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NFL teams have been executing their due diligence to fortify their rosters during the 2022 NFL Free Agency Period and 2022 NFL Draft.
Teams like the Jacksonville Jaguars, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and Miami Dolphins have addressed a plethora of team needs through veteran acquisitions, while the Baltimore Ravens, Kansas City Chiefs, Philadelphia Eagles bolstered their rosters with savvy draft moves.
Below you’ll find an updated breakdown of the needs for all 32 teams post the 2022 NFL Draft. It will serve as a crucial guide to how teams approach the remainder of the offseason and backfill their roster during training camp.
Note that this article will only include veteran acquisitions. All rookie additions can be found in my all encompassing “2022 NFL Draft Grades for All 32 NFL Teams” that I will refer to ad nauseam throughout this recently updated piece.
*Salary cap numbers provided by Spotrac*
These Arizona Cardinals secondary is scary, but it all in the wrong ways. They have zero cornerbacks on the roster that earned a top-35 PFF grade in 2021. Their highest-graded CB – Robert Alford (CB – ARI) – is a free agent. The only addition they made was re-signing former undrafted free agent Antonio Hamilton, who finished as PFF’s 58th-graded cover CB in 2021. He’s projected to start for Arizona opposite 2021 fourth-rounder Marco Wilson, who allowed the third-highest passer rating in coverage as a rookie (134.1).
Needless to say, the Cardinals defense will be one to attack with fantasy WRs. They play the Chiefs in Week 1. Giddy up, Marquez Valdes-Scantling!
Marquez Valdes-Scantling, KC
Best Ball ADP WR54
Just less than a day after trading Tyreek Hill to the Miami Dolphins, the Chiefs signed MVS to help replace the big-play production.
— Andrew Erickson™ (@AndrewErickson_) June 10, 2022
They also have major depth issues along the offensive interior but failed to invest significant draft capital in the weakness. They earned PFF’s third-worst run-blocking grade in 2021.
Starting center Rodney Hudson (C – ARI) had his worst year to date and is entering his age-33 season. It’s also highly speculated that Hudson’s tenure with the team has come to a close after he skipped mandatory minicamps. He was also not featured in the Cardinals’ recent social media post that featured the starting offensive line.
Second-year and former third-rounder Josh Jones (OT – ARI) spent the majority of his time playing right guard in 2021, but he finished as PFF’s 82nd-graded guard among 88 qualifiers.
James Conner averaged a career-low 3.7 yards per carry last season, and I don’t think it will increase dramatically based on the Cardinals projected run-blocking upfront.
The Falcons finished dead last in pressure rate last season. Generating a pass rush has been a consistent issue for their defense for several seasons, so it was crucial to add pass-rush help during the draft with Arnold Ebiketie and DeAngelo Malone.
But Atlanta’s porous offensive line play from 2021 – second-worst PFF pass-blocking grade – is going to be an issue in 2022. They did nothing to re-tool the offensive line to give newly signed quarterback Marcus Mariota or Desmond Ridder a chance to succeed.
Matt Ryan was pressured at the highest rate of any quarterback to play 17 games last season.
However, the fact that both Mariota and Ridder offer mobility does suggest this offense can find more success even behind atrocious offensive line play. Case in point, the 2020 Titans under Arthur Smith’s coaching ranked 28th in PFF pass-blocking grade. That offense ranked third in yards with a mobile Ryan Tannehill at the helm.
Baltimore filled their remaining team needs with an excellent draft, setting up them up nicely to rebound in 2022.
Buffalo figured to be in the mix for upgrading their interior offensive line after finishing as PFF’s 27th-graded run-blocking unit. They added Rodger Saffold to start at left guard for this upcoming season, but they didn’t do much besides that. 2019 second-round pick Cody Ford (OL – BUF) has failed to live up to expectations after three lackluster seasons.
The Bills also released starting guard/tackle Daryl Williams – although there are rumbles that he will return later in the offseason on a cheaper contract.
The 2022 NFL Draft represented the perfect storm for the Carolina Panthers. Not only did they address their glaring need at tackle with Ikem Ekwonu, but they also snagged a quarterback in Matt Corral without having to drastically overpay.
It gives them a chance of being much better than they were in 2021, with the two greatest needs on the roster getting help. Corral being only slightly better than Sam Darnold would make a huge difference. And their offensive line — 28th in 2021 — seems destined to improve to at least league average with three new starters between Bozeman, Corbett and Ekwonu.
But with the a surplus of salary cap space available at the time, I was not convinced their quarterback room was finalized. I was correct, with the team trading for Baker Mayfield in exchange for a conditional 2024 5th-round draft pick along. The caveat being that both teams pay a portion of his 2022 salary.
With Mayfield in Carolina, it’s an upgrade for all parties involved. The Panthers literally had the worst QB play last year across several metrics including EPA per dropback and success rate.
It’s also not being discussed enough that before Mayfield separated his shoulder in Week 6 he ranked sixth in yards per attempt (8.5) and 7th in aDOT (9.6).
The Browns quarterback has shown the ability to support multiple fantasy weapons (not-named Odell Beckham Jr. when healthy) so D.J. Moore should be firmly at the top of the fantasy WR2 conversation during the fantasy football draft season. Jarvis Landry – as the Browns No. 1 – finished as WR19 and WR13 in half-point scoring in 2018/2019 with Mayfield at quarterback.
Moore’s ADP is WR15 on Underdog Best Ball has increased since Mayfield’s addition (3 spots).
Robbie Anderson‘s already seen an uptick in ADP in the wake of Mayfield’s arrival in Carolina, but his ADP was well overdue for a boost.
Mayfield’s addition also provides hope that Anderson can bounce back after a horrible 2021 campaign. Anderson finished ninth in route participation (91%), 28th in targets (105), and 46th in expected fantasy points per game (10.6).
With his No. 2 role likely unchanged from a season ago, Anderson should be an optimal late-round last pick in formats that require a plethora of starting WRs. He’s one year removed from a top-20 finish and is still just 29 years old.
I’d also be more open to taking some stabs on some ancillary Panthers pieces like second-year wide receiver Terrace Marshall Jr. or tight end Tommy Tremble. Mayfield’s had an obvious connection with tight ends in both college and the NFL, so there should be some optimism that Tremble can do more in Year 2.
Baker targets TEs 30% of the time since 2020.
This ranks #1 amongst all QBs…
And its good news for 2nd year TE Tommy Tremble:
He has been running as the starting TE in mini-camp.
— Sooner Magic (@SoonerMagic420) July 8, 2022
The Panthers can’t feature tight ends less than they have the past two seasons, ranking bottom three in tight end target share. It also works in Tremble’s 2022 projection favor that he out-targeted teammate Ian Thomas despite running fewer routes. His 44% slot rate also ranked 15th at the position last season.
Marshall’s a bit trickier to buy into despite his impressive college profile from LSU. Doing literally nothing as a rookie doesn’t favor WRs heading into Year 2, especially with his play falling off down the stretch. There’s also no guarantee that Marshall rises above Anderson to become the No. 2 receiver — which is really more of a No. 3 when you consider CMC — or can develop rapport with Mayfield in a timely manner.
His competition for snaps is Rashard Higgins, who Mayfield enjoyed plenty of success with in Cleveland.
Justin Fields was frequently running for his life last season, and the Bears proceeded to use zero picks inside the top 150 on offensive linemen. Not using at least one of their second-rounders on the OL was grave mistake.
Left tackle Jason Peters (OL – FA), right guard James Daniels (OL – PIT) and right tackle Germain Ifedi (OL – ATL) represent the three-highest graded starting pass-blocking linemen from last season, and they are all gone.
The wide receiver room also remains glaring, with nobody worth much outside of Darnell Mooney (WR – CHI). Byron Pringle and Equanimeous St. Brown should not get anybody overly excited. N’Keal Harry will not be a thing in the Windy City.
You don’t need to look too hard to identify the Bengals’ glaring weakness across their offensive line. Quarterback Joe Burrow (QB – CIN) was sacked 70 times in 2021 – the next closest quarterback was Ryan Tannehill (QB – TEN) with 48 sacks. Woof.
It’s critical that Cincy goes from bottom to at least mediocre-to-average across the line if they wish to get back into Super Bowl contention. And they did exactly that in free agency by bolstering the offensive line with three new starters: center Ted Karras, right guard Alex Cappa, and right tackle La’el Collins.
It’s a godsend for any Burrow dynasty manager that the Bengals quarterback got the help he desperately needed upfront. The former LSU quarterback ranked second in the NFL in yards per attempt when throwing from a clean pocket in 2021 (8.8).
After OL, Cincinnati desperately needed to find another starting perimeter cornerback. Chidobe Awuzie (CB – CIN) and Mike Hilton (CB – CIN) are solid, but another strong piece could help the defense tremendously. Eli Apple was brought back in free agency, but his up-and-down play is not a long-term answer at the position.
The Bengals drafted versatile safety/slot cornerback Daxton Hill from Michigan and traded up for cornerback Cam Taylor-Britt. Hill’s addition gives the Bengals flexibility to potentially move on from franchise-tagged safety Jessie Bates.
I am concerned that the Bengals failed to draft any tight ends after losing C.J. Uzomah. Hayden Hurst is on a one-year deal.
The Browns traded back with the Texans during the draft to pick up a boatload of third-round picks, getting more shots at the 2022 class after the Deshaun Watson trade. The Browns were solid across the board in Round 3, with Martin Emerson, David Bell and Perrion Winfrey filling team needs.
However, the Browns neglected to add any help at safety or linebacker, leaving some holes in their defense. They could have easily invested in those positions instead of drafting ANOTHER running back and kicker.
With a Deshaun Watson suspension looming and Baker Mayfield sent off to the Panthers, Jacoby Brissett looks slated to start at least a handful of games in 2022.
Brissett started in 2017 and 2019 with the Colts. He finished as a back-end top-24 fantasy quarterback both seasons. And in his four full starts last season — Weeks 3-5, 9 — he averaged 20.3 expected fantasy points per game. It’s a pretty impressive number given the perception of Brissett.
Former Colts tight end Jack Doyle led the team in targets/receptions in the seasons started by Brissett, which suggests that David Njoku could be a prime buy-low target. The Browns offense ranks top-three in target share to TEs over the past two seasons under head coach Kevin Stefanski
Dallas had the third-lowest salary cap space entering the offseason, which played a role in them losing so much talent. Connor Williams, Cedrick Wilson, Amari Cooper, Randy Gregory, and La’el Collins all have new homes in 2022.
Lucky for Dallas, the 2022 Draft provided what they needed. The biggest needs were OL, EDGE and WR — all of which the team dealt with in the first three rounds.
Tyler Smith has the tools and traits of a future franchise left tackle that can also play guard. Sam Williams finished with nearly one sack per game in 2021 (0.9), equal to Aidan Hutchinson. And Jalen Tolbert fits in perfectly with the Dallas offense as a vertical field stretcher while Michael Gallup returns from injury.
Still, the offensive line could use more depth after the projected starting 5 of Zack Martin, Tyler Smith, Tyron Smith, Tyler Biadasz and Terence Steele. Tyron Smith is turning 32 this year and has played 14 games over the last two seasons. Steele was PFF’s 65th-graded offensive tackle last season.
Continue to monitor Dallas’ offseason moves – chances are they are not done adding to the team with the 3rd-most available cap space.
Denver’s got a Super Bowl-caliber roster, so there aren’t too many needs the Broncos had to chase after.
Last year’s starters at RT – Bobby Massie (OL – FA) and Cameron Fleming (OL – FA) – are unsigned free agents. They did sign Billy Turner in free agency, who is slated to start after being released by the Packers.
Current free agent A.J. Johnson (LB – FA) was by far the best Denver linebacker last season, earning a 90-plus PFF grade in run defense and tackling. But he only played in six games after tearing his pec. They added Alex Singleton — a top-15 PFF run defender, but bottom-10 coverage linebacker.
The only reason the Lions don’t get an A+ draft grade is because they still have major issues at cornerback. No cornerback graded top 45 at their position (per PFF) for the Lions last season. But perhaps the lack of investment is a sign the team is hopeful that former first-round pick Jeff Okudah is rehabbing well from his season-ending injury.
The Packers have some question marks at their right tackle spot opposite David Bakhtiari (OL – GB) with Dennis Kelly (OL – IND) with Indianapolis and Billy Turner a Bronco. Elgton Jenkins (OL – GB) is coming off a late-season torn ACL suffered in Week 11.
WR is the other area of need, but I wouldn’t rule them out from adding another FA veteran with the ninth-most available salary cap space. Julio Jones is the big FA name to watch.
I’d rather take shot on him with my last pick in fantasy than Sammy Watkins.
Watkins’ fantasy points per game over the last four seasons are as follows: 9.5, 8.0, 7.0 and 5.2. Not the direction you want to be going after joining his third team in three seasons.
ESPN’s Rob Demovsky said that based on the investment the Packers gave Watkins – $350,000 signing bonus as part of a one-year deal – he’s hardly a lock to even make the Week 1 roster.
The Texans are an unusual team to parse through considering they don’t have too many glaring rosters holes outside the QB position, but the lack of elite starting talent is apparent. They signed a plethora of veterans in free agency to plug up all their roster holes, with the hope that some players drastically outplay their contracts.
Still think that pass-rush remains a big hole on the roster unless of course they get early-career production from either Jerry Hughes or Mario Addison. Ogbonnia Okoronkwo was an underrated signing after finishing last season 29th in PFF passing grade. The lack of additional pass-rushers was probably a vote of confidence for rising third-year edge defender, Jonathan Greenard. The former third-rounder finished 2021 as PFF’s 7th-highest graded pass-rusher.
All in all on paper, this 2022 Texans roster looks lightyears ahead of their 2021 unit. And Davis Mills’ projection as the Week 1 starter looks good with only Jimmy Garoppolo remaining among other QB options to potentially replace him.
Nick Caserio has obvious ties to Garoppolo from his tenure in New England, so it wouldn’t be crazy to see a Jimmy G reunion in Houston.
The Colts defense will look somewhat similar personnel-wise but might be slightly different under new defensive coordinator Gus Bradley formerly of the Las Vegas Raiders. Projected starter Brandon Facyson was signed from the Raiders but finished last season as PFF’s fourth-worst graded coverage cornerback in 2021.
Indy bolstered their CB room by landing former defensive player of the year, Stephon Gilmore. But teams will likely just attack Facyson against their No. 2 wide receiver.
Pass-rush also leaves a lot to be desired on this defense. No investments were made outside the addition of Yannick Ngakoue, who might be slightly overrated. His 60th-ranked win rate % and 21st-ranked 10 sacks suggest he benefited greatly from playing alongside Maxx Crosby.
The Colts are likely do for some defensive regression with all the turnover they had on that side of the ball this offseason, so expect their offense to play faster than they did in 2021 (31st) to keep pace. It’s also great for fantasy pass-catchers like Michael Pittman Jr. and Nyheim Hines to see more receiving volume.
From fantasy DST perspective, it’s still hard to ignore their two juicy matchups to start the year: @HOU and @JAC. They are definitely worth considering if you can’t get a better option, but don’t view them as an elite unit. Two road Divisonal games may not be as easy as they look on paper. Indy also tied Dallas with the highest turnover differential in 2021, despite ranking 31st in pressure rate (18%).
Jacksonville spent a lot of money in free agency to plug up roster holes in hopes of setting up Trevor Lawrence for success in his second season. The first order of business for new head coach Doug Pederson was to solidify the offensive line after Lawrence faced the fifth-most dropbacks under pressure in 2021.
They did that just by retaining left tackle Cam Robinson and signing Pro Bowl guard Brandon Scherff. Robinson posted a career-high PFF pass-blocking grade (76.6) in 2021.
After fortifying the OL, the Jags surrounded Lawrence with playmakers. The wide receiver and tight end corps have been totally revamped with Christian Kirk, Evan Engram and Zay Jones added to the fold.
On the other side of the ball, they added much-need talent in the draft with Aidan Hutchinson and Devin Lloyd. They even replaced Brandon Linder with rookie center Luke Fortner.
But I’ll be frank: I don’t love the rest of the Jags’ draft. They invested a lot in linebacker when I think they should have opted for some more help on the defensive interior.
Adam Gotsis, Folorunso Fatukasi and Malcolm Brown all ranked outside the top-48 in PFF run defense last season. Brown played the most snaps a season ago and graded out 51st out of 55 qualifying defensive linemen. This defense is still going to have massive problems stopping the run when trailing in games.
Two Kansas City Chiefs starting cornerbacks from last season – Charvarius Ward, Mike Hughes – both left the team in free agency. And two of their safeties: Daniel Sorensen and Tyrann Mathieu signed with the New Orleans Saints. Kansas City needed to fortify their secondary – specifically at cornerback – and did so through the draft.
They also added several wide receivers after losing Tyreek Hill, Byron Pringle and Demarcus Robinson. Check out my fantasy football breakdown on the entire Chiefs WR corps.
In the defensive trenches, the Chiefs drafted George Karlaftis to mitigate the losses of Alex Okafor (FA), Melvin Ingram (MIA) and Jarran Reed (GB). Ingram was the team’s second-most efficient pass-rusher behind Chris Jones and the highest-graded run defender. Reed played the most snaps along the interior of the defensive line.
Kansas City also re-signed Jerick McKinnon to a one-year deal, adding him to a backfield alongside Clyde Edwards-Helaire, Ronald Jones and Derrick Gore.
It’d be easy to brush off the McKinnon signing based on the mid-June timing, had he not fully taken over the backfield during KC’s playoff run in 2021.
It'd be easy to brush off the Jerick McKinnon KC signing if
-he didn't double CEH's touches during the postseason
-average 14.8 HPPR/game over that stretch
– CEH was definitively good
— Andrew Erickson™ (@AndrewErickson_) June 13, 2022
In fact, from Week 18 through the first 3 rounds of the playoffs, McKinnon averaged 14.3 fantasy points (PPR) and over four receptions per game. When CEH returned from injury in the Divisonal Round, McKinnon doubled his touches (30 vs 15).
With an established pass-catching background and obvious trust from the coaching staff to let him loose during the postseason, McKinnon should be considered with a late-round pick across all fantasy formats.
As for Edwards-Helaire, it further creates doubt about his pass-catching role in the Chiefs offense. His 0.73 yards per route run ranked 64th out of 68 qualifying running backs in 2021. The mark was also significantly worse than his teammates Darrel Williams (1.28) and McKinnon (1.15).
The team re-signed Brandon Parker at right tackle, but he allowed the most QB pressures per game among qualifying tackles in 2021. The team still has a major hole on that side after not addressing it in the draft. Their tentative plan is to start former first-round pick Alex Leatherwood at right tackle, but he was equally as horrible at right tackle before he moved inside to right guard last season.
The Raiders also added a bunch of different cornerbacks in free agency, but it remains to be seen how well the unit will gel in their first season together.
The only positions that needed some fine tuning this offseason were linebacker and offensive line (right guard). Linebacker Kyzir White signed with the Eagles and starting right guard Michael Schofield from last season remain unsigned. Schofield’s back-up last season – Oday Aboushi – is also a free agent.
So nobody can complain about the Zion Johnson selection with the Chargers’ first draft pick. It may have been slightly high for a guard, but without any of the top tackles available on the board, the Chargers get immediate protection for their franchise quarterback .
However, they still need to desperately upgrade from projected starting right tackle Storm Norton – PFF’s worst-graded pass-blocking tackle in 2021.
The Rams were under the cap and possessed zero-to-little draft capital to work with to combat their major losses in free agency this offseason. Left tackle Andrew Whitworth (retirement), right guard Austin Corbett, defensive tackle Sebastian Joseph-Day, edge Von Miller and cornerback Darious Williams have all found new homes in 2022.
They didn’t pick until 104th overall and used that pick on guard Logan Bruss. Targeting the offensive line makes sense after right guard Corbett signed with Carolina.
However, that was the last of them addressing team needs as they did not do much at CB, DT or EDGE. There are promoting a lot of their younger players into starting positions like cornerback David Long Jr.
Allen Robinson was the big FA signing for the Rams this offseason after they shipped off Robert Woods to the Titans. He’s in a much better situation than last season, but drafters need to be wary of Robinson’s downside after an abysmal 28-year-old season.
The track record of players at his age bouncing back after his poor production does not work in his favor. The only guys I can find with some success were all slot receivers. Considering Allen Robinson’s fantasy ceiling as been mostly tied to being a target hog — not likely alongside Cooper Kupp — there’s definitely risk in his 2022 outlook.
The Miami Dolphins are pushing all their chips in on Tua Tagovailoa to succeed this season.
They have made key upgrades during free agency across the offensive line and littered the southpaw quarterback with playmakers – headlined by former Chiefs wide receiver Tyreek Hill.
Defensively, Miami is in pretty solid shape.
Linebacker is where the Dolphins needed to improve the most, and Channing Tindall fits the bill. The Georgia linebacker finished as PFF’s eighth-highest-graded linebacker in 2021 and tested off the charts at the Combine. Miami got a steal with Tindall’s sure tackling and imposing presence outside the top 100 picks.
The entire Minnesota defense could still use some fine tuning, most notably at linebacker and defensive line. Anthony Barr (unsigned) and Nick Vigil (Arizona) are both not on the roster, as are Everson Griffen and Sheldon Richardson. They made some additions in free agency to these positions – Za’Darius Smith, Harrison Phillips and Jordan Hicks – but they still need depth particularly on the defensive line.
Minnesota was able to snag a first-round talent in CB Andrew Booth on Day 2 because he fell due to injuries. They replaced Xavier Woods with Georgia safety Lewis Cine and stabilized the linebacker room with sure tackler Brian Asamoah, whose 2% missed tackle rate ranks first among the weak-side linebackers in the class.
Ed Ingram has all the traits to be a starting-caliber NFL guard and makes up for the loss of Mason Cole.
For fantasy purposes, I hope the Vikings defense continues to struggle. Because that will mean the offense has to do even more in a new-look offense. They are easily my favorite team to stack in best ball. Minnesota is stacked with playmakers with a coaching staff that should dial up a more aggressive offense.
And the best part. Everyone is affordable after your draft Dalvin Cook/Justin Jefferson in Round 1.
Case in point, among the league’s top 10 offenses based on ADP, no team’s quarterback is drafted later than Kirk Cousins (QB15).
It’s par for the course with fantasy football’s most underrated passer who routinely strings together back-end fantasy QB1 numbers that never are reflected in his ADP.
Captain Kirk finished as the QB11 in total fantasy points and QB12 in points per game last season. His new HC comes from an offense that threw more aggressively on early downs under neutral game scripts; fifth-highest rate over the past 2 seasons. The Vikings ranked 27th in the category.
Buy this Vikings offense. Especially No. 3 WR K.J. Osborn as a sneaky sleeper.
The interior offensive line need some love after losing Ted Karras and Shaq Mason. The Patriots drafted Cole Strange to shore up the protection up front.
But they neglected to add speed to their defense at the linebacker position this offseason. Last year’s unit looked like they were playing underwater at times. Patriots linebacker coach Jerod Mayo said recently on a local Patriots radio station that, “the team is looking to get faster, more explosive and put more playmakers on the field.” They didn’t make this adjustment.
The secondary also needs more firepower. New England is currently running it back with guys way past their prime in Malcolm Butler and Devin McCourty. They are pushing their chips in on 2022 draft picks Marcus Jones and Jack Jones to be immediate contributors.
Marcus Jones excelled playing in the slot – he allowed a 0.0 passer rating from the inside in 2021 – and offers kick return ability. He finished the 2021 season as PFF’s highest-graded returner.
Jack Jones ranked third in the CB class in pass breakups while primarily operating on the outside. Marcus Jones ranked first in pass breakups.
But alas, two undersized CBs still isn’t enough to boost the Patriots’ failing draft grade or fill the holes on their roster. Unfortunately, they likely won’t make any moves in the foreseeable future with the least amount of salary cap space available at the time of this writing.
The Patriots also desperately need to free up cap space with less than $1M available. Nelson Agholor needs to get axed Bill.
Highest WR cap hits in 2022
Kenny Golladay – $21.5M
Keenan Allen – $19.2M
DeAndre Hopkins – $17.95M
Cooper Kupp – $17.8M
Nelson Agholor – $14.8M
— Andrew Erickson™ (@AndrewErickson_) July 6, 2022
Nobody could pinpoint exactly what Saints would do with their two first-round picks, but the consensus mock drafts always had them tied to WR Chris Olave and OT Trevor Penning. Lo and behold, that’s exactly who they selected.
They took care of their two biggest needs with those two top selections, along with late signings in free agency with Tyrann Mathieu and Jarvis Landry.
The Saints don’t have many holes to fill as they stay in win-now mode. And our latest report on Michael Thomas per Nick Underhill is actually POSITIVE!
Everything he is hearing is optimistic. And apparently it is enough for him to back the Saints’ 11 win total.
After releasing cornerback James Bradberry, Big Blue could use a man coverage cornerback. New defensive coordinator Don Martindale is more than happy to put corners on an island.
Linebacker is the other glaring holes on the Giants’ defense. Projected starting weak side linebacker Tae Crowder was PFF’s last-ranked linebacker (29.1) despite playing the 7th-most snaps (1,099) among LBs.
The less 2020’s Mr. Irrelevant plays in 2022, the better.
I would also keep an eye on rookie tight end Daniel Bellinger. He’s the favorite from offseason camp reports to be the team’s starting tight end. He’s an uber-athletic tight end who profiles similarly to Hayden Hurst per MockDraftable.com.
The New York Jets entered the offseason with a multitude of holes on their roster, especially on defense, but they bolstered that side of the ball with throughout the draft and free agency.
The secondary is in much better shape after adding D.J. Reed from Seattle and Jordan Whitehead from Tampa Bay along with selecting CB Ahmad Gardner fourth overall.
However, Zach Wilson’s OL protection didn’t get quite as much love. Right tackle Morgan Moses left in free agency and left tackle Mekhi Beckton has not proven his worth after two seasons. However, backup tackle George Fant showed last season he is more than capable of being a full-time starter in 2022. He was the Jets highest-graded pass-blocker in 2021.
Center Jason Kelce announced that he will return to the Eagles for the 2022 season. The veteran’s return made addressing the center position a less pressing issue during the draft, although that did not stop Philly from wisely investing in his future replacement with Nebraska product Cameron Jurgens.
The linebacker-needy team wisely invested in veteran linebacker Kyzir White who finished ninth in tackles in 2021. They stole Georgia linebacker Nakobe Dean in the third round of the draft.
#FFIDP – Kyzir White last season, per @PFF:
✅+ tackle efficiency: 15.57%
✅+ 1st contact rate: 9.88%
✅+ missed tackle rate: 7.1%
Now joins a team that is above average in Cover-2 personnel (see yesterday’s thread): 15.5% ✅
Loss for LAC, but a nice add for PHI. https://t.co/SnNsmb5Bcs
— Jon Macri (@PFF_Macri) March 26, 2022
Perimeter cornerback, safety and pass-rush/defensive line also required upgrades. Strong safety Rodney McLeod inked a deal with the Colts. Cornerback Steven Nelson signed with the Texans.
However, the Eagles landed former Pro Bowler James Bradberry after he was cut by the Giants. They also re-signed Derek Barnett to a two-year deal and drafted Jordan Davis to generate pressure.
Pittsburgh has had an obvious need to address their offensive line the past few seasons, but that has not been a position they have attacked with high-end draft capital under the Kevin Colbert regime. 2022 continued that trend.
At least they bolstered the position through free agency by adding the likes of RG James Daniels and C Mason Cole. They also improved the back-end of their defense. Pittsburgh re-signed CB Ahkello Witherspoon and replaced Joe Haden with Levi Wallace.
But interior defense remains a major need on defense, after the Steelers boasted the league’s 32nd-ranked run defense in 2021.
Veteran Tyson Alualu is 35 coming off a season-ending fractured ankle. The other rotating interior defensive linemen not-named Cameron Heyward all earned PFF run defense grades outside top-85 in 2021.
Pittsburgh has a fierce pass-rush, but remains a defense that can be run on.
They did try to bolster the position late this offseason with ex-Bengals defender, Larry Ogunjobi. But he finished third-to-last in PFF run defense grade among the DL that played at least 600 snaps last season.
The 49ers don’t didn’t have a ton of capital to make any massive offseason moves because of the Trey Lance trade a season ago. The roster from top-to-bottom was just one game away from the Super Bowl, so it’s easy to see why they don’t have many holes to fill.
But the offensive line could take a small step backward because the 49ers were unable to keep LG Laken Tomlinson and RT Tom Compton. Long-time center Alex Mack retired.
The 49ers will have two new starters across the interior OL: Aaron Banks and Jake Brendel. Banks was a 2021 second-rounder, but didn’t play as a rookie. Brendel is a former UDFA that has never played more than 200 snaps over a four-year career.
San Fran’s other big need is their secondary. They signed Charvarius Ward, but have the injury-prone Jason Verrett pegged as their other starter.
Defensive tackle could also use more depth; Kentavius Street (Saints) D.J. Jones (Denver) won’t be back with the team. Jones finished with the fifth-most tackles from the interior in 2021.
San Fran brought Hassan Ridgeway in through free agency, but he finished last season as PFF’s third-worst graded run defender. They also didn’t draft anyone worthwhile.
No team’s post-draft Super Bowl odds fell more than those of the Seattle Seahawks, who elected to not draft a quarterback. America will now get to see Geno Smith and Drew Lock battle out for the QB1 gig. Both guys have sub-80.0 career passer ratings. Russell Wilson‘s career passer rating (101.8) ranks second all-time among QBs with 100 starts.
Outside cornerback was a major need for Seattle with D.J. Reed hitting free agency. Reed allowed the 10th-lowest passer rating when targeted in 2021 (66.0). They lost Reed to the Jets, but made some savvy moves to shore up the secondary. They re-signed Jones and safety, Quandre Diggs. Seattle also added Justin Coleman to man the slot and perimeter cornerback Artie Burns.
Pass-rush was a much more glaring issue after Seattle finished with PFF’s third-worst pass-rush grade in 2021. But they snagged edge rusher Boye Mafe in Rounds 2.
Seattle also used their draft capital to tweak the offensive line with over half of last year’s starters gone. Left tackle Duane Brown, right tackle Brandon Shell and center Ethan Pocic have been replaced. Austin Blythe should fill the center role for Pocic. A combination of Charles Cross, Abraham Lucas and Jake Curhan should fill out the tackle spots. As a first-rounder, Cross should be an immediate contributor. The same can’t be said for the other tackle spot.
Curhan was PFF’s third-worst pass-blocker last season. Even as a third-round pick, Lucas could easily be a Day 1 starter opposite Cross based on how bad Curhan was last season. The 6-6 pass-protector has more than 2,100 pass-play snaps on his college resume and has allowed just six quarterback hits.
Number one OL throughout featured Charles Cross, Lewis, Blythe, Haynes and Lucas left to right. Second team OL was Eiland, Shepley, Fuller, Curhan and Forsythe left to right. So yes, Curhan has played guard all day with second unit with Lucas at RT with first unit.
— Bob Condotta (@bcondotta) June 7, 2022
The Buccaneers didn’t have many holes on their roster but addressed their biggest one on the defensive line in Round 2 with Logan Hall and with Akiem Hicks in free agency.
Hall was projected to be a late-Round 1 selection, so Tampa Bay got great value while adding more draft capital to move back from 27. He adds an element of interior pass rush that Tampa was so desperate for.
Hicks is more of a one-dimensional run-stuffer at the point in his career, but should easily replicate the production from Ndamukong Suh and Steven McClendon.
The Buccaneers have boasted one of the best offensive line units in the last two seasons but they will look slightly different in 2022. Alex Cappa and Ali Marpet are both gone. However, Ryan Jensen was re-signed, Shaq Mason came over as a gift from Bill Belichick and rookie Luke Goedeke possesses got tackle/guard versatility. He’ll push 2018 undrafted free agent Aaron Stinnie for a starting job.
Rob Gronkowski announced that he’s retiring from football per his Instagram and NFL insider Jordan Schultz. The future Hall-of-Famer is no stranger to hanging up his cleats, having first retired in March of 2019, before coming back to win a Super Bowl with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2020.
I’d assume at this point Gronk’s new retirement plans are more concrete in 2022, with him having nothing else to add to his Gold Jacket resume. I wouldn’t completely 100% rule out a return with Tom Brady still playing quarterback, but at this point, the best approach would be to view/project the Buccaneers without Gronkowski in 2022.
Because his absence creates massive fantasy ripple effects for the entire Buccaneers offense, starting with TB12. Historically speaking, Brady’s numbers have suffered without his big target.
Tom Brady Splits with Rob Gronkowski
It didn’t play out that way in 2021 as Brady still averaged 22.7 fantasy points per game in the six games that Gronk missed (QB3), but I’d hardly say that’s sustainable based on the two duo’s chemistry.
Brady’s expected fantasy points per game – a better indication of future production – did decline without Gronk from 23.3 to 21.8. The GOAT remains my QB7 as I already was baking in the idea that Gronkowski would not be returning. He’s still more than worthy of drafting as the QB9 per ADP based on how pass-heavy the Buccaneers project for.
Gronk’s departure from Tampa also impacts the Buccaneers tight end room massively because it thrusts Cameron Brate in the starting tight end role – the Harvard man is under contract till 2024.
But I’d err on the side of caution drafting Brate in fantasy football. He has seen the biggest ADP increase since the retirement news broke but it’s an easy fade. With reports circulating that rookie Cade Otton will take on a larger role for the Buccaneers along with another FA veteran being added, Brate’s inflated ADP is hands-off.
FA tight ends Jimmy Graham and Darren Fells are the names to watch. Fells was on the practice squad last season and has an extensive history with Bucs TE coach: Rick Christophel.
In 15 games played last season, Brate busted in 13. He had one week as a top-12 TE after finishing Week 16 as the TE12. He was also a complete non-factor filling when Gronk missed time. Brate averaged just three targets and 3.8 fantasy points per game. His sub-9% target rate per route run while Gronk was sidelined doesn’t necessarily enthrall confidence that Brate is Brady’s guy.
You’re just praying for TDs — pretty much the same approach with 95% of fantasy TEs — based on his 20 red-zone targets – tied for 2nd with several tight ends from a season ago.
Based on how free agency shook out, the Titans selected offensive lineman Nicholas Petit-Frere in the third round. Right tackle David Quessenberry is still unsigned and Rodger Saffold is in Buffalo. They managed to bring back center Ben Jones and sign tackle Jamarco Jones from the Seahawks, although the later Jones is supposed to just be a backup.
Dillon Radunz is the projected starter at RT, but was horrible in limited action last season. He posted a bottom-five PFF passing grade in 124 snaps played.
On defense, the Titans still need to reinforce linebacker and pass-rush. Rashaan Evans (Falcons) and Jayon Brown (Raiders) are no longer with the team.
33-year-old Janoris “Jackrabbit” Jenkins was the Titans best cornerback in 2021, and the team cut him outright. The team is banking on second-year player Caleb Farley capturing his pre-injury form opposite an underrated Kristian Fulton on the perimeter. Fulton allowed the second-lowest completion percentage (50.7%) among CBs that saw at least 800 snaps on defense in 2021.
Washington addressed its major need at wide receiver by trading down and selecting Jahan Dotson, but I thought the team could have done more with its second-round pick. Everybody knows that the Commanders’ defensive line is stacked, so it seems like an overpay in drafting Phidarian Mathis in Round 2. Mathis is a seasoned interior tackle who can line up all over the defensive line but mainly just contributes to stopping the run. That’s not the archetype of a player I want in Round 2.
The best value pick by far was stopping the slide on UNC quarterback Sam Howell. It’s a no-risk move that could pay massive dividends. Howell was once viewed as a clear-cut No. 1 overall pick, so there’s definitely a lot of upside with him if Carson Wentz cannot get the job done.
The offensive line lost some talent (Brandon Scherff). Their OL earned a top-5 pass-blocking grade in 2021. So signing the likes of Andrew Norwell, Cornelius Lucas, Charles Leno and Trai Turner was sharp.
But I’d be lying by saying I was pleased to see the Commanders forego any LB or CB of consequence with depth a major need.
The Washington defense was horrible in 2021, particularly at linebacker and cornerback. They invested a lot into those positions before the last offseason with veteran corner William Jackson and rookie linebacker Jamin Davis, but the depth is thin.
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