- ESPN College Football and NFL Draft Analyst
- Joined ESPN in 2006
- Played quarterback in high school and was a backup QB for the University of Richmond.
The 2021 NFL draft is closing in, and all 32 teams are gearing up to add playmakers and impact contributors on April 29-May 1. Every organization will have its own draft board, but tying those rankings into specific areas of need — regarding both position groups and scheme fit — will be key to acing the draft.
A lot of teams will be seeking offense this year. There’s a chance we’ll see a record number of offensive players drafted in Round 1 not only because of the unique number of high-end talents on that side of the ball but also because of the high demand. I have seven teams with quarterback as their No. 1 overall need, and more than 20 franchises could use a wide receiver. You aren’t out of luck if you’re seeking defense, though. Days 1 and 2 could feature numerous defensive backs and edge rushers who will make their presence felt in the NFL.
Many teams already addressed offseason weaknesses in free agency — players like Mitchell Schwartz and Richard Sherman are still out there and could check boxes, too — but these lists are focused on remaining needs and positions to target when the draft clock starts ticking. Teams will have anywhere from three picks (Seattle) to 11 (Philadelphia), and three clubs even have multiple first-rounders. There will be plenty of chances to attack spots in the roster that require improvement.
Let’s take a closer look at the biggest draft needs — in order from most to least crucial — for all 32 teams.
Top draft needs: Edge, RB, OT, CB, DT, TE, LB
The Bills are knocking on the Super Bowl door, ranking No. 2 in the NFL in both offensive yards and points last season and reaching the AFC Championship Game. They were relatively quiet in free agency, so they’ll be looking to add those final pieces to a championship-caliber roster at the draft.
Jerry Hughes will be 33 years old when the 2021 season kicks off, and Buffalo was middle of the pack in sacks last year, so edge will be at the forefront of the team’s draft discussions. But also keep an eye on the running back position, as I’m not sure there is a true game-breaker among the Devin Singletary-Zack Moss-Matt Breida trio. Someone like Najee Harris (Alabama) or Travis Etienne (Clemson) at No. 30 could bring a whole new element to the offense.
Picks in the first three rounds: Nos. 30, 61, 93
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