2022 Draft: Team Priorities

2022 Draft Team Priorities

1. JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS: For Year II of the Trevor Lawrence era, the Jaguars have to find him some more explosive weapons if they are to have any hope of scoring more than 15 PPG, the second lowest total in the NFL this fall. Incumbent starting WRs Marvin Jones and Laviska Shenault, for example, are decent enough complimentary receivers, but neither averages more than 11 yards a catch and they have scored just four TDs between them. The Jags are also facing some major reconstruction on the OL which will likely lose several starters, including LT Cam Robinson, to free agency this off-season. Unfortunately, the Jags also aren’t any more great shakes on the other side of the ball. OLB Josh Allen does give them a burst off one edge, but they get almost no pass rush from the DL. Meanwhile, the secondary, which had only 5 interceptions all season, is journeyman territory pretty much right across the board.

Top priorities: WR, OT, DE; CB  Other needs: S, C/G, DT, TE, LB

2. DETROIT LIONS: The Lions obvious #1 priority is to find an ultimate replacement for QB Matt Stafford. Jared Goff did come the other way in the Stafford trade with the Rams, but he was generally considered more of a temporary placeholder added to the deal primarily for salary cap reasons. Goff, though, had a halfway decent season and could give the Lions a reason not to force a pick on the position in 2022 if they don’t see any of this year’s QB class as worthy of the #2 pick overall. The ‘good’ news for the Lions – and we say so only in facetious terms – is that they have plenty of other issues to address if a QB they like isn’t there. Start with the pass rush which gets some pressure from their OLBs, but almost none at all from the defensive line. They also nothing that resembles a decent deep threat at WR and while 3rd year CB Armani Oruwaiye has emerged as one of the better young corners in the league – he had 6 of the team’s 11 picks this year – he’s the pretty much the only guy the Lions have back there who can cover anyone. In fact, the Lions could probably use upgrades right across the board including at ILB, safety and the interior of the offensive line.

Top priorities: QB; DE; WR  Other needs: CB; LB; S; C/G

3. HOUSTON TEXANS: Its hard to project where the NFL’s most dysfunctional team goes this off-season until the Texans are able to move on from QB DeShaun Watson who spent the season on the trading block after he became embroiled in a messy sexual assault scandal last summer. The Texans didn’t get what they were asking for prior to last year’s trade deadline – and they were asking for a lot including three first round picks – for Watson who, when he’s not getting massages, is one of the best young passers in the league. However the Watson situation is resolved, it appears that the Texans might be content to see how 2021 third rounder Davis Mills develops after a solid enough rookie season. And that should allow the Texans to look at other positions of what appears to be a massive rebuild that will likely begin with the OL if, as expected, LT Laremy Tunsil follows Watson out the door after pretty much choosing to sit out the year with a thumb injury. The Texans do have a decent receiver in Brandin Cooks, but no other wideout had more than 35 catches on the season, while their top TEs are likely headed for free agency. On the other side of the ball, DE Jonathan Greenard had a nice season, but got almost no help from anybody else up front, while the Texans created another vacancy at LB when they released Zach Cunningham, who led the league in tackles just a year ago, for failing to show up for a Covid test late in the season.

Top priorities: QB; OT, WR, DE  Other needs: LB; TE, RB, C/G, DT

4-10. NEW YORK JETS: The Jets hope they may have found their QB of the future in Zack Wilson, the second player selected at the 2021 draft, who had a decent rookie campaign. The Jets also think they may have gotten a gem in WR Elijah Moore, their second round pick, but he’s more of a slot guy and they still need a true #1 receiver, along with a feature RB and an improved offensive line. Unfortunately, for the Jets they have even bigger issues on the other side of the ball where the league’s 32nd rated defense allowed almost 30 points per game. The secondary, which had just 5 picks, with only two by a corner, was particularly vulnerable, while the Jets also lack a dominant edge rusher.

Top priorities: CB, WR, DE; S  Other needs: RB, C/G

5-7. NEW YORK GIANTS: The Giants entered the season with visions of being able to use their 2022 draft haul to finally address some major issues on defense. The team that coined the phrase ‘you can’t have enough people who can rush the passer’ hasn’t taken an edge rusher in the opening round in over a decade and it shows, although rookie OLBs Az Ojulari and Quincy Roche give them some hope for a future pass rush. At the same time, the Giants just have to get faster at ILB. However, the hoped for improvement from the offense just never came as the Giants averaged barely 17 PPG. On the one hand, they just couldn’t keep their skill position players on the field, while the revamped offensive line just never jelled. The Giants could ultimately address the interior OL in free agency, but may be forced to go back to the draft – again – to address the situation at RT. It also wouldn’t be a total shock if the Giants used one of their #1 picks this year on WR. Then there’s the question of what to do with QB Daniel Jones, who hasn’t made the kind of progress the Giants were expecting to see when they selected him with the 6th pick overall in 2019, although in truth, he has still never had much to work with, either on the OL or the skill positions.

Top Priorities: RT, DE, WR  Other needs: TE, C/G, ILB

6. CAROLINA PANTHERS: The Panthers gambled when they traded with the Jets for reclamation project Sam Darnold. It didn’t work; neither did bringing back Cam Newton which puts Carolina squarely in the market for a major upgrade at QB. And whatever they ultimately opt to do at QB, the e Panthers will also almost certainly be looking to upgrade the offensive line, especially OT, after conceding more than 50 sacks this fall. On the other side of the ball, Carolina could look to add another DE to complement rising stars Hassan Riddick and Brian Burns who combined for 20 sacks on the year, but no other defensive lineman had more than 4. They could also use an upgrade at CB after struggling with injuries at the position this fall.

Top Priorities: QB, OT, DE, CB  Other needs: TE, C/G, WR

7. CHICAGO BEARS: (Note: The 7th pick actually belongs to the NY Giants; see pick #5): The Bears have their collective fingers crossed that they found their QB of the future when they traded up with the Giants to grab Justin Fields with the 10th pick at the 2021 draft. Fields did flash at times this season, but just not enough times as he finished with a sub-60% completion rate, while throwing more picks than TDs. It would certainly help Fields going forward, though if the Bears could improve their OL which was one of the league’s worst and gave up almost 60 sacks. The Bears also have a big-time need at WR which could get even more urgent if Allen Robinson leaves via free agency. And while the Bears’ D was a top-5 unit this fall, they could still use some upgrades at CB, ILB and DE.

Top Priorities: OT, WR, C/G  Other needs: CB, ILB, DE/DT

8. ATLANTA FALCONS: Another year; another round of questions whether the Falcons look to find a replacement for QB Matt Ryan, who’ll be playing in his 15th season next fall. The most likely answer is probably not, as Ryan is still reasonably productive. However, he could use some help on a unit that was 27th in scoring in the NFL in 2021. Rookie TE Kyle Pitts, the 4th pick in last year’s draft, was worth every penny, but elsewhere the Falcons got by with a leading rusher (Cordarelle Patterson) was is actually a WR, and no WR who gives them much of a deep threat, while the offensive line needs an upgrade, especially at RT, after giving up 40 sacks. However, the Falcons biggest need may actually on the other side of the ball where they simply couldn’t rush the passer. Indeed, the Falcons averaged barely a sack a game and didn’t have anyone at either DE or OLB with even 5 sacks, and only one with more than two. At the same time, the Falcons could also use upgrades at both LB and safety, but both those pale in comparison with the need upfront.

Top Priorities: DE/OLB, WR, OT  Other needs: RB, LB, S C/G, QB

9. DENVER BRONCOS: Could this be the year the Broncos get serious at QB. Teddy Bridgewater has been serviceable enough, but is far from elite, while Drew Lock has never developed the way the team had hoped. And it appears that the Broncos first-round pick is right around where one would expect the QBs to start coming off the board this coming April. At the same time, the Broncos are without a top edge rusher after trading OLB Von Miller to the Rams, while Bradley Chubb has been good when healthy, but he has struggled mightily with injuries including an ACL in 2019 and ankle and shoulder problems this year. And while its maybe not quite as critical, Denver doesn’t have much speed or range at ILB and could also use an infusion of fresh legs pretty much right across the offensive line.

Top priorities: QB, DE/OLB, ILB  Other needs: OT, OG

10. SEATTLE SEAHAWKS: (Note: The 10th pick actually belongs to the NY Jets; see pick #4). Was there a more disappointing team in the NFL this year than the Seahawks who were expected to be in the thick of the battle for the NFC West title, but instead bumbled and stumbled their way to a 7-win season made all the worse by the fact they had traded their #1 to the Jets last year. The immediate story line in Seattle, of course, will be what happens with QB Russell Wilson. Needless to say if he’s traded, the Seahawks will need a replacement. And whoever ultimately is the Seahawks’ QB next fall the offensive line will need some reinforcements with as many as 3 starters from a unit that allowed almost 50 sacks listed as potential free agents. At the same time, Seattle’s once-proud defense also needs an infusion of talent after allowing more yards than all but two other teams this year, especially at DE and CB. Indeed, the Seahawks had only two players with more than two sacks this year and none had more than 7. Meanwhile, the secondary was a very un-Legion of Doom-like 31st against the pass this year.

Top Priorities: QB (?), DE, CB, OT  Other needs: C, LB

10. WASHINGTON NO-NAMES: The Groundhogs have probably gotten about as much as they can out of QB Taylor Heinicke and probably need to go back to the positional well once again after the ill-fated Dwayne Haskins pick didn’t work out a couple of years ago. Washington also likely needs to upgrade the interior offensive line, and that’s even if veteran anchor Brandon Scherff doesn’t leave in free agency. Meanwhile, they could also use a better option at their #2 receiver slot opposite Terry McLaurin. At the same time, the Groundhogs also have some concerns on the other side of the ball which ranked 27th in the league this year. It will certainly help to get DE Chase Young, the second player picked at the 2020 draft, back after he tore an ACL mid-way through the season, but the Groundhogs could also look to upgrade in the secondary at both CB and safety and at LB.

Top Priorities: QB, OG, CB   Other needs: WR, LB, S

12. MINNESOTA VIKINGS: Another disappointing season for the Vikings who lost 8 times this fall by a TD or less. In order to get over the hump, the Vikings will probably look to address the NFL’s 31st ranked passing defense. It certainly didn’t help that star DE Danielle Hunter missed the second half of the campaign with a pectoral injury after averaging almost a sack per game through the first half. That should have the Vikings looking for a little security at DE as Hunter also missed most of the previous season with a herniated disc. They could also look to add some more speed at CB, while they could also to look at OLB if veteran Antony Barr leaves via free agency. The Vikings are a little more settled on the other side of the ball, but could look for upgrades at TE and OG. All this assumes, of course, that the Vikings don’t opt for something a little more drastic like moving on from QB Kirk Cousins, although that’s probably a more likely move for next season if they don’t make the playoffs next fall.

Top priorities: DE, OLB, CB  Other needs: TE, OG

13. CLEVELAND BROWNS: The big question in Cleveland is whether QB Baker Mayfield is the right guy for the Browns going forward. His numbers this year, for example – 61% completion rate with just 17 TDs versus 13 picks – just isn’t the stuff championships are made of, but the early buzz is that the Browns opt to give him at least one more prove-it year. If they do decide to stick with Mayfield, though, the Browns will probably want to give him a true #1 target as they had no receiver with more than 600 yards this fall. They’ll also likely want to upgrade at RT. Meanwhile, there could be another major hole to fill on the other side of the ball if DE Jadevon Clowney isn’t retained.

Top priorities: WR, DE, OT  Other needs:: LB, DT, S, QB (?)

14. BALTIMORE RAVENS: The Ravens looked playoff bound after getting off to an 8-3 start, but came up short as a result a 5-game losing streak with star QB Lamar Jackson out with an injury. To get back into the mix next fall the Ravens have to address an untenable sack gap that saw them allow more than 20 more sacks this year than they manufactured. On the one hand, they need to address the offensive line which allowed 58 sacks, especially at OT, although re-upping versatile G/T Patrick Mekari certainly helped. On the other hand, the Ravens had only defender post as many as 5 sacks this season and need a DE and/or OLB who can get after the QB. Meanwhile, the offense could use a true feature back to take some of the ground-game pressure off QB Jackson, while the Ravens could also be interested in DTs and LBs on the other side of the ball.

Top priorities: OT (2); DE/OLB; RB  Other needs: C/G, DT, L

15. MIAMI DOLPHINS (Note: The 15th pick actually belongs to Philadelphia; see pick #19; the Dolphins will pick with the 49ers selection which is still TBD by playoff results): The $64K question around the NFL this past season was whether Miami would pull the trigger on a blockbuster trade for embattled Houston QB DeShaun Watson. All that happened, though, before the Dolphins rebounded to post a 7-game win streak that came up just short of a playoff berth, although a pretty good case can be made that it was the defense that actually keyed the rally. It also happened before the Dolphins unceremoniously fired head coach Brian Flores, the guy Watson wanted to play for in Miami. All this suggests that the Dolphins won’t be part of any deal for Watson going forward, and they almost certainly aren’t likely to be inclined to part with the huge package of picks the Texans are reportedly seeking. And whoever ends up calling the signals next fall, the Dolphins will likely focus their 2022 draft on upgrading the offensive line starting with the OTs. They would probably also like to add a true feature back. On other hand, the rising young defense is pretty well set for the next 2-3 years, but could be in the market for a pass-rushing end if free-agent-to-be DE Emanuael Ogbah takes his 9 sacks elsewhere this off-season.

Top priorities: OT, C, OG, RB  Other needs: DE(?), DT, LB

16. INDIANAPOLIS COLTS: (Note the 16th pick actually belongs to Philadelphia; see pick #19.) Curious situation evolving in Indianapolis which ended up giving up their first-round pick to Philadelphia in order to acquire QB Carson Wentz, but are now making noises that he may not in fact be their guy for the future after they lost their final two games, including a devastating season-ending loss to bottom-feeder Jacksonville, to crash out of the playoffs. Without a #1 pick, though, the Colts aren’t likely to be addressing the position in any serious way this coming April. Whoever, ends up taking snaps with the Colts will have two rising stars to work with in RB Jonathan Taylor, who should be very much in the MVP discussion after rushing for over 1,800 yards this fall, and WR Michael Pittman, who had over 1,000 receiving yards. However, the Colts could look to add another target or two as no other receiver had over 400 yards. The Colts could also have an issue at LT where incumbent starter Eric Fisher struggled after coming back from an Achilles’ injury. Meanwhile, on the other side of the ball, the Colts didn’t have a DE or OLB with as many as 6 sacks and could look to upgrade their outside pass rush.

Top priorities: QB(?), LT, WR, DE/OLB  Other needs: CB, TE, G/C

17. LOS ANGELES CHARGERS: The Chargers came oh-so close to making into the playoffs, but that dramatic last-second loss to Las Vegas in OT to wrap up the season, has them on sidelines once again. And to get over the hump and back into the playoff picture, the Chargers will have to address a leaky defense that allowed 27 points per game, tied for 29th in the league. The Chargers have to get more physical upfront at both NT and DE, plus they need to get OLB Joey Bosa, and his 10.5 sacks, some help rushing the passer as no other LA defender had as many as 5. At least on paper, the offense doesn’t have as many issues, but have both WR Mike Williams and TE Jared Cook coming up on free agency. And then there’s pesky problem out at RT.

Top priorities: DT, DE, RT, WR  Other needs: TE, ILB

18. NEW ORLEANS SAINTS: The Saints took a chance and stayed in-house to try and replace QB Drew Brees who retired at the end of last season. It didn’t work as the Saints, a perennial offensive powerhouse with Brees at the helm, finished the year with the NFL’s 27th ranked offense overall and the 31st rated passing attack. Along the way the none of the three QBs who took turns replacing Brees completed over 60% of their pass attempts, although veteran Jameis Winston did throw 14 TD passes against just three picks. However, he’s not really a viable long-term option which likely have the Saints looking for an alternative somewhere in this year’s draft. It will certainly help if the Saints could get all-star WR Michael Thomas back next fall as he did not play at all this year because of an ankle problem. Given the uncertainty there, New Orleans could also be looking for a little more security at the position. The Saints could also look for a more dynamic option at TE, while they could use upgrades a long the offensive front and in the secondary, especially on the corner,

Top priorities: QB, WR  Other needs: TE, CB, OT, S

19. PHILADELPHIA EAGLES: The Eagles figure to be the busiest team in this year’s opening round with three picks which certainly will give them lots of options. And they could conceivably go in one of several directions, although one would think that upgrading a pass rush that produced just 29 sacks will likely be a priority, especially with vet DEs Derek Barnett and Brandon Graham (who only played in two games) possibly on the move this off-season. The defense also has decent players at both safety and OLB, but don’t get many impact plays from anyone at those spots. At the same time, the Eagles would probably like to add a big, physical WR to play opposite 2021 first rounder DeVonta Smith who’s not. Center could also be a bit of an issue if, as expected, veteran C Jason Kelce retires or is released prior to the start of the 2022 season. All of this assumes, of course, that the Eagles don’t make some kind of splash move at QB. Jalen Hurts had a nice second half of the season as he lead the Eagles to 6 wins in their final 8 games to sneak into the playoffs. But he did a lot of his leading with his legs rather than his arm. Indeed, Hurts actually ended up leading the Eagles in rushing, but there are questions if he has the arm talent to win on a consistent basis against better teams.

Top priorities: DE, WR, QB (?)  Other needs: S, OLB, C

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