Baltimore Ravens draft capsule
16. BALTIMORE RAVENS (9-7)
LAST SEASON: Needing victory over Cincinnati in season finale to end two-year playoff drought, Ravens yielded last-minute, 44-yard touchdown and lost 31-27 to finish. Though defense was sound for much of year, late-game collapses against Pittsburgh and Bengals in December knocked Baltimore from postseason for unprecedented third straight year under coach John Harbaugh. Emergence of running back Alex Collins (973 yards rushing) was not enough to offset inconsistent passing game that ranked 29th in NFL. General manager Ozzie Newsome sought to provide QB Joe Flacco better targets by signing free agent receivers John Brown and Michael Crabtree in March. Newsome also signed Robert Griffin III as Flacco’s backup, just in case 33-year-old starter gets hurt or falters.
THEY NEED: WR, TE, DE, RT, CB.
THEY DON’T NEED: RB, RG, S, ILB, LS, P, PK.
POSSIBLE FIRST PICK: WR Calvin Ridley, Alabama; T Mike McGlinchey, Notre Dame; DE Marcus Davenport, UTSA; TE Dallas Goedert, South Dakota State; T Kolton Miller, UCLA.
OUTLOOK: Newsome’s final foray as leader in draft room comes when Ravens are desperate to add talent after enduring lengthy playoff drought. Obvious need is wide receiver, but Baltimore also could use pass rusher who can offer support to 35-year-old Terrell Suggs and perhaps serve as successor. By releasing RT Austin Howard, Ravens are thin on offensive line and are looking for bookend to LT Ronnie Stanley, sixth overall pick in 2016 draft. Pass-catching tight end is also priority; Benjamin Watson was not retained despite leading team with 61 catches in 2017. Also possible Newsome will snag QB in later rounds who can learn as third-stringer and perhaps serve as starter during next decade.
Buffalo Bills draft capsule
12, 22 BUFFALO BILLS (9-8)
LAST SEASON: Front-office and major roster overhauls didn’t deter Bills from exceeding extremely low expectations in making playoffs and ending 17-year postseason drought, longest in North America’s four major professional sports. First-year coach Sean McDermott successfully cultivated winning culture by leaning on veteran leaders to establish close-knit bond among players. First-year GM Brandon Beane made deft trades in adding draft picks and beginning to clear team’s books of high-priced salaries, including DT Marcell Dareus. RB LeSean McCoy was workhorse on offense that lacked consistency at QB (Tyrod Taylor) and established depth at WR. Revamped group of DBs, led by free-agent-additions safeties Micah Hyde and Jordan Poyer, jelled immediately in helping patch defensive deficiencies.
THEY NEED: QB, LB, WR, C, LG.
THEY DON’T NEED: CB, S.
POSSIBLE 12TH PICK: QB Josh Rosen, UCLA; QB Josh Allen, Wyoming; QB Sam Darnold, USC; QB Mason Rudolph, Oklahoma; WR Calvin Ridley, Alabama; LB Roquan Smith, Georgia; LB Tremaine Edmunds, Virginia Tech.
POSSIBLE 22ND PICK: QB Lamar Jackson, Louisville; OL Will Hernandez, UTEP; WR D.J. Moore, Maryland; DT Maurice Hurst, Michigan; C Billy Price, Ohio State.
OUTLOOK: Bills might take step back before begin advancing after yet another offseason overhaul in bid to build through youth and shed high-priced contracts. Difficult to see how playoff stars will align perfectly for second consecutive year with questions at quarterback, offensive line and with McCoy set to turn 30 in July. With 12 career appearances, including one playoff start, free-agent addition A.J. McCarron most experienced QB on roster after Taylor traded to Cleveland. Offensive line and leadership roles took hits with C Eric Wood diagnosed with career-ending neck injury and LG Richie Incognito’s abrupt retirement. Receiver group lacks established threat beyond Kelvin Benjamin, who’s coming off knee surgery. Bills plugged holes on defense by adding DT Star Lotulelei and LB Trent Murphy, but have yet to address free-agent loss of starting MLB Preston Brown.
Cincinnati Bengals draft capsule
21. CINCINNATI BENGALS (7-9)
LAST SEASON: After five straight playoff appearances — and NFL-record five straight first-round losses — Bengals have had back-to-back losing seasons, which would mean change at top for most teams. Instead, coach Marvin Lewis — 0-7 in playoffs — got two-year contract extension through 2019. There were moves with staff, notable for reluctant-to-change organization. Bengals fired offensive coordinator Ken Zampese after 0-2 start and replaced long-time offensive line coach Paul Alexander after season. Bill Lazor was retained as offensive coordinator for 2018 and given latitude to overhaul offense that finished last in league. Line was biggest problem, and Bengals took first step toward addressing it by acquiring LT Cordy Glenn in trade with Buffalo, also swapping 12th and 21st picks in first round. Defensive coordinator Paul Guenther left to join Jon Gruden with Raiders.
THEY NEED: C, OT, LB, DE, S.
THEY DON’T NEED: P, K, LS.
POSSIBLE FIRST PICK: C James Daniels, Iowa; T Connor Williams, Texas; T Mike McGlinchey, Notre Dame; LB Rashaan Evans, Alabama.
OUTLOOK: Trade for Glenn was merely first step in addressing team’s biggest problem. C Russell Bodine signed two-year deal with Buffalo, leaving hole in middle of line. RT Jake Fisher had procedure to fix irregular heartbeat last season but expects to return. Until Bengals get line fixed, there’s not much hope for significant improvement. QB Andy Dalton and WR A.J. Green return for eighth season together, coming off what was least-productive one. Bengals expected top two picks last season, WR John Ross and RB Joe Mixon, to bring big-play abilities as rookies, but neither did much. Ross was hurt most of season and played in three games without getting catch; he carried one time and fumbled. Mixon became starter after Jeremy Hill got hurt and finished with 636 yards and 3.5-yard average as running game was one of worst in franchise history.
Cleveland Browns draft capsule
1, 4. CLEVLEAND BROWNS (0-16)
LAST SEASON: Total flop. Coming off 1-15 season in coach Hue Jackson’s first year, Cleveland joined 2008 Detroit Lions as only teams in league history to lose all 16 games. Bad decision to start rookie quarterback DeShone Kizer was compounded by team failing to keep competent veteran QB to groom him. Kizer led league with 22 interceptions with several coming in game-deciding moments. Browns averaged league-low 14.6 points per game — 14 less than New England — and offense lacked impact playmakers until WR Josh Gordon returned from suspension for final give games. Rookie DE Myles Garrett, top overall pick in 2017, had solid season but was slowed by ankle injury suffered just before opener. Defense showed some improvement, but couldn’t get big stops when needed and finished ranked last inside red zone.
THEY NEED: QB, CB, WR, LT.
THEY DON’T NEED: RB, DL, LB.
POSSIBLE FIRST PICK: QB Sam Darnold, Southern California; QB Josh Allen, Wyoming; QB Josh Rosen, UCLA; QB Baker Mayfield, Oklahoma; RB Saquon Barkley, Penn State.
OUTLOOK: Jackson has been given third season — and maybe less — to win. New general manager John Dorsey was aggressive during offseason, landing QB Tyrod Taylor and WR Jarvis Landry in trades and rebuilding defensive backfield. Still major needs, none more than franchise quarterback. Taylor will likely start in 2018, but could be pushed by top overall pick, expected to be either Darnold or Allen. Darnold seems safer choice and Dorsey has discounted his turnover troubles last season with Trojans. After passing on chance to take Carson Wentz and Deshaun Watson past two seasons, Browns can’t afford to risk skipping top QB. Cleveland has dilemma at No. 4 as Barkley may be irresistible and tough to ignore twice. Another possibility is North Carolina State DE Bradley Chubb, who could play opposite Garrett and give Cleveland fearsome pass rush.
Denver Broncos draft capsule
5. DENVER BRONCOS (5-11)
LAST SEASON: Coach Vance Joseph’s first season was a debacle in every phase. Denver’s anemic offense cycled through three QBs during season that included franchise’s longest skid (eight games) in 50 years and featured eight double-digit losses. Joseph eventually replaced offensive coordinator Mike McCoy with Bill Musgrave. An exhausted defense led by first-time coordinator Joe Woods surrendered 29 TD passes after allowing average of 16 in Wade Phillips’ two seasons in Denver. Joseph stuck with rookie special teams coordinator Brock Olivo despite awful season that included six fumbles by rookie returner Isaiah McKenzie and game against New England in which Denver’s blunders in kicking game led to astounding 24 points by Patriots. Olivo was among six assistants Joseph fired after season — once GM John Elway had decided to keep Joseph rather than embark on search for fourth head coach in five years.
THEY NEED: OG, DE, CB, QB, ILB, PR.
THEY DON’T NEED: S, K, P, OT, C, DT.
POSSIBLE FIRST PICK: DE Bradley Chubb, North Carolina State; G Quenton Nelson, Notre Dame; CB Denzel Ward, Ohio State; RB Saquon Barkley, Penn State; QB Baker Mayfield, Oklahoma.
OUTLOOK: Joseph knows he has to bounce back in big way, so it would seem he’d push for non-QB with team’s first pick, player who can help right away rather than another quarterback who wouldn’t get on field this year after addition of Case Keenum in free agency. Chubb would help LB Von Miller, who missed DeMarcus Ware’s presence last year. Ward would give Broncos four outstanding cornerbacks like group that led them to Super Bowl in 2015. Nelson would solidify line that’s been Elway’s bugaboo for six years. Barkley would give Broncos kind of running back they haven’t had since Hall of Famer Terrell Davis was helping Elway win consecutive Super Bowls in 1990s.
Houston Texans draft capsule
68. HOUSTON TEXANS (4-12)
LAST SEASON: Texans won AFC South in past two seasons before failing to make postseason in 2017 as they dealt with numerous injuries, including to rookie quarterback Deshaun Watson and superstar defensive end J.J. Watt. Best news of dreadful season was play of Watson in seven games before he tore anterior cruciate ligament in right knee in practice. He threw for 1,699 yards and 19 touchdowns, giving Texans hope they’ve finally found franchise quarterback after years of misfires and disappointment. Another bright spot was continued improvement of 2014 top overall pick Jadeveon Clowney. Defensive end finished second in NFL with career-high 21 tackles for losses and his 9 1/2 sacks, 21 quarterback hits and two forced fumbles were also career bests. He had career-high 59 tackles and started all 16 games for first time in career after struggling with injuries in first two NFL seasons before playing 14 games in 2016.
THEY NEED: LT, RT, TE.
THEY DON’T NEED: QB, WR, DE.
POSSIBLE FIRST PICK: T Jamarco Jones, Ohio State; T Tyrell Crosby, Oregon; TE Durham Smythe, Notre Dame.
OUTLOOK: Texans desperately need to upgrade offensive line to better protect Watson after trading franchise left tackle Duane Brown to Seattle last season. But it will be tough in draft because they don’t have pick until third round. Houston sent first-round pick in this year’s draft to Cleveland last year to trade up to get Watson, and previously shipped second-round pick in 2018 to Browns as part of deal to get rid of Brock Osweiler. That leaves new general manager Brian Gaine, taking over after Rick Smith took leave of absence to care for ailing wife, with eight picks in Rounds 3-7 seven to try and find some pieces to upgrade team looking to bounce back after last year’s nosedive.
Indianapolis Colts draft capsule
6. INDIANAPOLIS COLTS (4-12)
LAST SEASON: Andrew Luck missed entire season after having surgery for partially torn labrum. Without Luck, Colts struggled. Jacoby Brissett showed promise after being acquired in cutdown weekend trade. Pro Bowl receiver T.Y. Hilton struggled, at times, usually because of no viable supportive deep threat. TE Jack Doyle had breakout season and made first Pro Bowl. Defense improved throughout season but Indy couldn’t hold leads, couldn’t close out games, couldn’t generate consistent pass rush. Missed postseason for third straight year, finished with first losing record since 2011 and coach Chuck Pagano was fired hours after season finale. Eventually, Frank Reich took over for Pagano after winning Super Bowl ring with Philadelphia.
THEY NEED: DE, OL, LB, CB, WR, RB.
THEY DON’T NEED: QB, TE, K.
POSSIBLE FIRST PICK: DE Bradley Chubb, North Carolina State; RB Saquon Barkley, Penn State; G Quenton Nelson, Notre Dame; CB/S Minkah Fitzpatrick, Alabama; LB Roquan Smith, Georgia; LB Tremaine Edmunds, Virginia Tech.
OUTLOOK: GM Chris Ballard wants to build through draft and has been looking to acquire extra picks to speed up process. Already pulled off deal with Jets, picking up two seconds this year and another next year. And he may not be done. If one of top QBs is still available at No. 6 and QB-needy team is willing to pay right price, Ballard says he could trade down again. If not, Colts are content staying at No. 6 and filling any number of needs. Chubb is considered best pass rusher in class and could help Colts move up from No. 31 ranking in sacks. Barkley is special and would replace recently departed Frank Gore. Nelson would help solidify interior offensive line and should help keep healthy Luck upright, if QB plays. Fitzpatrick could play anywhere in secondary that has lost both opening-day starters from 2017. Smith and Edmunds have made visits to team headquarters and would provide help in young, thin linebacking corps.
Jacksonville Jaguars draft capsule
29. JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS (12-7)
LAST SEASON: First year under coach Doug Marrone and top executive Tom Coughlin proved successful, with Jags earning first postseason berth since 2007 and advancing to AFC championship game. Led by 10 points early in fourth quarter before losing at New England. Stout defense and league’s top rushing attack were keys to team’s turnaround, but both faltered down stretch. Defense stumbled in playoffs against Steelers and late against Patriots. Running game took huge step back late, averaging 51.3 yards fewer in final six weeks of regular season than in first 10 games. Still, rookie RB Leonard Fournette flashed at times and looked like building block. Defense established solid foundation, too. CB Jalen Ramsey emerged as arguably league’s best defensive back. DE Calais Campbell enjoyed career year at age 31. And LBs Telvin Smith and Myles Jack proved to be speedy, dynamic tandem. QB Blake Bortles had more highs than lows and played turnover-free football in postseason, earning three-year, $54 million contract that includes $26.5 million guaranteed.
THEY NEED: TE, G, T, QB, WR, LB, S
THEY DON’T NEED: DL, C, RB, CB, P, K
POSSIBLE FIRST PICK: T Kolton Miller, UCLA; T Mike McGlinchey, Notre Dame; TE Dallas Goedert, South Dakota State; TE Hayden Hurst, South Carolina; G Connor Williams, Texas; G Will Hernandez, UTEP.
OUTLOOK: Coughlin and general manager Dave Caldwell made several changes despite team looking for sustained success. They let WR Allen Robinson, CB Aaron Colvin, LG Patrick Omameh, backup QB Chad Henne walk in free agency. They cut TE Marcedes Lewis, WR Allen Hurns and RB Chris Ivory. They signed three new offensive starters: WR Donte Moncrief, TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins, and highly coveted LG Andrew Norwell. Team has no glaring holes for first time in decade, but is sure to draft another tight end and backup/development quarterback. Picking outside top 10 for first time since 2007.
Kansas City Chiefs draft capsule
KANSAS CITY CHIEFS (10-7)
LAST SEASON: After starting 5-0, Chiefs wilted midway through season, only to finish strong and win back-to-back AFC West titles for first time in franchise history. But age of roster showed in playoff collapse against Tennessee, leading to major offseason overhaul. Chiefs traded QB Alex Smith to Redskins and malcontent CB Marcus Peters to Rams to acquire draft picks, content to turn QB job to second-year pro Patrick Mahomes II. They also signed WR Sammy Watkins to add some additional pop. On defense, they parted with longtime LBs Derrick Johnson and Tamba Hali and signed LB Anthony Hitchens in attempt to get younger. Plenty of work left to shore up defense that was among worst in NFL last season.
THEY NEED: CB, LB, DL, S, WR, TE.
THEY DON’T NEED: QB, RB, OL, P, K.
POSSIBLE FIRST PICK: CB Isaiah Oliver, Colorado, DE Ogbonnia Okoronkwo, Oklahoma; CB Carlton Davis, Auburn; DL Hercules Mata’afa, Washington State.
OUTLOOK: Good luck trying to guess what Chiefs will do in draft. This will be first time GM Brett Veach calls shots, and trading up for Mahomes last season means he’ll do it without first-round pick. First selection is No. 54 overall, but trades of Smith and Peters means they have two apiece in third and fourth rounds. That gives them five picks among first 124 as Chiefs attempt to shore up leaky defense. Could also try to add wide receiver or tight end to provide even more playmakers for Mahomes and Co., especially given way offense was rendered impotent by injuries in playoff loss to Titans.
Los Angeles Chargers draft capsule
17. LOS ANGELES CHARGERS (9-7)
LAST SEASON: Bolts went winless in first four games of relocation season, but rest of coach Anthony Lynn’s first year in charge was very encouraging. Los Angeles won nine of final 12 games with vicious offense led by stalwart quarterback Philip Rivers and receiver Keenan Allen, who lived up to potential to become one of NFL’s best playmakers. Los Angeles occasionally struggled to run ball, but passing game made it mostly irrelevant. Defense struggled against run at times, but still forced turnovers and did more than enough to secure victories. Chargers won final five home games at cozy StubHub Center, even establishing home-field advantage late in year. They missed playoffs on tiebreaker on final day of season, but few teams head into 2018 with more momentum.
THEY NEED: LB, DL, OL, RB.
THEY DON’T NEED: WR, TE, CB.
POSSIBLE FIRST PICK: LB Rashaan Evans, Alabama; T Mike McGlinchey, Notre Dame; DT Da’Ron Payne, Alabama; DE Marcus Davenport, UTSA; LB-DE Harold Landry, Boston College; LB Leighton Vander Esch, Boise State.
OUTLOOK: Bolstering run defense is logical step, and several athletic linebackers could supplement depth at position, which is thin behind Denzel Perryman. Another defensive lineman would be welcome, as would elite offensive lineman capable of taking over at right tackle or filling in if Chargers are hit with another round of injuries. Bolts mostly played it cool during free agency, and they’re in position to take best available player throughout draft while being fairly confident they’ve got solid talent base. If right opportunity arises, they even might decide it’s finally time to draft successor to Rivers, who says he plans to play for “a handful more years,” but will turn 37 during season. Rivers hasn’t missed game since 2006, but even he knows Bolts will have to get somebody new at some point.
Miami Dolphins draft capsule
11. MIAMI DOLPHINS (6-10)
LAST SEASON: Dolphins missed playoffs for eighth time in nine seasons, and backslid in Year 2 under coach Adam Gase, leaving regime at crossroads in 2018. Miami was wildly inconsistent, undisciplined team last year, and Gase addressed issue in reshaping roster this offseason. Questions arose regarding leadership of defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh and receiver Jarvis Landry, and both are gone. Defensive end Robert Quinn and receiver Danny Amendola among veteran newcomers. Gase may have improved locker room culture, but few see net gain in talent, which magnifies importance of draft. Owner Stephen Ross opted for stability at top after last season, and Gase, executive vice president of football operations Mike Tannenbaum and general manager Chris Grier are backs.
THEY NEED: LB, TE, G, DT, QB, CB, RB.
THEY DON’T NEED: DE, WR, S.
POSSIBLE FIRST PICK: QB Baker Mayfield, Oklahoma; QB Lamar Jackson, Louisville; LB Roquan Smith, Georgia; LB Tremaine Edmunds, Virginia Tech; DT Vita Vea, Washington.
OUTLOOK: Dolphins have numerous glaring needs, including vacant starting spots at outside linebacker and tight end. However, Gase wants to draft quarterback to groom as Ryan Tannehill’s eventual successor, and question is whether they’ll devote their first-round pick to position, which would likely require trading up. With Tannehill entrenched for 2018, adding rookie QB would be done with long term in mind. But 77-year-old Ross is eager to win now, and worries about job security may tempt draft decision makers Gase, Tannenbaum and Grier to make picks that pay quicker dividends.
New England Patriots draft capsule
23. NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS (15-4)
LAST SEASON: New England stumbled early, losing twice in first four games. Patriots recovered and won 11 of final 12 behind MVP season of quarterback Tom Brady. He dazzled at age 40, throwing for 4,577 yards, 32 touchdowns and eight interceptions. He did so despite reported friction between himself, coach Bill Belichick and team owner Robert Kraft following midseason trade of backup Jimmy Garoppolo to San Francisco. But defensive inconsistency was Patriots’ biggest issue throughout season and it caught up with them in Super Bowl loss to Philadelphia. It included mysterious benching of cornerback Malcolm Butler, who wound up leaving at start of free agency.
THEY NEED: OL, LB, CB, DE, QB
THEY DON’T NEED: TE, RB, WR
POSSIBLE FIRST PICK: T Kolton Miller, UCLA; T Mike McGlinchey, Notre Dame; LB Rashaan Evans, Alabama; DE-LB Harold Landry, Boston College; CB Mike Hughes, UCF.
OUTLOOK: Roster will look different following free agency departures of Butler (Titans), LT Nate Solder (Giants), WR Danny Amendola (Dolphins), RB Dion Lewis (Titans) and trade of WR Brandin Cooks (Rams). They’ve addressed some holes already: New England traded for WR-KR Cordarrelle Patterson, CB Jason McCourty and DT Danny Shelton, while signing veteran DE Adrian Clayborn and RB Jeremy Hill. TE Rob Gronkowski has subtly hinted at retiring sooner rather than later, which could throw wrinkle into Patriots’ long-term approach. But they have plenty to work with thanks to five selections in first 95 picks, including two in first round (23rd and 31st overall).
New York Jets draft capsule
3. NEW YORK JETS (5-11)
LAST SEASON: Rebuilding Jets were one of NFL’s early-season surprises while winning three of first five games despite some preseason prognosticators saying New York would struggle to win more than one. Todd Bowles’ bunch didn’t get many more victories and finished 5-11 for second straight season, but Jets were competitive in almost all games. Players praised positive culture change stressed by Bowles, as well as leadership of quarterback Josh McCown. Both Bowles and GM Mike Maccagnan received two-year contract extensions. McCown had career year at 38, setting personal bests with 2,926 yards passing, 19 TD passes and five TD runs before missing final three games with broken left hand. Wide receiver Robby Anderson had breakout season with 63 catches, 941 yards and seven TD receptions, and rookie safeties Jamal Adams and Marcus Maye made good first impressions as immediate starters. Jets struggled to generate consistent pass rush with Muhammad Wilkerson (3 1/2) and Leonard Williams (2) combining for 5 1/2 sacks.
THEY NEED: QB, OLB/pass rusher, D-line depth, TE.
THEY DON’T NEED: S, CB, LS.
POSSIBLE FIRST PICK: QB Josh Rosen, UCLA; QB Baker Mayfield, Oklahoma; QB Sam Darnold, USC; QB Josh Allen, Wyoming.
OUTLOOK: It’s all about finding right quarterback after being aggressive and trading up from No. 6 to No. 3 in deal with Indianapolis in March that also cost New York two second-rounders this year and one next year. Jets put themselves in position to get one of top three QBs, but pressure’s on Maccagnan & Co. to get pick right. New York re-signed McCown and added Teddy Bridgewater in free agency, so first-rounder won’t be pressured to start right away in new coordinator Jeremy Bates’ offense — but could give veterans run for starting job in training camp. Also appears to be end for both Christian Hackenberg (2016 second-rounder) and Bryce Petty (2015 fourth-rounder) with Jets. Maccagnan was busy in free agency, adding CB Trumaine Johnson, WR Terrelle Pryor, RB Isaiah Crowell, LB Avery Williamson, K Cairo Santos and C Spencer Long. New York still has plenty of needs, including pass rusher and depth on defensive line. For Jets fans looking for optimism, team has had No. 3 pick in NFL draft one other time: in 1981, took RB Freeman McNeil, who is franchise’s second-leading rusher.
Oakland Raiders draft capsule
9. OAKLAND RAIDERS (6-10)
LAST SEASON: Raiders entered 2017 full of optimism following 12-win season and first playoff berth in 14 years in 2016. Little went right for Oakland as QB Derek Carr regressed, defense struggled and coach Jack Del Rio was fired following third season. Jon Gruden returns to Raiders in charge of team that had plenty of holes. Defense struggled to generate pass rush or strong coverage in secondary as opponents easily picked apart unit. Offensive line that was so stout in 2016 showed some holes, contributing to Carr’s struggles. WR Amari Cooper plagued by drops and had major dropoff following two straight 1,000-yard seasons. RB Marshawn Lynch provided boost in second half of season in return from retirement but Beast Mode wasn’t enough to carry team to success.
THEY NEED: LB, CB, DT, T, RB, WR.
THEY DON’T NEED: QB, G, C.
POSSIBLE FIRST PICK: LB Roquan Smith, Georgia; CB Denzel Ward, Ohio State; LB Tremaine Edmunds, Virginia Tech; DT Vita Vea, Washington.
OUTLOOK: Team is being remade in Gruden’s vision with significant changes made in free agency. Gone are stalwarts WR Michael Crabtree; CBs David Amerson, Sean Smith and TJ Carrie; and specialists Marquette King, Sebastian Janikowski, Jon Condo and Cordarrelle Patterson. Most of newcomers added so far are either in their 30s or role players, making draft key for finding more foundation pieces to team with Carr, Cooper and Khalil Mack. Linebacker and cornerback have been positions of need for years and still need help. Tackle also could be important with potential hole on right side and LT Donald Penn nearing end of career.
Pittsburgh Steelers draft capsule
28. PITTSBURGH STEELERS (13-4)
LAST SEASON: Steelers had little trouble rolling to third AFC North title in four years but flamed out in playoffs when Jaguars stunned them for second time in four months, 45-42 in divisional round. Defense led NFL and set franchise record with 57 sacks, but also had trouble getting stops late in season following Pro Bowl linebacker Ryan Shazier’s spinal injury. Pittsburgh allowed 350 yards and 28 points after Shazier went down. Shazier has already been ruled out for 2018, leaving Steelers thin at inside linebacker. Secondary is being overhauled after veterans Mike Mitchell, William Gay and Robert Golden were cut. Offense finished third in yards and eighth in points but it wasn’t enough for coordinator Todd Haley to keep job. Team wasted little time promoting quarterbacks coach Randy Fichtner to take over.
THEY NEED: LB, CB, RB, TE.
THEY DON’T NEED: LT, C, DE.
POSSIBLE FIRST PICK: LB Leighton Vander Esch, Boise State; LB Rashaan Evans, Alabama; CB Josh Jackson, Iowa; RB Derrius Guice, LSU.
OUTLOOK: Steelers have leaned on draft heavily to replenish linebacker group, using first-round pick for one in four of last five years. With Shazier out and 2015 first-round pick Bud Dupree’s long-term status unknown, it’s likely Pittsburgh goes to well again at No. 28 overall. Cornerback would also make sense early, but Steelers could also tip hand about plans for RB Le’Veon Bell and QB Ben Roethlisberger in second and third rounds. Bell has yet to sign franchise tender, will head for 2019 free agency with no new deal. Roethlisberger said after loss to Jacksonville he believes he can play three more years. If Steelers don’t believe him, they could take shot at landing successor early. They haven’t taken QB before fourth round since grabbing Roethlisberger 11th overall in 2004.
Tennessee Titans draft capsule
25. TENNESSEE TITANS (10-8)
LAST SEASON: Disappointed at missing AFC South title in season both Andrew Luck and thrilling rookie Deshaun Watson missed serious time with injuries. Titans still reached playoffs as wild card with second consecutive 9-7 record and turned in playoff comeback by rallying from 18 points down to win in Kansas City. But Titans fired coach Mike Mularkey after ugly divisional loss at New England because of his commitment to offense that stumbled to 15th in rushing, with Marcus Mariota throwing for only 13 TDs and career-worst 15 interceptions. LT Taylor Lewan, DL Jurrell Casey and P Brett Kern all were voted to Pro Bowl, and All-Pro S Kevin Byard, TE Delanie Walker and ST Brynden Trawick all played in game.
THEY NEED: OLB, DE, ILB, S, WR, OL.
THEY DON’T NEED: LT, RB, CB.
POSSIBLE FIRST PICK: OLB/DE Harold Landry, Boston College; LB Rashaan Evans, Alabama; LB Leighton Vander Esch, Boise State; LB Roquan Smith, Georgia; DE Marcus Davenport, Texas-San Antonio; C James Daniel, Iowa.
OUTLOOK: High expectations with Titans hiring first-time head coach Mike Vrabel and franchise coming off first playoff victory in 14 years. Mariota is completely healthy this offseason and already has worked with WR Corey Davis, No. 5 overall pick last year limited by hamstring injury as rookie. Titans released RB DeMarco Murray after worst rushing season of career and signed Dion Lewis to pair with Derrick Henry in backfield. Titans also added CB Malcolm Butler to bolster secondary featuring Byard and CBs Adoree Jackson, who started every game last season as rookie, and veteran Logan Ryan. Titans need depth rushing passer behind LB Derrick Morgan (29) and LB Brian Orakpo (32 in July) both going into final season under contract.
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