Who The First Round Picks Replace: NFC

It has been over one week since the first round of the 2016 NFL Draft took place. Draft classes have been graded, and the way too early versions of 2017 mock drafts have been posted. The next step in the offseason are rookie minicamps, which are already underway for some teams. With the first round picks seeing the field for the first time, who are they expected to replace on their respective rosters? This article just looks at rookies in the NFC. The article on AFC teams can be found here. Arizona Cardinals: DT Robert Nkemdiche A player with immense talent, Nkemdiche fell to the Cardinals due to off-the-field issues. After playing defensive tackle in a 4-3 defense at Ole Miss, he moves to 3-4 defensive end in Arizona. Calais Campbell is star at one defensive end spot, so Nkemdiche is replacing veteran Frostee Rucker at the other spot. Rucker, 32, has started 20 games over the past two seasons for Arizona and is a free agent at the end of the season. Nkemdiche and Campbell gives the Cardinals a strong defensive line unit. Atlanta Falcons: S Keanu Neal Safety was one of the positions that the Falcons absolutely had to upgrade to get better on defense. Both safety spots are important in a Cover 3 scheme, Incumbent strong safety William Moore was released in February and still hasn't signed anywhere. Neal comes in and replaces him. Head coach Dan Quinn likely saw some Kam Chancellor, a player Quinn worked with in Seattle, in Neal. Neal is known as a big hitter who speeds down from his safety position to take out opposing players. Carolina Panthers: DT Vernon Butler Butler is an interesting selection because he doesn't necessarily replace a starter on the Panthers roster. Starting defensive tackles Kawann Short and Star Lotulelei are quality players who are free agents after the 2016 and 2017 seasons, respectively. However, Carolina is reported to want to sign both to long-term extensions. This makes Butler the third defensive tackle, a role that belonged to Dwan Edwards last year. He was released in March. Butler will still see the field as a rookie, but it will be as rotational player. Chicago Bears: OLB Leonard Floyd Trading up to pass the New York Giants, the Bears selected Floyd, an athletic pass rusher. His best fit early is as a situational pass rusher. This will allow him to develop other pass rush moves and improve his game against the run. Chicago will be able to do this because the players Floyd is replacing are still on the roster. Willie Young is a free agent at the end of the 2016 season, and Lamarr Houston, who isn't a great fit in a 3-4 defense, can be cut for significant cap savings at any time. Dallas Cowboys: RB Ezekiel Elliott In the overall scheme of things, Elliott is replacing DeMarco Murray, who left Dallas for Philadelphia in free agency over a year ago. With Elliott, the Cowboys are trying to recreate their strong run game that they had with Murray in 2014. In terms of the roster right now, Elliott takes over for Darren McFadden. McFadden started 10 games last season and gained 1,089 yards behind the Cowboys' excellent offensive line. With Dallas' offensive line, there might not be a better spot for a running back to land. Detroit Lions: OT Taylor Decker The Lions looked at offensive tackles all offseason in free agency, but were unable to land one. The team definitely needed a new right tackle and may be looking to replace left tackle Riley Reiff, who has one year left on his contract. Reiff has been serviceable in his career, but can be improved upon. One of the most interesting position battles to watch over the summer will left tackle in Detroit. Which player starts on the left side and which player starts on the right? Green Bay Packers: DT Kenny Clark The retirement of B.J. Raji left the Packers with a bigger need on the defensive line. He was a free agent, but the team was expecting to re-sign him. There was some thought that Letroy Guion would move over from defensive end to nose tackle, but Clark's selection allows the Packers to simply plug Clark into the void left by Raji. Clark is a strong run defender with a good bull rush. He may start off as just a two-down player, but he has the potential to be more than that. Los Angeles Rams: QB Jared Goff Back in Los Angeles and desperate for a franchise quarterback, the Rams packaged a bunch of picks to Tennessee to trade up to No. 1 overall. The reward was Goff, who joins the franchise as the instant starter. The Rams' quarterback position has been unsettled since Sam Bradford first tore his ACL in 2013. Nick Foles and Case Keenum both started games ineffectively last season. Both are still on the roster, but odds are Los Angeles tries to trade one of them by the start of the season. Minnesota Vikings: WR Laquon Treadwell Goal No. 1 for the Vikings for the 2016 draft had to be find a new target for Teddy Bridgewater to throw to. The starting unit of Mike Wallace and Stefon Diggs wasn't putting fear into opposing defenses. Wallace, who never really fit in because Bridgewater doesn't throw deep often, was released. Treadwell takes Wallace's spot in the starting lineup, but they are completely different receivers. Wallace is a burner and Treadwell is a physical player who dropped in the draft due to a slow forty-yard dash time. New Orleans Saints: DT Sheldon Rankins One of the most important positions in a 4-3 defense is the three-technique defensive tackle (think Warren Sapp and Aaron Donald). This player is responsible for interior disruption. Last season, the Saints relied on 35-year-old Kevin Williams. He played well, but clearly was just a stop-gap solution. The Saints signed Nick Fairley, but he will only be around for one season. The job is clearly Rankins' to lose. New York Giants: CB Eli Apple After missing out on rumored top targets Jack Conklin and Leonard Floyd, the Giants took Apple. On the surface, this seems like a strange selection, as they already have Janoris Jenkins and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie at cornerback. However, Rodgers-Cromartie turned 30 in April and can be cut for significant cap savings after the season. Finally, teams need to have three good cornerbacks in today's NFL. Apple will probably have to move inside to the slot at the beginning of his career. Philadelphia Eagles: QB Carson Wentz A decent argument could be made that Goff and Wentz are both replacing the same player: Bradford. Now in Philadelphia, Bradford started 14 games last season and re-signed for good money this offseason. However, that is only a two-year contract and the Eagles can easily get out of the deal after one season. He asked for a trade out of Philadelphia and started to hold out, but eventually returned to the team. Bradford is the quarterback for now, but Wentz is the future. San Francisco 49ers: DE DeForest Buckner and G Joshua Garnett The only team with two first round selections this year, the 49ers improved their trenches with the selections of Buckner and Garnett. The Buckner selection makes it two Oregon defensive ends in two straight first rounds. Buckner and Arik Armstead are the two starters now. Buckner takes over for Glenn Dorsey and Quinton Dial. The 49ers heavily rotated their defensive ends last season. Dorsey and Dial will be good backups now. Once Alex Boone left in free agency, guard became a big need on offense. Garnett, who San Francisco traded up to acquire, is Boone's replacement. It is tough to lose an offensive lineman of Boone's caliber, but the 49ers were proactive about finding a replacement. Garnett is a mauling run blocker. Seattle Seahawks: OL Germain Ifedi The entire offensive line in Seattle needs work, so it was no surprise that the team spent a first round pick on one. At Texas A&M, Ifedi played right tackle his last two seasons, but was a guard as a freshman. Seattle is expected to play Ifedi as a guard. Right now, he is penciled in as the starting right guard. Last season, that was J.R. Sweezy, who left for Tampa Bay in free agency. Seattle may reshuffle their offensive line again before the season starts, but right now Ifedi is replacing Sweezy. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: CB Vernon Hargreaves III Tampa Bay's top two cornerbacks in 2015 were Alterraun Verner and Sterling Moore. Verner was in and out of the starting lineup, and Moore left for Buffalo in free agency. Brent Grimes was added on a two-year contract in free agency, but at 32-years-old, he is only a temporary solution. Hargreaves comes in as a clear starter. His ability to play both outside and inside will help the Buccaneers play their best three cornerbacks. If Verner is able to survive this season, don't expect him to be on the roster in 2017. Washington Redskins: WR Josh Doctson At first glance, this selection may not make much sense. Some NFL fans definitely were asking why would Washington draft a wide receiver with DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garçon already on the roster? Well, both Jackson and Garçon will be free agent after the 2016 season and will turn 30 by then. The selection of Doctson was done with an eye on the future. He may not be needed much as a rookie, but he will be in 2017. With that being said, he is too talented to keep off the field early. Matt Pearce is a graduate of National Football Post’s Introduction to Scouting and Scouting Boot Camp and is a journalism student at the University of Nebraska. Follow him on Twitter@Matt_Pearce13

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