Since the start of the new league year, there has been a lot of movement in the NFL. There have been huge signings, trades, and cuts, and it isn’t over yet. Today (4/12/2021) I am going to look into one move or philosophy to focus on for each team to make by the end of the Draft to try to increase their chances of making the Super Bowl this year, or in the coming years for a team like the New York Jets. Let’s do it!
Arizona Cardinals: Draft Patrick Peterson’s replacement
The Cards made a huge splash in Free Agency by adding JJ Watt to their roster, and the defense is looking better for it. The bigger issue is the secondary is overly depleted since the loss of Patrick Peterson. Drafting at pick 16, the Cardinals are in a great position to land one of the top three Corners in the draft, and they are far better than the rest of the class. Landing Patrick Surtain, Caleb Farley, or Jaycee Horn would be an instant win for Arizona, and they have no reason to shy away from the opportunity.
Atlanta Falcons: Find a trade partner for Matt Ryan and draft a QB with the fourth pick
Ever since the embarrassing loss in the Super Bowl back in 2017, the Falcons have been an absolute mess. Matt Ryan seemingly plays well every other year or so, while playing okay every down year. The timeline to win with Ryan has passed, and Atlanta needs to look towards the future. Ryan’s contract is going to be a hard sell for teams, and his cap hit if he is traded is less than ideal, but the move needs to be done in order to free up space down the line. Taking a QB like Fields, Wilson, or Lance at the fourth overall pick would steer the Falcons in the right direction, but dealing Ryan should be at the top of their “to-do” list.
Buffalo Bills: Sign Jordan Reed to start at Tight End
Buffalo was one game away from making it to the Super Bowl, so they shouldn’t be tinkering too much with the team. The Bills followed this model by re-signing most of their players this offseason, such as Matt Milano and Isaiah McKenzie. They also brought in added weapons like Emmanuel Sanders once the Saints cut him, and brought in Matt Breida from the Dolphins. The one spot I think that the Bills need to improve is Tight End. Buffalo lost Tyler Kroft to the Jets, and Kroft was the main pass-catching TE for the Bills. Jordan Reed showed that he still can ball out, especially when George Kittle was out last season in San Francisco. Obviously Reed is injury prone, but Buffalo has three other Tight Ends on the roster that will take away playing time, which is also time Reed could get hurt, Having Reed out there to give Josh Allen one more weapon will make Buffalo’s offense seem unstoppable.
Baltimore Ravens: Get Lamar Jackson a True WR1
It is no question that the Ravens’ passing offense is awful. For the past two seasons the Ravens have been the worst passing offense in the league, and it hasn’t even been close. Part of it is that Lamar Jackson can’t throw the ball, but the other part is that he doesn’t have anyone to throw to. Jackson showed signs of life in his sophomore season as a passer, but since then he has just declined. Part of that may be that he doesn’t trust his receivers (somewhat for good reason), or it could be that he knows that they are not as effective as the running game. Landing Jackson a true WR1 would fix a lot of these problems, but the Ravens failed both times they tried to land a receiver in Free Agency, in JuJu Smith-Schuster and T.Y. Hilton. The unfortunate thing for the Ravens is, both of those guys turned down a lot of money to stay with their teams and not go to Baltimore. The only guy left in Free Agency that could be considered a WR1 is Antonio Brown, who loves Tom Brady and just won with him. The only way the Ravens can land AB is playing the family connection they have with him, current receiver Marquise Brown is on the Ravens. But I wouldn’t count on it. That means the Ravens need to find a WR1 in the draft, and with a late first round pick, that seems improbable.
Carolina Panthers: Figure out if Sam Darnold has enough weapons to draft anything other than WR
Carolina made a huge move yesterday trading for their new franchise Quarterback in Sam Darnold. With this move, Carolina is in one of the best situations to be in for what I call a “tweener team,” or a team that is almost ready to compete for a playoff spot. Darnold is not a bad Quarterback, but he is not a Quarterback that can take over a game. Teams can win with a Quarterback like Darnold, I watched the Jets go to back-to-back AFC Championship games with Mark Sanchez as the Quarterback, but the team needs to be built the right way. The Panthers did a phenomenal job rebuilding the defense in a year, and it is going to be a good defense for a long time. But, there is a hole in the Linebacking corps since Luke Kuechly retired. The Panthers are in prime position to draft Micah Parsons to fill that gap. However, they are also in prime position to land a guy like Jaylen Waddle or DeVonta Smith. This puts the Panthers in the position of having to make a franchise-altering decision: Is Darnold good enough that he can hold down the offense while the defense carries the team? I think he is, but that’s not my call to make. Matt Rhule and the rest of the Panthers’ execs need to figure out which way they want to go, and make moves accordingly.
Chicago Bears: Find that late round QB gem for this draft class
Once a year there is a Quarterback that falls into Day 2 or Day 3 of the draft that ends up blowing up and being the talk of the League. Tom Brady (199), Russell Wilson (75), Dak Prescott (135) Andy Dalton (35), Drew Lock (42), Derek Carr (36), Kirk Cousins (102), Jalen Hurts (53). Those are eight projected starting QBs in the league that were not first rounders. That’s one-fourth of the league’s starting QBs who were not first round talents. There is always one guy who flies under the radar in the draft, and the Bears need to find that guy. Whether that’s Kyle Trask, Kellen Mond, Sam Ehlinger, or even Ian Book, the Bears need to find that diamond in the rough and steal an actual Starting QB so they can stop wasting the talent of their stud defense.
Cincinnati Bengals: Sign one of the linemen the Chiefs cut
With the way things are looking right now, the Bengals seem like they are in prime position to land the draft’s top ranked Tackle in Penei Sewell. That is a good start to protecting the future of the franchise that is Joe Burrow, but one O-Lineman does not fix all the issues the Bengals had last season. The Chiefs just cut not one, but two Pro Bowl Tackles this offseason; Eric Fisher and Mitchell Schwartz. Cincinnati currently holds the league’s third highest cap space with roughly $23 million to spend. Signing either Fisher or Schwartz needs to be a top priority for the Bengals, then they can focus on guaranteeing Sewell.
Cleveland Browns: Trade up for Farley or Horn
As BSP’s very own Justin Brownlow points out on The Man-To-Man Podcast, the Browns are one stud Secondary player away from being one of the scariest defenses in the league. Sitting at 26, the Browns are hypothetically out of reach for one of the three stud Cornerbacks in this year’s draft, so if they are looking to make a run this year, it may be beneficial for them to trade up for one of them. Surtain will be going top-10, so he is probably out of reach. That leaves Farley and Horn. I have both of them going inside the top-16 in my latest mock, but they are two players with the most range of landing spots as I scour the internet reading other mocks. If one of them were to fall past Arizona at 16, the Browns should be looking to move up to land one before the Colts take them at 20, if they decide to go Corner to fill out their Defense instead of taking a Wide Receiver to fill out the Offense, because landing either Farley or Horn will put their defense in the top-five in my opinion, and will potentially push them over the edge to make a run in the playoffs.
Dallas Cowboys: Sign Kwon Alexander
This may seem like an odd signing, but hear me out. The Cowboys’ Defense was horrific last season, if it wasn’t for Seattle’s historically bad defense in the beginning of the season, the Cowboys might have been the worst. They need all the talent they can get. Taking Surtain or Farley with the 10 pick should be a priority, but the draft is a little far away in comparison to what they can do now. Alexander was cut from the Saints for cap purposes, but he is still a talented Linebacker who is only 26-years-old. His injury history is a bit of a concern, but that can be said for nearly everyone on Dallas’ Defense. Signing Alexander would be an instant boost for “America’s Team” and would allow them to focus their draft picks on more pressing needs that have better talent than this year’s Linebackers.
Denver Broncos: Bring in a veteran QB to compete with Drew Lock in camp
Drew Lock still has time to progress and show that he has the ability to perform on the NFL stage, but the clock is ticking. Bringing in a vet to push and compete with Lock for the spot in training camp may be just the thing he needs to reach his full potential. If you look at who is left in Free Agency, you could go the route of bringing in Alex Smith to see if he can push Lock a bit, but Smith is not the ideal answer if he beats out Lock for the starting spot. If you look to trade, Marcus Mariota is the guy that comes to my mind instantly. He lit it up with the Raiders once Derek Carr went down, who could also be up for grabs when you think about it. But I doubt the Raiders would trade a QB in division, so those options are off the table. That leaves two options in my opinion, Nick Foles from Chicago, and Teddy Bridgewater from Carolina. Both options have the ability to start if Lock loses out, but in my opinion, Lock has the ability to beat out both of them for the job. Bringing in either of these guys would help Lock progress as a Quarterback, but is also a failsafe if he can’t figure it out.
Detroit Lions: Take a WR with the Seven pick
I’m going to go out on a limb and make the statement that Jared Goff is not going to be the Quarterback of the future for the Lions. With that being said, he is too big of a cap hit and too new to the team for the Lions to have him serve as the backup to a rookie. Plus, with the seventh overall pick, all of the top prospects could be gone with the way this draft is shaping. The best thing for the Lions to do other than pray the Bengals pass on Sewell is to draft a playmaker. Goff has the potential to be good if he has playmakers around him, we saw that in L.A. Currently the Lions hold a Wide Receiver room of Tyrell Williams (picked up from the Raiders), Breshad Perriman (picked up from the Jets), Quintez Cephus, and Geronimo Allison. That has to be the worst collection of Receivers in the league right now, the only team that could steal that title from the Lions could be Baltimore. Landing a guy like Jaylen Waddle at seven would be a huge boost to this bundle of pass catchers, and gives Goff a faster copy of Cooper Kupp, his favorite target from his time with the Rams. And, if Goff doesn’t work out like I think he won’t, Waddle will still be a solid option for whoever the Lions bring in next.
Green Bay Packers: Get another WR to pair with Davante Adams
Another year, another slight to Aaron Rodgers by not getting him weapons. The Packers’ reluctance to bring in Wide Receivers for Rodgers is baffling to me. I understand that Davante Adams is great, but he can’t do it all himself much longer. The Packers seemingly have done everything in their power to NOT get Aaron Rodgers weapons. This would be okay in a sense, if the Packer Defense was the best in the league because they use all their picks on Defense and they grow those picks. But that’s not what the Packers do, they think it is more important to draft Jordan Love and AJ Dillon. The Packers need to stop trying to convince themselves that Rodgers is done, and just embrace that he is here to stay for a while, and get the man another receiver like Kadarius Toney or Rondale Moore, even Terrace Marshall for goodness sake. Adding one of those guys would make the Packers Offense deadly.
Houston Texans: Pray that blowing up the team fixes the problems
Houston is one of a few teams that has almost no chance of winning a Super Bowl within the next few years. With the ongoing investigation of Deshaun Watson and the fact that every aspect of the team has been dismantled and changed out, and the fact that you have draft capital that is worse than my Madden Franchise, there is no certainty of anything for the future. So get your prayers in and enjoy the ride of taking the Jets’ place as the NFL’s worst team.
Indianapolis Colts: Draft Rashod Bateman
This might be a bold statement, but in my opinion the Colts are in the best situation to have a “dynasty-like” team going forward. It’s not because Carson Wentz is a great Quarterback, don’t get me wrong, but it is the fact that the team built around Wentz is amazing. The Defense was top-five last season, and the Colts also hold one of the best O-Lines in the league (in my opinion of course). The skill players around Wentz are solid or are solid and have potential to grow. Jonathan Taylor ran for 1,169 yards, which was third in the league, and 11 touchdowns. In his rookie season. He is going to be a star for a long time. Then you look at the receiving corps of Michael Pittman, T.Y. Hilton, and Parris Campbell, and think “wow Carson Wentz never had that in Philly.” This Indianapolis team is one of the most complete teams we have seen in a while. Pittman showed great promise as a rookie, and I think he has the chance to be a true WR1. That being said, Hilton is aging and needs to be replaced within the next two-to-three years, and Campbell’s injury history worries me a little. With where the Colts are slated to draft right now, they are in prime position to draft Bateman, the second most underrated receiver in this draft class. Pairing him and Pittman together will give Wentz everything he needs and more to make a playoff push this season, and for the future.
Kansas City Chiefs: Replace the Pro Bowlers you cut
I am pretty sure the Chiefs didn’t watch the Super Bowl back in February, because it makes no sense other than for cap space to cut Schwartz and Fisher. In the Super Bowl, Mahomes was running around like a chicken with its head cut off, he had no time whatsoever to let the receivers run their routes. And yes, I know the Chiefs signed not one, but two O-Linemen in the offseason. Joe Thuney was one of the most highly coveted Linemen, and Kansas City found a way to talk Kyle Long out of retirement. That’s great. Neither of those guys play Tackle, they are both guards. If you look back and watch the Super Bowl, most of Tampa Bay’s pressure came from the outside edge slots, not from interior bull-rushers. If Kansas City wants to prevent another attack on Mahomes all next season, they need to find two solid Tackles, either in the draft or in free agency, and quick.
Los Angeles Chargers: Protect Justin Herbert at all costs
Landing Corey Lindsley was a good start for the Chargers, but they still need to build up the O-Line. The Bengals saw the horrors of losing a young star QB last season, and the Chargers need to look at that as a cautionary tale. Landing Rashawn Slater with the 13th overall pick would be a dream come true for the Bolts, but Slater is supposed to go top-10 according to most mock drafts. Landing a guy like Alejandro Villanueva from the Steelers to add a veteran presence to the line would be fantastic for the line, and his position does not conflict with Slater, meaning if he were to fall the Chargers could snag both of them.
Los Angeles Rams: Draft a late-round QB to backup Stafford
This isn’t the most pressing need the Rams have, but the Rams don’t have too many holes on their team. Since the Rams have traded away their first round picks for the next few years, they have very little draft capital to work with. However, in trading those picks, the Rams have built up one of the more complete teams in the league. That being said, while I am a huge Stafford fan, he is 33-years-old. The Rams probably have four more prime years out of Stafford max, so finding a late-round replacement like Kellen Mond or Feleipe Franks to progress behind Stafford until he retires would not be a horrible idea. This can only happen if the Rams do not believe in John Woffard, which I do not.
Las Vegas Raiders: Start to rebuild the OL
The Raiders blew up their O-Line this offseason, and they really need to restock it ASAP. There are still some solid options left in Free Agency, Schwartz and Fisher I mentioned earlier come to mind, as well as Rick Wagner from the Packers. Landing one or two of those guys along with getting someone in the draft with the 17th overall pick would provide Carr and/or Mariota some time to allow the Raider receivers to run downfield, because we all know they aren’t exactly known for route running.
Jacksonville Jaguars: Take Trevor Lawrence
The Jags are nowhere near ready to be labeled Super Bowl bound, but Trevor Lawrence is the clear cut QB1 in this draft class, and has the potential to be a game-breaker at the next level. He is the answer for the future.
Miami Dolphins: Stay the course, you’re doing great
Anyone who follows the NFL has to absolutely love what is happening down in Miami. They have been rebuilding their entire team from the ground up, and they have been doing a fantastic job. Miami started their rebuild in questionable fashion, by trading away Laremy Tunsil and Minka Fitzpatrick for draft picks. The Dolphins got a little lucky by hitting on a bunch of those picks, but the point remains the same. Then, Miami has built on that by going out and landing young stars like Byron Jones and Will Fuller to fill out their team. Miami also made the two trades earlier this offseason, which turned the Texans pick this year, which was number three overall, into the number six overall pick and an additional two picks once all was said and done. If Miami keeps this up, and Tua can progress a little, Miami could be built to last for a very long time.
Minnesota Vikings: Solidify the Secondary with Richard Sherman
If you watched the Vikings last season, it was painfully apparent that their weakest link on the team was the Secondary. The Vikings addressed this need by signing Patrick Peterson and Xavier Woods to one year deals. The only problem is, Peterson is 30-years-old, he is not going to be the cornerstone of the future. Woods is 25-years-old, but has not lived up to his potential yet. Adding one more proven piece to the Secondary will help bolster their Pass Defense. Sherman is older than Peterson, but the Vikings have shown they’re trying to rent a Secondary by signing guys to one-year deals, so bringing in Sherman isn’t too outrageous.
New England Patriots: Find a new QB (preferably another one that won’t win)
Even though the Patriots brought back Cam Newton for this season, it is obvious they do not believe in him (not that he gave them a reason to). The Pats tried to play off the idea that Jarrett Stidham was going to be the QB of the future, which flamed out when he lost to Newton in training camp for the Starting job. With all that in consideration, the Pats need to work on finding the future. It is seeming that the top-five QBs in this year’s class will be going inside the top-10. With New England sitting with the 15th overall pick, unless someone falls, they won’t be getting a Quarterback this year. The one option that scares me most as a Jets fan is the idea of New England trading for a guy like Marcus Mariota, who is still relatively young with a lot of potential. Whatever route they decide to go, New England has a clear hole on the team, and unfortunately for them, it is the most important position on the field.
New Orleans Saints: Find a new WR2 for Michael Thomas
In my opinion, New Orleans made a huge mistake by letting Emmanuel Sanders go, even if it was for Cap Space purposes. With all the uncertainty of the new Quarterback coming in, taking away weapons is not how you set them up for success. Michael Thomas is a solid weapon for either Winston or Hill, but he is one of only two options, the other being Kamara out of the backfield. The Saints don’t even have a known Tight End option for them anymore, as they cut Jared Cook and Josh Hill. They signed Nick Vannett, but who knows how well he is going to play. The Saints need receiving options, and bringing in a guy like Alshon Jeffery or Dede Westbrook would be a good start, even if they’re hurt for a few games over the season. Also, drafting a guy like Kadarius Toney or Rondale Moore would be perfect, because Sean Payton knows exactly how to utilize their skillset.
New York Giants: Come up with a backup plan for Daniel Jones
I’m not saying the Giants need to take a QB in their first or second rounds, I am putting that out there now. In fact the Giants should be drafting to protect Jones and give him more time in the pocket. But Jones has not progressed the way that the G-Men have hoped up until this point. Now with Kenny Golladay entering the Receiver Room, Jones has no excuse not to improve his passing numbers. The Giants signed Mike Glennon in Free Agency, but he would only be a bridge Quarterback, not a long term answer. I have already identified the late round guys who could be gems in Mond, Ehlinger and Book, and I think the Giants should seriously consider taking one of them with a late-round flyer as an insurance plan for Jones not stepping up to the next level this season.
New York Jets: Figure out who is QB2 in this “stacked” class
Geez, where do I even start. I love the offseason moves made by the Jets, they really stepped up and addressed some of the most pressing needs on the team in Free Agency, which was a nice change of pace. However, those who tune into The Man-to-Man Podcast with Justin Brownlow and myself know that I was an advocate for Sam Darnold staying one more season to see what he could do with a legit coach and legit weapons. As we all know, Darnold has since been traded to the Carolina Panthers for a bundle of picks (for more information see the article where I break down the trade). The haul was solid for the Jets, but the only issue is that James Morgan is the current starting Quarterback. One of the biggest reasons I advocated for Darnold to remain with the team, is that I am not a big fan of this year’s QB class. There is too much of a cluster when it comes to the Quarterbacks that are not named Trevor Lawrence. Everyone seemingly has their own issues, which is normal to a certain extent, but this year seems to have a lot more discrepancies than usual. The Jets need to figure out who is QB2 on their draft board, which is not an easy task this year, and hope that they picked the right guy for the job, because if the guy they decide to pick does not play to the expectations that are set before him, I feel there will be a lot more pushback from the fanbase than people expect.
Philadelphia Eagles: … Pray?
This may be a relatively Hot Take, but I think that the Eagles are in the worst position in the entire NFL, even behind the Texans. The Texans have a lot of issues, like a lot a lot, but should Deshaun Watson be able to play in the NFL again, the Texans at least have a superstar QB on their roster. The Eagles on the other hand have a questionable QB, no O-line, no Receivers other than Dallas Goedert and Zach Ertz (who they are allegedly trying to trade), and a horrific Secondary, all of which is being led by a first-time Head Coach in Nick Sirianni, who no one else in the NFL was even considering for their head coaching vacancy. With all these factors in play, I think that the Eagles just need to embrace the rebuild and start from scratch, but even that is not probable considering how wide-open the NFC East is currently.
San Francisco 49ers: Take any QB other than Mac Jones with the third overall pick
Honestly, I’m surprised I even have to write this. Mac Jones is not worth the third overall pick. I thought that all the news about the Niners moving up to get hin was just Draft hype that comes up every year, but with each passing day it is seemingly more and more possible that John Lynch might actually put Jones’ name down on the draft card. Mac Jones has one to one and a half years worth of tape, and he didn’t do anything overly spectacular to deserve the “third overall pick” tag he is being given. In all honesty, Jones would have been there for San Fran at 12, there was no reason to move up. So, the 49ers need to figure out that Mac Jones is not that good, and they need to start deciding the order of Zach Wilson, Justin Fields and Trey Lance on their big board.
Seattle Seahawks: Sign Russell Wilson some pass protection (please?)
The big rift of the offseason for Seattle was the frustration between Russell Wilson and the Seattle execs for not protecting him better, to the point he threatened to put in a trade request. The Seahawks have started to bolster their O-Line by acquiring Gabe Jackson through a trade with the Raiders, but that’s not enough to protect a guy who takes a $35 million cap hit every year. Wilson is one of the best QBs in the league, and he has a really great set of weapons around him, he could carry the entire team if he had an O-line. And when I say carry the team, I mean make up for the historically awful defense that Seattle currently holds. Please get this man a Line that won’t get him killed.
Pittsburgh Steelers: Find the QB of the future
The Steelers have one of the more glaring needs in the league when it comes to a new Quarterback for the future. Towards the end of the season, Big Ben looked tired and depleted. In my opinion, he has two seasons left at most, and they do not have to be good seasons. The Steelers need to be searching for their new Franchise QB in this year’s or next year’s draft, and allow them to sit behind Ben for a year or two to learn from him. I thought the Steelers would have been better off trading for Sam Darnold from the Jets, but I guess they have other plans. Expect the Steelers to make a push for someone late, or to make a push for a guy like Jameis Winston should he hit the open market next year.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Keep resigning and building on the team from last year
Tampa Bay is the front-runner for the Super Bowl odds in Vegas right now, and for good reason. They didn’t try to go out and add more to their team, their main focus for the offseason was to resign as many of the players from their team this year as possible, and they did just that. Tampa has a shot at a real playmaker with the last pick of the first round of the draft, and it’s all thanks to the way the top of the draft is supposed to shake out. I expect the Bucs to at least consider drafting a Running Back with their pick, because Ronald Jones has proved time and time again that he is not the guy who can carry the workload of an RB1, and Leonard Fournette still remains a mystery. I think he is good enough to remain their RB1, but he was not utilized as so until the playoffs, so who knows what Bruce Arians is thinking. With that being said, Tampa just needs to keep doing what they’re doing.
Tennessee Titans: Draft an elite pass catcher
Losing one of your top-three targets in Free Agency is always hard on a team, but the Titans are about to experience what it’s like to lose two of their top-three targets in an offseason. Not only did the Titans lose Jonnu Smith to the Patriots, but they also lost the blooming Corey Davis to the Jets. The only receiver who made an impact last year that is left is A.J. Brown, and he can’t handle the entire receiving workload himself. I know that the defense is a little spotty, but getting Tannehill a second receiving option in the draft needs to be the top of the list, so that teams only stack the box on Derrick Henry every other play instead of every play.
Washington Football Team: Find a Name and a legitimate QB for the future
Finally, the Washington Football Team. Obviously I’d be great if they could figure out a name by next season, but that’s not something that affects their Super Bowl odds. Landing FitzMagic, aka “The Ultimate Bridge Quarterback,” aka Ryan Fitzpatrick was a huge win after the failed experiment of Dwayne Haskins. However I doubt Taylor Heinicke is their plan for the future. With the WFT winning the division and going to the playoffs, they took themselves out of contention for one of the top-five QBs in the draft. However, I think if the WFT finds themselves with a chance to draft Kyle Trask in the second round, they have to jump on the opportunity. Playing a year or two behind Fitzpatrick would do wonders for Trask, and will give the WFT time to build up the team around Trask before handing him the keys to the franchise.
Feel free to tweet at me what you think of my list, what you would change, or what move you want your favorite team to make before the season starts! My Twitter is @THB315
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