I’ve covered the AFC North and South here and the AFC East and West here, so check those out if you feel so inclined.
With the draft rapidly approaching and my having other things to do today, I’ll be packing all the NFC needs into one giant post. Get ready, cause here we go! (Note: Draft picks listed are those currently with the teams at the finalization of this post. They will not stay as they are. Oh, and this time, needs are in no particular order.)
Picks: 58, 90, 128, 136, 165, 241
Top needs: TE, RB, DE, IDL, LB, S
Analysis: They are hurt by lacking a first-round draft pick, but the Cowboys make up for it in having needs that are mostly depth-based. Of the six positions listed as needs, only TE, DE, and maybe S are positions where the Giants probably need to get a player that can start this year. Of course, their need at tight end is mitigated somewhat by the return of Jason Witten, but he’s only going to be able to play for so long, and getting someone new there who can take over for Witten in the long run would be a boon. Running back is really only a depth need, because Elliot has been very consistently healthy since he entered the league. The ‘Boys don’t have much behind him right now, though, leading me to believe a running back in the mid rounds will be a prime target for them.
On defense, Taco Charlton has been a major bust at defensive end, so Dallas could use a new pass-rusher to pair with unholy terror Demarcus Lawrence. They could also use some depth at defensive tackle and linebacker. They should also be looking for an upgrade at their safety spot opposite Xavier Woods.
New York Giants
Picks: 6, 17, 37, 95, 108, 132, 142, 143, 171, 180, 232, 245
Top needs: WR, OL, QB, DE, DT, LB, CB, S
Analysis: Giants fans are probably happy they have so many draft picks this year (currently tied for the most in the draft) because this team has a LOT of holes to fill if they want to improve on last year. Golden Tate/Sterling Shepard are okay No. 2 wide receivers, but with OBJ gone, they need another No. 1. Their offensive line, even after adding Nate Solder, Will Hernandez, and Kevin Zeitler in FA and the draft, needs work, especially at right tackle and center. Oh, and they desperately need a quarterback to sit behind Eli and hopefully take over for him, but who knows if they’ll actually do it.
I’m not entirely sure what defensive style the Giants are hoping to run, but they need talent at basically all levels. Their pass-rush is trash, they have very little tackle depth, their linebackers aren’t good (even with Alec Ogletree adding in), and their corners and safeties are a mess of players that are basically jack-of-all-trades guys who can play several different DB positions at an average- to below-average level. Much like the Dolphins, the Giants can’t go wrong by basically getting a new player at most positions that isn’t running back.
Picks: 25, 53, 57, 127, 138, 163, 197
Top needs: WR (?), IOL, QB, LB, CB
Analysis: The Eagles actually don’t have a lot of needs. I put a question mark by the WR position because I saw at least one tweet from one of the prominent NFL guys that Nelson Agholor was apparently on the trading block, so if he ends up getting traded, wide receiver would jump up the priority list for the Eagles. But honestly, on offense, they pretty much only need depth wide receivers, maybe an interior offensive lineman, and maybe a quarterback depending on how they feel about the chances of Wentz staying healthy for a full season and Nate Sudfeld being the next man up behind him.
The only real big needs for the Eagles are on defense, specifically linebacker and corner. They really do not have much at linebacker right now and they could use some new talent at corner with a lot of the players currently on the team having shown some exploitable weaknesses last season.
Picks: 15, 46, 76, 96, 153, 173, 206, 227, 253
Top needs: WR, C, OT, QB, LB, S, CB, DE
Analysis: Washington, while not currently seen as one of the teams that will likely be struggling this upcoming season, could join the list quickly if they mess this draft up as much as they have messed up their quarterbacks over the last decade (seriously, it’s not pretty). Washington has needs at a fair number of offensive positions, with their quarterback situation currently resting on the shoulders of Case Keenum and Colt McCoy, who was apparently rushed back to try and play for Washington despite having a broken leg and has now had three surgeries on the leg over the offseason.
Corner and maybe safety are the only positions on the Washington defense that really need help, but linebacker and defensive end could use some depth. But really, this will likely be an offensive-focused draft for the Redskins.
HOW THEIR NEEDS AFFECT THE VIKINGS
The Redskins have their biggest problem spots at positions that don’t affect the Vikings early on, so they shouldn’t be too big a presence when looking at teams that could steal players high on the Vikings board. Like the Dolphins, the Giants have so many needs that a couple do intersect with the Vikings, and they have the draft picks to move all over and take players the Vikings may want. The Eagles and Cowboys have their positions of need, but as the Eagles need linebackers and the Cowboys pick after the Vikings and need either a defensive end or a tight end, there shouldn’t be a huge overlap in players being taken.
Picks: 1, 33, 65, 103, 139, 174, 179, 248, 249, 254
Top needs: WR, OL, TE, RB, IDL, CB, SS, LB
Analysis: The Cardinals are in a similar class of need as the Dolphins and Giants, but they could well be about to give up on last year’s first-round pick Josh Rosen and take another quarterback with their first overall pick despite having a mess of holes on their team besides quarterback, especially on offense.
Larry Fitz returns for another season, and Christian Kirk had a nice first season, but the Cards need more talent behind them at wide receiver. Their offensive line was one of the worst in the NFL last season, due to both injuries and a lack of talent, and they need a lot of help there. Their best tight end is Charles Clay, who isn’t actually that bad, but have next to nothing behind him. They could probably also use some help at running back given the injuries that David Johnson has suffered the last couple seasons and the fact they seem interested in riding him into the ground.
As for defense, they need help at defensive tackle, need talent behind Chandler Jones with Terrell Suggs not likely to last for more than a season at pass-rushing, could use some help at linebacker, depth corner, and safety.
Los Angeles Rams
Picks: 31, 94, 99, 133, 169, 203, 251
Top needs: OL, WR, TE, RB, DE, DT, LB, S
Analysis: The Rams have more needs than one usually sees from a team that made the Super Bowl last season. They have two positions of need in particular: offensive line and defensive tackle. Hard as it is to believe, but their current talent on the interior of their offensive line might even rate behind Minnesota’s. Their current guard and center starters are Joseph Noteboom, Brian Allen, and Austin Blythe, none of which are particularly good. As for defensive line, they have the always-potent Aaron Donald, but desperately need a tackle to pair with him. Their current penciled-in starter at nose tackle is something called Tanzel Smart, and they only have three players on their depth chart called defensive tackles, so they need help and plenty of it.
As for their other needs, the Rams could use help at wide receiver, especially with how iffy their offense was when Cooper Kupp went down last season, running back with Todd Gurley’s knees apparently only able to last so long, linebacker (apparently they thought Clay Matthews was worth paying money to), and safety.
San Francisco 49ers
Picks: 2, 36, 67, 104, 176, 212
Top needs: WR, IOL, DE, LB, S
Analysis: The 49ers probably seem like they have more needs than they actually do because of how many injuries they suffered from last year, but if they are even marginally healthier this season, they could well push for a wild card spot or even the division, depending on how far back the Rams fall.
The 49ers seem primed to take Joey Bosa with their second overall pick, one of the reasons why Solomon Thomas, their first-round pick from 2017, is rumored to be on the trading block this afternoon. After Bosa, the 49ers will need help on the interior of their offensive line, some depth wide receiver, maybe another defensive end or tackle, at linebacker and safety. In fact, I would expect the 49ers to be one of the few teams in this year’s draft to be mostly defensive-focused in their drafting.
Picks: 21, 29, 92, 124, 159
Top needs: WR, IOL, QB, DE, CB, S
Analysis: The Seahawks are gonna be one of those teams that, as the draft starts, have more needs on paper than draft picks to fill those holes. What helps a LOT though is they have two first-round draft picks. I heavily suspect that they will be trading at least one of those picks, possibly both of them, to bring their pick number up towards the 7-9 level instead of their current five.
Defense is where the Seahawks have the most need this season. After trading Frank Clark, they need help at defensive end and at defensive tackle opposite Jarran Reed. They also need help at corner, even with Tre Flowers and Shaquill Griffin still roaming around back there. They could also use some safety help.
As for their offense, they could use some wide receiver help, as there isn’t a whole lot of experience behind Baldwin and Lockett. They could also use some interior offensive line help and I’d be shocked if they go into the season with Paxton Lynch as the only quarterback behind Russell Wilson.
HOW THEIR NEEDS AFFECT THE VIKINGS
The Vikings should keep an eye on the Rams. Whenever they end up making their first pick in this draft, it will almost certainly be to take whatever interior offensive lineman has made it through the mid- to late-teen gauntlet. So if the Vikings don’t want the Rams sniping a player they really want on OL, better sooner than later.
It’s hard to predict what the Cardinals might do, and I’m not even sure they know what they are going to end up doing with their first overall pick just yet. The Seahawks and 49ers should be more defensive-focused early, which should help the Vikings, but the teams could be competing for players later on in the draft, especially if the Seahawks are aggressive in moving around the board.
Picks: 14, 45, 79, 117, 137, 152, 172, 186, 230
Top needs: OL, RB, DT, LB, CB
Analysis: This is another team that should have its fans happy with how much draft ammo it has compared to its relative number of needs. I’d expect the Falcons to be pushing for an interior offensive lineman or tackle with an early pick, followed up by a defensive tackle pick and focusing on defense mostly after that. Tevin Coleman leaving means they have a minor need at No. 2 running back behind Devonta Freeman, so I’d expect a mid-round pick there.
Picks: 16, 47, 77, 100, 115, 154, 187
Top needs: OL, TE, QB, DE, LB, CB
Analysis: The Panthers ended up winning the services of Matt Paradis to fill their center spot that was left open by the retirement of Matt Kalil’s brother Ryan. But their interior offensive line could use some more upgrades, especially if Paradis’ injury from last season causes him issues. Elsewhere on their offense, they could use depth behind tight end Greg Olsen, especially after he went down for the season last year and could be starting to show some of his age (he recently turned 34). Carolina should also consider adding a mid- to late-round QB as No. 2 QB competition for another ex-Viking, Taylor Heinicke.
As for their defense, the Panthers could use help at linebacker (more depth than anything else), defensive end (again, mostly depth), and corner. Corner being the big need, as even with two recent second-round picks headlining the top of their depth chart there (Jasme Bradberry/Donte Jackson), they still need talent and depth behind them.
New Orleans Saints
Picks: 62, 168, 177, 202, 231, 244
Top needs: WR, C, DE, LB, S
Analysis: Trading up for Marcus Davenport in last year’s draft leaves the Saints with just one pick in the top 100 picks of the draft, though they are generally lacking in desperation needs right now, especially on offense. They could maybe use a little depth at wide receiver and center, but those are really the only positions that seem in desperate need of attention.
As for the Saints defense, that could use a little more attention. They could use some depth at end behind the aforementioned Davenport and wrecking ball Cam Jordan, as I’ve heard of neither of their backups. Linebacker was a position that was particularly exploitable for offenses against the Saints last year, so how much they decide to address the position in the draft is yet to be seen. They could also use some help at safety.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Picks: 5, 39, 70, 107, 145, 208, 215
Top needs: WR, OL, RB, DE, DT, CB, S
Analysis: The Buccaneers might be one of the other teams in the draft that focuses heavily on the defensive side of the ball, especially if they do end up getting their wish and finding a partner interested in taking Gerald McCoy off their hands. Because, well, they need a lot of help on defense. If they do keep McCoy, they have their starting defensive tackles and that falls away as a need. But if they do toss McCoy to another team, that jumps up to a need, right alongside defensive end (depth), safety, and a monster need at corner.
In fact, the Bucs have such a big corner need that I wouldn’t be surprised if Rick has reached out to them to possibly explore a trade for Trae Waynes. Elsewhere, the Bucs need help to address their offense. Mike Evans/Chris Godwin is a fairly good one/two combo at wide receiver, but their most experienced option at wide receiver right now is Breshad Perriman, and that isn’t going to cut it in the slightest. They also need some help at guard and running back if they want to improve on their bottom-three ground game from last year.
HOW THEIR NEEDS AFFECT THE VIKINGS
The Buccaneers and Saints aren’t huge issues for the Vikings, with the Saints just not picking enough to be conflicting much and the Bucs having other issues to address. But the Panthers and Falcons might be two of the biggest threats in the draft to take offensive line players ahead of the Vikings. If the Vikings truly want to ensure they get their guy, they would have to leapfrog one/both of those teams (though maybe only one if the rumors about Atlanta wanting to move up for Ed Oliver are true). Otherwise, they will have to wait it out and see what offensive linemen make it past the Falcons/Panthers/whichever team might be trading up/back with them.
Picks: 87, 126, 162, 222, 238
Top needs: OT, TE, RB, DE, S, K, CB
Analysis: For most teams, I would have to be writing this article on April Fool’s Day to consider kicker as a need worth mentioning (or be a fan of the Vikings). But the Bears really do actually have a big need at kicker, as the fact that they currently have three players on their roster signed to push for the spot would indicate. But, thankfully for the Vikings, their trading for Khalil Mack last offseason has left the Bears as one of, if not the only, team with a single pick in the top 125 draft slots in this year’s class. That will certainly limit the Bears, especially since the reigning division champions have needs at more serious spots on their roster.
Their current tackle pairing is Charles Leno Jr. and Bobby Massie, and something tells me that the Bears want to protect Mitch Trubisky with better players than that, so I would imagine a tackle might be a target with their first pick. They also have a semi-big hole at running back, as Tarik Cohen and Mike Davis, their current top players there, are really more rotational guys and not so much the kind of lead back that now-traded Jordan Howard was. They also have a depth need at tight end behind Trey Burton.
As for their defense, they badly need a defensive end opposite Akiem Hicks (current starter there is Bilal Nichols) and could also use help at corner and safety with some of their better players at those two positions finding new homes this offseason.
Picks: 8, 43, 88, 111, 146, 184, 204, 224, 229
Top needs: WR, OG, TE, DE, DT, LB, CB, S
Analysis: As sad as it may be, I’m not sure there’s a single position on Detroit’s defense that couldn’t use an upgrade. About the only players I’d feel confident saying they’ll absolutely have a starting job (barring injury) at the start of the season on their defense are Trey Flowers and Snacks Harrison. That’s pretty much it.
They need help at defensive end opposite Flowers, they basically need to overhaul their entire linebacking corps, and their corners and safeties are either aging or under-performing. So yeah, there will be a lot of talent added there.
But defense (as wide a statement as that is) isn’t the only need for the Lions. They also need depth wide receivers (Golladay and Jones are a nice pairing, but they need more behind that), depth/starting tight ends to knock Jesse James and Michael Roberts down the depth chart, and I have to think that they aren’t too interested in having Kenny Wiggins behind their starting right guard this season, so they probably need some help there too.
Green Bay Packers
Picks: 12, 30, 44, 75, 114, 118, 150, 185, 194, 226
Top needs: WR, IOL, OT, TE, DL, ILB, CB
Analysis: Green Bay is one of the tougher teams to predict in this year’s draft because they have more needs than usual, have a number of picks to address those needs, and yet there are still rumors floating around that they might take players outside of those needs (namely, quarterback).
Besides that, the Packers need a massive influx of talent on offense. Davante Adams is a #1 wide receiver, but their options behind him right now are shaping up as #3’s at best, so wide receiver is a need. They also need some help at tight end, because Jimmy Graham (as most people predicted) was not particularly good for the Packers last year and Marcedes Lewis is the top option behind him. They could also use a new tackle as their current right tackle, Bryan Bulaga, is now 30 and has dealt with injuries quite a bit the past few seasons that have meant the Packers have had to rely on subpar backup tackles to fill in for him.
Even with the money they sunk into their defense this offseason, the Packers could still use some more talent there. Mike Daniels’ contract is about to run out so they will need someone to replace him soon (especially if, as the scuttlebutt says, they are unable to resign him), and they badly need talent at most if not all of their linebacker spots that aren’t currently being filled by Preston Smith. Their secondary was helped by the addition of Adrian Amos, but there are a lot of young players in it and if they don’t pan out (and last year didn’t seem particularly promising for most of them), having more talent there to try and fill the gaps in would help.
HOW THEIR NEEDS AFFECT THE VIKINGS
Those of us who see the Bears as regression candidates this season base at least part of that assumption on the fact that they have just five draft picks at the moment and they have some quiet talent deficiencies at key parts of their lineup. Them only having one pick before the 125-pick mark is not going to allow them shots at some of the best players in this year’s draft, but should give the Vikings chances to get ahead of them and pick the players they want.
As for the Lions and Packers, they are quietly some of the biggest wild cards of the first round. The Packers in particular have the chance to grab a sizable contingent of new players to try and get back to a division championship-winning level. All in all, both the Packers and Lions could be going for players the Vikings are targeted, but they also have needs, especially on defense, that one would think would be more important to address.
Well, that’s the roundup! I know it was a long read, but I hope it helps you navigate the next couple of days and might explain which teams the Vikings will be competing against for players, especially in the first couple of rounds when teams aren’t interested in moving around quite as much as they do later on. I’ll see you on the other side!