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NFC West Draft Primer

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Arizona Cardinals

Picks: 1st R-26th, 2nd R-26th, 3rd R-24th & 25th, 4th R-25th, 6th R-26th, 7th R-26th

Needs: ILB, NT, CB

Arizona is at the crossroads after a successful two year run that saw the Cardinals win back-to-back NFC West titles.  Quarterback Kurt Warner has retired and now it's time for former first round pick Matt Leinert to take over.  The problem is Leinert has not looked like a franchise quarterback and indeed lost his job to Warner back in 2007.  Arizona is still loaded at wide receiver but the team has yet to personify coach Ken Whisenhunt's grind-it-out, physical philosophy.  This was demonstrated with a rushing attack that was 28th in the NFL last year.

The Cardinals improved on defense but like the offense they lose a major component with the free agency departure of linebacker Karlos Dansby.  While the Cardinals have become stellar at getting to the quarterback (43 sacks in '09, 6th most in the league) they need more beef in the middle of the front seven.  Secondary will be a concern too with the loss of Antrel Rolle.

Big Terrence Cody fills a need at nose tackle but might be a bit of a reach at number 26.  Inside linebacker is not top heavy this year so the Cardinals might hold off until later rounds.  However, in the secondary the Cards might be able to choose either cornerback Kareem Jackson or safety Taylor Mays.

 

San Francisco 49ers

Picks: 1st R-13th & 17th, 2nd R-17th, 3rd R-15th, 4th R-15th, 6th R-13th & 37th, 7th R-17th

Needs: OL, CB, OLB

Are the 49ers finally ready to reclaim the NFC West?  With Warner retired and Seattle and St. Louis in rebuilding mode the division is up for grabs.  However, if the 49ers are serious about a playoff run they must address their porous offensive line.  In 2009 San Francisco gave up 44 sacks and the running game struggled without Frank Gore.  At some point the 49ers should try to get another reliable receiver to go with Vernon Davis and his 13 touchdowns.

It is not surprising that a Mike Singletary-led team knows how to play defense.  The 49ers ranked 4th in scoring defense and gave up an average of just 97 rushing yards per game.  The secondary is a bit of a concern.  In two key losses in the second half of the season Aaron Rodgers and Donovan McNabb both topped 300 yards against the Niners.

With two first round picks the 49ers can make a lot of noise.  Offensive tackles Anthony Davis or Bryan Bulaga would fill that offensive line need.  A cornerback like Kyle Wilson would be beneficial for his secondary play as well as his return abilities.  San Fran was rather biteless on special teams returns last year.  If the 49ers really want to make a splash they may pull the trigger on running back C.J. Spiller.

 

Seattle Seahawks

Picks: 1st R-6th & 14th, 2nd R-28th, 4th R-6th & 29th, 5th R-2nd & 8th, 6th R-7th, 7th R-38th

Needs: OT, DE, S, LB

Pete Carroll returns to the NFL to guide the team that once dominated the NFC West.  The Seahawks do not appear to be a quick fix with problems on both sides but certainly on offense it starts up front.  Seattle gave up 41 sacks last year and it's now at a point where quarterback Matt Hasselbeck can no longer be counted on to start all 16 games chiefly because of the number of hits he absorbs.  Seattle has decent depth at running back and wide receiver but without a solid front the Seahawks could never gain any traction.

The loss of veteran Deon Grant in the secondary creates a huge hole for a unit that couldn't stop the pass at all in '09.  Seattle's leading returning defensive back notched just two interceptions and playmakers are badly needed.  Seattle fared much better in stopping the run but the Seahawks would do well to find linebackers to match the play of David Hawthorne.

Like San Francisco the Seahawks have two first round picks and can really change the dynamic of the draft.  Safety Eric Berry would be a huge pick at number six if Kansas City passes.  If not the Seahawks could easily address the offensive line with Trent Williams or Bryan Bulaga.  With the second pick they could go after explosive running back C.J. Spiller as best available player or they can focus on defense with the likes of defensive end Derrick Morgan or linebacker Sergio Kindle.

 

St. Louis Rams

Picks: 1st R-1st, 2nd R-1st, 3rd R-1st, 4th R-1st, 5th R-1st & 4th, 6th R-1st, 7th R-1st, 19th & 47th

Needs: QB, WR, DT, LB

Almost nothing went right for the hapless Rams in 2009.  Steven Jackson was the lone positive in a year full of negatives as the running back rushed for more than 1400 yards and led the team in receptions.  Of course, it speaks volumes when a running back is your top receiving target.  Injuries piled up as St. Louis was forced to start third stringer Keith Null at quarterback by the end of the year.

The Rams do have a couple of promising defensive players in Chris Long and James Laurinaitis but those two were not nearly enough.  St. Louis gave up the second most points and finished 25th in pass defense and 27th against the run.  The good news is there is virtually nowhere to go but up, especially if the Rams focus on defense.

Quarterback Sam Bradford is a logical choice now that starter Marc Bulger is gone.  However the Rams have not worked out a deal with Bradford, leaving open the possibility that the Rams may take defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh or trade out of the top pick.  Obviously with a high second round pick the Rams could find another player that should contribute right away.

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