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Published: Nov. 2, 2017 at 01:30 p.m.
Updated: Nov. 2, 2017 at 01:55 p.m.

2018 NFL Draft: One senior prospect fit for every NFC team

As we hit the halfway point of the 2017 NFL season, teams are starting to show their strengths and weaknesses. My colleague Lance Zierlein has already unveiled his initial look at the top 3 needs for each team.

College football is well into the second half of its schedule, and most of the nation's top-rated senior prospects are performing at the high level NFL scouts expect from them.

With that in mind, I'm marrying these two universes by identifying the perfect first-, second- or third-round fit between an NFL team and a senior prospect in a two-part series (AFC last week, NFC this week). Consideration was given to impending free agents for each pro squad.

16 Photos Total

  • <b>Team fit:</b> Arizona Cardinals<br><br>
The Cardinals need to find their next quarterback, and it won't be a surprise if they make that position the priority in the first round next year. They could look to replace free agents on the offensive line in the next couple of rounds with a strong, athletic player like Smith. 16

    Michael Woods/Associated Press

    Braden Smith, OL, Auburn

    Team fit: Arizona Cardinals

    The Cardinals need to find their next quarterback, and it won't be a surprise if they make that position the priority in the first round next year. They could look to replace free agents on the offensive line in the next couple of rounds with a strong, athletic player like Smith.

  • <b>Team fit:</b> Atlanta Falcons<br><br>
<b>2017 stats:</b> 7 tackles (1 for loss), 1 pass breakup.<br><br>
With Dontari Poe's contract due to expire after the season, Atlanta might need a big body in the middle of its defensive line. Lotulelei would be a solid second-round value as a run stuffer. 15

    Rick Bowmer/Associated Press

    Lowell Lotulelei, DT, Utah

    Team fit: Atlanta Falcons

    2017 stats: 7 tackles (1 for loss), 1 pass breakup.

    With Dontari Poe's contract due to expire after the season, Atlanta might need a big body in the middle of its defensive line. Lotulelei would be a solid second-round value as a run stuffer.

  • <b>Team fit:</b> Carolina Panthers<br><br>
Eventually, the Panthers will need to draft a new left tackle to keep franchise quarterback Cam Newton comfortable. McGlinchey's a solid player in the Jeff Backus mold who will play in the league for a long time. 14

    Charles Rex Arbogast/Associated Press

    Mike McGlinchey, OT, Notre Dame

    Team fit: Carolina Panthers

    Eventually, the Panthers will need to draft a new left tackle to keep franchise quarterback Cam Newton comfortable. McGlinchey's a solid player in the Jeff Backus mold who will play in the league for a long time.

  • <b>Team fit:</b> Chicago Bears<br><br>
<b>2017 stats:</b> 45 catches for 484 yards (10.8 average), 6 TDs; 17 punt returns for 348 yards (20.5 average), 3 TDs.<br><br>
Mitchell Trubisky needs more reliable receivers. With Kevin White struggling to stay on the field, Pettis would constitute good second-round value as a reliable target. He could compete with Tarik Cohen for punt return duties, as well. Earlier this season, Pettis tied an NCAA record when he returned a punt for a TD for the eighth time in his career. 13

    Elaine Thompson/Associated Press

    Dante Pettis, WR/PR, Washington

    Team fit: Chicago Bears

    2017 stats: 45 catches for 484 yards (10.8 average), 6 TDs; 17 punt returns for 348 yards (20.5 average), 3 TDs.

    Mitchell Trubisky needs more reliable receivers. With Kevin White struggling to stay on the field, Pettis would constitute good second-round value as a reliable target. He could compete with Tarik Cohen for punt return duties, as well. Earlier this season, Pettis tied an NCAA record when he returned a punt for a TD for the eighth time in his career.

  • <b>Team fit:</b> Dallas Cowboys<br><br>
<b>2017 stats:</b> 40 tackles (10 for loss, including 2.5 sacks), 1 forced fumble.<br><br>
If Dallas ends up drafting in the middle part of the first round, where it's situated as of this writing, Jerry Jones might not be able to resist taking the undersized but quick and active Hurst to help rebuild the interior of the defensive line. 12

    Carlos Osorio/Associated Press

    Maurice Hurst, DT, Michigan

    Team fit: Dallas Cowboys

    2017 stats: 40 tackles (10 for loss, including 2.5 sacks), 1 forced fumble.

    If Dallas ends up drafting in the middle part of the first round, where it's situated as of this writing, Jerry Jones might not be able to resist taking the undersized but quick and active Hurst to help rebuild the interior of the defensive line.

  • <b>Team fit:</b> Detroit Lions<br><br>
<b>2017 stats:</b> 26 tackles (6 for loss, including 3 sacks), 1 pass breakup, 1 forced fumble, 1 fumble recovery.<br><br>
The Lions' linebacker corps could be in for big changes in the offseason, with four veterans due to become free agents. Evans' chase ability would fit the bill for Detroit if it wants to continue the youth movement at the position one year after picking Jarrad Davis in the first round. 11

    Ric Tapia/NFL

    Rashaan Evans, LB, Alabama

    Team fit: Detroit Lions

    2017 stats: 26 tackles (6 for loss, including 3 sacks), 1 pass breakup, 1 forced fumble, 1 fumble recovery.

    The Lions' linebacker corps could be in for big changes in the offseason, with four veterans due to become free agents. Evans' chase ability would fit the bill for Detroit if it wants to continue the youth movement at the position one year after picking Jarrad Davis in the first round.

  • <b>Team fit:</b> Green Bay Packers<br><br>
<b>2017 stats:</b> 81 tackles (9.5 for loss, including 2.5 sacks), 1 INT, 4 pass breakups, 1 forced fumble, 1 fumble recovery.<br><br>
Ted Thompson will be looking to pick the best football player available when the Packers are selecting in the second round of the 2018 draft. Jewell would be an upgrade for the team at inside linebacker. 10

    Charlie Neibergall/Associated Press

    Josey Jewell, LB, Iowa

    Team fit: Green Bay Packers

    2017 stats: 81 tackles (9.5 for loss, including 2.5 sacks), 1 INT, 4 pass breakups, 1 forced fumble, 1 fumble recovery.

    Ted Thompson will be looking to pick the best football player available when the Packers are selecting in the second round of the 2018 draft. Jewell would be an upgrade for the team at inside linebacker.

  • <b>Team fit:</b> Los Angeles Rams<br><br>
If John Sullivan does not return in 2018, the team will need a solid pivot to work with up-and-coming quarterback Jared Goff. Price is tough and has quick enough feet to handle NFL nose tackles. 9

    Jay LaPrete/Associated Press

    Billy Price, C, Ohio State

    Team fit: Los Angeles Rams

    If John Sullivan does not return in 2018, the team will need a solid pivot to work with up-and-coming quarterback Jared Goff. Price is tough and has quick enough feet to handle NFL nose tackles.

  • <b>Team fit:</b> Minnesota Vikings<br><br>
Minnesota has a young running back worth building an offense around in Dalvin Cook (when he returns from his ACL tear). The team's interior offensive line is below average, and its best starter (Joe Berger) has said he intends for this to be his final NFL season. Hernandez would bring power and quickness to one of the guard spots. 8

    Sue Ogrocki/Associated Press

    Will Hernandez, OG, UTEP

    Team fit: Minnesota Vikings

    Minnesota has a young running back worth building an offense around in Dalvin Cook (when he returns from his ACL tear). The team's interior offensive line is below average, and its best starter (Joe Berger) has said he intends for this to be his final NFL season. Hernandez would bring power and quickness to one of the guard spots.

  • <b>Team fit:</b> New Orleans Saints<br><br>
<b>2017 stats:</b> 171 of 236 (72.5 percent) for 2,628 yards, 23 TDs, 3 INTs; 54 rushes for 190 yards (3.5 average), 4 TDs.<br><br>
Drew Brees will eventually reach the end of his Hall of Fame career, although he continues to play at a high level. Mayfield is earning starter's grades from NFL scouts due to his accuracy and mobility, and seems a reasonable investment despite his physical limitations. Have you heard that story somewhere before? 7

    Sue Ogrocki/Associated Press

    Baker Mayfield, QB, Oklahoma

    Team fit: New Orleans Saints

    2017 stats: 171 of 236 (72.5 percent) for 2,628 yards, 23 TDs, 3 INTs; 54 rushes for 190 yards (3.5 average), 4 TDs.

    Drew Brees will eventually reach the end of his Hall of Fame career, although he continues to play at a high level. Mayfield is earning starter's grades from NFL scouts due to his accuracy and mobility, and seems a reasonable investment despite his physical limitations. Have you heard that story somewhere before?

  • <b>Team fit:</b> New York Giants<br><br>
<b>2017 stats:</b> 45 tackles (17 for loss, including 7.5 sacks), 2 pass breakups, 1 forced fumble.<br><br>
Even with Jason Pierre-Paul and Olivier Vernon on the squad, the Giants rank near the bottom of the league in sacks and total defense. Chubb could be an immediate factor for New York because of his strength at the point of attack and relentless nature. 6

    Darron Cummings/Associated Press

    Bradley Chubb, DE, North Carolina State

    Team fit: New York Giants

    2017 stats: 45 tackles (17 for loss, including 7.5 sacks), 2 pass breakups, 1 forced fumble.

    Even with Jason Pierre-Paul and Olivier Vernon on the squad, the Giants rank near the bottom of the league in sacks and total defense. Chubb could be an immediate factor for New York because of his strength at the point of attack and relentless nature.

  • <b>Team fit:</b> Philadelphia Eagles<br><br>
<b>2017 stats:</b> 24 tackles (1 sack), 1 forced fumble, 1 fumble recovery.<br><br>
Nigel Bradham and Najee Goode are scheduled to become free agents. Bierria's closing ability makes him a nice stopper who's worthy of a second-round pick. 5

    Elaine Thompson/Associated Press

    Keishawn Bierria, LB, Washington

    Team fit: Philadelphia Eagles

    2017 stats: 24 tackles (1 sack), 1 forced fumble, 1 fumble recovery.

    Nigel Bradham and Najee Goode are scheduled to become free agents. Bierria's closing ability makes him a nice stopper who's worthy of a second-round pick.

  • <b>Team fit:</b> San Francisco 49ers<br><br>
<b>2017 stats:</b> 39 catches for 477 yards (12.2 average), 5 TDs.<br><br>
The Niners will be looking to upgrade their receiving corps after trading their 2018 second-round pick for quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo earlier this week. If Lazard is available early in the third round, head coach Kyle Shanahan should snap him up as a downfield and red-zone threat. 4

    Charlie Neibergall/Associated Press

    Allen Lazard, WR, Iowa State

    Team fit: San Francisco 49ers

    2017 stats: 39 catches for 477 yards (12.2 average), 5 TDs.

    The Niners will be looking to upgrade their receiving corps after trading their 2018 second-round pick for quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo earlier this week. If Lazard is available early in the third round, head coach Kyle Shanahan should snap him up as a downfield and red-zone threat.

  • <b>Team fit:</b> Seattle Seahawks<br><br>
<b>2017 stats:</b> 41 catches for 700 yards (17.1 average), 3 TDs.<br><br>
If Jimmy Graham and Luke Willson, both due to become free agents after the season, aren't both back, Goedert would be a great fit. His athleticism will wow at the NFL Scouting Combine, and his reliability as a receiver will be welcomed by Russell Wilson. 3

    Daryl Wilson/Associated Press

    Dallas Goedert, TE, South Dakota State

    Team fit: Seattle Seahawks

    2017 stats: 41 catches for 700 yards (17.1 average), 3 TDs.

    If Jimmy Graham and Luke Willson, both due to become free agents after the season, aren't both back, Goedert would be a great fit. His athleticism will wow at the NFL Scouting Combine, and his reliability as a receiver will be welcomed by Russell Wilson.

  • <b>Team fit:</b> Tampa Bay Buccaneers<br><br>
<b>2017 stats:</b> 38 tackles (8.5 for loss, including 5 sacks), 2 pass breakups.<br><br>
The Buccaneers have seven sacks in six games, ranking dead last in the category. Landry's speed as a pass rusher and overall athleticism should earn him top-15 grades. So if Tampa Bay can't right the ship, it should look to secure a pass rusher in the top half of the first round. 2

    Richard Shiro/Associated Press

    Harold Landry, LB, Boston College

    Team fit: Tampa Bay Buccaneers

    2017 stats: 38 tackles (8.5 for loss, including 5 sacks), 2 pass breakups.

    The Buccaneers have seven sacks in six games, ranking dead last in the category. Landry's speed as a pass rusher and overall athleticism should earn him top-15 grades. So if Tampa Bay can't right the ship, it should look to secure a pass rusher in the top half of the first round.

  • <b>Team fit:</b> Washington Redskins<br><br>
<b>2017 stats:</b> 83 tackles (2.5 for loss), 2 INTs, 1 pass breakup.<br><br>
Safety is a major need for Washington. Blanding's size and sure tackling are what NFL coaches appreciate in their last line of defense. 1

    Keith Srakocic/Associated Press

    Quin Blanding, S, Virginia

    Team fit: Washington Redskins

    2017 stats: 83 tackles (2.5 for loss), 2 INTs, 1 pass breakup.

    Safety is a major need for Washington. Blanding's size and sure tackling are what NFL coaches appreciate in their last line of defense.