Draft Needs: Every NFC team's biggest area of concern
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theScore goes division by division to identify the biggest need for every NFC team ahead of the 2021 NFL Draft, which will take place April 29-May 1.


NFC East

Dallas Cowboys

Biggest need: Cornerback

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The Cowboys have a major hole opposite Trevon Diggs and ideally would land a rookie capable of stepping into that starting role from Day 1. But the question is will Dallas want to use No. 10 to secure one, even it if means reaching? Or will the team once again use the best-player-available strategy, with elite talent likely to be pushed down due to the run of quarterbacks expected at the top? Patrick Surtain is arguably the only cornerback worthy of No. 10, but the next group will all likely be gone by the time the Cowboys pick again at No. 44.

Top early-round targets: Patrick Surtain, Jaycee Horn, Asante Samuel Jr.

New York Giants

Biggest need: Edge rusher

The Giants' pass-rush group isn't without talent. Lorenzo Carter and Oshane Ximines flashed potential before both suffered season-ending injuries early in 2020, and New York bolstered the unit with Ifeadi Odenigbo and Ryan Anderson in free agency. But the NFC East team needs a centerpiece pass-rusher to build around. That said, taking the best player available at No. 11 would likely best serve the Giants due to the lack of obvious top-10 edge talents, and then the franchise could trade up from No. 44 to secure its desired pass-rusher.

Top early-round targets: Gregory Rousseau​​​​​​, Carlos Basham Jr., Joe Tyron

Philadelphia Eagles

Biggest need: Wide receiver

If Jalen Hurts is going to succeed in his sophomore season, he will need a lot more talent at wide receiver than he had last year. DeSean Jackson and Alshon Jeffery are gone, and Philadelphia can't bank on 2020 first-rounder Jalen Reagor after a poor rookie campaign. The Eagles likely gave up their chance at landing J'Marr Chase by trading down to No. 12 overall, but they should still have a solid shot at one of the other top receiver prospects.

Top early-round targets: Jaylen Waddle, DeVonta Smith, Rashod Bateman

Washington Football Team

Biggest need: Linebacker

Washington could use its first-round pick on a left tackle or attempt a bold trade-up for a quarterback, but the move that could bolster its chances in 2021 the most is targeting a linebacker. Kevin Pierre-Louis, the team's best coverage linebacker, left for the Texans in free agency. Cole Holcomb is an emerging player, but fellow starter Jon Bostic will be 30 in May and is in the last year of his deal. Washington needs an athletic, sideline-to-sideline linebacker who can excel in coverage to take its talented defense to the next level.

Top early-round targets: Jeremiah Owusu-Koromoah, Zaven Collins, Jamin Davis

NFC North

Chicago Bears

Biggest need: Quarterback

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The Bears signed Andy Dalton, telling him he's their starter. While Chicago does seem confident in Dalton, the team clearly needs better quarterback play in the short and long term. But the Bears' first pick is only at No. 20, which puts the top QB prospects out of the team's range. In other words, Chicago will only get its potential new franchise quarterback this year with a blockbuster draft trade. But if the organization does call a signal-caller with its original first-round pick, it'd be an enormous reach. In case the Bears don't go QB on Day 1, they could address other areas of need, such as cornerback and offensive line.

Top early-round targets: Trey Lance, Mac Jones, Kyle Trask

Detroit Lions

Biggest need: Wide receiver

The Lions have many glaring holes, but this offseason made the wide receiver position the club's biggest need. Kenny Golladay and Marvin Jones signed elsewhere while Danny Amendola remains unsigned, meaning Detroit doesn't have any of its top three wideouts from last year's roster. Granted, the Lions added Breshad Perriman and Tyrell Williams, but the pair's arrival adds little to arguably the NFL's worst receiving corps at the moment. With quarterbacks expected to shape the draft's top 5, Detroit will see most prospects still available from this deep class of receivers at No. 7 overall.

Top early-round targets: Ja'Marr Chase, Jaylen Waddle, DeVonta Smith

Green Bay Packers

Biggest need: Cornerback

The Packers' cornerback depth chart remains essentially unchanged from last season. Green Bay re-signed Kevin King to a one-year deal, and he's on track to remain the club's No. 2 corner behind Jaire Alexander. Adding competition for King isn't a bad idea, though - he's coming off arguably the worst season of his career and is set to hit free agency again in 2022. The Packers would also welcome a new pass-catcher or offensive lineman, but landing a new corner should be the team's top draft priority.

Top early-round targets: Caleb Farley, Asante Samuel Jr., Greg Newsome

Minnesota Vikings

Biggest need: Edge rusher

Minnesota has holes on both sides of the ball, but its defense deserves special attention due to last season's struggles. The Vikings' pass rush will likely have Danielle Hunter back despite the Pro Bowler's reported dissatisfaction with his contract, but Hunter is the only high-level edge rusher on the roster, and the lack of consistent pass-rushing also helps expose Minnesota's issues in the secondary. The Vikings traded for Yannick Ngakoue last year, but the move didn't pay off. Luckily for coach Mike Zimmer, this year's edge rushers class features plenty of options.

Top early-round targets: Jaelan Phillips, Kwity Paye, Azeez Ojulari

NFC South

Atlanta Falcons

Biggest need: Edge rusher

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The Falcons have tried and failed to land an alpha pass-rusher near the top of the draft in recent years. To make matters worse, Dante Fowler Jr. was a big disappointment in 2020 after signing a big-money deal in free agency. Unfortunately for Atlanta, this draft lacks a pass-rusher worthy of the No. 4 spot. If the NFC South club trades down - as it reportedly is open to doing - there are several edge players worthy of consideration. But it's more likely the Falcons target one at the top of the second or trade back into the 20s.

Top early-round targets: Kwity Paye, Jayson Oweh, Ronnie Perkins

Carolina Panthers

Biggest need: Left tackle

Recently acquiring quarterback Sam Darnold has dramatically altered the outlook of the Panthers entering the draft. Darnold might not be the long-term answer under center, but the trade means Carolina is no longer going in laser-focused on landing one of the top five passers. Instead, the team should prioritize bolstering Darnold's protection with Russell Okung, last year's starter at left tackle, no longer with the club.

Top early-round targets: Penei Sewell, Rashawn Slater, Christian Darrisaw

New Orleans Saints

Biggest need: Cornerback

The Saints have locked Marshon Lattimore in as one of their starting cornerbacks, but the team currently doesn't have a clear No. 2 following Janoris Jenkins' departure and with Patrick Robinson, P.J. Williams, and Grant Haley all being more suited to depth roles. New Orleans has reportedly looked at veteran free agents like Richard Sherman, but the franchise could benefit the most from using an early pick on a corner to form a tandem with Lattimore for the foreseeable future.

Top early-round targets: Asante Samuel Jr., Caleb Farley, Kelvin Joseph

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Biggest need: Defensive line

The reigning Super Bowl champions don't have any glaring needs after a spectacular free-agency period in which the franchise retained all of its core pieces from a season ago. Therefore, the Buccaneers' top priority should be shoring up a talented but aging defensive line. Ndamukong Suh is 34 and William Gholston turns 30 in July, so it makes sense to secure a long-term option now who can also act as an insurance policy in case one of the starting veterans goes down.

Top early-round targets: Levi Onwuzurike​​​​​​, Christian Barmore, Osa Odighizuwa

NFC West

Arizona Cardinals

Biggest need: Cornerback

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The Cardinals landed Malcolm Butler in free agency, but their cornerback room still lacks star power and depth. Arizona hasn't brought back two of its starting corners from last year, with Patrick Peterson joining the Vikings and Dre Kirkpatrick remaining unsigned. That means Robert Alford, who hasn't played since 2018 due to injuries, is the presumptive favorite to start opposite Butler. For a team hoping to make a deep playoff run, that could be problematic.

Top early-round targets: Patrick Surtain, Jacee Horn, Caleb Farley

Los Angeles Rams

Biggest need: Center

The Rams currently don't have a Day 1 pick this year, but center should be the organization's priority when Los Angeles first gets on the clock in the second round. Austin Blythe, last season's starter, signed with the Chiefs in free agency, leaving Brian Allen as the Rams' only center with NFL experience. Allen, however, missed the 2020 campaign due to injury and his form remains uncertain. Moving someone like Austin Corbett from guard to center is also an option, but it could open a hole at guard as a result, affecting a stable position for L.A.

Top early-round targets: Creed Humphrey, Quinn Meinerz, Josh Myers

San Francisco 49ers

Biggest need: Quarterback

The 49ers' blockbuster trade for the third overall pick makes clear what they are looking for. And who could blame San Francisco for wanting improvement at quarterback? Jimmy Garoppolo has missed 23 games due to injury since 2018. When he's healthy, his ceiling is clear: Garoppolo can lead his team to wins, but he'll need help from a solid supporting cast on both sides. For a club coached by an offensive genius like Kyle Shanahan, that isn't good enough. This year's loaded QB class gives Shanahan mouth-watering options.

Top early-round targets: Justin Fields, Trey Lance, Mac Jones

Seattle Seahawks

Biggest need: Cornerback

The Seahawks have only three picks this year, and their first selection isn't until Day 2, so they'll have to see how the opening round will shape up before making calls. However, Seattle should have plenty of gifted corners available to choose from in the second round. The cornerback unit is crucial for coach Pete Carroll's scheme, but it was inconsistent in 2020 and lost Shaquill Griffin to free agency, raising even more questions for 2021. Meanwhile, veteran Ahkello Witherspoon, who's often injured, was the team's only main addition to the position.

Top early-round targets: Benjamin St-Juste, Ifeatu Melifonwu, Tyson Campbell

Draft Needs: Every NFC team's biggest area of concern
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