NFC post-draft team needs: Cowboys, Packers require more weapons, while 49ers should bolster one unit
Now that the 2023 NFL Draft has come and gone and teams have addressed some major needs, here are the ones that remain for each NFC team.
Dallas Cowboys: WR depth
The Cowboys are one injury away from being in the same wide receiver predicament they were a year ago when they had to sign T.Y. Hilton off the street. CeeDee Lamb, Michael Gallup and Brandin Cooks are a solid trio, but there isn’t anyone behind them that can play meaningful snaps in a pinch. There are plenty of veteran options in free agency who could be a better stop-gap than Hilton was in 2022.
Possible fix: Sign Kenny Golladay, Julio Jones, Jarvis Landry or Sammy Watkins
New York Giants: Guard
New York fixed its center problem when the Giants drafted John Michael Schmitz in the second round but there is still a glaring need at guard between Ben Bredeson on the left and Mark Glowinski on the right. There is no guarantee Daniel Jones and Saquon Barkley can reproduce their 2022 seasons unless the offensive line is sound.
Possible fix: Sign Dalton Risner, Rodger Saffold or Gabe Jackson
Philadelphia Eagles: Linebacker depth
The Eagles set themselves up nicely by shoring up their defensive line and pass rush in the first round and don’t have too many needs coming out of the draft. That doesn’t mean Philadelphia is perfect, though. While a third pass-catching option would be nice, another quality linebacker is more important to lock down the defense.
Possible fix: Trade for Ravens LB Patrick Queen
Washington Commanders: Safety
This is a team that could surprise people if Sam Howell or Jacoby Brissett outperform expectations. The defense, at least, looks solid up front. The secondary could use some work, even after the Commanders took Emmanuel Forbes in the first round. A stable safety to patrol the deep secondary would do wonders.
Possible fix: Sign Adrian Amos or John Johnson III
Chicago Bears: Edge rusher
Chicago basically put itself out of the running for one of the top pass rushers in the draft by trading back to No. 9 and then again one pick back to let the Eagles take Jalen Carter. Building up the offensive line with Darnell Wright at No. 10 was big, but the defense is still a mess up front. DeMarcus Walker is the only quality edge rusher on the team, which won’t cut it if Chicago is trying to get to the quarterback.
Possible fix: Sign Frank Clark, Jadeveon Clowney, Melvin Ingram or Justin Houston
Detroit Lions: Defensive linemen
The Lions focused on offense with two of their first three selections and also took an off-ball linebacker and a defensive back. But they left a big gap in the middle of the defensive line with Alim McNeill and Levi Onwuzurike, two Day 2 picks from 2021. A veteran defensive lineman would stabilize the front four and aid the Lions’ divisional aspirations. Another pass rusher would be great, too, but an interior lineman is more important right now.
Possible fix: Sign Matt Ioannidis
Green Bay Packers: Wide receiver
Aaron Rodgers pilfered the Packers’ receiver room before and after he officially joined the Jets when Allen Lazard and Randall Cobb signed with New York. That leaves second-year wideouts Christian Watson and Romeo Doubs as the only receivers in Green Bay with at least 40 receptions. Yes, the Packers drafted two tight ends and a receiver with their second, third and fourth picks in the 2023 class, but none of them are sure things.
Possible fix: Trade for a veteran like DeAndre Hopkins or sign a trusty possession guy like Jarvis Landry
Minnesota Vikings: Cornerback
Minnesota had one of the worst defenses in the league this past season, and while the Vikings did make upgrades this offseason, that unit still needs support. The secondary remains the biggest need after the Vikings seemingly promoted backups Andrew Booth and Akayleb Evans to starting roles and drafted Mekhi Blackmon in the third round. A good veteran would help here.
Possible fix: Sign someone like Marcus Peters, Eli Apple or Casey Hayward
Atlanta Falcons: Wide receiver
The Falcons are missing much more than another receiver, but Atlanta doesn’t really have one after Drake London. And now, we’re not counting tight end Kyle Pitts or No. 8 pick Bijan Robinson here. They need an actual No. 2 receiver. Scotty Miller and Mack Hollins simply won’t cut it because neither will frighten a defense. The options are sparse, but a veteran off the street with some experience and skill would add a little bit to whatever this offense plans to become.
Possible fix: Julio Jones reunion? Or just Jarvis Landry
Carolina Panthers: Pass rusher
The Panthers actually addressed their biggest needs with their first three picks: quarterback Bryce Young, receiver Jonathan Mingo and edge rusher DJ Johnson were Carolina’s top priorities after free agency. But defense was key to the Panthers’ late-season playoff push last year, and you can never have too many pass rushers.
Possible fix: Sign Frank Clark, Yannick Ngakoue or Justin Houston
New Orleans Saints: Interior defensive lineman
New Orleans added Bryan Bresee with its first-round pick but still needs more defensive linemen on the interior. Bresee and free agent acquisitions Nathan Shepherd and Khalen Saunders are anything but sure things. An experienced veteran would also help Bresee’s development.
Possible fix: Sign Matt Ioannidis, Shelby Harris or Akiem Hicks
Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Offensive line
It’s hard to tell what direction the Buccaneers are going in their first season without Tom Brady. Regardless, Tampa Bay needs a good offensive line to at least give itself a chance, especially with Baker Mayfield or Kyle Trask under center with second-year running back Rachaad White in the backfield. It’s unclear where second-rounder Cody Mauch will play, too, so the Buccaneers just need more experience across the line.
Possible fix: Sign Dalton Risner or Ben Jones
Arizona Cardinals: Cornerback, but a whole new defense really
This team is clearly in rebuild mode, so they’re missing a lot. But the most egregiously deficient position in Arizona is cornerback. Marco Wilson, a 2021 fourth-rounder, is solid and the Cardinals took Garrett Williams in the third round, but 30-year-old journeyman Antonio Hamilton and 2022 seventh-rounder Christian Matthew are the other two cornerbacks who could go see starter snaps. Yikes.
Possible fix: Sign a veteran like Shaquill Griffin or Casey Hayward
Los Angeles Rams: Cornerback
The Rams need to replace Jalen Ramsey in the secondary. Even if the team is leaning toward rebuilding mode, Los Angeles can’t let teams throw on them indiscriminately. The Rams have needs everywhere on defense, but a cornerback with at least six career starts seems like a low bar to clear.
Possible fix: Sign any cheap veteran cornerback
San Francisco 49ers: Tackle
Apart from Trent Williams, the 49ers’ offensive line doesn't look very good on paper. San Francisco lost right tackle Mike McGlinchey to the Broncos in free agency and is poised to replace him with 2020 fifth-rounder Colton McKivitz. Guards Spencer Burford and Aaron Banks as well as center Jake Brendel will all return after starting most of their games in 2022, but all are replaceable. Right tackle is the most important position to replace, though.
Possible fix: Sign George Fant or Cameron Fleming
Seattle Seahawks: Interior defensive linemen
Quietly, the Seahawks had a tremendous offseason. There aren’t many immediate needs on this team, so the best thing for Seattle to do is shore up its weaker positions. The interior defensive line looks like the best candidate for improvement after the Seahawsk replaced Quinton Jefferson and Al Woods with Jarran Reed and fourth-rounder Cameron Young. Nose tackle Bryan Mone is also recovering from a late-season ACL tear. Seattle is the only team in the NFC West who can compete with the 49ers, and they’ll need a better defensive line to have a shot at the defending division champion.
Possible fix: Sign Matt Ioannidis or Akiem Hicks