In the build-up to the 2018 draft, USA TODAY Sports will take a look at each NFL team’s situation and needs.
1. Expect the offensive line to be addressed early in the draft, perhaps multiple times. The Vikings are giving QB Kirk Cousins $84 million over the next three years, now they need to protect him.
Advice: Minnesota doesn’t need to devote an early pick to this position after investing heavily in Xavier Rhodes, Trae Waynes and Mackensie Alexander. But Wisconsin’s Nick Nelson, Florida’s Duke Dawson and Texas’ Holton Hill will likely still be available in Round 3.
3. Kyle Rudolph is locked in as the Vikings’ top pass-catching tight end. He and WR Stefon Diggs led the team with eight TD catches in 2017, but no one else had more than four. Cousins surely wouldn’t mind another red zone weapon.
Advice: This year’s tight end class seems middling. But mid-round options include Oklahoma’s Mark Andrews, Stanford’s Dalton Schultz, Central Florida’s Jordan Akins and Indiana’s Ian Thomas. Former first rounder Laquon Treadwell has yet to be a factor, so GM Rick Spielman could also consider big-bodied WRs like SMU’s Courtland Sutton or Notre Dame’s Equanimeous St. Brown, both likely to be Day 2 picks.
Barwin moved from linebacker to the defensive line after the Eagles switched to a 4-3 system, and his sack total dropped. The Eagles released Barwin last March even after he offered to take a pay cut, according to multiple reports.
Barwin visited the Cincinnati Bengals after he was released but opted for the familiarity of Wade Phillips’ 3-4 defense he played for with the Texans and signed with the Los Angeles Rams last year.
Of all the reasons to be concerned about the Cubs’ offense in the early going, the main concern is probably Anthony Rizzo’s start. Before missing some games with lower back tightness, Rizzo was hitless in his previous three games, going a combined 0-for-15 in the process. No offense is going to score much when its No. 3-hole hitter has a .433 OPS. — Ken Woolums, ESPN Stats & Information