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.
I already covered the AFC North and South here, so now I’ll cover the AFC East and West.
Picks: 9, 40, 74, 112, 131, 147, 158, 181, 225, 228
Top needs: EDGE, OT, WR, CB, TE, OG
Analysis: As most teams know, defenses are built around pass-rushing, and the Bills had the seventh-fewest sacks in the NFL last season. That would be helped by pumping a high draft pick or two into an edge rusher, especially with 30-year old Jerry Hughes on the final year of his deal. The Bills are also in that group of teams that have a group of No. 2 wide receivers (in their case, John Brown, Zay Jones, Cole Beasley, and Robert Foster) without one that has fully stepped up to take over as the top dog. Maybe Foster could be that guy, but also drafting another good wide receiver would make their wide receiver group surprisingly deep.
Also, the Bills might have the oldest running back group in the NFL, and while they have a number of running backs to work with, having a young buck might be worthwhile. Also, the Bills have just two tight ends right now, and the top one is Tyler Kroft. That’s not gonna get things done. Oh, and their starting left guard is Quinton Spain, and he’s only on a one-year deal, so they’re gonna need another starter there.
Picks: 13, 48, 78, 116, 151, 233, 234
Top needs: Almost everything
Analysis: It’s been a little while since the NFL has experienced a team that appears to be full-on tanking, and the role appears to have finally been filled by the Miami Dolphins. If there’s a team that will be looking to trade down and trade down often this year, also look to the Dolphins. Of the current players on the Fins, I’m thinking that maybe the only ones that will be on the team for the forseeable future are Laremy Tunsil, Mike Gesicki, Raekwon McMillan, Kiko Alonso, Minkah Fitzpatrick, and Xavien Howard. Obviously I’m not a fan of the team, so I’m sure I’m missing a couple of players, but it’s also a team that will be in transition and probably shooting to be contending again right about the time that Tom Brady is finally finished in the NFL.
Their starter is Ryan Fitzpatrick, so they need a young quarterback. Their wide receivers are either mediocre or on their way out of town. Their offensive line allowed the fifth-most sacks in the NFL last season (52) and there isn’t the kind of talent on it right now that says that number will decrease a whole lot. Their defense has more talent, but who can say for sure how well it will do with a likely terribad offense sucking it up on the other side.
New York Jets
Picks: 3, 68, 93, 105, 196, 217
Top needs: CB, EDGE, OT, IDL, WR, LB
Analysis: As their pursuit of Anthony Barr to be a pass rusher proves (not to mention whatever they tried to give up for Frank Clark), the Jets are in desperate need of a pass-rusher. They were middle-of-the-pack in sacks last year, but they are hoping to push towards the top-ten this season. They are in prime position to get one of the best players in the draft, but they are also in great position to trade back if they so desire.
They also need a starting corner, so I would assume getting a second-round pick out of a trade-back would be a must for the Jets so they can grab a new starter. Really, a lot of their defense could use some help, and so could their offensive line. Brandon Shell, their right tackle, is in the final year of his deal, so they need a tackle to replace him.
New England Patriots
Picks: 32, 56, 64, 73, 97, 101, 134, 205, 239, 243, 246, 252
Top needs: EDGE, IDL, WR, TE, CB, LB, QB, S
Analysis: Jesus Christ. The Patriots JUST won a Super Bowl and they are tied with the Giants for the most draft picks in this year’s draft. Could you dumbass teams stop trading draft picks to the Patriots? Thanks. Anyway, while I’m sure they’ll make a couple more trades to pick up a couple more picks in next year’s draft, they still have a ton of ammo to do damage in this year’s draft.
Actually, this year’s iteration of the Patriots needs a little more reloading than normal. They could use a pass-rusher or two, their best two pass-catchers are both running backs (when Edelman is hurt), and they haven’t picked out their latest “four-year backup quarterback project” quarterback in a couple of years. Oh, and they could use a new dominant tight end to terrorize the schlubs they play in their division every year.
HOW THEIR NEEDS AFFECT THE VIKINGS
Besides tight end, the Patriots’ needs are more or less opposite to the Vikings, so besides having the ammo to move up and down the draft board at their whim, they won’t be much of an issue. The Jets have a couple of the same needs as the Vikings, but they only pick once in the first 75 picks so the Vikings can get those needs out of the way and focus on other picks. The Bills and Dolphins are more problematic, the Bills because they have a lot of the same needs and the Fins have so many needs that any of them intersect with the Vikings in some way.
As for how they could roll in the first round, I would assume that the Jets are taking a pass-rusher unless they trade down, in which case a tackle is definitely in play. The Bills are also in the right spot for a tackle (especially in this year’s draft) to be the right pick, which could be an issue for the Vikings. The Pats pick well after the Vikings, and who the hell knows what the Dolphins will do.
Picks: 10, 41, 71, 125, 148, 156, 182, 237
Top needs: WR, OL, QB, LB, IDL, TE, CB
Analysis: Ahhh, nothing like a John Elway team that needs a quarterback. It’s just not a real offseason until it happens. Because as much as they may say they want Joe Flacco, there is no dead cap left on his contract so the second they actually manage to pull a good quarterback out of their asses, they’ll cut him so fast they’ll get razor burn.
Besides Elway’s inability to pick a player at his own position, the Broncos could use a wide receiver, especially with Emmanuel Sanders in the final year of his deal and not a whole lot of experience behind him and Courtland Sutton. They could also use some offensive line depth, especially after half their line went down injured last season. And with Chris Harris agitating for a new contract or a trade to a different team, cornerback is looking to be a sudden need for the Broncos, unless they manage to find the money between the couch cushions to pay him all the straight cash homey.
Los Angeles Chargers
Picks: 28, 60, 91, 130, 166, 200, 242
Top needs: OT, DT, CB, QB, TE
Analysis: After making a push deep into the AFC playoffs, the Chargers have some holes to fill, but not as many as some of the other teams I’ve covered. Their tackle spots could both use an upgrade, as nobody should have to rely on a tandem of Russell Okung and something called Sam Tevi to protect their franchise quarterback. They could also use another guard, because they’re just an injury to one of their guards away from having to play Spencer Drango, and that’s another recipe for disaster. They could also use some tight end help, because Antonio Gates isn’t coming back to help them out if Hunter Henry goes down with another season-ending injury. And while Tom Brady can keep pulling deals with Satan to play at a good enough level at quarterback, the Chargers will start needing a more long-term quarterback plan after Philip Rivers is done.
As for defense, they could use a corner and a defensive tackle, but they’re fairly set in other areas.
Kansas City Chiefs
Picks: 61, 63, 84, 167, 201, 214, 216
Top needs: EDGE, CB, LB, IOL, CB, RB, IDL
Analysis: Even after trading for Frank Clark, the Chiefs need help at basically every position on their defense. They could use a pass-rusher on the other side of Clark, they could use linebackers on the sides of Reggie Ragland, they need a corner, and even after Tyrann Mathieu signed with them, they could use another safety.
After cutting Kareem Hunt, the Chiefs could use a new top running back. They could also use a new interior offensive lineman with only three guards to their name right now.
Picks: 4, 24, 27, 35, 106, 140, 218, 235
Top needs: WR, TE, OG, OT, QB, RB, EDGE, CB, LB
Analysis: Four picks in the top 35 will be a nice help to the Oakland Raiders, but if they’re smart, they’ll trade down once or twice and pick up a third round pick or two. Because, well, they have a lot of needs, especially on offense.
Especially with news of Kolton Miller having a knee problem that could hinder his level of play, the Raiders need help at wide receiver (even after adding Antonio Brown), they need a tight end that has some actual talent, they could use a guard or two, and if they actually want to eventually win, they’ll wise up and move on from Derek Carr.
As for their defense, well, from what I’ve seen of their depth chart, their third-best addition this offseason on their defense is Vontaze Burfict of all people, and, well, that probably tells you how badly the Raiders need help. And that’s saying something, because the Raiders only had 13 sacks last season, and they haven’t added a whole lot of talent there.
HOW THEIR NEEDS AFFECT THE VIKINGS
Unfortunately for the Vikings, with the possible exception of the Chargers, all three other teams in the AFC West have fairly similar needs to the Vikings. All of them could use offensive linemen, both tackles and guards, and tight ends could and should be a priority of several of the teams. Defensive tackle is also a possibility for several, especially early on. Thankfully, several of the teams could also use quarterbacks, and finding the draft capital to take one would divert their resources long enough to give the Vikings time to pick whatever players best fit their needs.
Depending on my schedule, I’ll either make one big post with all the NFC teams or split it up again. Keep an eye out, it or they will be posted before the draft starts!