The best division in the sport was the NFC East. The Seattle Seahawks were one play from winning back to back Superbowls. The Arizona Cardinals were 11-5 and probably would have been the #1 seed in the NFC if it wasn’t for injuries. The San Francisco 49ers were still a big threat to anyone and just didn’t seem to be on the same page last year. And finally, the rising are the best 4th place team in the NFL and arguably had the best defensive line in the league. Even with all of that said, all four teams still have big needs to fill, so let’s get right into the NFC West Team Needs.
Arizona Cardinals – The Cardinals were completely destroyed last year with injuries. It wasn’t just normal injuries, but injuries to top key players that killed them. Starting QB Carson Palmer, starting RB Andre Ellington, starting WR Larry Fitzgerald, all missed time, mostly significant time, with injuries. So the Cardinals not only have to fill their starting holes, but they must draft for depth to make sure what happened to them last year, doesn’t happen again. These are some of the spots that need to be filled:
Nose Tackle – With Dan Williams leaving for Free Agency, the Cardinals have to get an adequate replacement. Arizona had one of the top five defenses in the league and that was initiated with their good run defense. This is a must have position for them.
Cornerback – Another top player that left in Free Agency was Antonio Rodgers-Cromartie. Without him, there is a big hole at CB across from Patrick Peterson.
Safety – Tyrann Mathieu is a good ballhawk, but an upgrade over Rashad Johnson is needed. Their secondary was one of their strengths and they need to keep that advantage somehow.
San Francisco 49ers – This has been one of the worst offseasons of recent memory for the 49ers. They have lost Patrick Willis and Chris Borland, both to early retirement. They also lost both of their starting cornerbacks in Chris Culliver and Perrish Cox to Free Agency. Starting DE Justin Smith is currently considering retirement. And on the offensive end, Frank Gore went to Houston, Mike Iupati went to Arizona, and Michael Crabtree is about to sign elsewhere. The once deep 49ers now have the following holes to fill:
Cornerback – Even with all the losses listed above, the 49ers don’t have too many holes, but cornerback is one of them. They could use one, if not two cornerbacks to go along with their signing of Shareece Wright.
Linebackers – They will start Aldon Smith, NaVorro Bowman, Michael Wilhoite, and Ahmad Brooks, but they need depth at all spots.
Seattle Seahawks – The Seahawks know they were one play from winning the Superbowl, so what do they do next? They go out and trade for one of the top five most unstoppable red zone targets in the sport. By trading Max Unger for Jimmy Graham, they traded away one of the best centers in the game, but gain one of the league’s ultimate weapons. The question is will they go more towards a passing game or stay with their bread and butter of running the ball. They just need to plug a couple spots on the offensive side of the football such as:
Wide Receiver – The Seahawks never really needed a top WR because their game was predicated on the offensive line and Marshawn Lynch, but if they want to open it up more, they need at least one WR.
Guard – James Carpenter signed with the New York Jets so there is a whole in their o-line. It’s a position that they likely take care of on day two, if not in the 1st round.
Center – With trading Max Unger, they traded away a top three center in the game. They could take a Cameron Erving early or wait till day two and take Hroniss Grasu or Reese Dismukes.
St Louis Rams – Just like in my NFC East Team Needs article when I said I couldn’t find anything wrong with the Cowboys offense, I feel the same way about the Rams defense. They have a defense that can match the Seattle Seahawks and both teams are extremely similar in their team needs. They need to, like Seattle, work on two things, their WRs and their offensive line. So with that said, below are all of their team needs:
Wide Receiver – Brian Quick had a breakout year before getting hurt and Kenny Britt was re-signed but I feel they need a true #1 WR in case Quick takes a step back this year.
Right Tackle – Joe Barksdale is the key to this position. If they can re-sign him, it fills this spot, if they can’t they will have to address, possibly with the 10th overall pick in the draft.
Center – This is a position that they will also address in the 1st three rounds of the draft. It’s something that has been needed for a couple years now.
Guard – They can either take a guard in round three or four or they can re-sign Barksdale and draft a LT and move Robinson back inside to guard. There are lots of ways to upgrade this spot.
The NFC West will likely be the best division again. Sometimes that is a good thing because it prepares the teams within for playoff intensity and makes them raise their level. However, it can also be a bad thing because they beat up on each other and a team that is considered the worst of the four, St Louis, could probably run away if they were in the NFC East and definitely the NFC South. Hopefully with some good draft picks, we can see these teams battle it out in front of our eyes not only next year but for many years to come.
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