/Updated Needs for Every NFL Team Entering 2022 NFL Draft – Bleacher Report

Updated Needs for Every NFL Team Entering 2022 NFL Draft – Bleacher Report

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    Kamil Krzaczynski/Associated Press

    As the 2022 NFL draft approaches on April 28, teams will make last-minute additions to the roster for flexibility. Most clubs fill glaring holes before the three-day selection process to keep a general manager’s options open while on the clock. 

    Despite a team’s efforts to spread its cap space and address multiple needs, we can still pinpoint the shallow areas on depth charts. 

    Across the league, struggling veterans, inexperienced backups and players on one-year deals currently project as starters without much competition for the lead role. Teams can strengthen those positions with top draft picks. 

    We’ve highlighted the three biggest needs for all 32 teams and listed an early-round draft prospect who can make an impact at one of those positions.

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    Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Rondale Moore

    Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Rondale MooreEmilee Chinn/Getty Images

  • Edge-rusher
  • Wide receiver
  • Defensive lineman

The Arizona Cardinals have to beef up their front seven. They lost edge-rusher Chandler Jones along with defensive end Jordan Phillips in free agency, and defensive tackle Corey Peters remains available on the open market. J.J. Watt isn’t reliable for a full season. He’s missed 18 games since 2019. 

Last season, the Cardinals struggled to stop the run, giving up 4.6 yards per rush attempt, which ranked 26th across the league. With that shortcoming, they must replace the interior defenders lost over the past few weeks. 

Devon Kennard and Dennis Gardeck could line up on the edge, but the front office should look for an upgrade to fill the void of an All-Pro player in Jones. 

On top of pressing needs within the defensive front, Arizona should pick up another wideout to compensate for the departure of Christian Kirk. The club re-signed A.J. Green, but he’s heading into his age-34 campaign. Quarterback Kyler Murray would appreciate another young offensive playmaker opposite DeAndre Hopkins while Rondale Moore holds the slot position.

Potential Early-Round Fit: Houston DL Logan Hall

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    Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson

    Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Cordarrelle PattersonIcon Sportswire/Getty Images

  • Quarterback
  • Wide receiver
  • Edge-rusher

The Atlanta Falcons move into the post-Matt Ryan era after they traded him to the Indianapolis Colts and signed Marcus Mariota, who’s thrown 30 regular-season passes since 2020.

The Falcons may use their first-round pick on a quarterback to learn the ropes while Mariota fills the bridge-gap role. However, the veteran signal-caller needs more weapons aside from tight end Kyle Pitts. 

The league suspended Calvin Ridley for at least the 2022 season for betting on NFL games, and Russell Gage signed with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, which leaves Cordarrelle Patterson in the lead spot among the club’s wideouts. With him involved in the ground attack last season (153 carries for 618 rushing yards and six touchdowns), Atlanta will need more than career backups Auden Tate and Olamide Zaccheaus to bolster the position. 

Even before the Falcons released Dante Fowler Jr., who logged just 4.5 sacks and 17 pressures last season, they should’ve had their sights set on edge-rushers in the draft. Atlanta finished with the fewest sacks (18) and the lowest pressure rate (16.7 percent) in 2021.

Potential Early-Round Fit: Liberty QB Malik Willis

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    Baltimore Ravens cornerback Marcus Peters

    Baltimore Ravens cornerback Marcus PetersScott Taetsch/Getty Images

  • Cornerback
  • Edge-rusher
  • Center

In recent years, the Baltimore Ravens had great depth at cornerback, but that’s not the case right now, and they gave up the most passing yards last season.

Baltimore lost Anthony Averett, Tavon Young and even Chris Westry in free agency. The team hasn’t re-signed Jimmy Smith, and Marcus Peters will try to bounce back from a torn ACL. Even though Marlon Humphrey can play on the boundary and in the slot, the Ravens must add a cover man to round out the top three spots on the depth chart.

Baltimore can also strengthen its aerial defense with an edge-rusher after Tyus Bowser tore his Achilles in January. Even though head coach John Harbaugh predicts the outside linebacker returns for training camp, the front office should add another player to the rotation anyway. Since the Ravens haven’t re-signed Justin Houston or Pernell McPhee, they don’t have much depth behind Bowser and Odafe Oweh.

On offense, Patrick Mekari could replace Bradley Bozeman at center, but he may fall into a backup role with the ability to play multiple positions. Last year, the versatile lineman took most of his snaps at right tackle.

Potential Early-Round Fit: Iowa IOL Tyler Linderbaum

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    Buffalo Bills cornerback Tre'Davious White

    Buffalo Bills cornerback Tre’Davious WhiteJohn Amis/Associated Press

The Buffalo Bills upgraded at right guard, releasing Daryl Williams and signing Rodger Saffold, who’s coming off a Pro Bowl season. Early in the upcoming draft, the club should target an interior offensive lineman to push Ike Boettger on the left side.

In 2021, Boettger split snaps at left guard with Jon Feliciano, who inked a deal with the New York Giants in free agency, and Ryan Bates, a backup with experience at all five positions across the offensive line. A good Day 2 prospect could win a battle for the lead role outright. 

Buffalo has bigger issues in the secondary. 

Cornerback Levi Wallace departed for the Pittsburgh Steelers, which leaves a void in the starting lineup opposite of Tre’Davious White, who’s recovering from a torn ACL.  

On top of that, Jordan Poyer’s new agent Drew Rosenhaus has approached the team about an extension with the hope that the safety can play out his career in Buffalo (h/t The Athletic’s Tim Graham). 

With only $2.2 million in cap space, the Bills may draft a safety if they’re not confident about the direction of extension talks with Rosenhaus.

Potential Early-Round Fit: Washington CB Trent McDuffie

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    Carolina Panthers quarterback Sam Darnold

    Carolina Panthers quarterback Sam DarnoldIcon Sportswire/Getty Images

  • Quarterback
  • Offensive tackle
  • Interior offensive lineman

The Carolina Panthers lost their 2021 sack leader in edge-rusher Haason Reddick in free agency, but Yetur Gross-Matos, a 2020 second-rounder with six career sacks, can fill that hole in an expanded role.

Carolina should use its draft resources to improve an offense that scored the fourth-fewest points and racked up the third-fewest yards in 2021.

The Panthers have a quarterback quandary with Sam Darnold coming off a subpar campaign, throwing for nine touchdowns and 13 interceptions with a 59.9 percent completion rate. He may only start one year in Carolina. According to The MMQB’s Albert Breer, the team has scheduled visits with the top signal-callers in the 2022 class. 

If the Panthers pick a quarterback in the first round, they should add competition for the offensive line group with their Day 3 picks. Or perhaps Carolina acquires Day 2 selections in a move back from the No. 6 overall spot.

Last year, Brady Christensen played multiple positions across the offensive line. He’s not quite set at left tackle yet. Bradley Bozeman and Pat Elflein have experience at center and guard, but the latter has mostly struggled at both positions.

Potential Early-Round Fit: Pittsburgh QB Kenny Pickett

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    Chicago Bears wide receiver Darnell Mooney

    Chicago Bears wide receiver Darnell MooneyIcon Sportswire/Getty Images

  • Wide receiver
  • Offensive tackle 
  • Cornerback

The Chicago Bears’ new regime hasn’t done enough to support quarterback Justin Fields. In addition to an opening at tackle, he needs a wide receiver who can complement Darnell Mooney.

Through 12 games (10 starts), Fields took the 10th-most sacks (36) leaguewide last season. Even if he gets rid of the ball a little quicker, pass-rushers may be able to tee off on him because of the Bears’ inexperience at tackle. Larry Borom, who’s a 2021 fifth-rounder, opened with the first unit in eight games last year. He projects as the current starter opposite of Teven Jenkins, who’s played 161 career snaps.

Fields and receiver Allen Robinson didn’t establish much of a rapport last season, so the latter’s move to the Los Angeles Rams isn’t a huge loss, but the front office must find a perimeter playmaker to boost its 30th-ranked aerial attack from the 2021 campaign.

Last offseason, the Bears released Kyle Fuller, which thrust Kindle Vildor into a starting role. He didn’t perform at a starting-caliber level though, allowing a 69.5 percent completion rate, six touchdowns and a 136.1 passer rating in coverage. New cover man Tavon Young will likely play in the slot, leaving a question mark on the boundary.

Potential Early-Round Fit: Georgia WR George Pickens

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    Cincinnati Bengals cornerback Eli Apple

    Cincinnati Bengals cornerback Eli AppleEmilee Chinn/Associated Press

  • Cornerback
  • Tight end
  • Safety

The Cincinnati Bengals addressed their biggest needs in free agency, so they should target prospects who can challenge some of the placeholding veterans at shallow spots on the depth chart. 

The Bengals re-signed cornerback Eli Apple, who had a decent season, allowing a 60.3 percent completion rate and an 86.6 passer rating in coverage. He’s on a one-year deal, and the team released oft-injured cover man Trae Waynes. Cincinnati may draft a cornerback capable of taking over the starting spot at some point in the upcoming campaign.

Cincinnati also signed Hayden Hurst to a one-year contract after tight end C.J. Uzomah inked a deal with the New York Jets in free agency. Hurst can produce in a featured position and did so with the Atlanta Falcons through the 2020 campaign, recording career highs of 56 receptions for 571 yards and six touchdowns. However, he’s now on his third team heading into his fifth season. 

Moreover, tight end Drew Sample, a 2019 second-rounder, has only caught 56 passes for 460 yards and a touchdown in his career. In the draft, Cincinnati can find a pass-catching playmaker who will man the position well beyond the 2022 season.

The Bengals have yet to sign franchise-tagged safety Jessie Bates III to a long-term contract, and Vonn Bell has just one year left on his deal. The team needs some depth behind them.

Potential Early-Round Fit: Florida CB Kaiir Elam

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    Free-agent defensive end Jadeveon Clowney

    Free-agent defensive end Jadeveon ClowneyIcon Sportswire/Getty Images

  • Defensive end
  • Defensive tackle
  • Wide receiver

The Cleveland Browns have to add bodies along the defensive line because other than Myles Garrett, the front four will undergo changes. 

The Browns haven’t re-signed defensive end Jadeveon Clowney yet, and he may have multiple suitors following a productive 2021 campaign with nine sacks, 32 pressures and 11 tackles for loss. Cleveland acquired Chase Winovich via trade with the New England Patriots, but he’s coming off a down year with just 11 tackles through 113 defensive snaps

Defensive tackle Malik McDowell, who started in 14 out of 15 games last season, faces charges of aggravated battery on a police officer, resisting arrest and public exposure. While he goes through the legal process as a free agent, the Browns may need Jordan Elliott to excel in a bigger role, and that’s not a given with just four starts on his resume. 

On the other side of the ball, the Browns should add a high-potential wide receiver on a rookie deal in case Amari Cooper isn’t a good fit in Cleveland. The four-time Pro Bowler will suit up for his third team, and his cap hit rises to $23.8 million next year.

Potential Early-Round Fit: Penn State edge Arnold Ebiketie

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    Dallas Cowboys tackle Terence Steele

    Dallas Cowboys tackle Terence SteeleMatt Patterson/Associated Press

  • Interior offensive lineman
  • Offensive tackle
  • Wide receiver

The Dallas Cowboys lost or parted ways with key starters and playmakers from an offensive unit that finished with the most points and yards in the league last year. 

The club should retool the offensive line, starting with a prospect to challenge Connor McGovern for the left guard spot following Connor Williams’ departure in free agency. 

While the Cowboys may have confidence in Terence Steele taking over at right tackle after releasing La’el Collins, they should add competition for that spot. Furthermore, left tackle Tyron Smith has missed 20 games over the last two seasons. Dallas needs a viable perimeter blocker as the five-man unit ages and goes through changes.

The Cowboys traded wideout Amari Cooper to the Cleveland Browns and lost Cedrick Wilson Jr. to the Miami Dolphins via the open market. According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, they had an interest in DeVante Parker before the Dolphins traded him to the New England Patriots.

Dallas may draft a wide receiver to complement CeeDee Lamb while Michael Gallup recovers from a torn ACL with James Washington as the No. 3 wideout on the depth chart.

Potential Early-Round Fit: Boston College IOL Zion Johnson

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    Denver Broncos linebacker Baron Browning

    Denver Broncos linebacker Baron BrowningMichael Ainsworth/Associated Press

  • Inside linebacker
  • Defensive lineman
  • Tight end

The Denver Broncos may fine-tune their defense and add offensive depth in the upcoming draft.

For starters, the front office will likely add an inside linebacker to pair with Josey Jewell. The Broncos haven’t re-signed Alexander Johnson, and they’re going to potentially move Baron Browning from the inside to the outside position, per Mike Klis of 9News in Denver. In each of the last two seasons, newcomer Alex Singleton has allowed a passer rating of 102.8 or higher in coverage, which stresses the need for a defender who can make plays on passing downs.

Moving to the defensive front, the Broncos could take a lineman with one of their three Day 2 selections. They lost Shelby Harris in the trade that involved quarterback Russell Wilson and signed D.J. Jones, but the team may look for an upgrade over Mike Purcell, who turns 31 years old on April 20. Also of note, Dre’Mont Jones has entered the final term of his contract.

As for depth, we can make an argument for running back or tight end, but the latter position has a less proven player in the starting spot with Albert Okwuegbunam atop the depth chart. Though he showed flashes in 2021, hauling in 33 passes for 330 yards and two touchdowns, Denver can add quality competition for the lead role or someone to join him in two-tight end sets.

Potential Early-Round Fit: Wyoming LB Chad Muma

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    Detroit Lions safety Will Harris

    Detroit Lions safety Will HarrisAbbie Parr/Getty Images

  • Linebacker
  • Safety
  • Wide receiver

The Detroit Lions will likely add prospects who can immediately improve a defense that gave up the second-most points and fourth-most yards last season.

On Detroit’s big board, edge-rushers Aidan Hutchinson and Kayvon Thibodeaux may rank higher than prospects who play positions that fill the team’s biggest needs. If the Lions slide down from the No. 2 spot, they should target a linebacker who can cover the middle of the field or a playmaking safety capable of lining up all over the secondary. 

The Lions are reuniting with Jarrad Davis, but he’s not going to fix their second-level coverage issues. In each of the last three seasons, the sixth-year pro has allowed at least a 116.6 passer rating in coverage. Last season, Derrick Barnes gave up 16.1 yards per reception and a completion rate of 86.4 percent.

On the back end of the defense, Detroit needs a defender who can force turnovers. Safeties Tracy Walker and Will Harris have three interceptions combined in their careers.

Flipping over to the offense, Amon-Ra St. Brown, D.J. Chark and Josh Reynolds haven’t shown any consistency in their careers, which is why the Lions shouldn’t ignore the position.

Chark, who’s missed 16 games over the past two seasons, signed a one-year deal. Reynolds doesn’t have more than 52 catches or 618 receiving yards in a single term. St. Brown must build on an impressive rookie campaign and show reliability in his second year. The Lions may target an upgrade over Chark and Reynolds on the perimeter.

Potential Early-Round Fit: Notre Dame S Kyle Hamilton 

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    Green Bay Packers wide receiver Allen Lazard

    Green Bay Packers wide receiver Allen LazardNic Antaya/Getty Images

  • Wide receiver 
  • Guard
  • Defensive lineman

We could probably list wide receiver as the Green Bay Packers’ top three draft needs and no one would bat an eye.

The Packers traded Davante Adams to the Las Vegas Raiders, and they lost Marquez Valdes-Scantling in free agency. Though Allen Lazard returns on a second-round level tender, quarterback Aaron Rodgers needs a go-to target. Sammy Watkins has caught 50-plus passes in a season once since 2015. Amari Rodgers, a 2021 third-rounder, only caught four passes for 45 yards last season.

To protect Rodgers under center, Green Bay should seek an upgrade over guard Royce Newman, who allowed six sacks through 1,084 snaps in 2021, per Pro Football Focus. Josh Myers can take over at center, but Lucas Patrick, who signed with the Chicago Bears, isn’t there to slide over to right guard, where he logged most of his snaps through the 2020 campaign.

On the other side of the trenches, the Packers have to think about a long-term plan. Last year, they struggled to stop the run, which has been a lingering issue, allowing the third-most yards per rush attempt (4.7). Defensive end Dean Lowry has one year left on his deal, and the club signed Jarran Reed to a one-year pact.

Potential Early-Round Fit: Alabama WR Jameson Williams

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    Houston Texans right tackle Charlie Heck

    Houston Texans right tackle Charlie HeckMatt Patterson/Associated Press

  • Offensive tackle 
  • Edge-rusher
  • Running back

In the early stages of a rebuild, with new head coach Lovie Smith taking over for David Culley, the Houston Texans have several needs, but we’ll focus on a couple of premium positions and a shallow backfield.

General manager Nick Caserio should consider a blue-chip prospect at tackle in a strong class. Opposite of two-time Pro Bowl left tackle Laremy Tunsil, Charlie Heck isn’t the answer. Heck gave up six sacks through 827 snaps in 2021, per Pro Football Focus. Houston can get a massive upgrade at this position with the No. 3 overall pick.

If the Texans choose a defender with one of their first-round picks, they’ll likely consider a top edge-rusher or cornerback to fix a defense that ranked 30th in net yards allowed per pass attempt last year.

Houston has a promising young edge-rusher in Jonathan Greenard, who logged eight sacks last season, but the team tied for 27th in sacks (32) and ranked 28th in pressure rate (20.7 percent).

In 2021, the Texans accumulated the fewest rushing yards, and the ground attack won’t show much improvement with running backs Rex Burkhead and Marlon Mack atop the depth chart. The former turns 32 years old in July, and the latter tore his Achilles and then fell out of the rotation with the Indianapolis Colts, playing in just seven games since 2020.

Potential Early-Round Fit: Oregon edge Kayvon Thibodeaux 

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    Indianapolis Colts wideout Parris Campbell

    Indianapolis Colts wideout Parris CampbellZach Bolinger/Associated Press

  • Offensive tackle
  • Wide receiver
  • Guard

The Indianapolis Colts should focus on building a strong supporting cast around Matt Ryan, whom the team acquired from the Atlanta Falcons in exchange for a third-round pick. The club can potentially make a run with the 36-year-old quarterback while he can still play at a high level.

In 2021, left tackle Eric Fisher struggled in pass protection, giving up seven sacks through 874 snaps, per Pro Football Focus, which probably explains why the Colts haven’t re-signed him. Yet the team doesn’t have a viable in-house replacement either. 

On the other side of the line at right guard, Mark Glowinski’s departure to the New York Giants leaves a hole at one of the interior spots, which is a big problem for a run-heavy offense that features 2021 rushing champion Jonathan Taylor. 

Moving out to the perimeter of the offense, the Colts must find a reliable receiver to join Michael Pittman Jr. Parris Campbell, a 2019 second-rounder, has played just 15 games through three injury-riddled seasons. Zach Pascal signed with the Philadelphia Eagles in free agency. Coming off career lows in multiple receiving categories (23 catches, 331 receiving yards and three touchdowns), T.Y. Hilton remains a free agent.

Potential Early-Round Fit: Central Michigan OT Bernhard Raimann

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    Jacksonville Jaguars edge-rusher K'Lavon Chaisson

    Jacksonville Jaguars edge-rusher K’Lavon ChaissonPhelan M. Ebenhack/Associated Press

  • Edge-rusher
  • Inside linebacker
  • Interior offensive lineman 

The Jacksonville Jaguars splurged on the free-agent market, addressing multiple needs. Now, they can fill their biggest remaining voids with four top-70 picks, starting with the defensive side of the ball. 

The Jaguars have to finish reconstructing the second level of the defense. With the No. 1 overall pick, they can select the best pass-rusher on their big board to complement Josh Allen on the edge. K’Lavon Chaisson has two sacks and 20 pressures through 952 defensive snaps. Arden Key will strengthen the pass rush, but he’s only started in 10 games through four seasons. 

Jacksonville released Myles Jack, so the defense needs another first-stringer alongside newcomer Foyesade Oluokun at inside linebacker.

On the offensive side of the ball, the Jaguars have question marks at the pivot and left guard. Center Brandon Linder retired, and the team lost A.J. Cann along with Andrew Norwell in free agency. Brandon Scherff will likely take over at right guard, but the unit doesn’t have a clear-cut starter on the left side.

Tyler Shatley and Ben Bartch have played with the first unit at the center and guard positions, respectively, but the Jaguars shouldn’t count on them with their limited starting experience.

Potential Early-Round Fit: Michigan edge Aidan Hutchinson

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    Kansas City Chiefs cornerback Deandre Baker

    Kansas City Chiefs cornerback Deandre BakerIcon Sportswire/Getty Images

  • Defensive end
  • Cornerback
  • Defensive tackle

The Kansas City Chiefs lost a couple of key playmakers in cornerback Charvarius Ward in free agency and wideout Tyreek Hill via trade. The front office patched up the pass-catching group, signing wide receivers JuJu Smith-Schuster and Marquez Valdes-Scantling, but the club didn’t add a starting-caliber cover man. 

Kansas City must consider a cornerback with one of its two first-round picks. Deandre Baker has a first-round pedigree, but he allowed a 75 percent completion rate and a 111.8 passer rating in coverage last season. Meanwhile, opponents completed 68.5 percent of their passes when they targeted Rashad Fenton.

On the defensive front, the Chiefs don’t have a viable starter opposite of Frank Clark, who has a $28.7 million cap hit in 2023. The front office should add an edge-rusher to complement or eventually replace him in the near future. 

Kansas City also needs to address a porous run defense that allowed the second-most rushing yards per carry (4.8) last season. Jarran Reed didn’t provide a major impact with just 2.5 tackles for loss through the 2021 term, but with his departure to the Green Bay Packers, the Chiefs cannot ignore the interior of their defensive line.  

Potential Early-Round Fit: Connecticut DT Travis Jones

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    Offensive lineman Alex Leatherwood

    Offensive lineman Alex LeatherwoodZach Bolinger/Associated Press

  • Offensive tackle
  • Guard
  • Safety

The Las Vegas Raiders kept the status quo with their offensive line. As it stands, they could roll out the same starting five from Week 1 of the 2021 season, but that might not be good enough (even with a new coaching staff)—specifically on the right side.

Alex Leatherwood will likely have a shot to start at right tackle or guard. He moved from the outside to the interior after Week 4 of last season. Vegas needs depth behind the Alabama product in case he continues to struggle at both positions and an upgrade in the spot alongside him.

Denzelle Good can play right guard or tackle, but he’s 31 years old and coming off a torn ACL. The coaching staff may add competition for left guard John Simpson, who committed 10 penalties through 1,112 snaps in 2021, per Pro Football Focus

On the other side of the ball, new defensive coordinator Patrick Graham may want another safety because of Johnathan Abram’s lapses in pass coverage, as he’s allowed at least a 111.4 passer rating in each of the last two seasons. The Raiders signed Duron Harmon, but he’s 31 years old on a one-year deal. Tyree Gillespie, a 2021 fourth-rounder, has only played 13 career snaps on defense.

Potential Early-Round Fit: Kentucky OL Darian Kinnard

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    Los Angeles Chargers right tackle Storm Norton

    Los Angeles Chargers right tackle Storm NortonKyusung Gong/Associated Press

  • Offensive tackle
  • Guard
  • Inside linebacker

To protect quarterback Justin Herbert and improve a ground attack that ranked 21st in yards last year, the Los Angeles Chargers should revamp the right side of their offensive line.

The Chargers didn’t re-sign guard Michael Schofield, and they need an upgrade over tackle Storm Norton, who allowed nine sacks through 1,078 snaps last season, per Pro Football Focus. Though Matt Feiler can line up on the perimeter, his move would then create a void at left guard. Regardless of what position he plays next season, the Chargers must invest draft capital in a couple of offensive linemen.

Defensively, they have a thin inside linebacker group that doesn’t have a high-end playmaker in coverage.

Kenneth Murray recently underwent ankle surgery, and he’s struggled through two seasons, allowing an 85 percent completion rate in coverage. The 2020 first-rounder also saw a drop-off in snap count as a backup in the second half of 2021.

Opponents recorded116.4 passer rating when they targeted Drue Tranquill last season. Troy Reeder and Ben Niemann have starting experience, but they won’t cover the team’s second-level blind spots on passing downs.

Potential Early-Round Fit: Northern Iowa OT Trevor Penning

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    Los Angeles Rams edge-rusher Terrell Lewis

    Los Angeles Rams edge-rusher Terrell LewisKatelyn Mulcahy/Getty Images

  • Guard
  • Edge-rusher
  • Cornerback

With the departure of Austin Corbett, the Los Angeles Rams will have to consider guards in the draft. Versatile lineman Bobby Evans isn’t a proven commodity at the position, having made just eight starts through three seasons.

On the other side of the ball, the Rams took some hits in free agency. Edge-rusher Von Miller and cornerback Darious Williams signed with the Buffalo Bills and Jacksonville Jaguars, correspondingly.

While 2020 third-rounder Terrell Lewis could play a bigger role on the edge after he took the field for 48 percent of the defensive snaps last year, the Rams can still add a prospect who can challenge or rotate with him on the side opposite of Leonard Floyd.

Without Williams, Los Angeles must find its No. 2 cornerback, who will likely see a ton of targets when three-time All-Pro cover man Jalen Ramsey lines up on the other side.

Robert Rochell, David Long Jr. and Dont’e Deayon, who’s a free agent, all filled in for Williams, who missed time with an ankle injury in 2021. The two remaining reserve cornerbacks have a lot to prove before they can claim a full-time starting role. Perhaps another competitor sharpens the iron at the position in a critical training camp battle.

Potential Early-Round Fit: Georgia OL Jamaree Salyer

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    Miami Dolphins center Michael Deiter

    Miami Dolphins center Michael DeiterWinslow Townson/Associated Press

  • Center
  • Offensive tackle
  • Defensive lineman

In free agency, the Miami Dolphins added two starting-caliber players to fix an atrocious offensive line. 

New head coach Mike McDaniel confirmed that Terron Armstead will play left tackle, but he didn’t offer clarity on any other position along the line.

Newcomer Connor Williams has lined up at left guard for most of his four years with the Dallas Cowboys and came out of Texas as an offensive tackle in 2018. The Dolphins signed him to a two-year deal, so expect the 6’5″, 320-pounder to start at left guard or right tackle.

The Dolphins may have botched two recent early-round picks. Austin Jackson, a 2020 first-rounder, had a rough rookie campaign at left tackle and continued to struggle at left guard last year, committing 12 penalties, per Pro Football Focus. In 2021, as a rookie second-rounder, tackle Liam Eichenberg allowed nine sacks and committed 10 infractions through 1,108 offensive snaps, per PFF.

Because of those misses at tackle and the team’s decision to release Jesse Davis, the Dolphins may take another swing at a right tackle in the draft. Furthermore, they should look for an upgrade over versatile lineman Michael Deiter, who started in eight games at center last year.

On the other side of the trenches, Miami needs another front-line playmaker alongside Christian Wilkins. Adam Butler heads into a contract year, and Raekwon Davis has just two tackles for loss, four pressures and a half-sack through two seasons.

Potential Early-Round Fit: Minnesota OT Daniel Faalele

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    Minnesota Vikings cornerback Patrick Peterson

    Minnesota Vikings cornerback Patrick PetersonBruce Kluckhohn/Associated Press

  • Safety
  • Cornerback
  • Defensive lineman

The Minnesota Vikings can go into the 2022 draft with a laser focus on their defense. The unit ranked 28th in passing yards allowed and 26th against the run for the 2021 season.

As Harrison Smith is heading into his age-33 term, coming off a season in which he allowed a 72.5 percent completion rate in coverage, the Vikings must prioritize the need for a young playmaker at safety. In addition, the team lost Xavier Woods in free agency.

Moving toward the boundary of the secondary, opposite Cameron Dantzler, Minnesota has a placeholder in 31-year-old Patrick Peterson, who’s solid but past his prime. The team could draft a cornerback with the No. 12 pick.

In the trenches, the Vikings need a reliable pass-rushing interior defender. Newcomer Harrison Phillips has just 1.5 sacks in his career, and Dalvin Tomlinson hasn’t recorded more than 3.5 sacks in a single season. The defensive front doesn’t have the penetrators to give edge-rushers Danielle Hunter and Za’Darius Smith help on passing downs or in 3rd-and-long situations.

Potential Early-Round Fit: LSU CB Derek Stingley Jr. 

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    New England Patriots cornerback Malcolm Butler

    New England Patriots cornerback Malcolm ButlerIcon Sportswire/Getty Images

  • Cornerback
  • Off-ball linebacker
  • Guard 

In free agency, the New England Patriots lost starting-quality players on both sides of the ball. 

J.C. Jackson signed with the Los Angeles Chargers. In four seasons with the team, the Pro Bowl cover man recorded 25 interceptions and 53 pass breakups. 

Though the Patriots added cornerbacks Terrance Mitchell and Malcolm Butler, the latter of whom stepped away from football last season, they should add an early-round prospect with more upside to compensate for the loss of one of the league’s top ball-hawking perimeter defenders.

The second level of the Patriots defense could also undergo major changes. The club released Kyle Van Noy and hasn’t re-signed Dont’a Hightower or Jamie Collins. All three linebackers played 1,644 defensive snaps combined during the 2021 term. 

Other than linebacker Ja’Whaun Bentley, who will likely continue to play a big role, the Patriots have Jahlani Tavai and Raekwon McMillan for one year. The team traded Chase Winovich to the Cleveland Browns for Mack Wilson, who only has a year left on his rookie deal. 

Offensively, the Patriots took a big hit on the interior of the offensive line, dealing Shaq Mason to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and losing Ted Karras to the Cincinnati Bengals via the open market. Michael Onwenu can start in one of the guard spots, but the team must fill a hole on the opposite side.

Potential Early-Round Fit: Clemson CB Andrew Booth Jr.

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    New Orleans Saints wide receiver Michael Thomas

    New Orleans Saints wide receiver Michael ThomasTerrance Williams/Associated Press

  • Wide receiver 
  • Offensive tackle 
  • Safety

According to The Athletic’s Jeff Howe, some people believe the New Orleans Saints might’ve acquired another first-round selection in their massive pick swap with the Philadelphia Eagles to position themselves for a quarterback.

However, the Saints signed Jameis Winston to a two-year, $28 million deal, and because of a weak quarterback class compared to previous seasons, they should build around the veteran signal-caller.

Last year, the Saints only had one wideout log 100-plus receiving yards in a game. That’s all you need to know about their wide receiver group without Michael Thomas, who missed the entire 2021 season on the mend from ankle surgery.

Per The Athletic’s Katherine Terrell, the Saints believe Thomas will return to action in 2022, but the offense doesn’t feature a reliable No. 2 wide receiver. Tre’Quan Smith hasn’t taken a significant leap in his development. 

New Orleans has a possible in-house replacement for three-time Pro Bowl left tackle Terron Armstead in James Hurst. Nonetheless, the Saints can do better with a first-round talent at the position. The versatile lineman has started in 10 or more games in three of his eight seasons. 

Last week, the Saints hosted Tyrann Mathieu for a visit (h/t NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport), which suggests the club may try to fill now-retired safety Malcolm Jenkins’ spot.

If Mathieu, a New Orleans native, doesn’t sign with the Saints, the front office can target some prospects on Day 2 of the draft.

Potential Early-Round Fit: Ohio State WR Chris Olave

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    New York Giants offensive tackle Matt Peart

    New York Giants offensive tackle Matt PeartJohn Munson/Associated Press

  • Offensive tackle
  • Edge-rusher
  • Inside linebacker

The New York Giants added veteran placeholders with a fair amount of starting experience on the interior of the offensive line, signing Mark Glowinski, Jon Feliciano and Max Garcia. But if the new regime wants to see quarterback Daniel Jones improve in his fourth year, Big Blue must address the right tackle position.

In 2021, tackles Nate Solder and Matt Peart split snaps on the right side. The Giants haven’t re-signed the former, and the latter gave up four sacks through 421 snaps last season, per Pro Football Focus.

New general manager Joe Schoen can address another premium position on the other side of the ball with one of his top-10 picks. Perhaps he’ll add a pass-rusher to pair with Azeez Ojulari on the edge. Quincy Roche, a 2021 sixth-rounder, logged 38 tackles, five for loss and 2.5 sacks while on the field for 401 defensive snaps last season, but the front office can find an immediate upgrade with the fifth or seventh overall pick.

Between the edge-rushers, the Giants need an off-ball linebacker who can cover shallow routes and make it difficult for pass-catching tight ends and running backs in the middle of the field. At that position, Blake Martinez and Tae Crowder are both in-house downhill defenders.

Potential Early-Round Fit: North Carolina State OT Ikem Ekwonu

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    New York Jets cornerback Bryce Hall

    New York Jets cornerback Bryce HallAdam Hunger/Associated Press

  • Edge-rusher
  • Cornerback
  • Wide receiver

The New York Jets must overhaul a defense that gave up the most points and yards last year. Edge-rusher Carl Lawson’s return won’t fix everything.

Even if Lawson makes a full recovery from a ruptured Achilles and plays well, he’ll need a pass-rushing partner. Gang Green finished 2021 tied for 25th in sacks (33) and ranked 27th in pressure rate per dropback (21.4 percent). 

If general manager Joe Douglas doesn’t use one of his top-10 draft picks (Nos. 4 and 10) on an edge-rusher, he should look at a top cornerback prospect. 

Even though the Jets have a solid trio of cornerbacks vying for the boundary spots in D.J. Reed, Bryce Hall and Brandin Echols, the group needs a defender who has a knack for forcing turnovers. Last season, New York tied for the second-fewest interceptions (seven), and no one on the team picked off more than two passes.

Lastly, based on reports, the front office seems to want an upgrade at wide receiver.

According to The Athletic’s Connor Hughes, the Jets showed interest in Calvin Ridley before his indefinite suspension through at least this season for gambling on games, and “did their homework” on Amari Cooper before the Dallas Cowboys traded him to the Cleveland Browns.

Per ESPN’s Adam Schefter, New York emerged as a potential landing spot for Tyreek Hill prior to the Kansas City Chiefs-Miami Dolphins trade that involved the All-Pro wideout.

Douglas might add a wide receiver to pair with Corey Davis on the perimeter with the intent of transitioning Elijah Moore to the primary slot position.

Potential Early-Round Fit: Cincinnati CB Ahmad Gardner

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    Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver Jalen Reagor

    Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver Jalen ReagorIcon Sportswire/Getty Images

  • Cornerback
  • Safety
  • Wide receiver

The Philadelphia Eagles gave up too many passing scores last year, allowing 28 (tied for 20th leaguewide), so the front office could focus on the secondary early in the draft. 

The Eagles lost cornerback Steven Nelson in free agency, which leaves a void on the boundary, and safety Rodney McLeod inked a deal with the Indianapolis Colts. On a one-year contract, Anthony Harris will return to man center field and line up in the box. Fellow safety K’Von Wallace, a 2020 fourth-rounder, hasn’t blossomed into a full-time starter yet, playing just 386 career snaps on defense. 

Last year, general manager Howie Roseman made a shrewd move to trade up for wideout DeVonta Smith, who got off to a good career start with 64 receptions for 916 yards and five touchdowns in his rookie campaign. However, Roseman whiffed on J.J. Arcega-Whiteside (2019 second-rounder), and Jalen Reagor didn’t take a second-year leap in 2021, hauling in just 33 passes for 299 yards and two touchdowns.

The Eagles need a perimeter receiver who’s more consistent on a down-to-down basis than Quez Watkins and Zach Pascal in the No. 2 spot.

Potential Early-Round Fit: Georgia S Lewis Cine 

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    Free agent safety Terrell Edmunds

    Free agent safety Terrell EdmundsEmilee Chinn/Getty Images

  • Safety
  • Quarterback 
  • Wide receiver 

While the Pittsburgh Steelers’ succession plan at quarterback in the post-Ben Roethlisberger era has dominated the team’s headlines, they have a clear need at safety because they haven’t re-signed Terrell Edmunds or filled his position. 

Karl Joseph, a first-rounder from the 2016 draft, can play strong safety alongside Minkah Fitzpatrick, but he only took the field for 17 defensive snaps with the team last season.

As for the most important position, the Steelers have a bridge quarterback in Mitch Trubisky on a two-year deal. Though he’ll likely have a second chance to leave his mark as a starter, general manager Kevin Colbert said, via ESPN’s Brooke Pryor, the addition of the veteran signal-caller doesn’t “preclude” the team from taking a prospect at the position. 

Head coach Mike Tomlin told reporters Liberty’s Malik Willis has been “really impressive” in predraft workouts. Also, Pittsburgh scheduled a visit with Cincinnati’s Desmond Ridder earlier this month, per NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport.

Regardless of how the Steelers sort out their quarterback situation, they need another wide receiver after losing JuJu Smith-Schuster and James Washington in free agency. Anthony Miller isn’t a lock to make an impact after he caught just six passes for 25 yards and a touchdown in the 2021 campaign with the Houston Texans and Steelers.

Potential Early-Round Fit: Cincinnati QB Desmond Ridder

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    San Francisco 49ers edge-rusher Dee Ford

    San Francisco 49ers edge-rusher Dee FordMatt Rourke/Associated Press

This summer, the San Francisco 49ers will probably have open position battles at both guard spots because of the departure of Laken Tomlinson in free agency and Daniel Brunskill’s subpar pass protection on the right side. The latter allowed five sacks through 1,089 offensive snaps in 2021, per Pro Football Focus.

Last year, the 49ers selected Aaron Banks in the second round. He only played five offensive snaps through his rookie term, though. The team should add a top pick to challenge him or fill a gap on the other side of the line. 

In addition to the loss of Tomlinson at guard, San Francisco will also need to fill a void at safety if it doesn’t re-sign Jaquiski Tartt. Though the team added George Odum, he’s an All-Pro special teamer who hasn’t played more than 43 percent of the defensive snaps in a single season. 

General manager John Lynch told reporters he doesn’t think edge-rusher Dee Ford will be back with the team in 2022. With the loss of Arden Key to the Jacksonville Jaguars, the front office must address defensive end as well. Kemoko Turay has played 38 games through four seasons. He’s not reliable enough to fill this need alone.

Potential Early-Round Fit: Baylor S Jalen Pitre 

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    Seattle Seahawks quarterback Drew Lock

    Seattle Seahawks quarterback Drew LockSteph Chambers/Getty Images

  • Quarterback
  • Offensive tackle
  • Cornerback

In a rebuilding phase, the Seattle Seahawks have major needs at premium positions. Let’s start with the obvious one under center.

The Seahawks traded quarterback Russell Wilson to the Denver Broncos, and they acquired Drew Lock along with defensive end Shelby Harris, tight end Noah Fant and multiple draft picks.

Lock told reporters the team didn’t promise him anything, so expect him to compete for the starting job. Seattle could use its No. 9 pick on a quarterback to battle the former Broncos signal-caller for the lead position.

Whoever starts at quarterback will need pass protection on the perimeter. The Seahawks haven’t re-signed tackles Duane Brown or Brandon Shell, which means they could open the 2022 campaign with new primary starters on both ends of the line. 

Despite moving on from Bobby Wagner, Seattle has a decent group of linebackers with Jordyn Brooks, Uchenna Nwosu and Cody Barton potentially taking on a bigger workload. On the back end, the team could consider a strong upgrade at cornerback on the boundary.

As a rookie last year, Tre Brown only suited up for five games before he went down with a serious patellar tendon injury. Sidney Jones played well, logging 10 pass breakups, but the 2017 second-rounder has started just 25 games through five injury-riddled campaigns. Artie Burns hasn’t come close to performing up to his first-round pedigree.

Potential Early-Round Fit: Ole Miss QB Matt Corral

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    Retired guard Ali Marpet

    Retired guard Ali MarpetIcon Sportswire/Getty Images

  • Guard
  • Tight End
  • Defensive lineman 

As quarterback Tom Brady heads into his age-45 campaign, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers should provide as much help for him as possible. 

Tampa Bay acquired Shaq Mason from the New England Patriots to replace right guard Alex Cappa, but the team will need to fill a hole on the other side. Unlike Brady, Pro Bowl guard Ali Marpet won’t have a change of heart about going into retirement, so the front office has to fill his starting spot. 

Rob Gronkowski hasn’t made a decision on his future yet. His uncertainty plus the departure of O.J. Howard leaves Cameron Brate at the top of the tight end depth chart. Last season, Brate had an inefficient catch rate (52.6 percent). Brady may want a young, natural pass-catcher to rotate in at the position.

The Buccaneers can help their QB with a stifling complementary defense as well. As Todd Bowles transitions from defensive coordinator to head coach, he should push for a pass-rusher in the draft.

Tampa Bay hasn’t re-signed edge-rusher Jason Pierre-Paul or defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh. The latter would be the bigger loss since he ranked second on the team in sacks (six) last season and hasn’t missed a game since 2011. The former finished with 2.5 sacks and missed five games in 2021. 

If Suh doesn’t return, the Buccaneers need a three-down defensive lineman who can pressure the passer and pair with Vita Vea to stop the run.

Potential Early-Round Fit: Texas A&M IOL Kenyon Green

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    Tennessee Titans offensive lineman Dillon Radunz

    Tennessee Titans offensive lineman Dillon RadunzGary McCullough/Associated Press

  • Offensive lineman
  • Wide receiver
  • Cornerback

Let’s assume Dillon Radunz, a 2021 second-rounder, has a fair shot to play right tackle or left guard next season. At North Dakota State, he started primarily at left tackle, and he logged some snaps at left guard last year.

Regardless of where Radunz lines up, the Tennessee Titans have to fill a spot on the offensive line because they haven’t re-signed David Quessenberry, their starting right tackle from last year, and the team released Pro Bowl guard Rodger Saffold.

Tennessee also cut wide receiver Julio Jones, who had a disappointing 2021 campaign (31 receptions for 434 yards and a touchdown), and acquired Robert Woods from the Los Angeles Rams. The latter just turned 30 years old on April 10, and he’s coming off a torn ACL. On top of that, the Titans may have a drawn-out contract situation with A.J. Brown, who’s headed into the final year of his deal.

Though Titans GM Jon Robinson told the Official Titans Podcast that Brown isn’t going anywhere, the front office should add a high-upside wideout on a rookie deal.

Staying with the thought of adding prospects for insurance, the Titans have a thin cornerback group after they cut Jackrabbit Jenkins. Caleb Farley projects as the starter opposite Kristian Fulton on the boundary, but he’s undergone back surgery and torn his ACL over the past 13 months, which should make the front office a bit nervous about his durability.

Potential Early-Round Fit: Penn State WR Jahan Dotson

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    Washington Commanders wide receiver Curtis Samuel

    Washington Commanders wide receiver Curtis SamuelNick Wass/Associated Press

  • Wide receiver
  • Guard 
  • Linebacker

Quarterback Carson Wentz knows what it feels like to have just one reliable receiver after his one-year stop with the Indianapolis Colts in 2021. Aside from Michael Pittman Jr., he didn’t have much in the passing game. 

Though Terry McLaurin is an upgrade over Pittman, he’s the Washington Commanders’ lone dependable target on the perimeter. Among the team’s wide receivers, Adam Humphries finished second in catches (41) and receiving yards (383) last season, but he’s a free agent. If wideout Curtis Samuel returns to full health after an injury-riddled 2021 campaign, he can provide a boost, but the offense would still need depth at the position.

Down in the trenches, left guard Andrew Norwell will likely take over for Ereck Flowers, who the Commanders released in March. Yet the team still has to replace right guard Brandon Scherff, who signed with the Jacksonville Jaguars in free agency. 

Defensively, Washington should add a linebacker who’s equipped to play on all three downs. As a rookie, Jamin Davis struggled last year, allowing an 85.7 percent completion rate and a 107.1 passer rating in coverage. Cole Holcomb is a tackling machine, but he’s just decent in other areas.

Potential Early-Round Fit: USC WR Drake London

Player contracts and team salary cap information are provided by Over the Cap.

Maurice Moton covers the NFL for Bleacher Report. You can follow him on Twitter @MoeMoton.

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