This is a look at the first-round order for the 2022 NFL Draft heading into Week 7 of the 2021 NFL season, along with the top three needs for each team. The order is determined by record, using strength of schedule as the first tiebreaker (click here to see a full list of the draft-order tiebreakers). Keep in mind — teams 19-32 would make the playoffs if the season ended today and are marked as PL (short for playoffs) in the order below. The draft order for playoff teams is determined by the results of postseason play.
Biggest needs: QB, CB, WR
Week 7 opponent: at Rams
DP: There are many needs to fill here, but they’re clearly not getting what they want from the most important position on the field.
Biggest needs: QB, WR, CB
Week 7 opponent: at Cardinals
CG: Setting aside the first encouraging performance by rookie Davis Mills against the Patriots in Week 5, the quarterback position in Houston is potentially facing major offseason upheaval. Every indication is that Deshaun Watson‘s departure is a when and not an if, and Tyrod Taylor is playing on a one-year contract.
PICK ACQUIRED FROM THE MIAMI DOLPHINS
Dolphins’ record: 1-5 (.500)
Dolphins’ Week 7 opponent: vs. Falcons
See Pick No. 11 for analysis of the Eagles’ needs and Pick No. 13 for analysis of the Dolphins’ needs.
Biggest needs: OG, WR, S
Week 7 opponent: Bye
CG: Trevor Lawrence‘s continued development at quarterback will require a dynamic playmaker at wide receiver, and the Jaguars simply don’t have one. The team’s pass catchers are averaging just 3.4 yards of separation, per Next Gen Stats, which ranks in the bottom half of the league. While running backs and tight ends are included in that figure, it also reflects on the lack of separation WRs are getting despite a quarterback who can effectively extend plays.
Biggest needs: OL, Edge, LB
Week 7 opponent: vs. Panthers
DP: The Giants’ offensive line faces another remodeling in the offseason, at least on the interior, with three of Sunday’s starters ticketed for free agency and Nick Gates‘ football future in doubt.
Biggest needs: S, WR, CB
Week 7 opponent: at Patriots
CG: Jets brass is getting a chance to see what the secondary looks like without one of the team’s top players — franchise-tagged safety Marcus Maye — while he recovers from an ankle injury. Maye’s future with the club is cloudy at best, and if 2021 is his last year in New York, addressing the safety spot figures to be a high priority.
Biggest needs: WR, CB, S
Week 7 opponent: vs. Jets
CG: The Patriots’ top wide receiver, Jakobi Meyers, could be on the brink of a breakout season and, at the least, is an ascending talent who will be a restricted free agent after the season. He’s likely to be retained with an RFA tender, but rookie QB Mac Jones could use another receiving threat in his second year.
PICK ACQUIRED FROM THE INDIANAPOLIS COLTS (Contingent on Carson Wentz playing 75% of team’s snaps; Wentz has played 99% of snaps entering Week 7)
Colts’ record: 2-4 (.500)
Colts’ Week 7 opponent: at 49ers
See Pick No. 11 for analysis of the Eagles’ needs and the bottom of this article for analysis of the Colts’ needs.
Biggest needs: QB, OL, DB
Week 7 opponent: at Packers
DP: The Washington defense is the biggest disappointment of the season. Ron Rivera might be able to work some magic on that side of the ball, but I don’t like his chances of making Taylor Heinicke into a star quarterback.
PICK ACQUIRED FROM THE SEATTLE SEAHAWKS
Seahawks’ record: 2-4 (.543)
Seahawks’ Week 7 opponent: vs. Saints
See Pick No. 6 for analysis of the Jets’ needs and the bottom of this article for analysis of the Seahawks’ needs.
Biggest needs: DB, Edge, OL
Week 7 opponent: at Raiders
DP: The secondary could be atop Philly’s list of priorities next spring with both starting safeties and two starting corners due to hit the market in 2022. They’ll have the draft capital to land the player, or players, they covet.
Biggest needs: Edge, OL, QB
Week 7 opponent: at Dolphins
DP: I’m not going to ignore the fact that Matt Ryan will turn 37 next year and got off to a rough start this season, which is why QB is listed above. But I’m also not going to turn a blind eye to his last three games — 8:0 TD-INT ratio, 110.8 passer rating — and a contract that makes it unlikely he’ll be moved next year. If the Falcons see a QB they love in the 2022 draft, they should go get him. Regardless, they probably aren’t going to win many games with a defense that produces the third-lowest pressure rate (22.2%) in the league.
PICK ACQUIRED FROM THE SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS
49ers’ record: 2-3 (.500)
49ers’ Week 7 opponent: vs. Colts
Dolphins’ biggest needs: RB, TE, OL
CG: The franchise’s purported quarterback of the future, Tua Tagovailoa, only got five quarters into the season before pass protection woes shelved him for three weeks. Consider that an enduring reminder of a serious draft need, along with what is currently an NFL-low average of 71.5 rushing yards per game.
NOTE: See the bottom of this article for analysis of the 49ers’ needs.
Biggest needs: QB, LB, Edge
Week 7 opponent: at Browns
CG: Absent a new deal for free-agent-to-be Teddy Bridgewater, it’s hard to imagine the club would turn back to Drew Lock without challenging him with a talented rookie.
Biggest needs: OL, CB, QB
Week 7 opponent: at Giants
DP: Things have taken a turn for the worse in Carolina with Christian McCaffrey sidelined. The Panthers have allowed a 36.4 percent pressure rate over the past three weeks (third-highest in the league), according to Next Gen Stats, coinciding with a downturn in Sam Darnold‘s performance.
Biggest needs: TE, DT, Edge
Week 7 opponent: vs. Broncos
CG: The Browns’ decision to give DT Malik McDowell a chance at a career comeback looks like it will pay off handsomely — he’s emerged as an effective and inexpensive starter. That opportunity came with just a one-year contract, however, so both Maliks at defensive tackle — McDowell and Jackson — are playing on expiring deals.
Biggest needs: OT, CB, S
Week 7 opponent: at Titans
CG: The Chiefs’ defense is a mess right now, and a Week 5 loss to the Buffalo Bills further exposed problems in the secondary. Whether an ineffective pass rush is to blame or not, three Chiefs safeties are in a contract year, including Tyrann Mathieu and Daniel Sorensen.
PICK ACQUIRED FROM THE CHICAGO BEARS
Bears’ record: 3-3 (.583)
Bears’ Week 7 opponent: at Buccaneers
See Pick No. 5 for analysis of the Giants’ needs and the bottom of this article for analysis of the Bears’ needs.
Biggest needs: CB, Edge, LB
Week 7 opponent: Bye
DP: If the Vikings and Danielle Hunter are unable to work out a new deal by next March, edge rusher will rise to the front of the needs list. For now, the impending free agency of Mackensie Alexander, Bashaud Breeland and Patrick Peterson looms.
Biggest needs: QB, CB, interior OL
Week 7 opponent: Bye
CG: The Steelers have made tepid investments in potential successors to QB Ben Roethlisberger, from spending middle-round picks on Mason Rudolph and Joshua Dobbs to taking a flier on Dwayne Haskins. With Big Ben approaching the end of his career, it’s time for the Steelers to push more chips into the pot at the game’s most important position.
Biggest needs: OT, DB, WR
Week 7 opponent: at Seahawks
DP: We’re setting the QB situation aside for now to give Jameis Winston a little more time to show what he can do as the Saints’ QB1. That leaves LT Terron Armstead and S Marcus Williams as the biggest standouts from the team’s list of impending free agents.
Biggest needs: DL, WR, Edge
Week 7 opponent: Bye
CG: The good news in Buffalo: draft needs for the Bills are as difficult to identify as any team in the AFC. However, a quarterback like Josh Allen deserves at least a duo of excellent receivers, if not a trio, and Emmanuel Sanders is playing on a one-year deal.
Biggest needs: CB, TE, S
Week 7 opponent: at Ravens
CG: It looks like the Bengals likely hit a jackpot with their selection of Ja’Marr Chase to give Joe Burrow a vertical threat at wide receiver; a logical next step would be to give the second-year QB a more dangerous target at tight end. The last tight end to crest the 60-catch mark in Cincinnati was Jermaine Gresham in 2014; it’s past time for a bigger impact.
Biggest needs: LB, C, TE
Week 7 opponent: vs. Chiefs
CG: All three of the Titans’ regular actives at tight end are pending free agents, and none of them is integral to the pass offense. As much as any club out there, Tennessee could use a true receiving threat at tight end to stretch the field and command more coverage from defenders.
Biggest needs: OG, DT, CB
Week 7 opponent: vs. Eagles
CG: Every defensive tackle in the Raiders’ regular rotation is approaching the end of their deals. It’s not a good place to be from a continuity standpoint, and if the ones the Raiders want back the most go elsewhere, it could be the club’s biggest need of all come next April.
Biggest needs: WR, TE, DT
Week 7 opponent: Bye
CG: Keeping talented receivers around star QB Justin Herbert is imperative for this franchise, and unfortunately for the Chargers’ future cap figures, the last year of Mike Williams‘ contract is coinciding with what is on pace to be his career-best season. If Williams doesn’t return, the Chargers can’t just rely on Keenan Allen and a cast of little-known wide receivers.
Biggest needs: WR, Edge, LB
Week 7 opponent: vs. Washington
DP: We’re coming up on the 20th anniversary of the last time the Packers spent a first-round pick on a receiver (Javon Walker in 2002). Will the streak finally be snapped in 2022? Randall Cobb and Amari Rodgers are the only WRs Green Bay has under contract beyond this season.
Biggest needs: DT, OL, Edge
Week 7 opponent: vs. Bengals
CG: Early returns on rookie edge rusher Odafe Oweh are strong, but much like the cornerback position, a team can’t have enough quality pass rushers. Next offseason, Oweh could be one of the Ravens’ few obvious keepers under contract for 2022 at the position.
Biggest needs: DB, DL, WR
Week 7 opponent: Bye
DP: While Trevon Diggs continues to thrill as a top DPOY candidate, the Cowboys should still be looking to upgrade a pass defense that’s allowed the second-most yards in the league. Quarterbacks have a TD-INT ratio of 10:3 and average 8.8 yards per attempt when the nearest Dallas defensive back in coverage is anyone other than Diggs, per NGS.
Biggest needs: OL, CB, RB
Week 7 opponent: vs. Bears
DP: Keeping Tom Brady, who’ll turn 45 before next season, upright has to be the top priority, and the Bucs have a couple starters on the O-line headed for free agency in C Ryan Jensen and OG Alex Cappa.
PICK ACQUIRED FROM THE LOS ANGELES RAMS
Rams’ record: 5-1 (.528)
Rams’ Week 7 opponent: vs. Lions
See Pick No. 1 for analysis of the Lions’ needs and the bottom of this article for analysis of the Rams’ needs.
Biggest needs: Edge, CB, RB
Week 7 opponent: vs. Texans
DP: Edge rusher figures to be a glaring need if Chandler Jones moves on after the season, but GM Steve Keim could be tempted to add another skill-position weapon for Kyler Murray.
TRADED FIRST-ROUND PICK TO THE PHILADELPHIA EAGLES (Contingent on Carson Wentz playing 75% of team’s snaps; Wentz has played 99% of snaps entering Week 7)
Biggest needs: OT, WR, CB
Week 7 opponent: at 49ers
CG: Whether Carson Wentz proves to be the answer at quarterback or not, that’s the commitment the Colts have made. Tied to that commitment is protecting the oft-injured Wentz, and that means upgrading an offensive tackle position where two of the club’s top three players (Eric Fisher, Julie’n Davenport) could walk after the season.
TRADED FIRST-ROUND PICK TO THE DETROIT LIONS
Biggest needs: OL, CB, LB
Week 7 opponent: vs. Lions
DP: Yes, Les Snead and Sean McVay are in their usual spot, sitting out of Round 1 for the sixth straight year. When they’re finally on the clock, the Rams should be thinking of how best to protect the player they acquired for three draft picks, including two first-rounders. All five O-line starters have deals that expire in 2022 or ’23.
TRADED FIRST-ROUND PICK TO THE NEW YORK GIANTS
Biggest needs: OL, WR, CB
Week 7 opponent: at Buccaneers
DP: The Bears must do right by their young QB if they want to help him grow, and that means giving Justin Fields a better group up front.
TRADED FIRST-ROUND PICK TO THE MIAMI DOLPHINS
Biggest needs: CB, Edge, WR
Week 7 opponent: vs. Colts
DP: The Niners won’t have a first-round pick after trading up for Trey Lance, but it’s time for a major investment at cornerback, where the team has been too thin for too long.
TRADED FIRST-ROUND PICK TO THE NEW YORK JETS
Biggest needs: DB, OL, TE
Week 7 opponent: vs. Saints
DP: Seattle ranks dead last in total defense and has allowed 300-plus passing yards in four of the last five games. John Schneider and Pete Carroll have to find a way to plug the holes in the backend.
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