The two waves of the offseason where a team can truly add difference makers and contributors are through free agency, and the draft. The major part of free agency is done with only a couple veterans left on the market. At this point teams are left to rely on cuts to be made but the draft overall represents the final sure way to add key pieces to a squad. With that in mind there are a few teams that have to get this draft right and have a ton riding on how these prospects pan out.
This one is simple. With two picks in the first round after dealing Odell, the Giants will need to find a successor to Eli. Their defense has been completely dismantled after Jason Pierre-Paul was traded to the Bucs and Damon ‘Snacks’ Harrison was dealt to the Lions, and to compound that Gettleman made no effort to bring back star safety Landon Collins. The Giants seem to be all in on taking a pass rusher at 6 which would leave them to take their favorite signal caller at 17, which is dangerous. If a quarterback is valued by the league he will not be there at 17. Gettleman is under the philosophy of a ‘competitive rebuild’ which is crazy, and seems to sway them from taking a QB at 6 and continue to ride Eli who in the words of Gettleman “proved he has a lot left”. If the Giants do not go QB at 6 they will need to ensure they come away with a cornerstone franchise player on defense, considering whoever they draft at 17 assuming it is QB will be a project. With 12 picks in the draft, they are also a candidate to trade up to get their guy.
When you trade two franchise cornerstones in Khalil Mack and Amari Cooper your return better be worth it. Both trades netted the Raiders a first round pick from the Cowboys and Bears in this years draft, and after an interesting offseason, adding three starters can put them in contention for a wild card spot in the AFC. Oakland sits at 4, 24 and 27 with needs at corner, halfback, and not surprisingly a major hole at edge. The Raiders have been major players to this point in the offseason, landing the big disgruntled fish in Antonio Brown, while also signing Trent Brown to a big deal and adding Burfict, Lamarcus Joyner, and Tyrell Williams. Even minor additions of Crowell and Brandon Marshall can be solid. At 4 they may take a chance on Kyler if he is there and not taken by Arizona, while back end picks should be used on secondary help and Josh Jacobs has been constantly connected to Oakland. Raiders face a ton of pressure as they rebuild and look to defend the decision they made to trade away two stars.
The Bills are doing what they can to help out young quarterback Josh Allen who had a promising rookie season. They have added G Jon Feliciano, G/C Spencer Long, T Ty Nsekhe, OL LaAdrian Waddle, G Quinton Spain and C Mitch Morse along the offensive line which should give a tremendous boost. The core of receivers around him was awful for a young guy. His WR room consisted of Zay Jones and Robert Foster as the leading receivers, who finished with 652 and 541 yards respectively. The Bills went out and signed John Brown and Cole Beasley who should take advantage of Josh Allen’s pure arm talent and his strong arm. Cole Beasley should serve as a safety net for Allen in short yardage situations while Brown can get behind a defense. Brandon Beane and the front office also added Chris Ivory and Frank Gore, while adding TJ Yeldon. The signings make for the oldest backfield but Frank Gore showed he still has something left in the tank while Yeldon can add a threat as a receiver out of the backfield and Ivory provides solid depth. The Bills should definitely improve as a unit as they already had a defense that finished the year third in the league. The Bills with the ninth pick at their disposal are in prime position to continue to add to the offensive line or add a playmaker. With another pick at 40, if they hit on both will have a solid young nucleus to grow with Allen. Grabbing a guy like Jonah Williams or Jawaan Taylor in the first with N’Keal Harry, Deebo Samuel or Kelvin Harmon would be the ideal situation for the Bills. They have added a bunch of players to help, but none aside from Mitch Morse and Yeldon are true difference makers.
Aaron Rodgers is not getting any younger, and has battled injuries for a while. In the first game of the year he had to leave the game with a knee injury though he would return and lead the Packers to a win. Just a year prior in 2017, he missed most of the year after suffering a shoulder injury due to a big hit from Anthony Barr. Rodgers’ style of play, and injury history leaves durability concerns which begs the question of whether Green Bay should look to grab his successor. In any case, they will need to continue to surround the former MVP with help. They have to opportunity to do so with two picks in the first round, and their first one being at 12. This year’s draft is filled with guys who can come in and be ready day one at TE, WR and tackle. The signings of Za’Darius Smith, and Preston Smith makes edge not so much of a dire need while Amos adds to the secondary. The first pick should absolutely be used to help Rodgers with either one of the Iowa TE’s in Hockenson or Fant. Their latter pick at 30 can possibly used on a QB to groom. The title window for Green Bay is continually getting smaller with Rodgers set to turn 36 by the second half of the season, and they must try to capitalize on the top talent that Rodgers is.