Every year NFL teams enter the draft with a game plan but sometimes, the execution simply leaves many scratching their heads. It’s an imperfect process to be sure and mistakes happen every year.
For instance, the Raiders had a need for a wide receiver in 2019, but selected Henry Ruggs over Jerry Jeudy and CeeDee Lamb. The Eagles in the same draft passed on Justin Jefferson for Jalen Reagor. The Cardinals drafted Andy Isabella over D.K. Metcalf.
Just to name a few.
To help avoid any further blunders, I’ve identified individual draft mistakes all 32 NFL teams must avoid making next month.
ARIZONA CARDINALS: WAITING TOO LATE FOR ANOTHER CORNERBACK
During last offseason, the Cardinals had a hole in the secondary at cornerback. Instead of addressing it right away, they waited until the later rounds to take flyers at the position.
They wanted to rely on older cornerbacks for the 2021 season but Malcolm Butler’s retirement threw a wrench in those plans. Luckily for them, this incoming cornerback class is stacked with depth and the Cardinals already added 2019 first-round pick Jeff Gladney in a move that shouldn’t preclude them from making further additions to the secondary. If General Manager Steve Keim doesn’t take a cornerback early on day two, he will have made yet another grave offseason mistake.
ATLANTA FALCONS: REACHING FOR A QUARTERBACK WITH THE EIGHTH PICK
The position the Falcons are in currently could have been avoided by selecting Justin Fields last draft but instead, franchise cornerstone Matt Ryan is now a Colt and journeyman Marcus Mariota is now under center with a shot to revive his career in a sense but remains a question mark.
That being said, with the eighth pick of the first round, the Falcons cannot reach for a quarterback.
Yes, a long-term starter is a desperate need but barring Malik Willis being on the board, the Falcons should just take the best player available. This roster has more holes to fill besides quarterback. So, if a high-ceiling QB is not available, don’t force it. Continue to build the roster with high-end talent no matter the position. That will better serve Atlanta in the long run.
BALTIMORE RAVENS: PASSING ON A CORNERBACK IN ROUND ONE
The Ravens secondary was decimated by injuries in 2021 and their top corner in Marcus Peters is returning from a torn ACL at the age of 29 with one-year left on his contract. Even with Peters, the talent in the secondary needs to be upgraded. Factoring the talent on both sides of the trenches and at wide receiver, the Ravens could have a top-tier cornerback prospect fall into their lap in the first round.
Passing on one of these talented prospects would be a huge mistake. Divisional quarterbacks Joe Burrow and Deshaun Watson present difficult tasks to defend and the AFC has raised its game to new heights. Adapt or get left behind.
BUFFALO BILLS: CONTINUING TO IGNORE THE SECONDARY CORNERBACK MARKET
Tre’Davious White is one of the best cornerbacks in the NFL. His impact on the Bills defense is evident and obvious. When he went down with an injury this past season, it left a sizable void in the secondary, which reared its ugly head in the overtime loss to the Kansas City Chiefs in the playoffs.
To make matters worse, the receiver that torched them for 11 receptions for 150 yards and one touchdown in that game was traded to a divisional foe. Tyreek Hill joins wide receiver Jaylen Waddle in Miami, thereby increasing the urgency to find a talented cornerback opposite of White for the Bills. The current cornerback room leaves a lot to be desired and Buffalo can’t afford to ignore the secondary cornerback position any longer.
CAROLINA PANTHERS: PASS ON DRAFTING A QUARTERBACK WITH THE SIXTH PICK
This team is in a weird place after Matt Rhule’s questionable trade for Sam Darnold a year ago. The move left them with one pick within the first three rounds and needs still at the quarterback position along with the offensive line.
And yet, this roster is ready to compete with a competent or good quarterback. Liberty’s Malik Willis could use some time to further his development but his legs will keep him in striking range. Pittsburgh’s Kenny Pickett has a high-floor with the ceiling not far from it. Nonetheless, draft one and have a plan for him. Sam Darnold cannot be your starter all season, unless you are admittedly tanking for 2022.
CHICAGO BEARS: PASS ON ADDING MORE WEAPONS FOR JUSTIN FIELDS
The weapons around Justin Fields are not world-beaters. The closes thing they had in Allen Robinson is now a Los Angeles Ram. General Manager Ryan Poles’ new regime has signed two veteran wide receivers in Byron Pringle and Equanimeous St. Brown to pair with young stud Darnell Mooney. Dazz Newsome is sure to gain some slot opportunities in camp.
Regardless, this position group still needs more talent. Those two second-round picks the Bears own should be used to select at least one talented wide receiver. The Bears are not in contention to make the playoffs at the moment but building around your quarterback is a step in the right direction.
CINCINNATI BENGALS: RESTING ON FREE AGENCY OFFENSIVE LINE ADDITIONS
A successful offseason in 2021 led to the Bengals to an AFC Championship and ensuing Super Bowl berth and they’ve wasted no time in going after a repeat performance with a reverse outcome. The offensive line was their downfall when it mattered most and as a result, they signed linemen Alex Cappa, Ted Karras and La’el Collins, making for a nice revamping of Burrow’s protection unit.
Karras, in particular, is a serviceable starting center but is not thought to be a long-term option. Not selecting an interior lineman to upgrade the level of talent in front of Burrow even further isn’t wise. My advice for Cincy? Don’t get complacent and continue to improve the most important unit on your team.
CLEVELAND BROWNS: IGNORING THE DEFENSIVE TRENCHES
The Browns have taken a big step forward offensively by swapping out quarterback Baker Mayfield for Deshaun Watson. Defensively, it’s a mixed bag. The secondary is their strength to be sure, while their defensive line can be seen as a weakness.
Jadaveon Clowney is a free agent after a 9.0-sack season. If he doesn’t return, that leaves a major void opposite of Myles Garrett, while the interior of the line is merely serviceable against the run and/or pass. Whether they decide to improve the edge or interior, the defensive line must be a priority.
DALLAS COWBOYS: PRIORITIZING WIDE RECEIVER OVER OFFENSIVE LINE
The Cowboys’ offense decided to part ways with a few offensive players this offseason, losing receivers Cedrick Wilson and Amari Cooper, which drastically changes the potency of their passing attack. They were at least able to keep Michael Gallup paired with CeeDee Lamb, but their depth has undeniably taken a hit.
To make matters worse, the offensive line is not as strong as it used to be. Adding an offensive lineman in the first round has more value to quarterback Dak Prescott’s success than forcing a receiver. Especially, with this talent pool of receivers, they can find a capable third wide receiver on day two.
DENVER BRONCOS: NOT USING PICK NO. 64 ON A RIGHT TACKLE
The Broncos’ fortunes changed for the better after trading for quarterback Russell Wilson earlier this offseason. Their roster has young and talented players on both sides of the football as an added bonus but tne area in most need of an upgrade is right tackle.
Finding a complementary bookend for left tackle Garrett Bolles will increase Wilson’s level of comfort in the pocket, which is something he did not have consistently in Seattle. Providing this offense with two bookend tackles is a good way to ensure they reach their potential.
DETROIT LIONS: NOT DRAFTING MALIK WILLIS AT NO. 2
Head Coach Dan Campbell did a good job as a first-year head coach. They are building something in the Motor City but Jared Goff is nothing more than a bridge/stop gap quarterback. Campbell must secure his potential franchise quarterback and prior to the draft process beginning, Willis would have been around late in the first round.
Now, that is far less certain with multiple quarterback-needy teams behind them in the top 10. The Lions have three picks within the top 34 and should draft Willis as their future quarterback, then use the following picks to draft the best player available.
GREEN BAY PACKERS: DOUBLE-DIPPING AT WIDE RECEIVER IN THE FIRST ROUND
The loss of an elite wide receiver like Davante Adams is a big one. But being desperate to fill the loss of Adams with two first round receivers is not logical. Yes, select a wide receiver in the first round but take the best player available with the second pick.
Quarterback Aaron Rodgers armed with Head Coach Matt LaFleur’s scheme can maximize the receiving talent on the roster, plus, they can find another receiving option later in the draft if they choose to.
HOUSTON TEXANS: NOT DRAFTING BEST PLAYER AVAILABLE
The Texans are giving quarterback Davis Mills another year as the starter, which signals the need to draft the best player available when they are on the clock. Houston should continue to add the best talent to this roster, which should allow them to grow and compete sooner than later.
INDIANAPOLIS COLTS: NOT FINDING RECEIVING PARTNER FOR MICHAEL PITTMAN JR.
The Carson Wentz days are over and quarterback Matt Ryan’s tenure begins. While Ryan is an upgrade from Wentz, the receiver position is average at best. Pittman is a good young receiver, sure, but Paris Campbell has not been able to stay healthy and T.Y. Hilton remains a free agent.
General Manager Chris Ballard must find a reliable ‘Z’ receiver and with that, the wide receiver corps could be complete.
JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS: NOT DRAFTING AN ‘X’ RECEIVER EARLY ON DAY TWO
Quarterback Trevor Lawrence has seen his fair share of changes after one lackluster season in the NFL: new coaching staff, improving offensive line and wide receivers. They have the ‘Z’ and slot receiver spots covered, but lack a true ‘X’.
With the first pick in the second round, they must target a potential number one. George Pickens and Christian Watson are sure to be available and Lawrence is used to athletic bigger framed receivers that can play above the rim. Adding one of them would go a long way for Jacksonville’s offense.
KANSAS CITY CHIEFS: SITTING AND WAITING FOR A WIDE RECEIVER TO FALL
Wide receiver Tyreek Hill’s amazing run with quarterback Patrick Mahomes has ended. They have added Marquez Valdez-Scantling and are projected to continue stacking through the draft. The premium talent at receiver is a bit top heavy so they should not sit and wait for a receiver at the end of the first round.
If Chris Olave, Garrett Wilson or even Jameson Williams falls to the late-teens, I believe KC should make a move. No one is Hill and shouldn’t be expected to be but adding a top-tier receiving prospect is sure to soften the blow of Hill heading to Miami.
LAS VEGAS RAIDERS: FORGETTING TO ADD MORE YOUTH ON THE DEFENSIVE EDGES
Mad Maxx Crosby is one of the best pass rushers in the NFL and the Raiders signed Chandler Jones to create a long and athletic rushing duo. However, Jones is 32 years old and is coming off an average overall 2021 campaign.
In a deep edge class, the Raiders must find a young rusher that can operate as a DPR (Designated Pass Rusher) to come off the bench on passing downs with fresh legs. The more bodies they can deploy to harass the talented passers in their division the better.
LOS ANGELES CHARGERS: PASS ON CHRIS OLAVE IN THE FIRST ROUND
The Chargers understood the assignment this offseason and absolutely nailed it. Heading into year three of Justin Herbert’s rookie contract, Los Angeles allocated the financial resources to build this team into a contender, leaving their draft picks as luxuries rather than necessities.
The missing piece could be Ohio State wide receiver Chris Olave. Picking at 17, if Olave falls into their hands, run the card to the commissioner. He is a great route runner with vertical speed and pairing him with Keenan Allen, Mike Williams and Josh Palmer would give Herbert a complete receiving corps. Adding more firepower to a rocket launcher like Herbert seems unfair.
LOS ANGELES RAMS: NOT ADDRESSING THE OFF-BALL LINEBACKER POSITION
The Super Bowl Champions do not have a large amount of holes to fill on their roster. General Manager Les Snead is known for not valuing draft picks and rather, shipping them for established stars. But it’s has paid off. As a result, their first pick is 104 in the third round as a compensatory pick. Finding another playmaker on the second-level of the defense will only help this team overall.
MIAMI DOLPHINS: PASSING ON KENNETH WALKER III
The Miami Dolphins have built quite an offense around quarterback Tua Tagovailoa this offseason. Why stop once the draft arrives? They have brought in two veteran running backs on short deals but this shouldn’t deter them from drafting one.
If for some unforeseen reason Kenneth Walker III falls to their third-round pick, make the call. Walker fits this outside-zone blocking scheme and is arguably the most explosive running back in this class. He can split time with Mostert and Edmonds until 2023.
MINNESOTA VIKINGS: NOT ADDING TALENT AT CORNERBACK
Quarterback Kirk Cousins returning means the Vikings plan to be a competitive football team this season. Adding another pass rusher opposite of Danielle Hunter was a step in the right direction.
Time to find a number one cornerback to build your coverages around. With their first-round pick landing inside the top 15, they will have the opportunity to nab one of the top prospects at the position. The state of the NFC has changed and the playoff landscape will look a bit different this season. The Vikings could very much contend but must continue to elevate this defense if they want to secure their postseason spot.
NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS: DRAFTING A WIDE RECEIVER IN THE FIRST ROUND
The Patriots’ offense was successful enough to make the playoffs but flamed out quickly after being unable to hang with the Bills high-octane offense. Most fans believe quarterback Mac Jones can take another step by drafting one of the talented receiver prospects.
Head Coach Bill Belichick’s history when drafting wide receivers is less than stellar. He has failed to draft receivers consistently over his coaching career so the best solution is likely drafting a cornerback or another defensive position of need. Belichick favors his offensive scheme and fitting established players into it rather than continually tailoring it to current talent and it’s rare to teach an old dog new tricks.
NEW ORLEANS SAINTS: DRAFTING A QUARTERBACK IN THE FIRST ROUND
Jameis Winston has re-signed and will hopefully have a healthy Michael Thomas back in the lineup at receiver. Even with Thomas’ return, this offense needs more talent around Winston.
Forcing a quarterback in the first round over one of these talented wide receivers does not move the needle. Give Winston more weapons with premium picks. They can draft a developmental quarterback on day two, but in the first round? Don’t force it.
NEW YORK GIANTS: NOT IMPROVING THE OFFENSIVE LINE FOR DANIEL JONES
Quarterback Daniel Jones has epitomized the phrase “turnover prone” early in his young career, but it may be unfair to put the onus solely on him. One thing’s for certain, the offensive trenches have lacked trustworthy talent and haven failed to give Jones confidence in the pocket or even open up running lanes for backs.
Jones has one last shot to earn more time in the Big Apple. Improving the protection, particularly on the right side of the line, should help him do it.
NEW YORK JETS: DRAFTING DRAKE LONDON WITH THE 10TH PICK
The Jets have needs at cornerback, wide receiver, edge rusher and possibly offensive line and the rumor mill has pinned USC wide receiver Drake London to the Jets at 10, but the value doesn’t fit in my opinion.
That being said, London is a good player. He has the prototypical ‘X’ receiver measurables but his actual game is better suited as a big ‘Y’/slot receiver. The risk of London struggling to threaten NFL defenders vertically and separate on the outside is not worth a top-10 selection, in my opinion. If I’m the Jets,I’d either double down on defense with a top pass rusher and cornerback or trade down for a wide receiver at a better value.
PHILADELPHIA EAGLES: NOT FINDING A LONG-TERM REPLACEMENT FOR JASON KELCE
Center Jason Kelce is closing in on retirement and the Eagles must have a contingency plan in place. The center is the quarterback of the offensive line and it’s not easy to replace a player of Kelce’s caliber.
If Tyler Linderbaum were to fall to the Eagles, they should make the selection. He is the ideal candidate to sit behind Kelce for a year before taking over. If they prefer to wait until day two, Dylan Parham should be there but either way, Philly is going to need to address the position.
PITTSBURGH STEELERS: NOT ADDING COMPETITION FOR MITCHELL TRUBISKY
Mitchell Trubisky is not the Steelers long-term option at quarterback. At best, he is a bridge quarterback for a rookie draft pick, which would mean the Steelers have to draft one. Ideally he’ll either push Trubisky to play his best immediately or take the reins as the franchise quarterback sooner rather than later.
That’s not to say the Steelers should take a quarterback for the sake of taking a quarterback, but Desmond Ridder, Carson Strong or Matt Corral can all be threats to Trubisky’s tenure and should be available in the late first/early second round.
SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS: NOT ADDING SPEED AT THE WIDE RECEIVER POSITION
One of the most fun offenses to study, the 49ers have a dominant run game and an elite tight end/receiver combination. One thing missing, however, is a field-stretching wide receiver. Especially with their propensity to throw off run fakes/play action, giving this offense a receiver that puts safeties on their heels will open the rest of the field.
SEATTLE SEAHAWKS: PASS ON SAUCE GARDNER WITH THE NINTH PICK
The Seahawks are in a weird position after trading quarterback Russell Wilson and releasing inside linebacker Bobby Wagner. Drew Lock is their starting quarterback at the moment and unless their top quarterback in the draft warrants a top-10 selection, I would not reach.
Cornerback Sauce Gardner is a scheme and culture fit. He has similar abilities to Richard Sherman and this is a defense that has struggled to remake their secondary post-Legion of Boom. Grab Gardner if he falls to ninne and rejoice.
TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS: PASS ON DRAFTING ZION JOHNSON
Quarterback Tom Brady’s return was great for the Buccaneers. Center Ryan Jensen has re-signed and they traded for Brady’s former teammate Shaq Mason to play right guard. All that leaves is the void from Ali Marpet’s retirement to fill.
Offensive lineman Zion Johnson is the ideal candidate for this position, helping to give Brady the protection he requires to slice and dice opposing defenses. They could add another receiver or cornerback, but over Johnson? That would be a bad decision considering the plug and play impact he would have on that line.
TENNESSEE TITANS: PASSING ON DRAFTING DESMOND RIDDER
The Titans have been a playoff team with quarterback Ryan Tannehill and while that’s great, he does not have the tools to lift them over the proverbial hump.
Therefore, it may be time to add a young, athletic quarterback to challenge Tannehill. Desmond Ridder is a fit for this offense and has the athleticism to even elevate it. He has a good arm but needs mechanical improvements that can be worked out with him sitting a year. Tannehill’s contract has a potential out on a post-June 1st cut with a dead cap of $9.6 million, while saving $27 million (per Overthecap). If Ridder is there, plan for the future instead of hoping Tannehill can take the next steps at 35 years old.
WASHINGTON COMMANDERS: PASSING ON MATT CORRAL IN THE SECOND ROUND
Quarterback Carson Wentz continues to be traded around the league and it is mind boggling at this point. Washington’s offense has some really nice pieces to make his job easier but is he the future? I think we would all say no. In round two, quarterback Matt Corral is staring them in the face like a UFC pre-fight weigh in. They simply have to select the quick-trigger quarterback. He has enough mobility to get you 6-10 yards on third down and arm talent to whip the ball to his weapons.
A year behind Wentz would allow him to learn a non-RPO-centric offense and develop as a professional quarterback. With the plan to start him as early as 2023, find your future signal caller Washington.
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