Written by: David Parks – Staff Writing Intern (@_Parskie)
In 2013, the Arizona Cardinals finished 3rd place in the NFC West with a record of 10-6. Now, just three years later, that same record won the division by 2.5 games.
No team illustrates how it can all go so wrong, so quickly more than San Francisco. Three years ago, their coach and roster was the envy of the league. Now, the Browns may have a brighter future than them.
Even though they wound up with no playoff appearances to show for it, the Rams were always a tough out when the division was at its best. Now, they’ve traded away multiple draft picks (aka cheap labor) for a quarterback that doesn’t even know which way the freaking sun rises.
Last year Arizona was one game from the Super Bowl. Carson Palmer’s name was also in the MVP Race. Now, Carson Palmer is a massive question mark heading into next season, as is the wide receiver position outside of 33-year-old Larry Fitzgerald.
Finally there’s Seattle, the one team that’s barely keeping its head above water in the West. Yes they made the playoffs, but it was hard to take them as a serious contender because of how terrible their offensive line was. This must be addressed in both free agency and the draft. They better make their first one count because their second pick may get taken away.
San Francisco 49ers: 2016 record: 2-14 (Last in NFC West)
First round selection: 2nd
Offseason needs: Everything
Easily the worst situation in football. The terrible owner finally canned the terrible GM and now the terrible roster is in the hands of no GM and no head coach.
The only headlines this team garnered last season were due to their quarterback’s “other” in-game play outside of his mediocre passing skills. As is most often the case, new GMs/coaches usually = new quarterback. Expect the Niners to pull the trigger on whichever guy their hire(s) like best.
That’s not to say they couldn’t go in other directions. If Cleveland bypasses Myles Garrett then he would make sense to pair opposite Aaron Lynch to give the Niners a nasty front four.
What they should do, is trade out of this pick to a quarterback-needy team and stockpile picks. It’s hard to even pinpoint certain guys when literally every position is in need of work.
- Myles Garrett, Edge – Texas A&M
- DeShone Kizer, QB – Notre Dame
- Reuben Foster, LB – Alabama
Los Angeles Rams: 2016 record: 4-12 (3rd in NFC West)
First round selection: None
Offseason needs: OL, WR, TE
The Rams went all-in on Jared Goff which sucks for Goff when considering the Rams’ lack of talent anywhere on offense outside of Todd Gurley.
Even Gurley couldn’t get going this season because of how poor the offensive line and wide receivers were.
The first time the Rams will be on the clock in April is pick 37. At that juncture, there’s a chance one of Dan Feeney/Garrett Boiles/Forrest Lamp is still there. If not, either Cam Robinson or Pat Elflein would be a great choice to give the offensive line some help.
Tavon Austin is nothing more than a gadget player so naturally they decided it was a good idea to give him $12 million/year. Do I have to fix every single franchise? If you’re going to sell out for a quarterback, at least pretend to put a supporting cast around him. Juju Smith-Schuster or Courtland Sutton would be nice targets for Goff.
Ideal picks: (37th overall)
- Dan Feeney, OG – Indiana
- Cam Robinson, OT – Alabama
- Forrest Lamp, OT/G – Western Kentucky
Arizona Cardinals: 2016 record: 7-8-1 (2nd in NFC West)
First round selection: 13th
Offseason needs: CB, LB, QB
The Cardinals have the best offensive line in the division which says all it needs to about the current state of the NFC West.
Carson Palmer – yay? Nay? He very rarely plays a full season, might Arizona be in the market for a quarterback this offseason? Even if they were to make a switch, it feels like they’d opt to go with a veteran in free agency given how many guys they have in their primes at the moment.
Elsewhere, receiver is all of a sudden an issue. Michael Floyd is gone. John Brown can’t be relied on to stay healthy. Fitz, while amazing, will be 34 when next season opens. What was once a strength for Arizona is now a need. The only way I see Arizona going receiver first is if Mike Williams falls to 13, which I don’t see happening.
The position that makes the most sense, is corner. Patrick Peterson is elite, but Marcus Cooper and Brandon Williams struggled mightily opposite PP and that position turned into a major liability for the Cardinals as the season progressed. Cardinals can get a very good corner at 13.
- Desmond King, CB – Iowa
- Sidney Jones, CB – Washington
- Quincy Wilson, CB – Florida
Seattle Seahawks: 2016 record: 10-5-1 (1st in NFC West)
First round selection: 26th
Offseason needs: OT, OG, S
Keep it pretty simple – offensive line, offensive line, and more offensive line.
It’s like Seahawks management doesn’t care about protecting Russell Wilson.
“Ah, he can run. Let’s just draft someone else.”
It’s time to give him some protection. Whether it’s on the outside of interior, when Seattle is on the clock, they’ll target whichever lineman they like best on their board.
Elsewhere in the draft – keep an eye on the safety position as one they’ll likely target in the third or fourth round. Earl Thomas ultimately rescinded his mid-game retirement promise, but he and Kam Chancellor aren’t getting any younger and grooming a new, young safety for the LOB is slowly creeping up the ranks in terms of team needs.
- Garrett Boiles, OT – Utah
- Dan Feeney, OG – Indiana
- Forrest Lamp, OT – Western Kentucky