With the NFL’s 100th season officially in the books, the order for the 2020 NFL Draft is set. Now the work of figuring out who will fill those slots takes center stage, with the 2020 NFL Scouting Combine on the horizon. Trades and the awarding of compensatory picks will alter the board, but in the immediate aftermath of Super Bowl LIV, here’s the current draft order when the first round kicks off on April 23 in Las Vegas.
NOTE: The order is determined by record, using strength of schedule as a tiebreaker. The order for playoff teams (21-32) is determined by the results of postseason play.
Record: 2-14 (.553 strength of schedule)
Biggest needs: QB, OL, front-seven playmaker
Cincy can’t mess this one up (CC: @ColdTakesExposed). Find
Andy Dalton‘s successor (you know who) and rebuild an offensive line that was one of the league’s worst in 2019. Getting a healthy
Jonah Williams back is a
start on the latter.
Record: 3-13 (.502)
Biggest needs: OL, pass catcher, defensive playmaker
Everyone is expecting Washington to address the third need mentioned above by picking Chase Young here, and that’s the right play here if he’s still available. This squad doesn’t have another pick until Round 3, so what’s the plan for upgrading
Dwayne Haskins‘ supporting cast?
Record: 3-12-1 (.506)
Biggest needs: CB, edge rusher, OL
Trade down, collect picks, patch up a horrendous defense — seems like a fine strategy for a D that functioned as a turnstile for much of 2019. Then again, is anything more important to this team’s success than keeping
Matthew Stafford upright?
Record: 4-12 (.473)
Biggest needs: Edge rusher, OT, DB
If the top corner in the draft falls into their lap here, it would be hard for them to pass him up. Barring that scenario, Dave Gettleman should have his gaze fixed on the edges, whether it’s a player who can get after the opposing quarterback or protect his own.
Record: 5-11 (.549)
Biggest needs: DB, DL, OL
Where do we start for a franchise that is in full transformation mode? QB rises to the top of the list if
Cam Newton isn’t back for a team that already has to replace
Luke Kuechly and
Greg Olsen. Don’t forget that the
Panthers have seven other defensive starters due to hit the market this offseason. There’s
a lot to be sorted out in Carolina.
Record: 5-10-1 (.529)
Biggest needs: OL, front-seven playmaker, pass catcher
Steve Keim can’t trot out the same defense that ranked dead last in 2019 and was constantly skewered by the pass even with a DPOY candidate coming off the edge in
Chandler Jones. At the same time, Keim has pending free agents at the two most important spots on the offensive line in left tackle
D.J. Humphries and center
Record: 6-10 (.484)
Biggest needs: Front-seven playmaker, OL, CB
I don’t see the Jags starting over (again) at QB this offseason, but just about every other position on the squad feels like it could be addressed. Dave Caldwell has said re-signing pending free agent edge rusher
Yannick Ngakoue is his top priority. Which players will be released to make that happen? Jacksonville is
over the 2020 salary cap.
Record: 6-10 (.533)
Biggest needs: OL, S, LB
The first couple spots on the to-do list are pretty simple to identify: Left tackle, right guard (two spots that were thorns in the
Browns‘ side all season) and safety, where
Eric Murray and
Juston Burris are pending free agents. Beyond that, will Cleveland re-sign top ILB
Joe Schobert, and what does the future hold for TE
Record: 7-9 (.473)
Biggest needs: OL, edge rusher, CB
Jets should be prime players in the WR market, as well, if they are unable to re-sign
Robby Anderson, but as of today, there are few needs more glaring league-wide than the the offensive line for Gang Green. If Joe Douglas ends up on the wrong side of an early OL run, perhaps he ends up drafting the edge rusher this franchise has long desired.
Record: 7-9 (.482)
Biggest needs: WR, CB, LB
Maybe this offseason gets weird and suddenly
Tom Brady is playing quarterback for the
Raiders instead of
Derek Carr. The rumors
were spreading even before
ESPN’s report on Sunday that the Silver and Black will indeed make a run at Tom Terrific if he’s available. Whoever is under center for Las Vegas next year needs a new WR1. Jon Gruden could be in the perfect position to land one with this pick.
Record: 7-9 (.500)
Biggest needs: OL, DL, QB
Bruce Arians doesn’t appear to be
Jameis Winston, so the Bucs should be thinking QB in the draft even if the only 30-30 QB in NFL history returns on a short-term deal. Some of the other pending free agents that will dictate the needs outlook in Tampa: Right tackle Demar Dotson; edge rushers
Shaquil Barrett and Jason Pierre-Paul; and DT
Record: 7-9 (.545)
Biggest needs: Edge rusher, DB, TE
Atlanta’s leader in tackles (De’Vondre Campbell), leader in sacks (Vic Beasley) and second-leading receiver (Austin Hooper) are all pending free agents, so there’s the potential for some significant turnover on this roster. That’s not necessarily a bad thing given this squad’s consecutive sub-.500 finishes.
Record: 8-8 (.479)
Biggest needs: DL, DB, pass catcher
not going anywhere, but Jerry Jones can’t bring ’em all back. The defensive line and secondary might need to be rebuilt, depending on what deals can be made. Dallas’ list of 2020 free agents not named Dak includes
Christian Covington and
Kerry Hyder. The last five guys in the previous sentence are all defensive linemen.
Record: 9-7 (.455)
Biggest needs: DB, WR, edge rusher
This secondary is in for a makeover with
Rodney McLeod and
Jalen Mills headed for free agency. The same goes for a receiving corps that seems likely to part with
Nelson Agholor. The bottom line is this group could use more speed throughout the lineup.
Record: 10-6 (.461)
Biggest needs: WR, DE, OL
Leading the to-do list is adding more receiving options for
Josh Allen, who’d benefit from having a big outside target who can reel in throws that might not be right on the money. Brandon Beane might need to add more pass rush and interior O-linemen, as well, with
Shaq Lawson and
Jordan Phillips among the
Bills‘ pending free agents.
Record: 13-3 (.486)
Biggest needs: WR, DB, interior OL
Yes, I’m aware the
Saints don’t have a quarterback under contract for next season, but it would be a surprise if
Drew Brees and
Taysom Hill aren’t back. The more interesting question to me right now is which of their own position players are they able to keep, and who will be the receiver lining up opposite
Michael Thomas in 2020? The list of walk-year players includes OG
Andrus Peat and DBs
D.J. Swearinger and
Record: 14-2 (.494)
Biggest needs: Edge rusher, ILB, interior OL
There’s no guarantee top edge rusher
Matt Judon, a pending free agent, will be back, and Baltimore could still use a replacement for
C.J. Mosley, who left town a year ago. Then there’s the matter of whether perennial
Pro Bowl selectee
Marshal Yanda will retire or play for another year. Either way, the
Ravens must find a guy who can eventually step in for him without incurring a gargantuan dropoff at the position.
Record: 9-7 (.488)
Biggest needs: Edge rusher, OL, CB
It would be wild to see Tennessee part with free agents
Ryan Tannehill or
Derrick Henry after that majestic run to the AFC Championship Game. There are still some starters to make decisions about, though, even if the QB-RB tandem returns intact. The list includes RT
Jack Conklin, CB
Logan Ryan, CB
Tramaine Brock and postseason standout LB
Record: 13-3 (.453)
Biggest needs: Pass catcher, OL, ILB
This seems like a good time to slay the
Aaron Rodgers doesn’t have enough weapons narrative that has lingered for years. And it might make sense to invest in more players who can protect the face of the franchise this offseason, with
Bryan Bulaga due to hit free agency and
David Bakhtiari and
Corey Linsley a year away from doing the same.
Record: 13-3 (.504)
Biggest needs: DB, OL, WR
The most obvious spot to target is the secondary, with
Jimmie Ward a free agent this offseason and
Richard Sherman among a handful of Niners DBs with deals that will expire after the 2020 campaign. Will San Francisco be able to re-sign
Emmanuel Sanders, and what does the future hold for 13-year veteran OT
Record: 12-4 (.510)
Biggest needs: Front-seven playmaker, CB, RB
A bellcow back would be nice, but it feels like a luxury compared with the needs that could develop on defense.
Pro Bowl DT
Chris Jones will be one of the offseason’s marquee free agents if the
Chiefs don’t retain him. Starting CBs
Bashaud Breeland and
Kendall Fuller are set to hit the market, too.
TEAMS WITHOUT A FIRST-ROUND PICK
Chicago Bears (8-8)
Biggest needs: QB, OL, DB
I know GM Ryan Pace said in the direct aftermath of a massively disappointing 2019 season that he’s sticking with Mitchell Trubisky as his QB1, but he has to find someone at the position who can help his team win games in the event that his prized former No. 2 overall pick continues to sputter. It’s not listed here, but tight end help should be a priority, as well.
Houston Texans (10-6)
Biggest needs: OL, DB, pass rusher
There’s not going to be a lot of draft capital to work with here due to Bill O’Brien’s wheeling and dealing. The defense — last seen being gashed by the Chiefs for 51 points in three quarters — is in need of some repair, but protecting the franchise (aka Deshaun Watson) should still be at the forefront of the head coach/GM’s mind this offseason. Houston’s O-line improved in 2019 thanks largely to the addition of Laremy Tunsil (who has only one year left on his deal). However, it still ranked 22nd in the league, per Football Outsiders.
Los Angeles Rams (9-7)
Biggest needs: OL, edge rusher, LB
There could be big holes to fill on defense with LB Cory Littleton, edge rusher Dante Fowler and DL Michael Brockers ticketed for free agency, but the most pressing concern at this point is left tackle, where Andrew Whitworth, the NFL’s oldest lineman, is a pending free agent.
Pittsburgh Steelers (8-8)
Biggest needs: Edge rusher, TE, OL
Steelers owner Art Rooney says re-signing Bud Dupree is a top priority this offseason, but until they have a deal, we’ll keep his spot at the top of the needs list. If Dupree does indeed return, then building the best possible supporting cast on offense for Ben Roethlisberger takes precedence.