The everyday casual fan doesn’t know exactly what their team’s needs are.
Everyday fans are bombarded with their team “needs” when the draft season rolls around. Frequently people want to replace very good players, who just aren’t household names. I have seen posts saying that the Vikings need a new safety, despite having Andrew Sendejo. Sendejo put together an eighty tackle and two interception season. People have said that the 49ers need to draft a defensive lineman in the first round. They have selected a first-round defensive lineman three years in a row. It is truly disturbing how quickly the media wants to replace young players, instead of giving them time to develop. I would like to do a few articles discussing what I observe to be team needs and explain my reasoning. In this installment, I will discuss the first five teams to draft this season. It won’t be picks 1-5 because that would be the Cleveland Browns twice.
The Cleveland Browns are in an odd situation, where they have so much young talent to develop, and no developed talent. The problem with development is that it takes time. However, if Hue Jackson doesn’t win this coming season he won’t be able to develop HIS players. This means to me that the Browns need to pick players who can step in and save the coaches jobs. This leads me to my team needs:
- Running Back: I only include this because of Saquon Barkley, who could be a spark plug in Cleveland. Don’t have a franchise quarterback? Run the ball effectively. Don’t have the best defense? Run the ball to chew the clock. Have a potential superstar at running back? Run the ball. See the pattern here? Saquon Barkley could do so much for every facet of not only the offense but also the entire team.
- Quarterback: Unless you believe Deshone Kizer is the answer at quarterback, you have to get someone new under center. There are a few guys in this draft that can provide a jumpstart to the offense. Josh Rosen can make any throw from within the pocket. Josh Allen has all the traits, he just needs to put it together. Baker Mayfield might be the best “gamer” in the class. There are a ton of options in this class to upgrade the quarterback position.
- Cornerback: The Browns let Joe Haden go to a division rival. While he may not have been at his peak, he was still their best corner. There are some guys in this class that could be really valuable for the young and talented defense that Cleveland is building. The Jacksonville Jaguars proved that a team built around the defense can in today’s NFL.
- Wide Reciever: Josh Gordon is very good when he is on the field. However, his availability is always going to be in question. Corey Coleman hasn’t proven himself, with only 700 yards over two seasons. A superstar wide receiver can jump-start an offense very quickly. Don’t believe me? Look at the Giants offense without Odell Beckham Jr.
New York Giants
The New York Giants are in the weirdest situation in the NFL. They have one of the most talented defenses in the entire league, and yet they sometimes don’t play like it. Why is that? I think it is because they have some holes at glaring positions, and the players know it.
- Quarterback: The Eli Manning that took the Giants to two super bowls is gone. The Eli Manning that is stuck managing games is here to stay. I think that the defense knows that. Defenses get disheartened when they know they have to play perfectly to win. There are very few defenses with the talent to win games alone, the Giants are not one of those defenses. Without Odell Beckham Jr. the Giants offense sputtered. Odell can take slant routes the distance, which is essentially what the Giants offense was last year. The Giants need a quarterback who can still make all the throws consistently.
- Left Tackle: Erek Flowers might be the most frustrating player in the NFL. Not only does he underperform, he personally attacks people in the media who acknowledge the fact. He refuses to consistently use his hands which leads to him giving up far too many sacks. As an Eagles fan I hope they hold on to him, as a football fan, I don’t want that.
- Cornerback: The Giants have Janoris Jenkins, however, they need to replace Eli Apple. According to teammates, he is a problem in the locker room. Even if he isn’t going to be a problem anywhere else, he needs to be out of New York. The Giants have a very talented secondary, but inserting a corner that can hold his own will allow their defense to do so much more.
- Running Back: The Giants haven’t had a top tier running game in years, but with their interior line, a good running back could change that. Even if it isn’t a first-round pick, the Giants should invest in their ground game on day one or two.
The Colts are a team that has a fun situation. Assuming Andrew Luck is healthy, they have a shot at the playoffs next year. So this pick is all luxury, however, it needs to be spent wisely to build a true contender. There are needs that might inspire the Colts to trade back or just stay put.
- Guard: The Colts need to invest heavily in keeping Andrew Luck healthy. If he is upright he is one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL. A top-tier guard, such as Quenton Nelson, would do a ton to keep Luck healthy. He would also open up the running lanes for whoever lines up behind Luck. The offensive line is underrated in today’s NFL, but teams with a good offensive line enjoy the luxury.
- Defensive Line: Andrew Luck is going to lead the Colts offense to scoring points, and more than likely, a ton of them. So the Colts defense will need to be able to get after the passer. Right now they can’t do that. There are plenty of players that could fit that bill for the Colts. Bradley Chubb, Harold Landry, and Marcus Davenport are all hot names right now. Picking at 3 the Colts could have their pick of pass rushers this season if that’s the route they choose.
- Linebacker: The Colts need to build almost every position on their defense, luckily for them, there should be plenty of linebackers available in the 2nd and 3rd rounds this year. There may not be a linebacker worthy of a top 5 pick this season, but if the Colts trade back Roquan Smith could be a very interesting selection.
- Quarterback: A full year removed from surgery, if Andrew Luck still isn’t healthy that may mark an end to his career. If that is the case then the Colts need to move on and find their next quarterback. Assuming that one of the top two quarterbacks makes it till pick 3, the Colts would have a quick replacement. Luck should be healthy, but shoulders can be finicky.
The Denver Broncos fell from the brink of a dynasty built on defense, to a defense that might be too old to succeed. The defense may not be what it once was, but it is still capable of doing its part. They just can’t do it alone anymore, the whole team needs an infusion of youth.
- Quarterback: Regardless of how much he followed Peyton Manning around, Trevor Siemian isn’t a franchise quarterback. Last year the Broncos defense would keep them in games until Siemian would throw a knockout blow interception. The Broncos need a quarterback who can really make plays and score points. The entire AFC West can score points, so the Broncos defense needs a quarterback who can put up at least 14-20 points a game. They don’t need the offense to put up 30 a game, they just need to not have to pitch a shutout.
- Offensive Line: The Broncos invested in the offensive line last season, but they had a ton of injuries. That really exposed their depth, and hurt their offense. The Broncos don’t have to go offensive line on day one or even day two, but they do need depth desperately. There is no such thing as being too deep along the offensive line.
- Cornerback: Aqib Talib is 31 and Chris Harris Jr is 28 years old. While they may have played very well this season, age catches up to defensive backs very quickly. The Broncos would be wise to restock their defensive back room sooner rather than later. There are a few cornerbacks that could be a number one corner down the road, that the Broncos could pair with Bradley Roby down the road.
- Defensive Line: Demonte Peko is getting older, Derek Wolfe had a serious neck injury and Von Miller can’t do it alone all the time. The Broncos need a guy who can plug the running lanes and provide some production on passing downs. The Broncos had one of the top defenses last year when healthy, but their health cannot be relied on after last season. Should Peko or Wolfe miss extended time a rotational interior defender would be very valuable.
New York Jets
After many assumed the Jets would finish with the worst record in the NFL, they actually won five games. They were led by a defense with a very good defensive line and a tandem of rookie safeties. Assuming they can add more talent to key positions, without any losses, they should be much improved next season!
- Quarterback: While McCown may have played well this season, he is still far too old to build a franchise around. With the sixth pick, the Jets should be able to get a quarterback of the future, assuming that they truly believe in one of the guys that have been passed over. There are 4 quarterbacks that are getting a lot of round one love and only four teams ahead of the Jets. It is a tricky game depending on their preferences, but it is possible.
- Running back: While Bilal Powell flashed some production last season, he is 29 years old. Matt Forte is far too old to rely on for much longer. Assuming that the Jets would be willing to trade back, they could pick up a running back to help keep their defense off the field as much as possible. A strong running game could allow everyone else on the field to develop.
- Offensive Line: The Jets offensive line allowed McCown to be sacked 39 times in 13 games last season. 3 sacks a game is too many. Even with that, McCown escaped quite a few pressures last season. The Jets tackle Brandon Shell allowed eight sacks in 12 games last season, and while he is only in his second season, it could be worthwhile to bring in some competition.
- Cornerback: Buster Skrine and Morris Claiborne haven’t exactly proven themselves as number one corners. However, for the Jets defense to take the next step they will need a true number one. Claiborne should be a good number two, with Skrine in the slot. However, it will take a true number one corner to return them to their natural positions.