Now that the offseason is in full swing, front offices of all 32 NFL teams have begun to assess priorities for the coming months. What areas should each team address? This sounds like a job for Maurice Jones-Drew. The NFL.com analyst and former All-Pro running back tries his hand at general manager and identifies three areas each team should tackle this offseason. Today, MJD examines the AFC West:
Joe Flacco, who's still playing well at 34, will ultimately be the bridge quarterback until (or if) John Elway finds the organization's quarterback of the future. I would have left Case Keenum in that role, but Denver snagged Flacco from the Ravens, and now Keenum will be shopped or cut. Nonetheless, the Broncos must continue searching for a long-term answer.
1) Draft a quarterback early. Before the Flacco trade, I had Denver selecting Duke quarterback Daniel Jones in the first round of April's draft. After that trade, I *still* have Denver taking Jones with the 10th overall pick. Jones plays a lot like Flacco and can learn a ton by playing behind him for a year or two. That's the perfect situation for the Blue Devil before he takes the reins.
2) Re-build the secondary. With the possibility of losing free agents Bradley Roby and Tramaine Brock, the Broncos need to add talent to the back end. Chris Harris Jr. is still a premier corner, but he needs help on the other side. Denver should look to free agency for another starting corner but also consider adding depth in the draft.
3) Add depth to the O-line. This unit is poised to lose a handful of players, including center Matt Paradis, guard Max Garcia and tackles Jared Veldheer and Billy Turner, who all recorded at least four starts in 2018. It might be worth bringing back one or two of these guys, while adding more depth and competition elsewhere. A run-first offense featuring Phillip Lindsay needs to also feature an above-average O-line. Right now, it's not.
KANSAS CITY CHIEFS
The Chiefs will have to figure out how to pay top playmakers in the next few seasons, including sack artist Chris Jones and offensive phenoms Tyreek Hill and Patrick Mahomes. Dee Ford could also become a free agent if he isn't re-signed before the new league year. It's a lot for the Chiefs to balance, but that is the one difficulty of having a ton of great players on one team. (UPDATE: NFL Network's Tom Pelissero reported Monday that the Chiefs placed the franchise tag on Ford.)
1) Improve the 31st-ranked pass defense. The secondary has to get better. There are no ifs, ands or buts about it. The Chiefs found themselves in too many close games because the defense failed to make stops. With an offense THIS good, that should rarely be an issue. And I hate to say it, but it might be time to look at veteran safety Eric Berry's situation. Although the inspiring pro has four more years on his deal, he hasn't been healthy for two seasons. It could be worth moving on.
2) Sign another edge rusher. I'm afraid that both Ford and veteran Justin Houston won't fit into new defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo's 4-3 system. One of them has to go, so I'd retain Ford, because he has a lot of years left in terms of his prime. Then I'd draft an edge rusher for help.
3) Find another dual-threat RB. The Chiefs' offense wasn't nearly has explosive late in the season after the release of Kareem Hunt. Damien Williams played well, but a bigger talent will elevate Andy Reid's unit to the absolute top. K.C. has two picks in the second round of the draft, and I expect the Chiefs to select a back to fit the bill.
LOS ANGELES CHARGERS
1) Sprinkle defensive line with youth. Now is the perfect opportunity for third-year coach Anthony Lynn to find his guys in this deep draft class. The Chargers, who are allowing DT Corey Liuget to hit free agency, should focus on getting a young defensive tackle, because stopping the run has been tough to do, with their aging DTs.
2) Find Derwin James' complement. James, a steal at No. 17 in last year's draft, was phenomenal as a rookie and made a major case for the Defensive Rookie of the Year award. The Chargers' defense could be special with another dynamic safety opposite James. They should get an Earl Thomas-type who can play the middle of the field in this draft.
New general manager Mike Mayock -- or me in this exercise -- has his work cut out for him. The Raiders have a lot to fix after a 2018 season full of surprise trades. With three (!) first-round draft picks this year, Oakland should put all its focus into getting the best players available.
1) Get a whole bunch of pass rushers. After the Raiders traded Khalil Mack away last September, this was an area that really suffered, as the team finished with a league-low 13 sacks. There are a TON of pass rushers available in free agency and the draft. I don't necessarily care who the Raiders sign or draft specifically; they should just bring in a whole crew of potential options.
3) Draft a running back. Expect some new faces in Oakland's backfield, with free agents-to-be Marshawn Lynch and Doug Martin hitting the market (and Jalen Richard becoming a restricted free agent). Jon Gruden's offense needs a young, three-down back who will provide a spark. Oakland should look to sign a player in free agency first, but it might also be worth drafting a guy on Day 2 or 3.