The new league year brought more than a few surprises as the NFL’s free agency period opened up. After a flurry of transactions, we take a look at the most updated team needs ahead of the 2022 NFL Draft. Free agency moves may have shifted needs around for some, but did they solve any team’s top need?
2022 NFL Draft Team Needs: AFC
As we get into it, it’s important to note that these needs have been crafted with a blind eye to their current draft capital. Just because one team has quarterback as their top need doesn’t mean we believe they should automatically select a QB with their first pick. Though it may be their biggest need, a quarterback may be too low on our board to warrant drafting with their first selection.
- C, CB, DT, EDGE, WR
The Baltimore Ravens made a few splash moves that filled needs through the first few days of free agency. Despite losing out on Za’Darius Smith after the edge rusher backed out of a big contract, the Ravens hang their hats on signing Morgan Moses and Marcus Williams. Both filled former positions of need.
Since Lamar Jackson came to Baltimore, the Ravens have run the ball very effectively. An upgrade at center could be an option for the Ravens, who are currently slotting an offensive tackle to the inside.
Speaking of offensive tackle, that could very well be their pick in the first round if someone like Trevor Penning is available at 14. Although they signed Moses to a three-year deal, they have an easy out after one. Additionally, their team needs don’t necessarily fit with what is available at the top of the draft.
- CB, RB, DT, TE, OT
Talk about filling a big need. The Buffalo Bills signing Von Miller showcased how solid they believe their roster is after drafting edge defenders with their first picks of the previous two drafts. Miller’s veteran presence should go a long way in the development of Gregory Rousseau and A.J. Epenesa. It also adds a future Hall of Famer to a defense needing a spark.
Drafting a cornerback at the end of Round 1 that is an instant contributor could be tricky, depending on whether there is a run on the position early on. There’s no doubting the Bills need a starter opposite of superstar Tre’Davius White. However, adding a receiving weapon in the backfield is also a massive need after losing out on J.D. McKissic in free agency.
- C, S, G, CB, TE
While the Cincinnati Bengals secured a couple of players at spots of need, this offensive line could still use help. Alex Cappa’s four-year, $35 million deal is a decent one, meaning he’ll likely pencil in to start at guard. Outside of that, the Bengals are absolutely in the market for depth and improvement at nearly every other offensive line position.
If Tyler Linderbaum is available at 31 and the Bengals decide to go another route, we riot on behalf of Joe Shiesty and his family. While Ted Karras has played and could continue to play center, why force him into that role when there’s a perfectly good rookie to draft there. Center is a market inefficiency in the NFL Draft, and they could reap the reward in 2022.
- DT, EDGE, WR, S, LB
The Cleveland Browns acquired Deshaun Watson by sending essentially a king’s ransom to the Texans. They then signed Watson to the largest guaranteed contract in NFL history. It’s safe to say they have their franchise quarterback for now and the future with the money and draft capital they’ve put behind Watson.
Although wide receiver remains a big need for Cleveland, it’s not the biggest one after the acquisition of Amari Cooper. The Browns need interior defensive line help like a toddler needs a nap an hour after smashing some sugary cake. Taven Bryan and Jordan Elliott won’t suffice. They could also use a long-term answer to play opposite of Myles Garrett.
- RT, EDGE, CB, TE, RB
It’s a new era for the Denver Broncos following their trade for Russell Wilson. Without their top draft picks this year, the Broncos will be hard-pressed for some of the most coveted players in the 2022 NFL Draft. Still, Denver has signed players of need in both Randy Gregory on the edge and D.J. Jones at DT.
The Wilson trade sent Noah Fant to Seattle, which leaves Denver with Albert Okwuegbunam and a whole lot of anonymity behind him. While the Broncos don’t have premium picks to address right tackle, they don’t necessarily need to. They have Billy Turner and Tom Compton to hold down the fort for a developmental second or third-round pick.
- WR, CB, S, EDGE, OT
This is a bad roster everywhere. Winning four games in 2021 was a miracle in and of itself. Their actual needs list is simply “all” of the positions. However, a few are imperative to begin the roster-rebuilding process.
While drafting a receiver with the third pick would be practically insane, the Texans could potentially walk away with the top wide receiver in the class with the 13th selection. If not, it’s likely they could get the second-best at 13. With five picks in the top 80, they can do a whole lot of roster-building. Houston could also address more needs with a trade back from 13 if a team attempts trading up for a quarterback.
- OT, G, CB, WR, S
The Colts fixed a massive issue on their roster when they traded for Matt Ryan. However, there is a lot more work that needs to be done. They lost Mark Glowinski, leaving Will Fries and Carter O’Donnell as the only two options at right guard. However, Matt Pryor isn’t necessarily a stone wall on the left side.
Kenny Moore II and Isaiah Rodgers are a great duo at cornerback, but they need a third after losing Rock Ya-Sin. Left tackle and right guard will both need to be upgraded before next season. Michael Pittman Jr. is a nice piece at wide receiver, but the rest of the group is anonymous. Parris Campbell hasn’t stayed healthy enough to be counted on.
The Colts don’t pick until midway through Round 2, so the need for a left tackle is likely to go unchecked barring a substantial fall for a prospect.
- OT, EDGE, WR, S, LB
The Jacksonville Jaguars shelled out a ton of cash during the opening stages of free agency. They addressed multiple top needs in a flurry of moves (guard, cornerback, wide receiver). Notably, the only edge rusher they signed was Arden Key, and they didn’t ink a tackle. Yet, they’ll have their pick of the top players at both positions on their big board.
Despite handing Christian Kirk WR1 money, the Jaguars don’t have a WR1 on the roster. The draft class at wide receiver is interesting. There’s a chance they get a legitimate WR1 prospect with the 33rd pick. Jacksonville could also look into a long-term option at tight end to help in the development of Trevor Lawrence. Meanwhile, the loss of Myles Jack creates a need at linebacker in a deep class.
Kansas City Chiefs
- CB, EDGE, WR, DT, TE
Replacing Tyrann Mathieu was not going to be easy, but the Kansas City Chiefs made quick work of it. Filling a big void with the signing of Justin Reid was crucial as that wiped away one of their top needs. Receiver may seem like a massive need on the surface, but if Patrick Mahomes is truly one of the all-time great talents, he should survive with his current group.
The Chiefs went from four straight conference championships to having a whole lot of holes to fill in a hurry. Luckily, they have four picks in the first two rounds to throw darts at. They need a cornerback, and they desperately need a pass rusher to help alleviate stress from Chris Jones on the interior. They also no longer have Tyreek Hill, and wide receiver was already a need.
Las Vegas Raiders
- OT, G, DT, LB, S
Given that their previous top need was receiver, the Las Vegas Raiders had to spend some serious capital to secure the services of Davante Adams. The jury is still out on whether the trade will be worth it or not, but head coach Josh McDaniels understood their need at receiver. With Adams in the fold and a bevy of other receiving options available, the need comes off the list.
The Raiders have a few incredibly glaring needs on their roster but have little draft capital to invest. With only one top-100 pick (86th overall), those needs will be difficult to fill without getting lucky. They drafted right tackle Alex Leatherwood in the 2021 NFL Draft and then immediately decided it was a bad idea and moved him to guard.
With a new staff in town, hopefully, the Raiders (and Leatherwood) can find some stability at one spot.
Los Angeles Chargers
- G, OT, WR, EDGE, LB
Arguably only the Jaguars made a bigger splash in NFL free agency. The Chargers addressed huge needs and added weapons to facilitate Derwin James’ success. That is an exciting development.
The right side of the offensive line is still in shambles. The Chargers have four guards on the roster but only one starter. They have three tackles, but just one that should start. LA needs a lot of help at right guard and right tackle. However, they also need help at receiver. Getting a legitimate downfield threat to replace Jalen Guyton would transform the offense. They also lack weapons behind Joey Bosa and Khalil Mack. They’re both unbelievable players, but they can’t play 100% of the defensive snaps.
- C, S, OT, EDGE, LB
It’s safe to say backfield members are no longer a need — at least in this draft — for the Miami Dolphins. After signing two fullbacks as well as Raheem Mostert and Chase Edmonds, the Dolphins should be done with the backfield acquisitions.
They also grabbed Connor Williams, who can play a multitude of offensive line positions. Subsequently, Miami landed Terron Armstead to play left tackle. Then, they sent picks to Kansas City for Tyreek Hill, rendering WR no longer a need.
Not much has changed for Miami since the trade. Jevon Holland still needs a friend at safety. The right tackle spot is still a bit of a black hole, but the Dolphins might hope/believe Liam Eichenberg can survive there. Much of the offensive line could still be improved upon, but a linebacker to complement Jerome Baker is a need as well.
New England Patriots
- CB, WR, S, LB, OT
The New England Patriots will have the difficult task of replacing J.C. Jackson, but that had to have already been in the plans. Their needs haven’t changed much after free agency, except maybe putting two cornerbacks ahead of anything else in the draft.
New England is old. It was part of the original thirteen colonies, and the Patriots’ roster is aging like a Pontiac Catalina being left outside and uncovered during the winter. The Patriots need to inject some youth into their defense. They desperately need help at cornerback, and they created a need at right guard after trading Shaq Mason for tickets to see The Batman.
New York Jets
- S, LB, CB, WR, EDGE
Operation “Build Around Zach Wilson” has started for the New York Jets. They signed safety Jordan Whitehead, answering part of their biggest draft need listed here. The Jets re-signed WR Braxton Berrios to a longer deal while grabbing Tyler Conklin and C.J. Uzomah at tight end. This timing attack on offense got a whole lot better with an influx of short-area pass catchers.
The Berrios signing doesn’t move the needle much on the Jets’ high-end receiving need. They could be in a position to take the first one off the board in the draft with the 10th pick. Linebacker is another huge need, but there should be Day 2 options there.
Free safety is still a need, particularly in Robert Saleh’s defense. The departure of Marcus Maye creates a hole there. They have five picks in the top 69 of the 2022 NFL Draft, which is nice. They can address premium positions early and move on to great players at undervalued positions like safety and linebacker in Rounds 2 and 3.
- QB, OT, WR, S, CB
It seems highly unlikely that Mitchell Trubisky is the long-term answer for the Pittsburgh Steelers. As such, a quarterback at pick No. 20 could very well be in the plans here. Utilizing Trubisky as a bridge QB may be the answer to their success as a team in 2022. Their signings of James Daniels and Chukwuma Okorafor to three-year deals will go a long way in helping sustain their quarterback’s success, but they still need more.
Quarterback is the beginning and end of the Steelers’ needs. This is a fanbase that doesn’t know failure. They haven’t had a losing season since 50 Cent dropped Get Rich or Die Tryin’. That was 2003! They will probably be bad this season, but drafting a QB at 20 allows the fanbase to hope for a brighter future of 10+ win seasons.
- LB, WR, TE, EDGE, CB
The Tennessee Titans signed Harold Landry III to a big contract, keeping him in the fold for five years at $87.5 million. Landry joins C Ben Jones in returning to the team and filling needs that could have been problems. That only cements their top need as linebacker takes center stage for the Titans in the 2022 NFL Draft.
If the Titans aren’t drafting a linebacker or wide receiver in Round 1 of the NFL Mock Draft you’re reading, stop reading it. That is, if it isn’t a PFN Mock Draft, as I’m sure whoever wrote it has outstanding motives. But really, the Titans should find value at linebacker in Round 1, and there are many receivers who could fit well with A.J. Brown and Robert Woods. Tight end should come later.