San Francisco 49ers- Every position. I apologize 49er fans, but your roster is a mess. There does not seem to be a clear, young core to build around. The main problem? Former general manager Trent Baalke was terrible at drafting, and the current roster has suffered from the lack of young talent. First-time general manager John Lynch has a tall task in front of him.
Chicago Bears- Secondary. The Bears, on the other hand, are moving in the right direction. GM Ryan Pace has done a good job solidifying parts of the roster, but this is a crucial offseason. This draft is loaded with defensive talent, and I expect Pace to go defense-heavy and try to go back to that old-school Bears mentality, and win on defense.
Cincinnati Bengals- Offensive Line. This unit was a mess all season long. The guard play was excellent, but outside of Andrew Whitworth and Kevin Zeitler, Andy Dalton was getting hit regularly. The bad news? Both starting guards are free agents this offseason. The Bengals do have a good amount of cap space to spend, so expect them to fortify this unit.
Buffalo Bills- Quarterback. I would’ve gone to the defensive side of the ball, but a scheme change to a base 4-3 should help the defense. On offense? Tyrod Taylor looks to be out of Buffalo after an inconsistent season, and the Cardale Jones/EJ Manuel experiment seems to be over. With a solid running game, they can take it easy, if they draft a quarterback, and develop him. D
Denver Broncos- Offensive Line. Outside of center Matt Paradis, the offensive line was a dumpster fire for the reigning champs. It led to an ineffective ground game, which put the burden on first-year starter, Trevor Siemian, and the offense was largely inept. It all starts up front, and John Elway would be wise to invest money and draft picks to solidify the unit.
Cleveland Browns- Pass rush. This offseason for the Browns is very crucial. They have young pieces to build around on both sides of the ball, and it’s time for them to acquire some top-end free agents, and use their draft picks wisely. On defense, I am a firm believer of pass rush first, then acquire secondary help. Myles Garrett with the #1 overall pick makes a lot of sense for the struggling franchise.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers- Defensive line. As I’ve said before, a pass rush should always be priority number one on defense. Outside of Gerald McCoy and Robert Ayers, the Buccaneers got very little help. This draft class is loaded with defensive line talent, so it would make sense to start giving the defense some much needed help up front.
Arizona Cardinals- Offensive line. This offseason is one to monitor for the Cardinals. Their defense played at a high level, but there are a ton of free agents on that side of the ball. On the other side, the offensive line was abysmal, and running back David Johnson still had a stellar year. Add some pieces to the line, and the running game will dominate, and allow Palmer to take a back seat, at his advanced age.
Los Angeles Chargers- Offensive line. There are a lot of bad offensive lines in the league, but this one is really bad. The bright spot was center Matt Slauson, and he did not even play that well. Philip River’s interceptions were high, but he was being pressured on almost every passing play. In a loaded free agent class for big men, time for the newest relocated team to spend some dough for the trenches.
Kansas City Chiefs- Wide receivers. Tyreek Hill can change the complexion of the game. Other than him? There is not much help on the outside for quarterback Alex Smith, and that was evident in their playoff loss against the Steelers. This group needs another playmaker.
Indianapolis Colts- Defense. This defense needs a complete overhaul. The only position I would consider a strength is free safety, where Mike Adams has held down his own. Other than that, they need interior defensive linemen, edge rushers, linebackers and cornerbacks. New GM, Chris Ballard, has a lot of work to fix former GM, Ryan Grigson’s mess.
Dallas Cowboys- Defensive line. Defensive coordinator, Rod Marinelli, deserves a lot of credit for what he was able to accomplish with an undermanned front seven. Now, it’s time to get him some talent up front. David Irving showed flashes of being a dominant edge rusher, but the Cowboys need help on the interior and on the edge of the line.
Miami Dolphins- Linebackers. Head coach Adam Gase is one of the few bright head coaching minds, and he did a terrific job in South Beach. The defense will get better as they get healthier, since they were missing safety Reshad Jones and cornerback Byron Maxwell down the stretch. An upgrade is needed at linebacker though, as Kiko Alonso was their only decent linebacker. Expect the Dolphins to try to get Alonso a running mate.
Philadelphia Eagles- Running back. The Eagles do have a pressing need at the wideout position, but a young quarterback’s best friend is a solid running game to lean on. Darren Sproles is an excellent receiver out of the backfield, but they do not have a bell cow back. The Eagles have a terrific offensive line, so a heavy dose of the running game will help out Carson Wentz, with play action pass plays down the field.
Atlanta Falcons- Run stopping defense. The Falcons defense is built to play with a lead, since a lot of their front seven players can either get after the passer, or are excellent in coverage. If they are behind though, the defense struggles mightily. They simply do not have the big men in the middle of the defense who can withstand double teams, and their linebackers are too small.
New York Giants- An offensive identity. The Giants’ defense was stellar throughout the season, but the same can not be same about the offense. It was Odell Beckham or bust. The offensive line, particularly the tackles, struggled, and the running game was nonexistent. Head coach Ben McAdoo is an offensive mind, so his full focus should be improving that side of the ball.
Jacksonville Jaguars- Quarterback. After showing improvement in his second year, Blake Bortles took a massive step back in his third year. His mechanics and his inability to go through his reads effectively are major obstacles that he may not be able to hurdle. With a new head coach, Bortles could be on his way out, sooner rather than later.
New York Jets- Just about every position. I really can’t peg one position that needs to be upgraded with the Jets, because they have holes everywhere on the roster. The quarterback position looks to be Christian Hackenberg’s, after redshirting his rookie year. The offensive tackles need to be addressed, and so do the receivers, and the secondary, and the linebackers. You see what I’m saying?
Detroit Lions- Running back. The Detroit Lions have not ranked in the top half of the league in rushing yards/gm since 1998. Matthew Stafford was having an incredible year, before suffering a hand injury. If the Lions can add a talented running back in the backfield, they can contend for their first NFC North division title.
Green Bay Packers- Front seven. The Packers defense had a forgettable season, and it’s time to move forward. Mike Daniels, Nick Perry and Julius Peppers are all free agents to be, and Clay Matthews has regressed big-time, to the point where he might become a cap casualty. Daniels and Perry must be resigned if the Pack want to contend for another Super Bowl title.
Carolina Panthers- Secondary. The Panthers defense took a big step back after losing Josh Norman, who meant everything to their scheme. With the eighth overall pick in the upcoming draft, they should have a chance to draft a difference-maker in the secondary, that will tremendously help their secondary and improve the defense.
New England Patriots- Front seven. Chris Long, Alan Branch, Dont’a Hightower and Jabaal Sheard are all free agents after the Super Bowl. That’s three starters in their front seven. Expect Hightower to be resigned, or franchise tagged, but the rest of the front seven can be improved. Trey Flowers, Malcolm Brown and Dont’a Hightower figure to be mainstays for the present and future, but the Pats would be wise to add more dynamic talent if they want to stay a top defense.
Oakland Raiders- Defensive Interior. The Oakland Raiders have a very bright future, but they have some holes to fix. The defensive interior was weak, and teams were able to run up the middle, and step up in the pocket away from Khalil Mack and Bruce Irvin. For the Raiders defense to take a step forward, they need to get a difference maker in the middle.
Los Angeles Rams- Offensive line. Before we make any presumptions on quarterback Jared Goff, how about we see him have time to throw? Not only that, but the offensive line was never able to open holes for Todd Gurley, so let’s slow down on the ‘Goff is a bust’ narrative. The Rams need to target offensive linemen early, and often, to give Goff a running game to lean on, and some time in the pocket, and then all evaluations will be fair.
Baltimore Ravens- Wide receivers. It looks like Steve Smith will actually be retiring this season, which leaves Mike Wallace as the Ravens number one receiving option. That’s not ideal, even after a comeback season from the speedy receiver. Breshad Perriman is looking more and more like a bust, and Kamar Aiken is not a reliable option to get open.
Washington Redskins- Secondary. Aside from Josh Norman, this unit needs a lot of talent. Cornerback Bashaud Breeland had shown flashes in previous years, before taking a nosedive and getting burnt every game. The safety play was below par, and the defense as a whole struggled because of it. In a contested NFC East, the Redskins will need to shore up the secondary if they hope to contend.
New Orleans Saints- Defense. It’s astonishing that the Saints still have an atrocious defense. To have a need at nearly every position, year after year, and not improve the defense is mind boggling. It is time to bring some talent on that side of the ball. Other than Cameron Jordan and Nick Fairley, there is not much talent on the defensive side of the ball, so GM Mickey Loomis, it’s time to empty the pockets.
Seattle Seahawks- Offensive line. The offensive line play for the Seahawks this season was putrid, and that’s saying it lightly. They’ve traded away Max Unger, let J.R. Sweezy, James Carpenter and Breno Giacomini walk in free agency and that has led to the current talent drain. Time to surround their franchise quarterback with linemen that can actually block.
Pittsburgh Steelers- Pass rushers. The Steelers play zone defense about every defensive play, and without a pass rush, zone defenses essentially say ‘shred me’. Bud Dupree has come along, but you can’t expect one pass rusher to do much by himself. There are plenty of options in the draft, so expect the Steelers to go that route.
Houston Texans- Offensive line. I would put quarterback here, but the Texans will give Brock Osweiler another chance. In order for him to have a chance to succeed, they need a more effective running game than what they got last season. Most of the blame goes to the guard play, which was not good last season. Improving the running game should make life easier on Brock.
Tennessee Titans- Wide receivers. Marcus Mariota is a true franchise quarterback. The Titans have a dominant offensive line, a great running back, and the makings of a solid defense. All they need to do now is get Mariota a true #1 receiving option on the outside. Rishard Matthews and Delanie Walker are great secondary options, but if the Titans can add that dynamic playmaker on the outside, this team will be good for a very long time.
Minnesota Vikings- Offensive line. Sam Bradford is a good quarterback to have if the rest of the pieces are in place. He will not turn the ball over, and is very efficient in the short to medium routes. The Vikings offensive line was in shambles, which meant no running game, which meant an ineffective Vikings offense. Improve the offensive line, which improves the running game, which will improve the offense