Published On: Thu, Apr 19th, 2018

Matchmaker: Finding the perfect prospect for every NFC team

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Speculation is ramping up with the 2018 NFL Draft only a week away. While every team brings a different strategy to the table, the perfect scenario is to land the best player available while also plugging a conspicuous roster hole. Let’s play matchmaker for the NFC with one ideal pick for each club.


Arizona Cardinals

Mason Rudolph, QB, Oklahoma

The Cardinals have too many areas of need and too many quarterbacks on the roster to reach for a passer in Round 1. But as they take what appears to be a slow approach to rebuilding, they’ll have time to develop a spread-system passer like Rudolph, who would be good value as a second-rounder.

Atlanta Falcons

Da’Ron Payne, DT, Alabama

Though they don’t have any glaring holes in the lineup, the Falcons’ biggest loss of the offseason was nose tackle Dontari Poe. Payne can fill a similar role on the defensive line, sucking up blocks and protecting against the run while Vic Beasley and Grady Jarrett rush the passer. Atlanta would likely need to use the 26th overall pick to land Payne.

Carolina Panthers

Calvin Ridley, WR, Alabama

The Panthers need to give Cam Newton more to work with and their previous strategy of targeting big-body receivers hasn’t resulted in much success. Ridley is a polished route-runner who consistently created separation against top competition at Alabama despite measuring at only 6 feet, 189 pounds. There’s a chance he’s off the board earlier, but pick No. 24 is the perfect slot to draft a player with Ridley’s talent.

Chicago Bears

Tremaine Edmunds, LB, Virginia

The Bears are on the right track, but lack a stud linebacker to lead their defense. Edmunds is among the elite linebacker prospects in this draft and has arguably the most upside at his position. He’s a freak athlete who can apprentice under veteran Danny Trevathan before the Bears need him to take charge in a few years.

Dallas Cowboys

Courtland Sutton, WR, SMU

It makes too much sense. The Cowboys are without a prototypical No. 1 receiver after cutting Dez Bryant, and Sutton is a Texas native with the potential to develop into the best receiver in his class. Jerry Jones might draw some flak for reaching for a fairly raw athlete with the 19th pick – especially with needs at defensive tackle and linebacker – but the Cowboys owner has been known to buck conventional thinking.

Detroit Lions

Maurice Hurst, DT, Michigan

After losing veteran nose tackle Haloti Ngata to the Eagles, the Lions have a void to fill in the middle of their defense with the 20th pick. Hurst spent the last three years creating disruption on Michigan’s defensive line just down the road from Detroit. He’d be able to fill an every-down role with the Lions.

Green Bay Packers

Josh Jackson, CB, Iowa

The Packers have one of the worst secondaries in the league. They need cornerbacks with decent size who can make plays on the ball and don’t mind cold weather. Jackson checks all the boxes and should be available in the middle of Round 1.

Los Angeles Rams

Dorance Armstrong Jr., DE, Kansas

The Rams won’t pick in the first three rounds, but they could use a pass-rusher off the edge with Aaron Donald and Ndamukong Suh in the middle. Armstrong showed pro-level skill at Kansas despite being surrounded by lesser talent – he won’t have that problem in Los Angeles.

Minnesota Vikings

Ronnie Harrison, S, Alabama

There aren’t many holes in Minnesota’s vaunted defense, but the team should look to find a better safety pairing for All-Pro Harrison Smith. Harrison would provide a considerable upgrade at strong safety over Andrew Sendejo near the end of the first round.

New Orleans Saints

Sam Hubbard, DE, Ohio State

Over the past two drafts, Ohio State has given the Saints absolute studs at positions of need in receiver Michael Thomas, cornerback Marshon Lattimore, and safety Vonn Bell. New Orleans needs an edge rusher to line up opposite Cam Jordan this time around, and it can grab this Buckeye at No. 27.

New York Giants

Josh Rosen, QB, UCLA

The last time the Giants picked in the top five, they landed two-time Super Bowl champion Eli Manning in a monumental swap with the Chargers. With Manning entering his 15th season, it’s time to find a new face of the franchise. Rosen, with his outspoken demeanor, is the right signal-caller for the job.

Philadelphia Eagles

Bo Scarbrough, RB, Alabama

The Eagles are strong contenders to trade down from the 32nd overall pick, as they are without a second- or third-rounder. But there’s no question what they should do with their fourth-round selection: find a replacement back for LeGarrette Blount, a key piece of their Super Bowl-winning roster. Bruising Alabama runner Scarbrough could slot right in.

San Francisco 49ers

Roquan Smith, LB, Georgia

With Reuben Foster’s NFL career in doubt, the 49ers could use an every-down linebacker with star quality. As they adopt the Seattle Seahawks’ version of a 4-3, Smith could play the Bobby Wagner role if Foster is out. If Foster does manager to remain on the roster, the pair would have the potential to be the best inside linebacker duo in the league.

Seattle Seahawks

Mike McGlinchey, OT, Notre Dame

It’s no secret the Seahawks need help on the offensive line. McGlinchey has been heralded for his consistency, composure, and maturity – three traits Seattle’s current set of blockers don’t have enough of. He and veteran Duane Brown would be the steadiest set of offensive tackles Russell Wilson has had to work with.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Minkah Fitzpatrick, DB, Alabama

The Buccaneers need help at safety and cornerback. They only have one first-round pick (No. 7), but, luckily, the Alabama product can play both and is considered by many to be the best defensive back in the draft. Tampa has gotten too cute with its picks over the last few years; this is one they shouldn’t overthink.

Washington Redskins

Derwin James, S, Florida State

In a less-than-ideal scenario, Deshazor Everett is currently slotted to start at safety for Washington. James has been a staple in Florida State’s back end, playing hard and consistently even while his team has struggled. Washington could help shed its “dysfunctional” label by choosing a future defensive anchor in James at No. 13.


(Photos courtesy: Getty Images)

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