at the latest.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Biggest need: Left guard
While the Buccaneers have been through a rather tumultuous offseason with Tom Brady retiring, then later returning, and Bruce Arians moving to the front office, this team is still very much a contender. Ali Marpet also retired and seems to be staying that way. Alex Cappa left for Cincinnati. One of the only needs this team still has is at left guard. Tampa traded for Shaq Mason, but he will likely slot in on the right. With a couple of potential interior lineman likely on the board late in the first round, I think the Bucs will prioritize protecting Brady.

Chicago Bears
Biggest Need: Right guard
James Daniel exited for Pittsburgh and the Bears struck out on Ryan Bates with the Bills opting to match the Bears offer. As a result, right guard is still wide open. Dakota Dozier is currently listed as the team’s right guard, but he has been a career backup to this point. Given how many times Justin Fields was sacked in 2021, the priority for Chicago has to be bolstering his offensive line. Without a first-round pick, the team could opt for a veteran there, but there are often quality, starting-caliber linemen available in the second and third round.

Detroit Lions
Biggest Need: Wide receiver
Detroit’s wide receiver situation is actually less dire than it was a year ago. Amon-Ra St. Brown looks like an impressive young option. D.J. Chark, Josh Reynolds, Khalif Raymond and Quintez Cephus create some really solid depth. However, this team definitely still lacks a true No. 1 option. Chark could theoretically be that, but he can’t seem to stay healthy. With picks No. 32 and No. 34 this year, I expect one of those selections to be a receiver.

Green Bay Packers
Biggest Need: Wide receiver
Davante Adams is gone. So is Marquez Valdez-Scantling. Aaron Rodgers desperately needs some reinforcements on offense. I expect them to pick up a veteran like Julio Jones, T.Y. Hilton or A.J. Green, but they shouldn’t stop there. Expect them to spend one of their two first round selections on a receiver. Don’t rule out a second receiver being added on Day 3 as well.

Minnesota Vikings
Biggest need: Cornerback
Even with Patrick Peterson returning to the team, this team has holes in its secondary. Peterson’s deal is also only for one season, so it is a short-term fix. Big names like Stephon Gilmore, Richard Sherman, Joe Haden are still out there, but I think Minnesota will opt for younger players. If Derek Stingley Jr. is on the board at No. 12, I don’t see the Vikings passing on him.

Dallas Cowboys
Biggest need: Safety
Edge rusher could also be in play here after Randy Gregory bolted for Denver, but I think safety is the bigger need. Damontae Kazee is still unsigned and Donovan Wilson is best suited as a backup or rotational player. It is a deep class for both safeties and edge rushers. I could see Dallas grabbing one of each along with a wide receiver or tight end in the first three rounds in the draft.

New York Giants
Biggest need: Offensive tackle
The Nate Solder experiment did not work out as planned. Andrew Thomas seems to be headed in the right direction after a much stronger second season, but Daniel Jones needs more protection. Grabbing an offensive tackle with one of their two top-10 picks feels like a certainty for New York. Either Ikem Ekwonu or Evan Neal would be great additions to this offensive line and would set Jones up to be successful in 2022.

Philadelphia Eagles
Biggest Need: Linebacker
I know, the Eagles don’t prioritize linebackers in their defense, but they need to find someone to play the position. Spending one of their three first-round picks on a linebacker such as Devin Lloyd or Nakobe Dean feels like a worthwhile investment. Don’t rule out a veteran joining on a team-friendly deal as well. Philadelphia is quietly close to making a deep run in what feels like a wide open NFC.

Washington Commanders
Biggest need: Wide receiver
Quarterback still feels like a need, but Washington made the decision to trade for Carson Wentz to give them an option for the short term. The Commanders could still spend a mid-round pick at the position, but the plan for now should be to build around Wentz. Terry McLaurin is a great receiver, but there is no one else that inspires much confidence at the position. Curtis Samuel is too injury prone. Cam Sims is a good depth option. Adam Humphries is a free agent. Spending a first-round pick on a receiver feels very likely.

Denver Broncos
Biggest need: Linebacker
Denver went all in by acquiring Russell Wilson, but the Broncos still have a few holes to fill before they earn contender status. A.J. Johnson and Kenny Young are both still unsigned. Someone needs to start next to Josey Jewell. Safety and tight end are also areas where they could use an upgrade, but I think linebacker should be the biggest focus. Without a pick until No. 64, the Broncos are going to need to hit in the middle rounds of this draft to make that jump.

Kansas City Chiefs
Biggest need: Wide receiver
Without Tyreek Hill, this receiver room looks like one of the worst in the NFL. The combination of JuJu Smith-Schuster and Marquez Valdez-Scantling isn’t really scaring anyone. Travis Kelce is still the best tight end in the game, but KC needs another reliable target to work into this system. MVS and JuJu were both free agent additions. I think the Chiefs will focus heavily on the draft to build out the rest of the receiver room. A first-round pick and a Day 2 pick spent at the position feels appropriate.

Las Vegas Raiders
Biggest need: Defensive tackle
The Raiders had one of the busiest offseasons of any team in the league, which is saying something. In addition to their blockbuster trade to acquire Davante Adams, Las Vegas signed Chandler Jones and sent Yannick Ngakoue to the Colts for Rock Ya-Sin. This team is clearly gearing up for a postseason run and a bid at a title. They still need reinforcements along the defensive line. Gerald McCoy is still a free agent. Vegas could definitely opt for a veteran, but I expect them to use one of their earliest draft picks (remember, they don’t pick until the third round) on a defensive tackle.

Los Angeles Chargers
Biggest need: Right guard
I could have easily picked right tackle here as well. The whole right side of the Chargers offensive line is in flux right now. Oday Abushi and Michael Schofield are both free agents. Storm Norton was one of the worst pass blocking tackles in the league last year. Take your pick as to which you want to target first. Norton is still with the team, so they at least have someone in place for the moment. Either way, the Chargers are going to be investing significant capital along the offensive line in the draft and in free agency.

Houston Texans
Biggest need: Edge rusher
There are a lot of directions the Texans could go at this point. I think edge rusher might be the biggest need. Jonathan Greenard quietly had a really impressive rookie year. However, Houston could use someone opposite him. With two picks in the top 15, I expect the Texans to grab an edge rusher in one of those slots. Their continued rebuild is going to take a few years. Finding talent at premium positions should be the focus.

Indianapolis Colts
Biggest need: Wide receiver
Indianapolis has gone all in again at the quarterback position. They will be hoping Matt Ryan is a bit more like Philip Rivers than Carson Wentz, but the Colts still need to replenish the roster around him. That starts with wide receiver. Michael Pittman is a great player, but T.Y. Hilton still remains unsigned and the cupboard is pretty bare outside of that. Indy does have a fair amount of cap space to potentially bring in one of Ryan’s favorite former targets in Julio Jones. With twp Day 2 picks in a deep receiver class, that is certainly an option as well.

Jacksonville Jaguars
Biggest need: Center
With the recent retirement of Andrew Norwell, the Jaguars suddenly have a pretty significant need at center. Tyler Shatley is a serviceable fill in if they cannot find anyone else, but Jacksonville should be putting a premium on protecting Trevor Lawrence. Obviously, they won’t be selecting a center with the No. 1 overall pick. I would expect center to be in play on Day 2.

Tennessee Titans
Biggest need: Right tackle
Tennessee swung and missed badly with Isaiah Wilson in 2020. David Quessenberry has been solid in his place at right tackle, but he is still a free agent. The Titans need to shore up the right side of the line. Dillon Radunz or Nate Davis will likely take right guard. Tennessee is up against it when it comes to cap space, so the draft is going to be crucial to filling out the roster. Right tackle is definitely in play when the Titans pick at No. 25.

Baltimore Ravens
Biggest need: Defensive tackle
Baltimore’s defensive line is a work in progress at the moment. Justin Houston, Calais Campbell and Brandon Williams are all still on the open market. The Ravens did bring in Michael Pierce, but they will still need reinforcements. I think Odafe Oweh will step up to fill the void left by Houston, leaving defensive tackle as a logical target. There are a couple of players that could be in play in the first two rounds if they fall to Baltimore. I don’t expect them to wait long to address the defensive line.

Cincinnati Bengals
Biggest need: Cornerback
Cincinnati did a fantastic job rebuilding its offensive line this offseason, adding Ted Karas, Alex Kappa and La’el Collins. Now it needs to upgrade its secondary. Chidobe Awuzie had a career year in his first season with the Bengals and Eli Apple was serviceable. Cincinnati is going to need better than serviceable though to get over the hump and continue to compete for titles. Corner is definitely in play at the end of the first round. I also wouldn’t be shocked if Cincinnati spent another pick in the later rounds at the position to build some depth.

Cleveland Browns
Biggest need: Wide receiver
Even after trading for Amari Cooper, the Browns receiving corps is a bit underwhelming. I like Donovan Peoples-Jones and Rashard Higgins, but I don’t know that either has shown they are capable of being a No. 2 receiver to this point. There has been some buzz that Jarvis Landry could return to the team as well. Cleveland does not have a first-round pick because of the Deshaun Watson trade, so they will have to address this need starting in the second round. George Pickens, Jalen Tolbert and more should be in play when the Browns select at No. 45.

Pittsburgh Steelers
Biggest need: Left tackle
As of now, the Steelers could be placing a ton of faith into 2021 fourth-round pick Dan Moore Jr. to start at left tackle. Given how poorly he and the offensive line as a whole played last season, Pittsburgh would be wise to invest some premium picks into the unit. Left tackle is arguably the second-most important in football. If Charles Cross or Trevor Penning are on the board at that spot, that would be a smart investment.

Buffalo Bills
Biggest need: Right guard
Buffalo has a championship-caliber roster, but there are still a few holes. With Rodger Saffold likely to play left guard, the Bills need to find a right guard to bolster this offensive line. Zion Johnson, Bernhard Raimann and Kenyon Green could all be in play at the end of the first round. Cornerback and running back are spots where Buffalo could look to upgrade, but I think protecting your $258 million quarterback is the place to start.

Miami Dolphins
Biggest need: Running back
I struggled with Miami a bit. After trading for Tyreek Hill, they have a very talented receiver corps with plenty of speed. They have invested a ton of premium picks into the offensive line in recent years and signed Terron Armstead this offseason. The defense could use some upgrades, but is still poised to be a top-10 unit in the league. That leaves running back, where the Dolphins have struggled to find production in recent years. They did sign Chase Edmonds this offseason, but I think they need more of an every down back to take pressure off Tua Tagovailoa. They don’t pick until the third-round, but it is hard to see them signing another veteran back.

New England Patriots
Biggest need: Cornerback
New England could certainly use another receiver even after trading for Devante Parker, but I think his arrival takes the edge off for now. The Patriots can turn their full attention to finding a No. 1 cornerback. J.C. Jackson is gone and the Pats traded Stefon Gilmore last season. Malcolm Butler returns, but he was out of football in 2021. Picking at No. 21, New England should probably go with a corner, whether it’s Andrew Booth Jr., Trent McDuffie, Kaiir Elam or someone else they feel strongly about. There is depth at receiver, too, so the Patriots can look to bolster that group on Day 2.

New York Jets
Biggest need: Edge rusher
The Jets have needed an edge rusher since about 2013. They might have a really good one in Carl Lawson, who they signed from the Bengals last offseason. Unfortunately, Lawson suffered a torn Achilles in the preseason and missed the entire year. Even if he returns at full strength, New York needs someone to pair with him. With two picks in the top 10, and four in the top 50, the Jets will almost certainly spend one of those picks on an edge rusher.

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