Arizona Cardinals: Since 2000, the Arizona Cardinals have had three seasons with sub five wins and three seasons finishing first place in their division. That isn’t quite the stat fans of the newly found Josh Rosen era are proud to hang their hat on, but trust me there is good news on the horizon. The following years draft, 2001 and 2004, from the previous two sub five win seasons saw a combined six future pro bowlers drafted and two hall of fame caliber players. With that being said let’s dive into the biggest team need for the Red Sea going into the 2019 NFL Draft. The longevity of your quarterback needs to be at the fore front of issues for every team in the NFL. After allowing a combined 52 sacks in 2018, it is easy to that the Arizona Cardinals biggest need is on the offensive line. Lack of success in the trenches created an offense that was statistically last in passing and rushing yards. Don’t expect the bird-gang to use that coveted first overall pick on the offensive line though, look for them to address that need in the free agency and second round with a player such as Jawaan Taylor from Florida.
San Francisco 49ers: After signing Jimmy Garoppolo to what some have called a ludicrous contract, the San Francisco 49ers dealt with much uncertainty at quarterback during the 2018 season. Being at the number two spot in the upcoming draft needs to be looked at as a blessing for the franchise, since the belief around town is that the team experienced nothing more than a injury riddled season. Defensive mastermind and draft day risk taker, John Lynch, can seize the necessary opportunity to address the biggest team need; defensive back. With only two team interceptions on the season, you would be shocked to find out that even the 0-16 Detroit Lions had more team interceptions. Franchises looking for a future quarterback in Dwayne Haskins will surely be calling to trade up, which is where the fun can begin in San Francisco. By trading down, the Niners are putting themselves in the perfect position to grab either Deionte Thompson or Greedy Williams.
New York Jets: It has been awful for a team that once had moderate success during the days of the “man-genius”. After three straight losing seasons under head coach Todd Bowles, Gang Green has decided to move on from the historically defensive-minded head coach. This type of firing leads me to believe that the Jets are moving in a new direction scheme wise offensively and will want to protect the next “sanchize” quarterback, Sam Darnold. This brings us to the Jets biggest team need; offensive lineman. General Manager Mike Maccagnan historically has neglected the importance of drafting lineman, only drafting two offensive lineman since 2015, and only one is still currently on the roster. This should be the year though, with several teams below them scrambling for a franchise quarterback and teams above them going after defense. Jonah Williams must be a priority at this stage for the New York Jets.
Oakland Raiders: Raider Nation collectively took a sigh of relief after seeing the Chicago Bears quickly exit the playoffs, much like opposing quarterbacks felt relieved on a week to week basis facing the dreadful Oakland defense. Congratulations to the Raiders on becoming just the third team in a decade to have under 15 sacks as a team in a season, this is a perfect segway to the teams biggest need; defensive line. It will take a miracle for Nick Bosa to drop down to the fourth spot, but Quinnen Williams, who ended the season with a sack in five straight games, is no joke as a consolation prize for the Raiders. To further support my argument, I dug into defensive efficiency ratings and found a stat from the football outsiders which shows that against WR1s the team ranked first and against WR2s the team ranked fourth, but that doesn’t even matter since no pressure is put on the quarterback. You cannot allow quarterbacks to just sit in the pockets for seconds in today’s league. Jon Gruden will soon need to find an athlete “that wants to play here”
Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Regardless of what type of man you think that Jameis Winston is, he is surprisingly one of the most successful quarterbacks for his age. By the age of 25, his 88 touchdown passes, put him above the future hall of famer Peyton Manning and current gunslinger Matthew Stafford. And although offensive line is a major concern for a team that needs to address potentially two players, the bigger concern is cornerback. Numbers never lie and the numbers show that this season, quarterbacks against the Bucs were extremely accurate and effective as the team gave up the second highest numbers to completion percentage and QB rating in league history. Pair the stat above with the least takeaways and a whopping 376 yards allowed per game and you’ve got a recipe for disaster. Greedy Williams would bring the size needed to matchup with some of biggest receiving threats in the NFC South, but also the much needed takeaway ability.
New York Giants: Big Blue enters the NFL draft with only two top 100 picks meaning that they are going to need to hit the nail on the head with their first round selection. Many in media are beginning to question if the Giants even did just that in last years draft by selecting Saquon Barkley at number two overall. An obvious quarterback issue is looming over the team as Eli Manning’s production has fallen below average and his time in the league naturally due to age is coming to an end, but is this the year to throw all your eggs into the quarterback basket? In such a dominant defensive draft, why not address a bigger need such as the glaring linebacker problem. Defensive coordinator James Bettcher has made his living in the league coaching linebackers such as Dwight Freeney, Robert Mathis, John Abraham and Lorenzo Alexander. The National Defensive Player of the Year Josh Allen would be the perfect fit for this team that failed to create pressure on opposing quarterbacks, finishing second worst in sacks.
Jacksonville Jaguars: One year removed from contending in the AFC Championship game, Sacksonville being created, and a three year contract extension to Blake Bortles has left the NFL and fans of the Jaguars with more questions than they likely could’ve imagined. Naturally yes, a new quarterback needs to be put into place in a division that is full of young quarterbacks, two of which that made the postseason. But let’s not forget that only two players had more than five sacks for the Jaguars and one of those players is an aging Calais Campbell. Overall though the biggest need is quarterback and here’s why. Bortles has consistently throughout the years has finished among the bottom five quarterbacks in terms of completion percentage. Even in the two amazing playoff wins during the 2017 season, Bortles was extremely inaccurate. He threw for sub 55% completion ratings in both games and only combined for two touchdowns. Bortles inaccuracy has been cushioned by the dominant defense, it is time to make a change.
Detroit Lions: Given their high draft pick and the immense depth at the defensive end position, it is safe to say that the Detroit Lions would have no problem at all finding someone to bring more pressure onto opposing quarterbacks. This is a huge divisional concern especially with both the Chicago Bears and Minnesota Vikings ranking outside of the top 15 in most quarterback sacks, additionally the Lions are a team that hasn’t won their division since 1993. It will become a point of quality over quantity at pick eight for the Detroit Lions and their biggest need of cornerback. A feisty and energetic cornerback such as DeAndre Baker would bode perfectly for the style that Matt Patricia is trying to create. The possibility for a player such as Baker becomes more likely to happen to when you think about the scramble teams may make to get inside the top ten to solidify their own needs.
Buffalo Bills: You didn’t think we just forgot about offensive playmakers over here now did you! The Buffalo Bills were statistically top ten in both interceptions and forced fumbles in the league, top five in total yards allowed and first downs allowed, but yet none of that matters when your offense cannot keep up. After a full offseason of work, the big armed and surprisingly nimble on the run Josh Allen could surprise everyone and make major improvements in his game. That isn’t going to happen though if the teams receiving core is made up of Zay Jones, Robert Foster, and Isaiah McKenzie. Wide receiver is the main need for the Buffalo Bills, a position that lacks no production from prospects whatsoever. With a combined effort from the free agency and the draft, Bills fans will be treated to a barrage of weapons. My personal favorite option for the Bills would be Hakeem Butler who brings a rare combo of size, speed, red zone reliability and yards-after-catch ability.
Denver Broncos: Hello and goodbye head coach Vance Joseph, a man who brought back to back losing seasons to the city of Denver for the first time in 46 years. How did the Denver Broncos make their historic defensive run to the Super Bowl in 2015? Was it maybe Von Miller, the MVP of Super Bowl 50. No it couldn’t be, he recorded more sacks, tackles and tackles for loss this past season than in 2015. It all comes down to the quarterback and the lack of production from the position since Peyton Manning retired. The Broncos front office has had multiple chances to draft stellar young quarterbacks recently, but has failed to make the necessary moves to get into position. When talking about teams looking to trade up in the draft to land “their guy” at the quarterback position, the Denver Broncos should be at the forefront of that conversation. John Elway is running out of chances, time to go all in for Dwayne Haskins or quarterback of choice and hope it hits.