Thursday Night, all eyes turn to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania as the 2017 NFL Draft takes aim at the city of brotherly love.
Here are our team needs for every NFL club.
Cleveland Browns — 2016 Record: 1-15 Needs: OL, S, QB
Picks #: 1, 12, 33, 52, 65, 108, 145, 175, 181, 185, 188
With only only one win in 2016, it’s easy to make the case that the Browns need help at every position. They should start by solidifying the offensive line and building from the inside out, much like Dallas, Tennessee, and Oakland have done. Quarterback is still a big issue and eventually, Cleveland has to hit on one of their draft picks, right?
San Francisco 49ers — 2016 Record: 2-14 Needs: BPA, BPA, BPA
Picks #: 2, 34, 66, 109, 143, 146, 161, 186, 202, 219
No team has signed more players in free agency than San Francisco. Yet, they could still use a number one at nearly every position. With a new GM, John Lynch, and Head Coach, Kyle Shanahan, this draft will allow the new braintrust to construct the type of team they want to be. Expect the Niners to go with the best players available with each pick.
Chicago Bears — 2016 Record: 3-13 Needs: QB, TE, CB
Picks #: 3, 36, 67, 111, 117, 147, 221
The Bears have many needs, but right at the top is the quarterback position. Chicago has moved on from Jay Cutler, and the Number 3 overall pick in the draft would be a great spot to look toward the future at that position.
Jacksonville Jaguars — 2016 Record: 3-13 Needs: OL, S, LB
Picks #: 4, 35, 68, 110, 148, 187, 222, 240
The Jaguars have gained a reputation for going out and spending money—a lot of money—on free agents that don’t work out, or even fit. That may change this year with the addition of Calais Campbell. Campbell should solidify the D-Line and allow the Jags to focus on the O-Line and defensive backfield in the draft.
Tennessee Titans — 2016 Record: 9-7 Needs: WR, CB, TE
Picks #: 5, 18, 83, 100, 125, 164, 214, 236
With two picks in the first round (#5 and #18), the Titans need to go out and get Mariota a true number one receiver. Whoever they have at #1 on their big board should be there with the #5 pick, but, with no true #1 receiver in this draft, and many talented corners, I expect them to go with a DB at #5 and take the best receiver at #18.
New York Jets — 2016 Record: 5-11 Needs: Pass Rush, CB, RB
Picks #: 6, 39, 70, 107, 150, 191, 224
The Jets have a lot of needs on both sides of the ball but pass rusher was clearly their most glaring hole. Replacing Darrelle Revis and replenishing the cornerback position is also an area New York must address.
Los Angeles Chargers — 2016 Record: 5-11 Needs: OL, Pass Rusher, WR
Picks #: 7, 38, 71, 113, 151, 190, 225
The Chargers MUST keep Philip Rivers healthy if they’re to stand any chance of competing in a stacked AFC West in 2017. They cannot get by with “sometimes” protection. Their pass rush will also have to improve; whether it is a lineman or linebacker, they need to get to the QB.
Carolina Panthers — 2016 Record: 6-10 Needs: OL, CB, RB
Picks #: 8, 40, 64, 98, 115, 152, 192, 233
Cam Newton needs protection, and he needs it now. Both tackle positions have huge question marks over them. This draft is deep in corners and running backs and the Panthers’ positioning should allow them to grab a top OT, while addressing CB and RB with a best-available strategy in rounds two and three.
Cincinnati Bengals — 2016 Record: 6-9-1 Needs: LB, WR, OL
Picks #: 9, 41, 73, 116, 138, 153, 176, 193, 217, 227, 251
The Bengals missed the playoffs for the first time since 2010 and have much to improve in order to get back to the playoffs. There are weapons all over the offense, but can they stay healthy? And the team is desperate for a wide receiver opposite A.J. Green. Linebacker is also a place Cincinnati could look to improve through the draft.
Buffalo Bills — 2016 Record: 7-9 Needs: QB, WR, CB
Pick #’s: 10, 44, 75, 156, 171, 195
The Bills have a new coach and a lot of question marks on offense, beginning with the quarterback position. Tyrod Taylor is returning to Buffalo, but what’s the long-term plan at the position? Bringing back sack specialist Lorenzo Alexander and signing Mike Tolbert were good free-agent moves but the loss of Stephon Gilmore puts a high priority on CB in the draft.
New Orleans Saints — 2016 Record: 7-9 Needs: CB, LB, S
Pick #’s: 11, 32, 42, 76, 103, 196, 229
The Saints need help all over their defense and with only five picks to try and fill those gaps, it was a natural fit for them to trade Brandin Cooks to the New England Patriots for an additional first and third round pick. Fortunately, this is a draft that can heal a defensive backfield in one fell swoop.
Arizona Cardinals — 2016 Record: 7-8-1 Needs: QB, DL, ILB
Picks #’s: 13, 45, 77, 120, 157, 179, 197, 231
Losing Calais Campbell and realizing that age may claim Larry Fitzgerald and Carson Palmer, the Cardinals suddenly have more holes that they have had in years. They may be able to land a very good young QB with their pick and they should follow that up with an inside linebacker tight or line help.
Philadelphia Eagles — 2016 Record: 7-9 Needs: CB, WR, RB
Pick #’s: 14, 43, 74, 119, 139, 155, 194, 230
The Eagles finished in last place in the AFC East, but, there is a lot of hope in Philly with Carson Wentz at the helm. Now it’s time to give their signal caller some weapons to throw to. Cornerback should be the team’s top priority in the draft. This secondary allowed too many big plays in 2016.
Indianapolis Colts — 2016 Record: 8-8 Needs: OG, RB, OT
Pick #’s: 15, 46, 80, 122, 137, 144, 158
Both lines are in serious need of a rebuild and the #15 pick needs to be an O-Lineman. The next two picks should also address the lines unless a running back that they love is available in the third round. If they can protect Andrew Luck in 2017, they have a chance to compete in the competitive AFC South.
Baltimore Ravens — 2016 Record: 8-8 Needs: WR, Edge Rusher, S
Pick #’s: 16, 47, 78, 99, 123, 159, 198
Baltimore’s lack of a dangerous deep threat hurt them in 2016. They can address that need immediately. Signing nose tackle Brandon Williams was big for the defense, but the Ravens also need to groom the replacement for Terrell Suggs and are still looking for the next Ed Reed.
Washington Redskins — 2016 Record: 8-7-1 Needs: S, WR, DL
Pick #’s: 17, 49, 81, 114, 124, 154, 201, 209, 220, 235
Washington suffered a letdown in 2016, but they still have plenty of firepower, especially on offense. Losing DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garcon will hurt, but Jordan Reed and Jamison Crowder are stars in the making. The secondary, specifically safety is a top priority for this team as is the defensive line. If they can make Kirk Cousins happy, the Redskins could be a few players away from returning to their 2015 form.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers — 2016 Record: 9-7 Needs: DL, S, RB
Pick #’s: 19, 50, 84, 126, 162, 204, 237
Christmas came very early for Jameis Winston when the Bucs signed Desean Jackson. That will really open up the field for Mike Evans and whoever finds themselves in the backfield. If the Bucs can bulk up on the defensive line, control the deep zone and land a running back, they will be a serious contender in 2017.
Denver Broncos — 2016 Record: 9-7 Needs: OL, TE, RB
Pick #’s: 20, 51, 82, 101, 127, 177, 203, 238, 252, 253
If the Broncos are going to enter the season with Semien, Paxton, or an older veteran quarterback, they will need to be able to run the ball and pass-protect much better than they did in 2016. With the losses of Ran Clady and Russell Okung in consecutive years, it will be imperative to rebuild the O-Line quickly or they will waste an opportunity to quickly return to the playoffs.
Detroit Lions — 2016 Record: 9-7 Needs: OT, RB, LB
Pick #’s: 21, 53, 85, 128, 165, 205, 215, 250
The Lions made the playoffs in 2016 without any semblance of a running game; their leading rusher was Theo Riddick (357 yards). That needs to change in 2017 and they can do that by drafting an offensive tackle and running back. Linebacker is also a need they’ll want to address.
Miami Dolphins — 2016 Record: 10-6 Needs: LB, S, OG
Pick #’s: 22, 54, 97, 166, 178, 184, 223
The Dolphins’ depth on the defensive side of the ball is thin; the two glaring needs are at the linebackers position and in the defensive backfield. Adding Lawrence Timmons and William Hayes in free agency will definitely help. Miami should also look to draft on the offensive line and continue building the protection in front of Ryan Tannehill.
New York Giants — 2016 Record: 11-5 Needs: RB, LB, OL
Pick #’s: 23, 55, 87, 140, 167, 207, 241
The Giants bounced back and had a nice season, mostly due to defense. With Eli Manning, Odell Beckham Jr. and newly-signed Brandon Marshall, the pieces are there on offense, but they have to get stability on the offensive line and a running game to ease the burden.
Oakland Raiders — 2016 Record 12-4 Needs: MLB, T, RB
Pick #’s: 24, 56, 88, 130, 168, 208, 242, 244
Oakland has not had an above-average middle linebacker in over a decade. If this defense is going to be able to stop the run and get opposing offenses off the field, they will need a play-caller and run-stuffer at the MLB position. A right tackle in the second or third round and a bell-cow running back in the third or fourth would fulfill most of their needs.
Houston Texans — 2016 Record: 9-7 Needs: QB, OT, WR
Pick #’s: 25, 57, 89, 131, 142, 169, 243
The Brock Osweiler trade may have saved the Texans 2017 season and beyond. With Brock out the door, the team is now in need of a top-flight quarterback and I expect them to get a QB early. They could also use depth at the tackle positions. One thing’s for sure, this defense is built to win now, so if they can strike gold with a young QB, they could go far next year.
Seattle Seahawks — 2016 Record: 10-5-1 Needs: OT, CB, DT
Pick #’s: 26, 58, 90, 102, 106, 210, 226
Offensive tackle is the number one need for the Seahawks. Wilson is the franchise, and you have got to protect him better than the current tackles, if they even return. They’ve also got to get better opposite Richard Sherman, and some beef in the middle would help against a conference that figures to run… a lot!
Kansas City Chiefs — 2016 Record: 12-4 Needs: DE, WR, Pass Rusher
Pick #’s: 27, 59, 91, 104, 132, 170, 180, 216, 218, 245
The Chiefs’ total of 28 sacks in 2016 was their lowest tally since 2009. With an improved pass rush and another weapon for Alex Smith, this team is deep enough to win the AFC West and would be my 2017 Super Bowl sleeper.
Dallas Cowboys — 2016 Record: 13-3 Needs: Pass Rush, CB, TE
Pick #’s: 28, 60, 92, 133, 211, 228, 246
Dallas is loaded on offense. Bringing back Terrence Williams at WR was a smart free-agent signing. Their defense needs work and number one on the priority list is pass rusher. The Cowboys might want to look at drafting two or more pass rushers—that’s how bad the need is for them. Jason Witten will be 35 this year; it might be time to look for his replacement.
Green Bay Packers — 2016 Record: 10-6 Needs: OL, RB, CB
Pick #’s: 29, 61, 93, 134, 172, 182, 212, 247
As long as Green Bay has Aaron Rodgers, they’ll be in contention, but at 34 years old, he needs help; running back and offensive line should be at the top of the draft list for the Packers. I love the signing of Martellus Bennett and I think he’ll be a big-play guy for that offense in 2017 but Green Bay needs a running game to complement that offense.
Pittsburgh Steelers — 2016 Record: 11-5 Needs: LB, DE, QB
Pick #’s: 30, 62, 94, 105, 135, 173, 213, 248
Pittsburgh’s run to the AFC Championship game was nothing short of impressive, but the loss to New England revealed glaring weaknesses at linebacker and defensive end. Losing Lawrence Timmons means that replacing their top tackler becomes a huge priority. Drafting a QB is something the Steelers should also think about as they begin to prepare for life after Ben Roethlisberger.
Atlanta Falcons — 2016 Record: 11-5 Needs: OG, DT, DE
Matt Ryan won the NFL MVP Award and passed his team to a seemingly insurmountable lead in the Super Bowl. It was a big year for a quarterback that many had given up on. If he continues his play into 2017, then the Falcons are poised to win the NFC again. All three of these positions can be upgraded on a BPA basis as any draft picks would be for depth behind an aging or inconsistent starter.
No First Round Picks
New England Patriots — 2016 Record: 14-2 Needs: OL, LB, S
Pick #’s: 72, 96, 132, 163, 183, 200, 239
The Patriots have already won the First Round by trading away the #32 pick in a package to acquire Brandin Cooks. When you’re the Super Bowl champions, everything seems perfect but the Patriots still have a few areas they can fill in the draft. The O-line needs to be upgraded, and wIth Tom Brady approaching 40 years old, protecting their most important asset is priority number one.
Minnesota Vikings — 2016 Record: 8-8 Needs: RB, OL, DT
Pick #’s: 48, 79, 86, 121, 129, 160, 199, 232
The Vikings do not have a first-round pick. They signed Mike Remmers and Riley Reiff in free agency to help at tackle but they still need more depth along the O-line. With Adrian Peterson gone, running back is a clear target for them in the first few rounds.
Los Angeles Rams — 2016 Record: 4-12 Needs: CB, OLB, OT
Pick #’s: 37, 69, 112, 141, 149, 189, 207, 234
This draft is full of very good cornerbacks and the Rams need to find one that they can plug in to start for them. Signing veteran OT Andrew Whitworth is a nice quick fix, they are still in need for a young stud on the O-line. With Wade Phillips running the show on defense now, edge rusher could also be in play in the first 3-4 rounds.
Our full NFL Draft preview can be found in the new edition of Sports Spectrum Magazine. The April 2017 edition is out now and available. Click here to subscribe.