2018 NFL Draft Needs by Team: NFC West
We’re now rapidly approaching the long-awaited arrival of the 2018 NFL Draft, and the daily rumor mill is in midseason form. It can be hard to navigate all the news and chatter that drop at a constant rate in the days leading up to the actual draft.
Even if a star player is released at this point, most NFL clubs have a pretty good idea of what they’re going to do in the draft, and we can analyze what those team’s draft approach and needs are likely to be. There are sure to be some surprises, but knowing the apparent needs of each NFL franchise certainly makes predicting the actual draft a much easier process. Continuing our look at the 2018 NFL Draft needs by each team, up next is the NFC West.
Draft Picks: No. 15, No. 47, No. 79, No. 97, No. 134, No. 152, No. 182 (via Denver), No. 254
Team Needs: OL, QB, WR, CB, S
The Cardinals are in a transition phase as a franchise. Bruce Arians retired and was replaced by former Carolina Panthers defensive coordinator Steve Wilkes. With Mike McCoy as the offensive coordinator and Carson Palmer retiring, there is a full changing of the guard in Arizona.
Arizona added Sam Bradford and Mike Glennon at quarterback to replace Palmer. With deficiencies on their defensive line and Bradford’s long history of knee injuries, they have a need at the position. Bradford’s contract is for one season, so the situation looks like a bridge scenario for a rookie quarterback.
Larry Fitzgerald is dependable at receiver, but there is not much beyond him. J.J. Nelson returns, but is little more than a situational deep threat, while Chad Williams is a development pick from last year. Arizona added Brice Butler in the offseason, an intriguing deeper player, but have little else after losing John Brown and Jaron Brown in free agency. This could be a landing spot where a rookie can approach 100 targets.
Tight end is an interesting spot for Arizona. Ricky Seal-Jones converted from college receiver to pro tight end in his rookie season and showed some promise. However, there has been a change in regime which is a dangerous proposition for development prospects. They have former first-round pick Jermaine Gresham but could be a landing spot with a new regime in place. Arizona cut Tyrann Mathieu and has a hole at cornerback to pair with Patrick Peterson, on a defense that has some strong and intriguing pieces.
Los Angeles Rams
Draft Picks: No. 87, No. 111, No. 135 (via MIA), No. 136 (via NE), No. 176 (via NYG), No. 183 (via MIA), No. 194 (via DET), No. 195 (via BUF)
Team Needs: LB, Edge, RB
The Rams are in great shape offensively. They have a solid starting quarterback with Jared Goff and superstar running back with Todd Gurley. There is little behind Gurley, so a day three addition is possible in a deep class. They are also in good shape at receiver with a trio of Brandin Cooks, Robert Woods, and Cooper Kupp. The Rams have also addressed tight end on day two in consecutive years with Tyler Higbee and Gerald Everett.
With the addition of Ndamukong Suh to Aaron Donald, the interior of their defensive line is disruptive. They also added cornerbacks Aqib Talib and Marcus Peters, two shutdown players on the outside. Their most significant weakness defensively is at linebacker after the loss of Alec Ogletree and the edge.
Players to Target: Royce Freeman (RB), Malik Jefferson (LB), Shaquem Griffin (Defensive Weapon)
Draft Picks: No. 18, No. 120, No. 141 (via HOU), No. 146 (via OAK), No. 156, No. 168 (via NE), No. 226 (via NYJ), No 248 (via MIN)
Team Needs: CB, WR, OL, RB
After years of solid drafting, Seattle has been bad in recent drafts. The last time they selected a skill player in the first round was Koren Robinson in 2001, the longest drought of any team. Outside of quarterback, the Seahawks have needs at every skill position.
Seattle has Chris Carson, Mike Davis and C.J. Prosise at running back. Prosise has an intriguing skill set but has been unable to stay healthy. Seattle lost Paul Richardson in free agency and currently have a top three of Doug Baldwin, Tyler Lockett, and Amara Darboh. The situation would not be as bad if the tight end position were better than Ed Dickson and Nick Vanett.
Seattle’s offensive line has been bad in the past two seasons, and they could use upgrades at multiple positions. They have also lost Richard Sherman and Michael Bennett. They could use upgrades at cornerback and defensive line.
The biggest problem with Seattle is they only have their first-round draft pick (18 overall). Without picks on day two, Seattle seems like an ideal candidate to trade down. As they stand, they have more holes than they can fill on offense in the draft.
San Francisco 49ers
Draft Picks: No. 9, No. 59 (via NO), N0. 70 (via CHI), No. 74, No. 128 (via PIT), No. 143 (via NYJ), No 184, No. 223 (TB via MIA), No. 240 (via KC)
Team Needs: WR, OL, LB, RB, CB
What a difference a year makes for the 49ers. A year ago, they were looking at a long rebuild. Now, after trading for Jimmy Garoppolo, adding Jerick McKinnon in free agency, and doing well in the 2017 draft, San Francisco’s future looks bright.
Running back is an unusual situation for the 49ers. They spent big on Jerick McKinnon in free agency after letting Carlos Hyde leave, but do not have a prototypically sized back on the depth chart. They could be a sneaky destination for a rookie running back on day two, ideally, one that could provide interior running ability to keep McKinnon in his ideal satellite role.
The 49ers return Pierre Garcon from injury to pair with Marquise Goodwin and Trent Taylor. Goodwin showed a solid rapport with Garoppolo down the stretch last season, while Taylor flashed as a slot player. The 49ers could be a destination for a receiver in the draft to continue to build around their inexperienced franchise quarterback.
George Kittle showed promise in his rookie season, and the 49ers seem unlikely to address the position early in the draft. Also, with Reuben Foster in legal trouble, San Francisco could use insurance at the linebacker position.
2018 NFL Draft Needs by Team: AFC North
2018 NFL Draft Needs by Team: AFC East
2018 NFL Draft Needs by Team: AFC South
2018 NFL Draft Needs by Team: AFC West
2018 NFL Draft Needs by Team: NFC East
2018 NFL Draft Needs by Team: NFC North
Jordan McNamara is a featured writer at FantasyPros. For more from Jordan, check out his archive and follow him @McNamaraDynasty.