It’s my belief that to be as prepared as possible for what will come this weekend, it would be a good idea to look at the various needs of the 31 other NFL teams and how they could affect the needs of the Minnesota Vikings.
Since the are the league we play less, I’ll start with the AFC, and in this article, I’ll focus on the AFC North and South.
Picks: 22, 85, 102, 113, 123, 160, 191, 193
Top needs: WR, LB, IOL, EDGE, S
Analysis: Not even one team in and I’m not sure there’s a team that will be more focused in bringing in wide receiver talent from this year’s draft than the Ravens. To put it mildly, their best-known (and possibly even best) wide receiver is Willie Snead. Yeah. So much like the Vikings in 2016, they have almost pigeonholed themselves into needing to draft a first-round wide receiver.
Beyond that, the Ravens could use some help at linebacker, especially after losing Za’Darius Smith to the Packers and Terrell Suggs to the Cardinals, and could use a new left guard, since their current projected starter, Alex Lewis, has less than a full season under his belt in starts.
Picks: 11, 42, 72, 110, 149, 183, 198, 210, 211, 213, 223
Top needs: QB, LB, OT, TE
Analysis: While the Ravens are in desperate need of a talent influx at wide receiver, the Bengals need a talent boost at basically every other position on their offense. Andy Dalton is a bad quarterback and needs to be replaced, they need a new right tackle if they don’t want Bobby Hart of all players trying to protect their quarterback, and with how often Tyler Eifert is injured, they need a backup tight end behind him. They also finally released Vontaze Burfict, so linebacker is going to be a priority draft position for the Bengals as well.
Picks: 17, 49, 80, 95, 119, 144, 155, 170, 189, 221
Top needs: CB, S, IDL, LB, OT, IOL
Analysis: It’s been a while since anybody has been able to say it, but the Cleveland Browns have a shot at winning the AFC North this season, especially if they nail another draft. While their front four is likely to be among the best in the NFL this upcoming season, their secondary could use a boost in talent, especially at corner opposite Denzel Ward and at safety with Damarious Randall’s contract up after this season and Morgan Burnett only under contract for another year.
While they are still okay at guard even after trading one of their starters to the Giants, the idea that they could be starting Greg Robinson of all people at tackle next year should frighten the living daylights out of Cleveland fans. And while it’s well down on their list of needs, finding a backup quarterback to Baker Mayfield that’s better than Drew Stanton would be well worth a draft pick.
Picks: 20, 52, 66, 83, 122, 141, 175, 192, 207, 219
Top needs: WR, CB, LB, EDGE, S, TE
Analysis: While they still have JuJu at wide receiver, trading away a top-five wide receiver in Antonio Brown means they one again have need at the top skill position. They have a nice new talent at linebacker in TJ Watt, but desperately need more talent behind him in their back seven. They need help at corner, safety, pretty much most positions on their defense. As for the rest of their offense, they could also use some more tight end talent, with Vance McDonald now serving as their best tight end.
This is a team that needs a surprising amount of talent considering they were only a half game behind the Ravens for top dog in the AFC North last season.
HOW THEIR NEEDS AFFECT THE VIKINGS
Of the four teams in the AFC North, the Bengals are probably the only one of the four that will be picking not only before the Vikings, but with similar needs in mind when their number is called in the first round (aka offensive line, both at tackle and at guard). Past that, Minnesota’s needs line up best with the Steelers, as the Vikings also have need of more talent at tight end, safety, edge rusher, and corner, though interior defensive line is a position of need for the Vikings (though maybe not as much depending on your views of Jaleel Johnson’s talent level.
Picks: 26, 34, 59, 89, 129, 135, 164, 199, 240
Top needs: IDL, WR, S, CB, EDGE, LB
Analysis: The Colts had a renaissance season behind a reborn Andrew Luck, a much better offensive line, and a schedule that played to their benefit. Now the team needs to reload and continue to improve, especially on defense. Their wide receiver spot is a surprising need for the Colts, as their talent level drops off big-time after stud TY Hilton. I mean, their current No. 2 is Devin Funchess.
While they have been able to sink plenty of draft picks into their defense recently, another influx of talent on that side of the ball wouldn’t hurt either. Darius Leonard was a great find at linebacker, and they signed Justin Houston, but they have a spot open (I believe) at middle linebacker. They need work at cornerback, and at the safety spot next to Malik Hooker.
Picks: 7, 38, 69, 98, 109, 178, 236
Top needs: EDGE, OT, TE, RB, S
Analysis: While a lot of draft sites say the Jags have a need at quarterback, their committing big money to Nick Foles pretty much ensures he’s their guy for most of the next couple of years and thus they probably won’t be putting a whole lot of money into improving the position. There’s a fair chance that the Jags will be one of the teams before the Vikings taking a tackle off the board, if only because there’s not likely to be an offensive player at another position that would fit their needs well with where they are picking.
They don’t have a single tight end of note on their current roster, so if they want to make Foles’ life easier over the next couple of seasons, taking a tackle in either the first or second round would also make a ton of sense.
Picks: 23, 54, 55, 86, 161, 195, 220
Top needs: OT, OG, CB, S
Analysis: For all those haters that thought the Vikings had the worst offensive line in the NFL, y’all should check out the kinds of numbers the Texans allowed defensive fronts to put up against them. They were so desperate for talent that they signed Matt Kalil off the free agent market, and if they bring in the kind of talent on the offensive line they really need, he might not even make their team.
But the Texans could also use some secondary help, especially at safety. I wouldn’t be surprised if they put three or four picks into their offensive line, and maybe took a mid-round wide receiver to pair with Hopkins and Fuller.
Picks: 19, 51, 82, 121, 157, 188
Top needs: EDGE, IOL, WR, TE, IDL
Analysis: The Titans were a very up-and-down team in 2018, and they will likely be hoping that this year’s draft can give them the kind of talent influx that will make such performance disparities less common. Though they signed Cam Wake away from the Dolphins, he’s still 37, and he’s not getting younger, so adding pass-rushing talent would be a big help for a team that was 16th in the league in sacks last season.
They could also use a new guard to push Kevin Pamphile into being a backup instead of being a starter, and they could use some talent at wide receiver as well. Corey Davis hasn’t lived up to his draft placement yet, and while they have sheer numbers at wide receiver, they could use a quality talent to elevate the overall level of their wide receiver corps. Delanie Walker is a talented tight end, but he is getting older and is coming off a nasty ankle injury from last season, so a tight end to be his #2 for a season would be welcome for the Titans.
HOW THEIR NEEDS AFFECT THE VIKINGS
Compared to the AFC North, the AFC South is likely going to be competing with the Vikings for a lot of the same players in this year’s draft. The Titans, Jags and Texans are all in the market for offensive linemen, both interior and tackles, those same teams all could use a tight end, and the Colts and Titans are both needing interior defensive linemen.
Thankfully for the Vikings, only the Jaguars pick ahead of them for now, and they are probably more in the market for a guy like Jawaan Taylor, one of the consensus top tackles in the draft, or a top tight end like Noah Fant.
I’ll have the article covering the needs of the other two AFC divisions coming out within the next day or so.