2022 NFL combine: Draft prospects to watch, cap space, needs for all 32 teams
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2022 NFL combine: Draft prospects to watch, cap space, needs for all 32 teams

28/07/2022  |   64 Views

Preparations for the 2022 NFL draft hit high gear this week with more than 300 of the top prospects in Indianapolis for the annual NFL scouting combine, which runs through Monday.

Players will undergo medical testing and be put through on-field drills at Lucas Oil Stadium. Then it's on to interviews with team personnel and the media in advance of the draft, which will take place April 28-30.

The combine is also where a lot of trade talk (will Aaron Rodgers or Russell Wilson be on the move this offseason?) and behind-the-scenes discussions happen, as new coaches and GMs settle into their jobs and teams look ahead to the start of the 2022 league year and free agency on March 16.

With pass-rushers, offensive linemen and receivers dominating the first-round projections for the draft, we asked the NFL Nation reporters to lay out where their team stands as the combine gets cranking. They break down salary-cap space, notable pending free agents, draft needs and what a successful offseason would look like for their team. And ESPN draft analyst Jordan Reid provides a look at some prospects who might fit each team. Here's what they had to say.

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AFC EAST

Buffalo Bills (11-6)

Coach: Sean McDermott, entering sixth season

GM: Brandon Beane, entering sixth season

Salary-cap space: $1.0 million

Draft capital: First round (25th); second round (57th); one in third round; one in fourth round; one in fifth round; two in sixth round; two in seventh round

Positional needs: Cornerback, wide receiver, defensive tackle, edge rusher, backup quarterback.

Notable free agents: DE Jerry Hughes, DE Mario Addison, DE Bryan Cox Jr., CB Levi Wallace, QB Mitchell Trubisky, WR Emmanuel Sanders, WR Isaiah McKenzie, RB Matt Breida

It will be a successful offseason if: The Bills are able to add depth on the defensive side of the ball, both in the secondary and up front, and provide quarterback Josh Allen with additional downfield options. Other priorities include signing wide receiver Stefon Diggs to a long-term deal, which would ensure that Allen's top target is on the roster for years to come, and figuring out the future of linebacker Tremaine Edmunds with his significant cap hit ($12.7 million) in 2022. -- Alaina Getzenberg

Prospect to watch at the combine: Kyler Gordon, CB, Washington

Gordon could be the No. 2 cornerback opposite Tre'Davious White. He checks a lot of the boxes the Bills have looked for in the past, and he could be available late in Round 1. -- Reid


Miami Dolphins (9-8)

Coach: Mike McDaniel, entering first season

GM: Chris Grier, entering seventh season

Salary-cap space: $61.0 million

Draft capital: First round (29th); second round (50th); two in fourth round; one in fifth round; one in sixth round; one in seventh round

Positional needs: Offensive line, wide receiver, linebacker, running back

Notable free agents: DE Emmanuel Ogbah, TE Mike Gesicki, CB Nik Needham, WR Mack Hollins

It will be a successful offseason if: The Dolphins add stability along the offensive line, playmakers for Tua Tagovailoa and depth on defense. They also need to come to an understanding with disgruntled cornerback Xavien Howard and keep Ogbah, Hollins and Needham, at least. -- Marcel Louis-Jacques

Prospect to watch at the combine: Kenneth Walker III, RB, Michigan State

Grier has attempted to patchwork the running back spot with several late-round picks and in-season additions. In need of a lead option with a high upside, Walker is a potential 1A rusher who could make this team better. -- Reid


New England Patriots (10-7)

Coach: Bill Belichick, entering 23rd season

GM: Matt Groh, entering first season as director of player personnel

Salary-cap space: $9.4 million

Draft capital: First round (21st); second round (54th); one in third round; one in fourth round; two in sixth round

Positional needs: Inside linebacker, cornerback, receiver, offensive line

Notable free agents: CB J.C. Jackson, S Devin McCourty, ST Matthew Slater, G/C Ted Karras, OT Trent Brown, K Nick Folk, RB James White, WR Jakobi Meyers

It will be a successful offseason if: The Patriots continue to build around rookie QB Mac Jones (on the roster and coaching staff) and draft and develop more difference-makers on defense, such as safety Kyle Dugger (second round, 2020) and defensive tackle Christian Barmore (second round, 2021). -- Mike Reiss

Prospect to watch at the combine: Damone Clark, LB, LSU

Clark is a recent riser who has the exact body type the Patriots have coveted in previous years. Clark, who has physical tools and ideal size, is a true middle linebacker who could be a second-round target. -- Reid


New York Jets (4-13)

Coach: Robert Saleh, entering second season

GM: Joe Douglas, entering fourth season

Salary-cap space: $47.5 million

Draft capital: First round (4th, 10th); second round (35th, 38th); one in third round; two in fourth round; two in fifth round

Positional needs: Edge rusher, safety, cornerback, tackle, tight end, guard, wide receiver

Notable free agents: S Marcus Maye, WR/KR Braxton Berrios, DT Folorunso Fatukasi, WR Jamison Crowder, RT Morgan Moses, QB Joe Flacco; Restricted: QB Mike White.

It will be a successful offseason if: The Jets add at least one playmaker on both sides of the ball. On offense, they need a pass-catcher (wide receiver or tight end) to boost QB Zach Wilson. On defense, they actually need two playmakers -- a disruptive rusher and a ball hawk in the secondary. They pretty much need help everywhere. -- Rich Cimini

Prospect to watch at the combine: Ahmad "Sauce" Gardner, CB, Cincinnati

With a historically bad defense last season that included multiple games of surrendering 500 total yards, getting better in the secondary and on the edge should be a priority for Douglas. Gardner is a long and toolsy option who could be the first corner selected. -- Reid

AFC NORTH

Baltimore Ravens (8-9)

Coach: John Harbaugh, entering 15th season

GM: Eric DeCosta, entering fourth season

Salary-cap space: $9.8 million

Draft capital: First round (14th); second round (45th); one in third round; three in fourth round; one in sixth round

Positional needs: Offensive line, defensive line, outside linebacker, middle linebacker, cornerback, safety

Notable free agents: C Bradley Bozeman, DE Calais Campbell, NT Brandon Williams, FB Patrick Ricard, WR Sammy Watkins, S DeShon Elliott, CB Jimmy Smith, OLB Justin Houston, RB Latavius Murray, OLB Pernell McPhee, CB Anthony Averett, RB Devonta Freeman

It will be a successful offseason if: The Ravens significantly improve in the trenches. Ravens officials emphasized the need to fortify the offensive line to better protect Lamar Jackson. But Baltimore also has to upgrade its pass rush to get after opposing quarterbacks. Last season, the Ravens allowed a franchise-worst 57 sacks and recorded just 34 sacks (22nd in the NFL). -- Jamison Hensley

Prospect to watch at the combine: Trevor Penning, OT, Northern Iowa

Because of his physicality when finishing blocks, Penning fits what the franchise has looked for in the past. The Ravens have questions across the offensive line, and Penning could be an option at tackle or guard. -- Reid


Projected top-5 NFL draft pick Kayvon Thibodeaux joins SportsCenter to discuss his plans for the combine as well as his best intangible as a player.

Cincinnati Bengals (10-7)

Coach: Zac Taylor, entering fourth season

GM: NA

Salary-cap space: $47.7 million

Draft capital: First round (31st); second round (63rd); one in third round; one in fourth round; one in fifth round; one in sixth round; two in seventh round

Positional needs: Offensive line, cornerback, safety, wide receiver

Notable free agents: S Jessie Bates III, DT Larry Ogunjobi, OT Riley Reiff, CB Eli Apple, OG Quinton Spain, TE C.J. Uzomah

It will be a successful offseason if: The Bengals can plug holes at the top of the draft. Cincinnati could use at least one player who could start, especially at one of the guard spots. The Bengals were 30th in pass block win rate in the 2021 regular season, according to NFL Next Gen stats. -- Ben Baby

Prospect to watch at the combine: Zion Johnson, IOL, Boston College

The Bengals need at least two new starters across the offensive front, and Johnson provides positional flexibility at guard or center. After a positive week at the Senior Bowl, his ascension has continued with him now receiving buzz to be a potential late-Round 1 pick. -- Reid


Cleveland Browns (8-9)

Coach: Kevin Stefanski entering his third season

GM: Andrew Berry entering his third season

Salary-cap space: $27.1 million

Draft capital: First round (13th); second round (44th); one in third round, two in fourth round, one in fifth round, one in sixth round, one in seventh round

Positional needs: Wide receiver, defensive tackle, defensive end, quarterback, linebacker

Notable free agents: DE Jadeveon Clowney, DT Malik Jackson, LB Anthony Walker, TE David Njoku, WR Rashard Higgins; Restricted: RB D'Ernest Johnson

It will be a successful offseason if: The Browns land a big-time quarterback like Aaron Rodgers or Russell Wilson -- or if they can surround incumbent starter Baker Mayfield with more weapons. They have the 13th pick, with which they're sure to strongly consider drafting a receiver. Cleveland had one of the worst passing offenses in the league last season. Upgrading that, by whatever means, is priority No. 1. -- Jake Trotter

Prospect to watch at the combine: Treylon Burks, WR, Arkansas

It's no secret the Browns lack explosive perimeter options. Burks could appeal to them as a chess piece who could move around the formation. -- Reid


Pittsburgh Steelers (9-7-1)

Coach: Mike Tomlin, entering 16th season

GM: TBD. Kevin Colbert retiring after 22 seasons

Salary-cap space: $33.0 million

Draft capital: First round (20th); second round (52nd); one in third round; one in sixth round; two in seventh round

Positional needs: Quarterback, offensive line, inside linebacker, cornerback, safety

Notable free agents: WR JuJu Smith-Schuster, WR James Washington, S Terrell Edmunds, CB Joe Haden, CB Ahkello Witherspoon, RT Chukwuma Okorafor; Restricted: QB Dwayne Haskins

It will be a successful offseason if: The Steelers find their next franchise quarterback. Either they find Ben Roethlisberger's long-term replacement or formulate a plan to address the position in the near future with the help of a bridge quarterback for 2022. Quarterback is the top priority, but close behind is shoring up the offensive line with an emphasis on the tackle and center positions. -- Brooke Pryor

Prospect to watch at the combine: Bernhard Raimann, OT, Central Michigan

The Steelers need O-line help, and Raimann is a potential plug-and-play option who could provide an immediate boost at right tackle. His strength could help him be a long-term solution at the position. -- Reid

AFC SOUTH

Houston Texans (4-13)

Coach: Lovie Smith, entering first season

GM: Nick Caserio, entering second season

Salary-cap space: $13.6 million

Draft capital: First round (3rd); second round (37th); two in third round, one in fourth round, three in sixth round, one in seventh round

Positional needs: Safety, defensive end, running back, offensive line, cornerback

Notable free agents: QB Tyrod Taylor, S Justin Reid, RB David Johnson, DT Maliek Collins, C Justin Britt, CB Desmond King, WR Danny Amendola, LB Christian Kirksey, LB Kamu Grugier-Hill, LB Jacob Martin, TE Jordan Akins, LS Jon Weeks

It will be a successful offseason if: The Texans get an adequate return for quarterback Deshaun Watson in a trade. There is still so much uncertainty surrounding Watson and his legal situation, but it seems extremely unlikely that he will ever play for Houston again. The Texans already have better draft capital than they have had in quite some time, but getting a solid return for Watson would help this rebuild significantly. -- Sarah Barshop

Prospect to watch at the combine: Kayvon Thibodeaux, Edge, Oregon

The Texans are still in the early stages of laying the foundation of their rebuild. Simply adding talent to the roster is needed. Thibodeaux will be one of the prospects who is watched closest at the combine. -- Reid


Indianapolis Colts (9-8)

Coach: Frank Reich, entering fifth season

GM: Chris Ballard, entering sixth season

Salary-cap space: $38.8 million

Draft capital: Second round (47th), one in third round, one in fourth round, one in fifth round, two in seventh round

Positional needs: Offensive line, receiver, tight end, linebacker, cornerback

Notable free agents: WR T.Y. Hilton, OL Eric Fisher, OL Mark Glowinski

It will be a successful offseason if: The Colts address a number of needs on the offensive side of the ball. That begins with locking in a franchise quarterback capable of leading them to the playoffs. That starting quarterback will need more than just Michael Pittman Jr. to throw to, because the Colts lack depth behind him at receiver. It will also help if the quarterback has a left tackle to play alongside of left guard Quenton Nelson. -- Mike Wells

Prospect to watch at the combine: Sean Rhyan, OL, UCLA

There are mixed opinions about Rhyan's position on the next level, but he remained firm as a tackle for the Bruins. The Colts need an Eric Fisher replacement, and Rhyan could be a second-round target. -- Reid


Jacksonville Jaguars (3-14)

Coach: Doug Pederson, entering first season

GM: Trent Baalke, entering second season

Salary-cap space: $57.4 million

Draft capital: First round (1st); second round (33rd); two in third round; one in fourth round; one in fifth round; four in sixth round; two in seventh round

Positional needs: Wide receiver, offensive line, edge-rusher, tight end, linebacker, cornerback

Notable free agents: WR DJ Chark Jr., LT Cam Robinson, LG Andrew Norwell, RG A.J. Cann, TE James O'Shaughnessy, LB Damien Wilson, DT Taven Bryan

It will be a successful offseason if: The Jaguars figure out left tackle (either bring back Robinson on the franchise tag or sign him to an extension, sign one in free agency or use No. 1 overall draft pick on one), sign at least one receiver in free agency and draft at least one and add a pass-rusher to complement Josh Allen. -- Michael DiRocco

Prospect to watch at the combine: Evan Neal, OT, Alabama

I still believe the Jags will go O-line at No. 1, and Neal has a chance to strengthen his case to be the first offensive tackle drafted with the top pick since the Chiefs selected Eric Fisher in 2013. -- Reid


Tennessee Titans (12-5)

Coach: Mike Vrabel, entering fifth season

GM: Jon Robinson, entering seventh season

Salary-cap space: $5.0 million over the projected cap

Draft capital: First round (26th); one in third round, one in fourth round; one in fifth round; one in sixth round

Positional needs: Slot receiver, tight end, offensive line, cornerback

Notable free agents: OLB Harold Landry III, C Ben Jones, ILB Rashaan Evans, ILB Jayon Brown

It will be a successful offseason if: The Titans find a way to keep their front four intact by retaining Landry without breaking the bank. Offensively, they have to add more weapons around quarterback Ryan Tannehill. Finding a versatile tight end who can block and have a presence in the passing game is critical. The Titans would also benefit from adding a slot receiver who can be a vertical threat. -- Turron Davenport

Prospect to watch at the combine: Chris Olave, WR, Ohio State

Olave would bring a different dynamic to the Titans' offense and help Ryan Tannehill unlock the deep passing game and lighten the box for Derrick Henry. -- Reid

AFC WEST

Denver Broncos (7-10)

Coach: Nathaniel Hackett, entering first season

GM: George Paton, entering second season

Salary-cap space: $41.7 million

Draft capital: First round (9th); second round (40th, 64th); two in third round; one in fourth round; two in fifth round; one in sixth round; two in seventh round

Positional needs: Quarterback, outside linebacker, inside linebacker, cornerback, right tackle

Notable free agents: QB Teddy Bridgewater, RB Melvin Gordon III, LB Josey Jewell, LB Alexander Johnson, LB Kenny Young, CB Kyle Fuller, CB Bryce Callahan, S Kareem Jackson, T Bobby Massie, T Cameron Fleming

2022 NFL combine: Draft prospects to watch, cap space, needs for all 32 teams

It will be a successful offseason if: The Broncos find a solution at quarterback, secure at least one impact pass-rusher, replace one of the best nickel cornerbacks in the league, find another starter at safety and figure out inside linebacker (where the top three players are free agents). So, essentially, get a quarterback to pump up an offense that hasn't scored more than 24 points per game since 2014 and find enough pass-rushers and cornerbacks to affect opposing quarterbacks. -- Jeff Legwold

Prospect to watch at the combine: Devin Lloyd, LB, Utah

A potential running mate alongside Baron Browning, Lloyd is an active second-level defender who could be the centerpiece of Denver's defense. He also has the ability to rush the passer off the edge. -- Reid


Kansas City Chiefs (12-5)

Coach: Andy Reid, entering 10th season

GM: Brett Veach, entering sixth season

Salary-cap space: $12.8 million

Draft capital: First round (30th); second round (62nd); one in third round; one in fourth round; three in seventh round

Positional needs: Defensive end, defensive tackle, wide receiver, safety, cornerback

Notable free agents: OT Orlando Brown Jr., S Tyrann Mathieu, CB Charvarius Ward, DT Jarran Reed, DE Melvin Ingram III, S Daniel Sorensen, WR Byron Pringle, RB Darrel Williams, RB Jerick McKinnon, DT Derrick Nnadi

It will be a successful offseason if: The Chiefs are as successful at improving their pass rush as they were in upgrading their offensive line last year. The Chiefs were 29th in sacks last season and won't achieve the kind of defensive consistency they desire until that improves. Four of their top eight defensive linemen are potential free agents. A fifth, Frank Clark, is a candidate to be released. -- Adam Teicher

Prospect to watch at the combine: Jalen Pitre, S, Baylor

Pitre played mostly as the low safety in the Baylor defense, but has the ability to do more in the secondary. With Mathieu's return in question, Pitre has a similar skill set that could help fill that role for Kansas City. -- Reid


Las Vegas Raiders (10-7)

Coach: Josh McDaniels, entering first season

GM: Dave Ziegler, entering first season

Salary-cap space: $21.0 million

Draft capital: First round (22nd); second round (53rd); one in third round; one in fourth round; two in fifth round; one in seventh round

Positional needs: Wide receiver, offensive line, cornerback, quarterback

Notable free agents: QB Marcus Mariota, CB Casey Hayward Jr., RB Jalen Richard, WR Zay Jones, WR DeSean Jackson, LG Richie Incognito, DT Solomon Thomas, DT Darius Philon, DT Johnathan Hankins, DT Quinton Jefferson, LB K.J. Wright

It will be a successful offseason if: The Raiders make a decision on Derek Carr sooner rather than later. With Carr entering the final year of his contract, Las Vegas needs to have him play out the deal and guarantee the $19.8-plus million he's due for 2022, give him an extension in the $35 million-per-season range or trade him for a haul of picks (including at least one first rounder). A couple of quarterbacks out there who know McDaniels' system? Try Jimmy Garoppolo and the recently retired Tom Brady. Gulp. -- Paul Gutierrez

Prospect to watch at the combine: Devonte Wyatt, IDL, Georgia

In need of help along the interior defensive line, Wyatt was one of the unsung heroes of the vaunted Georgia defense. Since the season ended, his arrow has continued to point up. With a strong combine showing, he could be a top-20 pick. -- Reid


Los Angeles Chargers (9-8)

Coach: Brandon Staley, entering second season

GM: Tom Telesco, entering 10th season

Salary-cap space: $54.6 million

Draft capital: First round (17th); second round (48th); one in third round; one in fourth round; one in fifth round, one in sixth round, one in seventh round

Positional needs: Cornerback, edge rusher, wide receiver, right tackle

Notable free agents: WR Mike Williams, TE Jared Cook, LB Kyzir White, Edge Uchenna Nwosu, DE Justin Jones, K Dustin Hopkins, RB Justin Jackson, DT Linval Joseph, CB Chris Harris Jr., OL Oday Aboushi, OLB Kyler Fackrell

It will be a successful offseason if: The Chargers can sign some of these free agents, draft well and fix the run defense. They didn't have Jones in a Week 16 loss to Houston and it showed. They need muscle in the middle, and Jones provided it in the 11 games he played. Along with help defending the run (the Chargers gave up nearly 140 yards per game on the ground), they need reinforcements at cornerback, need to re-sign Williams and get quarterback Justin Herbert a solid receiving option at tight end. -- Shelley Smith

Prospect to watch at the combine: Travis Jones, IDL, UConn

The Chargers had the league's worst run defense in 2021, and Staley's crew is in need of a stout presence in the middle. Jones is a Day 2 option who could solve their problems. -- Reid

NFC EAST

Dallas Cowboys (12-5)

Coach: Mike McCarthy, entering third season

GM: Jerry Jones, entering 34th season

Salary-cap space: $21.5 million over the projected cap

Draft capital: First round (24th); second round (56th); one in third round; one in fourth round; one in fifth round; one in sixth round

Positional needs: Offensive line, defensive line, linebacker, wide receiver, safety, tight end

Notable free agents: DE Randy Gregory, WR Michael Gallup, TE Dalton Schultz, LB Leighton Vander Esch, S Jayron Kearse, OL Connor Williams, WR Cedrick Wilson

It will be a successful offseason if: The Cowboys continue to draft well and have effective free-agent signings. The Cowboys have made it clear they will not shop in the high end of the market, and they had great success in 2021 with one-year deals. The makeover of the offensive line needs to start soon, which could be their biggest draft priority entering the offseason. -- Todd Archer

Prospect to watch at the combine: Kenyon Green, OL, Texas A&M

The Cowboys are likely to be in the market for interior offensive line help, and they need to beef up in the middle on both sides of the ball. Green has played all five positions up front. That type of versatility could make him one of the first interior offensive linemen selected. -- Reid


New York Giants (4-13)

Coach: Brian Daboll, entering first season

GM: Joe Schoen, entering first season

Salary-cap space: $11.1 million over the projected cap

Draft capital: First round (5th) and (7th); second round (36th); two in third round; one in fourth round; two in fifth round; one in sixth round

Positional needs: Quarterback, offensive line, outside linebacker, tight end

Notable free agents: S Jabrill Peppers, OLB Lorenzo Carter, TE Evan Engram, OT Nate Solder

It will be a successful offseason if: The Giants are able to hit big in the draft. They aren't going to be players at the top of free agency, but they do have the fifth and seventh picks overall. Two immediate high-end starters will make them much more formidable this season and beyond. -- Jordan Raanan

Prospect to watch at the combine: Ikem Ekwonu, OT, NC State

With two picks inside of the top 10 and needing help along the offensive line, the Giants should keep an eye on Ekwonu. There are mixed opinions on whether he's a guard or a tackle on the next level, but some evaluators believe he's the best offensive lineman in this class. -- Reid


Philadelphia Eagles (9-8)

Coach: Nick Sirianni, entering second season

GM: Howie Roseman, entering 13th season

Salary-cap space: $22.7 million

Draft capital: First round (15th, 16th, 19th); second round (51st); one in third round; one in fourth round; three in fifth round; one in sixth round

Positional needs: Defensive end, cornerback, safety, linebacker, receiver

Notable free agents: DE Derek Barnett, S Rodney McLeod, S Anthony Harris, CB Steven Nelson, RB Jordan Howard

It will be a successful offseason if: The Eagles bolster their pass rush and secondary. They finished second-to-last in sacks (29) last season. Given that Barnett is a free agent and 33-year-old Brandon Graham is coming off an Achilles rupture, they need to invest in the defensive end position. Same goes for the defensive backfield, especially considering three starters from last year's unit are pending free agents. -- Tim McManus

Prospect to watch at the combine: Jermaine Johnson II, Edge, Florida State

Johnson is the prospect who has helped himself most over the past two months; he was the best player at the Senior Bowl last month. Pairing him alongside Josh Sweat gives the Eagles two versatile edge rushers who can generate pressure and hold up consistently against the run. -- Reid


Washington Commanders (7-10)

Coach: Ron Rivera, entering third season

GM: Martin Mayhew, entering second

Salary-cap space: $32.9 million

Draft capital: First round (11th); second round (42nd); one in third round; one in fourth round; one in sixth round; one in seventh round

Positional needs: Quarterback, middle linebacker, offensive line, receiver, tight end, safety

Notable free agents: OG Brandon Scherff, RB J.D. McKissic, LB Jon Bostic, S Bobby McCain, QB Ryan Fitzpatrick, WR/KR DeAndre Carter, K Joey Slye, OL Cornelius Lucas, DT Tim Settle

It will be a successful offseason if: The Commanders find a quarterback who is a clear upgrade over Taylor Heinicke and their long-term answer at the position. It could be via trade, the draft or a combination -- such as landing a lower-cost veteran to start now and pairing him with a rookie who can be developed. -- John Keim

Prospect to watch at the combine: Malik Willis, QB, Liberty

Whether it's a veteran or a rookie, the Commanders are expected to be heavily invested in the quarterback market. Willis will need some time to adjust to the speed of the NFL, and Washington could be earmarked as a potential landing spot. -- Reid

NFC NORTH

Chicago Bears (6-11)

Coach: Matt Eberflus, entering first season

GM: Ryan Poles, entering first season

Salary-cap space: $27.3 million

Draft capital: Second round (39th); one in third round; two in fifth round; one in sixth round

Positional needs: Offensive line, wide receiver, cornerback

Notable free agents: WR Allen Robinson II, DL Akiem Hicks, G James Daniels, QB Andy Dalton, TE Jimmy Graham, DL Bilal Nichols, S Tashaun Gipson Sr.

It will be a successful offseason if: The Bears can rebuild the offensive line (three of five starters are set to hit free agency), get Justin Fields some more players to throw to and rebuild the interior of the defensive line with contracts for Hicks and Nichols expiring. The Bears have money to spend and 25 unrestricted free agents. Poles said Chicago is going to be "selective" in free agency and attack the second and third waves to find the best value to rebuild major portions of this roster. They only have five draft picks, so addressing most of their needs in free agency is necessary. -- Courtney Cronin

Prospect to watch at the combine: George Pickens, WR, Georgia

The only wide receiver under contract for the Bears is Darnell Mooney. Without a first-round pick and wanting to add more weapons for their young quarterback, Pickens makes a lot of sense in Chicago. -- Reid


Detroit Lions (3-13-1)

Coach: Dan Campbell, entering second season

GM: Brad Holmes, entering second season

Salary-cap space: $19.2 million

Draft capital: First round (2nd, 32nd); second round (34th); one in third round; one in sixth round; two in seventh round

Positional needs: Wide receiver, safety, linebacker, quarterback

Notable free agents: LB Jalen Reeves-Maybin, S Tracy Walker III, WR Kalif Raymond, LB Alex Anzalone, QB Tim Boyle, OLB Charles Harris, S Dean Marlowe; Restricted: P Jack Fox

It will be a successful offseason if: The Lions add playmakers. It sounds like a broken record, but with so many holes to fill, they desperately need guys who can come in with game-changing ability. Holmes is embracing the rebuild process, and he needs to add more players like 2020 fourth-round receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown. -- Eric Woodyard

Prospect to watch at the combine: Daxton Hill, S, Michigan

The Lions, one of four teams with multiple first-round picks, have a chance to continue to add high-end players to their roster. Hill was primarily used in the slot at Michigan, but he has the potential to wear more hats in the secondary. -- Reid


Green Bay Packers (13-4)

Coach: Matt LaFleur, entering fourth season

GM: Brian Gutekunst, entering fifth season

Salary-cap space: $27.5 million over the projected cap

Draft capital: First round (28th), second round (59th), one in third round; one in fourth round, one in fifth round, two in seventh round.

Positional needs: Receiver, tight end, defensive line, offensive line

Notable free agents: WR Davante Adams, WR Marquez Valdes-Scantling, LB De'Vondre Campbell, CB Rasul Douglas, CB Kevin King, CB Chandon Sullivan, OL Lucas Patrick, DT Tyler Lancaster, P Corey Bojorquez; Restricted: WR Allen Lazard

It will be a successful offseason if: Aaron Rodgers returns. If not, it's going to be a rebuild. If Rodgers comes back, they will have to mortgage future salary-cap years in order to be competitive in 2022. If Rodgers doesn't come back, the most important thing the Packers will do this offseason is get their salary cap set up for future success. -- Rob Demovsky

Prospect to watch at the combine: Logan Hall, DL, Houston

In previous drafts and in free agency, the Packers have added explosive edge rushers who are often labeled as tweeners. Hall fits that bill, as he can play in multiple fronts as an interior threat or off the edge. -- Reid


Minnesota Vikings (8-9)

Coach: Kevin O'Connell, entering first season

GM: Kwesi Adofo-Mensah, entering first season

Salary-cap space: $15.5 million over the projected cap

Draft capital: First round (12th); second round (46th); one in third round; one in fifth round; three in sixth round; one in seventh round

Positional needs: Cornerback, edge rusher, interior offensive lineman, quarterback

Notable free agents: LB Anthony Barr, CB Patrick Peterson, DT Sheldon Richardson, S Xavier Woods, LB Nick Vigil, CB Mackensie Alexander, TE Tyler Conklin, OL Rashod Hill

It will be a successful offseason if: Everything starts with Kirk Cousins, so whether the QB stays and finishes out the final year of his contract (at a $45 million cap hit), works out an extension or is traded will determine how active Minnesota can be in free agency. The Vikings need to retool their defense once again after that unit ranked 31st. Edge rusher and cornerback are top priorities. The interior of the offensive line is also a focal point. And depending on what happens with Cousins, the Vikings might be in position to draft a quarterback this April. -- Courtney Cronin

Prospect to watch at the combine: David Ojabo, Edge, Michigan

The Vikings haven't selected a defensive end in the first two rounds since 2005 (Erasmus James). With coordinator Ed Donatell's defense being predicated upon good edge play, the upside of Ojabo is an intriguing option on the other side of Danielle Hunter. -- Reid

NFC SOUTH

Atlanta Falcons (7-10)

Coach: Arthur Smith, entering second season

GM: Terry Fontenot, entering second season

Salary-cap space: $6.4 million over the projected cap

Draft capital: First round (8th); second round (43rd, 58th); one in third round; one in fourth round; one in fifth round; one in sixth round.

Positional needs: Edge rusher, wide receiver, interior defensive line, offensive line, running back, cornerback, quarterback

Notable free agents: LB Foyesade Oluokun, RB/WR Cordarrelle Patterson, WR Russell Gage, LS Josh Harris, TE Hayden Hurst, S Erik Harris, S Duron Harmon, QB Josh Rosen; Restricted: K Younghoe Koo

It will be a successful offseason if: The Falcons can do what they did last year and find free agents who can outperform their contracts like Cordarrelle Patterson. Atlanta is still in a cap conundrum for 2022, so finding those types of players -- along with drafting impact players with their first four draft picks -- would potentially lead to good things in 2022. -- Michael Rothstein

Prospect to watch at the combine: Travon Walker, Edge, Georgia

The Falcons, who had a league-worst 18 sacks last season, are likely to be in search of pass-rushers. Walker could be what the team is searching for in Dean Pees' 3-4 scheme. -- Reid


Carolina Panthers (5-12)

Coach: Matt Rhule, entering third season

GM: Scott Fitterer, entering second season

Salary-cap space: $15.4 million

Draft capital: First round (6th); one in fourth round; two in fifth round, one in sixth round; one in seventh round

Positional needs: Left tackle, quarterback, offensive guard, middle linebacker, safety, tight end

Notable free agents: OLB Haason Reddick, LB Frankie Luvu, CB Donte Jackson, CB Stephon Gilmore, K Zane Gonzalez, RB Ameer Abdullah, TE Ian Thomas

It will be a successful offseason if: The Panthers find a quarterback for the future via a trade, free agency or the draft, get a long-term solution at left tackle, add depth and bigger players on the defensive front, upgrade middle linebacker and re-sign cornerbacks Jackson and Gilmore. -- David Newton

Prospect to watch at the combine: Charles Cross, OT, Mississippi State

The Panthers should go with a quarterback or offensive lineman at No. 6, and Cross is a ready-made pass protector who needs fine-tuning in the running game. Cross would be a clear upgrade at left tackle for Carolina. -- Reid


New Orleans Saints (9-8)

Coach: Dennis Allen, entering first season

GM: Mickey Loomis, entering 21st season

Salary-cap space: $40.5 million over the projected cap

Draft capital: First round (18th); second round (49th); one in fourth round; one in fifth round; one in seventh round

Positional needs: Quarterback, wide receiver, defensive line, offensive line

Notable free agents: QB Jameis Winston, LT Terron Armstead, S Marcus Williams, LB Kwon Alexander, DB P.J. Williams, WR Tre'Quan Smith, QB Trevor Siemian.

It will be a successful offseason if: The Saints find the right quarterback at the right price -- and surround him with enough quality players at receiver and on the offensive line. The salary cap isn't quite as daunting as it looks, since the Saints can move more than $100 million into future years. It's even possible they will aim for the top of the quarterback market with a blockbuster trade. More likely, they will reunite with a free agent such as Winston or Teddy Bridgewater. They could get outbid for Armstead, though. -- Mike Triplett

Prospect to watch at the combine: Matt Corral, QB, Ole Miss

If the Saints go into the draft without signing a veteran quarterback, combining Corral with Michael Thomas and Alvin Kamara makes sense. His quick-twitch and fast processing ability gives the team a quarterback to build around. This will be teams' first chance to see Corral since bowl season. -- Reid


Tampa Bay Buccaneers (13-4)

Coach: Bruce Arians, entering fourth season

GM: Jason Licht, entering ninth season

Salary-cap space: $6.2 million

Draft capital: First round (27th); second round (60th); one in third round; one in fourth round; one in fifth round; one in seventh round

Positional needs: Quarterback, tight end, running back, defensive line, offensive line, cornerback, outside linebacker

Notable free agents: WR Chris Godwin, TE Rob Gronkowski, CB Carlton Davis, C Ryan Jensen, RG Alex Cappa, S Jordan Whitehead, DL William Gholston, DL Ndamukong Suh, RB Leonard Fournette, RB Giovani Bernard, RB Ronald Jones II, RB TE O.J. Howard, QB Blaine Gabbert

It will be a successful offseason if: The Buccaneers can get a quarterback and bring back Godwin, Davis, Jensen, Fournette and Whitehead. Suh and Gholston are up there, too. The quarterback, who will come via free agency or a trade, will play a significant role in influencing decisions in free agency -- most notably Godwin's. -- Jenna Laine

Prospect to watch at the combine: Kaiir Elam, CB, Florida

Elam has a chance to announce his presence in Indy and get back into the top-40 discussion. A long and physical press-man corner, he matches well in Todd Bowles' defensive scheme. -- Reid

NFC WEST

Arizona Cardinals (11-6)

Coach: Kliff Kingsbury, entering fourth season

GM: Steve Keim, entering 10th season

Salary-cap space: $2.4 million

Draft capital: First round (23rd), second round (55th); one in third round, one in sixth round; one in seventh round

Positional needs: Running back, tight end, wide receiver, cornerback, outside linebacker

Notable free agents: OLB Chandler Jones, RB James Conner, RB Chase Edmonds, WR Christian Kirk, WR A.J. Green, TE Zach Ertz

It will be a successful offseason if: The Cardinals can get younger and better instead of older and better, which they did last year, as well as sign playmakers -- yes, plural. Arizona needs to start building a team to win long-term starting now. That means signing players on their second contract instead of in their 30s, and drafting playmakers. -- Josh Weinfuss

Prospect to watch at the combine: Myjai Sanders, Edge, Cincinnati

The Cardinals have shown in the past two drafts that they don't hesitate in taking athletes on defense. Sanders fits their profile, but he needs some refinement in multiple areas of his game. -- Reid


Los Angeles Rams (12-5)

Coach: Sean McVay, entering sixth season

GM: Les Snead, entering 11th season

Salary-cap space: $8.4 million over the projected cap

Draft capital: One in fifth round, two in seventh round

Positional needs: Offensive line, tight end, outside linebacker, linebacker, cornerback

Notable free agents: RB Sony Michel; WR Odell Beckham Jr.; RG Austin Corbett; C Brian Allen; OT Joe Noteboom; OLB Von Miller; CB Darious Williams

It will be a successful offseason if: The Rams can fill roster needs despite limited cap space and draft capital. With one season remaining on his current deal, an extension for quarterback Matthew Stafford is due, which could provide some immediate salary-cap relief. But with several key players from their Super Bowl run headed for free agency -- including Beckham, Miller, Williams, Corbett and Allen -- the Rams must be smart about who they pay and savvy in free agency and when using their late-round draft picks. -- Lindsey Thiry

Prospect to watch at the combine: Cole Strange, IOL, UT Chattanooga

The Rams will have a long wait until their first pick. Allen is scheduled to become a free agent and Strange makes a lot of sense as a potential replacement. A zone scheme-only prospect, his first exposure to center during the Senior Bowl helped boost his stock. -- Reid


San Francisco 49ers (10-7)

Coach: Kyle Shanahan, entering sixth season

GM: John Lynch, entering sixth season

Salary-cap space: $8.2 million over the projected cap

Draft capital: Second round (61st); one in third round; one in fourth round; one in fifth round; one in sixth round/p>

Positional needs: Cornerback, edge rusher, guard, backup quarterback, center

Notable free agents: G Laken Tomlinson, DT D.J. Jones, RB Raheem Mostert, S Jaquiski Tartt, CB Jason Verrett, CB K'Waun Williams, DL Arden Key; Restricted: LB Azeez Al-Shaair

It will be a successful offseason if: The 49ers can find a good deal for quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo, move on from DE Dee Ford (with a post-June 1 designation) and use that money to keep many of their own key free agents while also adding at least one cornerback capable of contributing right away. Everything else should be geared toward making life as simple as possible for quarterback Trey Lance as he steps into the starting role. -- Nick Wagoner

Prospect to watch at the combine: Coby Bryant, CB, Cincinnati

The 49ers need to get younger in the secondary, and Bryant has experience in man and zone coverage. His length and ball skills make him an ideal fit in their scheme. -- Reid


Seattle Seahawks (7-10)

Coach: Pete Carroll, entering 13th season

GM: John Schneider, entering 13th season

Salary-cap space: $38.5 million

Draft capital: Second round (41st); one in third round; two in fourth round; one in fifth round; one in seventh round

Positional needs: Offensive line, running back, tight end, defensive line, cornerback, safety

Notable free agents: LT Duane Brown, RT Brandon Shell, C Ethan Pocic, RB Rashaad Penny, RB Alex Collins, TE Gerald Everett, TE Will Dissly, DT Al Woods, DE Rasheem Green, CB Sidney Jones, CB D.J. Reed, FS Quandre Diggs

It will be a successful offseason if: The Seahawks close the talent gap between themselves and the Super Bowl champion Rams. That won't be easy with no first-round pick, but the Seahawks will have the cap room to be players in free agency. They need to bring back Diggs (or get a big return for him in a tag-and-trade), make disciplined decisions with other UFAs such as Penny and Brown, and add at least one difference-maker on each side of the ball. They also need Carroll's revamped coaching staff to fix the schematic issues that contributed to their worst season in more than a decade. -- Brady Henderson

Prospect to watch at the combine: Darian Kinnard, OL, Kentucky

Seattle has to continue to strengthen its offensive line, and Kinnard is a bruiser who routinely displays his physicality. With opinions split on whether he's a guard or a tackle, he could fill it at either position. -- Reid

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