April can be a painful time for football fans lamenting the long offseason pause, especially now given the Coronavirus outbreak. It’s two months removed from the Super Bowl and three months before training camps open.
Fortunately, the 2020 NFL Draft is still scheduled to fill the void on April 23-25. The NFL also kept up its free agency frenzy despite players not being able to meet in person or travel for physicals.
A first round pick who delivers in his rookie season can shift an NFL squad from average to playoff-bound. This makes a difference not only for the team but also for the morale of fans and the picks played by bettors in states now offering authorized sports betting.
The “worst goes first” selection sequence ensures teams needing the most help get priority crack at the talent pool. With this in mind, let’s take a look at the first seven NFL teams slated to choose in the first round, the critical needs, and possible picks.
Cincinnati Bengals / Pick #1
The Bengals need all the help they can get after finishing 2019 at 2-14, the worst record in the NFL. The silver lining? Zac Taylor’s squad gets first pick in the draft. The most pressing items on the team’s shopping list are QB, OL, and LB.
Enter gunslinger Joe Burrow as the probable No. 1 selection. The Heisman-winning QB will electrify at Paul Brown Stadium he if terrorizes defenses the same way he did at LSU.
Washington Redskins / Pick #2
At 3-13, the Skins didn’t fare much better than Cincinnati last season. Washington faces a defection problem with its OL. Three starters are up for free agency. Trent Williams has been vocal in his promise to never again suit up for the Skins.
In addition to fresh OL personnel, Ron Rivera needs a defensive playmaker and a reliable pass catcher in his first year guiding Washington. Figure the Skins get the ball rolling by taking Edge rusher Chase Young from Ohio State.
Detroit Lions / Pick #3
You have to give credit to Lions fans--it’s tough pulling for a team that hasn’t won a playoff game since 1991. Detroit’s 3-12-1 record in 2019 offered little hope.
Matt Patricia’s side needs a healthy serving of defensive help, especially CBs and edge rushers. Expect Detroit to scoop up the best available defensive player on the board. That figures to be Ohio State CB Jeff Okudah in the third slot.
New York Giants / Pick #4
With Eli Manning officially retired, it’s on to a new era for the Big Apple’s G-Men.
The 4-12 Giants struggled with defensive fundamentals like coverage and pass rushing in 2019. Specifically, a DB, OT, and Edge rusher would kickstart the improvement party. The fourth pick could go to Isaiah Simmons, a talented multi-position defender out of Clemson.
Alternatively, the Giants may opt for a skilled OT capable of opening holes for Saquon Barkley.
Miami Dolphins / Pick #5
Miami is eager to build on a strong second-half in 2019. Brian Flores and company rallied from a 0-7 start to finish 5-11.
The tank is well-stocked for the Dolphins as they enter with three first-round picks. That’s good news for a squad that needs to address issues QB, OL, and edge rusher.
More than a few analysts see Alabama QB Tua Tagovailoa as the face of Miami for years to come.
Los Angeles Chargers / Pick #6
The Chargers disappointed with a 5-11 record last season after going 12-4 and surging to the AFC divisional playoff round in 2018.
The O-line gets its share of the blame for recent woes, and that’s a good spot to begin a rebuild. Look for the Chargers to take the best available OT. If Philip Rivers departs, GM Tom Telesco could grab Oregon’s Justin Herbert to plug a gaping hole at QB.
Carolina Panthers / Pick #7
With Cam Newton being released, and Teddy Bridgewater in, the QB situation has been taken care of. The Panthers have needs at DB, DL, and OL. Auburn DL Derrick Brown figures to get the nod if he’s on the board.