Looking forward to the draft this week I thought it might be a worthwhile exercise to look back at our 2019 positional values (if you are not familiar with these they are a Premium addition in which we assign values to every player based on participation, PFF grades, and statistical performance) and see where every roster stands on the eve of the draft as a tool to value each position. Here we will look at the teams that on paper have the most needs at each position.
This is an interesting group because of the bottom 8 teams most are valued so low because they had to turn to backups last year or will be turning to a higher pedigree backup to play this year. The team all the way at the bottom is the Chargers who basically have no 2019 value on the roster with Tyrod Taylor who barely saw the field last year currently taking over. Taylor will be a free agent after this season. The Patriots also come with little on field value and they have much less upside than the Chargers. Denver had a rookie they are hoping improves this year while the Panthers are turning to Bridgewater. The other bottom teams are the Steelers, Jets, Titans, and Lions. The Chargers and Patriots are the two to me that stand out as really needing a new young QB. The Lions and Steelers could both be looking for QBs of the future while the Jets and Broncos could target a mid round pick with some upside that may also provide a better option to cover for injury. The teams that don’t draft a QB should be looking at Newton and Winston as potential backup options.
The most desperate teams for tackles both are located in New York with the Jets and Giants taking up the bottom and the Bengals and Dolphins not to far behind. All of these four will likely have a young QB on the roster and all four probably have to come out of the draft with at least one offensive tackle that can compete for a starting job. Eagles, Jaguars, Patriots, and Bucs all should consider upgrades here as well. The top available free agent remaining is Jason Peters. Other names include Demar Dotson and Kelvin Beachum.
Interior Offensive Line
The Seahawks, Vikings, and Rams look to be the worst three teams in the NFL with the Panthers ,Chargers, Redskins, Bengals, and Steelers all being in the bottom quarter of the NFL. These are usually positions where you can find viable players in the mid rounds of the NFL draft. Best available free agents are Michael Schofield, Mike Iupati, and AQ Shipley.
Four teams have under $5 million valuations at running back- the Rams, Steelers, Lions, and Buccaneers. Also in the bottom are the Dolphins, Redskins, Bills, Chiefs, and Eagles. No team should spend a high pick on a running back but these would be the squads that might most benefit from adding more talent at the position at some point in the draft. Washington did sign a few free agents so they would probably be the least likely to draft one. Still available are Carlos Hyde, Frank Gore, Lamar Miller, and LeSean McCoy. Leonard Fournette is reportedly available via trade.
The Eagles, Vikings, and Ravens are the three teams under $10 million. Minnesota will chalk that up to the injuries to Thielen but they need more depth. Philly should be desperate for a receiver that can start immediately and the Ravens should be adding. Just behind this group are the Colts, 49ers, Steelers, Packers, and Jets. The Jets have been linked to receivers but the Steelers could be interesting to watch if they want some protection for Smith-Schuster who had a forgettable season. This is a position with almost no free agent options. Ted Ginn would be the best available followed by Demaryius Thomas.
The Patriots, who for years had the best performing tight ends in the NFL, are dead last in production. Arizona, who has never really used much at the position, is second from the bottom and Carolina, following the release of Greg Olsen, isn’t much better off. The Packers, Bengals, Falcons and Cowboys are also bottom rung teams at the position. You can find decent players in those middle rounds and they should all be looking. Best available free agents are Charles Clay and Trey Burton with OJ Howard likely available in a trade.
Interior Defensive Line
The Panthers and 49ers really stand out as needy here. The 49ers are just a rotational group of bodies and the Panthers will hope some luck with health and signings lead to a more promising 2020. Seattle kept Reed and will need him to be better and on the field for 16 if they don’t address the need here. The Chargers, Jaguars, Patriots, Bears and Lions all could use upgrades. This is a position that does see the impact guys usually go quickly but the rest are often available later on. There are a few veteran bodies out there like Mike Daniels and John Jenkins.
Carolinas is the only team with under $5 million in value leaving them with gaping holes at the traditional rush spots. Seattle, who has been linked to many names, is the second lowest followed closely by the Patriots who let Kyle Van Noy walk in the offseason. After those teams is a muddled group of the Texans, Jets, Giants, Cowboys, and Rams. Houston has been impacted by injuries while Dallas is heavily invested in DeMarcus Lawrence and just needs more. The others could be looking. Impact players usually don’t fall. Yannick Ngakoue should be available via trade and there are still a number of good free agents with Jadeveon Clowney, Marcus Golden, Everson Griffen, Michael Bennett, Ziggy Ansah, and Vinny Curry still out there. One would think those dominoes will fall as soon as the draft ends.
I always think that linebacker is a position that can be filled in many rounds of the draft but teams often overdraft in the first round so we will see if this year is any different. Green Bay is at the bottom of our list after the departure of Blake Martinez but they will also be relying on the oft injured Christian Kirksey to improve their outlook. The Ravens, Rams, and Bengals are the other teams with nearly no production from 2019 on the team and should be considering using a pick on a potential starter. Eagles, Patriots, Chiefs, and Browns are also on the low end of the spectrum.
The teams most desperate for help in coverage have to be the Panthers and Vikings who are basically trotting out players who would barely play elsewhere. They need immediate help. The Raiders, Broncos, Titans, Redskins, Bears, and Cardinals are also all in need of assistance. Top available free agents are Logan Ryan and Tramon Williams. Other names are Darqueze Dennard, Morris Claiborne and Aqib Talib. Teams can find hidden gems all over the draft at this position.
The Rams are our bottom team with under $5M in value on the roster following the departure of some good players. The Falcons, Browns, Colts, Buccaneers, and Giants are also near the bottom of the NFL. The decent free agents are pretty much all gone at this stage of the game so this will be a spot to add depth and/or starters via the draft only.
Teams that Likely Need a Home Run Draft
Based on how things went last season the worst rosters in the NFL look to be the Patriots, Panthers, Jets and Titans- all valued under $140 million. The Titans really shocked me but that’s in part because Tannehill did not play a full season and while they cant count on him to do that if he gives them more of a year and plays at a $24M value or so that would put them near the top. The other three look to just have barren rosters. Bridgewater will be an upgrade at QB while maybe the Jets can get 16 games out of Darnold but overall neither is a good team. The Redskins, Bengals, Giants, and Chargers look to be the other cellar dwellers. The Chargers ranking is something to blow off because they had no value from the QB spot. They have a top 10 roster if you take QB out of it and Taylor will give them at least a passable presence. These teams are either going to need career years out of their current players or a great draft to compete. The draft is the only thing that should help long term.
Teams that Can Probably Have a Riskier Draft
Id consider these the teams with the highest valued rosters. The top four are the Saints, Bills, Cowboys, and Buccaneers. The Saints and Bucs would certainly be in win now mode and likely looking at the short term rather than long term with their draft allocation. Buffalo is interesting as the QB isn’t good but the rest of the team played well last year and they added more pieces in free agency and via trade on top of that. This is basically the end of the Allen rookie years anyway so you may as well go for broke. Dallas could get over the top in the draft but since they often don’t go crazy in free agency may take the longer view. Other top teams on paper are the Raiders, Steelers, Colts, Packers, and Chiefs. The Raiders surprised me here but they did add a lot in free agency. The Colts are an inflated number of sorts kind of the reverse of the Chargers above. Since Brissett is still on the roster they have the top valued QB position but since he and Rivers will overlap you aren’t planning on getting that value from both. The rest of their roster ranks 16th if we take QB out. The Steelers are a team to watch because they had no QB value since Ben didn’t play last year and if he comes back to form that should put them as a potential high performing team. The other interesting team is the Broncos who are not top 10 in value but are top 10 if you take the QB out. While I don’t think anyone expects the Chargers to get a top 10 QB performance from Taylor I guess its possible Denver could out of Lock who is still an unknown. Really if they pass on a QB in the draft I cant see why they would not bring Winston in to compete for the job.
The following tables have the valuations for every team on defense and offense in 2020.
|Team||CB||Edge||Int. D-Line||LB||S||Total Defense|
|Team||QB||RB||OT||Int. O-Line||WR||TE||Total Offense|
Jason is the founder of OTC and has been studying NFL contracts and the salary cap for over 15 years. Jason has co-authored two books about the NFL, Crunching Numbers and the Drafting Stage, which are widely circulated in the industry and hosts the OTC Podcast. Jason’s work has been featured in various publications including the Sporting News, Sports Illustrated, NFL Network and more. OTC is widely considered the leading authority on contract matters in the NFL.