Last week, Jim Kelly provided a succinct commentary on the current state of his beloved Buffalo Bills:
The Hall of Fame quarterback is absolutely right. Josh Allen has carried Buffalo to three straight AFC East titles, but the Bills have fallen short of conference supremacy, bailing out of the last two postseasons in the Divisional Round. For Allen and Co. to get over the hump, the Bills must surround their Pro Bowl signal-caller with a better supporting cast.
Allen isn't the only transcendent talent who could use a little help from the front office. And while the free agency frenzy is largely in the rearview, we're hurtling toward the next major event in roster reconstruction: the 2023 NFL Draft (April 27-29 in Kansas City, Missouri).
With that in mind, I want to spotlight a series of high-profile players who deserve an influx of talent, not only to maximize their own personal greatness but to inherently boost their respective teams in 2023.
Without further ado, let's get to it, starting with the aforementioned impetus for this edition of the Schein Nine ...
Don't get it twisted: I think Bills GM Brandon Beane is a gem. Anyone who consistently consumes my takes knows that's how I feel. Consequently, I trust that he will indeed do what's necessary with Buffalo's six pack o' draft picks.
The Bills need more difference-makers at the skill positions. They need a playmaking speed merchant at wide receiver to complement Stefon Diggs. That will make Allen better, while simultaneously taking heat off of Diggs and Gabe Davis. I am a big fan of last year's second-round pick, James Cook, and think he can be a breakout star at running back in Year 2, but is the coaching staff committed? There's been some chatter about the possibility of Buffalo targeting RB Bijan Robinson in Round 1. Seeing how the Bills aren't picking until No. 27 overall, they might have to trade up in order to secure the Texas product's services. That'd be fine by me! While I like Cook, it's a committee-backfield league. And I think Bijan's a can't-miss stud, the kind of offensive weapon who'll boost the run and pass. I remain convinced Beane was planning to take Travis Etienne two years ago before Urban Meyer picked him to play slot receiver. Maybe Beane gets aggressive this time around and goes up to get his guy.
Now, I'm not exactly in agreement with Beane and Buffalo coach Sean McDermott when they say Allen has to change his style. The guy is a megastar, a one-of-one talent. His all-around explosiveness is what makes him -- and the Bills -- special. McDermott needs to be better as an in-game coach, and Beane needs to supply more juice for Allen to reach the peak of his powers.
Les Snead and Sean McVay used an Ocean's Eleven approach to team-building -- swapping draft picks for established NFL stars -- and netted a Lombardi Trophy. Unfortunately, Ocean's Twelve was an epic flop for the Rams in 2022, as their Super Bowl title defense quickly devolved into a 5-12 disaster. And this offseason has seen the departures of Jalen Ramsey and Bobby Wagner. But I won't give up on this team. Not when the NFC is weak. Not when Matthew Stafford and Cooper Kupp are poised for healthy returns on offense. And not when Los Angeles still has one of the greatest defensive players in league history.
Fresh off his ninth consecutive Pro Bowl season, Donald is still playing at an extremely high level. The man is on the Mount Rushmore of all-time defensive players. He just needs some support on a defense that will now be operating without Ramsey, Wagner, Taylor Rapp, Greg Gaines and Nick Scott, among others. It's time for Snead and Co. to fill some of those gaps with fresh talent. While the "Eff them picks" Rams don't have a first-rounder, they do have 11 selections to play with. Support Donald by uncovering some draft gems on Days 2 and 3, which has been a strength of this Rams regime.
Last year was an injury-riddled mess, but McVay remains a fantastic head coach. Call me crazy, but I think Ocean's Thirteen can be solid -- IF the Rams deftly navigate the draft.
Is there a more underrated game wrecker than Matt Judon? In two seasons with the Patriots, he's racked up 28 sacks. Yet his name rarely comes up in discussions about the game's most impactful defenders. A large part of that, undoubtedly, stems from New England largely fading into the background following Tom Brady's departure.
Suddenly, it feels like the Pats have become Team Turmoil, with fresh reporting last week that Bill Belichick has serious beef with QB Mac Jones. As I've said many times before, Belichick is the best coach in history of American sports. He also deserves blame for the last three years, with two losing seasons sandwiched around a one-and-done wild-card campaign. What on earth was Belichick thinking making Matt Patricia offensive coordinator last season? Inexplicable stuff for an all-time genius.
Patriots owner Bob Kraft was talking playoffs at last week's Annual League Meeting. I don't see how that's possible for a roster that seriously lacks star power beyond Judon. Sure, Josh Uche is beginning to emerge as a fine edge-rushing mate, but New England needs more on both sides of the ball -- especially in an AFC East that features one established contender (Buffalo) and two dangerous young teams on the rise (Miami and New York). The Pats have 11 total draft picks, including six in the first four rounds. Time to revitalize the roster -- or else ...
Could this be the final year for the great Bill Belichick?
King Henry's still elite. And despite the rumor mill, he's still a Titan. Coming off his third 1,500-yard effort in the past four seasons, the bruising back needs help to return Tennessee to its winning ways. And it could take something bold. Ex-GM Jon Robinson killed the 2022 Titans by trading A.J. Brown on draft night. What if the new GM, Ran Carthon, revitalizes the franchise with another eye-catching move in Round 1?
On his Move The Sticks Podcast, NFL Network draft guru Daniel Jeremiah said he's heard scuttlebutt about Tennessee being a team that could potentially trade up and snag a quarterback. Very interesting. I've long said Ryan Tannehill isn't a quarterback you can win with in the playoffs. What if the Titans were to move up from No. 11 into the Arizona Cardinals' draft slot at No. 3 in order to select physical marvel Anthony Richardson? Then they could really slow play the rookie until he's truly ready to take the reins from Tannehill.
Such a move could also prevent the division rival Indianapolis Colts, who hold the No. 4 overall pick, from getting their guy. Having said that ...
After an injury-marred 2022 season, the 2021 NFL rushing champ needs a quarterback to bring sexy back. And the Colts need a franchise QB to bring postseason football back to Indianapolis. It's been four seasons since Andrew Luck's abrupt retirement -- the franchise was understandably blindsided by that shocking development back in August of 2019, but that excuse is well past its expiration date. GM Chris Ballard needs to either solve this crippling issue or get his résumé up to date.
Now, Indianapolis just watched as the Carolina Panthers -- fronted by the Colts' old head coach, Frank Reich -- aggressively jumped into the No. 1 spot to secure their pick of this quarterbacking litter. Should've been Indy. Assuming C.J. Stroud and Bryce Young will both be gone after the first two picks of the draft, the Colts need to do whatever they can to nab Anthony Richardson. Or seriously make a move for Lamar Jackson. Can you imagine either of those dual-threat dynamos sharing a backfield with Taylor? Make it happen, Ballard!
Speaking of teams that should be pursuing Lamar Jackson ... I'm still at a loss as to why Atlanta's hand-waving the 2019 MVP. But apparently, that's the case. Weird. Still, I took notice when Calais Campbell picked the Falcons. He's such a great guy with a thirst to win. Maybe he's right, and Atlanta will indeed "surprise a lot of people this year." If that ends up being the case, it's a safe bet last year's No. 8 overall pick will play a huge role in the rise.
London enjoyed a fine rookie campaign, finishing with 72 catches for 866 yards and four touchdowns. But he really took off in the last four games of the season, when fellow rookie Desmond Ridder got a trial run as the Falcons' starting quarterback. The duo displayed great chemistry, hooking up 25 times for 333 yards in those four contests. No small development, considering Ridder will apparently get the full reins in 2023. But both second-year players need some assistance in the passing attack. Kyle Pitts returning to full health and realizing his immense potential would be huge, but Atlanta needs more juice in the receiving corps.
Brian Daboll just won Coach of the Year, thanks in large part for his brilliant work with Jones. Despite the 2022 Giants' ragtag receiving corps, Daboll coaxed efficient quarterback play out of a former top-10 pick who'd largely underwhelmed prior to the new head coach's arrival. Consequently, Jones just signed a four-year, $160 million deal. I remain skeptical as to whether "Danny Dimes" has another gear in his game, but a new stud at wide receiver could help the 25-year-old quarterback prove me wrong.
I love the Darren Waller trade. That was a superb addition to Big Blue's passing game. Now the Giants need to add the cherry on top: a first-round wide receiver. And with a WR prospect crop that lacks certified star power at the top, New York could have its No. 1 option available when the Giants come on the clock at No. 25 overall. GM Joe Schoen needs to protect the steep investment he just made at quarterback.
Garrett is elite; a true top-five defender in the NFL today. In fact, he made my three-player AP ballot for Defensive Player of the Year last season, having posted 16 sacks for the second straight campaign. But Garrett's annual excellence -- which now includes five straight seasons of double-digit sacks -- is annually lost in Cleveland's chaos and underachievement.
Jadeveon Clowney was a complete bust in Year 2 with Cleveland, totaling two sacks before burning bridges on his way out of town. Could free-agent signee Ogbo Okoronkwo emerge as a true edge complement to Garrett? Possibly, but the 27-year-old just set a career high with five sacks in 2022. It certainly wouldn't hurt for the Browns to invest more draft currency into the pass rush.
Bottom line: Garrett needs serious players and help so he can focus on getting Cleveland to back in contention, which was supposed to be the expectation in recent years. The Browns are wasting an extraordinary talent's prime.
Jefferson's the best receiver in the game, and seeing how he's still just 23 years old, the sky's the limit. Is Kirk Cousins the quarterback to maximize JJ's limitless potential? Well, he just enjoyed another Pro Bowl season, but I remain skeptical. And seeing how the Vikings are allowing the 34-year-old to head into a contract season without an extension, they do, too.
The Vikings were exposed in their home playoff loss to the Giants. Clearly, Minnesota's horrendous defense was the biggest issue last season, but the Vikings need more offensive weapons around Jefferson, especially now that Adam Thielen's a Panther. Unfortunately, Minnesota only has five draft picks, including just one (No. 23 overall) in the top 80. Kwesi Adofo-Mensah better choose wisely!