2017 NFL Draft: Three quarterbacks in first round in latest mock draft

By Alex Butler
LSU safety Jamal Adams is projected as a first round pick in the 2017 NFL Draft. Photo courtesy of (NFL/Twitter)
1 of 5 | LSU safety Jamal Adams is projected as a first round pick in the 2017 NFL Draft. Photo courtesy of (NFL/Twitter)

April 7 (UPI) -- Free agency is still keeping football fans interested in the 2017 season, but the real excitement begins at Thursday night's 2017 NFL Draft.

This year the draft is set to take place outside of the Philadelphia Museum of Art at Eakins Oval. A plethora of the nation's premier college prospects will sport their best designer suits, jewelry and hats as they enter the pro ranks over the weekend.


With free agency filling some holes on NFL rosters, there is still plenty of room for improvement. While some franchises need help across the board, others are looking to add the best available player to maintain long-term success. Expect the 2017 NFL Draft to be front loaded with defensive playmakers, but don't be surprised to see franchises move up and down in the order throughout the first round.


2017 NFL Mock Draft 2.0

1. DE Myles Garrett – Cleveland Browns

Texas A&M defensive end Myles Garrett is the consensus No. 1 pick in the 2017 NFL Draft. Anything else that happens at this spot would be a total shock, barring a Cleveland Browns trade., Walter Football, CBS Sports, Yahoo Sports, and ESPN all have the versatile defensive lineman headed to Cleveland. While some analysts have discussed the Browns snatching North Carolina gunslinger Mitchell Trubisky at this spot, I don't believe his talent rivals that of Garrett.

Garrett, 21, had 31 sacks and 47 tackles for a loss in 34 college games for the Aggies. He ranked No. 2 in the FBS with 12.5 sacks and five forced fumbles during his sophomore season. He managed to claim first-team All-American and All-SEC honors as a junior, despite being limited by a knee injury.

NFL Draft analyst Lance Zierlein compares Garrett to NFL veteran Julius Peppers. The 6-foot, 4-inch 272-pound athlete is an "uber-athlete with spring-loaded hips and elite explosiveness," according to his draft profile. His profile also states his weaknesses as relying too much on his athleticism and using his hands "reactively too often."


You can bet on Garrett being the top pick Thursday night, but it will cost you. According NFL Draft prop bets, Garrett is at -900 odds for the first overall selection, while Trubisky is at +600 and the field sits at +1200.

That means you would have to bet $900 to win $100 on Garrett being the top pick. If you bet $100 on the field, you would win $1,200 in addition to your original $100 bet.

2. RB Leonard Fournette – Carolina Panthers from San Francisco 49ers in predicted trade

The 2017 NFL Draft could get very interesting after Garrett is snagged off the board. You might see a trade here at No. 2. Offseason reports suggested that the Washington Redskins would end up with this pick in a Kirk Cousins trade to the San Francisco 49ers. With Cousins under the franchise tag, expect the 49ers to attempt to move down in the first round. A move here makes sense for the 49ers because of the draft's lack of a surefire franchise gunslinger.


According to recent reports, the 49ers are among several teams, including the Tennessee Titans, Buffalo Bills, New York Jets, and Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who want to move down in the first round draft order.

Carolina owned the best rushing attack in the NFL in 2015, but slipped mightily in 2016. With 30-year-old Jonathan Stewart leading the running back stable and coming off of a 3.8 yards per carry campaign, the Panthers desperately need to inject some life into its legs.

Bleacher Report and the Sacramento Bee reported that there is plenty of talk surrounding the Panthers trying to move up to the No. 2 slot to snag LSU's Leonard Fournette. Coach Ron Rivera attended Fournette's pro day and he is going as high as No. 4 in many mock drafts, meaning he likely wouldn't last until the Panthers' current No. 8 selection.

His draft profile has him compared to Bo Jackson and lists his strengths as being a sturdy, big back with long, powerful strides. His weaknesses include not making defenders miss in the open field and an aggressive style that could "lead to a shortened career."


3. S Jamal Adams – Chicago Bears

LSU strong safety Jamal Adams could be the first defensive back off the board in this draft. The first-team All-American had 76 tackles, an interception, and four pass defenses this season, while serving as the leader of the Tigers' defense. If a team doesn't trade up to snatch this playmaker, I expect the Bears to pounce and come away with one of the most talented athletes in the 2017 NFL Draft.

Adams draws a comparison to Darren Woodson in his draft profile. His listed weaknesses are: being "too willing to clamp onto receivers" down field and being a bit "stiff when asked to retreat." His draft profile states that Adams won't "hesitate for one second as a hitter." Adams' hits could bring some attitude to the Bears' secondary.

4. QB Deshaun Watson – Jacksonville Jaguars

This proven winner out of Clemson would be a great building block for the Jaguars, who experienced regression under Blake Bortles in 2016. League sources told Bleacher Report that the Jaguars are considering Watson at No. 4, in part due to Bortles' contract. The Jaguars must decide if they want to pick up Bortles' fifth-year option by the Wednesday deadline. This choice would make the decision much easier.


5. QB Mitchell Trubisky – Cleveland Browns from Tennessee Titans in predicted trade

The North Carolina quarterback, formerly known as Mitch, is a prime candidate to join the Browns. Trubisky is very likely to be the first quarterback selected in the draft and is widely predicted as such by multiple draft analysts. But if Watson is picked up first, expect trade talks to intensify from quarterback-needy franchises looking to move up.

Although the Browns did pick up Brock Osweiler in an offseason trade with the Houston Texans, everyone knows he is not the long-term answer. I expect the Titans and Browns to pull a trade at this spot as the Browns will want to jump in front of the New York Jets, who also need a quarterback.

At 6-foot, 2-inches and 222 pounds, Trubisky has decent size for the position. The dual threat gunslinger ranked No. 5 in the country in completion percentage and threw just six interceptions against 30 scores in 2016.

Trubisky's noted strengths are his ability to keep calm in the pocket and move quickly through his progressions. He can also escape when needed. As with many college gunslingers, Trubisky will need to acclimate to taking snaps under center. With the Tar Heels, Trubisky took nearly 98 percent of his drop backs from the shotgun formation, according to His scouting profile player comparison is Matthew Stafford.


6. CB Marshon Lattimore – New York Jets

Several draft analysts have Ohio State cornerback Marshon Lattimore joining the Jets at the No. 6 overall pick. Vontae Davis is the player that comes to mind for Zierlein here. At 6-feet and 193 pounds, Lattimore has good size and uses his athleticism and line of scrimmage tenacity to aggravate opposing pass-catchers.

The Jets had a dreadful secondary in 2016 and this is a great spot for the franchise to take its pick of a group of supremely talented defensive backs. If the Jets don't swing for Lattimore, the franchise could also reach for a quarterback or trade down if they don't think the talent is there.

7. RB Christian McCaffrey- Los Angeles Chargers

The Stanford superstar is shooting up draft boards. McCaffrey is the most dynamic running back in this draft and might be to stay out west. In 2016, he had 1,639, following a 2,019 rushing yard campaign in 2015. The Chargers desperately need some more weapons for Philip Rivers as they try to take advantage of his prime years. The San Diego Union-Tribune also listed McCaffrey as a possible Chargers pick, saying the Stanford star could play immediately as a return man on special teams and develop into an all-around talent at running back.


8. DE Solomon Thomas – San Francisco 49ers from Carolina Panthers in predicted trade

While many mock drafts have Stanford's Solomon Thomas slated as the No. 2 pick in the draft, I can see a situation where he slips to No. 8 and goes to the 49ers. The Niners could always use a great edge rusher like Thomas, despite having needs elsewhere. compares the 6-foot, 3-inch 273-pound prospect to Justin Smith. The Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year led the Cardinal with 62 tackles last season. He also had eight sacks. His draft profile strengths include a "well-built frame" and a "ravenous approach to the game." Thomas is also known for shedding blocks rapidly and spectacular athleticism. Scouts question if Thomas will be able to maintain his size enough to play inside the defensive line.

9. LB Reuben Foster – Cincinnati Bengals

The Cincinnati Bengals still have several pieces remaining from a once tenacious defense, but has a glaring hole at linebacker. Though the franchise lost multiple offensive linemen this offseason, don't expect it to address that need here. Despite character concerns, Alabama linebacker Reuben Foster was a first-team All-American and All-SEC selection. He won the Butkus Ward as the country's best linebacker. Foster led the Crimson Tide with 115 tackles and 13 takedowns for a loss last season.


Foster has lost some weight and remains a fearsome hitter with fantastic athleticism. Although he isn't known for his instincts, Foster has the ability to succeed in coverage and his attitude could mesh well in the Bengals' system.

10. WR Mike Williams – Buffalo Bills

Could the Buffalo Bills add another Clemson wide receiver? Many draft analysts have the big-time target headed there. compares the former Tigers star to Plaxico Burress. The 6-foot, 4-inch stud caught 84 passes for 1.171 yards and 10 touchdowns in 2016 and could be a fantastic complement to Sammy Watkins in a division with improving defensive backfields.

11. DL Jonathan Allen - New Orleans Saints

There are still plenty of talented defenders available at No. 11. Don't be shocked to see the Saints pick Alabama defensive end Jonathan Allen at this spot. Allen is a top-three edge rusher in this draft and would fit nicely with the Saints, a team with many defensive needs.

12. S Malik Hooker – Tennessee Titans from Cleveland Browns in predicted trade

Hooker is another very talented defensive back from Ohio State, but he really has the mentality of a ball hawk.


The Reggie Nelson clone had seven interceptions and four pass break ups in 2016, leading to All-American and All-Big Ten honors. Although the Titnas have a need at wide receiver, Hooker might be too hard to pass up if he makes it to pick No. 7.

13. QB Patrick Mahomes - Arizona Cardinals

The Cardinals will see heavy competition for the Texas Tech star, but need to find an eventual replacement for the aging Carson Palmer. If Mahomes doesn't make it to the Houston Texans at No. 25, this is the mostly likely and perhaps best destination for the gunslinger. He will have a chance to play with a young superstar in David Johnson and be mentored by quarterback whisperer Bruce Arians in a wide-open offense.

Expect the big-armed, athletic gunslinger to be a hot topic on draft day as he has wowed NFL front offices with his ability leading up to the big event.

14. DE Derek BarnettPhiladelphia Eagles

The Tennessee pass rusher would be a welcomed addition to the Eagles' attack. As a junior last season for the Volunteers, he had 18 tackles for a loss and 12 sacks against tough SEC competition.


15. OT Cam Robinson – Indianapolis Colts

The Colts crave protection for franchise quarterback Andrew Luck. Tackle Cam Robinson has a winning pedigree and was trusted to protect the passer's blindside for Nick Saban. Robinson started every game of his career at the position and was a consensus All-American last season.

16. OT Ryan Ramczyk – Baltimore Ravens

Ramczyk played only one season for the Wisconsin Badgers, but excelled under the spotlight. He started every game at left tackle and earned All-American honors. The Ravens have some holes to fill in an effort to protect gunslinger Joe Flacco.

17. DE Takkarist McKinley – Washington Redskins

McKinley had 18 tackles for a loss, 10 sacks, and six pass breakups to earn first-team All-PAC 12 honors at UCLA. The Redskins lost Chris Baker in free agency and are in desperate need of some disruption on its defensive line. McKinley fits that bill.

18. WR John Ross – Tennessee Titans

Ross was the fastest man at the 2017 NFL scouting combine. The Titans are hungry for a pass catcher and this is a great spot to grab the Washington speedster. Ross' 17 touchdowns last season prove that he is more than just a sprinter. This draft card might be thrown at Roger Goodell if Ross happens to fall.


19. RB Dalvin Cook – Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Cook and Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston were teammates at Florida State. With Doug Martin's future with the franchise in limbo, expect the Buccaneers to upgrade the position.

20. OT Garrett Bolles – Denver Broncos

While the Broncos' quarterback situation is unsettled, there is no doubt that the franchise needs to upgrade its offensive line. Bolles offers freakish athletic ability and great movement for the tackle position.

21. DE Haason Reddick – Detroit Lions

Temple defensive end Haason Reddick might not last until the No. 21 pick in the draft, but if he does expect the Lions to act quickly. Reddick ran a 4.52 40-yard dash at the scouting combine and can be moved around the linebacker as well as come off the edge. He was No. 3 in the country with 22.5 tackles for a loss in 2016.

22. OG Forrest Lamp – Miami Dolphins

The Dolphins went as far as its offensive line would take it in 2016. Lamp would be a great depth addition for this unit, which excelled most when it got running back Jay Ajayi rolling. The 6-foot, 4-inch and 309-pound guard started every game over the last two years for Western Kentucky.


23. DE Taco Charlton – New York Giants

Charlton has great size [6-foot, 6-inches and 227 pounds] and would fit right in alongside Jason Pierre-Paul. The Michigan defensive end had a so-so scouting combine, but has shown enough athletic ability and production to be worthy of a first round stab.

24. LB Zach Cunningham – Oakland Raiders

Vanderbilt linebacker Zach Cunningham can stay on the field for all three downs and should be a fixture alongside Khalil Mack. The first-team All-American had 125 tackles, with 16.5 for a loss, last season for the Commodores.

25. CB Marlon Humphrey – Houston Texans

This option fulfills a need after the Texans lost A.J. Bouye and Quinten Demps in free agency. Humphrey, from Alabama, is a versatile and aggressive defender that should fit right in under the roof of NRG Stadium. I expect the Texans to get a quarterback on day two of the draft.

26. CB Tre'Davious White – Seattle Seahawks

With Richard Sherman on the trading block, expect the Seattle Seahawks to bulk up its secondary. White leaves a talented LSU secondary for the 2017 NFL Draft. He is one of the draft's best cover cornerbacks and should be a target for the Seahawks.


27. CB Kevin King – Kansas City Chiefs

The Kansas City Chiefs could, like several other teams, swing for a quarterback or running back early, but I see the Chiefs addressing the cornerback postiion. King would look very nice opposite All-Pro Marcus Peters. King has blazing speed, and the Chiefs will need to keep that up in its defensive backfield in a loaded division. The Washington playmaker had 39 tackles, three interceptions, and five pass break-ups in 2015. He netted 44 tackles, 3.5 tackles for a loss, two interceptions and a team-high 13 pass break-ups in 2016.

28. CB Chidobe Awuzie – Dallas Cowboys

Morris Claiborne, Brandon Carr, Barry Church and J.J. Wilcox are all gone. You can nearly book the Cowboys taking a first round defensive back, and Jerry Jones will have plenty of options. Awuzie is a safe pick here and also can be a solid special teams player. The former Colorado cornerback had 12 pass breakups during his senior campaign.

29. LB T.J. Watt – Green Bay Packers

The Packers undoubtedly have other needs, but it could be hard to pass up a player of Watt's lineage. The brother of the four-time All-Pro and three-time Defensive Player of the Year has been compared to Paul Kruger. Watt's length and hand quickness has impressed scouts. He is also an exceptional tackler, something that could definitely help this Packers unit.

30. TE O.J. Howard – Pittsburgh Steelers

Alabama tight end O.J. Howard could be taken earlier than No. 30, but would be a great pick for the Pittsburgh Steelers. Last season, Howard had 45 catches for 595 yards and three scores for the Crimson Tide. His 6-foot, 6-inch and 251 pound frame would be a fantastic weapon to bring to Pittsburgh for quarterback Ben Roethlisberger.

The Steelers could also take a sniff at DeShone Kizer at this spot, as rumors of Ben Roethlisberger's imminent retirement have started to swirl and could take hold as soon as 2018.


31. DE Jordan Willis – Atlanta Falcons

Explosive Kansas State defensive end Jordan Willis should earn plenty of attention from the Falcons.. Last year, Willis was the Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year last season, leading the conference with 11.5 sacks.

32. S Budda Baker – New Orleans Saints

Baker can move around from nickel to safety, where he played at Washington. He led the Huskies with 71 tackles in 2016. He also had 10 takedowns for a loss and two interceptions. If the Saints don't acquire Malcolm Butler, the franchise could even trade up to grab a more touted defensive back.

Team needs

Cleveland Browns

1. Quarterback: Trading for Brock Osweiler did not solve the Browns' quarterback problems. They will either trade for a veteran, possibly Jimmy Garoppolo of the Patriots or AJ McCarron of the Bengals, or they will draft one. The Browns have the first and 12th pick. They had a private workout with DeShone Kizer of Notre Dame and Patrick Mahomes of Texas A&M last month. They visited Deshaun Watson of Clemson on March 30 and worked out North Carolina's Mitch Trubisky the next day at team headquarters in Berea, Ohio (they can work out Trubisky at their facility because he attended high school in the Cleveland suburb of Mentor).


2. Edge rusher: The Browns have to find a way to put more pressure on the opposing quarterback. There is no franchise quarterback in this draft, but defensive end Myles Garrett of Texas A&M can be a game-changer. Unless something very unusual happens between now and April 27, the Browns are expected to take Garrett with the first pick in the draft.

3. Cornerback: The Browns gave up a franchise worst 36 passing touchdowns last season. Left cornerback Joe Haden has had back-to-back disappointing seasons. Both were hampered by injuries. This draft is deep in cornerbacks. It will be no surprise if the Browns don't take at least two. They could take one with the 12th pick if they don't use it on a quarterback.

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San Francisco 49ers

1. Quarterback: Is Brian Hoyer the answer? At best, he would seem like a long-term backup for a star of the future. The question now is: Has Kyle Shanahan identified one atop this year's draft, or might the 49ers explore other needs and put the future of the quarterback position on the back burner for another day?


2. Safety: Sending Antoine Bethea, one of the team's most dependable defensive players, on his way has created yet another position to be filled. The 49ers have not addressed the issue in free agency, an indication they could be looking to draft a safety with their first pick.

3. Wide receiver: They've added a solid No. 2 (Pierre Garcon), retained a proven No. 3 (Jeremy Kerley) and imported some speed for stretch-the-field alignments (Marquise Goodwin and Aldrick Robinson). But the 49ers could still use a game-breaker along the lines of Kyle Shanahan's previous team -- the Atlanta Falcons' Julio Jones.

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Chicago Bears

1. Safety: Pairing veteran Quintin Demps with an all-around physical force like Jamal Adams or with a big-time playmaker like Jabrill Peppers would be ideal for a secondary that played a huge role in tying the NFL record for fewest turnovers caused (11) last year.

2. Wide receiver: With no experienced standout receiver, and questions surrounding every other expected contributor, it would be difficult to envision a Bears draft without a receiver being selected in the first or second round. The 6-foot-4 size of Clemson's Mike Williams makes him an ideal replacement for Alshon Jeffery. Later in Round 1 it would be hard to pass on the ridiculous speed displayed by Washington's John Ross.


3. Defensive end: Jonathan Allen would be an easy pick in the first round to come in and start immediately at end, but questions about arthritis in his shoulders persist. The Bears have more talent available to answer their need at cornerback. At end, they have last year's third round pick Jonathan Bullard, who struggled.

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Jacksonville Jaguars

1. Defensive end: The team's top two players at strong-side end last season, Jared Odrick and Tyson Alualu, have both departed, Odrick was released and the Jaguars chose not to re-sign Alualu, who later signed on with Pittsburgh. Likely to get the starting call for the 2017 opener is newly signed free agent Calais Campbell who the Jaguars beat out Denver for the former Arizona Cardinals veteran. But that's not to say Campbell will solve all the team needs at this spot. The 31-year-old, 10-year veteran only has a couple good years at most left in his tank. The Jaguars would like to have someone that can learn under Campbell, will provide adequate depth and will be ready to replace Campbell in time. If Alabama's Jonathan Allen is still available with the fourth overall pick, look for the Jaguars to jump on him despite Allen's woeful showing at the Combine and the growing concern over his surgically-repaired shoulders. If the latter is too much of a concern, the Jaguars might opt instead for Stanford defensive end Solomon Thomas.


2. Running back: If Allen is gone when the Jaguars make their pick, they very well may opt for LSU running back Leonard Fournette. The Jaguars have two talented running backs on the roster in Chris Ivory and T.J. Yeldon. But neither player had a good year in 2016 as injuries limited their playing time with neither player able to reach the 500-yard rushing mark for the season. Both could bounce back with solid showings this year, but Fournette looks like he could be a standout in the league for the next decade. Dalvin Cook of Florida State is the next best option, but he may not be worthy of the fourth overall pick. He would be an ideal choice if the Jaguars traded down in the first round, received several other draft picks and were able to land Cook.

3. Right guard: The Jaguars had five different starters at this position a year ago and never grew comfortable with any. All five players suffered some type of injury, some of which were season-enders, and by midway of the final game of the year against Indianapolis, they were using their sixth different player at that spot. Most of the six players used at that position last year will return in 2017, but none have shown the capability of becoming a solid, full-time starter there. It's a need that must be addressed. It was a mild surprise that the Jaguars did not address this need in free agency as there were several players available who would have provided an immediate upgrade. That being the case, look for the Jaguars to pick a lineman within the first two days of the draft.


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Tennessee Titans

1. Wide receiver: It's not like the Titans are devoid of playmakers at the position as they have been in many years past. Rishard Matthews was a solid acquisition as a free agent, and Tajae Sharpe had his moments as a rookie. It's just that from a numbers standpoint the Titans could use help after shedding Kendall Wright and Marc Mariani in free agency, and need at least one more threat, perhaps one with the ability to either take the top off the defense or a big body type to win 50/50 balls.

2. Cornerback: The Titans added Logan Ryan as their big get in free agency, and his presence certainly helps to shore up a beleaguered bunch. The Titans still don't know who will start opposite Ryan, as it could be veteran Jason McCourty, or youngster LeShaun Sims or quite possibly someone they find on draft day.

3. Tight end: The Titans have a star here in Delanie Walker, and they re-signed Phillip Supernaw, who could have a bigger role as the blocking tight end with Anthony Fasano having left in free agency for Miami. The Titans need to add at least one more tight end with strong blocking skills, because the only other holdover from 2016 at tight end, Jace Amaro, struggled with blocking last season.


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New York Jets

1. Offensive line: The Jets probably won't find their much-needed franchise quarterback in this draft, but maybe they can discover one or two guys to protect him. The offensive line is in the midst of a complete overhaul, with only guard James Carpenter remaining from the 2015 season opener. There aren't any can't-miss offensive linemen in the top 10, so don't be surprised if general manager Mike Maccagnan trades down from the No. 6 pick to get his lineman as well as an extra pick.

2. Cornerback/safety: The Jets used to be loaded at cornerback and empty at safety. Now they're in dire need of help at both positions. If Maccagnan stays at No. 6, he should be able to pick from the likes of cornerback Marshon Lattimore, Marlon Humphrey and Chidobe Awuzie or safeties Jamal Adams and Malik Hooker.

3. Tight end: There's de-emphasizing a position, and then there's what the Jets did with the tight end under former offensive coordinator Chan Gailey. Tight ends caught just 26 passes the last two years. A team with as many needs as the Jets probably can't reach for Alabama tight end O.J. Howard early in the first round, but they'll almost surely add a tight end sooner than later.


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Los Angeles Chargers

1. Offensive line: Russell Okung fills a big void with the release of left tackle King Dunlap. But the Chargers could also be seeking to upgrade the right tackle spot. Joe Barksdale as missed but one start in two seasons, but he's also been beat too much on the edge. Inside, the right guard spot must be addressed with the D.J. Fluker not being brought back. The Chargers do have some depth inside, but that doesn't mean they won't be looking to upgrade the roster, especially with new coach Lynn Anthony's preference for running the ball.

2. Wide receiver: Keenan Allen is an emerging star -- if he can stay on the field. That has been an issue for two straight seasons so can the Chargers really count on him to be availability with regularity in 2017? Their fingers are crossed but the will also look for some more depth. Tyrell Williams became a 1,000-yard receiver last year and that was a pleasant surprise. But there isn't much behind him, especially with Stevie Johnson not being retained.

3. Defensive end: The Chargers are ditching their 3-4 alignment in favor of new coordinator Gus Bradley's 4-3 approach. But to implement it, Bradley is going to need some more defensive ends. This position needs more talent and bodies as the team makes the switch. Some outside linebackers, like Joey Bosa, can drop down and play end. But there is only one true defensive end, Darius Philon, on the roster.


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Carolina Panthers

1. Running back: With the Panthers planning to take quarterback Cam Newton out of the run game, they need more than just the 30-year-old Jonathan Stewart in their backfield.

2. Tackle: Even after giving left tackle Matt Kalil big money, the Panthers' tackle situation isn't ideal. Michael Oher will slide to the right side, as long as he's cleared from a concussion that cost him 13 games in 2016.

3. Defensive end: If this were 2012, pairing Julius Peppers with Charles Johnson would be a great start. But it's 2017, and the Panthers need to plan for their future pass rush.

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Cincinnati Bengals

1. Offensive line: This area gained importance following the free-agent departures of tackle Andrew Whitworth and guard Kevin Zeitler. The signing of former Bengal Andre Smith will help, but former No. 1 draft choice Cedric Ogbuehi struggled last year and it won't hurt to add some depth.

2. Running back: The Bengals will need to add some depth here so the debate over whether the team would take a flyer on embattled Oklahoma back Joe Mixon has heated up. Jeremy Hill was inconsistent at best the past two seasons and with Rex Burkhead leaving in free agency, the Bengals could use a back.


3. Kicker: Head coach Marvin Lewis expects there to be competition at kicker in training camp. The Bengals released veteran Mike Nugent during the season and signed journeyman Randy Bullock, who was re-signed in January.

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Buffalo Bills

1. Wide receiver: After losing Robert Woods (Rams; $34M/5 yrs) and Marquise Goodwin (49ers; $6M/2 yrs), the Bills signed four middling free agents. Head coach Sean McDermott believes there is a starter among them, but that's a tough sell. Sammy Watkins needs help and the Bills should try to upgrade at the position.

2. Cornerback: At least the Bills added a few new warm bodies at receiver, but cornerback still lacks depth in talent and numbers, adding only cornerback Leonard Johnson (Carolina). McDermott likes 2016 sixth-rounder Kevon Seymour, but he has to prove he is a starter and there is nobody to play nickel.

3. Quarterback: Tyrod Taylor is back, but if he fails to show tangible progress for a third year, the Bills can get out of his contract extension. Currently, the only backup on the roster is Cardale Jones, a 2016 fourth-rounder, so the Bills need another quarterback from somewhere.


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New Orleans Saints

1. Defensive end: The Saints, who had just 30 sacks last season, re-signed Darryl Tapp and brought in Alex Okafor, but may still want to add a young, speedy pass rusher to pair with steady two-time Pro Bowler Cameron Jordan.

2. Cornerback: If the Saints can't acquire Malcolm Butler before the draft, they're extremely likely to go for a cornerback with the 11th or 32nd pick. They could also wait and hope one in a deep draft pool lasts until the second round.

3. Running back: With Mark Ingram having another good season last year, the Saints feel better about this position. Yet, they could use a shifty satellite back -- a la Darren Sproles - who will be a major threat coming out of the backfield.

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Arizona Cardinals

1. Cornerback: With Marcus Cooper having departed as a free agent and Justin Bethel expected to primarily man slot coverage in passing situations, expect the Cardinals to look for a potential No. 2 starting corner in the draft to play opposite Patrick Peterson. Second-year pro Brandon Williams had a fantastic camp, but got overwhelmed after just one start. Arizona isn't ready to give up on him just yet, but if there's a real stud available early in this draft that the Cardinals like, they'll take him.


2. Inside linebacker: The team brought back veteran Karlos Dansby for a third time and he'll start in the middle along with Deone Bucannon, who is explosive but a little undersized. That leaves the Cardinals covered for the 2017 season, but it doesn't mean Arizona won't resist taking one of the best inside linebackers in this year's draft and Alabama's Reuben Foster could be available when the team picks with the 13th overall selection. Head coach Bruce Arians doesn't like his rookies to see extensive time in their first NFL season, but Foster has the talent and physicality that could force Arians' hand if Dansby starts to show his age.

3. Quarterback: At some point, the Cardinals have to address the elephant in the room: their glaring need for a future franchise quarterback. Head coach Bruce Arians won't rule out veteran Carson Palmer playing for at least two more years and he is now on record as saying that adding a new, young quarterback to the roster for this season isn't a necessity. Still, the Cardinals have been eyeing several arms in advance of the draft and whether it's in the first round or the third round - or possibly even later - expect Arizona to take one at some point.


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Philadelphia Eagles

1. Cornerback: Last year's starters - Leodis McKelvin and Nolan Carroll - both are gone. The Eagles signed free agent Patrick Robinson in late March, but need to rebuild the position.

2. Running back: Ryan Mathews isn't expected back and 34-year-old Darren Sproles is a specialty player who will likely retire after the season. The Eagles need a versatile back who can run inside and outside and also line up as a receiver.

3. Wide receiver: The Eagles signed Alshon Jeffery and Torrey Smith in free agency. But Jeffery signed just a one-year deal and Smith is coming off two disappointing seasons with the 49ers.

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Indianapolis Colts

1. Edge rusher/linebacker: Still the top need for a Colts defense that is currently in remodel mode. Indianapolis lost franchise sack leader Robert Mathis to retirement and did not re-sign UFA Erik Walden. Finding a young outside rush linebacker in the first round would be a plus.

2. Cornerback: The Colts released 2016 veteran free-agent signee Patrick Robinson, who has since been added to the Philadelphia roster. Veteran Pro Bowl performer Vontae Davis returned, but he has been bothered by injury and inconsistency issues. Adding an athletic, play-making cornerback somewhere in the first three rounds is the plan for now.


3. Running back: Veterans Frank Gore and Robert Turbin will be back for 2017. Indianapolis would like to find the eventual heir apparent to Gore in this year's draft. The Colts, though, are not expected to address the running back situation until the middle to later rounds. That plan could change if the right running back drops into their laps earlier in the draft.

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Baltimore Ravens

1. Wide receiver: The Ravens lost a pair of sure-handed receivers when Steve Smith Sr. retired and Kamar Aiken signed with the Indianapolis Colts. Baltimore was not able to fill that void in free agency, so the team needs to find a playmaker in this year's draft. The 2017 class has several talented receivers that could wind up on the Ravens' roster.

2. Outside linebacker: The Ravens cut ties with Elvis Dumervil following the season and they need to find a replacement in the draft. Several linebackers drafted over the past few years have not shown they can be an effective pass rusher and the heir to Terrell Suggs, who is age 34. It would not be a stretch for Baltimore to take a linebacker with the 16th overall pick.


3. Right tackle: The loss of Rick Wagner to the Detroit Lions created a hole in the offensive line. Wagner was durable and effective during his three seasons in Baltimore. The Ravens could move second-year player Alex Lewis to that spot, but it appears more likely he will remain at guard. This means the Ravens will look to fill that spot in the draft, possibly as high as the first or second round.

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Washington Redskins

1. Defensive line: The Redskins added two players at defensive end in McGee and McClain. But they also lost Chris Baker, who signed with Tampa Bay. He was their most disruptive player on the line the past two seasons. More youth is needed here.

2. Running back: Rob Kelley, a surprise as an undrafted rookie free agent in 2016, will likely be atop the depth chart when training camp begins. Chris Thompson is one of the league's best third-down backs. But they need help. Matt Jones, a 2015 third-round pick, didn't play the final two months of the season because of fumbling issues. The Redskins could make a splash here if one of the top backs in the draft falls to them.


3. Safety: Washington added D.J. Swearinger in free agency and second-year pro Su'a Cravens will move to safety from dime linebacker. But the health of DeAngelo Hall (torn ACL) is unclear and both he and Will Blackmon, a converted corner, are over 30. The Redskins need youth here.

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Tampa Bay Buccaneers

1. Defensive back: The Bucs used their first-round pick last season on Florida cornerback Vernon Hargreaves. Could they double up? Sure. Veteran Brent Grimes will be 34 in July, and even though the Bucs think he has a lot in the tank after tying for the team lead with four interceptions last season, his eventual replacement isn't on the roster. The Bucs also have a need at safety despite signing Cowboys free agent J.J. Wilcox and bringing back Chris Conte.

2. Running back: Doug Martin will miss the first three games serving a suspension for violating the NFL's policy on performance enhancing drugs. He is 28 and has been injured three of his five seasons. The Bucs re-signed Jacquizz Rodgers and both Charles Sims and Peyton Barber return. But the Bucs won't commit to Martin for 2017 and his contract is no longer guaranteed. With a deep draft at running back, it would not be surprising if the Bucs used an early-round pick on one.


3. Receiver: This might not seem as big of a need with the signing of DeSean Jackson. But the Bucs lost one of their wideouts when Russell Shepard signed with Carolina. Adam Humphries is strictly a slot receiver. At some point, they have to develop somebody to play opposite Evans.

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Denver Broncos

1. Left tackle: The Broncos don't have a natural fit for the position on the roster. As of right now, either Donald Stephenson or free agent Menelik Watson would get the nod, but this is still a position the Broncos are likely to try and fortify with a veteran pickup or via the draft.

2. Slot receiver: Broncos head coach Vance Joseph indicated that Demaryius Thomas could see some slot work, and Emmanuel Sanders is an option to move inside when the Broncos go three-wide. But the Broncos' only natural slot receiver, Kalif Raymond, is a second-year player who saw most of his work on returns after joining the 53-man roster late last season.


3. Tight end: The Broncos bring back Virgil Green, A.J. Derby and Jeff Heuerman, but the quality of tight ends in this year's class means that the Broncos might be able to find a better, more versatile option for their offense even as late as the third or fourth round.

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Detroit Lions

1. Linebacker: The Lions signed Paul Worrilow as a potential DeAndre Levy replacement, but still need an infusion of playmakers in the middle of their defense. For now, Worrilow, Tahir Whitehead and Antwione Williams are the projected starters at linebacker. While they also added Nick Bellore (49ers), it's possible the Lions use a first-round pick on an upgrade, and almost surely will draft a linebacker by the end of Day 2.

2. Wide receiver: Anquan Boldin is a free agent and could return at some point this spring, but the Lions need another pass catcher at a minimum as insurance for Golden Tate and Marvin Jones. For now, Keshawn Martin, Jace Billingsley and TJ Jones are Nos. 3-5 on the depth chart; that is not an inspiring trio.

3. Defensive end: Ziggy Ansah should be better after he struggled most of last season with a high ankle sprain, but the Lions don't have a clear-cut starter at left end. Cornelius Washington, Kerry Hyder, Armonty Bryant and Anthony Zettel also are on the roster, but Ansah is the only proven pass rusher of the bunch.


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Miami Dolphins

1. Strong-side linebacker: Head coach Adam Gase wasn't specific on the linebacker alignment at the NFL league meetings, but conventional wisdom suggests Lawrence Timmons in the middle and Kiko Alonso on the weak side. That would leave an opening for a strong-side linebacker. Miami has a few candidates among Koa Misi, Spencer Paysinger and Donald Butler, to name a few. But there's a general feeling an upgrade is needed.

2. Pass rusher/defensive end: This remains a priority. General manager Chris Grier, speaking at the NFL Scouting Combine, said this area would likely be addressed both in free agency and the draft. Look for the Dolphins to acquire such a player in the first three rounds. The group of returnees is led by Cameron Wake and Andre Branch, but among Terrence Fede, William Hayes, Nick Williams and others, more is required to form a reliable rotation.

3. Guard/center: Although the Dolphins re-signed right guard Jermon Bushrod, acquired Ted Larsen and still have players such as Kraig Urbik and Anthony Steen on the roster, they want to build a long-lasting unit. That was part of the reason they traded veteran left tackle Branden Albert to Jacksonville. Given that logic, it would be reasonable to think the Dolphins might want to upgrade at guard while grooming someone at center because Mike Pouncey (back, hip) has been bothered by injuries recently.


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New York Giants

1. Defensive tackle: Regardless of what happens with unrestricted free agent Johnathan Hankins, who has an offer on the table but remains unsigned, the Giants need to add more depth at the defensive tackle spot. Their rotational depth includes Jay Bromley and Robert Thomas, two barely tested veterans, neither of whom could outgain the other last year for playing time. If the Giants can't reach an agreement with Hankins, they might need to double dip their toe into the defensive tackle class, choosing one early and another one later in the draft just to ensure they have the numbers needed for camp.

2. Linebacker: The Giants re-signed Keenan Robinson and Mark Herzlich to one-year contracts, but except for second-year man B.J. Goodson, none of their linebackers are signed beyond 2017. That group also includes Devon Kennard and Jonathan Casillas, both projected to be starters this year, and J.T. Thomas, who might not even make it to training camp, depending on his recovery from a season-ending knee injury last year. The Giants drafted Goodson last year with the intention of slowly working him into the mix; don't be surprised if history repeats itself and they do the same thing again.


3. Tight end: The Giants are still in need of a big tight end who can roam the seam and rack up yards after the catch in the passing game. Given the depth in this year's draft class, it would be a major upset if the Giants were to come away empty at a position that has not seen a single member record at least 600 receiving yards since 2014, when Larry Donnell finished the year with 623 yards on 63 receptions and six touchdowns.

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Oakland Raiders

1. Running back: With Latavius Murray signing with Minnesota in free agency, the Raiders need a power back to go along with second-year players Jalen Richard and DeAndre Washington, both of whom had exciting first seasons as complementary players. Both are 5-foot-8 and not likely to be first-and-10 runners.

2. Inside linebacker: Malcolm Smith, who played inside and outside, signed with the 49ers, and Perry Riley Jr. remains unsigned. The Raiders had Zach Brown in for a visit (he signed with Washington) and would hope to find a player with enough agility and athleticism to avoid being a liability in coverage as well as having the ability to stop inside runs.


3. Cornerback: Rangy starters David Amerson and Sean Smith man the outside and are hoping for better seasons after being inconsistent in 2016. What the Raiders need, however, is a quick-footed corner, smaller, who can guard slot receivers and help with crossing routes and short patterns.

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Houston Texans

1. Quarterback: Remains the top need for a struggling offense that unloaded an ineffective Brock Osweiler and his $72 million contract in a trade to the Browns. The Texans are expected to draft a quarterback, but with Tony Romo now with CBS the veteran options are not good. For now, their top option under center is Tom Savage.

2. Defensive back: The Texans lost starters A.J. Bouye and Quintin Demps during free agency to the Jacksonville Jaguars and Chicago Bears, respectively. Bouye emerged as a shutdown corner last season. Demps led all safeties with six interceptions. Replacing them will likely involve cornerbacks Kevin Johnson and Johnathan Joseph getting healthier and likely drafting a few defensive backs.

3. Tackle: The offensive line, especially right tackle, is a vulnerable area. It's dangerously thin with Derek Newton not expected back this season after tearing both patellar tendons last season. Chris Clark was not good as his replacement. The Texans are evaluating several college tackles, including Utah's Garett Bolles and Alabama's Cam Robinson and are likely to draft a tackle at some point. They could also use help at guard. Neither Xavier Su'a-Filo or Jeff Allen was particularly stout last season.


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Seattle Seahawks

1. Cornerback: The Seahawks are still in need of additional help at cornerback after a torn ACL suffered by DeShawn Shead in the playoffs left a hole in the roster. Richard Sherman returns as Seattle's top option and Jeremy Lane can play the No. 2 role adequately. However, depth and the need for an infusion of younger talent remain issues. While Shead re-signed with Seattle on a one-year deal after being non-tendered as a restricted free agent, his injury likely makes him unavailable until close to midseason. Neiko Thorpe also re-signed on a one-year deal to give Seattle some more stability at the spot. But cornerback could be Seattle's top target in the first round of the draft.

2. Defensive tackle: Behind starters Ahtyba Rubin and Jarran Reed, Seattle is lacking sufficient depth at defensive tackle. Garrison Smith and Quinton Jefferson are both returning from knee injuries that ended their 2016 seasons. Tony McDaniel has not re-signed with the team this offseason after being a key cog in Seattle's top-ranked rush defense. While the Seahawks remain optimistic about Jefferson's potential, they could use more help to fill out their roster.


3. Wide receiver: Seattle could benefit from the addition of a receiver with size to their roster. Paul Richardson is in the last year of his rookie deal and has missed significant time with injuries in his first three seasons. Jermaine Kearse could be gone after this season as well as his contract becomes easily expendable following the season. A young, big receiving option would be a sensible addition for the short term and the future.

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Kansas City Chiefs

1. Running back: The franchise all-time leading rusher Jamaal Charles is gone after dealing with knee injuries and surgeries over the last two seasons. Spencer Ware came out of nowhere in the second half of the 2015 season, and became the offense's top rusher posting 1,324 yards on 286 carries in 25 games. Ware also contributes in the passing game, catching 39 passes for 452 yards. But his rugged running style diminishes the chances of him being productive over 16 games - he played 14 games in the 2016 season, but over the last 10 games, Ware's longest run was 17 yards. Charcandrick West (1,329 offensive yards in 30 games) and C.J. Spiller are the other options heading into the draft, raising the position to the top of the K.C. list of needs.


2. Cornerback: The Chiefs added four cornerbacks last year, but only one made a significant contribution: free agent Terrance Mitchell, who didn't show up on the active roster until the last week of November. Mitchell became a key contributor in the last quarter of the season and started against Pittsburgh in the playoffs. Among the three others added, rookie Eric Murray was moved to safety and Kenneth Acker and rookie D.J. White saw minimal snaps on defense. In his second NFL season, Steven Nelson did a solid job at slot cornerback, but third-year corner Phillip Gaines was up-and-down, coming off an ACL injury and surgery and appearing in 11 games. Going into his third season, Marcus Peters is one of the top young defensive backs in the league. But for the K.C. defense, it's a big drop in production after Peters.

3. Quarterback: Salary cap considerations led the Chiefs to pass on an option year in backup Nick Foles' contract, leaving the Kansas City offense dangerously thin and inexperienced at the position. For three seasons (2013-15) Chase Daniel was there to back up Alex Smith, and last year it was Foles. Going into the draft, they have Tyler Bray, who has been around the team for four years, but has yet to take a regular-season snap and remains an unknown commodity.


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Dallas Cowboys

1. Defensive end: Jerry Jones has said he wants a war-daddy pass rusher. The Cowboys brought in Damontre Moore in free agency, but he is not the answer. They will look hard at an edge rusher in the draft. They must find a way to get to the quarterback and take some pressure off the secondary.

2 Cornerback: The Cowboys lost Morris Claiborne and Brandon Carr in free agency. The Cowboys made no effort to bring them back. And while they signed Nolan Carroll in free agency, cornerback remains a high draft priority. This could be targeted in the first or second round. Again they are looking for upgrades and guys who make plays on the ball.

3. Safety: The Cowboys lost Barry Church and J.J. Wilcox in free agency. The Cowboys wanted to bring Church back, but at a modest price. They have special teams ace Jeff Heath and not much else on the roster. But this is a position they will certainly target in the draft looking for upgrades. Good thing this draft is deep at safety.

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Green Bay Packers


1. Cornerback: The return of Davon House to Green Bay after he bolted in free agency in 2015 for a starting job with the Jacksonville Jaguars doesn't heal a wounded position for the Packers. General manager Ted Thompson bid adieu to veteran standout Sam Shields early in the offseason in the wake of his repeated concussions, and integral defensive back Micah Hyde signed a free-agent deal with the Buffalo Bills. The absence of Shields for all but the opening game reared its ugly head throughout last season, culminating with the defenseless display on the back end against Matt Ryan and Julio Jones in the Atlanta Falcons' 44-21 NFC Championship rout. Though House should step right in as a starter, the Packers still could use a ready-made contributor early in the upcoming draft as they continue to wait on the development of young prospects Damarious Randall, Quinten Rollins and LaDarius Gunter.

2. Running back: Thompson fortified the team's bread-and-butter passing game by signing not one, but two big-play tight ends in free agency with Martellus Bennett and Lance Kendricks. That's good news for Aaron Rodgers, who has an abundance of options on the receiving end of his throws. Yet, the Packers have counted more key personnel losses than gains so far this offseason, and one of the big departures happened at running back. Eddie Lacy, thought to be a bell cow in the team's backfield for many years, is looking to get back on track after two subpar, injury-plagued seasons by joining the Seattle Seahawks. Coupled with the release of James Starks shortly after last season, that leaves the Packers with converted wideout Ty Montgomery and the re-signed Christine Michael as their top two ball carriers going into the spring workouts.


3. Guard: The Packers are faced with plugging in a starter at right guard for the first time since they shifted stalwart T.J. Lang there from the left side in 2013. That's because Lang's productive eight-year run in Green Bay is over after he cashed in as a free agent with a big contract from the rival Detroit Lions. Head coach Mike McCarthy has asserted that veteran Bryan Bulaga, who has experience playing guard, won't be moving from his longstanding spot of right tackle. Yet, the team's investment of a second-round draft pick in natural tackle Jason Spriggs last year may prompt some necessary line tinkering, unless Thompson hits on a capable interior player in the draft. The only viable options on the roster are versatile backup Don Barclay, recently signed first-year player Justin McCray and Kyle Murphy, a tackle who essentially had a redshirt rookie season as a sixth-round draft pick.

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Pittsburgh Steelers

1. Outside linebacker: The Steelers return James Harrison and Bud Dupree as starters, but Harrison is turning 39 later this spring and the front office has to find his long-term replacement as well as a player capable of spelling him next season. The Steelers recorded 38 sacks last season, but they need a more consistent pass rush, especially from the edge. Harrison led the outside linebackers with five sacks last season.


2. Cornerback: The Steelers signed Coty Sesnabaugh to a two-year contract to bolster a position group that has to be upgraded, but that free-agent signing won't prevent the Steelers from drafting a cornerback high in the draft. The Steelers want to play more man coverage and need another talented player to pair with Artie Burns, last year's first-round pick. The Steelers have improved their pass defense the past two seasons, but they remain middle-of-the-pack when it comes to pass defense statistics.

3. Running back: Le'Veon Bell will play on the franchise tag in 2017 if the Steelers don't sign him to a long-term deal by July 15. They need a strong backup behind him because DeAngelo Williams is not expected to return after spending the past two seasons in that role. He'll turn two days before the draft, and the Steelers want to get younger at the position. They accomplished that in part by signing Knile Davis, 25, to a one-year free-agent deal, but they still need another young back to help relieve Bell's workload.

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Atlanta Falcons

1. Right guard: With the retirement of Chris Chester, the Falcons are in need of interior offensive line help. Also, center Alex Mack is 31 and left guard Andy Levitre is 30. The Falcons could select Dan Feeney or Forest Lamp in the first round of the draft if they are available. They have put a premium on making sure that Matt Ryan is protected after they botched the previous rebuild of the offensive line.


2. Defensive end: The Falcons signed Dwight Freeney last season to help with the pass rush. They are heavily scouting defensive ends with pass-rushing talent. The draft is considered to have good depth and they could land a solid prospect in the second or third rounds.

3. Free safety: The draft is deep in defensive back talent. Converted free safety Ricardo Allen has been steady, but not spectacular.

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New Orleans Saints

1. Defensive end: The Saints, who had just 30 sacks last season, re-signed Darryl Tapp and brought in Alex Okafor, but may still want to add a young, speedy pass rusher to pair with steady two-time Pro Bowler Cameron Jordan.

2. Cornerback: If the Saints can't acquire Malcolm Butler before the draft, they're extremely likely to go for a cornerback with the 11th or 32nd pick. They could also wait and hope one in a deep draft pool lasts until the second round.

3. Running back: With Mark Ingram having another good season last year, the Saints feel better about this position. Yet, they could use a shifty satellite back -- a la Darren Sproles - who will be a major threat coming out of the backfield.


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