The NFC owns 17 picks in the first round, which will bring an infusion of young talent and address some pressing needs that remained after free agency. Here are the most pressing draft needs for each team in the NFC:
49ers: Interior offensive line
San Francisco is giving Colton McKivitz a chance at right tackle following the departure of Mike McGlinchey in free agency; that could prove to be a big need for the 49ers. It is magnified by the lack of confidence in the interior offensive line, however. Safety and cornerback are a few other spots the team could target.
Bears: Edge rusher
Chicago made a good free agent signing in DeMarcus Walker and they added a few rotational defensive tackles who may have to take on larger roles this season. The Bears finished dead last in sack production last season so it was imperative for the team to become more dynamic off the edge. With the No. 9 overall selection, the NFC franchise has a good opportunity to add an impact performer in that role.
Right tackle, center, defensive tackle and cornerback are some other areas of concern.
After moving on from left tackle Donovan Smith for performance and financial reasons, they are left without a viable option at the position. The signing of Baker Mayfield indicates that they are going to try to keep the ship afloat this season, but they need to upgrade the pass protection. The Buccaneers also have needs at tight end and offensive guard.
Arizona is in a similar position as Chicago. The Cardinals need help on the exterior and interior of the defensive line. The Cardinals lost J.J. Watt to retirement but Zach Allen also departed in free agency. First-year head coach Jonathan Gannon comes from a situation where he had a wealth of options along the defensive front. The team is in a strong position to add an impact player at No. 3 overall. The Cardinals could also trade back and accumulate additional draft capital.
The team has several other needs, including running back, tight end, offensive guard, center and cornerback.
Washington signed Nick Gates and Andrew Wylie to the offensive line in an effort to create flexibility in the draft. They have a few potential rotational pieces in Kendall Fuller and Cam Dantzler, but they need to find a reliable boundary option that will allow those other players to fill complementary roles. The Commanders’ selection at No. 16 overall is directly in the middle of what should be a run on the cornerback position in the actual draft.
Tight end, linebacker, safety and the interior offensive line positions are other areas of weakness, although, it will be interesting to see what comes of right tackle Sam Cosmi following the signing of Wylie.
Cowboys: Defensive tackle
Dallas has not been afraid to use Day Two picks on the interior defensive line but it has not panned out to this point. The Cowboys could stand to add an impact performer in that role. The front seven is relatively well-prepared otherwise. The Cowboys also have needs along the interior offensive line, as well as tight end and safety.
Philadelphia allowed Chauncey Gardner-Johnson to walk in free agency. The team also lost veteran Marcus Epps. Those two deficits are compounded by the loss of defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon. The Eagles do not have a ton of needs. They have a reasonable starting option at every position on the field, but linebacker is a bit more of a stretch. At safety, the team signed free agent Terrell Edmunds and rookie Reed Blankenship played well in a stretch last season. Philadelphia, at the very least, could stand to add some competition to that part of its roster.
Atlanta has publicly expressed support of quarterback Desmond Ridder but essentially has to in the event that no one else is added to the roster. Ridder did not do anything to inspire confidence last season but the Falcons may feel they have seen otherwise in practice. If they have that conviction, by all means stick with Ridder, but the franchise needs better play from the position.
Cornerback, linebacker and edge rusher are some of the other positions of note.
New York is going for quantity over quality at the wide receiver position. The Giants were present at Jaxon Smith-Njigba’s Ohio State Pro Day in Columbus, so the idea of taking that position in the draft should not be ruled out. However, the cornerback position has fewer ready-made options to run defensive coordinator Wink Martindale’s scheme. It’s a deep class of cornerback talent and Illinois’ Devon Witherspoon, Oregon’s Christian Gonzalez, Maryland’s Deonte Banks, Penn State’s Joey Porter Jr. and South Carolina’s Cam Smith could all be in the equation either at No. 25 overall or in a trade-up situation.
Brian Daboll’s team also has needs along the interior offensive line.
Lions: Defensive tackle
After drafting edge rushers Aidan Hutchinson, James Houston and Josh Paschal a year ago, Detroit’s primary need is defensive tackle. The Lions could also stand to upgrade at linebacker and find a long-term star at the cornerback position if the opportunity presents itself. Tight end is also a need after trading T.J. Hockenson to Minnesota, but it is not a vital part of the offense.
The NFC franchise has picks Nos. 6 and 18 in the first round, so there is ample opportunity to address a few of those needs.
Packers: Wide receiver
Green Bay has a handful of needs to fill and that will become easier once acquiring more draft capital from New York as part of the Aaron Rodgers deal. The Packers have five wide receivers on their roster and four were a part of the 2022 NFL Draft. The offense is in the hands of Jordan Love moving forward and he has limited NFL playing experience. This is not a Rodgers situation where he can amplify the talent around him; Love is going to need some help as he establishes himself. Green Bay is sitting at No. 15 overall.
Tight end is a need as well. The interior offensive line was disappointing last year. Safety is another area they could address.
Carolina signed Andy Dalton in free agency but it was always with the understanding that it was going to draft a rookie quarterback. The Panthers moved up from No. 9 overall to No. 1 overall, which means they are in a position to select their quarterback of choice.
The team could use more depth at edge rusher and cornerback.
Rams: Interior offensive line
Los Angeles is a team in rebuild mode that lacks assets. The Rams need to upgrade the interior offensive line. The quarterback is 35 years old. Their best running back requested a trade at one point last season. Wide receiver Allen Robinson has also requested a trade. Cornerback Jalen Ramsey has been traded. There is really no reason to keep defensive tackle Aaron Donald at this point other than him being the heart of that franchise. Holes exist everywhere on the roster but the interior offensive line would be a good place to start.
Saints: Defensive tackle
New Orleans has invested a lot into its interior offensive line and that group did not play to the standard last season. However, the Saints have to make it work. The interior defensive line is a concern after losing David Onyemata and Shy Tuttle in free agency. Castoffs from other teams, Nathan Shepherd and Khalen Saunders, are now slated to start. The franchise could use a long-term answer in that role as it continues to chase contention in the NFC.
Linebacker, wide receiver and cornerback are a few other spots that could be addressed.
General manager John Schneider found a handful of long-term contributors in last year’s draft class. He is now tasked with repeating that feat. The Seahawks need to find more consistent pass-rush options to take some of the pressure off the secondary. Fortunately, they have a strong opportunity to do that at No. 5 overall. If they do not add an eventual replacement for quarterback Geno Smith, then the Seahawks should be in a position to select Alabama edge rusher Will Anderson Jr., Georgia defensive tackle Jalen Carter or Texas Tech edge rusher Tyree Wilson.
Seattle also holds the No. 20 overall selection.
Vikings: Wide receiver
Justin Jefferson is arguably the best wide receiver in the game but the loss of Adam Thielen leaves the franchise with K.J. Osborn, Jalen Nailor, Jalen Reagor and Brandon Powell at the position. Could someone step up and be a cost-effective answer? Sure, but none have done anything for that to be assumed. Minnesota is in the sweet spot of the first round (No. 23 overall) to potentially find that complement to Jefferson.
Cornerback is still a position that could be targeted despite signing Byron Murphy in free agency.
The 2023 NFL Draft will take place from April 27-29 in Kansas City, Missouri. Explore the CBSSports.com prospect rankings to learn more about the options that could be available to your favorite team!