Every team has problems, whether it’s at running back, quarterback, offensive line or in the receiving game. What is each team’s biggest need?
Who’s My Quarterback?
Bears– Is Mike Glennon really the future in the Windy City or just another stop gap? Could the Bears be in on a guy like Deshaun Watson or Mitch Trubisky? Needless to say, the upcoming draft will be a turning point for the franchise.
Redskins– Is Kirk Cousins going to get a long term contract or will this one year at a time drama continue? Hopefully the Skins and Cousins can work out a deal before the July deadline, but is Kirk’s heart on the West Coast…
49ers– Is Brian Hoyer just a place holder until Kirk Cousins finally reunites with Kyle Shanahan? Otherwise, the 49ers are in a bad spot when it comes to the most important position on the field, with Matt Barkley and Blaine Gabbert presiding as backups.
Browns– Cleveland has dumped Robert Griffin III and traded for Brock Osweiler this offseason. Could one of the first round picks that the Browns have be used on a guy like Deshaun Watson?
Texans– Brock Osweiler was an absolute disaster and the Texans were able to move on. But that leaves Tom Savage and Brandon Weeden as the only two quarterbacks on the Texans’ roster. Will the Texans finally make a move for Tony Romo, or could they be looking for a young signal caller in April’s draft?
Jets– Josh McCown is a solid veteran quarterback, but he is long in the tooth and nothing spectacular. Is he there to groom Christian Hackenberg and/or Bryce Petty, or do the Jets have plans to add a top QB prospect with the #6 pick?
Broncos– Denver is another team that was linked to Tony Romo. He makes sense for the team and could be Peyton Manning in Denver 2.0, but it seems that won’t happen. Trevor Siemian played okay at times and Paxton Lynch has a year in the NFL under his belt. But when you have two quarterbacks, you usually don’t have a quarterback at all.
Jaguars– The Jags are on this list because they are coming close to having to make a decision on Blake Bortles. He has great talent, but his turnovers are back breakers. Jacksonville was a team that should have made a big jump last year, but didn’t. If they struggle again in 2017, new head coach Doug Marrone might have to start looking for a new man under center.
Saints– I don’t think there is anything wrong with Drew Brees. He’s one of the best quarterbacks to ever do it. But he is another year older and will be 39 by the end of next season. It hurts as a football fan to think about the NFL without Drew Brees, but that time is coming soon. The Saints need to be thinking about who is going to take over once #9 finally hangs it up. Is it Garrett Grayson? Could the Saints be looking for a young arm who could be tutored by Brees before his time is up?
Cardinals– The Cardinals are in a similar boat as the Saints. Is the quarterback of the future on the roster, or could Arizona be looking to add a young gun to back up Carson Palmer, learn from him, and be the next guy? Bruce Arians thinks that Arizona is a great team for a young quarterback to come to and learn how to be a quarterback and learn how to be the guy. Learning from Carson Palmer is not a bad way for a young signal caller to get the hang of life in the NFL. Unfortunately for the Cardinals, life without Carson Palmer might also mean life without Larry Fitzgerald. More questions could pop up in the desert in the next couple of years.
We Need a Running Back
Packers– Eddie Lacy struggled with his weight and health issues and is now a Seattle Seahawk. This leaves the Packers with a big (no pun intended) hole in the backfield. Green Bay can’t rely on Aaron Rodgers and the passing game to do everything. They also can’t rely on a wide receiver (Ty Montgomery) and Christine Michael to carry the run game.
Buccaneers– Doug Martin has battled injuries and then was benched late in the 2016 season. Jacquizz Rodgers signed during the season and led the team in rushing, while the rest of the five backs on the roster have a combined 10 years in the NFL. Could Tampa Bay add a veteran like Adrian Peterson or Jamaal Charles, or maybe even look at all of the options available at running back in the draft?
Panthers– The Panthers have been linked to a running back in several mock drafts. A Dalvin Cook/Leonard Fournette/Christian McCaffrey would be nice to pair with Jonathan Stewart in the Panthers’ backfield. This might help take some of the pressure off Cam Newton and allow the Panthers to get back to that successful 2015 offense.
Giants– The Giants replaced Victor Cruz with an upgrade in Brandon Marshall, leaving the running game as their greatest offensive weakness. Rashad Jennings was let go, which leaves Paul Perkins as the leading rusher returning from last year with 456 yards. New York still got the job done last year and could go running back by committee again next year. If they are looking to add another back, a guy like Adrian Peterson could make a lot of sense for the G Men.
Raiders– Latavius Murray left in free agency for Minnesota, leaving the silver and black with a trio of Taiwan Jones, Jalen Richard and DeAndre Washington at running back. With the receiving weapons that Derek Carr has around him, Oakland-Vegas will most likely rely heavily on its air game, but should still look for a back that can take a bulk of the carries.
Steelers– Le’Veon Bell is arguably the best running back in the NFL when healthy and focused. Off the field concerns seem to be the reason he is on the franchise tag right now. Can you trust him to be on the field if you sign him to a long term deal? That’s why Pittsburgh could find itself in trouble if Bell can’t be counted on. DeAngelo Williams was reliable when called upon, but he remains un-signed. If Bell moves on after this year or misses time due to injury and/or suspension like years past, the Steelers will have to turn to guys like Fitzgerald Toussaint and Knile Davis.
Lions– Matthew Stafford had a huge year despite it being the first time without throwing to Calvin Johnson. Part of the reason he was forced to throw so much was because of the lack of a running game. Theo Reddick was the leading rusher in Detroit with only 357 yards. In fact, Stafford was only 60 yards from being the third leading rusher on the team. Ameer Abdullah coming back healthy could help, and along with Reddick and Zenner make a pretty good three-headed attack if needed. Whether it’s these guys on the roster taking the next step or an added runner, the Lions need to take some of the weight off of Stafford’s shoulders.
Where’s the Beef?
Falcons– The Falcons offense clicked on all cylinders last season. The only weakness really left for the Falcons to address on that side of the ball would be the offensive line. Alex Mack was the best free agent pickup in the NFL last offseason and made up for a lot of issues up front for the Birds. Chris Chester was on his last leg this past year and is now retiring. Andy Levitre played better than the year before, but still struggled at times. Ryan Schraeder overachieved and earned a new contract, but he left the Super Bowl in some pain. There are some who are questioning if Jake Matthews is the answer at left tackle. You can fully expect the Falcons to address the O-Line early in the draft to help solidify some of these questions in front of their MVP quarterback.
Eagles– Carson Wentz made the Eagles look like geniuses early on in the 2016 season. The rookie was hot and did everything right. But down the stretch he started to look like a rookie. Part of it was growing pains and another part was an inconsistent running game, but one thing that was overlooked was the mix and match offensive line in front of him. Lane Johnson was suspended for 10 games and forced guys like Halapoulivaati Vaitai, Allen Barbre and Matt Tobin to fill in at right tackle. Jason Peters was still the cornerstone for the line, but he is 35 and the clock is ticking for him. If the Eagles want to take the next step on offense, they need more consistency from the big men up front.
Seahawks– For all of the plays Russell Wilson keeps alive and extends, the Seahawks were still near the bottom of the list when it came to sacks allowed per game in 2016. Their franchise quarterback cannot continue to take that many hits. Seattle is too close to finding out what life could be like with Wilson getting injured for an extended period of time. The line is young and nobody has more than five years of experience, but that does give them the chance to gel together moving forward. This needs to be the focus for Seattle, along with keeping Russ upright and healthy.
Colts– A lot of what was said about the Seahawks could be said about the Colts as well. As Andrew Luck goes, so goes Indianapolis. Life without Luck was miserable in 2015 for the Colts, and they did a good job picking up Ryan Kelly at center for last season. Continuing to add to the line should be something that the Colts consider in next month’s draft, especially since they allowed 2.8 sacks a game, good for 28th in the league. Like Russell Wilson in Seattle, the Colts should always protect their franchise cornerstone in Andrew Luck.
Bengals– Right there with Seattle and Indianapolis, Cincinnati had its fair share of trouble keeping Andy Dalton off the ground. The Bengals allowed 2.6 sacks per game, and that number could get worse after losing Andrew Whitworth to the Rams. Cincy got Andre Smith back from the Vikings, but he is entering his 10th year and, Eric Winston on the other side is entering his 12th. The Bengals should look to get younger up front to help Andy Dalton and the offense continue to tick.
Vikings– The Vikings avoided being on the running back list because of the addition of Latavius Murray. He doesn’t in any way replace Adrian Peterson, but he is a good running back. With him in the mix, the Vikes could use a playmaker on the outside. They lost Cordarrelle Patterson, but that could be a bigger blow to the special teams unit than the offense. Adam Thielen was a pleasant surprise for Minnesota last year, but another pass catcher would be a good get for the Vikings to put alongside Kyle Rudolph and Stefon Diggs.
(All of this is assuming that Teddy Bridgewater will eventually be healthy, otherwise the Vikings would be at the top of the list for a new quarterback.)
Chiefs– If Tyreek Hill turns into a legitimate receiving option, the Chiefs’ questions could be elsewhere (is Alex Smith reliable?), but until that happens, Kansas City could use another proven playmaker in their offense. Travis Kelce is a top tight end and Jeremy Maclin is still a reliable target, but both could benefit from another player to take some of the attention away from them. Chris Conley and Albert Wilson had their moments, but weren’t consistent enough to be difference makers every week.
Cowboys– A great season was derailed by a white hot Aaron Rodgers in the NFC championship game, but the good news for the Cowboys is that they could be set at quarterback and running back for years to come. Add in a dominant line of maulers and a stud out wide in Dez Bryant and that doesn’t leave many holes on the offensive side. But the Cowboys could use another playmaker down the road. Jason Witten could possibly play forever, but if he doesn’t, another tight end will be a priority in the next couple years. Terrance Williams is a decent number two, but another wide receiver for Dak Prescott to throw to wouldn’t be an awful idea either.
Titans– Mike Mularkey found success in pounding the rock with two tough running backs and allowing his young stud quarterback make plays. If the Titans continue on this track, and Marcus Mariota’s leg heals properly, Nashville could be a fun place to watch an NFL game. However, one glaring weakness is at wide receiver. Rishard Matthews was great for the Titans and was the leading receiver in 2016, but after him, there’s not much. The way that Mularkey’s offense runs, a dominant receiver isn’t a must have, (especially with Delanie Walker at tight end) but the Titans could use another pass catcher to take the place of the departed Kendall Wright.
Bills– Buffalo looks like they could have a few potential questions on offense. It wasn’t even a done deal that Tyrod Taylor would be back. Add that to LeSean McCoy being another year older and Sammy Watkins playing in less games each year, and the Bills could certainly use a playmaker somewhere on their offense. Sean McDermott comes in from Carolina where the Panthers played their best ball when pounding the rock. The Bills might take that approach since they also brought Mike Tolbert in from Carolina and fullback Patrick DiMarco from Atlanta. McCoy is still a good running back when healthy, and combined with Mike Gillislee forms a solid group of backs. It wouldn’t be a surprise to see the Bills look for another wide receiver, especially if Watkins continues to have injury problems.
Dolphins– Ryan Tannehill took a pretty good step forward and benefited from some big plays in the passing game by Jarvis Landry, DeVante Parker and Kenny Stills. Jay Ajayi was a difference maker in the run game last year, becoming one of the top breakout players in the entire league. The Dolphins could really use another offensive player to help this group out; possibly at tight end. Jordan Cameron is retiring due to concussions, while 11 year veteran Anthony Fasano comes back to Miami. A pass-catching, new age tight end could be a big addition in Miami.
Patriots– The Patriots did it again. They won the Super Bowl without much of a supporting cast around Tom Brady. New England won all last year by dinking and dunking its way down the field with underneath passes to the likes of Julian Edelman, Danny Amendola and a bunch of running backs. I’m sure Tom Brady will benefit from getting Rob Gronkowski back and healthy, but #12 could also use a legitimate number one wide receiver. He set records the last time he had one in Randy Moss. It’s hard to say that the Patriots have many needs, but Brady can never have too many weapons. One thing to keep an eye on is the loss of Martellus Bennett and the ongoing injury concerns with Gronkowski. If Gronk continues to get injured, a big body at the tight end position could be key for the Patriots’ future.
Chargers– Philip Rivers made a lot out of not a lot last year. Danny Woodhead and Keenan Allen both went down early in the year, which really affected the Bolts’ offensive plans. But Rivers made names out of Dontrelle Inman, Travis Benjamin and Williams of the House Tyrell. Add in an aging Antonio Gates, and it’s amazing the Chargers even won five games last year. Another weapon could be huge for the Chargers and would go a long way in improving their 2016 record. Getting Allen back healthy could be the addition needed, but replacing Woodhead might be the place to look for the LA (weird, right?) Chargers.
Ravens– A bottom five rushing team should be aided by Danny Woodhead, but his biggest value might be in the receiving game. It will take a lot more than him to replace a guy like Steve Smith. Baltimore has been linked to John Ross in a couple different mock drafts, which would make a lot of sense, as it would give Joe Flacco another weapon. The Ravens could also use a veteran option since outside of Mike Wallace; no receiver on the roster has more than two years of experience. In addition, getting Benjamin Watson back healthy will make him and Dennis Pitta a nice pair of tight ends.
Rams– Jared Goff went through some bumps and lumps once he was able to get on the field for the Rams last year. But now he now gets a coach in Sean McVay who did a nice job with Kirk Cousins over the last couple of years. Goff might not be Cousins, but he has talent and could benefit from both McVay and some more players to throw to. Teams were able to zero in on Todd Gurley and made him a non-factor in 2016, so other pieces would be huge for him too. Robert Woods will be a nice addition for the offense and comes in as a replacement for Kenny Britt. With no first round pick, it will be interesting to see how the Rams go about drafting and how many picks will be used on offense.