Because after a 2021 draft in which QBs went 1-2-3 as well as 11th and 15th, talent evaluators obviously thought this class of signal-callers wasn’t worth much. Only one went in the first two rounds, and the fifth QB wasn’t taken until near the end of the fourth round. That meant steep falls for Malik Willis, Desmond Ridder, Matt Corral and Sam Howell.
Regardless of whether your team got a QB, WR or the future steal of the draft, you probably can find reason for optimism. Did your team answer the biggest question it faced entering the draft? What’s next?
We asked our NFL Nation reporters to tell us both what the most pressing question was/is and to answer it. Read their post-draft insight below. Check out what ESPN draft analysts Mel Kiper Jr. and Todd McShay thought of each teams’ class, scan the full classes for every team and check out the big-picture takeaways coming out of Round 7.
After addressing cornerback in a big way through the draft, what’s next for the Bills’ secondary?
The Bills went after their most obvious need in a big way, trading up in the first round to draft Florida cornerback Kaiir Elam. After also drafting Villanova defensive back Christian Benford, Buffalo has added key new talent to the secondary. How well those players, especially Elam, who is in line to start opposite Tre’Davious White once White is healthy, perform together will be key to the Bills’ defense having another strong year. They didn’t specifically go after a safety in the draft, but part of the secondary to keep an eye on is veteran safety Jordan Poyer. With one year remaining on his contract, Poyer has requested a contract extension and has not participated in any voluntary offseason programs. – Alaina Getzenberg
How confident is the Dolphins’ coaching staff in the offensive line?
Granted, they had only four picks in the 2022 draft, but the Dolphins did not spend any of them on an offensive lineman – even after GM Chris Grier called offensive line the best position group in this year’s class. Miami did make two major additions to the line in tackle Terron Armstead and guard Connor Williams, but it does lack depth in the interior – specifically at center. The league’s worst pass-blocking unit from a season ago has nowhere to go but up, and it’s clear this new coaching staff believes it can properly develop a group that includes four top-100 draft picks. – Marcel Louis-Jacques
After not forcing the Bills to punt in each of the past two games against them, did the Patriots do enough on defense to change the result?
The Patriots’ only two picks on defense through the first five rounds were cornerbacks Marcus Jones and Jack Jones, which was a bit of a surprise. Passing on a deep linebacker class early, the Patriots are banking on their new-look linebacker corps of 2021 fifth-round pick Cameron McGrone, trade acquisition Mack Wilson and returnee Ja’Whaun Bentley to help alter course. They also extended defensive backs Devin McCourty and Adrian Phillips (during the 2021 season), while bringing in veteran safety Jabrill Peppers and cornerback Malcolm Butler in free agency. So, yes, they’ve made moves leading into the draft … but they might have missed a good opportunity to do more. – Mike Reiss
Is the run defense vulnerable up the middle?
The Jets lost their best run-stuffing defensive lineman in free agency (Folorunso Fatukasi, Jaguars), leaving them thin at defensive tackle. Right now, the starters are Quinnen Williams and (probably) Sheldon Rankins, who is a better pass-rusher than run-defender. They signed journeyman Solomon Thomas, but he’s undersized and best suited to DE. They should add a widebody in post-draft free agency. If the Eagles’ Fletcher Cox becomes available, he’s worth checking out. – Rich Cimini
What are the Ravens going to do to replace Marquise Brown?
After trading Brown to the Cardinals, Baltimore didn’t use any of its 11 picks on a wide receiver because general manager Eric DeCosta said the receivers were drafted at least one round ahead of where they expected them to go. With Brown gone, none of the six wide receivers on the roster have more than 53 career catches. The Ravens can sign a free agent, such as Will Fuller V, who can stretch the field like Brown, or trade for one. Even if Rashod Bateman fills the No. 1 role as expected, Baltimore needs a more proven second option for Lamar Jackson on the outside. – Jamison Hensley
Which rookie could have the biggest immediate impact?
How about Cordell Volson? The offensive lineman from North Dakota State was drafted to be a guard. Bengals coaches referenced Volson competing for playing time, which could indicate a looming battle at left guard, where 2021 draft pick Jackson Carman was thought to be the front-runner. Volson took advantage of the extra year of eligibility from the COVID-19 pandemic and played another year at NDSU. That could shorten the learning curve and allow him to compete for the starting job immediately. – Ben Baby
When will the Browns move QB Baker Mayfield?
The Browns engaged the Panthers on a Mayfield trade Friday but were unable to complete the deal, as Carolina instead opted to move up to draft Ole Miss QB Matt Corral in the third round. The number of potential suitors for Mayfield is rapidly dwindling. Meaning, if Cleveland is going to move on from him, it might need to eat the majority of his $19 million fully guaranteed contract – or face up to the possibility it just might have to release him. – Jake Trotter
Jeremy Fowler speaks on Baker Mayfield’s and Deebo Samuel’s will to be traded despite making little to no progress throughout the NFL draft.
Who’s going to be the starting quarterback Week 1?
The Steelers’ biggest question before the draft is also the biggest after: Who will be the starting quarterback? Drafting Kenny Pickett does little to answer that question. It’s not that Pickett won’t be ready Week 1, but with the addition of Mitch Trubisky in free agency, the Steelers will have to decide if the rookie is ready or if it’s safer to go with the veteran. Mike Tomlin said Pickett will be given the opportunity to compete for the job, but if he wins it, what happens to the rest of the group? Will Trubisky be the backup, and will Mason Rudolph be put on the trade block? The Steelers have months before they have to find an answer, but the evaluation starts in the offseason training program. – Brooke Pryor
Does drafting Derek Stingley Jr. do enough to improve the secondary?
The Texans came into the draft with many positions to upgrade but chose to do so at cornerback with their top pick. He joins a Houston defense that allowed the second-most yards per game last season and was 29th in yards per pass attempt allowed, according to ESPN Stats & Information. Houston also added safety Jalen Pitre in the second round and recently added veteran cornerback Steven Nelson, so while Houston’s secondary should be better, it still likely won’t be among the league’s best. – Sarah Barshop
Did the Colts get quarterback Matt Ryan enough weapons to work with?
Yes. The Colts were silent during free agency when they didn’t sign an outside offensive player. But they gave Ryan some help by selecting receiver Alec Pierce in the second round and then tight ends Jelani Woods and Andrew Ogletree in the sixth round. And the Colts haven’t officially shut the door on re-signing free agent T.Y. Hilton, who spent the first 10 years of his career with the franchise. They hope to have a resolution on Hilton’s status in the near future. – Mike Wells
No receivers or tight ends? What gives?
The Jaguars clearly believe they did enough in free agency – adding WRs Christian Kirk and Zay Jones and TE Evan Engram – to give second-year quarterback Trevor Lawrence more targets. Adding players to the defense, especially in the pass rush and at linebacker, and finding a replacement for center Brandon Linder were higher priorities, and after doing that the Jaguars didn’t believe any receiver or tight end was going to make an impact. These will be high-priority positions next offseason. – Michael DiRocco
Did the Titans make up for the loss of A.J. Brown?
Adding Treylon Burks can ease some of the lost playmaking ability from trading Brown. Burks’ dynamic yards after the catch ability should transfer to the NFL. He has drawn comparisons to Brown. Tennessee will have a potent pass-catching duo if Robert Woods is able to return from a torn ACL. Fifth-round pick Kyle Philips is the wild card. He has the potential to become the go-to player on third downs that Brown was last season. Don’t forget about fourth-round pick Chigoziem Okonkwo, who is another yards-after-the-catch specialist and matchup problem. It’ll take a group to make up for the loss of Brown. But there are still significant question marks. – Turron Davenport
Have the Broncos done enough in the offensive line?
General manager George Paton had moved through free agency and into the draft weekend with right tackle among the items on the to-do list. The Broncos signed tackles Tom Compton and Billy Turner in free agency, and brought Calvin Anderson back, but they moved through the draft without selecting a tackle among their nine picks. Fifth-round pick Luke Wattenberg, a center who has also started games at guard at Washington, was the only offensive lineman among the selections. Heading through the offseason workouts, left tackle Garett Bolles would seem to be the only position set in pen on the depth chart up front as coach Nathaniel Hackett has promised plenty of competition to sort it all out. – Jeff Legwold
How effective will the offense be after the Chiefs traded Tyreek Hill?
The Chiefs don’t have a receiver with Hill’s impressive collection of skills anymore, but they do have a deeper group of players catching Patrick Mahomes‘ passes. That fact, combined with Andy Reid’s offensive creativity, is intriguing. It might take some time before the Chiefs fit all of the pieces together, but it would be a big disappointment if eventually the Chiefs don’t produce something close to what they did with Hill in their lineup. – Adam Teicher
After hitting both lines and the running back room hard in the draft, where does the Raiders’ new regime look next to bolster the roster?
After drafting two versatile O-linemen, a pair of defensive tackles and two running backs (a day after declining the fifth-year option on one-time Pro Bowler Josh Jacobs), the Raiders still have depth issues in the secondary and at linebacker. So look for Las Vegas to address those position groups with undrafted rookies and the smattering of vets still unsigned. The Raiders will have some $20 million in cap space coming their way on June 1 to make signings thanks to the cuts of defensive end Carl Nassib and linebackers Cory Littleton and Nick Kwiatkoski. – Paul Gutierrez
Have the Chargers done enough to make it out of a loaded AFC West?
The Chargers narrowly missed the playoffs in 2021. Now, they’ll face potentially an even tougher gantlet in an AFC West that added Super Bowl-winning quarterback Russell Wilson and All Pro receiver Davante Adams over the offseason. But the Bolts made some serious upgrades, too – trading for outside linebacker Khalil Mack, signing Pro Bowl cornerback J.C. Jackson and in the draft investing once again in a first-round offensive lineman to protect star quarterback Justin Herbert. But only time will tell if they can pull the pieces together to break a three-year playoff drought. – Lindsey Thiry
Have the Cowboys added enough to be true contenders?
Given difference in quarterback play, the Cowboys are the favorite in the NFC East regardless what happened over the draft weekend. But the goal is to do more than just be better than the Giants, Commanders and Eagles. It’s to be among the NFC’s best. The Cowboys lost a lot of talent from last season’s 12-5 team and haven’t added major free agents, but they believe they got great value in the draft even picking late in the rounds. For the Cowboys to be a real contender, they need the picks to hit, but they also need those already on the roster to raise their games even more. – Todd Archer
Did the Giants finally fix their offensive line?
They sure hope so. The Giants just invested a top-10 pick and a third-rounder on the offensive line. They did the same just two years ago with Andrew Thomas and Matt Peart. It doesn’t look great for Peart, but Thomas and Evan Neal should give the Giants bookend tackles. That is a heck of a start at least. Throw in free-agent acquisitions Mark Glowinski and Jon Feliciano and a handful of young candidates at left guard, and it appears they’re finally onto something here. – Jordan Raanan
Take a look at Evan Neal’s résumé as an offensive lineman at Alabama and what he can bring to the NFL.
Who is going to play in the secondary?
The biggest immediate needs entering the draft were safety and cornerback, and the Eagles didn’t use any of their picks on those positions. General manager Howie Roseman indicated there weren’t many opportunities to select a corner or safety from a value perspective when they were on the clock. There are no clear starters opposite Darius Slay and Anthony Harris at the moment. They’ll look to the remaining free agents to see if one or two can help – the Eagles have been in contact with safety Tyrann Mathieu this offseason, though Roseman said nothing was imminent on that front – and will also need some of the younger players on their roster to step up. – Tim McManus
Did they find Landon Collins’ replacement in their big nickel package, aka the Buffalo nickel?
Maybe. The Commanders will meet again Monday morning to determine what they still need – and if they still need to fill this big nickel role. It also could mean reaching back out to Collins. He was a key part of their defense. Last year, their best defense was played with Collins in the hybrid safety/linebacker role, allowing them to have three safeties on the field. They really like fourth-round safety Percy Butler; he has excellent speed and toughness, but is just under 200 pounds. They also could acquire another linebacker who can play inside – they need more there regardless – and have Cole Holcomb fill this role at times. They played their Buffalo nickel package more than 50% of the time, which is why it’s such a crucial role for them to fill. – John Keim
Will the Bears add more weapons for Justin Fields?
Only one of Chicago’s 11 draft picks was spent on a wide receiver, with Velus Jones Jr. selected at No. 71. Jones is a dynamic kickoff returner but somewhat limited offensively given the body of work he put together over his six-year college career. The Bears don’t have a lot of options behind Darnell Mooney and Byron Pringle, so signing a veteran wide receiver isn’t out of the question. „If that’s the route we need to go, then we will,“ general manager Ryan Poles said. „If we feel comfortable with our group, then we’re still going to look for talent.“ – Courtney Cronin
Was the defensive approach the best way to go in the draft?
Yes. The Lions were ranked among the worst defensive teams in the league last year. So, it was smart to hit the defense hard, notably with Michigan’s Aidan Hutchinson at No. 2 overall and using six of their eight picks on defensive guys. Not everyone will be able to play immediately, but these moves show their commitment to improving. – Eric Woodyard
How much will Aaron Rodgers participate in the offseason program?
He surprised coach Matt LaFleur by showing up one day last week and working out with the team, and he has said he will be here for the minicamp in June. Beyond that, he probably won’t be around much. So how will that impact the new receivers – the three draft picks plus Sammy Watkins. Well, GM Brian Gutekunst actually said something interesting: „It’s not a bad thing to let some of these guys get established with our offense a little bit, certainly the foundational principles, before he gets here, because it’s not easy, and we want to give those guys the best chance they can when he gets here.“ – Rob Demovsky
After trading down several times in the draft, are the Vikings any more talented than they were last season?
They’re better in certain areas, especially in the secondary. The draft netted two players – safety Lewis Cine and Andrew Booth Jr. – who could and probably should be among their top five defensive backs. But otherwise, the Vikings are hoping that a new coaching staff can squeeze more wins out of the nucleus it inherited. – Kevin Seifert
What will the offense look like?
Receiver Drake London is going to be a clear No. 1 for the Falcons this year, but behind him remain a bunch of question marks. The running back room became more crowded with fifth-round pick Tyler Allgeier out of BYU. Atlanta still has competitive holes on the offensive line, and what the quarterback room looks like between Marcus Mariota and Desmond Ridder will be one of the more intriguing stories of the fall. But when you’re a team in the midst of reconstructing everything on its roster, this is kind of what happens – a whole bunch of wait and see. – Michael Rothstein
The interest definitely was there on Carolina’s part. But according to multiple sources, the Browns never got close enough on the amount the Panthers wanted them to pay on Mayfield’s 2022 salary ($18.58 million) to make it feasible. Without that this wasn’t going to work. And ideally general manager Scott Fitterer wanted to develop a young quarterback whose contract is cost effective, and Corral in the third round gave him that. Remember, Fitterer was in Seattle in 2012 when the Seahawks got Russell Wilson in the third round. – David Newton
Will the Saints sign another LSU star to pair with Tyrann Mathieu?
The Saints visited with two beloved local free agents last month – Mathieu and receiver Jarvis Landry – with the idea that they might revisit talks if they didn’t fill those glaring needs in the draft. Sure enough, the Saints quickly agreed to a deal with Mathieu after they didn’t draft a safety. Landry, however, feels like less of a „must“ after the Saints traded up to draft Ohio State receiver Chris Olave with No. 11 overall pick. The Saints also drafted offensive tackle Trevor Penning with the 19th pick. While Landry remains a possibility, they could be done with their major spending after addressing their three biggest needs in a five-day span. – Mike Triplett
As far as Suh, general manager Jason Licht said, „I wouldn’t shut the door,“ but it doesn’t sound like Suh will be back unless there are injuries. The team has wanted to get younger and faster inside. As for Gronk – and neither player could truly replace the future Hall of Famer – Licht said, „I’m still giving him that time“ and „we still talk.“ – Jenna Laine
Is the offense set up for a deep playoff run?
It’s hard to argue that it isn’t. Instead of a first-round pick, the Cardinals traded for Marquise Brown, giving them a bona fide No. 2 receiver behind DeAndre Hopkins. They also added the best tight end in the draft in Trey McBride, a couple of interior offensive linemen and a running back through the draft. If even half of them work out, Arizona will have the depth it would need to survive an injury bug. Arizona’s biggest issue last season after Hopkins went down late in the year was that no receiver scared defenses enough to cause a ripple in a game plan – and that coach Kliff Kingsbury didn’t adapt the offense enough to play without Hopkins. With Brown added to the mix and the other depth options, Arizona shouldn’t have that problem again this season. But that might be easier said than done. – Josh Weinfuss
Did the Rams do enough to keep up their excellent offensive line play in 2022?
The Rams led the NFL in pass block win rate in 2021 but lost two of their starters from their Super Bowl LVI victory after left tackle Andrew Whitworth retired and right guard Austin Corbett signed with the Carolina Panthers in free agency. Although Los Angeles had a defensive-heavy draft, it used its first pick (No. 104 overall) on guard Logan Bruss, who will compete immediately to be the Rams’ right guard. Given how they chose to use their cap space in free agency, Bruss is a solid addition to compete for a starting role. – Sarah Barshop
Check out Wisconsin guard Logan Bruss’ best highlights from his college career.
The Niners were steadfast in hanging on to Samuel during the draft and remain cautiously optimistic that whatever damage has been done can be repaired in a way that works for both parties. Ideally, that means striking a long-term contract with Samuel sometime before training camp. As for Garoppolo, it’s unlikely anything will happen before he gets a clean bill of health. That could happen as soon as the end of June or early July. Whether he will have an obvious landing spot then remains in question, but the Niners don’t expect another team to have interest until his surgically repaired right shoulder is back closer to full strength. – Nick Wagoner
Why didn’t the Seahawks draft a quarterback?
Because they didn’t like any of the options in what was an especially lousy draft for QBs, at least not in any of the nine spots where they picked. They weren’t going to reach for someone who wouldn’t be good enough to factor into their competition between Drew Lock and Geno Smith. As for Baker Mayfield, the only way a trade for the former Browns starter would make sense is if the Seahawks got Cleveland to eat a good chunk of his $19 million salary, if not the majority of it. – Brady Henderson