Every team expected to pick in the 2014 NFL draft has a list of needs they will try to fill on their roster. So looking at each situation, what is the most glaring one for each franchise? Here is the NFC.
Arizona Cardinals – Offensive Tackle
Bruce Arians has done a masterful job settling down the Arizona Cardinals offensive line but it is still a unit lacking the talent to take on those NFC West defenses. Getting a quality tackle to put next to Jonathan Cooper when he returns would be ideal.
Option based on current draft position: Cameron Erving – Florida State
Atlanta Falcons – Defensive Line
Having skated by too long older veterans and quality role players, the Atlanta Falcons finally hit rock bottom on defense. They are in dire need of pass rushers, either at end or tackle as long as they can actually disrupt a pocket and make a offensive lines work hard.
Option based on current draft position: Jadeveon Clowney – South Carolina
Carolina Panthers – Wide Receiver
Cam Newton has come on strong in 2013 but he’s done with a lot of help from the Carolina Panthers defense and his own freakish athleticism. He still badly need another quality receiver with Steve Smith getting older.
Option based on current draft position: Jordan Matthews – Vanderbilt
Chicago Bears – Defensive Tackle
Defensive tackle was a worrisome spot coming into the season for the Chicago Bears because of its lacking depth. The injuries suffered since then and subsequent crippling of their run defense (32nd in NFL) have reinforced their need to upgrade it.
Option based on current draft position: Timmy Jernigan – Florida State
Dallas Cowboys – Safety
A playmaking safety is something the Dallas Cowboys haven’t had in years and it’s begun to tell given the ongoing struggles of their pass defense. Monte Kiffin needs somebody on the back end who can make plays and ease the pressure on Brandon Carr and Morris Claiborne.
Option based on current draft position: LaMarcus Joyner – Florida State
Detroit Lions – Cornerback
Despite a run of games against backup quarterbacks the Detroit Lions pass defense still ranks 26th in the league. That is bad. They continue to struggle putting a quality secondary on the field, especially at the cornerback position. Upgrades are still needed.
Option based on current draft position: Ifo Ekpre-Olomu – Oregon
Green Bay Packers – Tight End
The loss of Jermichael Finley has hurt more than anybody realized for the Green Bay Packers. They’ve really lacked a presence in the middle of the field, regardless of the loss of Aaron Rodgers. Given Finley’s uncertain future, an upgrade could really help.
Option based on current draft position: Eric Ebron – North Carolina
Minnesota Vikings – Quarterback
Christian Ponder has had multiple chances to maintain the starting job but the Minnesota Vikings keep losing. Adrian Peterson won’t last forever. They need a difference maker at quarterback sooner than later.
Option based on current draft position: Derek Carr – Fresno State
New Orleans Saints – Offensive Tackle
One could make a case for a young quarterback with Drew Brees turning 35 but the best option for the New Orleans Saints is to continue protecting him and wait for better opportunities on the quarterback. So getting a solid tackle would really help.
Option based on current draft position: Antonio Richardson – Tennessee
New York Giants – Defensive Line
Not much has changed since the start of the season. The New York Giants still have one of the worst pass rushes in the NFL (31st). Justin Tuck is a free agent, so getting another rusher either at end or tackle is by far the most preferable.
Option based on current draft position: Stephon Tuitt – Notre Dame
Philadelphia Eagles – Outside Linebacker
The offense seems set in stone for the Philadelphia Eagles, so Chip Kelly has to think about increasing the potency of his defense, specifically in regards to their 26th overall pass rush. A dynamic outside linebacker would certainly help the cause.
Option based on current draft position: Trent Murphy – Stanford
San Francisco 49ers – Wide Receiver
They’ve skated by in 2013 thanks to strong defense and a running game but to win a championship the San Francisco 49ers have to make the 2014 NFL draft about bolstering their wide receiving corps. Anquan Boldin is getting older and Mario Manningham is a free agent.
Option based on current draft position: Devante Parker – Louisville
Seattle Seahawks – Cornerback
Considered ridiculous not too long ago, recent developments with Brandon Browner and Walter Thurmond have left the Seattle Seahawks cornerbacks dangerously thinned. Given how important the position is to their defense, than must be remedied.
Option based on current draft position: Loucheiz Purifoy – Florida
St. Louis Rams – Offensive Line/Safety
Since they have two first round picks to work with, they can afford to fill two needs. If Sam Bradford is their future, the St. Louis Rams have to protect him better up front. They also need a safety on the back end who can take advantage of that elite pass rush up front. Much will depend on where their two picks land.
Option based on current draft position: Jake Matthews – Texas A&M
Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Defensive End
Defensive tackle isn’t a problem and with Mike Glennon holding down the quarterback spot, the only real need for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers is finding a serious pass rusher off the edge. Michael Bennett is gone and Da’Quan Bowers is a colossal disappointment.
Option based on current draft position: Anthony Barr – UCLA
Washington Redskins – Offensive Line
Until Robert Griffin III is adequately protected he will never realize his full potential as a pocket passer, forced to remain primarily a slave to the read-option. The defense does need a lot of help but RGIII is the franchise, so his needs must come first.
Option based on current draft position: Cyril Richardson – Baylor