- Mike Sando, NFL Insider
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Each Wednesday 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: Biggest needs revisited.
Safety could have been another concern, but the Cardinals acted quickly to replace Antrel Rolle with Kerry Rhodes. The Cardinals also protected themselves on the offensive line by adding guard Rex Hadnot and re-signing tackle Jeremy Bridges. Those moves bought some flexibility in the draft.
The Cardinals aren't picking early enough to seriously consider landing a franchise quarterback, although that could be a position of need even after the team signs a veteran to push Matt Leinart. Leinart's contract balloons in value in 2011.
Arizona still could stand to bolster its defensive line in the draft, particularly at nose tackle.
The opening weeks of free agency have only confirmed the 49ers' needs on the offensive line. It's important for the team to find a starting right tackle. A starter or at least quality depth at guard would also help.
Offensive tackle was a draft need even before Tony Pashos signed with Cleveland and Barry Sims scheduled a visit with the Redskins. Sims has had value as a swing tackle. Pashos provided more depth even though he was one-dimensional as a right tackle only
Cornerback remains an obvious position for the 49ers to target in the draft. They've relied on older veterans at the position in recent seasons. Nate Clements' long-term future with the team is in some question. The 49ers haven't addressed the position in free agency. The draft awaits.
Finally, the 49ers have been visiting with free-agent linebacker Akin Ayodele. Signing Ayodele would give the team welcome veteran depth at inside linebacker behind Patrick Willis and Takeo Spikes. That type of signing would address a potential draft need.
The Seahawks' needs have become more obvious since the free-agent signing period opened. Deon Grant's release left Jordan Babineaux and Jamar Adams as the only safeties under contract. That's a position the Seahawks need to address, probably in the draft.
Existing needs included offensive tackle, guard, quarterback, defensive end and cornerback.
Seattle could sensibly address the need at guard by signing a veteran free agent such as Ben Hamilton, who has experience in line coach Alex Gibbs' system. The Seahawks' interest in Chargers backup quarterback Charlie Whitehurst could lead to a trade that would address another need.
The team is different but not necessarily better at defensive end after sending Darryl Tapp to the Eagles for Chris Clemons and a 2010 fourth-round choice. Defensive end remains a need as Seattle tries to improve its pass rush.
The moves set up the Rams to select a quarterback first overall if Sam Bradford appeals to them. Feeley could mentor Bradford while Robbins provided needed muscle on defense (the Rams would be bypassing defensive tackles Ndamukong Suh and Gerald McCoy under this scenario).
The Rams haven't upgraded their front-line talent in free agency. Their core draft needs remain. Losing pass-rushers Leonard Little and/or James Hall in free agency would accentuate the immediate need for help in that area. The Saints might have interest in one or both.
Placing the lowest tender on restricted free agent Oshiomogho Atogwe showed the Rams could be willing to part with him. Losing him would create another need along with linebacker. The Rams have shown interest in veteran linebacker Na'il Diggs, but they need more young talent at the position and the draft could help.
2dEric D. Williams
2dEric D. Williams