Strategies For NFC Teams In The 2018 NFL Draft

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Draft day is finally here! The excitement is building as fans gather to see who will be joining their team in 2018. Before the festivities begin, Jake has plenty of draft reading for you to do! So dive in!

Hey guys! Instead of the usual mock drafts or big boards, this piece will analyze teams’ strategies for the upcoming draft. Here, we will take a look at every NFC team and what their strategy could look like for the weekend! Enjoy!

Chicago Bears – Help Out Every Level Of The Defense

Number of picks – Seven

The Bears have plenty to address in this draft, but the list was shortened thanks to free agency. With receivers and a tight end coming in to help Mitchell Trubisky, the focus shifts to the defensive side of the ball. The Bears could use help at all levels of the defense, and they could have their pick of the litter at eight overall. If Quenton Nelson is there, then scrap the defense first plans. Nelson would be excellent in forming a great interior trio with Cody Whitehair and Kyle Long.

If they don’t get Nelson, back to defense we go. If he’s there, Roquan Smith would be my pick for the Bears. He is excellent as a three down linebacker with sideline-to-sideline abilities. After that, Denzel Ward and Tremaine Edmunds are the next two the Bears should consider. Ward would help out the cornerback group immediately while Edmunds could be moved all over the front seven.

Let’s say the Bears go with Roquan at number eight overall. Next on the list would be some help at either corner or wide receiver. Corner would be the smarter move, with players like Mike Hughes and Isaiah Oliver available in that range. If they look for a receiver, D.J. Moore would be a name to throw out there.

If Chicago adds another weapon and fills the holes at every level, their fans should be pleased.

Green Bay Packers – Defense, Defense, Defense! And A Wide Receiver

Number of picks – 12

The Packers could have a decision to make at pick number 14. Rumor has it they might move up, but let’s assume they stand pat here. At 14, the obvious pick is either adding an edge rusher or a cornerback. With Denzel Ward likely gone by this point, the Packers should opt for either Harold Landry or a corner, my preference being Jaire Alexander. If either Minkah Fitzpatrick or Derwin James is available, that further complicates things. I’m a huge fan of Derwin James, and I’d probably lean his way if he’s available.

In the second round, the Packers will also have a tough decision. Let’s stick with Harold Landry to the Packers to keep it simple. Green Bay should still be looking corner here, and shouldn’t hesitate if Jaire Alexander or Mike Hughes are still there. If they aren’t, then wide receiver is in play. Anthony Miller, D.J. Chark, and James Washington would all fit well in Green Bay. Chark can take the top off, Miller is very polished, and Washington just feels like a producer in that offense.

If they do indeed go wide receiver, the late rounds still provide cornerback help. Duke Dawson would be an excellent nickel player, along with Rashan Gaulden. Quenton Meeks is another to consider, but he’d be a better fit outside. They should also consider offensive linemen, since their right side is up in the air at this point. Braden Smith, Sean Welsh, and Alex Cappa should be on the Packers minds as well.

Minnesota Vikings – Fill The Offensive Line And Let Draft Come To You

Number of picks – Eight

The Vikings, like the Jaguars in my AFC article, don’t have a ton of holes on the team. However, the offensive line could use some help. Someone like Will Hernandez or Billy Price would be a great add for the Vikings in round one. They would help protect Cousins while also paving holes for Dalvin Cook.

After that, the needs get interesting. The defensive line could use some more depth. Luckily for Minnesota, the interior defensive line class is deep. Someone like Derrick Nnadi would be a great add at the end of round two. Further back, teammates Justin Jones and B.J. Hill are bargain players that can help push the pocket.

If they really want to, finding another pass rusher never hurts. I recently mocked Arden Key to them in round two, and he could definitely be there for the taking. However the Vikings play it, they will be able to pick and choose where they want to add depth in the draft.

Detroit Lions – Find Your Running Back and Help The Defensive Line

Number of picks – Six

The Lions are moving in a new direction with new head coach Matt Patricia. The team needs help in two major spots, running back and defensive line. The Lions could take Derrius Guice at 20, but the class is deep this year and I wouldn’t spend the pick on Guice (even though I’m a huge fan of his).

That means we are headed to the defensive line. Harold Landry could be available if the Packers pass, and if he’s there, he’s the pick. However, the Packers could take him, so it comes down to either Marcus Davenport or someone like Da’Ron Payne in the middle. If I’m the GM, Payne is the pick to start off the draft for the Lions.

After that, it’s about finding edge help and help at running back. One of the Georgia backs is my target for the Lions in round two. Either way, Nick Chubb and Sony Michel are both excellent backs that can change a game. Later, edge help from someone like Obo Okoronkwo or Tyquan Lewis can make a lot of sense for Detroit.

Dallas Cowboys – Let Board Come To You, Draft Balanced

Number of picks – 10

The Cowboys are a flashy team, and they want to get back to that 14-2 season they had in 2016. However, the draft needs to go well to get back to that point. Dallas has gotten better with the draft in the past few seasons, and they need to do it again.

Let’s start with the 19th overall pick. Wide receiver is a need with Dez Bryant gone, but most receivers are a reach for me at 19. Offensive line should be the move here, and someone like Isaiah Wynn makes a ton of sense. He played tackle for Georgia in a tough conference, but he can slide into the guard spot if needed.

Round two is the sweet spot to take care of the receiver issue. Guys like Anthony Miller, Courtland Sutton, and James Washington. Any of those guys make sense for Dallas in round two. After that, it’s about helping the defense. Someone to complement DeMarcus Lawrence would be smart, and guys like Kemoko Turay could help out there. Interior guys could also be in play. Derrick Nnadi could certainly help, along with Maurice Hurst, should his freefall occur.

New York Giants – Bolster The Offensive Line And Defense

Number of picks – Six

The Giants certainly should think about the future, but management clearly believes in Eli Manning. Let’s say I believe in him as well, so trading back is a must. To do this, I’m taking 12 and 22 for the second overall pick, allowing the Bills to get their guy. With only six picks beforehand, it’s an easy decision. I also pick up a round two selection.

To start, help along the offensive line is important. I lose out on Quenton Nelson, but plenty of guys are still there. So let’s take a swing to help the pass rush with Harold Landry. Landry has great bend around the edge and will instantly boost what was a lackluster pass rush last season. After that, it’s time for an offensive lineman to help protect Eli Manning. James Daniels and Frank Ragnow are players to watch here, and I’ll scoop up Daniels to be the starting center after the departure of Weston Richburg.

The later rounds have the Giants looking running back and corner. Players like John Kelly, Royce Freeman, and Rashad Penny are players to watch for Big Blue. For corner, it’s players like Quenton Meeks and Tarvarus McFadden. The Giants can get back to where they were in 2016, and a good draft is the way there.

Philadelphia Eagles – With Few Needs, Look For Best Available

Number of picks – Six

The Eagles are the reigning Super Bowl champs, and they got richer along the line after acquiring Michael Bennett. This group can sit back and let the draft come to them. If Derrius Guice is available at 32, pull the trigger. He’s well worth it at the end of round one to be a bell cow with LeGarrette Blount gone. If not, the offensive line could use some help. If someone like Connor Williams falls to them, he would be the heir apparent to Jason Peters. If neither of those are options, someone like Mike Hughes or Isaiah Oliver would be good picks for a secondary that could use reinforcing.

Let’s say Guice is there and they take him. Their next pick is a couple rounds down the road, so a linebacker like Fred Warner could be available for them. Someone like Tyrell Crosby could be available as a right tackle with Lane Johnson moving to the left. In any sense, someone like Royce Freeman or Kerryon Johnson could become an early down back for the Eagles should they pass on Guice or avoid a running back early. The Eagles have options, and the board will dictate their moves.

Washington Redskins – Help Alex Smith And Boost The Defense

Number of picks – Eight

The Redskins pulled a stunner trading for Alex Smith in the offseason. The Redskins sent Kendall Fuller, one of the best slot corners in the league, to Kansas City in that trade. Washington has a whole bunch of needs entering the draft.

Their first priority should be to help out the secondary. With pick 13 in round one, they should be able to get either a top secondary player or someone to help the defensive line. Minkah Fitzpatrick should be their top choice. He can play in the slot or play with the defense in front of him at the safety spot. Derwin James is also a possibility for them there, along with defensive linemen Vita Vea. If both safeties are gone, pairing Vea with Jonathan Allen would be a great duo.

If they go with Vea, adding someone like Justin Reid or Jessie Bates in round two would certainly help. Jaire Alexander would be a great option in round two as well, but he’s unlikely to fall. Helping Alex Smith out would be another good possibility for them. D.J. Moore is an intriguing day two option, along with a big target like Courtland Sutton or Auden Tate. A good balance of picks to address multiple needs would help the Redskins back in the right direction.

New Orleans Saints – Pass Rush and Secondary Are Priorities

Number of picks – Eight

The Saints are a team that is contending for a Super Bowl title, but they could also be looking for a long term solution at quarterback. Lamar Jackson and Mason Rudolph could be in play at 27, but let’s say the Saints go with the short term idea of winning now. Getting more of a pass rush should be the priority for the Saints at 27, but there might not be a top tier talent waiting for them. Josh Sweat is an option, but teams may stray away due to medical issues. A final option for them is to get another weapon. Hayden Hurst would be an excellent option as a pass catching tight end to work the middle of the field. If Calvin Ridley were to fall, he would be an option. Let’s go with Hurst at 27.

As for the rest of the draft, the Saints could use some help to rush the passer to take the pressure off of Cam Jordan. Someone like Andrew Brown or Nathan Shepherd (even Hurst) could be available in the third round. Obo Okoronkwo is another name to watch as an edge rusher. Chad Thomas is a pass rusher not often mentioned, but he’d be fun to watch in New Orleans.

Helping the defense is a priority, but the Saints may be forced to go offense early without many options.

Atlanta Falcons – Reinforce The Trenches First

Number of picks – Seven

The Falcons are one of the rosters in the league that don’t have many holes. The only spots that could use some depth and improvement are the trenches. Atlanta will have options at the 26th pick. One of their main interests is in Taven Bryan, who would bring some pass rush from the interior. Da’Ron Payne is another interior linemen who would be a good fit in Atlanta. It sounds likely that Payne won’t be available, so Bryan is their best pick along the line. If they go to the other side, guys like Will Hernandez and Billy Price would be available. Getting an impact player there will be important for them.

If they go Bryan in the first round, the second round still offers help at the guard spot. Braden Smith and Austin Corbett are both very good guards who will still provide a day one impact. If they go interior line on the first night, then a falling Maurice Hurst could be the pick on day two.

Atlanta could also throw a curve in the trenches plan and go with a corner in round one. Jaire Alexander could be available and would fit perfectly in the slot. If they don’t address that position early, late round options do exist. Duke Dawson would be an excellent later round selection.

Carolina Panthers – Get Cam Newton Some Help

Number of picks – Eight

The Panthers need to find help for Cam Newton in this draft after trading Kelvin Benjamin last season. If the draft goes their way, they could have their pick of wide receiver at 24 overall. Calvin Ridley would be their likely selection, and it makes sense. He is a great route runner with the explosiveness to stretch the field. He would provide a day one impact. If Ridley isn’t the pick, it would likely be a cornerback. Jaire Alexander and Josh Jackson are two corners who could find a home in Carolina.

If the pick is Ridley early, the Panthers would then shift their focus to defense. Corner and pass rusher are big needs for the Panthers, and adding someone like Donte Jackson or Sam Hubbard in round two would make a ton of sense. If they opt for a corner in round one, someone like Dante Pettis could make sense in round two. Either way, adding some combination of those positions should be Carolina’s move. If it were me, I would opt for a corner in round one and move on from there.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Help Out Winston Along With The Defense

Number of picks – Seven

The Bucs only have seven picks, so they need to hit on their picks in the draft. The secondary needs some work, along with the offensive line. If Quenton Nelson falls to the Bucs at seven, he should be the pick. If not, drafting a safety should be next. Derwin James would fit nicely with Justin Evans as a safety tandem. Let’s say that James is the pick in round one.

After that, cornerback and offensive line would still be needs. Isaiah Oliver is mocked to them in my two round one from last week, but they could also opt for Austin Corbett at guard to help protect Jameis Winston.

If they go with Corbett, finding help in the secondary would be the next priority. M.J. Stewart and Nick Nelson would be interesting options for the Bucs in the later rounds. If they refill the secondary and get some offensive line help, the Bucs are moving in the right direction.

Los Angeles Rams – Edge And Linebacker Are Big Needs

Number of picks – Eight

The Rams don’t have a pick in the first two rounds, so the draft will be a lot of late round talent to add depth to the roster.

Edge and corner are the biggest needs for the Rams after free agency. A couple options along the edge are Kylie Fitts and Tyquan Lewis could be good fits along the edge. Fitts is more of a pure pass rusher with the skill to come on in later downs, while Lewis has three down potential. He could move inside to rush the passer on third down.

The linebacker spot is the other position where the Rams need help. Many players exist in the middle rounds for the Rams to select there. Fred Warner is a prospect that many like as a linebacker who works through blocks and is a great tackler. Guys like Josey Jewell, Jack Cichy, Shaun Dion Hamilton, and Tegray Scales will all be in play for the Rams in the later rounds.

San Francisco 49ers – Linebacker, Weapons In Play For Niners

Number of picks – Nine

The Niners have options with their first round pick. The best option is to fill the need at linebacker with either Tremaine Edmunds or Roquan Smith. They could move up to make sure they get one, but they should be able to get one of the two with their first pick.

In the second round, the Niners did trade away the 43rd pick to the Pats, but they do own the Saints second rounder. Offensive line or wide receiver would be the move in the second. Someone like Chukwuma Okorafor or Braden Smith would be a nice pick to protect Jimmy Garoppolo. Otherwise, someone like Dante Pettis would be a good pick for San Francisco, or a bigger target like Auden Tate or Deon Cain.

If they can add weapons and find their long term answer at linebacker, the Niners will contend sooner rather than later.

Seattle Seahawks – Secondary and Offensive Line Are Big Needs

Number of picks – Eight

The Seahawks are in a big transition. They still have their quarterback in Russell Wilson, but they need pieces back around him. Their defense is also going through a transition and could use more impact players.

I fully expect the Seahawks to look for a corner in round one, even though offensive line should be the focus. If it were me, I’d opt for someone like Connor Williams, but the Seahawks usually don’t take linemen that early. It’s more likely Seattle takes Josh Jackson or Marcus Davenport with their first selection.

After selecting Josh Jackson, they may shift to look for edge help later. Players like Jalyn Holmes and Jeff Holland could provide the pass rush with help in the mid rounds. They don’t have a second round pick, which hurts them a little.

In the later rounds, tight end could be a focus. Durham Smythe and Tyler Conklin are intriguing names late on day two or early on day three. If they opt there, they could fill a hole left by Jimmy Graham but get an all-around player to take his place and fit better in Seattle’s system.

Arizona Cardinals – Quarterback Is An Option, But The Roster Needs Help

Number of picks – Eight

The Cardinals may get the opportunity to trade up in this draft. If they can land Josh Rosen via a trade, they should absolutely do so. Rosen is the best quarterback in the draft and would be a player to build around in future drafts. If they stand pat, Lamar Jackson should be available for the taking.

If Rosen is the play early, they would likely lose their second round pick. Looking for offensive line help and corner help would be their strategy in the later rounds. Alex Cappa is a name being thrown around as a mid round tackle who could end up being a very good starter. Putting someone like Rashan Gaulden or Quenton Meeks opposite Patrick Peterson would also be a smart move for Arizona.

If the Cardinals stay put, they could get some receiver help early on day two. Anthony Miller or James Washington would work well under the mentorship of Larry Fitzgerald, then take over as the top guy in the near future.

However Arizona attacks the draft, they need to continue to add talent to a mostly lackluster roster.

Think your team has a good strategy? What would you do for your team? Follow me on Twitter @JSchyvinck13 to talk NFL Draft!

Also, join us for our second annual NFL Draft live stream @SportsGuysBlog on Twitter! We will stream the first two nights of the draft, so come with questions and discussion! It’s going to be a great time! See you there!

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