The 2017 NFL Draft order is set except for the playoff teams. Here’s a look at the top needs for each of the teams with top 10 picks this year.
1. Cleveland Browns
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This team needs an enema. Sure, quarterback and the interior of the offensive line are the headlining needs, but the Browns need to add talent everywhere. The entire offense needs a rebuild and the defense has been just as bad. There’s some talent on the roster but just nowhere near close enough. Regardless of who they draft, expect the Browns to be picking near the top of the 2018 draft as well.
Sonny Weaver Jr. and Vontae Mack aren’t walking through that door, so don’t expect any draft day miracles. The Browns just need to add talent and somehow survive next season.
2. San Francisco 49ers
Needs: QB, OG, OLB
Obviously quarterback is the top need for the 49ers, and with a new coach/GM combo on the horizon, it’s time for a fresh start with a new player under center. The interior of the offensive line also needs help immediately and San Francisco must find an edge rusher to get pressure on opposing quarterbacks.
Like the Browns, the 49ers need a ton of help across the board. They should focus on finding top-tier talent rather than just filling specific needs in this year’s draft.
3. Chicago Bears
Needs: QB, OL, CB/S
Another team with a desperate need under center. Unfortunately for the top three teams in this year’s draft, there aren’t any real bonafide franchise-level talents at quarterback. Still, the Jay Cutler era has to end. It has been a disaster for the Bears and they need a new direction. After that they must shore up the offensive line and add depth at every spot. The secondary is also a huge need. Gaps at corner and safety need to be filled.
4. Jacksonville Jaguars
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Needs: OT, OG, S, DT
Tackle and guard are the biggest needs for the Jags. I know Blake Bortles had a hilariously bad season, but no quarterback is going to shine behind that offensive line. The defensive line needs a big assist too. The Jags ranked 19th in rushing yards allowed this season (106.4 per game) and that’s after they signed Malik Jackson to an enormous contract this offseason. Jackson, Dante Fowler, and Yannick Ngakoue are talented, but they need help up front. Another defensive tackle is a must.
Jacksonville also should try to find a safety who can cover on the back end.
5. Tennessee Titans (from Los Angeles Rams)
Needs: WR, CB
Getting Marcus Mariota another wide receiver has to be priority No. 1 for the Titans. The team’s franchise quarterback will be recovering from a fractured fibula this offseason but had a really solid year and showed a ton of maturity as the season moved along. Now he needs a receiver to develop some high-level chemistry with.
The Titans also must shore up their secondary. They ranked 30th in passing yards allowed (269.2 per game) and must find at least one starting cornerback and some more depth at the position.
6. New York Jets
Needs: QB, CB, OLB
Another quarterback-needy team unlike to find an answer in the first round is the Jets. While the defense is stout up the middle and Leonard Williams has quietly become one of the NFL’s best defenders, New York still needs someone to pressure the quarterback off the edge. That and finding a competent cornerback — including a replacement for Darrelle Revis, who should probably move to safety if he stays in town — are the priorities for a Jets team that needs a lot of help.
7. San Diego Chargers
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Needs: OT, WR, S
I would have listed “competent ownership” under “needs” but the bosses frowned on that. The Chargers major issue for years has been a terrible offensive line. That showed itself again this year as Philip Rivers was constantly under duress. When he has time in the pocket, Rivers is an elite quarterback, when he doesn’t have time, he turns in horrible performances. San Diego’s No. 1 priority has to be protecting him.
The team could also use another target for Rivers on the perimeter. Keenan Allen looks like a true No. 1 wideout when he’s healthy, but has suffered devastating injuries in each of the last two seasons. Former UDFA Tyrell Williams (69 receptions, 1,059 yards) looks like a diamond in the rough find, but San Diego and Rivers need more.
The defense could also use a playmaking safety on the back-end, something it had for years in Eric Weddle and failed to replace last offseason.
8. Carolina Panthers
Needs: OT, DE
Protect. Cam. Newton. That is Carolina’s only job this offseason. Find at least one upgrade at offensive tackle. That’s the one assignment the Panthers have over the next few months. Newton was under constant pressure this season and it showed, as Carolina went from the Super Bowl to 6-10.
The Panthers also need someone to pressure the quarterback off the edge. The pass rush needs a huge upgrade.
9. Cincinnati Bengals
Needs: DE/OLB, C/OG
The Bengals have Geno Atkins, one of the NFL’s best interior defenders and really nothing around him to get pressure on the quarterback. That has to change if Cincinnati wants to turn things around from a disappointing 6-9-1 season. After that, Cincinnati needs to improve the interior of its offensive line to give its running game a boost and help protect Andy Dalton, who was sacked 41 times this season.
10. Buffalo Bills
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Needs: OT, CB/S, WR
The Bills are another team that needs to protect the quarterback and a right tackle to put across from Cordy Glenn should be the top priority. Then Buffalo has to add some talent to the secondary before looking to shore up its receiver corps.