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Friday, March 26, 2010
Draft Watch: NFC West

By Mike Sando
ESPN.com

» NFC Under-The-Radar: East | West | North | South » AFC: East | West | North | South

» Draft Watch: Biggest needs (2/17) | Busts/gems (2/24) | Schemes, themes (3/3) | Recent history (3/10) | Needs revisited (3/17) | Under-the-radar needs (3/26) | History in that spot (3/31) | Draft approach (4/7) | Decision-makers (4/14) | Dream scenario/Plan B (4/21)

Each week leading up to the NFL draft (April 22-24), the ESPN.com blog network will take a division-by-division look at key aspects of the draft. Today’s topic: Under the radar needs.

Arizona Cardinals

The Cardinals haven't had to address the receiver position in years and they're still strong at the top with Larry Fitzgerald and Steve Breaston. But with Anquan Boldin and Jerheme Urban elsewhere, the depth isn't what it used to be. Early Doucet should continue to develop. Sean Morey has yet to re-sign and he doesn't factor into the mix at receiver much anyway.

The special teams could be in transition as well. Morey has been a mainstay, but he has had concussion problems and could be nearing the end, even if he returns. Kicker Neil Rackers and safety Matt Ware also have yet to re-sign. Both could return, but there are no guarantees. Drafting LaRod Stephens-Howling last year gave the Cardinals an elite young special-teamer. Another one wouldn't hurt.

The Cardinals also could use a third-string quarterback in case Brian St. Pierre doesn't return or factor into their plans.

San Francisco 49ers

The 49ers never did find a backup blocking tight end last season. They released 2009 sixth-round pick Bear Pascoe, then went with only two tight ends on the active roster. Vernon Davis always has been an excellent blocker. He has become a dynamic downfield threat in the passing game. Delanie Walker fits the H-back mold. Adding another blocking tight end to pair with Davis situationally might help.

The situation at running back should be settled with Frank Gore and 2009 third-round choice Glen Coffee on the roster, but the 49ers could be in the market for a change-of-pace back with value as a return specialist. This one isn't necessarily under the radar -- the C.J. Spiller talk has been in high gear for weeks -- but running back is not a primary need.

Seattle Seahawks

Coach Pete Carroll pointed to Charlie Whitehurst's combination of size and athleticism as drawing points after Seattle acquired the quarterback from San Diego.

That could affect third-string quarterback Mike Teel, a sixth-round choice of the Seahawks' previous leadership. One scouting report on Teel read, "Lacks the mobility to consistently make plays outside the pocket." It's something to keep in mind as the Seahawks fill out their roster at quarterback behind Matt Hasselbeck and Whitehurst.

The situation at receiver also bears watching. Adding Brandon Marshall by trade would solve the problem. But with Nate Burleson leaving for the Lions, Seattle doesn't have much to offer at the position beyond 32-year-old T.J. Houshmandzadeh. Overpriced Deion Branch and unproven Deon Butler are next on the depth chart.

St. Louis Rams

The Rams have needs everywhere and I'm not sure how many are truly under the radar. But here goes.

Safety shouldn't be a serious need with Oshiomogho Atogwe around, but the draft could come and go without resolution to Atogwe's status. The Rams must bump their offer to Atogwe from $1.226 million into the $7 million range by June 1 to keep his rights.

Backup running back is another lower-profile area the Rams could stand to address. Steven Jackson wore down late last season.