NFL Draft Team Needs: NFC West

As the 2022 NFL Draft approaches, it is time to start preparing for one of the most important weekends of the year, with your favourite NFL team drafting their next generation of young talent out of college.

To help you prepare for and enjoy the draft more, I am putting together an in-depth look at the Team Needs of every team in the league. These articles will be coming thick and fast throughout the month of April, so you can read them all to fully understand who needs what and which picks they have to address it, or you can keep an eye out for the division that your team is in.

Here we are, everyone. This is the final entry into the Team Needs series. We have our grand finale taking the form of the NFC West, which fittingly is the home of the Super Bowl Champions. There are still needs to be filled, though, even for them. This is a very exciting division and there are some very exciting NFL Draft narratives to follow here.

So let’s do this one more time. What do the teams of the NFC West need, and what picks do they have to do it?

San Francisco 49ers

Record: 10-7

Needs: Offensive Line, CB, S, WR (if they trade Deebo Samuel)

Draft Picks: 2nd (61st), 3rd (93rd, 103rd), 4th (134th), 5th (172nd), 6th (187th, 220th, 221st) 7th (262nd)

Let’s get started with one of the two teams that don’t have a first-round pick. The San Francisco 49ers are in a very unusual situation. Their versatile superstar Deebo Samuel is an all-around 10/10 football player. A wide receiver who can also play running back and who excels at both, dominating last year for an impressive 1,700 yards from scrimmage in just 136 touches. He also scored 14 times. This was an exceptional season, but the young receiver may have felt he was doing a little too much. He has requested to be traded from the 49ers, but they still haven’t done so.

Having a massively talented hybrid player who everyone knows is trying to get out of town just a couple of days before the draft is not ideal for an organisation. When your cards are on the table, it’s difficult to get good value. Naturally, they won’t trade him for nothing, but it does mean that as the draft starts – assuming he isn’t already gone by Thursday night – this will be a huge narrative. Do they trade Deebo to get into the first round? If so, with who?

Once we get to the point where the Niners actually get to make some picks, I think their primary objective is to bolster the Offensive Line. After Laken Tomlinson left, this became the number one priority. Their interior OL is in a really delicate spot right now, so they’re going to need to address this, especially because San Francisco is so good in the run game. A run-first guard in the first or second round would do them well.

Once they’ve sorted out their offensive line with a pick or two, the only other offensive consideration is a wide receiver if they do end up trading Samuel. If he stays, that’s absolutely fine, and they can just go offensive line and straight to defense.

On the defensive side of the ball, there is a reasonable front-seven, although they could do with depth, but the secondary could do with some help. They have some decent safeties, but none of them are particularly aggressive downhill, with more of a coverage focus amongst the group. I’d like to see them draft an aggressive downhill SS to add depth while also giving a different type of player in their safety group. The cornerback position could also use at least one addition, whether it’s a depth piece or a new starter.

Arizona Cardinals

Record: 11-6

Needs: Offensive Line, Defensive Line, CB, RB, TE, WR

Draft Picks: 1st (23rd), 2nd (55th), 3rd (87th), 6th (201st, 215th), 7th (244th, 256th, 257th)

The Arizona Cardinals are potentially the most confusing team in the league over the last two years. They set off at the start of the season like they’re in a drag race and start so fast that they’re still in a playoff spot by the time they splutter over the finish line of the marathon. Their offense is dangerous, to say the least, and when it’s firing on all cylinders, they can beat any team in football. The defensive is also very strong, even without Chandler Jones, who is now a Las Vegas Raider. However, there is room to improve on both sides.

As we progress through this article, you may get bored of me saying this, they need to upgrade their offensive line. It may be difficult to invest enough into the OL while also fixing other issues with the unusual spread of picks that the Cardinals have. If they can, though, I think that is priority number one. The offense runs through Kyler Murray and he has been fighting for his life back there at times.

The offensive skill positions could also benefit from a buff, they have an aging Zach Ertz heading up their TE group, the only RB still standing from the group of previous committees is James Conner. And finally, with Christian Kirk gone, they now have Rondale Moore and two older veterans. Hopkins has years left but A.J. Green could retire at any point or continue to decline enough to be replaced. Any of these three positions could do with a boost of a young rookie presence.

On defense, they not only lost their sack leader in Jones, but Jordan Phillips also left from the defensive line. They will have to try and at least somewhat address the line in the draft. J.J Watt and Zach Allen are still holding it down on either side of their three-man front, but a little more depth wouldn’t be wasted, and their defensive tackle position is both weaker and has no depth in Phillips’ absence.

They could also do with some help at cornerback, because behind Byron Murphy Jr., there isn’t a whole load of help. Ideally, they’d want a physical outside cornerback, even if they just make use of a couple of dart throws later in the draft. Due to the nature of their numerous needs, it may be unlikely that they can spend up too much on the cornerback.

Seattle Seahawks

Record: 7-10

Needs: Offensive Line, Defensive Line, LB, QB, CB

Draft Picks: 1st (9th), 2nd (40th, 41st), 3rd (72nd), 4th (109th), 5th (14th, 153rd), 7th (229th)

The Seattle Seahawks have had a tough offseason. They had a disappointing year, earned a high draft pick and then traded away their franchise quarterback and their best defender, but stood firm on their superstar young WR. Translation, they might want to rebuild, but they’re keeping the young talent they already have in-house. That means they don’t necessarily want to delay for too long.

As we enter a post-Wilson era, the current quarterback depth chart is Drew Lock ahead of Geno Smith and Jacob Easton. This isn’t ideal. The first decision that will be made in this draft preparation process will be what they want to do at this position – who they might want and where they’d be willing to take them. All the avenues will be well discussed, but my bet is that the Seahawks are another year away from trying to replace Wilson long-term. This football team needs more than a new signal-caller, so why rush that in a sparse QB class? They might but I don’t think they should.

Before getting a good QB to benefit from it, they should consider an upgrade of the offensive line even more important. Russell Wilson is an incredibly talented quarterback, but even he suffered the effects of having a bad offensive line. With someone who isn’t elite, it’s very likely this will be even worse, so fixing it will be both important to do and it’ll be easy to recognise a failure to do so.

Then there’s the defensive side of the ball, where they have a Hall of Fame-worthy hole left behind at linebacker. With Bobby Wagner now down in LA with the Rams, they lose not only an LB but the key to their run defense and the heart and soul of not only the D but the organisation. To lose Bobby and Russ in one year is enough to bring Seattle fans to tears. They can’t mess around though. The hunt for a new core for the defensive unit begins now. They have a good safety pairing both under contract for a while longer, and then there’s everything else.

Seattle will need to upgrade their defensive line first and foremost, even with Wagner bailing them out with his football IQ and tackling ability this was noticeable. Their pass rush is not strong enough and the run-game will be more dependent on the DL than it was for the last decade with an elite LB roaming behind. A replacement for Wagner – if that phrase is even appropriate to use – is also needed, with the centre of the defense now open, an athletic, sideline-to-sideline player with a good feel for the game is essential. If Jordyn Brooks takes on that role, he needs a replacement. Then, finally, the cornerback position hasn’t looked the same over the last few seasons. They could do with upgrading there too.

Los Angeles Rams

Record: 12-5

Needs: Offensive Line, EDGE, CB

Draft Picks: 3rd (105th), 4th (142nd) 5th (175th), 6th (211th, 212th, 218th), 7th (238th, 253rd)

Alright guys, we saved the best for last.

What could a team that just won the Super Bowl possibly need? Well, let me tell you.

The Rams have a fantastic roster, with talent at every single position – made even better by some nice acquisitions, including the aforementioned Bobby Wagner and Allen Robinson. However, it’s never that simple. Maybe there’s less work to do than the average team, but there are a few very important positions to keep in mind as day two of the draft approaches for the Rams.

By far, without a doubt, the most important fix is the Offensive Line. Andrew Whitworth retired as a champion and Austin Corbett left as a free agent. Despite having Whitworth’s heir apparent already waiting in the wings, there is still a starting spot up for grabs at right guard. This means the biggest priority in the draft is an NFL-ready RG and I also wouldn’t mind seeing them add another lineman later in the draft, as they’ve promoted their best second-string lineman at LT and that sixth-man depth role is important, especially for a team with big aspirations.

On the defensive side of the ball, the addition of Bobby Wagner fills as much of a gap as it left behind in Seattle, sure, but there are more holes. Another Hall of Fame defensive star, Von Miller, left this year and is now with the Bills. This means EDGE becomes an immediate need to fill. There is some fantastic pass-rushing talent in this draft class, but the Rams don’t make their first pick until the 105th overall selection, on day two.

The decision of which way to go first, offensive line or defensive line, will be very interesting to see. For me, I’d go offensive line first, because any decent EDGE rusher who gets the advantage of having Aaron Donald triple-teamed next to him will be able to make something happen.

Finally, I’d like to see an addition at Cornerback. They have an elite man-to-man corner already in Jalen Ramsey, but behind him, the depth is pretty weak. If they could grab at least one more corner, that would be a nice boost.

So, that’s it.

All 32 teams of the NFL covered. We have proven that every single team has needs, even the Super Bowl Champions. Many teams share the same needs, with similar urgency. And that is why the draft is going to be so exciting.

Enjoy the draft, or if you’re not crazy like Tyler and don’t want to watch all night on Thursday, check out the @TeamUKFL Twitter account, where he will be live-tweeting to announce every pick of the first round live.