With the NFL Draft coming in less than three weeks, we’re starting to roughly get an idea of how many teams are going to approach what positions to take and how aggressive or conservative they’ll be. However, that might not always be what certain organizations should do given most of the time they have multiple avenues they can

Photo: Perry Knotts / Perry Knotts 2018

go down. There are some exceptions- the Jaguars NEED to take Trevor Lawrence with the #1 pick. The Jets NEED to take a quarterback at #2 now that they’ve moved on from Sam Darnold. But these are a few teams that don’t have a clear-cut path to take, and here’s what I WANT them to do to improve for 2021-2022 and beyond.

Atlanta Falcons- Draft a Quarterback to Red Shirt

The Falcons have an atrocious defense and already have Matt Ryan, whose contract they just restructured, but having a pick as high as #4 is not something to take for granted. Ryan is 35, and with a newly-hired, offensive-minded head coach in Arthur Smith, this loaded quarterback class would be perfect to execute the same model the Chiefs used with Alex Smith and Patrick Mahomes. Your new coach gets to hand-pick his own developing quarterback, give him a year to learn the NFL offense, and he gets to understudy a former MVP. The Falcons are too good of an offensive unit to land a pick this high again, and they need to evaluate their timeline and the rest of the division’s timeline, too. Tom Brady and the Bucs aren’t getting any younger, and the Saints and Panthers might be using stop-gap quarterbacks if Jameis Winston or Sam Darnold don’t work out. It would be smart for Atlanta to start getting younger in their key spots to not only have something to get excited about down the line, but to eventually be the NFC South’s team of the future.

Cincinnati Bengals- Protect Joe Burrow

Burrow has been lobbying for the Bengals to take his favorite receiver to throw to in college at LSU, Ja’Marr Chase, but the reality is that they need to sit down their franchise quarterback, who tore his UCL, MCL, and damaged his PCL and meniscus, and show him footage of Andrew Luck that ended his career early. Burrow was running for his life last year behind a terrible offensive line, and if they don’t improve significantly in that group, he has a death wish. Penei Sewell is an offensive lineman from Oregon that’s regarded as one of the best prospects at his position in years! It seems so simple to take him; the receiving class is deep, so they can get him another weapon later if they feel the need to, but they already drafted Tee Higgins last year and also have Tyler Boyd. When Andrew Luck finally got a decent offensive line in the twilight of his shortened career, it was like night and day with his success, and we also just saw how important protection was to Patrick Mahomes in his Super Bowl loss. Set the foundation for Burrow, who proved he can be great, and keep him healthy for years to come.

Denver Broncos- Don’t Draft a Quarterback- Improve the Offensive Line

The Broncos are in the running for the best offseason thus far- Von Miller will be back from injury, they added corners Ronald Darby and Kyle Fuller, and extended safety Justin Simmons to create a top-5 defense in the league. Last season during the draft, their focus was to give Drew Lock as many offensive weapons as he needed, as they drafted two receivers. 

Well, he had the weapons, and he took that beautiful Denver team and bludgeoned it to death with a mallet. I’m highly-convinced Drew Lock was bought into because when he was beating up on bad teams in 2019 there was a viral clip of him rapping Young Jeezy word-for-word on the sidelines and the media said, “this guy has swagger!!”

The Broncos are a team built to win now at essentially every position EXCEPT quarterback now that Lock has pretty much proven he’s not a franchise QB.But they still shouldn’t draft one if the right guy doesn’t fall to them. Denver has absolutely no merit whatsoever when it comes to picking quarterbacks. Outside of Peyton Manning, who they didn’t have to evaluate at all because he’s Peyton freakin’ Manning, over the years they have drafted Tim Tebow, Brock Osweiler, Trevor Siemian, Paxton Lynch, and now Drew Lock. They have been trapped in a cycle of having a great surrounding team with a revolving door of mediocre to bad quarterbacks. They should not be trusted with a roster this loaded to trade up for a quarterback. They need to hedge in the draft by either trading back or taking the best available by position, possibly Rashawn Slater or Penei Sewell to boost the offensive line. At quarterback, the need to pursue a veteran, who is a KNOWN commodity, rather than taking another gamble and risk falling back into the cycle of getting the wrong guy. With the amount of quarterbacks to have been rumored to be shopped this offseason, that might mean trading for someone like Teddy Bridgewater this year or even Matt Ryan, Jimmy Garoppolo, or Kirk Cousins next year, but this team is too good to draft another bust. Denver scouts should find out if Aaron Rodgers is a fan of the mountains.

New England Patriots- Trade Up For a Quarterback

The time is now in New England. They’ve already done the opposite of what they normally do in free agency by spending all of that money, so it would make sense to go against their normal habit of trading down in the draft by trading up. There’s no way that Bill Belichick, who is 68 now, wants to end his career with a whimper in the Cam Newton ground-ball era while Brady has already won a title without him. The roster filled itself out with their spending, so ushering in a rookie would take the pressure off of him as he won’t have to throw the ball a lot right out of the gate with how often they run the ball and signing two powerhouse tight ends. The first three picks are (reportedly) locked to take quarterbacks, so they would need to negotiate with teams like Atlanta, Detroit, or Carolina to work their way up to take one of the presumed 5 QBs that will be gone in the top 10. The rest of the AFC East has young quarterbacks in Josh Allen, Tua, and whatever rookie the Jets take. It’s time for Belichick to get in on the action to potentially start his final era.

Washington Football Team- Strengthen The Defense Even More

Washington’s defense is probably the single strongest unit in their entire division, and a young one as well. This offseason they added Ryan Fitzpatrick as a veteran stop-gap quarterback and Curtis Samuel as a receiving threat for their lackluster offense last year. Washington is likely out of the race to trade up and draft a quarterback this year given their draft position unless they were to one-up the forthcoming bidding war, so why not add even more firepower to your strength? Fitzpatrick proved he could hold his own as a game-manager, and it won’t take a lot to improve their offense, yet they STILL won the division last year! They could focus on building a dynastic defense all on the same age timeline, and given that pretty much all of the teams ahead of them will be taking pass-catchers or quarterbacks, they would have the cream of the crop of the defensive position players. Have a year with old man Fitzpatrick slinging it, and next year, when you have a top 10 salary to spend and a defense that will make it a very attractive destination, you can add a quarterback and potentially be a perennial NFC powerhouse.

Indianapolis Colts- Trade Up For a Receiver

The Colts had one of the most curious offseasons- they traded for Carson Wentz to go all-in on him as the franchise guy in hopes that his reuniting with Frank Reich can recapture the magic he had before he was injured, but then they essentially spent no money. They had a top-5 amount of cap space to spend with a roster that could potentially be Super Bowl-ready with a few extra additions, but pretty much all they did was re-sign T.Y. Hilton. They normally are an organization that prioritizes high-value, and wanting to save to eventually re-sign their playmakers down the line is understandable, but they could have used some aggression as opposed to just being frugal. They feel like they could be so close given their dominant defense and strong o-line that lays their foundation.

With Carson Wentz’s success being an unknown as he hasn’t ever looked the same since his injury, he needs things to be as easy as possible for him. He needs more options than throwing to a young Michael Pittman Jr. and an aging T.Y. The receiver draft this season is said to be as loaded as it’s ever been- they don’t need to pay a premium price and jump into the top 10, but moving up a few spots from a less-than-ideal position at pick 21 to get a real threat, like Jaylen Waddle, DeVonta Smith, or Rondale Moore could mean the world to Wentz unlocking that lightning in a bottle again.

Pittsburgh Steelers- Draft a Bell-Cow Running Back

It’s time to start thinking about the next chapter in Pittsburgh. Big Ben is going to be their quarterback one final season whether they like it or not as a “thank you for your service” situation. They started out 11-0 last year, but that was carried by their dominant defense, which now no longer has Bud Dupree or Mike Hilton. On top of that, their offensive line is torn apart with Maurkice Pouncey retired and Alejandro Villanueva unsigned.

While rebuilding the offensive line will be a priority, the Steelers suffered from being unable to score points last year because they had no balance at all. Roethlisberger is a stoic quarterback who has to take the ball in shotgun every play, so it’s not like they’re getting crafty with play-action or RPOs, and the terrible run game with a platoon of subpar running backs last year forced him to throw the ball almost 50 times a game. They averaged only 3.6 yards per carry last year- dead last!

With James Conner now unlikely to come back as a free agent, they need to get a premium carrier to balance the offense and take the pressure off of Big Ben if they want to have any chance in his final year. The most-unlocked the Steelers ever looked was when he was balanced well with prime Le’Veon Bell. They need to use their draft asset, which isn’t good enough to take a quarterback successor, to either trade back and take a running back that can take a lot of carries later in the draft or, depending on how the night actually shakes out, take one when they can. This will allow the Steelers to change the formula of their offense; they had a meltdown to end 2020 by not being able to run the ball. There will be several guys that are highly-regarded prospects that could be high-volume carriers available at their pick at #24, be it Clemson’s Travis Etienne, Alabama’s Najee Harris, or UNC’s Javonte Williams, but one of them needs to hit in Pittsburgh and be someone to lead the rushing attack for this year and years to follow the Big Ben era.

Comments are closed.

Check Also

Will New NFL Kickoff Rule End Scoring Droughts?

NFL owners have voted to tweak the rules regarding kickoff returns, which should see an in…