Links to other divisions:
The period between free agency and the NFL draft is one of the quietest in the NFL calendar. Most free agent signings happen quickly, and teams wait until after the draft to take advantage of the compensatory pick formula. The formula rewards net losses, and the NFL has moved the date up for non-qualified signings to the Monday following the draft. That allows an opportunity to identify draft needs and underrated dynasty buy low players to target before the draft grants clarity. This series will look division by division at where teams stand before the draft.
Buffalo Bills: Deonte Harty Is Not Nothing
The Bills have been active in free agency, but their approach has been cautious about maintaining a likely third-round comp pick for the loss of Tremaine Edmunds. The team added backup quarterback Kyle Allen, running back Damien Harris, and wide receiver Trent Sherfield, but all were on minimum contract commitments to avoid the comp formula.
All but Harty.
The Bills acted quickly to add him at a $3.7 million average annual value, making him the second-highest-paid receiver on the roster. Stefon Diggs is a superstar, but the other Bills receivers, Gabe Davis and Khalil Shakir, are locked into scheme-specific roles. Davis struggled to develop as a quick and intermediate option when pushed in 2022, while Shakir struggled to stretch vertically. Harty can contribute in both areas. Early in his career, he sported a lower average depth of target (ADOT), around 4, showing in a gadget role similar to the Bills' usage of Isaiah McKenzie. But Harty had a mini-breakout in his third season, posting 570 receiving yards and an ADOT that stretched to 10. There is an established role for this skill set in the offense; McKenzie was the nominal third receiver and played 47% of the team's snaps.
The Bills have been a popular wide receiver mock landing spot, but do not be shocked if they do not spend high capital on the position. The team still believes in Gabe Davis, who rarely left the field, and Shakir flashed as a rookie. The more interesting addition may be at running back. The team tried to run a three-back rotation with Devin Singletary, Zack Moss, and James Cook early in 2022 until Moss's ineffectiveness removed him from the rotation. The team has been linked in visits with Bijan Robinson and Tyjae Spears. The common belief is Harris and Cook complement each other, and the team is done, but the short-term nature of Harris and Nyheim Hines's contracts opens the team up to add a third back and create chaos.
Miami Dolphins: Must Add a Tight End
The Dolphins have aggressively targeted win-now options with their draft capital, using picks to add Tyreek Hill, Bradley Chubb, and Jalen Ramsey over the last year. Add in the forfeit of their 2023 first-round pick, and the team has just four selections in the 2023 draft.
Running back is a popular rumored target, but the team returned their entire backfield from 2022 after a mid-season trade to replace the disappointing Chase Edmonds with Jeff Wilson. The idea of Miami adding a rookie running back is exciting, the ceiling of this offense is as high as any, but in reality, it would likely be a later-round selection or an undrafted free agent who would find themselves behind Raheem Mostert and Wilson.
Miami's offense rightfully funnels targets to Hill and Jaylen Waddle. Hill and Waddle accounted for 287 targets and 3,066 yards, 51% and 64% of the team total, respectively. But there is room for another contributor. Mike Gesicki and Trent Sherfield depart with 103 combined targets. The team added Chosen Anderson and Braxton Berrios; there is a chance the pieces around Hill and Waddle are purely situational.
But tight end is the glaring hole.
The team has two on the roster: Durham Smythe and Eric Saubert. Saubert is on his fifth club with a career-high 15 receptions in 2022. Smythe is in his sixth season, with a career-high of 357 yards in 2021. Smythe is a last-round Best Ball desperation dart as he has earned trust in his role, and the presence on the field could find him hit the endzone. Saubert could be more intriguing as he brings plus athleticism to the position but has struggled to put any meaningful stretches of contribution together. But Mike McDaniel saw the first-hand impact of George Kittle, and an all-around tight end would be a problem defensively, given the defensive focus the top two options require.
Sigmund Bloom's prospect rankings of 21-40 are filled with tight end options, which could present value at the Dolphins' first selection of pick 51.
Continue reading this content with a 100% free Insider subscription.
"Footballguys is the best premium
fantasy football only site on the planet."
Matthew Berry, NBC Sports EDGE