Assessing the Needs for the 2017 NFL Draft

The project below combines the investment analysis included in the 2017 Inside the Pylon Draft Guide conducted by myself and Dave Archibald with a modified roster valuation that I introduced on our site prior to last season.

For those not familiar with the investment analysis, we quantified draft value spent per team from 2013-2016 and dollars allocated for 2017 among five position groups to see where teams had investment most of the resources available to them.

The roster valuation model attempts to assess individual player values on a condensed depth chart translating player performance, pedigree, progress and potential into numeric values to accurately estimate the talent and potential present on rosters as currently constructed. The model is still very much a work in progress and I expect much more refinement of the methodology over the course of the next few months as we get closer to the season.

For each team, I created a chart displaying their condensed depth chart comprised of those players slated right now to get the most snaps for teams next season. I then assigned each player a score among the following eight categories:

  • Starter – Win Because (5) – one of the top players in the league
  • Starter – Win With (4) – the next tier of players in the league that could start on a winning team
  • Productive Rising, High Investment (3.5) – a player with three years of experience or less taken in the first three rounds of the draft who has been productive early on
  • Productive Rising, Moderate Investment (3) – a player with three years of experience or less acquired after the first three rounds of the draft who has been productive early on
  • Potential, High Investment (3) – a player with three years of experience or less taken in the first three rounds of the draft who still may have potential they’ve yet to exhibit
  • Possible Upgrade (2) – a veteran player who could be replaced
  • Potential, Moderate Investment (1.5) – a player with three years of experience or less acquired after the first three rounds of the draft who still may have potential they’ve yet to exhibit
  • Upgrade Needs (1) – a player who is serving as nothing more than a placeholder

Below each condensed depth chart is a positional investment chart. It shows the draft value, dollars spent and valuation of each roster expressed from 1-32.

DV = Draft Value: Value of picks spent from 2013-2016 at each corresponding position group as a percentage of total draft value for that team during the time period (based off of Chase Stuart’s Draft Value Chart)

$ = 2017 Dollars Spent: From numbers at OverTheCap.com as of 4  /  13  /  17

VAL = Valuation:Player valuation based on eight categories taking into account recent performance, career performance, potential and age  /  stage of career

OVERALL: Overall need at that position based on an average of the other three measures. An overall score of 1 would indicate the team with the highest need at that position based on a weighting of the three measures.

In the below summaries of each team, I’ll walk through each pick of the first round, present their needs assessment and then offer possibilities for each of their needs given the potential available players at that point in the draft and the level of each need. Some teams have quarterback as a moderate need, but for a share of those teams, a quarterback wouldn’t make any sense in any scenario.

 

  1. Cleveland Browns

 

Outside of the offensive line, the Browns have needs everywhere. The front seven has improved dramatically with the addition of Jamie Collins and the potential of players like Ogbah and Nassib, but none of those should prevent the Browns from grabbing Myles Garrett. Here’s hoping for Browns fans sakes the rumors of Trubisky here are just that.

Needs Assessment Possibilities:

High Need

QB – Mitchell Trubisky  /  North Carolina

SKILL – Leonard Fournette  /  LSU

DB – Jamal Adams  /  S  /  LSU

Moderate Need

FRONT 7 – Myles Garrett  /  EDGE  /  Texas A&M

  1. San Francisco 49ers

The 49ers have a number of factors at play influencing their pick including a new regime under Head Coach Kyle Shanahan and general manager John Lynch. On top of the coaching and front office changes comes a dramatic schematic change, as they drift more toward a 4-3 base defense.  Like the Browns they have needs on a number of levels including the quarterback position where they currently employ most of the 2016 Bears, but again it’s a question of where their need matches up with the board. The lack of a pass rusher is worrisome, but I like the link between the former safety, now GM and a player like Adams. I think a local kid like Solomon Thomas coming in and spicing up the pass rush would make sense, but Adams could be the next leader of the 49ers defense.

Needs Assessment Possibilities

High Need

QB – Mitchell Trubisky  /  North Carolina, Deshaun Watson  /  Clemson

SKILL – Leonard Fournette  /  LSU, O.J. Howard  /  Alabama

Moderate Need

FRONT 7 – Solomon Thomas  /  Stanford, Jonathan Allen  /  Alabama

DB – Marshon Lattimore  /  Ohio State, Malik Hooker  /  Ohio State, Jamal Adams  /  LSU

  1. Chicago Bears

One of my biggest revelations after inputting the data for this study was how much the numbers presented like the Bears front seven, from a valuation standpoint. They’ve thrown quite a bit of draft picks at the area recently and this offseason allocated some dollars to the defensive backfield, but it still needs work. If Adams is there, I love the fit in Chicago. Marshon Lattimore could be a possibility as well even though they spent some free agent dollars at cornerback. O.J. Howard would address the skill positions. It’s not too high for me, but may be too high for the Bears. But the quarterback position looms large, just like the previous two teams. I think it’s going to be a QB. There’s talk of Trubisky, but there’s also talk of Watson, who makes more sense in my mind. Notre Dame’s DeShone Kizer is the #1 quarterback on my board, but every team’s situation is not equal. Throwing Kizer into the Bears’ situation is setting him up for failure. Watson is a player who has seen and dealt with the pressure of the big stage better and is better equipped to play immediately.

Needs Assessment Possibilities

High Need

QB – Deshaun Watson  /  Clemson, Mitchell Trubisky  /  North Carolina, DeShone Kizer  /  Notre Dame

SKILL – O.J. Howard  /  TE  /  Alabama

DB – Jamal Adams  /  LSU, Marshon Lattimore  /  Ohio State, Malik Hooker  /  Ohio State

  1. Jacksonville Jaguars

One blind spot in this whole assessment is coaches and general managers’ tendencies. From his time with the Giants, Tom Coughlin, the new Executive Vice President for Football Operations with the Jaguars, liked employing a deep defensive line rotation. Based on the needs assessment, that doesn’t appear to be one of their top targets. The Jaguars being the number one team in the league when it comes to skill position needs seems crazy when you consider the talent on hand, but none of those players were a first round pick and most are still in the early stages of their career meaning not many resources have been allocated. There’s been talk about Leonard Fournette, but given Mercedes Lewis’ age, the dollars tied up with Chris Ivory and T.J. Yeldon still hanging around, O.J. Howard seems to make a lot of sense. I love Jonathan Allen and have him right above Howard on my big board and I truly believe the choice will come down to one of those three players. I do think this could be a surprise spot for an offensive lineman going way above where they are projected like Forrest Lamp or Cam Robinson.

Needs Assessment Possibilities

High Need

SKILL – Leonard Fournette  /  LSU, O.J. Howard  /  Alabama, Christian McCaffrey  /  Stanford

Moderate Need

QB – DeShaun Watson  /  Clemson

OL – Cam Robinson  /  Alabama, Forrest Lamp  /  Western Kentucky

  1. Tennessee Titans (via  /  LAR)

Not many teams are in a better spot than the Titans. Because they gave up the #1 pick last year to the Los Angeles Rams, they are reaping the benefits without many glaring needs on the roster and after a surprising push for the playoffs last season. The Titans could go a lot of directions. A pass catcher on the outside, interior offensive lineman, tight end to pair with Delanie Walker, interior pass rusher and cornerback all make sense. The top two needs above are offensive line and defensive back. Absent a lineman worth this pick (Forrest Lamp?), Marshon Lattimore and Jamal Adams are tremendous fits. But with so much money tied up in Searcy and Cyprien, is safety a worthwhile investment despite Adams’ upside? I would love Howard here, but Lattimore seems the best fit. Adding Solomon Thomas to the front would be a great addition as well.

Needs Assessment Possibilities

Moderate Need

OL – Forrest Lamp  /  Western Kentucky

FRONT 7 – Jonathan Allen  /  Alabama, Solomon Thomas  /  Stanford

DB – Jamal Adams  /  LSU, Marshon Lattimore  /  Ohio State, Malik Hooker  /  Ohio State

  1. New York Jets

What has happened to the Jets? Their needs at quarterback, skill position and offensive line rank in the top five of the entire league. Quarterback is going to be tempting, but with few playmakers on offense, a young quarterback would have even less of a chance to succeed. O.J. Howard would fit and would hopefully get a better welcome from Jets fans than Kyle Brady did in 1995. Leonard Fournette would offer a tempting complement to Matt Forte, but in two of these scenarios, Jamal Adams and Jonathan Allen are on the board. Where does need trump value, especially for a team lacking at so many positions? If a quarterback goes here, I would expect Watson to be the player most ready to deal with the big stage of New York.  A coaching staff on a short leash may make this tougher.

Needs Assessment Possibilities

High Need

QB – Mitchell Trubisky  /  North Carolina, DeShaun Watson  /  Clemson

SKILL – Leonard Fournette  /  LSU, O.J. Howard  /  Alabama

OL – Cam Robinson  /  Alabama, Forrest Lamp  /  Western Kentucky

  1. Los Angeles Chargers

The Chargers certainly hit on their first round pick last year and now have a devastating pass rush with Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram leading the way. With Gus Bradley coming in as defensive coordinator and potentially employing his Cover 3 scheme, the pass rush from the front four will be important. The offensive line remains a need even after adding Russell Okung and, despite the good performances from cornerbacks Jason Verrett and Casey Hayward last season, another versatile player on the back end could be valuable. Jamal Adams could be available and I think he can play deep better than people are giving him credit for. Either Adams or Malik Hooker would fit right in. This could be the spot for our first lineman with either Cam Robinson or Forrest Lamp, if the Chargers want to pick them this high. An eventual Phillip Rivers replacement seems to always be brought up as well as an option, but not this early in the draft given the team’s more pressing needs.

Needs Assessment Possibilities

High Need

DB – Jamal Adams  /  LSU, Malik Hooker  /  Ohio State

OL – Cam Robinson  /  Alabama, Forrest Lamp  /  Western Kentucky

Moderate Need

QB – DeShaun Watson  /  Clemson, DeShone Kizer  /  Notre Dame

SKILL – Christian McCaffrey  /  Stanford, Mike Williams  /  Clemson, Corey Davis  /  Western Michigan

  1. Carolina Panthers

There are a couple of factors at play here that would seem to steer the direction of this pick away from the defensive backfield even though it is their top need based on this study. General Manager Dave Gettleman traditionally doesn’t allocate draft resources toward that area of the defense. The other factor, and this is probably working in concert with the GM’s strategy, is that the Carolina defense employs a Cover 2 defense where the strength is the front seven, as evidenced by the Panthers having the least need in that area. Most people have mocked Christian McCaffrey to the Panthers because he would be a terrific complement to Jonathan Stewart. He would also be a complement to all of their big receivers when split out and he works well out of the shotgun.

Needs Assessment Possibilities

High Need
DB – Malik Hooker  /  Ohio State

SKILL – Christian McCaffrey  /  Stanford, Leonard Fournette  /  LSU, Corey Davis  /  Western Michigan

OL – Cam Robinson  /  Alabama, Forrest Lamp  /  Western Kentucky, Garett Bolles  /  Utah

  1. Cincinnati Bengals

The Bengals clear top need based on this assessment is offensive line. By letting go of Andrew Whitworth, a cornerstone for the franchise, they are relying on former high draft picks Jake Fisher and Cedric Ogbuehi to man the tackle spots. Going strictly off the needs assessment and the allocation of resources, I would lean toward as offensive lineman like Robinson or Lamp. However, if I would jump at the chance to select Solomon Thomas or Jonathan Allen if either fall to the 9th pick..  Talk of O.J. Howard going here is interesting. Tyler Eifert is still dealing with injuries and may not be ready for camp, making Howard a fascinating option, especially given they are the top two tight ends I’ve evaluated since 2002. Linebackers Haason Reddick and Reuben Foster (depending on what the Bengals brass thinks of his recent issues) would both fit and be worth the value.

Needs Assessment Possibilities

High Need

OL – Cam Robinson  /  Alabama, Forrest Lamp  /  Western Kentucky

Moderate Need

FRONT 7 – Solomon Thomas  /  Stanford, Jonathan Allen  /  Alabama, Haason Reddick  /  Temple, Reuben Foster  /  Alabama

  1. Buffalo Bills

Everyone seems to be pegging the Bills for a defensive back given the loss of Stephon Gilmore, but new head coach Sean McDermott plans on employing a zone scheme and as we’ve seen with Carolina, that means ignoring the cornerbacks and safeties early in the draft. I was shocked seeing the draft value for skill positions be as high as it is for the Bills. A part of that is from the draft value of Robert Woods and Marquise Goodwin who are no longer on the team and another part is because the total draft value in this four year window was lowered by the Bills trading away their future first to trade up to get Watkins. I think they go Howard if he’s available (McDermott has seen the value of a tight end up close with Greg Olsen), and I would be surprised if they took a quarterback or defensive back. A front seven player like Reuben Foster, Haason Reddick or even Jonathan Allen would also make sense in the first round.

Needs Assessment Possibilities

High Need

DB – Malik Hooker  /  Ohio State, Marshon Lattimore  /  Ohio State, Marlon Humphrey  /  Alabama

FRONT 7 – Jonathan Allen  /  Alabama, Solomon Thomas  /  Stanford, Haason Reddick  /  Temple, Reuben Foster  /  Alabama

  1. New Orleans Saints

This graphic was created prior to Adrian Peterson’s signing, but we’ll acknowledge it here. It doesn’t change the extremely low allocation in draft value to the skill positions during the four-year window. I think the signing takes a RB off the table, but wide receiver could very well be in play. A deep threat to eventually take over for Ted Ginn (John Ross) makes some sense, but after drafting MIchael Thomas in the first last year, I’m not sure it works out.  I could also see a pass rusher, linebacker or cornerback. They’ve spent draft capital at the defensive back position, but a team is never really lacking in guys that can cover.  Conley has been rising up boards, but now with the recent rape allegations, things may have changed. Lattimore or Humphrey would seem to be the pick.

Needs Assessment Possibilities

High Need

SKILL – O.J. Howard  /  Alabama, John Ross  /   Washington

Moderate Need

FRONT 7 – Derek Barnett  /  Tennessee, Haason Reddick  /  Temple, Reuben Foster  /  Alabama, Jonathan Allen  /  Alabama, Solomon Thomas  /  Stanford

DB – Marshon Lattimore   /  Ohio State, Marlon Humphrey  /  Alabama

  1. Cleveland Browns

Cleveland’s second selection in the first round, if they decide to go Garrett with the number one overall, should focus primarily on acquiring a quarterback.  And which quarterback that is could vary. In each scenario presented, the only quarterback off the board is Deshaun Watson. I have a hard time believing another 1-2 quarterbacks won’t go in the Top 10, but based on this projection, they haven’t, and the Browns are able to snag their man. If the Browns are willing to bet on upside, like I am, I expect it to be Kizer. Most people would say it’s going to be Trubisky, who is my fourth ranked quarterback. It also could be Mahomes.

Needs Assessment Possibilities

High Need

QB – Mitchell Trubisky  /  North Carolina, Deshaun Watson  /  Clemson, DeShone Kizer  /  Notre Dame, Patrick Mahomes  /  Texas Tech

DB – Marshon Lattimore  /  Ohio State, Marlon Humphrey  /  Alabama, Malik Hooker  /  Ohio State

  1. Arizona Cardinals

The Cardinals have an aging roster that has suffered from recent roster attrition. There is still significant talent present, but the team needs to be fortified to be in playoff contention. There is a lot of smoke around the idea of the  Cardinals selecting a quarterback, but given the other needs on the roster, that wouldn’t be my first choice. However, given Carson Palmer’s regression, it’s not out of the realm of possibility. Arizona would be an interesting spot for Reuben Foster to be mentored by a veteran like Karlos Dansby. Haason Reddick could also fit that mold. That same idea of mentorship under future Hall of Famer Larry Fitzgerald could be the rationale behind a selection of Clemson’s Mike Williams or Western Michigan’s Corey Davis. If Kizer’s available, I think he would be a tremendous fit being mentored by Palmer and Head Coach Bruce Arians.

Needs Assessment Possibilities

High Need

FRONT 7 – Jonathan Allen  /  Alabama, Haason Reddick  /  Temple, Reuben Foster  /  Alabama

SKILL – Corey Davis  /  Western Michigan, John Ross  /  Washington, Mike Williams  /  Clemson

Moderate Need

QB – DeShone Kizer  /  Notre Dame, Patrick Mahomes  /  Texas Tech

  1. Philadelphia Eagles

Eagles fans are clamoring for another playmaker, but it’s been awhile since they spent significant draft resources on the front seven or defensive backfield. With a deep running back and wide receiver crop, those positions can be addressed later.  Conley isn’t included in this study after the new allegations, but Humphrey makes too much sense from a fit and value standpoint. One player with local ties that would fill an immediate need is Haason Reddick.  

Needs Assessment Possibilities

High Need

DB – Marlon Humphrey  /  Alabama, Kevin King  /  Washington, Tre’davious White   /  LSU

FRONT 7 – Reuben Foster  /  Alabama, Haason Reddick  /  Temple

  1. Indianapolis Colts

The problem with lumping receivers and running backs together is that it doesn’t convey the severe need the Colts have in the backfield, as Frank Gore is on his last tank of gas. General Manager Chris Ballard has done a nice job this offseason of adding some interesting defensive players to upgrade that side of the ball, but more can still be done. It’s hard to see Malik Hooker still being on the board, but he along with whatever cornerback is available remains a possibility. If any of Cook, Fournette or McCaffrey is there, they would fit. Cook’s size and skillset remind me a little of a young Gore.  And I believe Indianapolis would be a fabulous destination for Foster, Reddick or even Jarrad Davis, depending on who is available and the risk they believe is associated with Foster. It all depends on how the board falls.

Needs Assessment Possibilities

High Need

FRONT 7 – Reuben Foster  /  Alabama, Haason Reddick  /  Temple, Jarrad Davis  /  Florida

DB – Malik Hooker  /  Ohio State, Obi Melifonwu  /  Connecticut

Moderate Need

SKILL – O.J. Howard  /  Alabama, David Njoku  /  Miami, Leonard Fournette  /  LSU, Dalvin Cook  /  Florida State

  1. Baltimore Ravens

The only glaring need based on value and investment is on the offensive line., but most people that look at their roster see the need at wide receiver. They have a ton of money tied up in the tight end position which could change once cuts come. Cam Robinson would be the most likely offensive lineman if Lamp is off the board, but I see Mike Williams, Corey Davis or John Ross being more likely. With all of the talk of Jonathan Allen dropping, wouldn’t it be just like the Ravens to end up with someone who was once a top tier player in this draft at a bargain rate.

Needs Assessment Possibilities

High Need

OL – Cam Robinson  /  Alabama, Forrest Lamp  /  Western Kentucky, Ryan Ramczyk  /  Wisconsin

Moderate Need

FRONT 7 – Haason Reddick  /  Temple, Jonathan Allen  /  Alabama, Takkarist McKinley  /  UCLA, Tyus Bowser  /  Houston

SKILL – Corey Davis  /  Western Michigan, Mike Williams  /  Clemson, John Ross  /  Washington

  1. Washington

Washington’s  number one need is in the front seven. More specifically, it lies on the defensive line and inside linebacker. I’ve talked in previous picks about Reddick, Foster and Davis and believe any of them would be the pick should they fall to the Redskins here. I also believe a running back is very much in play.

Needs Assessment Possibilities

High Need

FRONT 7 – Reuben Foster  /  Alabama, Haason Reddick  /  Temple, Jarrad Davis  /  Florida

Moderate Need

SKILL – Leonard Fournette  /  LSU, Dalvin Cook  /  Florida State

  1. Tennessee Titans

The Titans’ second first round pick will be their opportunity to snag a pass catcher after going defense with their first pick. If Howard is off the board, Williams, Ross, or Davis would all add an integral weapon for quarterback Marcus Mariota. For this exercise though, skill position isn’t listed as a top need. I’m sure if running back and wide receiver resources were separated, the needs assessment would say they need a receiver. But here we address offensive line and the other needs mentioned before. Lamp would be an outstanding value and fit while there could scenario that may remind people of Ryan Kelly being selected by the Colts a year if Elflein goes.

Needs Assessment Possibilities

Moderate Need

OL – Forrest Lamp  /  Western Kentucky, Pat Elflein  /  Ohio State

FRONT 7 – Reuben Foster  /  Alabama, Haason Reddick  /  Temple, Jarrad Davis  /  Florida, Charles Harris  /  Missouri, Jonathan Allen  /  Alabama, Takkarist McKinley  /  UCLA

DB – Marlon Humphrey  /  Alabama, Tre’davious White  /  LSU, Obi Melifonwu  /  Connecticut

  1. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

There has been talk of the Buccaneers wanting to add a running back, but they have significant needs on the offensive line and defensive backfield, more specifically at safety and offensive guard. Adding JJ Wilcox helps, but he’s just a serviceable addition. Ali Marpet moving to center opens up a spot at guard for a new addition. If Lamp is on the board, he would be a tremendous addition. If he’s not, the board doesn’t really match up with the team’s major needs. After Hooker, the next safeties on the board appear to be Obi Melifonwu, Budda Baker, and Jabrill Peppers. In spite of his recent diluted sample from the combine, I wouldn’t be surprised if this is the spot where a team takes a risk on the Michigan safety.

Needs Assessment Possibilities

High Need

OL – Forrest Lamp  /  Western Kentucky, Pat Elflein  /  Ohio State

DB – Obi Melifonwu  /  Connecticut, Jabrill Peppers  /  Michigan, Budda Baker  /  Washington

  1. Denver Broncos

Given they just invested in a first round quarterback last year, the Broncos are probably more likely to address the offensive line. Tackles like Cam Robinson, Ryan Ramczyk or Garett Bolles should still be available at this point in the draft, allowing the Broncos to choose who they would like.

Needs Assessment Possibilities

High Need

OL – Cam Robinson  /  Alabama, Ryan Ramczyk  /  Wisconsin, Garett Bolles  /  Utah

Moderate Need

FRONT 7 – Reuben Foster  /  Alabama, Jarrad Davis  /  Florida, Zach Cunningham  /  Vanderbilt, Malik McDowell  /  Michigan State

  1. Detroit Lions

Many prognosticators have pegged the Lions as selecting a linebacker here, whether it is Reuben Foster, Haason Reddick or Jarrad Davis. That would certainly go toward addressing the biggest need in their positional investment chart. But for me, the more glaring hole is opposite Ziggy Ansah. Adding a pass rusher to their line to help take the double teams away from Ansah would help, and a player like Derek Barnett would be a great fit.

Needs Assessment Possibilities

High Need

FRONT 7 – Derek Barnett  /  Tennessee, Haason Reddick  /  Temple, Reuben Foster  /  Alabama, Jarrad Davis  /  Florida, Taco Charlton  /  Michigan, Charles Harris  /  Missouri

DB – Jabrill Peppers  /  Michigan, Obi Melifonwu  /  Connecticut

  1. Miami Dolphins

The one thing that has stood out as this study has moved along is the number of teams with a need along the offensive line. The Dolphins lucked into Laremy Tunsil last season, but still need to solidify the guard spots. Their second biggest need according to this study is at the skill positions. Will the acquisition of Julius Thomas prevent them from drafting another tight end? They seem to have found their long-term running back in Jay Ajayi. Could they employ a two back system if Cook is on the board still? If Lamp is there, I think it’s him.  But if he’s not, Njoku could be a valuable hedge against the health of Thomas. I also like Cam Robinson here and just taking talent along the offensive line and sorting out the positions later. Or is this a spot where the Dolphins once again capitalize on a player slipping for “maturity” issues? Foster would be a steal, if possible, even though it’s not a listed need.

Needs Assessment Possibilities

High Need

OL – Forrest Lamp  /  Western Kentucky, Cam Robinson  /  Alabama

Moderate Need

SKILL – David Njoku  /  Miami, Dalvin Cook  /  Florida State

23. New York Giants

For a playoff team, the Giants certainly have a lot of high priority needs. There has been some talk of a replacement for Eli Manning, but for a team hoping to contend and in need of playmakers in their defensive front seven, at running back, and at tight end, that might be throwing a pick away. But preserving Eli while he’s on the team should be the priority. One of Garett Bolles, Cam Robinson, Ryan Ramczyk or Forrest Lamp would both fill a need and be good value.  Personally, I would like the Giants to finally address the tight end position with David Njoku.

Needs Assessment Possibilities

High Need

FRONT 7 – Reuben Foster  /  Alabama, Haason Reddick  /  Temple

SKILL – David Njoku  /  Miami, Dalvin Cook  /  Florida State

OL – Cam Robinson  /  Alabama, Garett Bolles  /  Utah, Ryan Ramczyk  /  Wisconsin

  1. Oakland Raiders

The Raiders appear to be a team that peaked a bit early by winning a lot of close games and now have significant needs at running back and linebacker (Editor’s note: this piece was written prior to Marshawn Lynch signing with Oakland).  The positional investment analysis says there is a high need at quarterback, but with two young quarterbacks on the depth chart, other spots should be addressed first. If Reuben Foster drops, the Raiders would be an appropriate landing spot. There has been talk that the Raiders would not take Dalvin Cook if he were available in this scenario, although I could see him as tough to pass up. There are receivers on the board here still and wouldn’t it just be the ultimate Al Davis pick to pick a deep threat like John Ross? In this case, where there is a need in the front seven, I can see  Watt, Tyus Bowser or Zach Cunningham being the pick.  

Needs Assessment Possibilities

High Need

SKILL – Dalvin Cook  /  Florida State, John Ross  /  Washington, Joe Mixon  /  Oklahoma

FRONT 7 – Reuben Foster  /  Alabama, Zach Cunningham  /  Vanderbilt, Jarrad Davis  /  Florida, Haason Reddick  /  Temple

  1. Houston Texans

In my estimation, as well as that of the needs assessment, whatever quarterback is available appears to be the right pick for the Texans. Even if they believe in Tom Savage, adding another quarterback to a team that is pretty solid in every other area appears to be an appropriate use of resources.    

Needs Assessment Possibilities

High Need

QB – DeShaun Watson  /  Clemson, DeShone Kizer  /  Notre Dame, Patrick Mahomes  /  Texas Tech

Moderate Need

OL – Forrest Lamp  /  Western Kentucky, Cam Robinson  /  Alabama, Garett Bolles  /  Utah

DB – Tre’davious White  /  LSU, Budda Baker  /  Washington

  1. Seattle Seahawks

Again, the weird anomaly of a team with a very good starting quarterback falling into the top ten of needs at the position based on current investment. This is a case where the magnitude of the need tells a more complete story than the ranking. The offensive line has been an issue for a while, even though they’ve spent the ninth-most draft value on the position. One need that doesn’t come up in this study is in the defensive backfield, despite Richard Sherman being dangled in trades and an injury to Earl Thomas putting his return for training camp in jeopardy. Players like Kevin King and Obi Melifonwu are interesting possibilities outside of the top needs.

Assessment Needs Possibilities

Moderate Need

OL – Garett Bolles  /  Utah, Cam Robinson   /   Alabama, Forrest Lamp  /  Western Kentucky, Pat Elflein  /  Ohio State

FRONT 7 – Tyus Bowser  /  Houston, T.J. Watt  /  Wisconsin, Takkarist McKinley  /  UCLA

  1. Kansas City Chiefs


The Chiefs have one of the most balanced rosters in the league, making their reported interest in a quarterback valid. Tyler Bray is the lone backup for Alex Smith and they may not be willing to go with the veteran much longer if they can’t get over the hump in the AFC. This also seems like that weird place where an unexpected quarterback (Josh Dobbs, Davis Webb) goes. A pick on a running back seems unlikely given their track record and the depth of this draft, but more downfield targets for Alex Smith to go alongside Jeremy Maclin and Travis Kelce could be intriguing.

Needs Assessment Possibilities

High Need

QB – Patrick Mahomes  /  Texas Tech, DeShaun Watson  /  Clemson, Joshua Dobbs  /  Tennessee

SKILL – Josh Ross  /  Washington, Mike Williams  /  Clemson, Corey Davis  /  Western Michigan, Zay Jones  /  East Carolina

  1. Dallas Cowboys

Not only did the Cowboys’ defense get exposed in the playoffs, but there doesn’t appear to be much room for internal improvement. Like the Raiders, despite having one of the best offensive lines in the league, the Cowboys are a likely candidate to take a step back before another step forward unless they get drastic reinforcements on defense. Pass rushers like Tyus Bowser, Charles Harris, Derek Barnett, or Taco Charlton would help immediately. But the more pressing need is in the secondary where Byron Jones appears to be the only steadying presence. The depth at cornerback in this draft should aid the Cowboys.

Needs Assessment Possibilities

High Need

DB – Adoree Jackson  /  USC, Tre’davious White  /  LSU, Kevin King  /  Washington

FRONT 7 – Tyus Bowser  /  Houston, Charles Harris  /  Missouri,

  1. Green Bay Packers

What could be said about the Cowboys with regards to supplementing their existing pass rush and secondary could also be said about the Packers. The large difference is that with the recent exodus of both Josh Sitton (prior to last season), T.J. Lang and JC Tretter (this offseason), the depth that once existed on the Packers offensive line is gone. General Manager Ted Thompson has never really focused on the interior offensive line prior to the third round, making it hard to envision that pick there even though it is high need.

Needs Assessment Possibilities

High Need

OL – Pat Elflein  /  Ohio State, Cam Robinson  /  Alabama, Ryan Ramczyk  /  Wisconsin

Moderate Need

DB – Fabian Moreau  /  UCLA, Chidobe Awuzie  /  Colorado, Sidney Jones  /  Washington, Tre’Davious White  /  LSU, Quincy Wilson  /  Florida

FRONT 7 – Tyus Bowser  /  Houston, T.J. Watt  /  Wisconsin, Charles Harris  /  Missouri, Jordan Willis  /  Kansas State

  1. Pittsburgh Steelers

Based on this analysis, it’s tough to find a stronger roster and a more balanced positional investment chart that of the Pittsburgh Steelers. The only position with at least a moderate need is in the defensive backfield. Both Artie Burns and Sean Davis were recent draft picks that were immediately pressed into action. Do they go back to that well this year or is this the year to take a developmental quarterback behind Ben Roethlisberger?

Needs Assessment Possibilities

DB – Quincy Wilson  /  Florida, Obi Melifonwu  /  Connecticut, Budda Baker  /  Washington, Tre’Davious White  /  LSU

  1. Atlanta Falcons


The Falcons showed in the postseason that in spite of the influx of speed at linebacker and defensive back along with the emergence of Grady Jarrett, a pass rushing presence opposite Vic Beasley is a must. At this point in the draft, there should be a number of choices that would both fit and be of appropriate value for their draft position. The offensive line could be addressed as well, but isn’t as glaring as the hole in the front seven.

Needs Assessment Possibilities

Moderate Need

FRONT 7 – Charles Harris  /  Missouri, Taco Charlton  /  Michigan, Jordan Willis  /  Kansas State, T.J. Watt  /  Wisconsin

OL – Forrest Lamp  /  Western Kentucky, Pat Elflein  /  Ohio State

  1. New Orleans Saints

The final pick of the first round is the second for the Saints, compensation for trading Brandin Cooks away. If they go front seven at #12, addressing the defensive backfield would be optimal, and vice versa.

Needs Assessment Possibilities

FRONT 7 – Takkarist McKinley  /  UCLA, T.J. Watt  /  Wisconsin, Taco Charlton  /  Michigan, Charles Harris  /  Missouri

DB – Tre’Davious White  /  LSU, Adoree Jackson  /  USC, Kevin King  /  Washington, Quincy Wilson  /  Florida

Follow Jeff on Twitter @jfey5 and find his other work here, including a comparison of modern Super Bowl teamsthe best playoff QBs in recent memory, and what went into the Texans’ decision with their 2006 draft.

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