The New York Giants need to look to upgrade the supporting cast around quarterback Eli Manning in the upcoming draft. (AP Photo/Bill Kostroun)

Earlier, we looked at the biggest draft needs for every team in the AFC. Now, we will turn our attention to the NFC, where there is a mix of teams looking to fine-tune their rosters in order to make a run at the conference title and teams in total rebuilding mode.

Here are the three biggest positional draft needs for each of the 16 NFC teams:

(Jump to NFC North, NFC South or NFC West.)
NFC East

Dallas Cowboys

Key additions:
CB Nolan Carroll
T Byron Bell

Key losses:
QB Tony Romo
S Barry Church
S J.J. Wilcox
CB Morris Claiborne
T Doug Free

Needs

Safety: The Cowboys lost both starting safeties to free agency. Byron Jones should take over one of those spots, but the other one is open for competition.

Pass rusher: The Cowboys have needed pass rush help for years and have addressed it during previous drafts. Unfortunately, they’ve struck out on some risky selections (Randy Gregory included). As such, they’re still looking for a consistent edge rusher with the ability to take over a game.

Cornerback: I went back and forth whether this priority should be a right tackle with the retirement of Doug Free. Then, I remembered that the NFC East’s collection of wide receivers includes Alshon Jeffery (Eagles), Terrelle Pryor (Redskins) and Odell Beckham Jr. (Giants). Nolan Carroll and Anthony Brown will have their hands full; in fact, it could get ugly without more help at the position.

New York Giants

Key additions:
WR Brandon Marshall
ILB Keenan Robinson
G D.J. Fluker
TE Rhett Ellison

Key losses:
RB Rashad Jennings
WR Victor Cruz

Needs

Offensive tackle: Ereck Flowers is not the answer at left tackle, and Bobby Hart struggled throughout the 2016 season. The Giants can’t go into the season with these two as the starters, or it’s going to be trouble.

Running back: Jennings was waived in a salary cap saving procedure, which left Paul Perkins and the perpetually banged-up Shane Vereen as the top two backs on the depth chart. That won’t work in 2017.

Tight end: Will Tye strikes me more as a fullback than a pass catching tight end weapon. Beckham, Brandon Marshall, Sterling Shepard and Roger Lewis are going to get a ton of attention, which would open things up for an athletic, field-stretching tight end.

Washington Redskins

Key additions:
WR Terrelle Pryor
WR Brian Quick
DT Terrell McClain
LB Zach Brown
S D.J. Swearinger
DT Stacy McGee

Key losses:
DE Ricky Jean Francois
DE Chris Baker
WR DeSean Jackson
WR Pierre Garcon

Needs

Interior defensive line: The Redskins spent some cash on former Raiders defensive lineman McGee and signed McClain, but they’re not truly disruptive interior players. As such, the Redskins have no real impact players up front on the defensive line.

Inside linebacker: The signing of Zach Brown is a one-year stopgap, but a decent one for 2017. Mason Foster had 124 tackles in 2016 and the Redskins need him to repeat that level of play. Regardless, there are some solid day two options to provide depth and a future at inside linebacker.

RB: Rob Kelley was a revelation in the second half of the season, rushing for 704 yards on 168 carries. Is he the long-term answer or just a guy who took advantage of the opportunity? He’d make for a stellar number two alongside an explosive, home run-hitting number one.

Philadelphia Eagles

Key additions:
WR Alshon Jeffery
WR Torrey Smith
DT Timmy Jernigan
CB Patrick Robinson
QB Nick Foles

Key losses:
QB Chase Daniel
OLB Connor Barwin
DT Bennie Logan
CB Nolan Carroll

Needs

CB: At this point, the Eagles may need to find both starting corners in this draft. The good news is that it’s a possibility, given how strong this class is for corners.

RB: In 2016, Ryan Mathews only played in 13 games and averaged less than 13 touches per game during the season. Darren Sproles can’t play forever, either, so expect the Eagles to find a dependable back who can stay healthy and handle 20 touches a game.

Wide receiver: The Eagles added Smith and Jeffery, but that shouldn’t preclude Philadelphia from taking a receiver early in this draft. Smith hasn’t had more than 50 catches the past three seasons, and Jeffery only signed a one-year deal.

NFC North

Green Bay Packers

Key additions:
TE Martellus Bennett
TE Lance Kendricks
CB Davon House

Key losses:
TE Jared Cook
RB Eddie Lacy
G T.J. Lang
C J.C. Tretter
OLB Julius Peppers
S Micah Hyde
CB Sam Shields
RB James Starks

Needs

CB/Nickel: If the Packers enter the season with Davon House as a starter at corner, there’s big trouble in Titletown. Ladarius Gunter encountered a baptism by fire last year and he should improve. Regardless, help is desperately needed.

Interior DL: Kenny Clark is ready to take that next step, and the Packers added Ricky Jean-Francois from Washington. But, there’s not much else behind or alongside Mike Daniels at nose tackle or defensive tackle.

RB: The Packers seem to like the transformation of Ty Montgomery to full-time running back, but it won’t hurt the overall offensive directive to find another versatile back to complement Montgomery.


Running back Ty Montgomery could use some help in the Packers’ backfield. (AP Photo/Jeffrey Phelps)

Detroit Lions

Key additions:
T Ricky Wagner
G T.J. Lang
CB D.J. Hayden
DE Akeem Spence
DE Cornelius Washington
LB Paul Worrilow

Key losses:
WR Andre Roberts
LB DeAndre Levy
T Riley Reiff

Needs

LB: Take your pick on the inside or outside. The Lions depth chart at the three linebacker positions is void of any players who should start the season at that position.

CB: D.J. Hayden signed after a rough start to his career in Oakland, and if he follows the same track, he won’t be a starter after October.

TE: The Lions thought they found their answer at tight end with Eric Ebron in the 2014 draft, and he’s increased his receptions each year. They expected him to be a 75-catch per season threat, though, and not be a guy who topped out at only 61 catches and ranked in the top five in drops last season (seven in 85 targets).

Minnesota Vikings

Key additions:
RB Latavius Murray
DE Datone Jones
T Mike Remmers
T Riley Reiff

Key losses:
G Andre Smith
WR Cordarrelle Patterson
LB Audie Cole
Nickel CB Captain Munnerlyn
TE Rhett Ellison
T Matt Kalil
OLB Chad Greenway
G Brandon Fusco

Needs

Interior OL: The Vikings’ offensive line was dreadful last season and they addressed the need at tackle, signing Mike Remmers and Riley Reiff. But the projected interior trio is going to be an issue without some assistance from this draft class. Center Joe Berger is 34 and has started 30 games the past two years.

WR: After the Vikings drafted Laquon Treadwell last year, I thought the receiver question was solved in Minnesota. It wasn’t. Thankfully, Adam Thielen picked up some of the slack. Even with the contributions of Thielen, the Vikings need assistance at the position and the Vikings can’t bank on Treadwell turning into Cris Carter.

OLB: Chad Greenway retired this offseason, opening a spot in the Vikings’ base defense. There aren’t many holes in this unit, and this one isn’t a massive one. It is, though, a spot that needs filling, whether it’s Emmanuel Lamur or a 2017 draft pick.

Chicago Bears

Key additions:
QB Mike Glennon
CB Prince Amukamara
S Quintin Demps
DE John Jenkins
QB Mark Sanchez
WR Kendall Wright
WR Rueben Randle

Key losses:
QB Matt Barkley
QB Brian Hoyer
WR Alshon Jeffery
G Ted Larsen
OLB/DE Cornelius Washington

Needs

DE: The Bears’ defensive front was one of the five worst, statistically speaking, in 2017. Simply put, this group has no true impact players and little depth.

WR: There’s no more Alshon Jeffery. There are still questions about 2015 first-rounder Kevin White. Cameron Meredith, an undrafted free agent from 2015, is the most complete receiver in Chicago at this moment. The Bears signed Kendall Wright and Rueben Randle, but neither will be the go-to receiver in the Windy City.

CB: There are questions about whether Kyle Fuller can stay healthy. Tracy Porter should be a nickel sub-package cover corner, not a starter. Prince Amukamara did not have a great season in Jacksonville in 2016. All in all, the Bears have names people recognize, but multiple question marks at the position.

NFC South

Atlanta Falcons

Key additions:
DT Dontari Poe
WR Andre Roberts
DE Jack Crawford
OLB Courtney Upshaw
G Hugh Thornton

Key losses:
G Chris Chester
FB Chris DiMarco
WR/RET Eric Weems
WR Aldrick Robinson

Needs

A three-down defensive end: Vic Beasley came into his own as a pure pass rusher, but the Falcons often had to take him off the field on first and second down due to his inability to set the edge against the run early in a series. The Falcons have designed their defense around speed, first and foremost. But they have to have a consistently productive edge player, speedy or not, who can play all three downs opposite Beasley.


Vic Beasley was more of a pass-rushing specialist than an every-down presence at defensive end for the Falcons. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)

G: The retirement of Chris Chester forced the Falcons to sign Hugh Thornton to play guard. But he’s better served being the versatile backup for each interior position, not the starter for what is arguably the best offense in the NFL

S: The Falcons hit a draft home run with the selection of Keanu Neal last year, and doing it again, perhaps in later rounds, could bolster the depth at a key position in the Falcons’ defense.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Key additions:
WR DeSean Jackson
S J.J. Wilcox

Key losses:
S Bradley McDougald
WR Russell Shepard
DT Akeem Spence
QB Mike Glennon

Needs

T: There isn’t much depth at the tackle position, with Donovan Smith and Demar Dotson as the only two capable tackles listed on the roster currently.

DE: Noah Spence flashed some pass rush ability and William Gholston signed a five year deal to stay in Tampa, but there’s isn’t much depth beyond them. Furthermore, this draft has players with much higher ceilings than either of those two potential starters.

TE: Cameron Brate had a breakout season at tight end in 2016, following the departure of Austin Seferian-Jenkins, but Jameis Winston would love to have another weapon alongside Brate, free agent speedster DeSean Jackson and go-to guy Mike Evans.

New Orleans Saints

Key additions:
ILB Manti Te’o
DE Alex Okafor
G Larry Warford
WR Ted Ginn
ILB A.J. Klein
QB Chase Daniel

Key losses:
WR Brandin Cooks
QB Luke McCown
RB Tim Hightower
G Tim Lelito
OLB Kasim Edebali

Needs

Inside WR or TE: Coby Fleener is not quite the answer at the tight end position, and the loss of Cooks is significant, even more so because of his ability to make plays inside in addition to outside. Drew Brees needs his new version of Jimmy Graham, with a little Cooks mixed in. There are a few pass catchers in this draft who are listed as tight ends but offer lots of versatility who could be a good match for Brees.

DE: The Saints simply couldn’t get to the quarterback consistently last season.

CB: Delvin Breaux is the team’s best cornerback, and that’s not acceptable when facing NFC South quarterbacks Matt Ryan, Cam Newton and Jameis Winston each twice a year.

Carolina Panthers

Key additions:
CB Captain Munnerlyn
DE/OLB Julius Peppers
T Matt Kalil

Key losses:
WR Corey “Philly” Brown
WR Ted Ginn Jr.
DE Kony Ealy
T Mike Remmers
ILB A.J. Klein
FB Mike Tolbert

Needs

RB: Although Jonathan Stewart restructured his deal for another two seasons, he isn’t going to play forever. Not to mention, Stewart is 30 years old and has taken some serious punishment over the years.

DE: Charles Johnson is in his 30s. Julius Peppers was drafted when George W. Bush was in his first four-year term as president of the United States. Age alone should makes this draft need self-explanatory.

CB: The addition of Captain Munnerlyn is a valuable one, but he’s better served being a nickel cover corner at this point in his career. GM David Gettlemen does value his big fellas up front, but he certainly needs to address the cornerback position in this draft.

NFC West

Seattle Seahawks

Key additions:
K Blair Walsh
RB Eddie Lacy
G/T Luke Joeckel
G Oday Aboushi
S Bradley McDougald
ILB Michael Wilhoite

Key losses:
FB Derrick Coleman
TE Brandon Williams
K Steven Hauschka

Needs

An entire offensive line: There isn’t one player on this offensive line who can’t be replaced by a 2017 draft pick. The addition of Joeckel could help, but it doesn’t solve the litany of protection issues this group had in 2016.


The Seahawks need to improve their pass protection for quarterback Russell Wilson (3) in 2017. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

CB: DeShawn Shead re-upped with the Seahawks after tearing his anterior cruciate ligament in the playoffs. Yet he’s far from the most interesting story at cornerback. There’s been a great deal of noise about the corner on the opposite side. GM John Schneider confirmed that the Seahawks have indeed shopped Pro Bowl cornerback Richard Sherman. If Schneider is still shopping Sherman, then this could be priority number one.

LB: The Seahawks didn’t get Pro Bowl-caliber play from Bruce Irvin before he left for Oakland in 2016, but it was clear that there was a void at that position when he left. The Seahawks’ defensive staff asks the Sam (strongside) backer to be disruptive yet versatile, and the right guy could make the front seven one of the most dynamic in the NFC.

Arizona Cardinals

Key additions:
OLB Jarvis Jones
S Antoine Bethea

Key losses:
ILB Kevin Minter
T Earl Watford
OLB Alex Okafor
CB Marcus Cooper
S Tony Jefferson
S D.J. Swearinger
DE Calais Campbell

Needs

QB: In 2016, Carson Palmer wasn’t quite the MVP candidate he was in 2015, and there’s been talk about what the future will be at quarterback for Arizona when the 37-year old Palmer runs out of gas. The Cardinals must hold their breath every time he drops to throw, because the Drew Stanton insurance policy is a concern.

S: Although the Cardinals signed Antoine Bethea to fill the massive hole at safety created by the departures of D.J. Swearinger and Tony Jefferson, Bethea will be a minor stopgap. He’s 32 and has lost a step or more. Unfortunately, he’s the best the Cardinals have currently opposite Tyrann Mathieu at safety. The Cardinals would be wise to find options at safety, multiple ones, to allow Mathieu the freedom he needs to excel in this defense.

Slot WR or TE: The Cardinals paid Jermaine Gresham a bunch of money to stay in Arizona, but there are some young weapons who can win in the passing game in areas that Gresham can’t. Versatile, athletic tight ends like Evan Engram (Ole Miss) and Bucky Hodges (Virginia Tech) would fit in Arizona.

Los Angeles Rams

Key additions:
T Andrew Whitworth
C John Sullivan
OLB Connor Barwin
S Kayvon Webster

Key losses:
QB Case Keenum
RB Benny Cunningham
S T.J. McDonald
WR Brian Quick
TE Lance Kendricks
DE William Hayes
WR Kenny Britt

Needs

C: The Rams signed John Sullivan, but how much he has in the tank is a valid concern. A veteran at center with a young quarterback and an even younger head coach might be of value this season, but if Sullivan goes down or shows his age, the Rams need help.

CB: The installation of Wade Phillips’s defense will be easy, but the transition may be difficult without corners that can lock up in man coverage all day long. When Phillips went to Houston, he pushed for the Texans to sign Johnathan Joseph. In Denver, he had Aqib Talib and Chris Harris Jr. The Rams desperately need to find corners who thrive in man coverage.

WR: The Rams did add Robert Woods, formerly of Buffalo, but that doesn’t solve the Rams’ major problem. They don’t have a true number one wide receiver, and it’s not even close. Tavon Austin gets paid like one, but he hasn’t produced like one. The Rams will have to find one on day two or later, as they’re without a first-round pick in 2017 as a result of the trade to move up to No. 1 overall last season (a pick they used on quarterback Jared Goff).

San Francisco 49ers

Key additions:
QB Brian Hoyer
QB Matt Barkley
WR Pierre Garcon
WR Marquise Goodwin
WR Aldrick Robinson
WR Jeremy Kerley
FB Kyle Juszczyk
RB Tim Hightower
C Jeremy Zuttah
NT Earl Mitchell
LB Malcolm Smith
S/ST Don Jones

Key losses:
LB Michael Wilhoite
WR Quinton Patton
WR Torrey Smith
G Marcus Martin
S Antoine Bethea
QB Colin Kaepernick

Needs

S: When healthy, Eric Reid is one of the best young safeties in the game. Unfortunately, the rest of the 49ers’ safety depth chart is void of anyone that new defensive coordinator Robert Saleh will want on the field consistently at the other safety position.

QB: Hoyer and Barkley both played in Chicago last year and will be effective stopgaps, but the 49ers have to find the future answer as soon as possible.

WR: The 49ers have completely revamped the wide receiver depth chart, but there isn’t a bona fide number one pass-catcher at receiver or tight end. Garcon is a perfect second option, but if he’s the number one, Kyle Shanahan’s offense could be in a bit of trouble.