2020 NFL Draft: Burning Questions For Each Team
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The NFL Draft is almost here, and I have already written two prior articles about burning questions as it approaches. The first one can be found HERE, and the second can be found HERE. In those articles, I looked at the NFL Draft first from a prospect standpoint — and in the second, from a post-free agency standpoint. However, it’s impossible to look at the entire league with just five burning questions. I think the best way to approach the final article before the NFL Draft with burning questions is one question for each team that they need to find an answer for in the 2020 NFL Draft.
Arizona Cardinals: Can the Cardinals draft a viable defense?
The Cardinals drafted QB Kyler Murray last year, and they were a middle of the pack offense with upside for 2020. The main problem last year was the defense. They were 28th in points allowed and 32nd in yards allowed. As exciting as offense is in the NFL, the question is if can they use their picks in this draft to improve the defense. They already traded for WR DeAndre Hopkins and resigned RB Kenyan Drake, so this draft has to be about upgrading the defense.
Atlanta Falcons: Can the Falcons find some pass rush?
The Falcons were tied with three teams for 29th in sacks (28), and only the Miami Dolphins had fewer sacks (23). This low sack total was in spite of being eighth in pass attempts allowed (536). They have a lot of problems, but pressure on the quarterback is the big upgrade they need to make in this draft. Vic Beasley led the team with eight sacks, and he is now a Tennessee Titan, so they have to address their pass rush in this draft.
Teams with the fewest sacks in 2019
|Rank||NFL Team||Pass Attempts Allowed||Sacks Registered|
|28||Los Angeles Chargers||464||30|
Baltimore Ravens: What do they add in the passing game?
This team was the best team in the regular season last year, and they were in the top-four for scoring offense, scoring defense, yardage gained, and yards allowed. They tied the 1973 Miami Dolphins with 12 Pro Bowl players. Their one weakness was passing yards gained at 27th, so they need to add some wide receivers to make the passing game more of a threat.
Buffalo Bills: Was WR Stefon Diggs worth the draft capital they gave up to acquire him?
The Bills made their splash before the NFL Draft, sending a first-round pick and some Day 3 picks to Minnesota for Diggs. That leaves them with only the 54th and 86th overall pick in the top-100 of this NFL Draft. A franchise wide receiver was a big need for them, and they now have that, but they only have two high picks with which to improve a team that was 10-6 last year and lost in the Wild Card Round. We will have to wait until the 2020 regular season to see if Diggs makes a big enough impact in 2020 to justify the draft capital they gave up in this trade.
Carolina Panthers: Can they rebuild their defense in the 2020 NFL Draft?
When the Panthers made the Wild Card Round in 2017, they were 11th in points allowed and seventh in yards allowed. Last year, they were 31st and 23rd in those statistical areas. QB Teddy Bridgewater will take over as the starting quarterback, and they have a lot of skill-position talent. They need to add impact players on defense in this draft to make it back to the playoffs, especially with a run defense that was 29th in rushing yards allowed (2,296), 32nd in rushing touchdowns allowed (31), and 32nd in yards per carry allowed (5.2)
Chicago Bears: Can the Bears fix their offensive line?
I do not think they will be in the market for a quarterback with both Mitchell Trubisky and Nick Foles under contract. That makes the big question on offense the offensive line. Per Pro Football Focus, the Bears’ average time to pressure allowed of 2.37 seconds was 29th in the league, ahead of only the Dolphins, Chargers, and Falcons. No quarterback can thrive with that little time to throw. Until that is fixed, their offense will continue to struggle.
Cincinnati Bengals: Do the Bengals take Joe Burrow first overall?
This seems like a no-brainer at this point, he is the best quarterback prospect in this draft class, and a franchise quarterback could change the fortunes of this franchise. The bigger question is if someone comes at them with a slew of draft picks, will they trade down and take the additional picks. I would not rule that out yet, but I think Burrow the Bengal is the most likely outcome.
Cleveland Browns: Can the Browns fix their offensive line?
A lot was made of QB Baker Mayfield’s regression and WR Odell Beckham Jr’s failure to fit into the new offense. The biggest reason for the Browns’ decline is they went from the second-ranked offensive line by Pro Football Focus to the 23rd ranked unit. They really missed G Kevin Zeitler as their line crashed to the bottom-10 in run blocking, and their pass protection suffered as well. They need to upgrade the interior of the offensive line badly in this draft.
Dallas Cowboys: Can the Cowboys add defensive playmakers?
The Cowboys defense was not bad from a points and yardage standpoint, they were 11th in points allowed and ninth in yards allowed. The problem was a secondary that was 30th in interceptions with just seven, and they recorded only 39 sacks. Robert Quinn registered 11.5 sacks last year, and he is now in Chicago. They really need pass rushers and ball-hawks that can help turn around one of the more vanilla defenses in the NFL.
Denver Broncos: Can the Broncos build an offense around Drew Lock?
The Broncos were 28th in points scored and yards gained, but all hope was not lost. They won four of their last five games when they inserted Lock as the starter. He was not lights out as a rookie, but he averaged 204.0 passing yards per game and posted an 89.7 QB rating. They added RB Melvin Gordon in free agency, but the offensive line needs some work, and they could use a second wide receiver to pair with Courtland Sutton. Lock will improve in his second year, but they need to add help in this draft to become an offense that can take the Broncos to the NFL playoffs.
Detroit Lions: Do the Lions trade down with the third pick?
There was some rambling that the Lions may trade Matthew Stafford prior to the draft and select Tua Tagovailoa. That scenario seems far fetched at this point, but there could be several teams that want to trade for Tagovailoa, so the Lions figure to fetch a very hefty sum with the third pick in the 2020 NFL Draft. How much draft capital the Lions receive if they trade down will be a big question heading into this draft.
Green Bay Packers: Can the Packers add playmakers early in this draft?
Davante Adams was their only threat in the passing game, averaging 83.1 yards receiving per game over 12 games. Nobody else averaged more than 30.0 yards per game, and their second-best receiver was Allen Lazard. They definitely need a wide receiver early in this draft, and with the release of TE Jimmy Graham, a tight end would be a great addition as well.
Houston Texans: Can the Texans find wide receiver help?
The Texans had a great wide receiver in DeAndre Hopkins. He was traded to the Arizona Cardinals, which did bring in David Johnson to handle running duties, but left them with injury-prone Will Fuller and not much else at wide receiver. Yes, they added Randall Cobb and Brandin Cooks, but neither can replace Hopkins. They need to find wide receiver help in this draft to offset the loss. Unfortunately, the Texans will not have a selection until the 57th pick in the NFL Draft.
Indianapolis Colts: Can the Colts find a wide receiver in this draft?
The good news is they were able to add QB Philip Rivers to the offense, which should improve the passing game. The bad news is they lost TE Eric Ebron and WR Devin Funchess in free agency, and their current depth chart consists of T.Y. Hilton, Zach Pascal, and Parris Campbell. They traded their first-round pick to the 49ers for DeForest Buckner, so they need to find some wide receiver help in the second and third round. That will not be a hard task, and wide receiver is arguably the deepest position in the 2020 NFL Draft.
Jacksonville Jaguars: Can the Jacksonville Jaguars rebuild their defense?
The Jaguars need lots of help on both sides of the ball. They had one of the best defenses in the league in 2017, but it has since been dismantled. Calais Campbell, Jalen Ramsey, A.J. Bouye, and Telvin Smith all were selected to the Pro Bowl that year, and none of them are on the 2020 Jaguars roster. This team is in another full rebuild effort, and it’s going to start by putting together the defense that they assembled back in 2017. They will have two first-round picks, a second-rounder, third-rounder, and three fourth-round selections to find upgrades to their defense.
Kansas City Chiefs: Can the Chiefs upgrade their run defense?
A big reason they won the Super Bowl is that their run defense was more stout at the end of the season, but they were 26th in rushing yards allowed (2,051) and 29th in rushing yards per attempt (4.9) through the full regular season. They are bringing back 10 of their 11 offensive starters from last year and the majority of the backups. This draft will be about defense, and the biggest weakness on defense was stopping the run.
Los Angeles Chargers: Who do the Chargers draft to replace Philip Rivers?
If the Chargers do not add a quarterback in this draft, Tyrod Taylor would be their starter, and Easton Stick would be the backup. That would be NFL malpractice, and they need to add a quarterback in either the first or second round of the NFL Draft to compete with those two quarterbacks.
Los Angeles Rams: Can the Rams rebuild their offensive line?
The Rams went from Super Bowl participants to not making the playoffs in 2019, and the big reason was their offensive line. Pro Football Focus ranked their offensive line sixth in 2018 and 31st in 2019. Replacing Todd Gurley will be a big storyline, but the bigger one is rebuilding an offensive line that went from great to awful in one season.
Miami Dolphins: Do the Dolphins trade up to select Tua Tagovailoa?
They have three first-round picks, so they have the capital to trade up to the third spot with the Detroit Lions and land Tagovailoa. Their offensive line was horrible last year, the defense was terrible, and this was arguably the least talented roster in the league. Quarterback is the most important position, and the Dolphins will be expected to find a franchise-changing quarterback in this draft with six picks in the top-70 of the NFL Draft.
Minnesota Vikings: How do they improve their pass offense?
QB Kirk Cousins was very efficient passing the ball with a 107.4 QB rating, but the Vikings were also 30th in pass attempts (466), 23rd in passing yards gained (3,523), and their passing touchdowns (26) were middle of the pack at 14th in the NFL. They traded Stefon Diggs to the Buffalo Bills, which means their best returning receiver is Adam Thielen and his 418 yards receiving in 10 games. They have two picks in the first round, a second-round pick, and two picks in the third round to help add some receiver talent to complement Thielen.
New England Patriots: Who do the Patriots draft to replace Tom Brady?
Brady has been one of the most consistent players in the NFL, accumulating a record of 219-64 in his 20 years with the club. The 43-year old will be in Tampa Bay for the 2020 season, which means the Patriots need to add someone to the mix. Otherwise, they’ll risk going with the winner of a Jarrett Stidham, Brian Hoyer, and Cody Kessler competition in 2020.
New Orleans Saints: Can the Saints find a power running game?
The Saints really missed RB Mark Ingram. The Saints have gone from fifth in rushing yards gained in 2017 to seventh in 2018 to 16th last year. RB Alvin Kamara is a great home-run hitter, but the Saints are missing the between the tackles element that Ingram brought to the table. QB Drew Brees is 41-years old this year, and they need to make sure that the rushing yards head in the other direction — a further decline would be bad news for this offense.
New York Giants: Can the Giants rebuild their defense in this draft?
They have some concerns on the line, and an upgrade at tackle is possible with the fourth pick, but their offense should improve with Daniel Jones under center and RB Saquon Barkley hopefully healthy for 16 games. The problem on this team is a defense that was 30th in points allowed, 28th in pass yards allowed, and 20th in rushing yards allowed. The Giants need to hit some home runs on defense in this draft.
New York Jets: Can the Jets rebuild their offensive line?
The Jets had a lot of problems at quarterback, running back, and wide receiver, but Sam Darnold, Le’Veon Bell, and Robby Anderson are not terrible players. Nothing is going to work until the Jets fix their atrocious offensive line. This Pro Football Focus stat says it all: “The Jets averaged just 0.7 rushing yards before contact per attempt, the lowest mark of any team in the NFL. Add in that they allowed pressure in 2.5 seconds or less on 27.5% of their dropbacks (second-highest mark in the NFL), and it’s not hard to see why they find themselves at 28th on this list.”
Oakland Raiders: Do the Raiders replace Derek Carr?
I do not think there is going to be a huge trade market for Carr before the draft, and they already signed QB Marcus Mariota to a two-year contract in April — and they also have DeShone Kizer on the roster. The Raiders have two first-round picks and three third-round picks. While it could make sense to add a quarterback there, I think the more likely scenario is for them to go with the three quarterbacks they have and reevaluate the situation for the 2021 NFL Draft. If that’s the case, improving a secondary that was 25th against the pass becomes the main priority.
Philadelphia Eagles: Can the Eagles find wide receiver help?
The Eagles targeted wide receivers less than any other NFL team as a percentage of their throws at just 42.2 percent. Alshon Jeffery will be back, but he cannot be counted on to stay healthy, nor can DeSean Jackson. This is a deep wide receiver class with the possibility that seven wide receivers could go in the first round. Eagles fans are going to want to see impact receiver help in this Draft.
Teams with the lowest wide receiver target percentage in 2019
|Rank||Team||Wide Receiver Targets||WR Percentage|
|29||San Francisco 49ers||233||49.9 %|
|30||Minnesota Vikings||209||47.5 %|
|31||Baltimore Ravens||182||44.1 %|
Pittsburgh Steelers: Can the Steelers reinvent this offense behind Ben Roethlisberger?
In 2018, Big Ben had 5,129 yards passing and 34 passing touchdowns. In 2019, he missed 14 games, and the offense crashed without him — and the injuries to WR JuJu Smith-Schuster and RB James Conner. The offensive line was ranked first in 2018 by Pro Football Focus, but it dropped to ninth in 2019. It’s not enough to just hope that Big Ben returns to form in 2020, as they’ll need to add impact players in this draft to improve an offense that was 27th in points scored and 30th in yards gained in 2019.
San Francisco 49ers: Do the 49ers draft a quarterback in the first round?
Anytime a Super Bowl contender trades a very good player for a first-round pick to move into the top-15 of the NFL Draft, the immediate question is why do they want that pick. Part of the reason for the trade was salary-cap related. The 49ers gave Arik Armstead a massive extension, making it hard to keep DeForest Buckner, too. A first-round pick was a good return for Buckner, so they made that trade this off-season rather than waiting for when his value would have been lower. They now have the 13th and 31st picks in the NFL Draft, and if they are down on Jimmy Garoppolo after an uneventful postseason, they may pull the trigger on a quarterback by either sitting at 13th or trading up.
Seattle Seahawks: Can the Seahawks finally give Russell Wilson an offensive line?
Pro Football Focus was right to rank the Seahawks’ line 27th for the 2019 season. Since entering the league, Wilson has faced pressure on 42 percent of his dropbacks. He is the only qualifying quarterback since 2012 with a rate of over 40%. The Seahawks’ offensive line has been a huge problem in recent years, and they need to address the offensive line if they are going to continue to be a viable playoff team.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Can the Buccaneers revamp their secondary?
The Buccaneers led the league with 41 giveaways, but replacing Jameis Winston with Tom Brady should help lower that number. Now that they have quarterback addressed, they need to improve a running game that was 24th in rushing yards gained, but the bigger priority is improving a secondary that was 30th against the pass.
Tennessee Titans: Can the Titans find a cornerback or edge rusher early in this draft?
The Titans were able to re-sign QB Ryan Tannehill and franchise tag RB Derrick Henry, which means that their draft should focus on defense. The Titans were 24th against the pass, and nobody on their team registered double-digit sacks, so adding a shutdown corner and an elite pass rusher are two goals in this draft.
Washington Redskins: Can Washington trade LT Trent Williams prior to the draft?
There is not much mystery when it comes to their first-round pick, as Chase Young should be the second pick of the 2020 NFL Draft. The big question is in a draft where four or five tackles could go in the first round, will Washington find a trade partner for their disgruntled left tackle, and what will the trade package look like? Williams still has a lot of value, but his contract demands are high, and Washington has been holding out hope for a first-round pick. That may mean they won’t find a trade partner until draft day, when both sides will be under pressure to make concessions or be stuck with one another for another season.