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2019 NFL mock draft: Here are the biggest needs for each team in the 1st round

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Drafting the best player is obvious. Here’s how teams can fix their roster early in the draft.

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NCAA Football: Michigan Spring Game Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

The NFL Draft is all about filling needs. People always espouse the best player available philosophy, but after seven rounds most teams have their needs filled.

That will be no different for the 2019 NFL Draft. After exploring some potential trade options in last week’s mock draft, this week is all about determining team needs. With each pick in this week’s mock draft, four needs in loose order are mentioned. They’ll obviously change when free agency starts on March 13.

1. Arizona Cardinals: Nick Bosa, DE, Ohio State

Offseason needs: Offensive line, interior defensive line, wide receiver, tight end

The Cardinals have plenty of work to do under new head coach Kliff Kingsbury. So much so, it’s probably easier to point out what Arizona doesn’t need to fix this offseason. In an ideal situation, the Cardinals could trade down and try to fix both lines. But the value of the first pick is lesser this year since teams might not jump to No. 1 for a quarterback. Because of that, holding there and taking Bosa makes the most sense. But after that, the Cardinals need to fix one of the NFL’s worst rosters — starting with protecting franchise quarterback Josh Rosen.

2. San Francisco 49ers: Josh Allen, DE/OLB, Kentucky

Offseason needs: Safety, edge defender, wide receiver, cornerback

It’s clear the 49ers need to fix the secondary this offseason. Ahkello Witherspoon is a solid cornerback, and Richard Sherman is still holding up. But after them, San Francisco is thin at cornerback, and the team need a consistent safety presence. All of that is why the 49ers finished last in Pro Football Focus’ secondary rankings this season.

Unfortunately, there just isn’t value with the second pick in the defensive backfield. There is up front on defense, though. Despite taking Arik Armstead, DeForest Buckner, and Solomon Thomas in recent years, San Francisco still needs pass rush help. That’s where Allen comes in. He can play on the strong side and rush the edge.

3. New York Jets: Rashan Gary, DE, Michigan

Offseason needs: Running back, offensive line, edge defender, cornerback

A lot of what the Jets do will depend on how general manager Mike Maccagnan evaluates the draft’s offensive tackle class. If he loves a tackle, he could surprise people at No. 3 with someone like Jonah Williams of Alabama. But if he doesn’t, he could go big upside with a pass rusher like Gary. He’s a superb athlete at 280 pounds and should only get better with good coaching. Defensive coordinator Gregg Williams will love moving Gary all around the defensive line to create mismatches.

4. Oakland Raiders: Quinnen Williams, DT, Alabama

Offseason needs: Edge defender, cornerback, running back, wide receiver

Defensive tackle might not be Oakland’s biggest need after drafting good players like Maurice Hurst and P.J. Hall in 2018. Still, the Raiders just need talent, almost regardless of position. Williams provides it. His skill set will allow the Raiders to vary their fronts if they want, and it will give them a player some consider the draft’s top prospect.

5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Ed Oliver, DT, Houston

Offseason needs: Safety, edge defender, defensive tackle, offensive tackle

A lot of what the Buccaneers do in the first round will depend on if offensive tackle Donovan Smith is brought back. If he’s not, a left tackle might be the team’s biggest need. Finding a quality defensive tackle next to second-year player Vita Vea has to be high on the team’s shopping list too. Oliver can help an ordinary run defense and help spark the pass rush from up the middle.

6. New York Giants: Dwayne Haskins, QB, Ohio State

Offseason needs: Quarterback, offensive tackle, safety, linebacker

New York’s entire offseason is dependent on what it thinks of Haskins. If he’s evaluated as a franchise quarterback, he’s the smart pick at No. 6. If there is doubt, adding other pieces around Eli Manning should take precedence. Oklahoma right tackle Cody Ford is the player to keep in mind in that regard.

7. Jacksonville Jaguars: Jonah Williams, OT, Alabama

Offseason needs: Quarterback, offensive line, tight end, safety

Many expect the Jaguars to be the landing spot for Philadelphia Eagles backup quarterback Nick Foles. That’s a move that will be hotly debated, but probably leaves Jacksonville looking for a first-round quarterback in 2020 or 2021. After quarterback, the Jaguars really need to figure out their offensive line. Right guard A.J. Cann is a free agent, and the entire left side suffered injuries in 2018. A player like Williams could be used at tackle or guard.

8. Detroit Lions: Brian Burns, Edge, Florida State

Offseason needs: Edge defender, tight end, linebacker, guard

In Burns, Lions head coach Matt Patricia could see a player similar to Chandler Jones, whom he coached in his first four years in the NFL. An athletic and lanky pass rusher, Burns would fill Detroit’s biggest hole this offseason. This could also be a spot for Iowa tight end T.J. Hockenson, if he tests well next week at the NFL Scouting Combine.

9. Buffalo Bills: Cody Ford, OT, Oklahoma

Offseason needs: Offensive line, defensive tackle, wide receiver, cornerback

Josh Allen faced a lot of pressure last season, and if that continues, pressures eventually become hits. Those hits, at any moment, could become injuries. To decrease that, the Bills need to fix their offensive line, namely on the right side. Ford is a natural at right tackle, and he can be left on an island to pick up defensive ends.

10. Denver Broncos: Jawaan Taylor, OT, Florida

Offseason needs: Offensive line, cornerback, tight end, linebacker

In trading for quarterback Joe Flacco, the Broncos are probably under the assumption they’ve checked off their main priority this offseason. With a statue like Flacco in the pocket, the Broncos better figure out how to keep him upright. Beyond left tackle, Denver has questions along the offensive line. Taylor would be a natural bookend.

11. Cincinnati Bengals: Devin White, LB, LSU

Offseason needs: Offensive tackle, linebacker, tight end, quarterback

If we’re being honest, Cincinnati’s biggest need is a defensive coordinator considering the difficulties the team has had hiring one. How is it so many people have turned down that job?

Anyway, back to the mock draft. If we see back-to-back right tackle picks, the Bengals are in a little bit of trouble. Both players would be great need fits and have fair value at No. 11. If Ford and Taylor are gone, though, Cincinnati could go defense with White.

12. Green Bay Packers: Jachai Polite, Edge, Florida

Offseason needs: Edge defender, tight end, guard, defensive line

Green Bay’s needs this offseason should easily be addressed due to having two first-round picks this year. After an edge defender, tight end, and guard, the rest of the Packers’ concerns are more about depth and looking beyond the 2019 season. That’s why some mocks have had Green Bay doubling up on pass rushers. Clay Matthews is likely gone, and Nick Perry isn’t living up to his massive contract.

13. Miami Dolphins: Drew Lock, QB, Missouri

Offseason needs: Quarterback, offensive tackle, edge defender, defensive tackle

Here’s a ripple effect of the Broncos’ pending acquisition of Flacco. If we’re being honest, Lock doesn’t grade out as a top-10 player. Although this is just a few spots after the first 10, it’s less of a reach for him at No. 13. Lock’s play will remind Dolphins fans of Jay Cutler, for good and bad reasons.

14. Atlanta Falcons: Christian Wilkins, DT, Clemson

Offseason needs: Defensive tackle, offensive tackle, cornerback, guard

Here’s another place where one of those right tackles could be in play. If the Falcons decide this is the offseason to upgrade over Ryan Schraeder, Ford and Taylor will be hard to ignore. If they’re gone, the Falcons could consider a defensive tackle, arguably the franchise’s top need. Wilkins and Grady Jarrett, assuming he gets the franchise tag or is re-signed, would give the Falcons a scary duo up the middle.

15. Washington: Kyler Murray, QB, Oklahoma

Offseason needs: Quarterback, wide receiver, safety, guard

If Alex Smith misses out on the 2019 season, quarterback becomes Washington’s top need this offseason. The next two months of the draft process regarding Murray will be fascinating. The takes are already coming. Some think Murray is too small for an NFL quarterback, at a listed 5’10. Some think his size isn’t an issue.

16. Carolina Panthers: Clelin Ferrell, DE, Clemson

Offseason needs: Edge defender, offensive tackle, safety, guard

Even before Julius Peppers announced the end to his legendary career, the Panthers needed to find a pass rusher this offseason. That’s now doubly true. Mario Addison is Carolina’s only viable defensive end currently. Ferrell could end up being a top-10 pick, so to get him at No. 16 would be a steal. He’s not a star athlete for an end, but he wins with technique and power.

17. Cleveland Browns: Greedy Williams, CB, LSU

Offseason needs: Defensive tackle, offensive tackle, linebacker, cornerback

Cornerback might not seem like a question mark for the Browns after taking Denzel Ward at No. 4 last year and adding some veterans like Terrance Mitchell and T.J. Carrie. But consider that Ward is coming off two concussions at the end of last season, Mitchell had a broken arm, and Carrie was just average. The team will also have to make a decision on slot corner Briean Boddy-Calhoun. All that adds up to cornerback potentially being an early need, especially if a player as good as Williams slips in the first round.

18. Minnesota Vikings: Andre Dillard, OT, Washington State

Offseason needs: Offensive tackle, guard, defensive tackle, running back

Minnesota’s problems on the offensive line are well known. Left tackle Riley Reiff might move inside to guard, where Tom Compton is a free agent and Mike Remmers has underwhelmed (and has a contract that makes him easily expendable). If Reiff is shifted inside, left tackle obviously becomes Minnesota’s obvious need. Dillard is a smooth edge blocker who should have a nice week at the combine.

19. Tennessee Titans: Marquise Brown, WR, Oklahoma

Offseason needs: Wide receiver, edge defender, guard, quarterback

Finding help for Marcus Mariota has to be the top priority for the Titans if they think he’s still the quarterback of the future in Tennessee. If they think otherwise, quarterback rises up the need rankings. Brown can take the top off defenses with his speed and picks apart zone underneath. The Titans simply don’t have a wide receiver who can do what he does.

20. Pittsburgh Steelers: Byron Murphy, CB, Washington

Offseason needs: Linebacker, cornerback, tight end, safety, offensive tackle

For such a good team, the Steelers have a lot of important needs this offseason. Chief among them might be cornerback. Joe Haden only has one year left on his contract and Artie Burns hasn’t lived up to his first-round draft placement. Murphy has instincts and playmaking skills that Pittsburgh desperately needs.

21. Seattle Seahawks: Dalton Risner, OL, Kansas State

Offseason needs: Defensive line, guard, linebacker, kicker

This pick might be a little dull, but it’s possible if Seattle holds at No. 21 (which is probably not likely). Guards D.J. Fluker and J.R. Sweezy are free agents, and if they depart the Seahawks will need to restock the line with top talent. Risner can play a number of positions, but his best spot in the NFL might be at guard.

22. Baltimore Ravens: Montez Sweat, DE, Mississippi State

Offseason needs: Edge rusher, wide receiver, linebacker, running back

Za’Darius Smith and Terrell Suggs are both free agents, so it might be time for the Ravens go after a pass rusher in the first round. Sweat is one of the premier sack artists in the draft this year, and he uses his size and speed to beat blockers around the corner.

23. Houston Texans: Greg Little, OT, Ole Miss

Offseason needs: Offensive tackle, cornerback, defensive line, tight end

Little might be somewhat raw coming out of college, but left tackles with his athleticism and skill don’t drop far in the draft. The question will be about taking the fourth offensive tackle in the first round, or the third cornerback. Both are big needs for Houston, so this pick will ultimately come down to player grades.

24. Oakland Raiders (via Chicago): D.K. Metcalf, WR, Ole Miss

Offseason needs: Edge defender, cornerback, running back, wide receiver

Metcalf is massive now. Like, scary massive. Maybe too massive for a wide receiver, actually. Be that as it may, Metcalf has star potential at wide receiver. That just so happens to be one of Oakland’s top needs, if the Raiders can find a jersey big enough for him.

25. Philadelphia Eagles: Josh Jacobs, RB, Alabama

Offseason needs: Cornerback, offensive tackle, running back, defensive line

The Eagles obviously need to find some fixes in the secondary, and left tackle Jason Peters’ career is winding down. But it will be hard to pass up on Jacobs, easily the draft’s top running back this year. Jay Ajayi is a free agent the Eagles could let walk, and Philadelphia’s backups are nothing special. Jacobs can be special.

26. Indianapolis Colts: Dre’Mont Jones, DT, Ohio State

Offseason needs: Defensive end, cornerback, wide receiver, defensive tackle

Considering Indianapolis’ needs this offseason, none stands out as more important than the other. The secondary could need retooling due to free agency status of cornerback Pierre Desir and safety Clayton Geathers. The Colts need players more suited for a 4-3 defense up front and a slot wide receiver who could open the offense. Jones may be attractive as a player who fits on the inside and provides some pass rush.

27. Oakland Raiders (via Dallas): Zach Allen, DE, Boston College

Offseason needs: Edge defender, cornerback, running back, wide receiver

If the Raiders don’t get a pass rusher in free agency, they absolutely need to in the draft. It’s difficult in the final third of the first round, so it might behoove the Raiders to trade up with their two picks in the 20s. If that doesn’t happen, a player like Allen could be in play. He’s a power-rushing end and does a nice job setting the edge against the run.

28. Los Angeles Chargers: Yodny Cajuste, OT, West Virginia

Offseason needs: Offensive tackle, defensive tackle, linebacker, quarterback

Right tackle turned out to be a big problem for the Chargers with Sam Tevi starting. Whether it’s in free agency or the draft, Los Angeles should seek an upgrade this offseason. That player could be Cajuste, who would have to move to the right side after starting at left tackle last season for the Mountaineers. If Los Angles doesn’t re-sign Darius Philon, defensive line becomes a must.

29. Kansas City Chiefs: Deandre Baker, CB, Georgia

Offseason needs: Cornerback, safety, defensive tackle, center

Kansas City’s pass coverage, especially on deep throws, was abysmal last season. That’s why Baker remains a regular pick for the Chiefs. He’s not the fastest cornerback, but he knows how to stick with receivers. Keep an eye on Alabama safety Deionte Thompson, too. He could be an Eric Berry replacement.

30. Green Bay Packers: (via New Orleans): T.J. Hockenson, TE, Iowa

Offseason needs: Edge defender, tight end, guard, defensive line

As good as of a prospect as Hockenson is, it’s hard to find good landing spots for tight ends in the first round. Especially after you get past the first 12 or so picks. That’s obviously a good thing for the Packers, who get one of the 10 best players in the draft near the end of the first round.

31. Los Angeles Rams: Jeffery Simmons, DT, Mississippi State

Offseason needs: Safety, edge defender, guard, offensive tackle

This is obviously a huge, enormous risk the Rams would take by selecting Simmons. It’s possible Simmons doesn’t play at all in 2019 after tearing his ACL while training. It doesn’t even fill what I perceive as one of their top needs. But his talent and potential is that of a top-10 player in this draft. The Rams have to fill plenty of needs, but Simmons could be special when he’s healthy.

32. New England Patriots: Noah Fant, TE, Iowa

Offseason needs: Edge defender, tight end, defensive tackle, wide receiver

As mentioned above, it’s hard to get a pass rusher in the back of the first round. Because of that, the Patriots could look for one later in the draft. That moves tight end to arguably the team’s top need. Fant may not be a top blocker, but New England should be able to utilize his skill as a pass catcher.