Preview of the 2019 NFL Draft
The National Football League (NFL) draft is a great time to build the dynasties of tomorrow, today. Many teams are eager to be successful in the draft weekend have been spending many long and arduous nights building their draft boards. It’s important to note that the general managers of NFL teams are watching and listening to everything — except this article of course. As much as we know about the upcoming draft, they know more. There are some teams that have more pressure to obtain game-changing players during the draft weekend. With the picks that will be made, some teams have the potential to open their championship window, while others may see their window closing. In this article, I will present five teams that are under the most pressure to make valuable selections in the 2019 NFL draft.
With three picks in the first round, all the pressure is on Oakland Raiders. This is due to the fallout with Khalil Mack. Besides for trading a talented player prior to the 2018 season, the Raiders also bottomed out during the season, finishing 4-12 and last in their division.
As a result of the Mack trade, the Raiders currently have a depleted defense. They, therefore, should make an effort to draft skilled defensive players. With the fourth pick in the first round, they should grab the best defensive player available. In all likelihood, this will likely be Josh Allen, a defensive lineman from the University of Kentucky, or Ed Oliver, a defensive tackle from the University of Houston.
Due to the Mack trade, the Raiders also have the 24th pick of the first round. They should draft a corner like Rock Ya Sin from Temple University with that pick. Additionally, they have the 27th pick, which they should use to draft an offensive guard like Garrett Bradbury from North Carolina State University in order to boost the interior of the offensive line. In later rounds, they should try to select one tight end in order to fix the lack of depth at the position. They may also have some room to add a running back or a receiver to the squad, however, these positions are not as necessary to fill as others.
New York Giants
The Giants have been one of the worst teams in the National Football Conference (NFC) for a few years. Since they refused to re-sign standout safety Landon Collins and traded Odell Beckham to the Browns for the 17th pick in the draft, it is evident that they are attempting to a rebuild from the ground up. They must think about the future of their franchise in this draft, regardless of the confidence they may have in Eli Manning. The Giants should take a quarterback with the sixth pick in the draft, whether it is Kyler Murray or Dwayne Haskins. I mentioned in my previous article how a quarterback selection can be the highest risk of any position. That being said the Giants must take that risk.
With the 17th pick, they need to get the best defensive player available. After trading key defensive players like Oliver Vernon, Damon Harrison and Landon Collins, the Giants need replacements for their positions. One of the draft prospects for their defense includes Rashan Gary, who played defensive line at the University of Michigan.
In the later rounds, they need to add offensive linemen, which will improve the still inefficient offensive line. They also should try to improve their defense with the rest of their picks. They may have some room to add a receiver to the squad, however, that should not be a priority.
John Elway is a fan favorite in Denver. Unfortunately, as an executive, he may be fighting for his job. Since their Super Bowl victory in the 2015-2016 season, the Broncos have been the worst performing team in their division, going 20-28 the last three seasons. Either in this or next year’s draft class they will need to draft a quarterback. If they don’t go with a quarterback, they will probably draft a cornerback or a safety like Taylor Rapp from the University of Washington. The Broncos need to fix their offensive line as well as their receiving positions in this draft as well.
In the second round, I see the Broncos grabbing a tight end like Isaac Nauta from the University of Georgia or Irv Smith from the University of Alabama. In the third round, they may reach for a receiver like Deebo Samuel from the University of South Carolina or David Sills from West Virginia University, but they should try to address the offensive line in these rounds. The late rounds should also be devoted to retooling the offensive line as well as drafting extra pieces on the defense for backup if a player gets injured.
Green Bay Packers
The championship window is closing. Some would say it shut under the reign of Aaron Rodgers. With a depleted roster, the Packers are no longer the “kings of the north.” The Packers fired their head coach Mike Mccarthy this past season in an attempt to regain the dominance they previously had.
The Packers have two first round picks this year. They, therefore, cannot afford to make any poor decisions. With the 12th pick, they will probably land the best player available which may be Jeffery Simmons, a defensive lineman from Mississippi State University. Another possible draft for the Packers would be Rashan Gary, a defensive tackle from the University of Michigan. With the 30th pick, the Packers may trade out of the first round. If not, they will probably add a receiver or tight end like Noah Fant from the University of Iowa. From rounds two to six, they have seven draft selections. This amount of picks provides the Packers with a great opportunity to develop into one of the top teams in the NFC again. Their defense needs some improvement but the main emphasis should be on the offensive line and the receivers.
This was a tough off-season in Pittsburgh, losing stars Le’veon Bell to the Jets and Antonio Brown to the Raiders. The Steelers used to be a dominant force in their division and the rest of the conference. They need to have a good draft to revive the terrible, tumultuous off-season. They still have plenty of skilled players that should be ready to step up this season. With that in mind, I see them trying to find a playmaker on defense in the first round but, with only the 20th pick to start things off, it looks like they will end up with a pass rusher like Brian Burns from Florida State University (hit or miss with that pick). They need offensive line depth and tight end depth and should address those issues in the later rounds. In the second, they should try to get a middle linebacker. The franchise is still reeling from the devastating Ryan Shazier injury and hasn’t had an anchor on the defense since. Someone like TJ Edwards can be a good fit in the Pittsburgh defense.
Due to the Antonio Brown trade, the Steelers have two third-round selections. With these picks, they can possibly find an offensive lineman like Greg Little or Mitch Hyatt. The Steelers may also look for defensive reinforcement like Dre'mont Jones from Ohio State University or cornerback Julian Love from the University Notre Dame.
I must give an honorable mention to the rest of the American Football Conference (AFC) North division. With all the offseason acquisitions, this division is completely up for grabs for any one of those teams. I believe the team with the best draft class will take the division in the upcoming regular season, with the possibility of dominating for the next few years as well.
With that in mind, any team can turn around their fortune in this draft. Some teams are borderline Super Bowl contenders, like the Colts, Texans, Chiefs, Saints, Eagles, Cowboys and Bears. They can build Super Bowl champion rosters in this draft. Other teams, like the Patriots, Rams and Saints, are already built to win a Super Bowl; this draft can just re-establish that.
Photo Caption: The 2016 NFL Draft
Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons