2021 NFL Draft NFC Team Needs: Best Fits & Position Targets
We’re identifying 2021 NFL Draft NFC Team Needs, analyzing each football team’s best fits and position targets. Read our full 2021 NFL Draft Guide for our 3-round mock draft, sleepers, scouting reports, betting tips and more analysis.
Also, check out our 2021 NFL Free-Agency Tracker to see which teams signed which free agents.
Click to see our 2021 NFL Draft AFC Team Needs: Best Fits & Position Targets.
2021 NFL Draft NFC Team Needs
- 2021 NFL Draft NFC Team Needs: DT, OT, TE, EDGE, LB, CB
- 2021 NFL Draft Round 1 Pick: 10th
The downfall of the Cowboys in 2020 was Dak Prescott‘s season-ending leg injury. They had a real shot at contending for the NFC East crown until that moment, especially with the eventual winner doing so with a sub-.500 record.
The Cowboys are far from perfect, but having an elite QB at the helm mitigates most other issues. Their offseason additions helped the defense more than anything but plenty of holes remain.
Dallas needs an edge rusher opposite Demarcus Lawrence who can handle his own; defensive tackles that can fill gaps and take up space; a starting-caliber tackle who can take over for the oft-injured Tyron Smith; and cornerbacks, with the shoes of Byron Jones still unfilled.
1st Round Fit: EDGE Kwity Paye – Michigan
- 2021 NFL Draft NFC Team Needs: EDGE, TE, OT, G/C, S
- 2021 NFL Draft Round 1 Pick: 11th
The Giants are not as bad as these needs may make them seem.
Assuming Daniel Jones can play to a league-average level in 2021, the offense should naturally improve with the additions of Kenny Golladay and a healthy Saquon Barkley. The offensive line, especially at tackle was very young in 2020 and now has a year of experience in a normal-ish offseason. However, it would not hurt for the team to target offensive lineman throughout the draft to fortify that front.
The only skill position in need of improvement is TE where Evan Engram has held the job for the past four years. Kyle Rudolph signing in NY does not move a needle here because of his foot issue, age, and general mediocrity. It would behoove the Giants to target the position on Day 2 or even 1 if Kyle Pitts were to fall.
Their defense has improved significantly since Joe Judge arrived and looks to take a step up in 2021 despite issues still present at EDGE. The Giants filled the Dalvin Tomlinson loss with run-stuffer Danny Shelton and made up for flopping on DeAndre Baker by locking up Adoree Jackson long-term.
There are high hopes for Xavier McKinney as the safety of the future here, but the depth beyond starters Jabrill Peppers and McKinny is shoddy and with how often teams look to utilize 3-safety sets, they would be wise to target one or two in the later rounds.
1st Round Fit: EDGE Jaelan Phillips – Miami
- 2021 NFL Draft NFC Team Needs: QB, WR, OT, ILB, CB
- 2021 NFL Draft Round 1 Pick: 12th
Whew, the Eagles are … not great. They are officially in the post-Carson Wentz era, and it may not be as relieving as it seems.
The defense is middle-of-the-pack and in need of a bolstered LB room along with depth at CB and DL.
Offensively, everything starts at QB and Jalen Hurts is a fantastic athlete with a strong arm, but his limitations are a passer are not boosted by the offense around him, whatsoever.
The offensive linemen are either old, injured, unreliable or some mix of those adjectives. They should be targeting protection for Hurts given that he needs all of the help he can get. Dallas Goedert is good, Miles Sanders is good, but the WRs are not.
I am a fan of Jalen Reagor and expect a much better showing than his rookie year but aside from him, this WR room is thin. Travis Fulgham seems capable but this team needs more. To mitigate Hurts’s inabilities, an alpha, big-bodied receiver who can clean up a misplaced throw is needed.
The Eagles trading back in Round 1 is wise given that they received a future first on top of the pick swap, but they have missed out on Ja’Marr Chase and Pitts, two true No. 1 options.
Luckily, the 2021 Draft is loaded at WR, and it would behoove them to target another after just drafting Reagor 20th overall.
Had this team stayed at sixth overall, a QB would have been suggested, but it’s probably best to sink-or-swim with Hurts then re-evaluate in 2022.
1st Round Fit: ILB Micah Parsons – Penn State
- 2021 NFL Draft NFC Team Needs: QB, WR, TE, OT, ILB, S
- 2021 NFL Draft Round 1 Pick: 20th
Ryan Fitzpatrick does not solve this team’s quarterback issue.
Given that the WR room is significantly bolstered by Curtis Samuel, the defense is elite and the OL is underrated, the move might be to trade up to fourth overall and select a QB.
With all of the Justin Fields nonsense floating around as to him dropping him down boards for “character” issues, the perfect buying opportunity may arise where Washington lands the second-best QB prospect of the draft for a much lower cost of acquisition than typically required.
If they stick at No. 19, the move is to target another receiver (preferably big-bodied) and create a WR room so good that it can fix mistakes from the QB OR build an OL so strong Fitzpatrick has enough time to mitigate mistakes and allow McLaurin/Samuel to run wild. If there is one *need* on offense aside from quarterback, it’s a tight end, but they can address that on Day 2. On defense, they *need* inside linebacker and safety depth but that can be addressed throughout the draft, not R1 where they need real firepower.
1st Round Fit: OT/OG Alijah Vera-Tucker
- 2021 NFL Draft NFC Team Needs: QB, WR, CB, OT, DT, S
- 2021 NFL Draft Round 1 Pick: 20th
Andy Dalton is not the answer at QB, which makes this another team that would be wise to trade up with Atlanta for No. 4 overall. They need an answer there and have needed one since … well, forever?
Aside from quarterback, Allen Robinson makes any wide receiver room great, but he is on a franchise tag, making it unlikely he’s around for the future after Chicago failed to extend him in 2020. Darnell Mooney is good, but he’s a complementary guy. These conditions could make drafting a WR in Round 1 the best option for a team that saw improved offensive line play last season.
An offensive tackle would still be a SOLID move, but it depends on who is the best player available at their pick.
The Bears’ defense is still strong on paper, but Akiem Hicks could be traded, and losing Kyle Fuller is massive. They need to patch this end on throughout the draft with starters at DB and depth for their front-seven.
1st Round Fit: OT Teven Jenkins – Oklahoma State
- 2021 NFL Draft NFC Team Needs: QB, WR, DT, EDGE, LB, CB, S
- 2021 NFL Draft Round 1 Pick: 7th
Oh boy. The Lions are in a precarious spot after trading away Matthew Stafford for Jared Goff.
Quarterback is officially a need, but the way in which they acquire it will be imperative. While one of the five first-round QBs could slip to them at pick No. 7, they may be better off just sticking with Goff and putting themselves in a position to evaluate the team at hand in 2021.
Play the long game, tank, and see who should stick around/who shouldn’t while selecting the QB of your choice in 2022 rather than taking the scraps.
In 2022, they’ll be one year closer to Goff’s contract coming off of the books and will have built starting depth through this draft. If they can land a true WR1 at No. 7 or a defensive centerpiece who maybe needs a year of seasoning before making a real impact, so be it.
1st Round Fit: WR Ja’Marr Chase – LSU
- 2021 NFL Draft NFC Team Needs: DT, LB, CB, WR, OT
- 2021 NFL Draft Round 1 Pick: 29th
The Packers are very good, but the holes on this team are preventing them from taking that next step.
Defensively, they are often gashed on the ground and when teams target anyone but CB Jaire Alexander‘s side of the field. Offensively, the team isn’t exactly one-dimensional, but the lack of a true WR2 is evident and the calls for this organization’s head after ignoring the position in 2020 were justified.
It actually is not that complicated to fix the Packers, they just need to get their heads out of their behind and build for right now while Aaron Rodgers continues to play like a top-3 QB.
They don’t even need to fix everything — just one of the defense or WR room. Pick one to build up and win a dang Super Bowl already. It’s ridiculous that Rodgers only has a single Lombardi to his name.
1st Round Fit: DT Levi Onwuzurike – Washington
- 2021 NFL Draft NFC Team Needs: OT, EDGE, DT, iOL, WR
- 2021 NFL Draft Round 1 Pick: 14th
I actually think Kirk Cousins is decent and good enough to win with. However, he needs help — a good bit of it.
The offensive line has been mediocre for as long as he’s been there, and his pocket presence and ability to bootleg have kept the sacks few and far between. Currently, their left tackle is Rashod Hill who has had a mostly mediocre track record.
The best bet early on is targeting an OT who can become a stalwart on the blindside and create more running lanes for Dalvin Cook. Interior offensive line is also a massive need, particularly at guard, but you should typically take darts later in the draft to address this.
The receiver room was essentially fixed with the addition of Justin Jefferson last season to take over the WR1 from Stefon Diggs, but Adam Thielen is not getting any younger and they do need to add a third option who is capable of stepping up.
Defensively, the Vikes are in big trouble if the frustrated Danielle Hunter is traded. The defense as a whole was much worse last season than usual, but Patrick Peterson and Dalvin Tomlinson fix some of the holes. They need to rebuild the front four badly to reclaim their status as an elite unit.
1st Round Fit: OT Christian Darrisaw – Virginia Tech
- 2021 NFL Draft NFC Team Needs: EDGE, CB, S, TE, iOL, WR, RB
- 2021 NFL Draft Round 1 Pick: 4th
At fourth overall, the Falcons are better off trading down with a QB-needy team.
They would have been wise to draft a QB, but that is unlikely now with Matt Ryan‘s restructured contract keeping his cap number high until 2023. They still *could* select one, but Ryan is not as bad as this past season may seem.
The inconsistent health of Julio Jones, poor offensive line play, and lack of a run game or tight end production made this offense out to be more mediocre than necessary. If they stick at their pick, selecting one of Kyle Pitts or Ja’Marr Chase is a great decision, but they also need high-end starters on defense, and that will not be found in the top-5.
Moving down to the teens in Round 1 would be wise. Atlanta can either go best player available with defense or receiver while having more picks throughout the draft to build elsewhere. They need to take as many shots at edge rusher and defensive back as they can to *fix* the defense. This team is not TOO far from competing — but definitely not close either.
1st Round Fit: TE Kyle Pitts – Florida
- 2021 NFL Draft NFC Team Needs: OT, iOL, CB, S,
- 2021 NFL Draft Round 1 Pick: 8th
The discussion around an immediate QB addition is moot with the Panthers reportedly picking up Darnold’s $20 million dollar 5th-year option. They are committed to him this year and next and unlikely to draft a QB early.
Carolina has the skill weapons necessary to win even with the loss of Curtis Samuel and an offensive line that has some pieces to work with but in need of a left tackle. This offense, with Joe Brady calling the shots, could take a major step in 2021 with the right man under center and just one hit along the offensive line.
Defensively, this team was still very bad against the run in 2020 but much improved in terms of getting to the QB. Derrick Brown and Brian Burns, their most recent first-round picks, are a dynamic duo who provide a stable core to this defensive line that was not so long ago in shambles. The linebacker room is improved with Denzel Perryman who can complement Shaq Thompson well but another addition or two could go a long way in fortifying this group. Safety is barren beyond Jeremy Chinn and a CB2 is desperately needed across from Donte Jackson. Carolina should ideally look to target DBs throughout the draft.
1st Round Fit: OT Rashawn Slater – Northwestern
- 2021 NFL Draft NFC Team Needs: WR, CB, DT, ILB
- 2021 NFL Draft Round 1 Pick: 28th
With the retirement of Drew Brees, Jameis Winston takes over under center for New Orleans. While his skeptics remain plentiful, I am of the belief that Winston needed this time off badly to work on his mechanics and take a step back from the chaos that comes with being the starting QB for any franchise.
Taysom Hill is a cute pet project who should get his fair share of snaps and mix things up, but Winston should be the year-long starter. This team may still need a QB of the future given Winston’s one-year deal, but they can figure that out after this season.
The Saints are one of the most well-rounded teams in the NFL, and their quarterback arguably held them back in recent years. The degradation of Brees’ arm was a massive culprit in their playoff failure, but obviously, some bad luck played in as well.
They would be wise to target complementary, win-now pieces that are best player available but particularly at WR, CB, and DT.
1st Round Fit: CB Greg Newsome II – Northwestern
- 2021 NFL Draft NFC Team Needs: CB, S, QB, EDGE
- 2021 NFL Draft Round 1 Pick: 32nd
Hard to pin needs on the reigning Super Bowl champs, especially after they brought back the entire team aside from Antonio Brown (with whom they’re still negotiating).
The Buccaneers do need depth along the edges and some help at the defensive back spots but nothing imperative otherwise
A QB would be nice if one were to fall, given that Tom Brady is coming off of knee surgery and still playing at 43-years old, but if you lose Brady, what’s even the point?
1st Round Fit: EDGE Azeez Olujari – Georgia
- 2021 NFL Draft NFC Team Needs: OT, WR, TE, DT, RB, CB, S
- 2021 NFL Draft Round 1 Pick: 16th
The Cardinals need a new coach before anything else, but because one is not available via the draft, they are best off targeting speed at the wide receiver spot while fortifying the offensive line.
The addition of A.J. Green is essentially meaningless given his level of play last season, and the myriad of injuries that have followed him over the past half-decade. Christian Kirk is talented but misused as a perimeter WR. The eventual return of Larry Fitzgerald will prevent the proper transition from becoming a reality. Luckily, this draft has a ton of WR speed and skill available and at their first-round slot, one of the many options will be available.
Defensively, this team still has some holes, particularly at CB after losing Patrick Peterson, but the J.J. Watt signing makes up for that loss in that the front-seven is incredibly potent. CB should remain a primary target along with grabbing depth for this entire group along the way.
1st Round Fit: WR Jaylen Waddle – Alabama
- 2021 NFL Draft NFC Team Needs: iOL, OT, ILB, EDGE
- 2021 NFL Draft Round 1 Pick: None
The Rams have not had a first-round pick since Jared Goff, but luckily, they are savvy enough with trades and signings to win in lieu of them. The addition of Matthew Stafford is as big as anything any team will do all offseason between trades, signings and the draft.
The Rams still have holes, particularly at interior linebacker, but the way they play defense with 3 safeties on the field primarily mitigates the need for linebackers playing a traditional role.
The Rams’ hybrid defense is stacked at the top with elite pieces and good enough depth to make up for losses like Michael Brockers, Morgan Fox, Troy Hill and John Johnson III. However, to maintain their level of play from the past few seasons, it will be important to look for DBs and DTs to take off some pressure from the current starters.
The interior offensive line is also a need with the loss of Austin Blythe but most importantly, the Rams need not just starters but plain bodies there given the current depth chart.
Offensive tackle is great as things stand, but Andrew Whitworth is not getting any younger, and a back-up would be important after they already saw the team lose him for a stretch last season.
1st Round Fit: LOL maybe in 2023!
- 2021 NFL Draft NFC Team Needs: QB, iOL, CB, S
- 2021 NFL Draft Round 1 Pick: 3rd
The 49ers did what they had to do in trading up for their quarterback. After they select someone there in Round 1, their main focus throughout the draft should be defensive backs with their shaky safety room, CB Richard Sherman being out of town, and CB Jason Verrett‘s questionable durability.
An interior offensive lineman who can fill in at right guard would be nice, along with some depth as well. Alex Mack was a sneaky pickup for this team as he reunites with head coach Kyle Shanahan.
1st Round Fit: QB Justin Fields – OSU
- 2021 NFL Draft NFC Team Needs: EDGE, CB, S, OT
- 2021 NFL Draft Round 1 Pick: None
The Seahawks did a good job picking up Gabe Jackson off the trade market then extending him, and they inked TE Gerald Everett to operate as a third receiver.
The offensive line and tight end were the biggest need coming in but now, we can look at the defensive side for Seattle and target edge rushers and defensive backs. The loss of Shaquill Griffin is huge, and the addition of Akhello Witherspoon is nothing but depth. They should look to strengthened the DB room while also accruing depth up front.
1st Round Fit: CB Erik Stokes – Georgia
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