Nate Davis reveals three of the 100 biggest draft busts in NFL history according to USA TODAY Sports.
USA TODAY Sports
A look at the primary needs of all 16 AFC teams heading into the 2019 NFL draft and what we think they should do over the course of three days during the annual “Player Selection Meeting”:
They did well in free agency, improving the roster without overpaying for players like WRs Cole Beasley and Smokey Brown and C Mitch Morse, but need to continue building around second-year QB Josh Allen.
Picks: No. 9 (1st), 40 (2nd), 74 (3rd), 112 (4th), 131 (4th), 147 (5th), 158 (5th), 181 (6th), 225 (7th), 228 (7th)
Recommendation: Tight end might be the optimal gift to Allen, and either one of Iowa’s studs, T.J. Hockenson or Noah Fant, would fit. But a defense that ranked second overall last year could also use one of this year’s incoming stars to bolster a front seven that lost DT Kyle Williams to retirement and will likely see LB Lorenzo Alexander walk away next year. Houston DT Ed Oliver, LSU LB Devin White, Michigan DE Rashan Gary and many others make sense. A young running back should be a priority on Day 2 given LeSean McCoy and Frank Gore will have a combined age of 67 on opening day.
They’re basically starting from scratch under rookie head coach Brian Flores.
Picks: No. 13 (1st), 48 (2nd), 78 (3rd), 116 (4th), 151 (5th), 233 (7th), 234 (7th)
Recommendation: It needs to be all about restocking with good players, regardless of position, and trading down from 13th seems like a good way to accelerate that process. If Miami stays put, it could go quarterback — perhaps a recommended route if they like Ohio State’s Dwayne Haskins, and he’s there — but it might be wiser to begin looking for a supporting cast first given the serious issues the Dolphins face in the trenches. Clemson’s Christian Wilkins and Clelin Ferrell are the kind of defensive linemen who’d fill a need, provide the versatility Flores became accustomed to as a New England assistant and help quickly establish a new identity and locker room culture.
New England Patriots
They were fairly quiet in free agency, letting LT Trent Brown and DE Trey Flowers leave before losing TE Rob Gronkowski to retirement a few weeks later. The defending champs appear to have more needs than they typically do, but Bill Belichick always seems to figure something out.
Picks: No. 32 (1st), 56 (2nd), 64 (2nd), 73 (3rd), 97 (3rd), 101 (3rd), 134 (4th), 205 (6th), 239 (7th), 243 (7th), 246 (7th), 252 (7th)
Recommendation: Belichick won’t draft for need — especially after adding capable veterans like DL Michael Bennett, TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins and WR Demaryius Thomas. And Isaiah Wynn, a first-round pick in 2018 who lost his rookie season to an Achilles tear, will be in the mix to replace Brown. So, in a nutshell, Belichick can do what he always does: Let the board come to him, knowing he’s got the flexibility to move up and down as he pleases. A player like Hockenson seems made to order, but New England would have to go get him when they could probably wait on a quality prospect like Alabama’s Irv Smith. It seems more likely the Pats seek help for their front seven if they stand, um, pat. But is this the year they get a young insurance policy for Tom Brady? Daniel Jones and Drew Lock might be candidates.
New York Jets
Their latest rebuild seems to be taking shape nicely, presumed franchise QB Sam Darnold secured in last year’s draft and a fresh haul of free agents, including RB Le’Veon Bell and ILB C.J. Mosley, just coming aboard. Still, this roster has plenty of holes — pass rushers, blockers and receivers being priorities.
Picks: No. 3 (1st), 68 (3rd), 93 (3rd), 105 (4th), 196 (6th), 217 (7th)
Recommendation: GM Mike Maccagnan would like to deal down from third overall, hoping to recoup one of the second rounders he surrendered last year while getting into position for the pick that ultimately netted Darnold. Sounds great in theory, but the Jets could struggle to find a partner willing to pay sufficiently unless Oklahoma QB Kyler Murray unexpectedly slides. If Maccagnan stays put, he’ll surely take the best player available — and Nick Bosa, Josh Allen, Quinnen Williams or Oliver would all be upgrades to this defense. If the Jets manage to drop back, maybe they target a player like Washington State LT Andre Dillard to safeguard Darnold for the next decade.
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New GM Eric DeCosta has plenty to think about as he continues customizing this offense for second-year dual-threat QB Lamar Jackson while weighing what to do about last season’s top-ranked defense, which lost quite a few starters to free agency.
Picks: No. 22 (1st), 85th (3rd), 102 (3rd), 113 (4th), 123rd (4th), 160 (5th), 191 (6th), 193 (6th)
Recommendation: DeCosta has no second rounder after predecessor Ozzie Newsome used it last year to move back into Round 1 for Jackson. DeCosta might want to move out of this year’s first round for additional opportunities to refresh his roster. If he can get two choices in the latter half of the top 50, he could more easily choose among players like WR N’Keal Harry, ILB Mack Wilson and DL Dexter Lawrence and Jeffery Simmons. An interior offensive lineman would also help.
Big job ahead for new coach Zac Taylor, who would surely like to add firepower to the offense he’s charged with improving, but also needs assets for a defense that ranked dead last in 2018.
Picks: No. 11 (1st), 42 (2nd), 72 (3rd), 110 (4th), 149 (5th), 183 (6th), 198 (6th), 210 (6th), 211 (6th), 211 (6th), 213 (6th), 223 (7th)
Recommendation: Trust the board. Michigan ILB Devin Bush would be an upgrade over departed Vontaze Burfict. Haskins would probably offer more upside than incumbent QB Andy Dalton but wouldn’t necessarily have to play immediately — and Taylor might prefer the opportunity to groom a passer after spending last year coaching the Rams’ Jared Goff. Cincinnati could also use extensive O-line reinforcements, so Dillard, Alabama’s Jonah Williams or Florida’s Jawaan Taylor could be options. Defensively, barring the selection of Bush, help at linebacker and defensive back can be procured on Days 2 and 3.
With stars like Baker Mayfield, Myles Garrett and Odell Beckham Jr. and four prime-time games on the early schedule, they appear to be the league’s new darlings. But after loading up in free agency and parting with this year’s first rounder to get OBJ, the Browns probably can’t make a whole lot of noise in this draft.
Picks: No. 49 (2nd), No. 80 (3rd), 119 (4th), 144th (5th), 155 (5th), 170 (5th), 189 (6th), 221 (7th)
Recommendation: Hard to believe as it might seem, Cleveland’s lineup looks set in most areas. GM John Dorsey has a keen eye for talent and won’t be afraid to deal if a coveted prospect is in his sights. Ole Miss T Greg Little may be a Round 2 gem. The secondary and linebacker corps need depth.
The expulsion of Antonio Brown and Le’Veon Bell garnered the headlines, but this roster hasn’t undergone much change otherwise — and maybe that’s a mistake given Pittsburgh just missed the playoffs for the first time since 2013.
Picks: No. 20 (1st), 52 (2nd), 66 (3rd), 83 (3rd), 122 (4th), 141 (5th), 175 (6th), 192 (6th), 207 (6th), 219 (7th)
Recommendation: Unless a talent like Marquise Brown (Antonio’s cousin) drops to 20th, GM Kevin Colbert could wait until Day 2 for a replacement if he’s not comfortable with James Washington stepping into a starting role. The Steelers still haven’t truly replaced ILB Ryan Frazier, so Bush or Wilson could be options depending on who’s available and when. Defensive backs, O-line depth and maybe another versatile running back would make sense.
The reigning division champs sustained a hit to the secondary during free agency and still haven’t figured out how to protect Deshaun Watson, who suffered 62 sacks last year, the most endured by any quarterback since 2006.
Picks: No. 23 (1st), 54 (2nd), 55 (2nd), 86 (3rd), 161 (5th), 195 (6th), 220 (7th)
Recommendation: With three of the first 55 selections, Houston would be wise to find an O-lineman, a corner and a running back who can eventually replace Lamar Miller, who’s entering the final year of his contract. The 23rd pick should provide a good shot for a blocker or nickel.
The resurrection didn’t take long. GM Chris Ballard, who kept a relatively low profile during free agency despite his salary cap war chest, should be able to continue stockpiling top-tier talent with four selections inside the top 100.
Picks: No. 26 (1st), 34 (2nd), 59 (2nd), 89 (3rd), 129 (4th), 135 (4th), 164 (5th), 199 (6th), 240 (7th)
Recommendation: Ballard will go where his board takes him. He’s got players at every level of the defense but could upgrade any. A hard-hitting safety like Mississippi State’s Johnathan Abram could have a Bob Sanders-type impact. On the other side of the ball, WR T.Y. Hilton will turn 30 this season, and free agent addition Devin Funchess only got a one-year deal. Mississippi’s D.K. Metcalf or A.J. Brown or Harry could all be big-bodied options to help Andrew Luck.
They’re betting new QB Nick Foles can restore them to their 2017 level, which fell a quarter short of a Super Bowl berth. But Foles, who was surrounded by loads of Pro Bowlers in Philadelphia, can’t do it alone — especially considering the state of his new offense.
Picks: No. 7 (1st), 38 (2nd), 69 (3rd), 98 (3rd), 109 (4th), 178 (6th), 236 (7th)
Recommendation: GM David Caldwell also has four picks in the top 100. With the possible exception of safety, the defense seems set. Foles became accustomed to stellar tight end play in Philly, so Hockenson should be strongly assessed at seventh overall if he’s unclaimed. If not, Caldwell might want to take a tackle and then decide among his best options at tight end and receiver at No. 38. A pass-catching back to spell Leonard Fournette would seem useful.
This is a slightly better-than-average team, illustrated by its 9-7 record each of the past three seasons. Does that mean the Titans are just a few players away from seriously contending? Or do they need to seriously mull fundamental changes if they’re going to play a championship tune in the Music City?
Picks: No. 19 (1st), 51 (2nd), 82 (3rd), 121 (4th), 157 (5th), 188 (6th)
Recommendation: Tennessee isn’t especially stacked anywhere — though Derrick Henry and Dion Lewis form a staunch backfield — nor is there really a glaring weakness. The right move might be chasing a pass rusher like Florida State’s Brian Burns, who can probably make the switch to linebacker. Or maybe a tight end to succeed Delanie Walker or dynamic receiver like Hollywood Brown, if available, is the way to go. But GM Jon Robinson should really take a long look at the quarterbacks since both Marcus Mariota and Ryan Tannehill are unsigned beyond 2019.
They’re in some precarious spots at a micro and macro level. Should GM John Elway go best available player at No. 10, or take another swing at his next franchise quarterback? Is Denver better off drafting with an eye toward the long-term future, given the Chiefs and Chargers look like significantly superior squads in the AFC West, or do they address needs?
Picks: No. 10 (1st), 41 (2nd), 71 (3rd), 125 (4th), 148 (5th), 156 (5th), 182 (6th), 237 (7th)
Recommendation: Elway has said newly acquired QB Joe Flacco, 34, is just entering his prime. If that’s the case, he should probably get the Super Bowl XLVII MVP some help, maybe at tight end or fortifying a suspect line. But if Elway is in love with Haskins or Lock, will he pass despite his abject track record at the position post-Peyton Manning? The best move seems like adding a rangy linebacker such as White or Devin Bush to allow new coach Vic Fangio to shape the defense into what he envisions.
Kansas City Chiefs
With reigning MVP Patrick Mahomes entering his third season backed by the NFL’s No. 1 offense (both in terms of yard and points), the division champs appear primed to contend for years. But they do have issues, some going beyond the shortcomings of a defense in transition.
Picks: No. 29 (1st), No. 61 (2nd), 63 (2nd), 92 (3rd), 167 (5th), 201 (6th), 214 (6th), 216 (7th)
Recommendation: No position should be off the board as new coordinator Steve Spagnuolo shifts this defense to a 4-3 base that likely won’t rely on much blitz help, so pass rushers and corners should reside atop the wish list. However WR Tyreek Hill’s connection to a police investigation into an alleged battery involving a juvenile is concerning. If team brass fear he’ll be unavailable for a significant stretch, might be smart to spend one of those second rounders on a player who can immediately help Mahomes and No. 2 WR Sammy Watkins.
Los Angeles Chargers
Their soft spots — inside linebacker, guard and, to a lesser extent, defensive tackle — are among the easiest positions to fill. Plenty of flexibility for GM Tom Telesco.
Picks: No. 28 (1st), 60 (2nd), 91 (3rd), 130 (4th), 166 (5th), 200 (6th), 242 (7th)
Recommendation: Telesco will almost surely take the best player, as he always does. Hard to envision him moving up, though perhaps he backs out of Round 1 if another club wants to come in late for a quarterback — assuming, of course, Telesco isn’t eyeing Jones or Lock as potential heirs apparent to Philip Rivers, 37. Barring that, Clemson’s Lawrence or Boston College OL Chris Lindstrom would be logical selections.
Last, but most definitely not least, the spotlight team of this year’s draft. Armed with three Round 1 selections, and four of the top 35, coach Jon Gruden and new GM Mike Mayock — and apparently nobody else — have some key decisions ahead as they look to get this franchise re-calibrated and set up for success heading into its Las Vegas relocation in 2020.
Picks: No. 4 (1st), 24 (1st), 27 (1st), 35 (2nd), 106 (4th), 140 (5th), 218 (7th), 235 (7th)
Recommendation: Mayock and Gruden’s bounty of picks came courtesy of last year’s trades of DE Khalil Mack and WR Amari Cooper. After obtaining WRs Antonio Brown and Tyrell Williams last month, defense becomes the clear priority for a team that had a league-worst 13 sacks last season (Mack, by comparison, had 12½ in 14 games for Chicago). An edge rusher like Bosa or Allen would be ideal, though both could be gone at No. 4. Quinnen Williams or Oliver would hardly be consolation prizes, and White could make sense, too. With their next three picks, defensive line (yes, maybe two investments there), corner, tight end and running back should be in play.
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