NFL Draft – who has the most riding on it?

The 2019 NFL Draft is only a week away so with that in mind which teams have the most riding on restocking their rosters with the best new young talent? Of course, it can be argued that all teams needs to ace it, for varying reasons but let’s look at one team per division where their front office really need to step up.

AFC East – Miami Dolphins – with Brian Flores installed as Head Coach, a real clearout on the roster and not a whole lot of Free Agency signings (notwithstanding Ryan Fitzpatrick) it is clear that Miami is looking to rebuild through the draft. However, they don’t own a whole lot of draft capital (one mid-round pick per rounds 1-5). Plenty of needs, including possibly a new franchise QB for the future (I can only think Fitzpatrick is a stop gap for all his slinging ability). I’d look for the Dolphins to make a statement early on, maybe trading up in round 1 to take a top 10 stud. In order to do that they may need to trade away some 2020 Draft value.

AFC North – Cincinnati Bengals – very similar story to the Dolphins, new Head Coach (Zac Taylor), no stellar moves in free agency, and a need for a real boost from the draft. Throw in to the mix that they now sit rock bottom of the AFC North pecking order (Steelers and Ravens always strong and now the Browns are signing guys like OBJ – they must be thinking what just happened…). A little more room to manoeuvre in terms of draft capital than Miami, the Bengals have 11 overall picks but 6 of them sit in rounds 6 and 7. I can see some of them packaged up to try and move up in round 1 if needs be to make a signature move on the first night. A bust on draft night and it could be a long 2019.

AFC West – Oakland Raiders – sorry absolute no-brainer here, let’s face it we are all watching them with 4 picks in the first 35 selections. Anything could happen here with the Manock / Gruden axis calling the shots. I can see their phone line being open for business on the first night with a view to hoovering up some additional picks for anyone wishing to trade up (or back into) the 1st round. They have some catching up to do in a competitive AFC West and they will be looking to supplement their busy free agency with 3-5 day 1 starters from this draft.

AFC South – Jacksonville Jaguars – in the space of 12 months the Jags went from first to worst and now they are playing catch up against 3 very strong divisional rivals. Nick Foles is their marquee addition from free agency and now they need to put some pieces in place around him so the offense can prosper. With Foles in place the Jags can steer clear of the 1st round QBs and secure other pieces (TE, WR, O-line). If they can make the most of their 5 picks in the first 4 rounds they will be back in business in the AFC South.
NFC East – NY Giants – really, for me, it has to be the Giants. So many questions. Do they take a QB – if so with which pick. Do they concentrate on re-tooling the defense? Do they sit at 6 and 17 in round 1? How do they go about replacing the deep threat (with OBJ now in Cleveland) at WR in order to stretch the field (if they don’t defenses will look to clog up their main weapon, Saquon). What is the Gettleplan? A massive 12 picks in total which I think they will look to consolidate into 8 or 9, for example in order to get back up into a high round 3 spot. Lots to watch out for.

NFC North – Minnesota Vikings – 2018 was an odd season for the Vikings, a positive record (just about) and only 1 win from a wildcard spot in the NFC. BUT. The haters were out for the Vikings last season. Kirk Cousins’ megacontract has severely restricted their ability to make moves in free agency whereas divisional rivals the Packers and Lions have rebooted in areas of need. Not a great deal of draft capital to work with, one mid-round pick per round over the first four, and then not much else. Got to make those first four count or look to make some creative moves bargaining away other pieces of the family silver (trades or 2020 picks). A bust and they are looking at being leap-frogged by the Packers and Lions in 2019.

NFC West – Arizona Cardinals – mirrors the AFC West, an obvious choice, perhaps simply because they are top of the shop at pick number 1 (Kyler Murray??). In fact they hold first pick in each of the first 6 rounds – lots of value that could be used to stockpile more picks in the early rounds. The NFC West is brutal and the Cardinals need to be able to compete, and their haul in the draft will be key to that.

NFC South – Atlanta Falcons – the world has seemingly slowly slipped away from the Falcons ever since the 4th quarter of Super Bowl LI. A divisional round loss in 2017 was followed by a distinctly average 2018 7-9 season. The NFC South remains competitive with the Saints and Panthers with the newly invigorated Bruce Arians’ Buccaneers coming up on the rails. The Falcons need to use what is left of the Matt Ryan / Julio Jones era to arrest the slide. They have mid rounders in the draft plus an additional pick in rounds 4 and 5. They need to nail it next week in order to claw back divisional bragging rights from the Saints and keep the other teams at bay.

Only a week left! So much to look forward to!

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