Friday, April 20, 2012
NFC West concerns heading toward draft
By Mike Sando
The NFC West received only a belated dishonorable mention when Matt Williamson of Scouts Inc. listed teams set up poorly for the 2012 NFL draft.
Atlanta, New Orleans, Oakland and the New York Giants made the list. Williamson generally likes where NFC West teams stand, and I would agree, but here are potential concerns for each team in the division:
- St. Louis Rams: The Rams are set up beautifully for the long term after acquiring additional first-round picks in 2013 and 2014. They could use a true difference-maker at wide receiver, a clear No. 1 to stand out from a group with pretty good depth. Drafting a wide receiver at No. 6 would make sense, but what if the Rams aren't comfortable with taking Justin Blackmon or Michael Floyd that early? Could they feel pressure to reach? I think they'll have the long term in mind. Coach Jeff Fisher and general manager Les Snead are just starting out. Sure, their team needs playmakers, but time is on their side. Having an additional second-round choice puts the Rams in even stronger position for this draft.
- Seattle Seahawks: The team has no fifth-round pick thanks to the Marshawn Lynch trade. But after signing quarterback Matt Flynn and helping the pass rush with Jason Jones' addition, the Seahawks should face little pressure to draft for need in the first round. The Seahawks would ideally move back from the 12th overall slot, adding picks -- perhaps a fifth-rounder to make up for the one Seattle sent to Buffalo. The team could use a starting middle linebacker. There's good depth at that position in this draft, meaning the Seahawks can come out OK even if Luke Kuechly is not available. Seattle found starting linebacker K.J. Wright in the fourth round of the 2011 draft, which had less depth at the position.
- Arizona Cardinals: Teams prefer to enter a draft with at least one pick in every round and no glaring needs. The Cardinals have no second-round choice. They also have a clear need for an offensive tackle. That combination could put pressure on the Cardinals to select a tackle in the first round. What if there are no tackles worthy of the 13th overall selection? Arizona has done a good job favoring value over need in multiple instances over recent drafts. Taking running back Ryan Williams in the second round last year comes to mind as one example. Ideally, the Cardinals would move back in this draft, pick up a second-round choice and still find a tackle to further solidify their line. They might have to move back into the early 20s to get a second-rounder, unless they were comfortable giving up later-round picks as part of a deal.
- San Francisco 49ers: The 49ers have one pick in every round, and no glaring needs. Picking 30th overall isn't very exciting, but neither are the 49ers' needs. They could use an interior offensive lineman (yawn). They could find room for the right receiver, cornerback or safety. Depth for the front seven could be nice. What about running back? Oh, and if tight end Coby Fleener is there, he could make sense too. The 49ers could go in just about any direction, a good thing for a team coming off a 13-3 season. The only complaint is picking so late, but that's a small price to pay for winning.
Any other concerns for these teams? These are the ones that come to mind for me.