Los Angeles Chargers
The Chargers got perhaps the biggest steal in the 1st round of the draft when Derwin James slipped all the way to the 17th overall pick. James is a top 10 talent for sure and he fills a big need for the Chargers at the same time. The Chargers suddenly have a sneaky good defense heading into the 2018 season especially since James should provide a major impact right away.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Tampa Bay maybe didn’t select the flashiest player in the NFL draft when they drafted defensive tackle Vita Vea with the 12th overall pick. However, Vea is a very talented player that has terrific athleticism for someone of his size. He has terrific work ethic and he can help improve the Buccaneers interior pass rush. The Buccaneers now have a stacked defensive line with the additions of Vea, Jason Pierre-Paul, Vinny Curry, and Beau Allen this offseason. Also, the Buccaneers landed an extra two 2nd round picks by moving down 5 spots in the draft which makes this a terrific 1st round for the Buccaneers.
New Orleans Saints
The Saints made the strangest move of the 1st round when they traded up 13 picks in order to select defensive end Marcus Davenport. Sure, Davenport has huge potential, but he is still a raw prospect that is being drafted out of a small school. However, giving up a 1st round pick next season to get a defensive end is just insane. The Saints are taking a huge risk for a player that isn’t even guaranteed to be an elite player at the NFL level. New Orleans made too much of a reach by moving up to select Davenport and now they lose a valuable pick 1st round pick for net year because of it. The Saints should have just stayed patient and taken the best player available rather than risking their future for a player that might not even live up to the hype.
The Seahawks made a good move by trading down in the 1st round and acquiring a 3rd round pick. However, the Seahawks didn’t make the most out of their pick late in the 1st round as they selected running back Rashaad Penny. He has the potential to be a good starting running back for Seattle, but he should have been a 2nd or 3rd round pick. This was a major reach for the Seahawks and there were much better options available in this spot. Seattle had other major needs like defensive end and cornerback in the draft, so they should have just taken the best player available. Penny fills a need for the Seahawks, but they could have done much better in this spot especially as they have several needs in the draft.
Dallas Cowboys – Biggest Draft Need: Wide Receiver
The Cowboys addressed the receiver position by signing Allen Hurns this offseason. However, Hurns is nothing more than a decent 2nd option at wide receiver for the Cowboys. Dez Bryant is still clearly the team’s number 1 receiver, but his production hasn’t been good the past few years and the team could just move on from him soon. Either way, the Cowboys need more explosiveness from the wide receiver position and that is something that they could address early on in the draft. Calvin Ridley would be a terrific fit because he is very fast and he would provide the Cowboys with the deep threat that they are lacking. Either way, the Cowboys need more from their wide receivers and it is a position that they should look to address in the draft.
New York Giants – Biggest Draft Need: Running Back
The Giants running game hasn’t been good at all the past few years and it is a position that they need to big upgrade at in 2018. New York did sign veteran Jonathan Stewart to a short-term deal in free agency. However, Stewart is nothing more than a temporary solution to their problems at running back. The Giants need to find their running back of the future and add some more explosiveness to their running game. New York is in prime position to draft Saquon Barkley with their 1st round pick or the Giants could wait until day 2 of the draft to find a running back. Either way, the Giants need an upgrade at running back and it is something they must address in the draft.
Philadelphia Eagles – Biggest Draft Need: Offensive Tackle
The Eagles don’t really have a glaring need, but there is one position that they could address in the 1st round of the draft and that is offensive tackle. Jason Peters is one of the best left tackles in the NFL, but he is getting old and he is coming off an ACL injury. The Eagles need to find an offensive tackle who can succeed Peters once he retires. If Philadelphia can find an offensive tackle in the draft then they can develop him for a year or two and then allow him to replace Peters at left tackle.
Washington Redskins – Biggest Draft Need: Outside Linebacker
The Redskins need more athleticism from their linebackers in 2018 as they lack explosiveness as a unit. However, the Redskins will have an opportunity to correct that early on in the draft. Roquan Smith or Tremaine Edmunds would be good fits if they are still available at the 13th overall pick. Either way, Washington needs a playmaker at linebacker since they just don’t have much athleticism at the position.
Buffalo Bills – Biggest draft need: Quarterback
The Buffalo Bills traded away starting quarterback Tyrod Taylor this offseason and all they did to replace him is acquire A.J. McCarron in a trade. McCarron doesn’t have much starting experience and it is a complete mystery as to how successful he will be as the Bills temporary starting quarterback. However, the Bills desperately need to find their quarterback position and it is likely they could do so in the draft. Buffalo has the 12th pick, but to get a potential franchise quarterback it is likely that they will need to trade up into the top 5. Buffalo has many options to choose from in the 1st round if they can find a way to trade up, but they need to find a way to get a good franchise QB.
Miami Dolphins – Biggest draft need: Defensive Tackle
The Dolphins let go of star defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh earlier in the offseason and now they don’t have much depth at the position heading into the draft. Davon Godchaux shouldn’t be a starting defensive tackle, but as of right now he would be the starter at one of the defensive tackle spots for Miami. The Dolphins need to draft a defensive tackle early on possibly even in the 1st round. Miami should have a couple of options if they decide to go that route as Vita Vea and Da’Ron Payne could be available at the 11th overall pick. Either way, they have a massive void to fill at defensive tackle and it is their biggest need heading into the draft.
New England Patriots – Biggest draft need: Offensive Tackle
Protecting star quarterback Tom Brady should be the number one priority for the Patriots. However, that might be difficult to do considering their current lack of depth at the offensive tackle position. New England lost starting left tackle Nate Solder this offseason which means that they have a major void at that position. Also, the Patriots lost offensive tackle Cameron Fleming who was a key depth player at the position. Either way, it is a position that New England should probably address in the 1st round of the draft.
New York Jets – Biggest draft need: Quarterback
New York has two decent options as temporary starting quarterbacks with Josh McCown and Teddy Bridgewater. However, the Jets currently don’t have their franchise quarterback on the roster as of right now. That being said, it would be shocking if the Jets don’t take a quarterback with the 3rd overall pick in the draft. The good news is that the Jets have a couple of options to choose from. Sam Darnold, Josh Rosen, Josh Allen, and Baker Mayfield are the top quarterbacks in the draft. However, at least a couple of those guys will definitely be available to the Jets with the 3rd pick. We’ll have to see which one of those quarterbacks the Jets choose, but they definitely need to find a quarterback that will be in a Jets uniform for a long time.
3. New England Patriots
The Patriots are still going to be a super bowl contender this season just because they still have Tom Brady leading the way. However, the Patriots didn’t really improve their team much in free agency. They lost running back Dion Lewis and they didn’t do anything to replace him, so the Patriots might not be able to run the ball as effectively. Also, the Patriots lost starting cornerback Malcolm Butler which will weaken their secondary in a big way. However, the biggest loss was left tackle Nate Solder as they don’t really have anybody to replace him. The Patriots are now extremely thin at offensive tackle and it is a position that they must address early on in the draft. New England did add Adrian Clayborn which will help their pass rush, but they didn’t do much else. The Patriots are still a great team, yet it will be difficult to replace every key player that they lost in free agency.
2. Miami Dolphins
Miami is a team without a clear sense of direction right now as they didn’t do much to improve their team, but they’re also not quite a rebuilding team. The Dolphins traded for Robert Quinn which will improve their pass rush, but they also got worse in many areas. Miami also traded away star wide receiver Jarvis Landry for basically nothing and the only thing that they did to replace him was sign Albert Wilson and Danny Amendola. Those receivers are good depth receivers, but now the Dolphins really don’t have much explosiveness on offense after losing Landry. The team did sign guard Josh Sitton which will help their interior offensive line a little bit, but they also let go of starting center Mike Pouncey. Another big move that they made was letting go of star defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh. The Dolphins basically got rid of the only star players that they had on their team and now the team has many needs to fill in the draft.
1. Seattle Seahawks
The Seahawks have been a dominant team for many years, but this offseason proves that they are now entering a rebuilding mode. Seattle let go of several key players especially on defense with the losses of Michael Bennett, Richard Sherman, and Sheldon Richardson. Seattle now only has Earl Thomas and Bobby Wagner as the leaders of the defense, so the Seahawks are certainly much weaker on that side of the ball. Also, the Seahawks lost a couple of key offensive weapons with the departures of Jimmy Graham and Paul Richardson. Seattle still has Russell Wilson and a decent defense, so they will still be a respectable team. However, it is difficult to envision the Seahawks being a playoff contender with all of the key players that they lost this offseason.
3. Los Angeles Rams
The Rams were already were a playoff team last season and they have an extremely bright future ahead of them. The Rams appear to be an even better team than they were last season as they have made several huge moves this offseason. They lost starting cornerback Trumaine Johnson in free agency, but they managed to replace him quite well with the additions of Aqib Talib and Marcus Peters. Los Angeles should have an even better secondary than they had last season and it has the potential to be dominant. Also, the Rams improved an already good defensive line by signing pro-bowl defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh. Pairing him with Aaron Donald at defensive tackle will most likely create the best defensive tackle duo in the NFL. The Rams already had a good defense, but with these additions it has the potential to be outstanding. Meanwhile, the Rams also added a major weapon on offense by acquiring speedy wide receiver Brandin Cooks from the Patriots. The Rams did lose Sammy Watkins in free agency, although Cooks is almost certainly an upgrade at wide receiver. Los Angeles already had a good team on both sides of the ball, but now they are legitimate super bowl contenders in 2018.
2. San Francisco 49ers
The NFC West is certainly in transition right now as the Cardinals and Seahawks are entering rebuilds. Meanwhile, San Francisco is a team on the rise in the NFC West and it is possible that they could make the playoffs this season. San Francisco signed franchise QB Jimmy Garoppolo to a huge contract extension this offseason. However, the 49ers made their roster stronger especially with the addition of all-pro cornerback Richard Sherman. He is undoubtedly one of the best cornerbacks in the game and he will improve a 49ers secondary that was one of the worst in the NFL last season. Also, the 49ers improved their offensive line by signing center Weston Richburg in free agency. The 49ers even found a new starter at running back as they signed Jerick McKinnon to replace Carlos Hyde who left in free agency. We’ll see if these moves make a big difference, but the 49ers are certainly trending in the right direction. San Francisco still has some work to do in order to complete their roster, yet these moves could make them a playoff team this year.
1. Cleveland Browns
Give credit to the Browns for finally beginning to trend in the right direction, but they are finally proving that they will be ready to be a contender in a couple of years. The major move that the Browns made was acquiring quarterback Tyrod Taylor from the Bills. Taylor is a decent starting quarterback and he is a much better option than what Cleveland had at the position last season. Taylor probably isn’t the long-term answer for Cleveland, but he is a good temporary solution in order to make the team much more competitive right away. Also, the Browns added some much needed weapons on offense at the skill positions specifically by acquiring elite wide receiver Jarvis Landry. If Josh Gordon can stay productive and Landry stays healthy then the Browns could have a terrific wide receiver duo. Also, the Browns found an upgrade at running back by signing Carlos Hyde as he can be a productive player even as a pass catcher as long as he stays healthy. Cleveland did lose franchise left tackle Joe Thomas this offseason, but they did add Chris Hubbard to take his place so the void shouldn’t be felt too much. Cleveland didn’t do too much to improve their defense, but they did add Damarious Randall who could be a starting cornerback for them right away. The Browns aren’t going to be a playoff team next season, but at least this is a team that won’t be the joke of the league anymore. Also, the Browns still have plenty of draft picks this year and in the future, so it is very possible that they could make a quick turnaround very soon.
The New York Giants needed some major help at the running back position and it appears that they have found their new starter as they signed former Panthers running back Jonathan Stewart to a 2-year/$6.9 million deal. Stewart is about to be 31 years old, so he isn’t very young for a running back. Also, he averaged a career-worst 3.4 yards per carry last season for the Panthers and that is obviously a major cause for concern. However, Stewart can still be a productive running back in the NFL despite his age and he is certainly an upgrade over what the Giants had at the position last season. He probably won’t make a huge difference in the running game for New York, but he can at least provide some more stability at the running back position. This is a good signing for the Giants as it is a step in the right direction to try and improve the running back position.
The Tennessee Titans have found a new running back to replace the recently released DeMarco Murray as the team signed former Patriots running back Dion Lewis to a 4-year/$20 million contract. Lewis was the most effective running back for New England last season as he had 896 yards and 6 rushing touchdowns. However, he also provided quite a bit of value in the passing game as he had 32 receptions and 3 receiving touchdowns last season. Lewis certainly won’t be the starting running back for Tennessee as Derrick Henry will be the early-down back for the Titans. However, Lewis is a terrific fit for the Titans mostly because of his pass-catching abilities. Henry isn’t really known as a pass-catcher and Lewis can be very valuable in that role as a 3rd-down back for the team. Lewis has also proven that he can be very reliable running the ball as he averaged 5 yards per carry last season with the Patriots. Lewis will primarily be used on 3rd downs, but he will also be valuable running the ball as he can take a lot of the pressure off of Henry. Lewis just adds another dangerous weapon to the Titans offense and he will be a perfect fit for the Titans as he is a very capable pass-catcher.