Free Agent or NFL Draft Prospect Each Team Should Add

Whether it’s done via free agency or the 2018 NFL Draft, here’s an impact player that each team should look to acquire this offseason.

AFC East

Buffalo Bills: Lamar Jackson, QB, Louisville
With back-to-back first-round picks in the NFL Draft (No. 21 & 22), the Bills should grab Jackson is he’s still available.  The team clearly doesn’t have faith in Tyrod Taylor, and may find his long-term replacement if Jackson falls a bit in the first round due to a loaded quarterback class.  Plus, we all know Nathan (little) Peterman isn’t starting again in the NFL anytime soon.

Miami Dolphins: Tremaine Edmunds, LB, Virginia Tech
The Dolphins took a step in the right direction last year when it comes to performance against the run, but they are still in need of a playmaking linebacker that can both tackle and play in coverage against opposing teams’ running backs and tight ends.  The soon-to-be 20 year old prospect out of Virginia Tech is just the answer to help sure up Miami’s defense after his stellar combine performance answered any doubts NFL executives may have had.

New England Patriots: Kyle Fuller, CB, Chicago Bears
We all just witnessed what happened to the Patriots secondary in the Super Bowl against the Nick Foles-led Eagles offense.  With Malcolm Butler basically out the door, Fuller would provide the Patriots with an up-and-coming cornerback in the prime of his career.  My assumption is they sign him; he leads the team defensively on their way to the Super Bowl and proceeds to get benched the day of the big game.  Sorry, Patriots fans, I’ve gotta take my jabs when I can.

New York Jets: Baker Mayfield, QB, Oklahoma
Let’s face it, it’s looking like none of the high-profile free-agent quarterbacks are interested in playing for the Jets.  That leaves the NFL Draft as the next opportunity for New York to address the game’s most important position.  Mayfield has both the skill and attitude to lead the Jets as the team continues to rebuild for a run at the AFC East once Tom Brady and the Patriots’ dominance comes to an end.

NFC East

Dallas Cowboys: D.J. Moore, WR, Maryland
It’s just a matter of time before the Dez Bryant era is over in Dallas; and that opens the door for the Cowboys to address the position of wide receiver in the first round of this year’s draft.  With Calvin Ridley likely off the board already, the Cowboys should select Moore at No. 19.

New York Giants: Sam Darnold, QB, USC
It’s wide open as to what the Giants will do with the second overall pick in the NFL Draft, but Eli Manning isn’t getting any younger so the team will need to look to find his replacement sooner rather than later.  Selecting Darnold, or another quarterback, at No. 2 will allow that player to sit behind Manning for a year before being asked to fill his shoes.

Philadelphia Eagles: Isaiah Wynn, OL, Georgia
What does a Super Bowl-winning team with 21 of its 22 starters still under contract for the following season even need?  Free agency and draft picks will be wide open for the Eagles as you rarely run into a team with this luxury.  With that being said, go ahead and plug in Wynn as adding depth to your offensive line is typically never a poor move.

Washington Redskins: Dontari Poe, DT, Atlanta Falcons
Here’s Poe’s chance to return to the 3-4 defensive scheme that he excelled during his time in Kansas City.  There are rumors that Washington may switch to a 4-3 base defense due to their personnel, but even if this is the case, Poe has the talent to succeed in any defensive scheme and has a year of experience under his belt due to his time spent in Atlanta.  The presence of a defender such as Poe is desperately needed for a team that ranked dead last in the NFL allowing over 130 rushing yards per game.

AFC West

Denver Broncos: Case Keenum, QB, Minnesota Vikings
Here’s the plan – the Broncos sign Keenum to a short-term deal and draft their future quarterback with the fifth pick in the NFL Draft.  Adding Keenum takes the immediate pressure off the drafted quarterback while providing the offense a much-needed boost to catch up to the quality of the defense.

Kansas City Chiefs: Sammy Watkins, WR, Los Angeles Rams
After not being franchise tagged by the Rams, Watkins will be allowed to test free agency and the Chiefs would be wise to give consideration.  Tabbed as an underachiever due largely to the success of the other receivers in Watkins’ draft class, Watkins has had a fine career despite injuries and playing the majority of his games with Buffalo, who didn’t make targeting their number one receiver a top priority.

Los Angeles Chargers: Rashaan Evans, LB, Alabama
With Philip Rivers, Melvin Gordon, Keenan Allen, Hunter Henry and (hopefully) Mike Williams leading the way on offense, the Chargers need to address defense this offseason.  Evans is next in the long line of defensive players from Alabama who seem to enter the league a bit more advanced than your typical NFL rookie.

Oakland Raiders: Trumaine Johnson, CB, Los Angeles Rams
The Raiders finished 26th in the NFL against the pass last year so adding help to a struggling secondary is desperately needed.  Johnson is the top player at a loaded position in free agency this season, but the Raiders shouldn’t settle for just anyone.  This team needs to add playmakers on defense to help match the potential they have on offense as the window for the Raiders to compete has opened.

NFC West

Arizona Cardinals: Josh Rosen, QB, UCLA
Pretty safe to assume Arizona will address the quarterback position at some point this offseason unless they plan on utilizing the zero-QB strategy in 2018.  The thing with Rosen is that he may not be available when the Cardinals pick No. 15 in the first round so they may have to work out some deals to move up on draft day.  However, I’d be willing to bet that Arizona is more likely to move up in the draft than any other team since they desperately need a quarterback and would like to bring in a young prospect to start developing their future at the position.

Los Angeles Rams: Josh Jackson, CB, Iowa
Likely losing Trumaine Johnson to free agency, the Rams should look to the NFL Draft to fill the void Johnson leaves at cornerback.  Jackson is one of the top-rated corners in this year’s draft class, and if his last season in Iowa is any indicator, he’ll provide the unique ability to not only create turnovers but also cash in on them as two of his eight interceptions last season were taken back for touchdowns.

San Francisco 49ers: Allen Robinson, WR, Jacksonville Jaguars
Do I like Marquise Goodwin paired with Jimmy Garoppolo?  Absolutely.  However, if you ask whether or not I think Goodwin should lead the receiver unit and see the most targets over the course of the season for the 49ers, my answer is definitely not.  Go ahead and bring in Robinson to serve as your top option at receiver while Pierre Garcon plays on the opposite boundary while Goodwin works the slot.

Seattle Seahawks: Marcus Davenport, Edge, Texas-San Antonio
A once dominant defensive line just a couple years ago is in critical need of a makeover as Michael Bennett is the latest defender on his way out of Seattle.  Insert Davenport, who despite playing for Texas-San Antonio, has caught the eye scouts around the league and should likely be in play for Seattle at No. 18 in the first round.

AFC North

Baltimore Ravens: Jarvis Landry, WR, Miami Dolphins
Do yourself a favor and don’t look at the current group of Baltimore Ravens wide receivers, you may go blind.  Landry doesn’t provide the downfield presence that you’d ideally like to pair with Joe Flacco, but he does offer sure hands as a security blanket over the middle that will fight harder than basically every receiver in the league to create after the catch.

Cincinnati Bengals: Mike McGlinchey, OL, Notre Dame
The Bengals need to bolster their offensive line this offseason and McGlinchey is the perfect fit to both protect Andy Dalton while also creating holes for last year’s draft pick, Joe Mixon, to maximize his overall effectiveness.

Cleveland Browns: Minkah Fitzpatrick, DB, Alabama
Having two out of the first four picks in the NFL Draft is pretty much unheard of.  If there was ever a team that could mess this up it would be the Browns, however, selecting Fitzpatrick at either No. 1 or No. 4 seems like a fairly safe bet.  Not only is Fitzpatrick the safe pick that can play either safety or slot corner, but he’s actually pretty damn good at it and can impact a game both as a pass defender and as a secondary pass rusher.

Pittsburgh Steelers: Kenny Vaccaro, Safety, New Orleans Saints
The Steelers defense hasn’t been the same since Troy Polamalu retired back in 2015.  And while I’m not saying Vaccaro plays at the same level as Polamalu did during his prime with the Steelers, Vaccaro would definitely be the best safety the team has had since his departure.

NFC North

Chicago Bears: Calvin Ridley, Wide Receiver, Alabama
Before Bears’ fans blow up and tell me Ridley isn’t worth the eighth overall pick in the NFL Draft, I believe Chicago could be in a prime position to trade back with a team looking to jump up and get into the mix at quarterback.  The Dolphins, Cardinals and Bills all sit behind Chicago in the draft and may attempt to jump each other if the quarterback they desire is still on the board during the Bears’ pick at No. 8.  If this is the case, the Bears would be wise to trade back while still being in a good position to land the top receiver in the draft in Ridley.  In a few years, Mitchell Trubisky, Jordan Howard, Tarik Cohen, Ridley and Adam Shaheen could form a nice core for the Bears’ offense.

Detroit Lions: Derrius Guice, RB, LSU
I’ve been begging the Lions to get a running back that Matt Stafford can turn and give the ball to at least 15 times a game to help the offense become more balanced, and in return, make Stafford even more efficient and a threat to beat opposing teams’ defenses since they’d have to respect the run game.  Guice is the guy here for the Lions if he’s available on draft day.

Green Bay Packers: Derwin James, Safety, Florida State
The return of Aaron Rodgers means I’m not all that concerned about the Packers’ offense.  When Rodgers has been healthy in recent years, the issue in Green Bay has been the play of its secondary.  James backed up his on-field performance by blowing up at last week’s combine, solidifying his spot in the top-20 of the NFL Draft.

Minnesota Vikings: Kirk Cousins, QB, Washington Redskins
This seems to be close to a done deal, but the Vikings obviously need to add a quarterback if they decide not to bring back any of the three they had on their roster last year.  Plus, they definitely need to add a veteran quarterback to lead the team since their window to compete with that defense is now.

AFC South

Houston Texans: Dion Lewis, RB, New England Patriots
Was Lewis’ success a product of the Patriots’ offensive system?  We may be close to finding out as Lewis may be allowed to test free agency, and if he does, the Texans should take a close look.  With rumors of Lamar Miller being a cap casualty, Lewis and last year’s draft pick, D’Onta Foreman, would provide the Texans’ offense – with a healthy Deshaun Watson – a solid pairing in the backfield that can get it done both on the ground and through the air.

Indianapolis Colts: Bradley Chubb, Edge, NC State
The Colts are clearly more than one player away, even with a healthy Andrew Luck.  Due to this, you have to grab the best player on the board when you selecting No. 3 overall.  Many will argue that pick is Saquon Barkley, but I believe the Colts should land this year’s best pass-rushing prospect.

Jacksonville Jaguars: Will Hernandez, OL, UTEP
If the Jaguars decide not to upgrade at quarterback while also parting ways with their top receiver in Allen Robinson, they might as well bolster their offensive line with Hernandez to help solidify their top strength, which is pounding the rock with Leonard Fournette.

Tennessee Titans: Malcolm Butler, CB, New England Patriots
Despite using a first-round pick on Adoree’ Jackson last year, the Titans need to continue adding to their secondary after finishing 25th in passing yards allowed per game.  Butler may not be the best free agent cornerback on the market, but would definitely provide a needed upgrade to the Titans defensive backfield.

NFC South

Atlanta Falcons: Quenton Nelson, OL, Notre Dame
Defense remains a primary need for Atlanta, but if Nelson is on the board for the Falcons at No. 26, he’s the pick.  Late first round is a prime position for a team currently in their window to compete to select an offensive lineman who will not only compete to contribute immediately, but also be a key member on the offensive line for the foreseeable future.

Carolina Panthers: Nick Chubb, RB, Georgia
Finding a true No. 1 receiver should be a primary goal for the Panthers this offseason, but it’ll also be crucial to find a replacement for Jonathan Stewart.  It’s safe to assume the Panthers were taking notes on what division-rival New Orleans Saints were doing last year with the combination of Mark Ingram and Alvin Kamara; so it’s possible they follow suit and find a compliment to last year’s first rounder, Christian McCaffrey.

New Orleans Saints: Tyler Eifert, TE, Cincinnati Bengals
Remember how dominant the Drew Brees/Jimmy Graham connection was?  Landing Eiftert will take this already very good offense to the next level as an offense featuring Brees, Kamara, Ingram, Michael Thomas and Eifert will be nearly impossible for opposing teams’ defenses to matchup against.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Carlos Hyde, RB, San Francisco 49ers
Adding Hyde allows the Buccaneers to address one of their primary positions of need while also getting a player who may still have his best football ahead of him.  The addition of Hyde would provide Jameis Winston a capable running back he can rely on and help take some pressure off the passing game, which has been relied on to carry the load each week since Winston has been in Tampa Bay.  Hyde may be exactly what Winston needs to help simplify the offense and cut back on turnovers.
Have a different player in mind for your favorite team?  Let us know your thoughts!

Be sure to listen to the latest episode of the Loaded Box Podcast as the guys breakdown free agency and NFL Draft plans for those in the AFC West.

Ben Morgan is a co-host and blogger for the Loaded Box Podcast.  Check out his article archive and find more from the Loaded Box on Twitter & Facebook

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