The first wave of NFL free agency has come and gone.
While NFL teams have been busy signing players to fill roster holes, that doesn't mean that every need has been accounted for. In most cases, there are still areas of weakness that can be improved through the 2022 NFL Draft.
Here are the updated offseason needs for all 32 NFL teams after the first week of free agency.
JUMP TO A TEAM:
ARIZONA CARDINALS: CB, IOL, DI
Arizona’s biggest need entering free agency was cornerback, but the team did very little to address this obvious weakness in free agency. Last season, Arizona's outside cornerback room ranked 28th among the league's 32 units in PFF coverage grade.
Right now, the team is set to start 2021 fourth-round pick Marco Wilson and recent signee Jeff Gladney at outside corner. Wilson earned a 47.8 coverage grade during his rookie campaign. Gladney didn’t play a down last year but earned a 48.5 coverage grade in his 2020 season.
Neither of the two has shown enough to be considered a reliable starter. The depth after them is also sorely lacking.
ATLANTA FALCONS: QB, IOL, WR, DL, CB
Atlanta quickly signed Marcus Mariota, who spent time with Falcons head coach Arthur Smith in Tennessee, but this isn’t a long-term fix. And along with quarterback, the rest of the roster needs a lot of work.
The team's guards and centers combined to rank 29th among the league's 32 interior offensive line groups in PFF pass-blocking grade last season. The defensive front is just as much of an issue, as no defensive line turned in a lower pass-rush grade. And with Calvin Ridley officially suspended for the upcoming campaign, Atlanta is looking at Olamide Zaccheaus and Frank Darby as its top wide receivers for 2022.
BALTIMORE RAVENS: CB, DL
The Ravens made a power play for one of the best safeties in the game last week, signing Marcus Williams to a five-year, $70 million deal. Williams, one of the five most valuable players at the position since 2017, joins a star-studded secondary with Marcus Peters and Marlon Humphrey, but the team could still use another quality cornerback.
Washington cornerback Trent McDuffie, who allowed just 111 yards on 296 coverage snaps in 2021, wouldn’t be a bad addition with the No. 14 overall pick.
BUFFALO BILLS: WR, DI
Buffalo’s roster is about as complete as it gets. There’s no massive need on the roster, but the team could strengthen the wide receiver room.
Alabama’s Jameson Williams would be a big win with the No. 25 overall pick in the 2022 NFL Draft — he was the most dangerous pass-catcher in college football this past season before going down with a torn ACL in the National Championship Game. The speedy wideout gathered more 20-plus-yard touchdowns than anyone else in the FBS (12) last season.
CAROLINA PANTHERS: QB, OL
Carolina is in a tough spot at the quarterback position. Sam Darnold failed to revive his career in Charlotte, finishing with the second-lowest grade among quarterbacks. The Cam Newton reunion also went badly, with the once-NFL MVP posting a 46.5 passing grade.
Signing a veteran signal-caller is just going to keep the team in quarterback purgatory. The Panthers do own the No. 6 pick in the 2022 NFL Draft, but they have no other picks in the top 100. So, if they want to provide an ounce of hope at the position, they need to take a shot on one of the top QBs with that top-10 selection, but it's not exactly a banner year for draft-eligible quarterbacks.
CHICAGO BEARS: OL, WR, CB
New general manager Ryan Poles is orchestrating a full-scale rebuild. After ridding the team of some of its more sizable contracts and trading away star edge defender Khalil Mack, Poles has set the Bears up nicely to spend big in 2023. As of now, they have more 2023 cap space available than any other team.
This year, it will be all about Justin Fields’ progression and not so much competing for the Lombardi Trophy. The 2021 first-round pick is a promising candidate to break out in 2022, but he does need more around him to help maximize those chances, especially up front.
Last year’s Bears offensive line ranked 25th in team pass-block grade, and Fields had the second-highest rate of pressured dropbacks in the NFL (42.8%). Three of the starting spots are filled for 2022, with guard Cody Whitehair, center Lucas Patrick and tackle Teven Jenkins, but the other two are still up in the air. Instead of banking on Day 2 picks in the draft, this needs to be addressed via the second wave of free agency.
After fielding one of the league's worst offensive lines in 2020, the unit modestly improved to “very bad” in 2021, raising their team pass-blocking grade from 30th league-wide to 25th.
The Bengals' brass set out to rebuild the offensive line as a result, and they’ve already replaced three of the five starting spots with center Ted Karras, right guard Alex Cappa and right tackle La’el Collins. They’ll join returning left tackle Jonah Williams, but the left guard spot is still questionable ahead of 2022.
Last year’s second-round pick Jackson Carman is a candidate to fill the spot, but he ranked 65th of 79 guards in PFF grade last season. A second-year breakout could be in order, but the team could look to add another veteran to compete and add depth.
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CLEVELAND BROWNS: WR, DI, EDGE
Cleveland’s receiving unit still needs some work despite Amari Cooper‘s presence on the roster. After Cooper, they have Donovan Peoples-Jones, Anthony Schwartz and Jakeem Grant. Neither Peoples-Jones nor Schwartz has shown much to get excited about, with career receiving grades below 70.0. Grant is more of a return specialist who has never run more than 250 routes in a single season.
DALLAS COWBOYS: DL, OL, LB
The Cowboys’ free agency was questionable in some aspects, but the roster doesn’t have many glaring missing pieces. At this point, the goal should be to add depth in the trenches while striving to get better at off-ball linebacker.
The team does have Jabril Cox, a 2021 fourth-round draft pick, but the idea of adding Georgia’s Nakobe Dean in the 2022 NFL Draft is too good to ignore. Dean is a freaky athletic, instinctive linebacker. He became the first Power Five player at the position in the PFF College era to earn a 90.0-plus grade as a pass-rusher and in coverage. The trenches could also be a focal point for the team early in the draft.
DENVER BRONCOS: CB
Denver’s offseason has been a legitimate dream, mainly because they were able to pull off the trade for quarterback Russell Wilson. The roster is nearly complete, as the only remaining hole lies in the cornerback room.
Denver has a promising emerging star with Patrick Surtain II, but the other starting spot opposite him, the slot and the overall depth of the unit is a concern. Ronald Darby is penciled in to be the starter with Surtain, but he is coming off an underwhelming 58.7 coverage grade.
DETROIT LIONS: CB, S, QB, LB
Things got so bad for the Lions' secondary last year that they had to move Will Harris from safety to outside corner and were forced to play 2021 undrafted cornerbacks A.J. Parker and Jerry Jacobs for more than 300 coverage snaps.
The Lions ranked 31st among the 32 teams in coverage grade for the season. And the team did nothing in free agency to fix this issue. The good news is they do own three top-35 picks in the upcoming NFL draft.
GREEN BAY PACKERS: WR, OL
Green Bay’s biggest need entering the offseason was wide receiver, and it became an even bigger need after the team traded away Davante Adams.
Without Adams, Green Bay is left with Allen Lazard, Randall Cobb, Amari Rodgers, Juwann Winfree and Malik Taylor to headline the wide receiver room. That group combined for 0.21 PFF WAR in 2021 — nearly a quarter of Adams' individual WAR total.
Of that group, Cobb is the only one to have earned a single-season receiving grade above 70.0, but there’s no denying he is far from his prime. And for reference, a 70.0 receiving grade was around the position average for the 2021 season.
Green Bay now has perhaps the worst wide receiver room in the NFL. Using both of their 2022 first-round picks on wide receivers wouldn’t be a bad idea.
HOUSTON TEXANS: EVERY POSITION
Let's not sugarcoat it — this roster is not in good shape. Everyone associated with the organization would likely agree.
The Texans generated 1.7 WAR in 2021. Not only is that the lowest of the 32 teams, but it’s lower than half the starting quarterbacks in the NFL alone.
Davis Mills exceeded expectations in a couple of games during his rookie campaign, but the third-round pick still finished the year with a 58.3 PFF grade. Any thought of him being the long-term solution at signal-caller is premature.
Houston’s free-agency plan was reminiscent of last season when they shelled out short-term, mediocre deals. This regime is setting up to build up the franchise in the next offseason and beyond — don't expect them to compete in 2022.
INDIANAPOLIS COLTS: WR, OT, CB
Indy’s biggest need was just filled by trading for longtime Atlanta Falcon Matt Ryan. Now, the team needs to bolster the wide receiver room and left tackle.
Wide receiver Michael Pittman Jr. was the only Colts wideout with a receiving grade north of 70.0 in 2021. As for left tackle, the team is looking to replace Eric Fisher, who earned a 61.0 pass-block grade in his one season as a Colt.
JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS: DL, S, LB
Jacksonville went big-game hunting in free agency and handed out massive deals left and right. After tagging tackle Cam Robinson and signing Brandon Scherff, Christian Kirk, Evan Engram and Zay Jones, the team will likely feel content with the offense and address the defense heavily in the 2022 NFL Draft.
That starts with taking Michigan edge defender Aidan Hutchinson — who broke the PFF College record for the most valuable season by an edge defender in 2021 — at No. 1 overall.
KANSAS CITY CHIEFS: DL, CB
The defensive line was one of Kansas City's only position groups to rank below the league average this season according to PFF grade. Adding some beef up front to pair with star interior defender Chris Jones would be massive for Steve Spagnuolo’s defense.
Despite picking late in Round 1 at 30th overall, the Chiefs are still in an excellent position to get a promising prospect along the defensive line.
LAS VEGAS RAIDERS: DI, LB, OL, CB
The Raiders aren’t going to be looking for immediate starters to fill these needs in the 2022 NFL Draft, as the trade for Davante Adams means they don’t pick until 86th overall. But, hey, that’s perfectly fine, considering Adams is one of the best receivers in the game and the fourth-most-valuable non-quarterback in the league last season.
Passing success matters more than anything in the NFL, and the Raiders are in a much better position to achieve that success with Adams joining the pack.
LOS ANGELES CHARGERS: CB, WR, OT
Michael Davis is slated to start on the outside, but he posted a 54.0 PFF grade in 2021.
Right tackle is also a significant need. The team was expecting Bryan Bulaga to hold down that spot last season, but he missed all but one game and was eventually cut this offseason. Storm Norton held down the right tackle spot, but as the world saw in the Week 18 finale against the Las Vegas Raiders, the team can’t trust him. He allowed 11 pressures that game and finished the season with a 44.7 pass-block grade.
LOS ANGELES RAMS: CB, G, LB
With Darious Williams leaving in free agency, the Rams need a new cornerback. After Jalen Ramsey, the next man up is David Long Jr., who earned a 60.8 PFF grade this past season in the Rams’ Super Bowl run.
Considering the team has no top-100 picks in the 2022 NFL Draft, they will either buy low in the veteran market or risk trotting out what they have. L.A. is also in a similar boat at right guard after Austin Corbett left in free agency.
MIAMI DOLPHINS: C, WR
Williams was a top-10-graded guard last season despite penalty issues. Armstead has produced a top-10 pass-blocking grade in each of the past seven seasons.
Center is still a massive issue, though, as Miami’s centers collectively produced the fourth-lowest grade in the NFL in 2021. The dream scenario is Iowa center Tyler Linderbaum falling to them at the No. 29 overall pick.
MINNESOTA VIKINGS: CB, IOL, EDGE
Minnesota’s cornerback room needs a complete overhaul. The new regime was limited with what they could do the first week of free agency, so no significant changes have been made to the unit.
The Vikings gave up the third-most yards on the outside (1,802) while also tying for the third-fewest plays on the ball at the position (18). None of their cornerbacks had a quality campaign, but Bashaud Breeland — who was waived in mid-December — was the main reason for the outside struggles. His 45.3 coverage grade was the fourth-lowest among qualifying cornerbacks. Slot corner Mackensie Alexander‘s down season didn’t help, either, as he finished with the lowest slot coverage grade in the NFL.
NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS: WR, CB, EDGE, LB
New England struck gold in the 2021 NFL Draft by landing quarterback Mac Jones with the 15th overall pick without trading up. He finished his rookie campaign with an 80.4 PFF grade that ranked 12th among quarterbacks.
New England now needs to bolster its wide receiver room. The Pats’ outside receivers ranked 21st among the 32 NFL teams in receiving grade last season.
NEW ORLEANS SAINTS: QB, OT, WR
Sean Payton stepping away was the cherry on top to send New Orleans into full rebuild mode. After failing to acquire quarterback Deshaun Watson, the Saints decided to run it back with Jameis Winston, who will be fresh off a 66.3 passing grade and a torn ACL. While Winston can serve as a more than capable bridge option for the next couple of seasons, the Saints' brass should be looking to the future for the true heir apparent to Drew Brees.
NEW YORK GIANTS: OL, LB, EDGE
The Giants’ linebacker corps was the third-lowest-graded unit in the NFL last season, while their edge group ranked fourth-to-last in pass-rush grade.
Unfortunately, they were unable to do anything to address those two issues in free agency due to a limited cap situation, but the team does own the fifth, seventh and 36th picks in the 2022 NFL Draft.
NEW YORK JETS: CB, LB, WR
The starting spot opposite D.J. Reed Jr. and the slot are two areas the Jets should be nervous about.
Bryce Hall held a starting spot on the outside last season, but his 64.5 coverage grade for the year doesn't offer too much optimism.
The slot is perhaps the biggest area of concern. As a rookie, Michael Carter II ranked 24th of 29 qualifiers in slot coverage grade. Given the stark difference in pay for the two roles, most think the slot isn’t nearly as important as the outside, but that’s a misconception.
PHILADELPHIA EAGLES: CB, LB, S
Philly’s CB2 spot opposite Darius Slay is looking bleak. Steven Nelson started opposite Slay last year, but he posted a career-low 60.9 coverage grade and remains unsigned as a free agent this offseason. Zech McPhearson, Kary Vincent Jr. and Tay Gowan — Day 3 picks in the 2021 NFL Draft — are the next men up if Philly sticks with what they have.
PITTSBURGH STEELERS: QB, OT
The Steelers will be looking to Mitchell Trubisky, Mason Rudolph and Dwayne Haskins as their possible options at quarterback for 2022, and they have all produced more turnover-worthy plays than big-time throws for their careers. Needless to say, this remains a significant need.
SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS: CB, IOL
While the Niners did give out a three-year, $40.5 million deal to cornerback Charvarius Ward in free agency, the position is still a need.
Emmanuel Moseley, who earned a 69.1 PFF grade in 2021, is a serviceable but unreliable starter opposite Ward. Along with that, their slot cornerback since 2017 — K’Waun Williams — is still a free agent.
2022 NFL Draft position rankings:
Top 10 players at every position
SEATTLE SEAHAWKS: QB, EDGE, CB, OT
Since entering the league in 2019, Lock ranks third-to-last in passing grade, fourth-to-last in turnover-worthy play rate and last in uncatchable-pass rate. Seattle could roll the dice with their newly acquired No. 9 overall pick, but this is a risky bet, given the quarterback class.
TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS: G, DI
Tampa Bay’s offseason dream came to fruition: Tom Brady unretired, and he helped recruit most of the impending free agents back to the team soon after.
Tampa traded for Shaq Mason, but the other starting spot is up in the air. Boston College’s Zion Johnson is a dream scenario for the Bucs with their No. 27 overall pick, but after his dominance at the Senior Bowl and NFL Scouting Combine, the odds of him lasting that long are dwindling.
TENNESSEE TITANS: G, WR, EDGE
Guard is a priority for Tennessee this offseason, especially after parting ways with veteran Rodger Saffold.
Right now, the two projected starters are Aaron Brewer and Nate Davis. Brewer, a 2020 undrafted free agent, earned a 48.7 pass-block grade on 257 such snaps in 2021. Davis has posted a poor pass-block grade below 54.0 in each of his three seasons in the NFL ranks.
WASHINGTON COMMANDERS: QB, LB, IOL
Yes, the Commanders do have their starting quarterback set for 2022 with Carson Wentz, but that’s not to say the team shouldn’t stop looking. Wentz was his normal, volatile self in 2021 and ended up with a 67.9 passing grade, ranking 21st in the NFL.
As the Colts found out throughout the season that ended in a Week 18 heartbreak loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars to kick them out of the postseason conversation, he isn’t a reliable option.