That's a mere sampling of the questions surrounding teams as we head toward the 2017 NFL Draft (April 27-29 in Philadelphia). And that's what this installment of All-32 is all about: identifying one key draft-related question for each GM.
Trade winds blow harder on Day 1 of the great college marketplace than at any other time of the year. Expect this time around to be no different, even if the Brownsdo hold on to that top spot. It's a period of great uncertainty, as questions abound in all corners of the NFL. Here's one pressing, draft-centric issue for each team. Hit me up with your draft takes: @HarrisonNFL is the place.
Buffalo Bills: Time to draft the team's first play-making tight end since ... since ... ?
... since ever. Did you know that the Bills have never, in 57 years of an existence, had a tight end who put up so much as 800 yards in a season? Paul Costa holds the single-season record of 726 yards, all the way back in 1967. He was moved to tackle two years later. Seriously. The word on the street is that the Bills are in love with Alabama tight end O.J. Howard, who definitely could become an 800-yard kind of player in the NFL. More importantly, new OC Rick Dennison loves to go two tights, but he needs a kid who can be an inline blocker. You think Howard did a little of that for the Crimson Tide? Stick Howard with Charles Clay, who's more of a move TE, and this could be a slam-dunk pick for Buffalo at No. 10 -- as well as a nice way to help quarterback Tyrod Taylor develop further.
Free agency, for all intents and purposes, is over. So if Miami is going to close the gap from cute wild-card team to AFC East champion, executive vice president Mike Tannenbaum and head coach Adam Gase must crush the draft. The book on beating Tom Brady has been revised somewhat over the years, though applying pressure up the middle (without having to blitz) remains the optimal strategy. The Dolphins are pretty well set on the defensive interior, although some more depth wouldn't hurt. Another approach could be to draft a corner (or two) who can reroute the Julian Edelmans of the world. Tre'Davious White has been paired with the Fins in various mocks. He can cover. But the book on him is that he isn't very physical. That's why I like my colleague Chad Reuter's suggestion of drafting Forrest Lamp, a guard who could start immediately. Pound the rock with Jay Ajayi -- salt away the clock while taking more pressure off Ryan Tannehill. It is possible to take down the Patriots by running right at them -- well, unless your OC suddenly stops doing so.
New England Patriots: Who is going to be the thumper on offense?
For whatever reason, LeGarrette Blount is not a Patriot right now. Surprisingly, he's not a member of any other organization, either, despite pacing the league in rushing touchdowns last season while being quite an effective player for the Super Bowl champs -- especially inside the 10-yard line. Despite having an offer from New England in hand, Blount has yet to accept -- which tells you it's not as much cash as he would like. With Blount entering his eighth year, you can understand if the back is waiting on a team -- one that he wants to play for -- to up the ante. On the other hand, with the immense RB talent in this draft, how many GMs want to pony up for a 30-year-old rusher? Look at the blazing hot pursuit of Jamaal Charles and Adrian Peterson. If Blount mulls this over up until the draft, he'll run the risk of Bill Belichick just scooping up a young RB. This doesn't mean the Pats hold all the cards, though, as 1,161 yards and 18 touchdowns don't grow on trees.
New York Jets: Can they avoid drafting another quarterback?
Hope so. The Jets sat down with three at the NFL Scouting Combine: Mitchell Trubisky, Deshaun Watson and DeShone Kizer. Trubisky has been mocked to the Jets in the six spot. My colleague (and scouting guru) Bucky Brooks mentioned on DDFP that DeShone Kizer is the most talented QB -- with the biggest upside -- in the draft. And Watson started four college playoff games, even besting Alabama to win the national title in his last outing. None of which removes the fact that New York has drafted quarterbacks the last two years in a row. Why spend a second-round pick on Christian Hackenberg if you aren't going to provide him the chance to show what he can do? Bryce Petty, a fourth-rounder in 2015, earned the right to fight for the job with his play last year. Thus, why throw in another prospect whose investment calls for a longer look? The Jets need players everywhere. Oh, and they don't even have the offensive line to protect a rookie starter anyway.
Baltimore Ravens: Prioritize pass rush over pass catching?
Take a glance at mock drafts dancing across the interwebs and you will see hordes of analysts projecting a wide receiver to this franchise in Round 1, be it John Ross out of Washington, Corey Davis from Western Michigan or the latest Mike Williams to hit the NFL as a wide receiver. That last one is from Clemson, and he has been slotted to Baltimore routinely at 16th overall. OK, cool. Didn't Baltimore sign Mike Wallace last year? And are Ravens fans already distancing themselves from 2015 first-round pick Breshad Perriman? I'm not saying Baltimore couldn't use another guy to throw the ball to -- especially now that Steve Smith Sr.'s working with us at NFL Media and Kamar Aiken's working with Andrew Luck in Indy -- but who will be chasing the other team's passer? Maybe nobody. Baltimore notched all of 31 sacks last year, which, no, is not a healthy number. Not to mention, that was with Terrell Suggs getting eight. How long can he stay healthy (and productive) with his 35th birthday coming up in October? The next-closest guy, Timmy Jernigan, had five.He gone.Elvis Dumervil posted three sacks. He gone, too.
Many people were waiting to see how Hill would respond last year after the big fumble versus the Steelers in the 2015 Wild-Card Round. Hill produced a so-so campaign with 839 yards and nine touchdowns, but certainly didn't look like the guy who burst on the NFL scene in 2014. In fact, since averaging 5.1 yards per carry in that rookie campaign, Hill has posted marks of 3.6 and 3.8 in the past two seasons. All of which lends more than just speculation to the report that the Bengals hosted Dalvin Cook on a recent visit. Going ninth overall would seem a bit high for the former Florida State star, but Cincinnati could also trade down. The O-line is a big area of concern, as Cincy lost both Andrew Whitworth and Kevin Zeitler in free agency. Taking a guy like Cam Robinson could work, given the presence of Hill and Giovanni Bernard in the backfield. But running the football consistently has been an issue for this team the last couple of seasons, even when Whitworth and Zeitler in the lineup. Kicking the tires on Cook makes total sense.
The Jimmy Garoppolo rumors persist, although it appears more and more likely every day that the Patriots simply don't want to deal him. (Their starting quarterback does turn 40 this year, after all.) So, if Cleveland can't package a deal for Garoppolo, will Kessler be given an opportunity to prove he can be a viable NFL starter? Bucky Brooks penned a piece at the end of last month that said the Browns should forget about adding another QB this offseason and instead take a long, hard look at the guys already on the roster: Brock Osweiler and Cody Kessler. I'm with him here, though personally more intrigued by the sophomore QB than Osweiler. As a rookie last season, Kessler outperformed expectations, particularly in games against the Dolphinsand Titans. Three things could prevent Kessler from getting a true crack at the job: 1) Cleveland takes a quarterback with one of its two first-round picks (Nos. 1 and 12); 2) the Browns use their considerable draft capital (eight picks in the first two rounds of the 2017 and '18 drafts) to get back into the first round for a third pick, should their favorite QB remain available in the back end of Thursday night; C) Cleveland parses out some of those picks to make Bill Belichick a cherry of an offer for Jimmy G.
Pittsburgh Steelers: BPA or BF7PA?
No, that is not a typo. Best player available or best front seven player available? That's the question in the Steel City. It will be quite interesting to see who the Steelers take at 30th overall. One of the top-rated quarterbacks (Mitchell Trubisky, Deshaun Watson or DeShone Kizer) could be there. (I started to type DeShaun Foster there. Yikes.) Would Pittsburgh be interested in lining up Ben Roethlisberger insurance (and a plan for the future) at QB? What if one of the top-ranked wideouts falls? Everyone knows Pittsburgh needs firepower for Keith Butler's defense -- particularly in the front seven. James Harrison can't continue to be the answer for going after the quarterback. He's actually older than Roethlisberger. Let's not forget about Lawrence Timmons' departure, either. Were it not for the Steelers' incredible history at the LB position (Jack Ham, Jack Lambert, Greg Lloyd, Kevin Greene, Harrison), more people would be talking about Timmons' tenure in The 'Burgh. At the end of the day, I think the team goes best front seven player available. My guess is Pittsburgh will take whoever's still there (and highest on the team's board) among T.J. Watt, Taco Charlton and Reuben Foster. The Steelers can wait on secondary, especially with all the talent available at CB.
Houston Texans: Which quarterback tops the wish list?
Think there are a few teams that wouldn't mind knowing this rather pertinent piece of intel? There's a realistic chance Houston takes the first quarterback off the board ... at 25. You smell what I'm stepping in here? If you're the Browns, 49ers, Bears or Jets, knowing which quarterback that might be would provide a head-start toward trading into the back end of the first round to get the quarterback you want (provided it's not the guy Houston targets). The Vikings pulled this off in 2014, trading with the Seahawks to grab Teddy Bridgewater out of Louisville. (Quit writing him off, by the way.) Our resident GM at NFL Network, Charley Casserly, predicts the Brownsmake a deal with the Saints at 32 to draft Mitchell Trubisky out of North Carolina. Now Trubisky, despite his lack of starting experience, certainly seems like the kind of pocket passer Texans coach Bill O'Brien prefers. A lot of folks are projecting Houston interest in Patrick Mahomes -- he definitely has the raw arm talent, but needs to work on his comfort level in the cup. DeShone Kizer, despite a few knocks against him, apparently crushed the interview portion of the combine. The Texans' pick will be fascinating.
Indianapolis Colts: Can Indy pass on defense early again this year?
Everybody else passed on Indy last season -- quite successfully, I might add. Colts opponents owned a higher passer rating than Andrew Luck last year (97.5 to 96.4), while throwing half as many interceptions. The defense couldn't stop anybody, but made up for it by not creating turnovers -- Indy had 17 of those. TOTAL. That includes fumble recoveries. The last two years, former general manager Ryan Grigson took a wideout (Phillip Dorsett) and a center (Ryan Kelly). Most of our NFL.com draft analysts have new GM Chris Ballard using the first-rounder on an edge defender like Takkarist McKinley or Haason Reddick. Fine. Fifty-year-old defensive coordinator Ted Monachino might look 80 by season's end if Ballard doesn't add secondary help. Although the Colts can afford to draft players in that area on Day 2 or Day 3 with the depth of DB prospects in this class. O-line and RB help would be nice, too.
Jacksonville Jaguars: What sneaky things are Tom Coughlin and David Caldwell up to at QB?
Just posing the question here. Several people in this business whispered about the Jaguars being a dark-horse team to make a run at Tony Romo. It was summarily dismissed by many, including myself. Publicly, the Jaguars have said they are rolling with Blake Bortles. No question the former No. 3 overall pick took a step backward last year. His numbers plummeted across the board, from touchdown passes to yards per attempt to passer rating. He's had three years to show what he can do. Could Tom Coughlin, David Caldwell and Co. shock people by taking a quarterback high? Not talking about using the No. 4 overall pick here. But that second-rounder at 35th overall makes you wonder ...
Last year, you'll recall, Tennessee traded out of the top spot in the draft. What isn't mentioned enough is that they got a helluva player in Jack Conklin at No. 8. Such is life as an offensive tackle. Such is life as a Titan. Get Mariota talent outside, and Tennessee will be getting the best brand of street cred: playoff respect. That's why I think GM Jon Robinson might trade up this year -- at least when it comes to his second pick of the first round. The first pick comes at No. 5. The Titans could get their wideout of choice there -- or a corner. With O.J. Howard expected to go somewhere from 8 to 12 (high for a tight end), might Robinson move up from his second first-rounder at 18th overall? Or if they go DB at 5, trade up from 18 to get the top WR on their board? OR trade down from No. 5 to get Howard and stand pat at 18. Would love a TE tandem of Delanie Walker and Howard. Already love Tennessee's flexibility on Day 1.
There is a decent chance McCaffrey will be there when the Broncos' turn comes up. Of the teams that are drafting ahead of Denver, the Panthers (8), Saints (11), Eagles (14) and Bucs (19) probably would be the most interested in the Stanford star. If the Broncos were to pass, McCaffrey could fall to the Raiders (24) or Packers (29). And that'd be OK. Elway has said time and again that he's committed to his young quarterbacks. The offensive line, which did not fare well in 2016, must be a priority. That's why three of ourmost recent NFL.commock drafts have Denver taking Garett Bolles. The temptation to take the local kid -- the son of former Bronco Ed McCaffrey -- will be huge. Remember the angst Jerry Jones felt in passing on Johnny Manziel? The Cowboys picked Zack Martin instead -- a guy who helped make that offensive line tops in the league. Elway just signed Martin's former teammate on that line, Ronald Leary, in an effort to improve the Broncos up front. Drafting a tackle would be another positive step in this area.
Kansas City Chiefs: What is truly the BIGGEST draft need?
Writers and fans are all over the map when it comes to the No. 27 overall pick. Get a QB to groom behind Alex Smith? A corner to complement Marcus Peters? Some have K.C. taking a first-round wide receiver or even a running back (which would be odd, at least early). GM John Dorsey must be thinking about finding a replacement for ILB Derrick Johnson at some point, most likely on Day 2. The defensive captain will be entering his 13th season -- and he's fresh off a second Achilles surgery. Ramik Wilson did a nice job, but the overall depth there is lacking. Kansas City was gashed on the ground in three of the four games Johnson missed. Having an impact player in his mold -- a Sean Lee or Deion Jones type (both former second-rounders) -- certainly would help. How about someone like rangy Vandy linebacker Zach Cunningham in Round 2?
Don't think it will happen in the first round. The Chargers need offensive line help, a wideout and more talent in the secondary. All are priorities. Many are speculating that Los Angeles -- man, that feels weird to type, and I live in L.A. -- will take one of the two supremely talented safeties in this draft: Malik Hooker or Jamal Adams. Both should start immediately. Another wide receiver to complement a healthy (hopefully) Keenan Allen would be wonderful, so that Rivers wouldn't have to rely on CFL cast-offs and other teams' rejects. None of that changes the fact that Rivers is entering Year 14 and can't play forever. We tend to take Rivers for granted because he has been so durable. But if Patrick Mahomes or DeShone Kizer is still sitting there when the Chargers are on the clock in the second round (38th overall), why not?
Oakland Raiders: How serious a mode are they in to acquire Beast Mode?
It looks serious. If it is, it could greatly affect Las ... er ... Oakland's draft strategy. For starters, if the Raiders acquire Marshawn Lynch, you can forget about them drafting a running back. It also improves the possibility they fill their big need at ILB early. The Raiders have said they like the kids they have at running back, which is why it surprised some folks that DeAndre Washington didn't get more run last year. Of course, if team brass liked the young RBs that much, the guy the team just let walk wouldn't have received so much workload. Latavius Murray is in Minnesota now, but last year he scurried behind one of the premier offensive lines in football. Since the Seahawks still own the rights to Lynch -- and need help on their front line -- might they ask for a tackle? Doubt they would get it. This whole Lynch saga might go from Beast Mode to Release Mode, with Seattle cutting bait on his contract. If so, we could mark Christian McCaffrey and Dalvin Cook off the Raiders' wish list.