Biggest 2017 draft needs for every NFL team

NFL Nation reporters look ahead to what each team's biggest need will be in the 2017 NFL draft:

AFC East | AFC North| AFC South | AFC West
NFC East | NFC North | NFC South | NFC West


Buffalo Bills


Even if the Bills reverse course and decide to keep Tyrod Taylor before $30 million of his contract becomes guaranteed March 12, they need to take swings at finding a franchise QB in the draft. Since Jim Kelly retired following the 1996 season, the Bills have drafted only five quarterbacks: J.P. Losman (first round, 2004), Trent Edwards (third round, 2007), Levi Brown (seventh round, 2010), EJ Manuel (first round, 2013) and Cardale Jones (fourth round, 2016). The Bills made a mistake in picking Manuel, but GM Doug Whaley compounded the problem with his reluctance to select another quarterback in the early rounds of ensuing drafts. How can the Bills expect to find an answer at QB if they're not taking chances? -- Mike Rodak

Miami Dolphins

Outside linebacker

The Dolphins, who had the 29th-ranked defense and were shredded by the Steelers in a 30-6 wild-card loss, need two athletic outside linebackers who can make plays and rush the passer. Miami's linebackers were constantly exposed in the running and passing game. Kiko Alonso was the exception, but he needs help around him. -- James Walker

New England Patriots

Tight end

With Rob Gronkowski coming off back surgery and Martellus Bennett no guarantee to return as a free agent, this is a position that figures to be high on the Patriots' radar based on its general importance to the offense over Bill Belichick's 17-year coaching tenure. Simply put, Belichick loves drafting tight ends. -- Mike Reiss

New York Jets


The decline of Darrelle Revis, whose future with the team is a question mark, has created a huge void in the secondary. Coach Todd Bowles can't play his pressure-based system without press-man corners, and the Jets don't have any No. 1 or No. 2 corners on the current roster. It wouldn't be a shock if they pick one with the sixth overall pick, if there's a corner worthy of that selection. -- Rich Cimini


Baltimore Ravens


Take a look at the Ravens' top four corners: Jimmy Smith is repeatedly hurt, Tavon Young lacks ideal size, Jerraud Powers is a free agent and Shareece Wright is a liability. This has been a position the Ravens have ignored for too long. Since 2013, the Ravens have allowed the fourth-most touchdown passes to wide receivers (78). One could also argue Baltimore needs a pass-rusher. If the Ravens can upgrade their coverage, they can generate more of a rush through blitzes. -- Jamison Hensley

Cincinnati Bengals

Defensive end

The Bengals' pass-rush production dropped off this season, and they need someone to complement Carlos Dunlap on the other side. Wide receiver is also an option, but this draft is full of edge rushers and it would be a good time to upgrade the position. -- Katherine Terrell

Cleveland Browns


The Browns need a quarterback. They have since 1999. But if it is their (mis)fortune to land the first pick in a year when no quarterbacks are worth the top spot, then they need a disruptive defensive player. Myles Garrett or Jonathan Allen would both be fits. -- Pat McManamon

Pittsburgh Steelers

Wide receiver

What was once a position of strength now needs a reliable second option on the outside, alongside Antonio Brown. Martavis Bryant will be back, but can't be trusted after back-to-back drug suspensions. Sammie Coates struggled through injuries in Year 2. Eli Rogers has progressed well but is considered a complementary piece for now. Offensive coordinator Todd Haley, with his wide-receiver background, would love a top-shelf playmaker to develop as a vertical threat. -- Jeremy Fowler


Houston Texans

Offensive line

The Texans are in need of offensive line help, particularly at right tackle. After Derek Newton tore both patellar tendons on Oct. 24, the Texans started Chris Clark at right tackle and he struggled. Newton likely will not return in time for the 2017 season. Veteran left tackle Duane Brown has played extremely well in the 12 games since he returned from injury, but he needs some help around him. -- Sarah Barshop

Indianapolis Colts

Pass-rushers, pass-rushers and more pass-rushers

The Colts need to focus in that area in the same way they put an emphasis on the offensive line last offseason, when they used half of their eight draft picks on linemen. They finished tied for 19th in the league with 33 sacks. Linebacker Erik Walden, who led the Colts in sacks with 11, is about to be a free agent. The same with Trent Cole (2.0 sacks). Robert Mathis retired after 14 seasons. -- Mike Wells

Jacksonville Jaguars


The Jaguars need help in several areas -- including the offensive line, safety and tight end -- but their biggest need remains edge rusher. They relied on end Yannick Ngakoue and second-year player Dante Fowler Jr. in 2016. Ngakoue broke the franchise record for most sacks by a rookie (8.0) but Fowler was a disappointment after missing his rookie season with a torn ACL. It is supposed to be a good draft for pass-rushers and the Jaguars could use a couple more, especially if they switch to a more traditional 4-3 defense. -- Mike DiRocco

Tennessee Titans


Jason McCourty wasn't up to par and is heading into the final year of his deal with a base salary of $7 million due. Perrish Cox got cut at the team's late bye in Week 13. Valentino Blake struggled and was on a one-year deal. Brice McCain was up and down. LeShaun Sims was encouraging as a fifth-round rookie. This team needs a jolt at corner, with a top-flight guy who can excel in man and set a contagious tone. It would be great for the Titans to add a couple, in fact. -- Paul Kuharsky


Denver Broncos

Start and end with the offensive line

Despite the Broncos' best efforts in recent years -- they signed tackles Russell Okung and Donald Stephenson in free agency last offseason -- they have spent the past two years wringing their hands over play on the offensive line. The 2015 group rallied down the stretch and likely played its best game of the season in Super Bowl 50. This year it never kicked in. The Broncos had one of the least-productive run games in the league and they didn't protect their quarterbacks very well. Trevor Siemian's left shoulder surgery is proof of that. The line will get plenty of attention in the draft and again in free agency, as it would be a surprise if Okung and Stephenson are retained. -- Jeff Legwold

Kansas City Chiefs

Inside linebacker

The Chiefs need to find the eventual replacement for longtime starter Derrick Johnson, who has been an effective player against both the run and the pass for years. But Johnson will turn 35 next November and will be coming off a torn Achilles tendon that ended his 2016 season in early December. Johnson might return an effective player for another season or two, but it's time for the Chiefs to prepare for life without him. -- Adam Teicher

Oakland Raiders

Defensive tackle ... with a caveat

"Interior pass rush is critical for us to get that going," Raiders coach Jack Del Rio said. "We were not nearly effective enough. ... I didn't feel like we got enough inside push." Pending free agent Stacy McGee, who played just nine games because of injury, led interior defensive linemen with 2.5 sacks -- and those all came in the first five games of the season. Dan Williams added a half of one sack. And that was it from the inside. A pass-rushing inside linebacker would help as well, seeing as how neither Perry Riley Jr. nor Cory James had a sack in 2016. The Raiders had a league-low 25 sacks, with All-Pro edge rusher Khalil Mack getting 11 and outside linebacker Bruce Irvin adding seven. -- Paul Gutierrez

San Diego Chargers

Offensive line

Although they mostly stayed healthy during the 2016 campaign, the Chargers' front five on offense was spotty at times in pass protection. San Diego is solid at center with Matt Slauson but could use an infusion of young talent at tackle. -- Eric D. Williams


Dallas Cowboys


The Cowboys have four free agents in the secondary -- Brandon Carr, Morris Claiborne, Barry Church and J.J. Wilcox -- which could create a big need in the draft, but the top need will continue to be pass-rushers. The Cowboys put up more sacks in 2016 (36) than in 2015 (31), but that needs to be better. They rely on a rotation of players to affect the quarterback, but they need a special talent that forces offenses to know where he is at all times. Picking late in the first round, that won't be easy to find, but the Cowboys have to address their defensive line. -- Todd Archer

New York Giants

Tight end

The position has been a black hole for several years. The Giants' tight ends have had trouble blocking and catching passes. With Odell Beckham Jr. on the outside, a tight end who can catch passes down the seam would be invaluable. If he could just block sufficiently, that would also be an upgrade. -- Jordan Raanan

Philadelphia Eagles


The Eagles haven't used a first-round pick on a corner since 2002, when they took Lito Sheppard. In recent years they have gone the free-agency route to try to patch the position and it hasn't worked. The front office realizes it's time to invest via the draft and, lucky for Philadelphia, this happens to be a quality cornerback class coming out. -- Tim McManus

Washington Redskins

Defensive line

Some of this depends on who the Redskins hire as their defensive coordinator and if they stick with a 3-4 defensive scheme or return to a 4-3. Regardless, the Redskins need an upgrade along the line. Their youngest starter up front last season was 29 and they've drafted one defensive lineman in the past five years -- in the fifth round. In the past three years combined, the Redskins rank 30th in yards allowed per carry at 4.48. It starts up front. -- John Keim


Chicago Bears


The Bears are paying the price for not having a plan to replace Jay Cutler, who might be traded or released in the offseason. The 2017 quarterback class is expected to be mediocre, but Chicago must begin the process of moving on from the Cutler era, which produced just one playoff appearance. The Bears also have serious needs in the secondary -- they could use the third overall pick on a defensive back -- but the future of the franchise hinges on finding the right young quarterback, either this year or in the near future. -- Jeff Dickerson

Detroit Lions

An all-around defensive lineman

Detroit struggled getting to the quarterback all season long, partly because of scheme and partly because of the line's skill level. But the Lions have long needed to find a high-end rusher to pair with Ezekiel Ansah. They had hoped Devin Taylor would be that person, but he didn't pan out. Kerry Hyder has a shot at that role, but Detroit needs more there. If the pass-rusher can come from the interior, he could work with A'Shawn Robinson in the future. But Detroit has to get to the quarterback more efficiently and it starts here. If the newcomer can stop the run as well, either as an edge-setter on the end or an eventual replacement for Haloti Ngata in the middle, that would be massive. -- Michael Rothstein

Green Bay Packers


Yes, the Packers used their top two picks on this position two years ago, when they took Damarious Randall at No. 30 and Quinten Rollins at No. 62, but it remains a gaping hole on their defense, which finished 31st in the NFL in passing yards allowed. Sam Shields, who never came back from his Week 1 concussion, appears unlikely to ever play in Green Bay again. While Randall, Rollins and LaDarius Gunter remain promising prospects, all three were too inconsistent to bank on. -- Rob Demovsky

Minnesota Vikings

Offensive line

The Vikings don't have a first-round pick, so they'll have to scout well to find a player who can step in and help right away. But with five picks between the second and fourth rounds, they should be able to devote some attention to a position they've rarely addressed in the early rounds. The Vikings have taken just two linemen before the fourth round since 2009, and their lack of a pipeline became obvious in 2016, when they fielded eight offensive line combinations and struggled even when they had all five of their veteran starters healthy. -- Ben Goessling


Atlanta Falcons

Offensive guard

The Falcons have to solidify the interior of the offensive line so Pro Bowl center Alex Mack doesn't have to do all the heavy lifting. Veteran Chris Chester signed a one-year deal late last offseason coming off shoulder surgery. And the Falcons probably don't have their right guard of the future on the roster right now. Getting a versatile guard who can play both sides and get out and run in the outside zone-blocking scheme is critical, particularly if offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan doesn't leave for a head-coaching position. You could justify taking an interior offensive lineman with a late-first-round pick, and right now the Falcons would select outside the top 24. -- Vaughn McClure

Carolina Panthers

Left tackle

Starter Michael Oher missed the final 13 games with a concussion and general manager Dave Gettleman recently said he couldn't assert that Oher was a player he could count on for 2017. Mike Remmers, who moved from right tackle to left to replace Oher, is scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent. Finding a way to protect quarterback Cam Newton is the No. 1 priority in free agency and the draft, and finding a left tackle tops that list if there is any doubt about Oher being available. Even if he's able to return, the Panthers need a long-term solution there. -- David Newton

New Orleans Saints

Defensive end

This is the third straight year I've ranked edge rusher as New Orleans' No. 1 or 2 draft need. DE Cameron Jordan was an excellent first-round pick for the Saints in 2011 and has developed into their top defensive player. But he is a bigger, more stout end who usually plays on the left side and occasionally slides inside to tackle. The Saints need a more disruptive speed rusher to flank him from the other end and throw quarterbacks off their game. They ranked 27th in the league with 30 sacks in 2016. -- Mike Triplett

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Wide receiver

Coach Dirk Koetter even said it in his season-ending news conference -- they need more speed and more playmakers. "Guys that can catch a 10-yard pass, break one tackle and turn it into a 30-yard gain," he said. "Our run after the catch is not where it needs to be." The need for more explosive receivers became even more evident when Vincent Jackson and Cecil Shorts III were injured and the Bucs didn't have a starting-caliber receiver to line up opposite Mike Evans. -- Jenna Laine


Arizona Cardinals

Wide receiver

Regardless if Larry Fitzgerald decides to return for next season, Arizona needs to find the void left by Michael Floyd: a tall, athletic, strong receiver who can run fly routes and muscle to first downs on third-and-short. If Fitzgerald returns next season, a drafted wide receiver would round out a complementary receiving corps. Should Fitzgerald retire, the Cardinals would be looking for a No. 1 -- and even a No. 2 -- receiver. -- Josh Weinfuss

Los Angeles Rams


That might surprise those who follow the Rams and have noticed the glaring needs at receiver and throughout their offensive line. But the Rams added two key pass-catchers in the fourth round last year -- slot receiver Pharoh Cooper and tight end Tyler Higbee -- and drafted seven offensive linemen from 2014 to '15. They need those players to develop, and now they need to replenish depth in the secondary, especially with strong safety T.J. McDonald and primary cornerback Trumaine Johnson headed for free agency. The Rams were sent scrambling to the waiver wire when injuries in the secondary popped up throughout the season. -- Alden Gonzalez

San Francisco 49ers


The 49ers have pressing needs at several important positions, so they shouldn't be obligated to take a quarterback with their first pick -- but they will need to take one somewhere early unless they can somehow find a starter in free agency or via trade. Colin Kaepernick is expected to opt out of his contract, which would leave the Niners with no signal-callers under team control for 2017. They need bodies at the position, but a true franchise quarterback would expedite what looks like a long and daunting rebuild. -- Nick Wagoner

Seattle Seahawks

Offensive tackle

Coaches have said repeatedly that they believe the Seahawks' young offensive line can grow together and improve next season, but it would be a mistake for them not to add more options. Russell Wilson was sacked 41 times during the regular season and the offense had too many game plans destroyed because of poor pass protection and run-blocking issues. George Fant and Garry Gilliam will finish this season as the starting left and right tackles, respectively. Fant needs to make a big leap in his second year, and Gilliam is a restricted free agent this offseason. The Seahawks could choose to move Germain Ifedi from guard to tackle, but regardless, they need to continue to add talent here. -- Sheil Kapadia