NFC team needs

Posted March 21, 2011 @ 6:43 p.m.
Posted By PFW staff

PFW identifies the top three needs of each NFC team more than a month prior to the 2011 NFL draft.

Arizona Cardinals

Top three draft needs: #1 OLB   #2 QB   #3 OL

Skinny: Age appears to have caught up to starting OLBs Joey Porter and Clark Haggans. A new starter under center is a top priority, but that need is more likely to be filled via free agency or trade. Three starting offensive linemen are potential free agents.


Atlanta Falcons

Top three draft needs: #1 DE   #2 WR   #3 OL

Skinny: They're looking to become more explosive on both sides of the ball, particularly when it comes to rushing the passer and stretching the field in the passing game. There could be turnover on the O-line with three starters set to hit free agency.


Carolina Panthers

Top three draft needs: #1 DT   #2 QB   #3 CB

Skinny: There's a massive void at defensive tackle that could be addressed at the top of the draft. Carolina also is searching for a franchise quarterback, and starting CB Richard Marshall is expected to depart when he becomes a free agent this offseason.


Chicago Bears

Top three draft needs: #1 OL   #2 DT   #3 WR

Skinny: Protecting Jay Cutler ought to be the top priority after the O-line allowed him to take a beating in 2010. The interior D-line is a concern with Tommie Harris having been released and Anthony Adams headed for free agency. Cutler could use another weapon at receiver.


Dallas Cowboys

Top three draft needs: #1 DE   #2 OL   #3 CB

Skinny: Depth at defensive end is a concern with three of the team's top four D-ends due to become free agents. There could be two or three openings on the offensive line. There's still a chance Terence Newman will be cut, which would make cornerback an issue.


Detroit Lions

Top three draft needs: #1 LB   #2 DB   #3 OL

Skinny: The biggest need — linebacker — probably will not be addressed in the first round. Cornerback will be a priority early, though, and taking an offensive tackle to help protect QB Matthew Stafford also will be under consideration.


Green Bay Packers

Top three draft needs: #1 DE   #2 OLB   #3 WR

Skinny: The Packers could use another quality pass-rushing end or outside linebacker who could complement stud LOLB Clay Matthews. At wide receiver, the inconsistent James Jones is a free agent, and Donald Driver appears to be on his last legs.


Minnesota Vikings

Top three draft needs: #1 QB   #2 S   #3 WR

Skinny: They're in the market for a franchise quarterback following Brett Favre's retirement. The safeties didn't perform well last season. Sidney Rice is expected to hit the open market, meaning Minnesota may need a new impact wide receiver.


New Orleans Saints

Top three draft needs: #1 DE   #2 OLB   #3 OL

Skinny: The pass rush was lackluster too often, and the Saints could use more speed at defensive end. A more explosive player at outside 'backer would be an upgrade. With three  starters on the O-line headed for free agency, the front five can't be overlooked.  


New York Giants

Top three draft needs: #1 LB   #2 C   #3 DT

Skinny: They value players who can help in the trenches, so adding young talent to the interior of the offensive and defensive lines could be the top priority. The play of the linebackers last season would indicate that LB is the biggest need, though.


Philadelphia Eagles

Top three draft needs: #1 CB   #2 OL   #3 LB

Skinny: Right corner was a weakness last season, so the Eagles will be seeking a playmaker to pair with LCB Asante Samuel. With a new O-line coach in Howard Mudd, the emphasis will be on finding athletic blockers. There's room for improvement at linebacker.


St. Louis Rams

Top three draft needs: #1 WR   #2 RB   #3 OG

Skinny: QB Sam Bradford is in dire need of more playmaking targets. The ground game is in equally dire need of a change-of-pace complement to featured back Steven Jackson and an interior blocker who can effectively move the pile in short-yardage situations.


San Francisco 49ers

Top three draft needs: #1 QB   #2 CB   #3 OLB

Skinny: Although there's a need at quarterback, the Niners might opt to stick with free-agent QB Alex Smith for another year due to the current labor impasse. A shutdown corner with speed and a productive perimeter pass rusher — either at end or outside linebacker — are considered significant needs.


Seattle Seahawks

Top three draft needs: #1 OL  #2 DT   #3 QB

Skinny: The Seahawks need a lot more depth on both lines. That's especially the case on an O-line with two 2010 starters and two key reserves who are free agents. Veteran QB Matt Hasselbeck is also a free agent who could have considerable market value.


Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Top three draft needs: #1 DE   #2 LB   #3 OL

Skinny: More production from the DE spot is essential for the Bucs' defense. The run "D" also has room to improve, and two starting LBs, including leading tackler Barrett Ruud, are due to become free agents. Starting OG Davin Joseph has an expiring contract, too. 


Washington Redskins

Top three draft needs: #1 QB   #2 OLB   #3 NT

Skinny: The Redskins lack a franchise quarterback, and landing one is at the top of the wish list for head coach Mike Shanahan. A pass rusher and a nose tackle — two of the more important pieces in the 3-4 defense — are also glaring needs.


AFC team needs