We're now less than a month away from the 2024 NFL Draft. There is plenty at stake for upwards of 1,000 players who are vying to be one of 257 selected during the festivities in Detroit, but there is also a lot at stake for numerous teams. 

In the space below, we're going to identify five teams in the NFC that really need to nail this draft, and examine the reasons why that's the case. 

Chicago Bears

  • Picks: 1, 9, 75, 122

Chicago has gone 0-for-seemingly-forever when trying to identify a franchise quarterback. Armed with the No. 1 overall pick and the choice between several top prospects, the pressure is obviously on for the Bears to get things right. But they also have another top-10 selection, which they are widely expected to use on another pass-catcher for whomever they land with the top pick. 

If one or more of Malik Nabers, Rome Odunze, or Brock Bowers is there, we should expect them to end up in Chicago. But then the Bears don't pick again until the middle of the third round, and they only have one more pick after that. We should probably see a trade-down at some point so they can collect a few more picks and try to build themselves a larger class. 

New York Giants

  • Picks: 6, 47, 70, 107, 166, 183

After their better-than-expected 2022 season, the Giants took a significant step backward last year. Head coach Brian Daboll then parted ways with former defensive coordinator Wink Martindale, and when you swap out the coordinator on the opposite side of the ball from the one you coach, that's a clue that the next place the blame will land is likely on your shoulders. 

The Giants' 2023 offseason ended up being disastrous, with the Daniel Jones contract looking like an albatross, Darren Waller struggling to stay healthy, and the offensive line ending up in tatters. Jones is coming off a torn ACL and does not seem at all guaranteed to be on the roster by this time next offseason, and the Giants are reportedly interested in taking a quarterback in this draft. If they can't land that player, they desperately need to upgrade along the offensive front and at the skill positions. They are at a pick deficit here but do have three of the top 70 picks, so there will be plenty of chances to land those upgrades. 

Minnesota Vikings

  • Picks: 11, 23, 108, 129, 157, 167, 177, 230, 232

The Vikings have already signaled that this is going to be a momentous draft for them. They allowed Kirk Cousins to leave in free agency for a better deal from the Falcons, then traded up to nab themselves a second first-round pick. They have all but declared their intention to move up the board a second time, presumably to find Cousins' successor. Whether that player is Drake Maye, Jayden Daniels, or J.J. McCarthy, how he performs will likely define the Kwesi Adofo-Mensah/Kevin O'Connell era in Minnesota. 

Once they complete that second trade-up, though, the Vikings will likely have precious little in the way of draft capital remaining for this draft, and they've already sacrificed some future capital to move up the first time. They may have to give up next year's first to move up again. That's a lot riding on what is likely to be just one player. 

Dallas Cowboys

  • Picks: 24, 56, 87, 174, 216, 233, 244

It's been almost two months since Jerry Jones declared that the Cowboys would be "all in" for the 2024 season. They have since allowed six starters (Tony Pollard, Michael Gallup, Tyron Smith, Tyler Biadasz, Dorance Armstrong, and Jermaine Kearse) to leave in free agency, lost another (Leighton Vander Esch) to retirement, have another still languishing on the market (Stephon Gilmore), and have made a grand total of ONE outside free-agent signing (Eric Kendricks) while also declining to extend any of Dak Prescott, CeeDee Lamb, or Micah Parsons to create more cap space and/or prevent themselves from having to hand out even bigger contracts later on (which is what always happens when you delay these things). 

And it's not like the Cowboys have a ton of draft capital or even any premium picks near the top of the first round. They seem relatively unlikely to land even one player with a first-round grade on their board, being that most teams tend to have 14-20 such players per year and they are picking outside that range. They still definitely need two offensive line starters, a starting running back, another receiver, at least one more linebacker, and a defensive tackle. And they could use some depth at corner, too. So, yeah, there is a whole lot at stake for Dallas in this draft. 

Carolina Panthers

  • Picks: 33, 39, 65, 101, 141, 142, 240

Bryce Young's rookie year could not possibly have gone any worse. The Panthers did not put Young in a position to succeed, and he did not success. Now in the second year of his career, Carolina needs to make sure that he has a better offensive line and especially better pass-catchers. The Panthers don't have a first-round pick, though, so they'll need to identify prospects a little further down the board in order to facilitate his improvement.