Last week I wrote about the draft needs of all AFC teams and now it’s the NFC’s turn! Below, I outline what I believe to be each team’s biggest focus as they head to the podium. Give me a shout on Twitter @MirdaSheWrote and let me know your thoughts!
Biggest Draft Needs – NFC Teams
There are definitely many different avenues that Arthur Smith’s Falcons can address. Since reassuring their fans that Ridder is their day one starter, it looks like they want to continue their rebuild with the Cincinnati alum at the wheel. With the talented bunch of offensive linemen in this year’s draft, I would strongly consider this as their top priority. They are the face mask on an airplane. Before you can help anyone else (all the weapons you’ve invested in this offseason), you need to help yourself. It starts in the interior of that line.
On defense, this is a team that ranked 31st in overall defense in 2022 so they need to keep their eye out for college standouts who can secure the edge, compete with receivers downfield, and assist in jamming up the middle. They should be able to add multiple pieces throughout the draft weekend.
The Cards sure many areas in which they could improve-both offensively and defensively. I do think this lands them a big defensive star like Will Anderson or Jalen Carter with their first pick. Pass rush is an area of need and they will have their pick of the litter assuming they remain at pick number three. A number of studs would be great cornerstones to build upon as they try and turn this train around after a disastrous season.
Another big need for Arizona is a consistent backfield. This would mean taking a talented lineman on offense and also grabbing a running back to join James Conner and assisting mobile QB Kyler Murray, who hopes to be back from injury earlier rather than later.
Hello, Obvious. It’s me again! Just as I wrote about Houston in last week’s article, even my dog knows that the Panthers traded up to snag that number one spot from Chicago for one thing: a quarterback.
In addition to securing their QB position, the Panthers have gone on quite a tear throughout free agency! This all kicked off after they named Frank Reich as their new Head Coach and then signed guys like DJ Chark, Miles Sanders, DeShawn Williams, Bradley Bozeman, and even more!
This Carolina team can really focus on depth, but before they start padding important positions, they could stand to use an elite force at linebacker. Since losing Luke Kuechly to retirement in 2020, they haven’t found that sort of impactful defender. Some draft-watchers are eyeing guys like Jack Campbell out of Iowa to fill this void.
The Bears went into free agency with 98 million in cap space and have gone on quite the spending spree! They can now tie a pretty bow around this team after they draft young, generational talent at key positions to fill in the gaps.
I expect the Bears to hone in on talent at that tackle position- a Darnell Wright (Tennessee) if you will. Fields’ QBR with a clean pocket is season-changing. Though Chicago added both TE Robert Tonyan (Green Bay) and WR D.J. Moore (Carolina), giving Fields a fun weapon downfield with a clean pocket could be nasty!
Aside from some of the flashy weapons that the ‘Boys typically hoard, their biggest need may just be on their defensive line. They lost Carlos Watkins (signed with Arizona) so this is a large draft need at this moment assuming they don’t snag a free agent.
Another unsexy need is their offensive line; specifically, left guard. Injuries pared down this unit last year and keeping Dak upright is monumental to their short and long-term success.
They should go after a good-value RB after they’ve reinforced their trenches.
The Lions have made impressive strides over the last two years of their rebuild which features young standouts like Aidan Hutchinson, Amon-Ra St. Brown, and tons more talent! As they have manufactured this brand-new Detroit team at the hands-up feisty Head Coach Dan Campbell, there are areas that can be improved. Namely, their interior defensive line. With struggles stopping the run, the right guy plugged in the interior would help shore that up.
Another need in Detroit is most certainly outside cornerback as they ranked 31st in yards/attempt, 25th in passes defended, and 23rd in pass defense DVOA.
With the paper-thin depth at tight end, the Lions should consider some talent in hopes of replacing T.J. Hockenson who went to the Vikings mid-2022 season.
It’s Jordan Love season and one of Green Bay’s main focuses should be setting him up for success as he takes the reigns. Depending on who is up for grabs by either Round 1 (15) or Round 2 (45), I would hope they consider a wide receiver or a tight end who can fit into LaFleur’s scheme.
Defensively, we could stand to upgrade our linebacker core and our safety play. If I were Brian Gutekunst, Packers GM, I would take either based on the best available at the time.
Funny enough, there is a chance the Packers just pull their usual and go out and select a Center or Guard early on in the draft. The franchise loves their big-bodied O-linemen.
Los Angeles Rams
Before the Rams look to bounce back (after their flop of a Championship encore), they need to toughen up their trenches. Strengthening their offensive line, which failed miserably in 2022, this will allow their weapons to shine. Stafford’s return in 2023 will be welcomed after recuperating from an arm injury. Ram Nation wants to see those MVP-level connections between Stafford and Kupp. Don’t forget about Tyler Higbee at Tight End and Akers on the ground.
Losing both Leonard Floyd and Bobby Wagner this offseason begs the need for some solid EDGE or middle LB studs. I would look for the Rams to really address both the struggling O-line and also a lot of defensive needs.
There are a lot of NFL gurus mentioning a defensive lineman like Bryan Bresee going to a team like Minnesota and I think this is a fabulous pick at 23rd overall should he still be around.
Another avenue for the 2022 NFC North Champs would be adding depth at wide receiver. Yes, they have the electric Justin Jefferson and K.J. Osborn, but the talent in the upcoming draft may be tough to pass up.
The Vikings linebacker group needs some help as both Eric Hendricks and Za’Darius Smith will not be returning to the team. I expect this to be a focus within their first few picks.
This new-look Saints team, now led by QB Derek Carr, is lacking in several areas. Chief among them: defensive lineman. This team can definitely use some youth and power on a squad coached by defensive mind Dennis Allen. This off-season saw the departures of Marcus Davenport, David Onyemata, and Shy Tuttle so this position is most likely top-of-mind for New Orleans.
Another void to fill on this team is a big-bodied, blocking tight end. This could fit in nicely with a team that already has incredible talent at offensive skill positions in Olave, Kamara, and Thomas.
New York Giants
After parting ways with Center Feliciano this offseason, and retaining both Daniel Jones and Saquon Barkley, I wholeheartedly believe this should be their first priority. There aren’t many early-round prospects at the position so this would be a great time to get a guy like John Michael Schmitz (Minnesota).
Another need would be a speedy, slot-type at wide receiver. The Darren Waller pickup was huge, but giving DJ another option downfield would be really smart for Big Blue.
Looking for holes on the Philly roster is like Christmas shopping for the person who already has it all! Alas, there can always be improvements, and creating depth at key positions can often salvage a season. Though the Eagles’ all-in approach to the ’22 season did result in a Championship appearance, this meant a lot of those big deals were only for a year-thus losing them to free agency.
Their two biggest departures were S CJ Gardener-Johnson and RB Miles Sanders. As two impactful players are gone, I would look to fill those two positions sooner rather than later. What better place than the NFL Draft?
Though they don’t make their first selection until 99th overall, this San Fran team does have 11 total draft picks to restock this team. The 49ers are in major need of a safety as this position is, right now, paper thin.
Another position this team will surely address is guard and/or tackle. To get this explosive offense rolling with McCaffrey, Aiyuk, and company they will need to ensure they keep the pocket clean for…er, Purdy for now?
In an effort to complement Metcalf and Lockett, a wide receiver from a talented incoming bunch would make a ton of sense. Stockpiling options through the air for Geno just seems like a smart move.
Seeing that they are picking number five overall, I would expect this to be a powerhouse defensive player and the best available at that. A D-lineman or EDGE rusher would be a fun addition to an already-talented defense.
The bad news: Tampa has an aging roster that needs a lot of young help from the draft. Not to mention, they lost Tom Brady at quarterback. The good news: the NFC South was by far the weakest division in football in 2022 so it is anyone’s year in 2023 with the right roster moves.
Ranking dead last in rushing has to get the Bucs thinking of drafting a running back early in the weekend. There is a lot of Bijan Robinson (Texas) to Tampa speculation out there.
Another key position, becoming more and more important each year, is the edge rush. Tampa Bay is lacking juice here and really should look into curating a more solid defensive line in general.
With former Chiefs OC Eric Bienemy at the helm of this Commanders’ offense, this squad could really use a tight end or even a pass-catching running back to package up this new-look offense under 2022 draft pick QB Sam Howell. Both would allow EB’s offense to flourish and complement the weapons already in place: Gibson, McLaurin, Robinson, etc.
Defensively, this unit is in pretty good shape in the trenches of their line. They do need a physical cornerback, and with a solid handful of them in this draft, we expect that this could be their first pick at 16 overall.