By: Dominic Choroski
With Free-Agency starting in two weeks and the draft following next month, it is a crucial time for NFL teams. Every front office is looking at their rosters and assessing what positions they can upgrade at. Here we will take a look at the teams in the AFC North and see what their biggest needs are ahead of Free-Agency and the draft, as well as possible options to fill the biggest needs.
The reigning division champs don’t have a ton of needs coming off a season that saw the Ravens dominate and look like the best team in the league until it came to the post-season. That being said the Ravens’ defense blitzed more than any other team in the league last year. Targeting a player, whether that be on the interior or an edge rusher, that can generate pressure has to be priority number one. With the rest of the division establishing new quarterbacks having someone to terrorize them is paramount.
Another position that could use some bolstering is wide receiver. Marquise Brown was phenomenal in his rookie year and looks to build off of that in year two. However, there isn’t another player in that receiver room to take some pressure off of him. The Ravens should be looking to get another running mate for Brown. Also drafting a strong young linebacker in this draft is something the front office could be eyeing.
Possible Addition: Free-Agent Edge Rusher Vic Beasley
The obvious answer here is a quarterback. The good news is the Bengals will draft LSU Quarterback Joe Burrow number one overall. The bad news is there are holes everywhere on this team. The skill positions are pretty strong with the assumed return of A.J. Green, and young stud running back Joe Mixon. The smart franchises know that a young quarterback needs protection, so upon drafting Burrow, next on the checklist has to be the offensive line.
After that, its a toss-up. You could pick any other position and say they need an upgrade. Coach Zac Taylor and this organization have a lot of work cut out for them in turning this franchise around and delivering its first playoff victory in over 30 years.
Possible Addition: Draft USC Offensive Tackle Austin Jackson
Baker Mayfield regressed last year, and while there are a variety of reasons for that, one could argue it was in part due to poor offensive line play. The Browns’ offensive line gave up 40 sacks last year. Greg Robinson has been a bust thus far in his career and free-agent signee Chris Hubbard has not lived up to expectations either. The best way to get their young quarterback on track is to get him some protection so he can get the ball to the elite weapons he has at his disposal.
Some other areas to upgrade would be on the defensive side of the ball. The effects of losing former first-round safety Jabril Peppers has been felt, even though it helped net them Odell Beckham Jr. Getting someone to help sure up the back end of the defense as well as nabbing a linebacker this offseason will be on their radar.
Possible Addition: Free-Agent Linebacker Cory Littleton
If the 2019 season told the Steelers one thing its this, the quarterback of the future is not currently on the roster. Neither Mason Rudolph nor Devlin Hodges showed they have what it takes to be the consistent starter moving forward, which makes quarterback the number need for Mike Tomlin’s team. Ben Roethlisberger will be back and ready for day one but he won’t play forever. Whether through the draft, which they won’t have a first-round pick in or in free-agency finding the new face of the franchise is at the top of their list.
One of the reasons this team went 8-8 last year despite poor quarterback play is because they have a really good roster with depth at a lot of positions. However, a big concern will be an edge rusher. Bud Dupree just had the best season of his career in a contract year and its unclear if the Steelers will be able to resign him. Finding some replacements for their aging offensive linemen should also be a priority.
Possible Addition: Draft Oklahoma Quarterback Jalen Hurts