2018 NFL combine preview: Targets, positions of need for every team – NFL Nation

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With the 2018 scouting combine kicking off this week, NFL Nation reporters take a closer look at the positions of need for all 32 teams and which players will be closely evaluated.

Click the link after each team to view the full post.

AFC East | AFC North| AFC South | AFC West
NFC East | NFC North | NFC South | NFC West


AFC EAST

Whether or not the Bills keep Tyrod Taylor for the final season of his contract, they are expected to be in the thick of the race for a quarterback early in the draft. Read more.

There were signs Ryan Tannehill could be on the rise when Miami extended him in 2015, but last season’s knee injury cast doubt on his long-term future with the Dolphins. It would be wise for the Dolphins to explore their options in the draft to potentially upgrade from Tannehill over the long haul. Read more.

The Patriots need a strong off-the-line linebacker. On offense, there will be some intrigue as to whether the team can find “the next Jimmy Garoppolo” at quarterback, that is a high-upside developmental prospect. Read more.

Let’s make it easy and list the positions that don’t need to be addressed: free safety and strong safety (Marcus Maye and Jamal Adams, respectively). The Jets are open for business everywhere else, which tells you why they won only five games last season. Read more.

AFC NORTH

Baltimore has to upgrade the supporting cast for quarterback Joe Flacco and improve the NFL’s No. 27 offense. The Ravens desperately need to draft a wide receiver because their top two (Mike Wallace and Jeremy Maclin) could be gone and Breshad Perriman has been a bust. Read more.

The Bengals must make their offensive line their first priority after allowing 80 sacks in two seasons. The Bengals don’t have much stability at that position with center Russell Bodine potentially becoming a free agent and their two tackles remaining big question marks. Read more.

The Browns will focus on quarterbacks, obviously, but they also need to be sure about two other players they will consider drafting: running back Saquon Barkley and safety Minkah Fitzpatrick. This draft is too important to miss on any opportunity. Read more.

This process starts with inside linebacker, where the Steelers were depleted last season after a severe spinal injury to Ryan Shazier and a shoulder injury to backup Tyler Matakevich. The Steelers will have options here and should capitalize on them. Read more.

AFC SOUTH

The Texans’ biggest offseason need right now is to upgrade their offensive line. The group gave up 252 total pressures, the second most allowed by a team in any of the previous 12 seasons. Read more.

Pass-rusher or running back first? Will the Colts surprise everybody and go with an offensive lineman in the first round? That’s just the start for the Colts, who also need to add depth at receiver behind T.Y. Hilton because Donte Moncrief and Kamar Aiken are headed to free agency. Read more.

Interior offensive line and tight end should be the Jaguars’ top two priorities at the combine. The Jaguars finished the regular season as the NFL’s top rushing team (141.4 yards per game), but their production dropped off significantly over the final six games. Read more.

The Titans’ pass-rush pipeline is barren as 2016 second-round pick Kevin Dodd is looking like a bust and 32-year-old Erik Walden is a pending free agent. Depending on what happens with pending free agent Avery Williamson, inside linebacker could be a big need too. Read more.

AFC WEST

After a 5-11 finish, it’s clear the Broncos need plenty of things, but a solution at quarterback certainly leads the way. Read more.

Defense should be the focus for the Chiefs, who don’t have a first-round pick after sending it to Buffalo in last year’s trade for quarterback Patrick Mahomes. Read more.

With one of the league’s worst run defenses last season, the Chargers need to add more athletic bodies who can make an impact defensively in the running game. That means players who can create havoc up front and rangy athletes at the second level of the defense who can cover and tackle. Read more.

The Raiders would be hard-pressed to pass on a top cornerback prospect, even if they drafted one last year in Gareon Conley at No. 24. Read more.

NFC EAST

The Cowboys need linebacker, wide receiver, offensive line, defensive line, safety and tight end help either in major or minor ways. It is always worth remembering a draft is not just about the current year but the future. Read more.

New general manager Dave Gettleman has made it a priority to rebuild the offensive line — his “hog mollies” as he likes to say. The Giants can use guards and tackles. Maybe even a center. They won’t discriminate. If you’re an offensive lineman, you’re in play. Read more.

The Eagles need to bolster their linebacker corps. Besides lacking depth, there are question marks around each of the 2017 starters: Middle linebacker Jordan Hicks is recovering from a ruptured Achilles and has had difficulty staying healthy, Nigel Bradham is a pending free agent, and Mychal Kendricks has requested to be traded in the past. Read more.

They need to add more playmakers to their offense, which would pair well with holdovers such as tight end Jordan Reed and third-down back Chris Thompson. Read more.

NFC NORTH

The Bears’ top offensive need is at wide receiver, as the team had only one receiver crack the 50-catch mark in 2017 — Kendall Wright (59), who is an unrestricted free agent. The Bears are still holding out hope that former first-round pick Kevin White will pan out, but White has played in only five regular-season games since the Bears drafted him No. 7 overall in 2015. Read more.

The Lions are set at some positions, including receiver and quarterback. But don’t be surprised if this draft ends up heavy on linemen. Read more.

When Dom Capers took over in 2009, then-GM Ted Thompson finagled his way into a pair of first-round picks and turned them into nose tackle B.J. Raji and linebacker Clay Matthews. They became cornerstones of a defense that won the Super Bowl. Mike Pettine needs that kind of talent influx as he implements his defensive system. Read more.

Aside from figuring out who the quarterback will be in 2018, the Vikings’ other biggest need this offseason is to add pieces to the offensive line. The unit struggled to protect Case Keenum in the playoffs and has a number of question marks. Read more.

NFC SOUTH

The Falcons likely will prioritize the offensive and defensive lines because coach Dan Quinn always emphasizes winning the line of scrimmage first. Read more.

The easy choice is wide receiver. The Panthers traded No. 1 receiver Kelvin Benjamin to Buffalo last season and promoted Devin Funchess into that role. Funchess, who was dealing with a shoulder injury late in the season, never proved worthy of the promotion. Read more.

The biggest needs are defensive end (since last year’s standout starter, Alex Okafor, is a free agent and coming back from a torn Achilles), a pass-catching tight end and an athletic outside linebacker. Read more.

Look for the Buccaneers to make upgrades on defense, with both their pass rush and their back end. Read more.

NFC WEST

The Cardinals don’t have a projected starter at quarterback on the roster and might address the position in free agency, but the draft might be where Arizona finds a long-term answer. Read more.

The Rams did a fine job fixing the offense last offseason, and now it’s time to focus on the defense. Cornerback stands out as their most glaring need. Read more.

Top needs are edge rusher, cornerback and interior offensive line. The Niners also could use a game-breaker at receiver or running back, but with quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo in place, those positions aren’t as pressing. Read more.

The Seahawks have varying degrees of need or potential need at as many position groups as they have areas that are currently solidified. Such is life for a team with 16 unrestricted free agents and uncertainty with several other starters. Read more.

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