NFL Draft News & Analysis

2024 NFL Draft: Every NFL team’s biggest need ahead of the first round

2WBCEJM Houston, United States. 08th Jan, 2024. HOUSTON, TX - JANUARY 08: Michigan Wolverines quarterback J.J. McCarthy (9) celebrates during the CFP National Championship against the Washington Huskies on January 08, 2024 at NRG Stadium in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Image of Sport) Credit: Newscom/Alamy Live News

• Ravens need to fortify the passing game: The Ravens lost three starting offensive linemen and their second-leading receiver in free agency. Their running game is never in question, especially after the addition of Derrick Henry, but they need to be sure they have enough protection and weapons for Lamar Jackson to operate with.

• The Cowboys need to reinforce the offensive line: The Cowboys lost two starting offensive linemen and several defensive linemen. They had no salary cap space to retain any of their depth. Offensively, any of the draft’s right tackles, as well as Oregon center Jackson Powers-Johnson, could be in play for them in the first round.

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Estimated reading time: 12 minutes

The 2024 NFL Draft is finally upon us after a wild early offseason that saw dramatic moves via free agency and trades. Every team still has needs, though, so we’ll highlight what each should do during the first round this Thursday night.

Be sure to check out PFF's big board, draft guide and mock draft simulator for all the latest information about the top prospects in this class.


ARZ | ATL | BLT | BUF | CAR | CIN | CHI | CLE | DEN | DAL | DET | GB | HOU | IND | JAX | KC | LVR | LAC | LAR | MIA | MIN | NE | NO | NYG | NYJ | PHI | PIT | SF | SEA | TB | TEN | WSH

Arizona Cardinals

Add premier talent on both sides of the ball

Outside of the franchises that still need a quarterback, the Cardinals may be the most interesting team in the draft. It’s widely assumed that they will take their wide receiver of choice with the fourth overall pick, but they could trade down — as they did last year — and still find premium talent.

Either way, they are looking for a prime wide receiver and upgrades for the league’s lowest-graded defense.

Atlanta Falcons

Decide which unit to fill out

The Falcons will have an interesting decision with the No. 8 pick. They could add another receiver, such as Malik Nabers or Rome Odunze — if they are available — to complete a potentially loaded offense.

Their other option would be to add a premium talent to their weak pass-rush unit. This is a good problem to have after signing Kirk Cousins as their quarterback.

Baltimore Ravens

Fortify the passing game

The Ravens lost three starting offensive linemen and their second-leading receiver in free agency. Their running game is never in question, especially after the addition of Derrick Henry, but they need to be sure they have enough protection and weapons for Lamar Jackson to operate with. They’ll be one of many teams sifting through deep offensive tackle and wide receiver classes.

Buffalo Bills

Find a new potential WR1

The Bills let Gabe Davis walk in free agency and traded star receiver Stefon Diggs to the Texans, leaving gaping holes in their offense. Whispers of a huge trade-up won’t end until draft night, but if they stay at No. 28, players like Brian Thomas Jr., Adonai Mitchell and Troy Franklin, among others, all become reasonable targets.

Carolina Panthers

Continue to add weapons for Bryce Young

The Panthers don’t own a first-round pick, but they do have the 33rd and 39th overall picks, making them a prime candidate to trade into the first round if they have a target in mind. At the forefront for the Panthers will be adding more offensive weapons to pair with trade acquisition Diontae Johnson. A deep threat like Brian Thomas Jr. or Troy Franklin could make sense.

Chicago Bears

Select the franchise quarterback and maneuver from there

The overwhelming assumption is that the Bears will take quarterback Caleb Williams to helm their offense. That leaves them with a similar decision to Atlanta's when selecting ninth overall. They could select one of the top receivers or add a premium trench player on either side of the ball.

Florida State’s Jared Verse, the premier three-point edge rusher in the class, stands out as an option to fortify an edge group that ranked last in the NFL in overall grade last season.

Cincinnati Bengals

Take Brock Bowers if available. If not, add a trench player

The idea of Joe Burrow throwing to Brock Bowers is too perfect to ignore if the Georgia product is on the board. Burrow has never had a tight end close to Bowers’ talent. The question will be whether or not he makes it to the 18th selection. If he doesn’t, then an upgrade at right tackle or defensive tackle makes plenty of sense. Byron Murphy II and Jer’Zhan Newton stand out as candidates who could replace DJ Reader, who was easily their best interior defender over the past three seasons.

Cleveland Browns

Assess what remains after Day 1 in order to upgrade their weaknesses

The Browns don’t have a first-round pick in this year’s draft. Their highest pick is the 54th overall selection, which makes them an unlikely candidate to trade into the first round. Their sights should be set on further improving their receiving corps and run defense. Day 2 selections at wide receiver, defensive tackle or linebacker wouldn’t be a surprise.

Dallas Cowboys

Hold the trenches together

Dallas lost two starting offensive linemen and several defensive linemen. The Cowboys had no salary cap space to retain any of their depth. Offensively, any of the draft’s right tackles, as well as Oregon center Jackson Powers-Johnson, could be in play for them in the first round. If they choose to upgrade their defense instead, they could opt for a first-round interior defender for the second consecutive year.

Denver Broncos

Figure out the quarterback situation

Sean Payton and the Broncos are in a tough spot. They sit in the 12th overall slot with no second-round pick to use as trade ammunition. There are also no less than four quarterback-needy teams sitting ahead of them. They could mortgage their future in order to trade up for someone like J.J. McCarthy. They could also stay patient and be content with Michael Penix Jr. or Bo Nix. Either way, the Broncos need clarity with regard to their long-term quarterback situation.

Detroit Lions

Find one more receiver to round out the offense

The Lions did a nice job fortifying their secondary during the free agency period. They certainly shouldn’t be blamed if they selected a cornerback like Kool-Aid McKinstry or Nate Wiggins to complete that unit. They could use one more wide receiver, though, after the departure of Josh Reynolds, Adonai Mitchell could be a schematic fit with his excellent intermediate route running.

Green Bay Packers

Protect Jordan Love

Green Bay should upgrade their interior offensive line after that unit tied for 24th in overall grade last season. They have since lost starting right guard Jon Runyan in free agency. Oregon’s Jackson Powers-Johnson, who has experience at center and guard, or Duke’s Graham Barton both make sense as versatile athletes who can play multiple positions.

Houston Texans

Stay alert in case a premier defensive tackle falls

Houston made a trade with Minnesota, and now their first selection is at 42nd overall. They’ve made waves this season by adding premier players at wide receiver and edge defender. They could still improve at defensive tackle, where they ranked 26th in run defense grade last season. If either Byron Murphy II or Jer’Zhan Newton falls into the late 20s, the Texans should highly consider trading back into the first round to select them.

Indianapolis Colts

Add a premier weapon or cornerback

The Colts picked the right draft to need wide receivers and cornerbacks. They could opt to pair Anthony Richardson’s huge arm with Brian Thomas Jr.’s electric speed. They could also add a talented outside cornerback, as the team ranked 26th in coverage grade last season. Looming over all of it, though, is tight end Brock Bowers, whose ability after the catch would be a perfect fit in Shane Steichen’s offense.

Jacksonville Jaguars

Add talent at defensive tackle or cornerback

Jacksonville seems content with its mostly veteran offensive line, and the team signed Gabe Davis to be the vertical threat on offense. Defensively, it lost its best coverage player, Darious Williams, but it signed defensive tackle Arik Armstead to upgrade the pass rush. Adding a run-stopping talent like Darius Robinson makes some sense, or it could add a talented cornerback like Quinyon Mitchell or Terrion Arnold to complete its secondary.

Kansas City Chiefs

Take a wide receiver or left tackle

The Chiefs won their second consecutive championship despite their wide receivers ranking 26th in receiving grade and their offensive tackles ranking 29th in overall grade. Upgrades at either or both positions could allow them to execute the NFL’s first three-peat. Luckily, those are arguably the two deepest position groups in this draft class.

Las Vegas Raiders

Find a starting quarterback

The Raiders currently have Aidan O’Connell and Gardner Minshew in tow, but neither profiles as a franchise quarterback. Lately, it sounds like any of the non-Caleb-Williams options are in play for a team that finished with the third-fewest big-time throws in the NFL in 2023. The question will be whether they are willing to pay a premium to trade into the top 10.

Los Angeles Chargers

Find players who fit Jim Harbaugh’s vision

The goal for the Chargers hasn’t changed since the last edition of this piece. Whether they select a premier receiver or tackle with the fifth overall pick or trade that selection for a number of assets, Jim Harbaugh is looking for players who fit his vision for the team. Harbaugh and others have repeatedly stated that they want to establish the running game, so there could be an early emphasis on the offensive line.

Los Angeles Rams

Add to the front seven, preferably on the edge

The Rams did an excellent job adding talented players like Darious Williams and Kamren Curl to their secondary. However, Aaron Donald’s retirement mandates a restructuring of their foundation up front. Kobie Turner is poised to fill Donald’s shoes inside, so the Rams could select a premium stand-up pass-rusher like Dallas Turner or Laiatu Latu to improve an edge unit that ranked 30th in overall grade last season.

Miami Dolphins

Fill trench voids after a tough free-agency period

The Dolphins lost some very talented trench players in free agency, including right guard Robert Hunt and star defensive tackle Christian Wilkins. Tempting as it may be to take a speedster like Xavier Worthy, Miami needs reinforcements on the offensive and defensive lines. Oregon’s Jackson Powers-Johnson is one option as an elite interior pass protector. They could also opt for a top defensive tackle while searching later for offensive linemen who fit Mike McDaniel’s scheme.

Minnesota Vikings

Select a franchise quarterback

After acquiring the 23rd overall pick from Houston, it’s been widely assumed that Minnesota will find its way into the top five to select a quarterback. How high they can get is the prudent question, though.

Will they find a way to select Drake Maye or J.J. McCarthy? Would they be content with Michael Penix Jr., who led the nation in passing yards over the past two years? The Vikings are the most interesting team in this year’s draft.

New England Patriots

Sit tight and take a quarterback

Tempting as it may be to acquire a haul of draft capital from a suitor looking to move into the top three, New England should sit tight and select a quarterback with the third overall pick. Whether that’s 2023 Heisman winner Jayden Daniels or Drake Maye, who made an FBS-leading 80 big-time throws over the past two seasons, new head coach Jerod Mayo needs to know who the centerpiece of his offense is by the time Thursday is over.

New Orleans Saints

Select a left tackle or a pass-rusher

New Orleans could reasonably be tempted to select Brock Bowers if he were available, given that the Saints ranked 31st in yards after catch per reception last season. The more likely outcome is the selection of a left tackle like Olu Fashanu or Troy Fautanu. Saints left tackles ranked 28th in pass-blocking grade last season. An edge rusher could also be in play to help a team that ranked 24th in pass-rush grade.

New York Giants

Select the best wide receiver on the board

The Giants are rumored to be closely monitoring the quarterback class, but they would be wise to select the best wide receiver available. Their wide receivers ranked 31st in receiving grade in 2023, and they haven’t had a premium threat in several years. LSU’s Malik Nabers would be an ideal fit as an explosive chess piece who led the nation in receiving grade last season.

New York Jets

Stay in win-now mode and select the best weapon available

With a revamped offensive line and a 40-year-old quarterback, the Jets are fully in win-now mode and should approach the draft as such. Taking an offensive lineman with the 10th overall pick is understandable, but that player would be unlikely to start as long as Tyron Smith and Morgan Moses are healthy. A dynamic weapon like Rome Odunze or Brock Bowers would contribute immediately and give the Jets a fearsome skill group.

Philadelphia Eagles

Improve the secondary

Philadelphia’s secondary was their undoing in 2023. Their veteran cornerbacks struggled, while a litany of players struggled to defend in the slot. As a team, they ranked 28th in coverage grade. They will surely examine the cornerback class, and the ideal fit for Vic Fangio’s defense could be a player with experience in the slot like Cooper DeJean or Terrion Arnold.

Pittsburgh Steelers

Take the best available tackle and figure out the alignment later

The Steelers are set at quarterback with Russell Wilson and Justin Fields, but it won’t matter if they don’t improve the league’s second-worst pass protection unit. An upgrade at center is possible, but that can be accomplished later in the draft. Broderick Jones’ ability to play on either side gives the Steelers the option to select a true left tackle like Washington’s Troy Fautanu or a mauling right tackle like Oregon State’s Taliese Fuaga.

San Francisco 49ers

Upgrade the offensive line

The 49ers likely won’t have the luxury of selecting the top offensive lineman with the 31st pick, but they can still find a quality player to improve a unit that was inconsistent in pass protection. Duke’s Graham Barton is an athletic player who could help them at any position. Whether it’s him or someone else, the 49ers won’t win a Super Bowl until they improve up front.

Seattle Seahawks

Improve the offensive or defensive line

Seattle ranked 28th in pass blocking grade last season and lost two starters from their offensive line in free agency. Selecting Jackson Powers-Johnson, the draft’s best center, would make plenty of sense. They also desperately need an edge player to pair with Boye Mafe. UCLA’s Laiatu Latu, college football’s highest-graded defensive player in 2023, would be an ideal fit. 

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Select the best player available

The Buccaneers are the only team that could select almost anybody and it would make sense. They have needs on the offensive line and defensive line as well as tight end, cornerback and running back. They are most likely to select a lineman or cornerback with the 26th overall pick, but it’s hard to tell at this point which way Jason Licht will go.

Tennessee Titans

Select a left tackle

Tennessee’s first-round goal is simple: draft a franchise left tackle. The Titans spent much of their offseason acquiring skill players, though they did manage to sign center Lloyd Cushenberry III, as well. Notre Dame’s Joe Alt or Penn State’s Olu Fashanu appear to be the most likely choices. Selecting either would be a huge step toward improving the team’s pass protection.

Washington Commanders

Select a franchise quarterback

Like New England, the Commanders will be tempted with historic trade offers from teams looking to move up to the second overall pick. Washington should reject those advances to select their choice of Drake Maye or Jayden Daniels. The cupboard isn’t bare with a skill group headlined by Terry McLaurin and Dan Quinn hellbent on fixing the defense. They just need to hit on their quarterback selection to bring it all together.

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