Now with the NFL Draft over and free agency way in the background teams are finally looking like what we are going to see entering training camp. But that doesn’t mean that each team is complete. Here is a look at the biggest need each team still has.
Arizona Cardinals: Defensive Tackle
With the Cardinals draft it’s clear they are looking to make another Super Bowl run rather than plan for the future. Defensively they added some good pieces in the backend of the secondary but leave a hole where Calais Campbell had been. By not addressing the position they are hoping Robert Nkemdiche can produce while rotational players fill in the other side.
Atlanta Falcons: Defensive Tackle
After adding Dontari Poe the Falcons are now able to get two quality tackles on the field at the same time. After Poe and Jarrett there is little depth with the likes of Ra’Shede Hageman as the only true backup. Atlanta is banking on Poe’s back not being an issue and playing a full season. That may be a big risk they’re taking.
Baltimore Ravens: Right Tackle
Heading into the draft there was plenty of speculation that the Ravens would look towards Cam Robinson or one of the other tackles to fill the right tackle position that Ricky Wagner left. While the Ravens drafted two college tackles, both are likely guards in the NFL. As we speak James Hurst is the current RT while Alex Lewis could slide out. Either way they enter the season with a big question mark.
Buffalo Bills: Linebacker
Whether it’s been in Philadelphia or Carolina, linebackers have been a huge part of Sean McDermott’s defense. Buffalo drafted Matt Milano and Tanner Vallejo on day three, but they really lack that difference maker. Reggie Ragland should be back from injury but he is far from the athletic sideline to sideline type players that thrive in this defense.
Carolina Panthers: Safety
Carolina did a good job in free agency and in the draft of addressing their major needs so this is a little nitpicking. Carolina is set for the time being with Mike Adams and Kurt Coleman as their starting safeties but there is little depth behind them. A late round or a high end undrafted free agent could have been an option as someone to groom.
Chicago Bears: Offensive Tackle
Chicago continues to fill needs in free agency but in the draft they went the developmental route taking several prospects that likely won’t see significant playing time initially. One area they could have gone was offensive tackle where both Charles Leno and Bobby Massie have been inconsistent. The interior offensive line is solid, but the Bears will struggle to shut down the edge would could be trouble for Mike Glennon.
Cincinnati Bengals: Offensive Tackle
Drafting Cedric Ogbuehi and Jake Fisher in 2015 was supposed to be in preparation of Andre Smith and Andrew Whitworth leaving in free agency. Ogbuehi struggled last season as a starter at right tackle and Fisher hasn’t played much better in a reserve role. Smith was brought back but the Bengals still have a major question at left tackle and protecting Andy Dalton.
Cleveland Browns: Free Safety
Derrick Kindred had the best coverage grade according to PFF and he finished 75th out of all qualifying safeties. If the Browns are going to have success running Gregg Williams attacking defense they need safeties that can cover. Jabrill Peppers was a first round pick but his skill set is geared more towards the strong safety role. Ed Reynolds will likely start but they need to find a solution at some point.
Dallas Cowboys: Offensive Guard
Dallas has built their offense behind an elite offensive line that has allowed them to control the clock with a good run game. The line took a hit this offseason when Ronald Leary signed with the Broncos and Doug Free retired. La’el Collins has started games at left guard but is getting work at right tackle. Regardless of where he starts it leaves a hole. Whether it is Jonathan Cooper at left guard or Byron Bell at right tackle the Cowboys failed to solidify the group further this offseason.
Denver Broncos: Inside Linebacker
Danny Trevathan’s run stuffing ability was desperately missed after he signed with the Chicago Bears and a big reason the Broncos finished 28th in rushing yards allowed. Todd Davis played alright in his replacement and the Broncos added Domata Peko and DeMarcus Walker this offseason. However, you would have thought adding a downhill thumper at linebacker as a reinforcement would have been good.
Detroit Lions: Edge Pass Rusher
Tied for 30th in the league in sacks you would have thought the Lions would be more proactive in adding pass rushing options. Sure getting a healthy Ezekial Ansah back will help but the Lions are hoping that a couple game stretch of Kerry Hyder can continue for the entire season because they didn’t add anyone till the 6th round of the draft when they took a rotational player at best in Jeremiah Ledbetter.
Green Bay Packers: Edge Pass Rusher
Even before Julius Peppers left for Carolina, the Packers had a big need finding an edge pass rusher. Resigning Nick Perry was big as he was their best pass rusher but outside of him they struggled. Clay Matthews is slowing down while Kyler Fackrell flashed at times. Vince Biegel was drafted, but his skill set translates better to inside. If Green Bay wants to improve on their pass defense, getting pressure on the quarterback would help.
Houston Texans: Offensive Guard
Throughout the offseason the Texans have done a good job of addressing their biggest needs. However, when it comes to helping out an offensive line that struggled the Texans stood pat in free agency and drafted a developmental tackle in the fourth round and a center in the seventh. Sure getting Nick Martin back healthy will help at guard, but the Texans could have used new starters at both guards and at right tackle.
Indianapolis Colts: Right Guard
Indianapolis has done a much better job over the past couple of years of making the offensive line better and are rock solid from left tackle to center and have some quality young pieces at right tackle. The only hole is at right guard where Denzelle Good has struggled. While a Joe Haeg, LeRaven Clark or Zach Banner could get a look, adding a true guard would have been a good idea.
Jacksonville Jaguars: Defensive Tackle
Slowly but surely the Jaguars have built up their defense through the draft and some high priced free agents. The team has blue chip players at all three levels but there is one glaring need at the nose tackle position. Jacksonville has Malik Jackson and quality backups in Mike Bennett and Sheldon Day, but they don’t have anyone to control the middle of the line and help stop the run.
Kansas City Chiefs: Cornerback
While Terrence Mitchell emerged last year it was the first time in four teams he made an impact. Kansas City was right to go into next year with him as a starter, but adding some insurance in case he regressed would have been wise.
Los Angeles Chargers: Defensive Tackle
For the Chargers new 4-3 Seattle style defense to be its most effective they need a defensive tackle that can penetrate and be an inside pass rusher. Corey Liuget has never provided that and the Chargers lack anyone on the roster that can.
Los Angeles Rams: Offensive Guard
Adding Andrew Whitworth at left tackle was a huge get for the Rams as him and hopefully a rebounded Rob Havenstein can lock down the edges of the Rams offensive line. Inside is an issue where Saffold is solid but unspectacular and Greg Robinson hopes to rebound his career there. However, if Robinson continues to struggle the Rams lack anyone behind that can provide help. Developing Goff is their top priority and if they can’t protect him that can stunt his growth.
Miami Dolphins: Offensive Guard
With Leremy Tunsil moving outside to tackle the guard position becomes a big need with Jermon Bushrod manning the right side. Issac Asiata was drafted in the fifth round and he should challenge for the right guard position, but that leaves the left side to a couple of journeymen in Anthony Steen and Ted Larsen. While doesn’t seem like a bad option going into next year but when you factor in the hip issues center Mike Pouncey is dealing with adding another guard who could start in case Larsen has to play center would have been wise.
Minnesota Vikings: Offensive Tackle
Offensive line issues where so bad the Vikings needed to revamp their offensive line. They brought in Riley Reiff and Mike Remmers which is an upgrade over what they’ve had but Reiff is more of a right tackle with eleven draft picks you would have thought adding a developmental left tackle would have been wise so that Reiff could move to the right side in the future.
New England Patriots: Linebacker
For a team that is a perennial Super Bowl contender there is not many holes in their roster. One exception could be at linebacker where they traded away Jamie Collins last year while they never truly replaced him. Sure they have role players in Shea McLellin and Kyle Van Noy but the lack that playmaker in coverage that Collins provided.
New Orleans Saints: Linebacker
New Orleans had to improve their defense if they wanted to be a playoff contender and they invested five of their seven picks in the draft on defense. The secondary looks better along with adding some pieces to their defensive line. However, the linebacker core still looks unsettled. Stephone Anthony hasn’t developed as a late first round pick while AJ Klein and Manti Te’o are free agent pickups but haven’t played great. They did draft Alex Anzalone but he hasn’t been able to play a full season in college which raises big questions.
New York Giants: Offensive Tackle
Ereck Flowers has not lived up to being as a 10th overall prospect and there are big questions if he can handle playing on the outside. Instead of fortifying their offensive line the Giants brought in Chargers guard cast off DJ Fluker and only drafted Adam Bisnawoty in the sixth round. The Giants quick strike attack can help, but that didn’t stop defensive ends from attacking Eli Manning.
New York Jets: Offensive Tackle
The Jets’ offense was a mess last year and the quarterback gets a lot of the blame but the offensive line was not great either. Ryan Clady was let go while the only thing they did was sign Jaguar cast off Kelvin Beachum. Even if Beachum can regain his Pittsburgh glory the Jets have Brandon Shell who isn’t starting caliber. Expect struggles again for the Jets.
Oakland Raiders: Edge Pass Rusher
Oakland’s pass rush was a big issue as they finished with the fewest sacks in the NFL despite having all world Khalil Mack. The big problem is that is all they have. Getting Mario Edwards back full time with help inside but they had to rely on Bruce Irvin as a regular pass rusher way too often. If the Raiders could have gotten another edge rusher opposite of Mack could do wonders to help a secondary that struggled.
Philadelphia Eagles: Running Back
Running back was such an issue for the Eagles that they had to use Darren Sproles as their feature back. LeGarrette Blount was a late signing which will give them a power back, but he’s struggled to make a difference outside of New England and they were exactly trying to get him back. With such a big need it was surprising the Eagles didn’t target a traditional back rather than going with the undersized quick back in Pumphrey.
Pittsburgh Steelers: Inside Linebacker
It wasn’t a huge surprise that the Steelers let Lawrence Timmons walk as he struggled this past year. But without signing or drafting a replacement the Steelers would have been better off with Timmons. Pittsburgh has to hope Vince Williams plays better than last year or that undrafted free agent Keith Kelsey can contribute. And this is all said with the fact that Ryan Shazier has injury issues.
San Francisco 49ers: Edge Pass Rusher
Getting Solomon Thomas was big for the 49ers as he was one of the best players in the draft and his pass rushing skills fits exactly in their Seattle style scheme. The problem is Thomas is at his best rushing inside and both DeForrest Buckner and Arik Armstead are not the bend edge rushers this team lacks. Right now Aaron Lynch is projected as their best edge rusher but outside of one season he hasn’t be able to be counted on. This defense thrives having a good weakside edge rusher and they don’t have anyone.
Seattle Seahawks: Offensive Line
It seems crazy that a team this good has such line issues, but they’ve chosen to spend their money elsewhere. Even though they spent a second round pick on Ethan Pocic the Seahawks could have always did more. Pocic will get a good look at tackle, but if they could have gotten someone with left tackle potential this could have helped the team even more.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Offensive Tackle
With the offense continuing to develop the Buccaneers still have some issues along the offensive line. Mainly at left tackle where Donovan Smith has continued to struggle. His best move might be inside to guard which is also an issue for the Bucs. It was tough as the draft class was thin on offensive tackles and the free agent market was well over priced. Tampa will have to roll with Smith this year but it could be a top target in next year’s draft.
Tennessee Titans: Interior Pass Rusher
Without many needs and a productive offseason there isn’t a ton of holes on their roster. One big one may be at defensive tackle rushing the passer. Jurrell Casey is a stud but Karl Klug is having a to come back from Achilles injury and may not be ready for camp. By adding another pass rusher would have really helped out this defense if Klug isn’t able to recover his past athletic ability.
Washington Redskins: Quarterback
With Kirk Cousins being franchised for a second straight year and no long term contract in sight it doesn’t look promising for him to come back. Instead of targeting a quarterback to develop the Redskins went all in on this next season. If/When Cousins does leave the Redskins will either have to go all in with a rookie quarterback or hope that Colt McCoy can keep them as a playoff contender.