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Kiper's Offseason Audits: NFC West

Mel breaks down the offseasons, and needs, of each of the NFC West teams

Originally Published: June 16, 2010
By Mel Kiper Jr. | ESPN.com

The draft is obviously the focal point of the NFL offseason for me, but it certainly doesn't end there. The picks are only half of the equation. How they fit is where the draft is really made. And part of that has to factor in the new personnel that teams have added around them.

So with the draft clearly in mind, let's do a quick summer audit on the situations of the teams in the NFC West. I kicked this off last week with the AFC West. ((You can find all the pieces together in one place by going here.) What I'll do is hit three things:

1. A crucial influx, such as an impact player or position group.
2. A question mark that still lingers.
3. If the team had a chance to pick anyone from the 2011 draft class right now to address a hole, who it would be. (If your team does or doesn't have an early pick in next year's draft isn't the issue -- it's just a hypothetical involving top college talent and current needs.)

So call it a checkup and a look-ahead wrapped together -- part deep projection, part current need.


NFC West

Arizona Cardinals

Crucial influx: It really starts with the draft, which I know sounds predictable, but not in the typical manner. When Dan Williams of Tennessee fell to the Cardinals late in the first round, he wasn't just the ideal clogger to add to the middle of that 3-4, he was also the ideal player to help a guy like Darnell Dockett become even more of a force. Williams isn't the player who will be flying around the backfield, but everybody he plays with can become more of a threat, which includes the Arizona linebackers. Another guy you shouldn't overlook is Andre Roberts, the receiver Arizona picked up in the third round out of The Citadel. He's a great physical package that could have been higher if he hadn't been hidden away in that program.

The question mark: I really like Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, but I question what the Cardinals have at cornerback. I know they like Greg Toler, but this was a position they could have hit earlier than the sixth round. Here's a team that was only 23rd in the league against the pass -- worse still because Seattle, St. Louis and San Francisco weren't throwing it on many people. That's a coverage unit that still scares me a bit.

Next April's pick, now: Patrick Peterson, CB, LSU
I hesitate to put a junior on this list based on how early it is, but Peterson will start the season as the top corner in his class. Arizona could use him now.


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