The 2019 regular season is right around the corner, but every NFL team still has at least one position on its roster that could use improvement. And there’s still plenty of time to address those areas of need! Free agents are readily available on the open market, while preseason trades provide another avenue of player procurement. 19 NFL trades were executed between August 1st and September 1st of 2018, and that number could increase this year.
Let’s take a look at the weakest positional group — and a potential solution — for each NFL club. Today we’ll examine the AFC South:
- Weakness: Offensive line. The Texans made a number of notable additions to their offensive line during the offseason, but it’s unclear how much those reinforcements will actually help. New left tackle Matt Kalil is seemingly always injured or ineffective, while first- and second-round rookies Tytus Howard and Max Scharping both come from small schools and could take some time to develop. Houston’s offensive line was one of the NFL’s worst in 2018, ranking 27th in adjusted line yards and dead last in adjusted sack rate, per Football Outsiders.
- Solution: Sign Ryan Schraeder. Even if Kalil, Howard, and Scharping find success along the Texans’ front five, the club could still have a gaping hole at right tackle. Seantrel Henderson is going unchallenged on the right side, but he hasn’t played more than 47 offensive snaps since the 2015 season. The former seventh-round pick has never been all that productive even when he has been on the field, so Houston could look for a late upgrade. The Texans were reportedly interested in Schraeder in March, but it’s unclear if he ever actually met with the team’s staff. With 73 starts under his belt, Schraeder would bring experience to a Houston offensive line that desperately needs it.
- Weakness: Defensive line depth. This almost feels too nit-picky: the Colts have one of the best rosters in the NFL, so it’s difficult to pinpoint a weak area. Indianapolis has a number of interesting pieces along its defensive line, but veteran defensive end Jabaal Sheard could potentially miss regular season action.
- Solution: Trade for DeMarcus Walker. I don’t think the Colts should necessarily go out and sign a street free agent to take snaps away from their intriguing young defensive line prospects, but trading for Walker would represent a buy-low on an intriguing defender. Walker posted 16 sacks during his final season at Florida State and has flashed during his time with the Broncos, but he simply hasn’t been able to secure any real playing time (121 career defensive snaps). That’s probably not going to change any time soon in Denver, so the Colts could send a late-round pick in exchange for a player who could theoretically line up at outside linebacker, defensive end, or defensive tackle.
- Weakness: Inside linebacker to play opposite Myles Jack. Telvin Smith‘s unexpected retirement put the Jaguars in a bind at inside linebacker, and no recent developments have added clarity at the position. Third-round rookie Quincy Williams was expected to fill the void left by Smith’s absence, but he’s dealing with a torn meniscus and will miss the start of the regular season. Free agent addition Jake Ryan, meanwhile, suffered a July setback in his recovery from a torn ACL and hasn’t practiced since.
- Solution: Trade for Reggie Ragland. Ragland has already been traded once is career, going from Buffalo to Kansas City in 2017 in exchange for a fourth-round pick. Given that he has only one year remaining on his contract, the former second-round pick shouldn’t cost that much to acquire this time around. The Chiefs acquired fellow linebacker Darron Lee from the Jets this offseason to team with Anthony Hitchens and Damien Wilson, so Ragland could be expendable.
- Weakness: Offensive line depth. The Titans have some question marks along their offensive line, and those questions begin at left tackle, where Dennis Kelly will start the first four games in place of the suspended Taylor Lewan. Jack Conklin is back at right tackle after suffering a torn ACL in 2018, but right guard is a battle between Kevin Pamphile and rookie Nate Davis. Pamphile is currently listed as the starter on Tennessee’s depth chart, but the veteran was well below-average in two seasons as a Buccaneers starter.
- Solution: See if Austin Corbett is (already) available. Browns general manager John Dorsey has been more than willing to get rid of players brought in by ex-GM Sashi Brown, but would he trade his own disappointing draft picks? It’s far too early to call Corbett, a 2018 second-rounder, a bust, but his career isn’t progressing as Cleveland had hoped. Expected to take over at right guard after Kevin Zeitler was dealt to the Giants, Corbett has struggled in training camp and the preseason, and journeyman Eric Kush now looks like the favorite to start. Corbett played tackle at Nevada before being shifted to guard in the pros, so he could potentially offer depth at both positions for the Titans.
More posts in this series: