1, 12. CLEVELAND BROWNS (1-15)
LAST SEASON: Following 0-14 start under first-year coach Hue Jackson, Browns barely avoided becoming only second team to lose all 16 games. Owners Jimmy and Dee Haslam vowed to be patient with new front office and coaching staff and were mostly true to word as team underwent minimal offseason changes. Cleveland’s biggest issue remains as it has been for 15 years, no long-term answer at quarterback. Defense isn’t much better, ranking 31st overall and lacking impact players. Fan base is disillusioned with front office’s plan.
THEY NEED: QB, DL, S, WRs.
THEY DON’T NEED: Another blown draft.
POSSIBLE FIRST PICK: DE/LB Myles Garrett, Texas A&M.
OUTLOOK: By shrewdly stockpiling assets, Browns control top of draft with two first-round picks and five in top 65. Cleveland is desperate to find franchise quarterback, but this might not be year to reach for one with early pick or by trading up. Unless they are blown away by deal, Garrett appears to be lock. There’s strong interest in North Carolina QB Mitchell Trubisky, local kid who could slip to 12 if he gets past Jets at No. 6. Browns have assets to be active, but more prudent approach this time would be to focus on picking quality players. Browns loaded up on offensive linemen in free agency to better protect passer. QB Brock Osweiler, acquired in trade at opening of free agency from Houston, could be dealt if team takes quarterback in early rounds.
4. JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS (3-13)
LAST SEASON: Finished with double-digit losses for sixth consecutive year and ended one of worst coaching tenures in NFL history by firing Gus Bradley with two games remaining. Jaguars hired interim coach Doug Marrone in January and brought back Tom Coughlin to oversee every aspect of football operations. Marrone, Coughlin and GM Dave Caldwell all got three-year contracts, a clear indication owner Shad Khan believes team is close to competing for playoff berth.
THEY NEED: RB, TE, OL, DL.
THEY DON’T NEED: CB, LB.
POSSIBLE FIRST PICK: RB Leonard Fournette, LSU; DE Jonathan Allen, Alabama; DE Solomon Thomas, Stanford.
OUTLOOK: Coughlin has final say in draft, and 70-year-old executive is expected to make bold picks that will help right away. Coughlin wants to fortify both lines of scrimmage and improve running game, which he believes will benefit embattled QB Blake Bortles. So Fournette makes sense. Jaguars whiffed repeatedly (DE Derrick Harvey, OT Eugene Monroe, DL Tyson Alualu, QB Blaine Gabbert, WR Justin Blackmon, OT Luke Joeckel, maybe Bortles, maybe DE Dante Fowler) while picking in top 10 in each of last nine years. But they hit on cornerback Jalen Ramsey with fifth overall pick in 2016 and hope to find similar success. Having added DE Calais Campbell, CB A.J. Bouye and SS Barry Church in free agency, Jacksonville appears poised to address offensive needs in draft.
5, 18. TENNESSEE TITANS (9-7)
LAST SEASON: In Mike Mularkey’s first full season as coach, Titans tripled win total and just missed first AFC South title since 2008. Marcus Mariota proved he was no one-year wonder with sixth-highest passer rating for quarterback in first two seasons. His 95.6 passer rating was third best in franchise history. With Pro Bowl running back DeMarco Murray, Titans ranked 11th in total offense and led NFL at scoring touchdowns inside 20. Yet, first-year coordinator Dick LeBeau couldn’t cover up poor secondary enough as Titans ranked 30th against pass. Titans also couldn’t overcome 2-4 record inside division.
THEY NEED: CB, WR, TE, S, LB.
THEY DON’T NEED: QB, RB, LT, RT.
POSSIBLE FIRST PICKS: S Jamal Adams, LSU; LB Reuben Foster, Alabama; S Malik Hooker, Ohio State; WR Corey Davis, W. Michigan; TE O.J. Howard, Alabama; WR Mike Williams, Clemson; WR John Ross, Washington.
OUTLOOK: Second-year general manager Jon Robinson made it very clear year ago by trading away No. 1 overall draft pick that he is open to dealing. That brought Titans fifth pick overall from Rams, and sliding down could allow him to get into second round, where Tennessee currently has no selections. Robinson already has bolstered secondary in free agency with CB Logan Ryan from New England, CB Demontre Hurst from Chicago, and S Johnathan Cyprien from Jacksonville. But CB Jason McCourty is gone from area that needs better depth and competition. Titans let WR Kendall Wright walk in free agency and need targets for Mariota. With Anthony Fasano leaving for Miami, Mularkey needs more tight ends.
6. NEW YORK JETS (5-11)
LAST SEASON: After promising first season under Todd Bowles in 2015 that ended win shy of playoffs at 10-6, Jets were mess last year, with poor quarterback play major reason. Ryan Fitzpatrick followed impressive 2015 season of team record 31 TD passes with brutal campaign in which he was benched twice and finished with 12 TDs and 17 INTs. He and Geno Smith are gone, Bryce Petty did little to establish himself in limited opportunity before shoulder injury ended season. As QBs struggled, passing game suffered as Brandon Marshall dealt with injuries and had fewest catches (59) since rookie season, and Eric Decker played only three games before shoulder injury. Stunning decline of Darrelle Revis led to extremely leaky secondary. Second-year DL Leonard Williams was one of team’s few bright spots, making first Pro Bowl after leading team with seven sacks.
THEY NEED: CB, QB, TE, LB, RG, LT, S.
THEY DON’T NEED: LG, DE, LS.
POSSIBLE FIRST PICK: CB Marshon Lattimore, Ohio State; QB Deshaun Watson, Clemson; RB Leonard Fournette, LSU; QB Mitchell Trubisky, North Carolina; QB Patrick Mahomes, Texas Tech; S Malik Hooker, Ohio State; S Jamal Adams, LSU; TE O.J. Howard, Alabama.
OUTLOOK: With Jets in clear rebuilding mode and GM Mike Maccagnan looking toward future, Bowles in unenviable situation of coaching for present because of tenuous job situation, uncertain if he’ll be back if New York endures another lost season — despite lack of experience on roster. With so many needs, Maccagnan has said covets more picks and Jets could trade out of No. 6 spot. Despite signing well-traveled veteran Josh McCown, Jets still could draft quarterback in early or middle rounds to compete with Petty, McCown and Christian Hackenberg in camp. Side note: No. 6 spot has been mixed bag lately for Jets. In 2015 they took Williams, who has looked promising. But previous sixth pick came in 2008, when they selected DE Vernon Gholston — largely regarded as one of franchise’s biggest draft busts.
7. LOS ANGELES CHARGERS (5-11)
LAST SEASON: Chargers have won only nine games in two seasons, and now must try to stand out in crowded and competitive Los Angeles market after leaving San Diego because voters refused to help fund new stadium. Coach Mike McCoy was fired and replaced with Anthony Lynn from Buffalo Bills. There were few bright spots in 2016, such as DE Joey Bosa winning Defensive Rookie of Year Award and RB Melvin Gordon rebounding from miserable rookie season. But there are still problems on offensive line, and stars such as WR Keenan Allen and CB Jason Verrett can’t stay healthy.
THEY NEED: S, WR, DL, OL, QB
THEY DON’T NEED: TE, CB, K, P.
POSSIBLE FIRST PICK: S Malik Hooker, Ohio State; S Jamal Adams, LSU.
OUTLOOK: Noting that Rivers is getting “long in the tooth,” Lynn said he’d like GM Tom Telesco to draft quarterback so he can learn under Rivers, who is under contract through 2019. “Philip is the ultimate pro in my opinion,” Lynn said. “We have a good situation for a young quarterback that doesn’t have to come in and play right now. He can sit, watch.” Said Rivers: “We’re going to at some point. I’m not going to be here forever. … I certainly don’t fear that day when that comes whatsoever. I don’t take it as my role, ‘Oh, we drafted a young guy, your eventual replacement so get him ready.’ But at the same time I enjoy sharing both things I’ve learned and letting the young guy see how I’ve done things. At the same time, shoot, I’m always going to compete. All of us have to compete and never feel comfortable. Should this be the year there’s a young guy in here, he’ll come in here and be in what I would think would be a pretty good situation.”
9. CINCINNATI BENGALS (6-9-1)
LAST SEASON: Bengals’ run of five straight playoff appearances — and first-round losses — came to end. Offensive line struggled with Cedric Ogbuehi in first season at right tackle; he wound up benched for a while. Defense started showing some age, slipping to middle-of-pack status. Line suffered two significant hits in free agency when left tackle Andrew Whitworth and right guard Kevin Zeitler left. Bengals also declined to hold on to defensive tackle Domata Peko, but supported cornerback Adam “Pacman” Jones after his latest arrest, which left him at risk of another suspension from NFL. Kicker job is open to competition.
THEY NEED: DE, LB, OT, OG, RB.
THEY DON’T NEED: QB, P, C.
POSSIBLE FIRST PICK: DE Jonathan Allen, Alabama; LB Reuben Foster, Alabama.
OUTLOOK: Coach Marvin Lewis is entering final year of contract — he and front office couldn’t reach accommodation on extension. Bengals plan to let young, inexperienced players take on bigger roles, which implies some growing pains. Offensive line is most glaring concern, with Ogbuehi expected to move to left tackle after rough season on other side of line. With OL struggling, QB Andy Dalton was under pressure and running game never developed any consistency. Offense should be better with A.J. Green and Giovani Bernard back from significant injuries, assuming line can hold its own.
10. BUFFALO BILLS (7-9)
LAST SEASON: Rex Ryan’s inability to build bully, particularly on defense, led to coach being fired in final week of second season. Behind LeSean McCoy, Buffalo led NFL in rushing for second consecutive year, but inconsistent and injury-depleted passing attack sputtered, contributing to franchise extending playoff drought to 17 seasons — longest active streak among North America’s four major sports. Bills turned to detail-oriented Carolina Panthers defensive coordinator Sean McDermott to take over as first-time head coach.
THEY NEED: CB, WR, LB.
THEY DON’T NEED: S, DE, OL.
POSSIBLE FIRST PICK: WR Mike Williams, Clemson; CB Gareon Conley, Ohio State; LB Reuben Foster, Alabama; QB Patrick Mahomes, Texas Tech.
OUTLOOK: Pressure on GM Doug Whaley to deliver after spotty drafting history and questions whether he’s had difficulty working with team’s two previous coaches, Ryan and Doug Marrone. Whaley’s public voice has been diminished with McDermott now mostly speaking on team-related issues, including draft. With only six picks, don’t rule out Bills trading down to add selections. Though QB Tyrod Taylor returns for third season as starter, difficult to envision Bills being in position to contend immediately under fourth coach in six seasons and introducing yet another new system.
15. INDIANAPOLIS COLTS (8-8)
LAST SEASON: Andrew Luck fought through injuries for second straight season and even though he finished schedule, Indy still missed playoffs. Team owner Jim Irsay’s solution: fire general manager Ryan Grigson, hire Chris Ballard and focus more heavily on fixing defense. During coach Chuck Pagano’s five-year tenure, Colts’ defense has never been ranked in top half of NFL. Retirement of Robert Mathis, Colts’ career sacks leader, won’t help, either. But Colts’ revamped offensive line showed signs of progress in last month of season.
THEY NEED: DE/OLB, CB, RB, G.
THEY DON’T NEED: C, K.
POSSIBLE FIRST PICK: LB Haason Reddick, Temple; LB Reuben Foster, Alabama; G Forrest Lamp, Western Kentucky; OT Ryan Ramczyk, Wisconsin; DE Derek Barnett, Tennessee; CB Gareon Conley, Ohio State.
OUTLOOK: Ballard filled some holes by signing solid, mostly reasonably priced free agents. But Indy still needs defensive playmakers. Top priorities appear to be finding young, legitimate pass rusher and starting cornerback. That’s not all. Among other needs, Ballard needs successor for soon to be 34-year-old running back Frank Gore, and possible backup for Luck, still recovering from offseason shoulder surgery. Colts should try to strengthen right side of offensive line and may add to linebacker group that already has four new faces. Deep defensive draft gives Ballard plenty of options, including trading back to collect more picks.
16. BALTIMORE RAVENS (8-8)
LAST SEASON: Baltimore won its first three games, then lost four straight and finished by dropping three of last four to miss playoffs for second year in row. Joe Flacco passed for career-high 4,317 yards but threw 15 interceptions and received little support from running game that ranked 28th. K Justin Tucker led team with 141 points, RB Terrance West was second with only 36. Defense ranked seventh but yielded 114 points over final four games, including 21 in fourth quarter of pivotal 31-27 loss to Steelers. Only six teams had fewer sacks than Ravens (31). Baltimore placed 18 players on injured reserve, including five CBs.
THEY NEED: CB, DE, WR, OT, C, FB.
THEY DON’T NEED: QB, TE, RB, S.
POSSIBLE FIRST PICK: WR Corey Davis, Western Michigan; WR John Ross, Washington; OT Ryan Ramczyk, Wisconsin; LB Charles Harris, Missouri; CB Marlon Humphrey, Alabama.
OUTLOOK: GM Ozzie Newsome has plenty of holes to fill, so he should have plenty of options with 16th overall pick. Retirement of Steve Smith leaves void at WR, but despite Newsome’s keen eye for talent on draft day he’s been off mark at that position with No. 1s (Travis Taylor, Mark Clayton, Breshad Perriman). Newsome fortified defensive backfield by signing free agents Brandon Carr and Tony Jefferson, but Ravens desperately need depth at CB because Jimmy Smith has had difficulty staying healthy. Release of LB Elvis Dumervil and advancing age of LB Terrell Suggs leaves Baltimore in dire need of someone who can hunt down quarterbacks.
20. DENVER BRONCOS (9-7)
LAST SEASON: For first time since John Elway returned as GM in 2011, Broncos failed to reach playoffs last season. He found himself conducting his third search for head coach after Gary Kubiak stepped down over health concerns just two years into job. Elway hired Miami Dolphins defensive coordinator Vance Joseph, who promoted secondary coach Joe Woods to replace D-coordinator Wade Phillips, and hired ex-Chargers head coach Mike McCoy to run offense. After dominating AFC West with five consecutive titles, Broncos slipped behind Chiefs and Raiders following Peyton Manning’s retirement. DeMarcus Ware retired this year but Denver is still loaded on defense. They have to fix offense that was inept much of last season.
THEY NEED: OT, LB, CB, RB, TE, WR, KR.
THEY DON’T NEED: C, QB, K, P, G, S.
POSSIBLE FIRST PICK: S Jabrill Peppers, Michigan; LT Garett Bolles, Utah; LT Ryan Ramczyk, Wisconsin; RB Christian McCaffrey, Stanford.
OUTLOOK: Elway whiffed on attempts to sign DT Earl Mitchell and DE Calais Campbell in free agency. But he did address run defense with additions of Domata Peko and Zach Kerr. On offense, he jettisoned LT Russell Okung and added some nastiness to O-line by signing free agents Ron Leary and Menelik Watson. Elway could land left tackle in first round but this draft is so deep on defense it wouldn’t be surprising if he scraps plans and grabs another highly rated defender like when Bradley Roby and Shane Ray slipped down in previous drafts.
22. MIAMI DOLPHINS (10-7)
LAST SEASON: New coach Adam Gase led Miami to first playoff berth since 2008, but 35-14 loss to Patriots in regular-season finale and 30-12 first-round playoff loss at Pittsburgh showed Dolphins are still far from championship. Offense began to jell in October, but defense allowed franchise-record 6,122 yards, and draft emphasis will be to find help for new defensive coordinator Matt Burke. There’s excellent core in middle with DT Ndamukong Suh and S Reshad Jones, but Dolphins are in dire need of defensive help on flanks. They had decent 2016 draft, first one with trio of Gase, vice president Mike Tannenbaum and general manager Chris Grier making decisions. Picks included top choice Laremy Tunsil, who looks to be anchor of OL for years to come. But to gain ground on Patriots, they’ll need to do even better this time.
THEY NEED: CB, S, LB, DE, G, DT, C.
THEY DON’T NEED: QB, T, TE, RB, WR.
POSSIBLE FIRST PICK: DE Taco Charlton, Michigan; S Jabrill Peppers, Michigan; G Forrest Lamp, Western Kentucky; LB Zach Cunningham, Vanderbilt; CB Tre’Davious White, LSU; DT Malik McDowell, Michigan State.
OUTLOOK: Dolphins invested heavily in core this offseason. WR Kenny Stills and DE Andre Branch accepted offers to remain rather than test free agency, G Jermon Bushrod re-signed, and Jones signed $60 million, five-year extension. Miami acquired LB Lawrence Timmons, G Ted Larsen, TE Anthony Fasano and S Nate Allen via free agency, and added TE Julius Thomas and DE William Hayes in trades. With Tunsil moving from guard to left tackle to replace departed Branden Albert, Dolphins need help at guard, but otherwise they’ll focus on defense in early rounds. They have only three of first 165 picks, compounding challenge of filling multitude of needs. But with good draft, Miami might even win playoff game for first time since 2000.
24. OAKLAND RAIDERS (12-5)
LAST SEASON: Raiders ended 13-year playoff drought behind strong play of QB Derek Carr and DE Khalil Mack. Broken leg for Carr in penultimate game of regular season cost Oakland chance at division title and sent Raiders home early with first-round playoff loss at Houston. But there was enough progress before that for team to build on heading into 2017.
THEY NEED: CB, LB, RB, DT.
THEY DON’T NEED: QB, OL.
POSSIBLE FIRST PICK: LB Jarrad Davis, Florida; LB Zach Cunningham, Vanderbilt; CB Marlon Humphrey, Alabama.
OUTLOOK: GM Reggie McKenzie has been mostly quiet this offseason, with most notable additions being TE Jared Cook, OL Marshall Newhouse and WR-KR Cordarrelle Patterson. Raiders have done little to address deficiencies on defense, which will likely be focus in draft. Top need will be finding linebacker who can shore up run defense and not be exploited in coverage. Improving interior pass rush and finding slot cornerback also will be high priority. One big need on offense is at running back, where starter Latavius Murray left in free agency and has not been replaced.
25. HOUSTON TEXANS (10-8)
LAST SEASON: Houston overcame J.J. Watt missing most of season with back injury to go 9-7 and win weak AFC South for second straight year. Emergence of 2014 top overall pick Jadeveon Clowney helped ease loss of Watt and allow Houston to lead NFL in yards allowed. After getting blown out by Kansas City in wild-card round in 2016, Texans were ousted in divisional round by New England largely because of another ineffective performance by quarterback Brock Osweiler. Osweiler was inconsistent throughout first season in Houston and after season team decided $72 million investment was mistake and shipped him to Cleveland.
THEY NEED: QB, RT, S, CB.
THEY DON’T NEED: RB, DE, WR.
POSSIBLE FIRST PICK: QB Patrick Mahomes, Texas Tech; QB Deshaun Watson, Clemson; QB Mitchell Trubisky, North Carolina; QB DeShone Kizer, Notre Dame; OL Cam Robinson, Alabama.
OUTLOOK: When Tony Romo chose broadcasting over another NFL season, it left Texans in desperate need of another quarterback to compete with Tom Savage and Brandon Weeden for starting job. Many of quarterbacks that would be good in system, like Mahomes and Watson, could be gone when they pick, so they’d have to trade up to snag one. Houston did not sign any outside free agents, lost starting cornerback A.J. Bouye and safety Quintin Demps, leaving team with need in secondary. Could also use reinforcements at right tackle with starter Derek Newton recovering from injuries to both knees and unlikely to be ready for opener.
27. KANSAS CITY CHIEFS (12-5)
LAST SEASON: Chiefs won AFC West for first time since 2010, then were dumped by Pittsburgh in divisional round of playoffs. Coach Andy Reid and GM John Dorsey shelled out big money in offseason to keep SS Eric Berry and solidify other spots, but salary cap problems mean they will turn to draft to fill in rest of holes. Chiefs believe they have window to compete for Super Bowl in next couple years, so look for Reid and Dorsey to seek immediate help.
THEY NEED: RB, LB, WR, CB, OL, QB.
THEY DON’T NEED: TE, DL, FB, S.
POSSIBLE FIRST PICK: LB Zach Cunningham, Vanderbilt; RB Christian McCaffrey, Stanford; WR Zay Jones, East Carolina; QB Pat Mahomes, Texas Tech; CB Kevin King, Washington; LB Jarrad Davis, Florida.
OUTLOOK: Chiefs desperately need more playmakers after WR Jeremy Maclin underperformed last season. McCaffrey is ideal pass-catching RB for Reid’s modified West Coast offense, while Jones would give Chiefs vertical threat they haven’t had in years. But Chiefs also need potential replacement for LB Derrick Johnson, coming off second Achilles tendon surgery and nearing end of his career, though that may be available for Kansas City in later rounds. Dorsey and Reid have shown willingness to trade down, so that may be option if top targets are off board, but Chiefs have 10 selections and are prime candidates to move up this year.
30. PITTSBURGH STEELERS (13-6)
LAST SEASON: Steelers emerged from midseason malaise to rip off seven straight wins to capture AFC North for second time in three seasons and reach AFC championship. That surge was due in part to rapid maturation of rookies CB Artie Burns, S Sean Davis and DT Javon Hargrave, team’s first three picks in 2016 draft. Pittsburgh’s one-sided loss to New England in playoffs still much work to be done to break New England’s hammerlock on AFC. Tom Brady shredded Pittsburgh secondary (384 yards, three TDs) while getting sacked just twice.
THEY NEED: OLB, ILB, CB, S, TE.
THEY DON’T NEED: OL, QB.
POSSIBLE FIRST PICK: ILB Jarrad Davis, Florida; CB Marlon Humphrey, Alabama; ILB Zach Cunningham, Vanderbilt); OLB Takkarist McKinley (UCLA).
OUTLOOK: Steelers need to produce pressure off edge — James Harrison isn’t going to play forever — and another big-time cornerback like Burns who isn’t afraid to be matched up one on one with other team’s top receiver. Upgrade at inside linebacker would help, too, after Lawrence Timmons left for Miami in free agency and New England outbid Steelers to hang on to Dont’a Hightower. They have eight picks in all, so finding depth lower in draft at running back and wide receiver shouldn’t be issue. Talent that can make immediate impact like top three last year is must. While QB Ben Roethlisberger hinted at retirement in offseason, finding his eventual replacement isn’t top priority when window to win with Roethlisberger is still open. If they take WR, it may be sign they don’t feel Martavis Bryant is long-term solution. Bryant remains suspended for violating league’s substance abuse policy, though he is eligible to seek reinstatement.
96. NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS (17-2)
LAST SEASON: Patriots won their second Super Bowl in three years, overcoming 25-point deficit in last 17 minutes to beat Atlanta. It was their 14th straight year with at least 10 wins and seventh in row with 12 or more. It also was eighth straight playoff appearance and 13th in 14 seasons. This was despite playing first four games without quarterback Tom Brady because of “Deflategate” suspension. Backup Jimmy Garoppolo was injured in second game, and third-stringer Jacoby Brissett started next two. They went 3-1 before Brady returned. Only game five-time Super Bowl champion lost was in Week 10 against Seattle in rematch of 2015 title game.
THEY NEED: To make decisions on whether to keep Garoppolo, RB LeGarrette Blount and CB Malcolm Butler; OL and DL help.
THEY DON’T NEED: QB, RB, WR, CB.
POSSIBLE FIRST PICK: No first- or second-round pick. OT Antonio Garcia, Troy; DT Elijah Qualls, Washington.
OUTLOOK: After sending No. 32 overall pick to New Orleans in trade for WR Brandin Cooks, and 64th overall pick to Carolina for Kony Early, acquiring TE Dwayne Allen in trade, and signing CB Stephon Gilmore as free agent and RB Mike Gillislee to offer sheet, defending Super Bowl champions can look at draft to build depth instead of plugging holes. Coach Bill Belichick likes it that way, anyway. Look for Patriots to trade Butler to New Orleans to get back No. 32 pick, then to trade down for more picks in later rounds when they can take complementary players and long-term projects. One of those could be another quarterback if Belichick decides to cash out on Garoppolo now rather than keep him around to sit while Brady continues to defy his age.
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