With the first round of the 2021 NFL Draft in the books, all 32 teams still have several needs to address in the next six rounds. What are the top remaining requirements for all 32 teams in the draft, and which other needs should teams consider addressing?
NFC team needs in the 2021 NFL Draft
What are the top needs for the 16 NFC teams heading into Round 1 of the 2021 NFL Draft?
Atlanta Falcons | QB, S, RB, CB, & OG
The Falcons’ needs are somewhat intriguing. With a new hierarchy in place and Matt Ryan’s future uncertain, the quarterback position certainly is one Atlanta needs to target, as they did in Pro Football Network’s recent Falcons mock draft. However, Ryan’s contract effectively ties him to the franchise for the next two years, meaning the Falcons could be looking at a QB that requires more development.
The Falcons’ other needs on offense come at running back and guard. They lack depth at the RB position, while a Day 2 pick at guard would have the opportunity to compete for a starting role. On defense, the Falcons desperately need to address a secondary surrounded by question marks, especially at safety.
Atlanta did not meet any of their significant needs in Round 1 as they selected TE Kyle Pitts.
Arizona Cardinals | CB, WR, RB, OT, & TE
When it comes to the Cardinals, their needs are somewhat spread around the team. With a solid base of talent on both sides of the ball, the Cardinals could look to attack several positions.
At cornerback, Malcolm Butler and Robert Alford are short-term solutions. The Cardinals could look to add a player they can develop into a long-term starter, as they did in PFN’s recent Cardinals mock draft. On offense, they could look to add talent in a number of places around QB Kyler Murray. All three offensive skill positions and a long-term right tackle are Arizona’s primary needs in the 2021 NFL Draft.
Arizona did not tackle any of their major needs in Round 1 as they selected LB Zaven Collins.
Carolina Panthers | QB, OT, S, & LB
The Panthers trading for Sam Darnold somewhat reduces the team’s need at the position. Still, Darnold is by no means a certainty, meaning the Panthers could address the position this year.
Outside of the QB position, building on their defense should be a crucial part of the draft. After filling their most obvious defensive need by selecting CB Jaycee Horn in Round 1, the Panthers have needs at safety as well as long-term options to consider at linebacker. Additionally, the Panthers need to consider drafting their long-term future at both left and right tackle.
Chicago Bears | CB, OT, WR, & DT
Andy Dalton is the short-term solution for the Bears at QB. Therefore, the Bears needed to add a player that could be the long-term answer at the position. They traded up to the 11th pick to select Justin Fields, fixing the large hole at QB.
The Bears also need to consider who will protect their future franchise QB at the tackle position, much like in PFN’s recent Bears mock draft. Additionally, they need to examine an option at wide receiver if Allen Robinson departs next offseason.
On defense, the Bears added Desmond Trufant, but he may not be their long-term future at CB. Meanwhile, there could be an overhaul coming at the left tackle position.
Dallas Cowboys | CB, S, DT, & OT
The focus for the Cowboys this offseason has largely revolved around addressing the team’s needs on defense in the 2021 NFL Draft. The secondary is their immediate priority, with CB a potential first-round target and a safety in the middle rounds.
Dallas also needs to bolster offensive tackle as they look to prepare their offensive line for the future. In the first round, the Cowboys did not hit any of their major needs. Instead, they selected LB Micah Parsons out of Penn State.
Detroit Lions | WR, LB, QB, CB, & S
Detroit has a slew of positions to fill on both sides of the ball. Following the departure of three receivers this offseason, the WR position was the focus of PFN’s recent Lions mock draft. Although, even with Jared Goff on the roster, do not count the Lions out of the QB sweepstakes in the later rounds. In Round 1, the Lions did not address their needs on offense. Instead, they added OT Penei Sewell to give them an impressive offensive line heading into 2021.
On defense, the Lions have areas of need at all three levels. The LB, CB, and S positions dominate the headlines, but upgrades across the defensive line are not out of the question.
Green Bay Packers | OT, WR, LB, & DT
The NFL Draft will likely see the Green Bay Packers looking to add players to help them challenge for the Super Bowl in 2021. In PFN’s recent Packers mock draft, the team addressed two positions of need (CB and OT) early in the 2021 NFL Draft. In Round 1, the Packers secured their CB position opposite Jaire Alexander with Eric Stokes.
The Packers also need to add more options at WR and add players that could impact LB and along the DL in their rookie season. While CB and OT are the most pressing need, the Packers will likely consider a best player available approach, regardless of position, throughout the draft.
Los Angeles Rams | LB, OC, EDGE, OT, & CB
Another team looking to add potential immediate contributors throughout the draft is the Los Angeles Rams. The Rams have traded away multiple first-round selections to build a team loaded with top-end talent. Yet, they have areas to upgrade on both sides of the ball.
Both the LB and EDGE positions could benefit from additional talent, while Los Angeles addressed the loss of key players in their secondary in PFN’s recent Rams mock draft. On offense, the Rams team needs in the 2021 NFL Draft focus on the offensive line, especially at center and tackle.
Minnesota Vikings | EDGE, OG, & S
Minnesota came into the 2021 NFL Draft with their team needs mainly revolving around the trenches. On defense, a pass rusher to work opposite Danielle Hunter is crucial. Pass-rush help is the way Minnesota went in the first round of PFN’s recent Vikings mock draft. They should also not lose sight of adding more depth to their secondary, especially at safety.
On offense, the Vikings have put good skill-position weapons around Kirk Cousins. In Round 1, they addressed their need at tackle by adding Christian Darrisaw. Minnesota must fix the interior of their offensive line.
New Orleans Saints | WR, LB, CB, DT, & S
The Saints have built their passing offense around the Drew Brees and Michael Thomas connection. Even so, the departure of Emmanuel Sanders leaves the WR position looking thin. In PFN’s recent Saints mock draft, New Orleans addressed this concern in the first round.
On defense, the Saints have concerns at all three levels. Therefore, they could use several mid-to-late-round picks to target DT, LB, CB, and S. Intriguingly, the Saints did not meet any of those needs in Round 1. Instead, New Orleans chose to draft DE Payton Turner.
New York Giants | EDGE, OC, OG, & LB
The Giants were extremely active in free agency. On the other hand, they need to consider both the EDGE and LB positions in the upcoming draft. Additionally, despite signing Adoree’ Jackson, PFN’s recent Giants mock draft still has New York adding a CB to add depth and long-term protection at a crucial position.
On offense, the Giants need to add talent to their offensive line. New York has the opportunity to make significant upgrades to the interior of their offensive line. New York’s first-round pick was certainly intriguing. Despite adding Kenny Golladay in free agency, the Giants drafted another wide receiver in Kadarius Toney.
Philadelphia Eagles | QB, CB, LB, & TE
Philadelphia traded QB Carson Wentz to the Colts, but is Jalen Hurts the future? It would be no surprise to see the Eagles target the QB position in the 2021 NFL Draft. Other needs for the Eagles on offense entering the draft included both WR and TE. Philadelphia traded up in Round 1 to fill the need at WR by adding DeVonta Smith.
The seemingly continually shaky CB position was a priority in PFN’s recent Eagles mock draft on defense. Philadelphia could also add to an LB group that impressed at times in 2020, despite a lack of top-end talent.
San Francisco 49ers | CB, EDGE, OC, & DT
As expected, the San Francisco 49ers addressed their most glaring need in this draft by selecting a QB. The selection of Trey Lance is intriguing as he may not be set to start during his rookie season. Could we see Jimmy Garoppolo continue to be the starting QB for the 49ers in 2021?
Following that selection, the CB position remains a concern for the 49ers, while they could also look to add more pieces to their DL rotation. After adding Alex Mack for the 2021 season, look for the 49ers to tackle their long-term situation at center some point in the 2021 NFL Draft.
Seattle Seahawks | OT, CB, DT, OC, & WR
The Seahawks have little in the way of capital with just three selections. Compounding the issue, they have major needs to address on both sides of the ball. The offensive line is an immediate need (especially for Russell Wilson). Giving Wilson a third clear weapon at WR could also be a priority. On the other hand, with Wilson potentially leaving next offseason, could Seattle invest a late-round selection in a project QB?
In PFN’s recent Seahawks mock draft, Seattle met needs at CB and DL. The Seahawks were at their most threatening when they had a strong defense. They need to get back to that.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers | RB, DT, EDGE, CB, & OG
After bringing back all 22 starters, the Buccaneers are in a luxurious position. There was a school of thought that the Buccaneers may confront the RB position early in the Draft, as they did in PFN’s recent Buccaneers mock draft?
Instead, the Buccaneers chose to add a potential immediate contributor to their defense. Joe Tryon can immediately play a rotational role for Tampa Bay. The Buccaneers were a candidate to address the DT position early in the draft and reinforcements at CB could also be in the cards.
Washington Football Team | QB, S, OT, & WR
Even after the addition of Ryan Fitzpatrick, Washington needs to address the QB position. Signing Fitzpatrick limits the need to take immediate action, meaning they could be in line for a project QB, as they did in PFN’s recent Washington mock draft.
Washington attacked one of their major needs on defense in Round 1. They added Kentucky LB Jamin Davis, which was their second-biggest need entering the draft. Further focuses for Washington should include additions at S on defense, as well as OT and WR for their offense.