NFC West: Draft Watch 2011

Draft Watch: NFC West

April, 21, 2011
4/21/11
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NFC Draft Watch: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South

Each Thursday leading up to the NFL draft (April 28-30), the ESPN.com NFL blog network will take a division-by-division look at key aspects of the draft. Today's topic: Dream Scenario/Plan B.

Arizona Cardinals

Dream scenario: Having Texas A&M pass-rusher Von Miller available at No. 5 would qualify as a dream scenario based on what we know about Arizona this offseason. New defensive coordinator Ray Horton has vowed to turn the Cardinals into a more pressure-oriented team. The Cardinals have an obvious need to get more dynamic at outside linebacker to a degree that probably would not happen even if O'Brien Schofield and Will Davis emerged as factors.

Granted, the Cardinals need a quarterback more than they need anything else, but there's no sense to this point that Arizona would select one fifth in this draft. Coach Ken Whisenhunt has said he doesn't see a Sam Bradford or Matt Ryan type among the current college prospects. Personnel director Steve Keim has said that a team cannot have any reservations about a quarterback selected that early. Perhaps they are blowing smoke.

Plan B: Or, Whisenhunt might be right about not seeing a Bradford or Ryan in this draft. The Cardinals' need for a quarterback is great enough, however, for them to select one as Plan B should the pass-rusher scenario fall through. Let's assume Miller is off the board when Arizona chooses. Drafting receiver A.J. Green or cornerback Patrick Peterson would upgrade the roster, to be sure, but if a top pass-rusher were unavailable and Gabbert slipped unexpectedly, could Arizona really turn its back on a promising if imperfect passer?

San Francisco 49ers

Dream scenario: Having Miller or one of the top quarterbacks fall to the 49ers at No. 7 would surely tempt them, but that seems unrealistic even as a dream scenario.

A more realistic dream scenario would have the 49ers on the clock with a choice between top cornerbacks Patrick Peterson and Prince Amukamara. The team could then draft the one it likes best, filling an obvious need, or consider trading out of the selection if another team showed strong interest in moving up the board for, say, one of the top wideouts.

The 49ers' problems in pass coverage last season were team-related and not just corner-specific. The safety play wasn't exactly stellar. As ESPN Stats & Information notes, the 49ers allowed 66.7 percent completions, 18.2 yards per attempt and a 130.1 rating on passes thrown at least 15 yards downfield between the yard-line numbers -- right where top-coverage safeties are expected to make their mark. The league averages were 48.8 percent completions and 12.3 yards per attempt with a 79.9 rating.

But with cornerback Nate Clements' contract becoming untenable, there's no denying the team's need for a top corner. Adding one with the seventh overall choice would provide a needed talent upgrade in the secondary. And if Peterson eventually transitioned into becoming a top safety, as former 49ers cornerback Eric Davis suggested the case might be, the 49ers could use him there as well. Ronnie Lott made that transition famously as the eighth pick of the 1981 draft.

Plan B: It would probably entail seeking out one of the top pass-rushers after Miller. I've penciled in Robert Quinn as a possibility, but the 49ers would have to weigh risks. Quinn underwent surgery in 2007 to alleviate pressure caused by a benign tumor that remains in Quinn's brain and could affect his status.

St. Louis Rams

Dream scenario: Landing a playmaking wideout with the 14th overall selection stands as the dream scenario for the only NFC West organization that has found its long-term answer at quarterback. Conventional wisdom says there's no chance Green will be available this late, and most mock drafts seem to have Alabama receiver Julio Jones coming off the board before the 14th selection as well. The Rams can dream for the purposes of this exercise. Jones certainly would add promise to a receiving corps with quite a few injury-related question marks.

Quarterback Sam Bradford completed 59.1 percent of his passes to wide receivers last season, right at the league average. But he managed only 6.2 yards per attempt on those passes, well off the 7.8-yard NFL average. Arming Bradford with ample weapons, particularly on the outside, makes too much sense for the Rams to head in another direction unnecessarily.

Plan B: If one of the top two wideouts isn't available at No. 14, the Rams can feel good about building their depth along the defensive line. Coach Steve Spagnuolo wants to build a deep rotation of linemen along the lines of what he had when running the New York Giants' defense. While the Rams got more than expected from their defensive line last season -- Fred Robbins and James Hall were outstanding -- they could use an infusion of young talent. Auburn's Nick Fairley has the talent to go much higher than No. 14, but if he or even Illinois defensive tackle Corey Liuget were available, the Rams could do worse.

Seattle Seahawks

Dream scenario: General manager John Schneider came right out and said he hopes to move out of the 25th overall choice. Trading down generally would not qualify as a very exciting dream scenario, but the Seahawks need more selections. They lack a third-round choice and remain in what Schneider called the "infancy" of the building process. More picks, please.

Although Seattle obviously needs a quarterback, this draft does not appear to offer slam-dunk prospects at the position, and Seattle is selecting too late for a realistic shot at one of the top ones, anyway. Trading out of the spot would allow Seattle to gain the additional picks necessary to address multiple deficiencies. Remember, Schneider came to Seattle from Green Bay, where the Packers used more draft selections than any team in the league -- 51 -- over a five-year period beginning in 2005.

Plan B: Of course, lots of teams talk about trading down and acquiring additional selections. It's easier said than done, in some cases. Plan B could entail standing pat at No. 25 and selecting the best lineman available on either side of the ball. The Seahawks need building blocks. They selected high enough in 2010 to target elite prospects at left tackle (Russell Okung) and free safety (Earl Thomas). They're in position to take a less exciting approach this year, but they can strengthen their foundation.

Draft Watch: NFC West

April, 14, 2011
4/14/11
12:00
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NFC Draft Watch: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South

Each Thursday leading up to the NFL draft (April 28-30), the ESPN.com blog network will take a division-by-division look at key aspects of the draft. Today’s topic: Draft philosophy.

Arizona Cardinals

The Cardinals expect their draft choices to address immediate needs even if the players they choose do not start right away. They pay less lip service to the "best player available" mantra than some teams.

"There is a line you walk between both of them, where you draft the best available player for your need," coach Ken Whisenhunt explained before the 2010 draft. "You always consider where your depth is, where your greatest margin of improvement is going to come, and that is kind of what we look toward when we do that."

The Cardinals put together two draft boards. One rates players on overall NFL potential. The other lists the 120 players Arizona would consider drafting, taking into account the Cardinals' needs as well.

San Francisco 49ers

General manager Trent Baalke puts an old-school emphasis on measurables in the belief that bigger, stronger athletes hold up better over the course of a season. His former boss, Scot McCloughan, shared the same philosophy, which he traced back to Ron Wolf.

I expect that philosophy to continue. It fits well with new coach Jim Harbaugh's belief in establishing a power running game to facilitate play-action opportunities.

The first three players San Francisco selected in the 2010 draft -- tackle Anthony Davis, guard Mike Iupati and safety Taylor Mays -- fit the "size matters" philosophy.

St. Louis Rams

The Rams feel good enough about the foundation they've built to tolerate more risk than they were willing to accept when GM Billy Devaney and coach Steve Spagnuolo were in the early stages of remaking the roster.

We saw that last year when the Rams used a third-round choice for cornerback Jerome Murphy and a fourth-rounder for receiver Mardy Gilyard. Murphy had been suspended from his college team for violating team rules. Gilyard was more flamboyant than most recent Rams choices. Draft analysts raised potential character concerns in both cases.

This is not to suggest the Rams have abandoned their core values. They are simply far enough along in the building process to expand their options.

Side note: Over the past two seasons, the Rams have used both first-round choices on players from the Big 12 Conference and both second-rounders on players from the Big Ten.

Seattle Seahawks

Any struggling team with new leadership will be active in addressing weaknesses.

The Seahawks have taken it to another level under coach Pete Carroll and GM John Schneider. These guys are energetic, aggressive and unapologetic. They would rather wheel and deal than stand pat, an approach that led to multiple trades in their first draft together.

The lockout will prevent teams from trading veteran players, limiting the Seahawks' options this year.

The team is more unified philosophically this year because offensive line coach Tom Cable shares more conventional views on prospects at his position. Cable's predecessor, Alex Gibbs, was more particular in what he wanted, affecting the overall approach.

Draft Watch: NFC West

April, 7, 2011
4/07/11
12:53
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NFC Draft Watch: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South

Each Thursday leading up to the NFL draft (April 28-30), the ESPN.com NFL blog network will take a division-by-division look at key aspects of the draft. Today’s topic: history in that spot.

Arizona Cardinals

The Cardinals' top pick is No. 5 overall. Here are the last seven players taken in that spot, with their NFL team in parentheses: ANALYSIS: The Cardinals are still taking criticism for selecting Brown fifth overall in 2007 when running back Adrian Peterson was available. Coach Ken Whisenhunt recently defended the decision, saying Brown is a good player on the rise, and the team badly needed to build up its offensive line when Whisenhunt arrived as head coach in 2007. To be fair, the Cardinals had already paid big money to running back Edgerrin James in free agency. Still, Peterson was seen as the best player available. In retrospect, adding Peterson might have made Arizona even more dangerous during its Super Bowl season.

San Francisco 49ers

The 49ers' top pick is No. 7 overall. Here are the last seven players taken in that spot, with their NFL team in parentheses: ANALYSIS: The 49ers traded up to select pass-rusher Andre Carter seventh overall in 2001. They selected defensive tackle Bryant Young seventh overall in 1994. Previously, the 49ers selected tight ends Ken MacAfee (1978) and Ted Kwalick (1969) in this slot. The team landed Carter after Bill Walsh made a first-round swap with Seattle's Mike Holmgren. The 49ers came out ahead in that deal; Holmgren's Seahawks wound up with receiver Koren Robinson. Carter never became a dominant pass-rushing force for San Francisco, but he did have 25.5 sacks over his first three seasons. First-year general manager Trent Baalke was with the 49ers when the team selected tight end Vernon Davis in this general range -- sixth overall -- five years ago. That decision has worked out well.

St. Louis Rams

The Rams' top pick is No. 14 overall. Here are the last seven players taken in that spot, with their NFL team in parentheses: ANALYSIS: This is the first time the Rams have selected 14th since moving to St. Louis for the 1995 season. The Los Angeles Rams selected running back Gaston Green (1988), running back Barry Redden (1982), linebacker Jack Pardee (1957) and tight end Leon Clarke (1956) in this slot. The Rams have picked in this general range several times this decade, however. The results were generally disastrous, but the people responsible for making those decisions aren't in charge any longer. The Rams have done a much better job in the draft more recently. Looking back, however, the team selected defensive tackle Adam Carriker 13th in 2007 and cornerback Tye Hill 15th in 2006. Defensive tackles Jimmy Kennedy (2003) and Damione Lewis (2001) went 12th overall to St. Louis.

Seattle Seahawks

The Seahawks' top pick is No. 25 overall. Here are the last seven players taken in that spot, with their NFL team in parentheses: ANALYSIS: The Seahawks' previous leadership selected center Chris Spencer with the 26th pick in 2005. Ted Thompson, who mentored current Seattle general manager John Schneider, was with Seattle when the team used the 23rd choice of the 2003 draft for defensive tackle Marcus Tubbs. Tubbs was on his way to becoming a disruptive force until a knee injury cut short his career. Schneider was with the Packers in 2004 when the team used the 24th choice for Carroll, who disappointed as a cornerback. A look at the quarterbacks selected in this general range over the years lends little confidence in the prospects for Seattle finding one in 2011. There are more misses than hits, although Schneider was with Green Bay when the Packers found Aaron Rodgers with the 24th overall choice.

Draft Watch: NFC West

March, 31, 2011
3/31/11
12:00
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NFC Draft Watch: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South

Each Thursday leading up to the NFL draft (April 28-30), the ESPN.com NFL blog network will take a division-by-division look at key aspects of the draft. Today's topic: decision-makers.

Arizona Cardinals

The Cardinals' leadership team remains basically unchanged for a fifth consecutive offseason.

Coach Ken Whisenhunt is the face of the organization, even during the draft, in part because general manager Rod Graves keeps a low profile. Both earned contract extensions last offseason. Whisenhunt was coming off back-to-back division titles and had been to a Super Bowl at that point, so his profile within the organization was growing. One losing season hasn't changed that.

Whisenhunt, Graves, team president Michael Bidwill and player personnel director Steve Keim are the primary decision-makers. Whisenhunt appears most prominent among them.

San Francisco 49ers

The 49ers pulled a surprise of sorts when they named Trent Baalke general manager and made him the No. 1 personnel decision-maker in the building.

The feeling previously had been that the 49ers might have to hand over personnel power to their next head coach if they were serious about landing Jim Harbaugh or another top candidate. That did not happen. Baalke, whose profile became more prominent following Scot McCloughan's departure from the organization one year ago, will make the call during the draft.

The rapport between Baalke and Harbaugh appears much stronger, by all accounts, than the relationship between Baalke and former coach Mike Singletary. That is natural because Baalke played a leading role in hiring Harbaugh; he wasn't part of the process when the team promoted Singletary.

Seattle Seahawks

Coach Pete Carroll has the final say on personnel matters. It's in his contract, but not something he flaunts. Carroll played a role in hiring John Schneider as general manager last offseason. Their personalities mesh and the two worked together well in making multiple draft-day moves in 2010.

This is the Seahawks' most comfortable front-office arrangement in recent memory, largely because Carroll and Schneider were brought in together. Each is invested in the other to a degree that did not exist when Mike Holmgren was working with Bob Whitsitt, Bob Ferguson and Tim Ruskell over the years.

The Seahawks' decision-making process has more clarity heading into this draft now that Alex Gibbs has retired as offensive line coach. Gibbs' strong preference for a very specific type of offensive lineman affected how the team approached personnel decisions, especially at guard. His retirement has freed the team to more comfortably pursue the bigger guards its personnel department preferred.

St. Louis Rams

The Rams have new ownership with Stan Kroenke purchasing a majority stake, but the day-to-day decision-makers remain in place for a third consecutive offseason.

General manager Billy Devaney takes the lead in personnel matters with input from coach Steve Spagnuolo and executive vice president/chief operating officer Kevin Demoff.

Kroenke hasn't said whether the team will eventually hire a president. It doesn't matter heading into this draft.

The organization is coming off a transforming 2010 draft in which it landed quarterback Sam Bradford and left tackle Rodger Saffold with its first two choices. Two other recent high picks, Chris Long and James Laurinaitis, are also working out well.

That has to work in Devaney's favor as Kroenke assesses where the organization stands.

Draft Watch: NFC West

March, 24, 2011
3/24/11
12:00
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NFC Draft Watch: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South

Each Thursday leading up to the NFL draft (April 28-30), the ESPN.com NFL blog network will take a division-by-division look at key aspects of the draft. Today's topic: schemes and themes.

Arizona Cardinals

Theme: Amping up the pass rush. New defensive coordinator Ray Horton has already guaranteed that the Cardinals will blitz on their first play under his watch. Why would Horton say such a thing? He's looking to establish an aggressive, blitzing mindset similar to what the Pittsburgh Steelers have established under his mentor, Dick LeBeau. To do that, the Cardinals will need to upgrade their pass rush by targeting at least one outside linebacker in the draft -- perhaps even with the fifth overall choice. Von Miller from Texas A&M comes to mind as one option. The team also expects more from youngsters O'Brien Schofield and Will Davis, coach Ken Whisenhunt said from the NFL owners meeting. To ease the transition, Horton will adapt much of the terminology used under former coordinator Bill Davis. Both favor 3-4 schemes.

St. Louis Rams

Scheme: Away from the West Coast offense. Josh McDaniels' hiring as offensive coordinator signals a significant scheme change even though the team has held over most offensive assistants from last season. McDaniels traces his roots to New England. The Rams will be looking to upgrade at wide receiver, where injuries diminished a group that had question marks already. McDaniels' teams have drafted bigger receivers over the years. The diminutive Deion Branch stands out as an exception to the rule. Otherwise, McDaniels' New England and Denver teams have targeted receivers in the draft averaging taller than 6-foot-1. His Broncos drafted three receivers in his two years there. All three were at least 6 feet tall. Two weighed at least 220 pounds. Alabama's Julio Jones, a candidate for the Rams at No. 14 overall, fits the profile at 6-2 and 220.

San Francisco 49ers

Scheme: New coordinators proliferate. Jim Harbaugh turned over both coordinator positions, but the 49ers could still be looking for similar types of players. They are sticking with a 3-4 defense, so that helps. Trent Baalke ran the draft last year and will do so again as general manager this offseason. Even though Harbaugh has emphasized the switch to a West Coast scheme on offense, he wants to play an extremely physical brand of football, just like predecessor Mike Singletary. He wants tight ends and fullbacks to be the face of the offense. At quarterback, Harbaugh believes he can make imperfect quarterbacks play winning football. His former coach at Indianapolis, Lindy Infante, made a career of this. As a result, there's no directive to find a quarterback in the first round, even though the position is obviously one of great need.

Seattle Seahawks

Scheme: New offensive coordinator in place. Darrell Bevell's hiring away from the Minnesota Vikings indicated, on the surface, that the Seahawks might not value mobility as much from their quarterbacks. Coach Pete Carroll said otherwise over breakfast during the recent NFL owners meeting. He said Bevell and new assistant head coach/offensive line Tom Cable "totally believe in the moving of the quarterback as a complement to the running game and play-action passing game." That was likewise a point of emphasis under previous coordinator Jeremy Bates. Cable's hiring means the Seahawks will target bigger interior offensive linemen in the draft, a departure from how former offensive line coach Alex Gibbs approached the position. That brings the coaching and personnel mindsets into better alignment.

Draft Watch: NFC West

March, 17, 2011
3/17/11
12:00
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NFC Draft Watch: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South

Each Thursday leading up to the NFL draft (April 28-30), the ESPN.com NFL blog network will take a division-by-division look at key aspects of the draft. Today's topic: draft rewind -- examining the past five drafts.

Arizona Cardinals

Best choice: Steve Breaston, WR, fifth round (2007). Tough, productive and team-oriented, Breaston embodies everything coach Ken Whisenhunt loves in a player. There were other considerations in this spot, including Pro Bowl cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, but Breaston was the choice for his consistency, bargain price and all-out approach.

Worst choice: Matt Leinart, QB, first round (2006). Other draft choices failed more quickly, from 2007 third-rounder Buster Davis to 2009 second-rounder Cody Brown. None set back the franchise as much as the Cardinals' decision to use the 10th overall choice for Leinart. The team invested four seasons in Leinart, then cut him right before the one season in which Leinart appeared best positioned to start.

On the bubble: Beanie Wells, RB, first round (2009). Injuries set back Wells before each of his first two NFL seasons, just as draft analysts warned. Wells has plenty of talent. He ran hard and effectively for flashes as a rookie, but the consistency and production simply haven't been there. This third season looks like a pivotal one for the 31st player chosen in the 2009 draft.

Seattle Seahawks

Best choice: Russell Okung, LT, first round (2010). A player coming off an injury-affected rookie season should not stand out as a team's best draft choice over the past five years. Okung gets the designation by default. Multiple coaching changes have contributed to Seattle getting less from some already ordinary draft classes. Seventh-rounders Cameron Morrah, Justin Forsett and Ben Obomanu might have better futures than the first-round choices from their respective draft classes.

Worst choice: Lawrence Jackson, DE, first round (2008). Jackson made little impact in his first two seasons, then got shipped to Detroit when his former college coach, Pete Carroll, took over. He fared better with the Lions, no doubt benefiting from Ndamukong Suh's disruptive presence. The Seahawks had little to show for his two seasons in Seattle.

On the bubble: Aaron Curry, LB, first round (2009). Curry's strength against the run has shined through at times, but he hasn't made impact plays or showed the anticipated growth. The Seahawks would like Curry to become more adept at rushing the passer. That wasn't his role in college, however, and others have done it better in Seattle.

San Francisco 49ers

Best choice: Patrick Willis, LB, first round (2006). Willis has earned four Pro Bowl berths in as many seasons. He's a dominant physical presence and the type of player a defense can build around. Willis, arguably the best inside linebacker in the NFL, has produced several signature plays already. Three off the top of my head: tracking down Sean Morey 62 yards downfield in overtime; crushing receiver Brad Smith on a pass over the middle; and knocking out Matt Hasselbeck with broken ribs.

Worst choice: Kentwan Balmer, DE, first round (2008). Balmer lasted only two seasons with the 49ers before the team traded him to Seattle for a sixth-round choice in the 2010 draft. It's telling when a team trades a recent high draft choice to a division rival without fearing the consequences. Running back Glen Coffee was another consideration in this spot. The 49ers used a third-round choice on him in 2009, then watched him retire before the 2010 season.

On the bubble: Manny Lawson, OLB (2006). Lawson stands out as one of the better special-teams players in the league. He had 6.5 sacks in 2009 and was entering a pivotal year in 2010. The production wasn't there, however, and now Lawson appears likely to hit the market when free agency opens.

St. Louis Rams

Best choice: Sam Bradford, QB, first round (2010). The Rams picked the right year to hold the No. 1 overall choice. Bradford made an immediate impact as the Rams won more games in 2010 than they had in their previous three seasons combined. Bradford played every snap even though scouting reports questioned his durability and wondered how quickly he would assimilate into a pro-style offense.

Worst choice: Tye Hill, CB, first round (2006). The Rams could have drafted quarterback Jay Cutler at No. 11, but they liked Marc Bulger and didn't see an immediate need. The Rams moved back four spots in a trade with Denver, choosing Hill with the 15th pick. The deal netted a third-rounder for the Rams, which the team wasted on troubled offensive lineman Claude Wroten. Hill's starts declined every season and the Rams traded him to Atlanta for a seventh-round choice before Hill's fourth NFL season.

On the bubble: Donnie Avery, WR, second round (2008). Avery had 100 catches, including eight for touchdowns, during his first two seasons. A knee injury sidelined him all of last season. The Rams have a new offensive coordinator. They'll probably address the position in the draft. Avery should re-emerge as part of the mix. This is a big year for him.

Draft Watch: NFC West

March, 10, 2011
3/10/11
12:00
PM ET
NFC Draft Watch: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South

Each Thursday leading up to the NFL draft (April 28-30), the ESPN.com NFL blog network will take a division-by-division look at key aspects of the draft. Today's topic: biggest team needs.

Arizona Cardinals

Quarterback stands out as the most obvious need for the Cardinals after Arizona suffered through a rough 2010 season with Derek Anderson, Max Hall and John Skelton under center. Acquiring a veteran passer in free agency or trade would clear the way for Arizona to focus on other areas in the draft. But if the labor impasse continues through April, the Cardinals will face more pressure to find one in the draft.

Beyond quarterback, the Cardinals need fresh talent at outside linebacker to improve their pass rush and perimeter run defense. They need help at offensive tackle, where Levi Brown hasn’t played to his status as the fifth player drafted in 2007. Their starting interior offensive linemen are without contracts for 2011, so that area is another concern.

Arizona does not have a starting-caliber tight end. Inside linebacker is another position needing attention.

San Francisco 49ers

Quarterback, cornerback and outside linebacker rank among primary needs for a team that has invested five first-round picks in its offense since 2006, including three over the past two drafts.

David Carr is the only quarterback under contract to the 49ers for 2011. Starting cornerback Nate Clements will not return under his current contract. Will Alex Smith come back for another year?

While San Francisco’s front seven has been strong, the team hasn’t had a player reach double digits in sacks since Andre Carter had 12.5 in 2002. That was also the last time the 49ers posted a winning record. New defensive coordinator Vic Fangio likes to build around a pass-rusher and a cover corner.

Nose tackle could become another concern. Starter Aubrayo Franklin played last season as a franchise player. The balloon payment Washington paid to Albert Haynesworth pumped up the projected franchise value for defensive tackles, making it prohibitive for the 49ers to name Franklin their franchise player for a second consecutive season, should the designation exist in a new labor agreement.

St. Louis Rams

The Rams are set at quarterback and picking late enough in the first round -- 14th overall -- to let the draft come to them. They’re in position to benefit when a highly ranked player falls unexpectedly. They should not feel pressured to reach for a position even though they do have needs.

It’s important for the team to arm Sam Bradford with a more dynamic outside receiving threat. Injuries severely weakened the position last season. Front-line talent was lacking at the position even when most of the Rams’ wideouts were healthy.

Defensive tackle and outside linebacker jump out as two additional primary needs. Finding a defensive end to develop behind James Hall would also make sense. Landing a right guard in the draft would solidify the offensive line while letting 2010 starter Adam Goldberg back up multiple positions. The team also needs safety help after letting Oshiomogho Atogwe leave. Finding a change-of-pace back to supplement Steven Jackson's contributions might count as a luxury.

Seattle Seahawks

Quarterback will be a primary need if the Seahawks fail to re-sign Matt Hasselbeck. The position needs to be stocked for the long term even if Hasselbeck does come back for an 11th season with the team.

Restocking the offensive line must take priority no matter what happens at quarterback. The Seahawks’ running game has disappeared in recent seasons, putting too much pressure on the rest of the offense. Drafting left tackle Russell Okung sixth overall a year ago was a start. Seattle needs to find answers at both guard spots and probably right tackle (assuming Max Unger returns from injury and takes over at center, as expected). Adding Robert Gallery in free agency could take off some pressure in the draft. Gallery played under Seattle's new line coach, Tom Cable, in Oakland.

The cornerback situation needs attention. Marcus Trufant’s salary jumps significantly, raising questions about how the team will view him coming off an inconsistent season. Another corner Seattle chose in the first round, Kelly Jennings, is without a contract and lacks the size Seattle prefers at the position.

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