A year ago, CBS Sports introduced an NFL Draft series designed to address some of the most pressing questions leading up to the three-day event. The series is back this year with the same quality of insight as every team prepares to improve its franchise at the end of April.
In today's panel, Ryan Wilson, Chris Trapasso and I dive deep into Philadelphia's draft strategy with three first-round picks, the future at quarterback for Miami and Pittsburgh, and what the Patriots need to reinstate their dynasty.
1. What should the Eagles do with their three first-round picks? Should they be in the mix for a quarterback?
Wilson: In light of the way their season ended, my knee-jerk reaction is to have the Eagles use those three first-rounders on the defensive side of the ball. In my latest mock draft, I had them taking Georgia edge rusher Travon Walker, Utah linebacker Devin Lloyd and Auburn cornerback Roger McCreary. All three players are coming off fantastic 2021 seasons and would upgrade all three levels of Philly's defense.
Jalen Hurts appears to be the starter heading into the '22 campaign, but the Eagles will have to at least consider one of these quarterbacks should they make their way to the middle of the round. If nothing else, it could provide a trade-down opportunity, which means a chance to stockpile more draft picks and bolster a roster that exceeded expectations this past season.
The other option in Round 1: Find a wide receiver to pair opposite DeVonta Smith. Jalen Reagor hasn't yet lived up his first-round billing, and only Quez Watkins and J.J. Arcega-Whiteside are under contract.
Trapasso: Edge rusher and center are a must. And Tyler Linderbaum is likely going to be there, as the natural replacement for Jason Kelce that the football gods intended. The best edge rusher available when they go on the clock, say, George Karlaftis, would be a home run. Linebacker would be very sensible, too, but Howie Roseman has an aversion to drafting them early. Devin Lloyd would be awesome behind that defensive line. Cornerback should be considered, too -- Trent McDuffie or Roger McCreary, more zone corners, would be fantastic fits. I'm not a huge Jalen Hurts guy but acknowledge that he certainly took a step forward this year. He deserves another season as the starter.
Edwards: First, I am making sure I address the offensive line. If the organization is comfortable in Jason Kelce, Lane Johnson and Brandon Brooks returning, then it lessens the need to make a splash now. The offensive line was critical to the offensive success once it shifted to a more run-heavy approach. Even if those players returned, I would consider taking their replacements to step in next season. I would take Iowa center Tyler Linderbaum or Texas A&M offensive guard Kenyon Green to play with Landon Dickerson. If Purdue edge rusher George Karlaftis was available, then he would be my next choice in a heartbeat. Ideally, the Eagles would walk away with Utah linebacker Devin Lloyd, Linderbaum and Karlaftis. I think some combination of offensive line, defensive line, cornerback and linebacker is the way Howie Roseman goes in the first round.
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2. What was the missing piece for the Patriots this season and who might they take in the first round?
Wilson: The defense was stout for much of the season but that unit had everything to do with the playoff loss in Buffalo. After allowing seven straight touchdowns on seven possessions, there's no other way around it. The Pats could look to add a pass-rusher to line up opposite Matt Judon, or a linebacker (like Devin Lloyd, or Alabama's Christian Harris could be an option in later rounds -- it's hard to overlook the 'Bama-to-'Boro pipeline), or secondary help, especially if the team and J.C. Jackson are far apart on what a new contract might look like.
Trapasso: They need an alpha at receiver. The wideout group was solid, albeit unspectacular. For this offense to play with other top offenses in today's NFL, they have to be more dynamic through the air. A wideout like Jahan Dotson, Jameson Williams or even Drake London, who separates well for a big man, would help mightily. The pass rush on the outside needs work, too.
Edwards: As much as the defense struggled against the Bills in the playoffs, I thought they played well for most of the season. Odds of them returning to a solid level of play are higher than the team being able to squeeze more juice out of the wide receiver lemon. Their hands are tired and the lemon has nothing left to give. Bill Belichick should bring in a Jameson Williams or Drake London type to aid in Mac Jones' development.
3. Assuming Ben Roethlisberger retires, could the Steelers find his replacement in the draft?
Wilson: Steelers fans sure hope so because Plan B would include Mason Rudolph or Dwayne Haskins. This assumes, of course, Pittsburgh doesn't land a veteran in free agency. The problem, of course, is that this isn't a deep QB class and even if, say, Ole Miss' Matt Corral is available at No. 20, he likely won't see the field as a rookie, and there's still the matter of fixing all of the team's other needs, most notably starting with the offensive line.
The good news is that Pittsburgh, for the first time in a long time, has a ton of cap space, and can make massive upgrades to the roster (again, starting with O-line), which could expedite the timeline should they end up drafting a QB.
Trapasso: I think so, yes. They should take a long look at all the quarterbacks. Even if they don't expect that rookie passer to start in Week 1, getting more talent at that position on the roster is paramount. Pittsburgh can add to the offensive line, secondary, and receiver group on Day 2 and Day 3, and its track record doing those things is pretty good.
Edwards: There has already been a report that Pittsburgh is likely to take a quarterback in this draft and let's face it, the bar for an upgrade was set pretty low relative to the past few seasons. There are going to be other teams in the mix for a quarterback so they may need to get aggressive but they can absolutely find a player that is not going to lose games for them. I just doubt they find the caliber of player that Roethlisberger was when he was available in the draft.
4. Is Miami making the right decision by investing in Tua Tagovailoa?
Wilson: Yeah, I think so. Especially if the team is over its reported infatuation with Deshaun Watson. Hindsight being what it is, obviously, the Dolphins would take Justin Herbert over Tua, but the former Alabama standout showed improvement throughout his second season. Miami needs to continue to upgrade the offensive line and even think about getting another weapon alongside Jaylen Waddle. Most importantly, though, the team needs to get its next coaching hire right because continuing Tua's development will determine if the Dolphins are competitive in the division or are looking for their next franchise QB in the next couple years.
Trapasso: No. Point blank. The Dolphins' offense is so limited with him as the starter because he does not have a strong arm and is just an average athlete for the position. You have to aim higher at quarterback in today's NFL.
Edwards: I am going to split the difference and say it is a more-nuanced conversation than a simple yes or a no. Philadelphia is in a similar situation as Miami. If you can find an upgrade, then the team should absolutely pursue it. Unfortunately, it is not exactly a draft known for its quarterback play. I have my doubts that Tagovailoa can ever be a player that maximizes the talent around him but they could do much worse.