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Division-by-division look at each NFL team's needs before the draft: NFC West

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Teams have spent the past few weeks adding talent via free agency, but not all holes can be filled that way. Each team has some pressing needs remaining, and we’re going division-by-division to analyze those needs and perhaps figure out which directions teams are leaning heading into the draft.


Arizona Cardinals

Positions needed: OT, DL, C, EDGE, CB

Analysis: Receiver would have been a clear need. Then DeAndre Hopkins fell in their laps. Retaining Kenyan Drake puts the Cardinals in a pretty good spot with their skill-position talent.

Even with a defense that is lagging behind, offensive tackle stands out as a clear need. It would be no surprise if the Cardinals take a tackle at No. 8 overall. The interior of the offensive line can be addressed in later rounds. The defensive line is getting better, but all levels of the defense need improvements and that’s a good place to start. Cornerback looks better than it has in a while, but adding some young depth would be smart. And a pass rusher to take some heat off Chandler Jones wouldn’t be a bad idea either.

Los Angeles Rams

Positions needed: OT, G, EDGE, LB, RB

Analysis: The Rams need to restock the shelves after losing a lot of talent, but they don’t have a first-round pick. An extra second-round pick in the Brandin Cooks trade helps. And suddenly, the Rams have a lot of needs. Receiver could have been on the list too after Cooks was shipped off.

The offensive line has fallen off the past couple years, and that has to be the top priority in the draft. The Rams took some losses at edge rusher and inside linebacker in free agency. They were lucky to get defensive tackle Michael Brockers back after a failed physical with Baltimore, or that would have been another front-seven need. Running back could be OK with Malcolm Brown and Darrell Henderson, but neither is a Todd Gurley-level player and the Rams could be intrigued with a deep running back class.

Protecting QB Jared Goff will be a priority for the Rams in this draft. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)
Protecting QB Jared Goff will be a priority for the Rams in this draft. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

San Francisco 49ers

Positions needed: WR, OT, CB, DT, C

Analysis: Emmanuel Sanders was a rental, and he was necessary because the 49ers didn’t have enough depth at receiver. Sanders is gone and that’s a hole once again. Deebo Samuel looks like a future star but there are questions around him. Offensive tackle will have to be addressed soon with Joe Staley getting near the end of his career, and center is a secondary concern with Weston Richburg coming off a season-ending injury. Cornerback could use some young depth, especially with the great Richard Sherman getting to an age at which most cornerbacks lose a step.

This isn’t a team with many pressing needs, so it can afford to sit back and take the best player available. That’s especially advantageous having an extra first-round pick as a result of the DeForest Buckner trade with Indianapolis. It’s also good that the 49ers don’t need quantity because after the two first-round picks, their next pick is in Round 5.

Seattle Seahawks

Positions needed: EDGE, RB, WR, LB, CB

Analysis: The Seahawks traded for Jadeveon Clowney knowing he could be a one-year rental, and it doesn’t seem like he’s coming back to Seattle. That means finding help on the edge becomes a huge priority in the draft. After that, the Seahawks will be mostly drafting for depth.

Another back is needed behind Chris Carson, since Rashaad Penny is coming off a knee injury. Seattle could use a good third receiver and a young linebacker behind veterans Bobby Wagner and K.J. Wright. Cornerback should be OK if Quinton Dunbar, acquired in a trade with Washington, works out. But it never hurts to have plenty of options at that position. There aren’t many spots in which the Seahawks could use a rookie starter, but they do badly need pass-rush help.

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