In just eight days the future of the National Football League will shake hands with Commissioner Roger Goodell as they cross the stage during the 2019 draft.
Thursday, April 25th will begin the festivities as teams will attempt to fix holes on their roster and build towards a successful future.
Some franchises are looking for the final piece to their puzzle in order to hoist the Lombardi trophy. Others continue to attempt to find the next face of their team.
Nonetheless, all 32 teams enter the draft with problems in need of fixing.
The NFC North division was flipped upside down in 2018, with both the Vikings and Packers unexpectedly struggling, while the Lions were a true to form “eh” team.
The division crown was taken by Chicago, however, all four teams aim to strike gold in the draft in one of the most competitive divisions in football.
As it is referenced to above, the Chicago Bears were one of 2018’s most surprising teams.
Despite a heartbreaking loss thanks to a missed Cody Parkey field goal in the wild-card round, the team finished 11-5 and made the playoffs for the first time since 2010.
The Bears relied on a run-heavy attack and an opportunistic defense, which topped the league and scoring as well as turnovers.
However after trading away Jordan Howard, and depth becoming an issue on the offensive line, the protection up front needs re-assurance. Kyle Long continues to face injuries, and while he is a pro bowl caliber player when healthy, he can no longer be consistently counted on.
On top of that, the tackle position could use help in depth. Even with Bobby Massie and Charles Leno, the more help the better.
On defense, the team lost Adrian Amos and replaced him with Haha Clinton-Dix to pair with Eddie Jackson. After that, though the secondary wears thin.
The departure of Bryce Callahan and aging of Prince Amukamara leaves Kyle Fuller as the lone reliable corner.
Securing depth and youth in the secondary will give the Bears another year to feature their ball-hawking defense. The recipe they relied on to take the division.
Team Needs: Cornerback, Offensive Line, Safety
After falling just short in the NFC Championship two years ago, replacing Case Keenum with Kirk Cousins was supposed to get the Vikings over the hump.
Instead, the team took a step back and missed the playoffs.
The rushing attack ranked 30th in the league, even though that might be attributed to Dalvin Cook being hurt for a majority of the season.
Instead, the real fault stems from the offensive line. Specifically, the play from the interior of the offensive line, as the Vikings got dominated at the point of attack.
The point of attack on defense has similar problems. The team ranked 16th in run defense, despite sitting third in the league in sacks.
With a solid secondary and Anthony Barr choosing to resign to keep the linebackers together, the defensive line remains in focus.
With both lines needing repairs, it comes as a surprise these issues haunted the Vikings just one year after a huge success. However, if these issues are addressed, an ascent to the top of the NFC isn’t outside the realm of possibility.
Team Needs: Offensive Line, Defensive Tackle
Green Bay Packers
2018 would end up being the end of the Mike McCarthy era as Green Bay brought in new head coach Matt LaFleur.
With Aaron Rodgers entering 2019 being 35 years old, the Packers can’t afford to waste any more years with the future Hall of Famer.
As a total offensive unit, the Packers weren’t terrible. They ranked 12th in total yardage.
However, ranking 30th in sacks was the unofficial undoing of the team. Especially with Rodgers being as injury prone as ever at this age, protection inside and out is a major need.
At the same time getting more weapons across from Davante Adams would help as well. Randall Cobb left for Dallas and Jimmy Graham has a limited skill set at this point in his career. This leaves inexperienced wideouts to man the remainder of Rodgers’ targets.
Meanwhile, the defense continued to be mediocre, as it has been for much of Rodgers’ tenure. It ranked 16th in yards allowed per game, eighth in sacks, but a dreadful 31st in interceptions.
Adding Adrian Amos from the rival Bears was a start, but the defense needs playmakers. Both the linebacker position and safety position need re-solidification.
Time is ticking in Green Bay, making each and every passing NFL Draft increasingly important.
Team Needs: Offensive Tackle, Tight End/Wide Receiver, Safety
The Lions have made the playoffs three times since the turn of the century. The team last made it past the wild-card round in 1991.
Fans, players, coaches and whoever else possibly involved with the Lions are getting frustrated, and understandably so.
2018 yielded yet another last-place finish in Detroit after field another mediocre roster. The team ranked bottom 10 in the league in offense and top 10 in defense, contradictory of the usual team status.
The team fields Marvin Jones and Kenny Golladay, but not much after that. Add the fact that former first-round pick Eric Ebron had a break out year with the Colts, and things just look peachy.
However, optimism can be found in second year running back Kerryon Johnson. Add that to the expectation that Matt Stafford will have a bounce-back season.
The team needs to secure the interior of the offensive line and add a receiving threat first though.
On defense, the team already addressed their main need by acquiring edge rusher Trey Flowers. Now the team needs to find help at outside linebacker and someone to compliment Darius Slay at the corner position.
The Lions always seem to be one or two pieces away from being legitimate contenders. Despite a disappointing 2018 season, the same holds true going into the draft.
Team Needs: Guard, Outside Linebacker, Cornerback
- I am a huge Yankees, New York Giants and Los Angeles Lakers fan. However I have a huge passion for all three sports in general across the MLB, NFL, and NBA. I also cover the Cal State Long Beach Men's Basketball team.