Team-by-team draft needs: NFC West and AFC West
The NFL draft will be held Thursday, Friday and Saturday in Arlington, Texas. Times NFL writer Sam Farmer examines team needs by division. Today, in the fourth of four parts, the West divisions:
Carson Palmer retired and Sam Bradford is a stopgap, so don’t be surprised if the Cardinals trade up to get a quarterback in the top five. They sat at 13 last year as both Kansas City (Patrick Mahomes) and Houston (Deshaun Watson) traded past them to address that need. Arizona also could use a receiver since Larry Fitzgerald will be 35 this season, which may be his last.
The Rams made some huge moves in free agency — acquiring cornerbacks Aqib Talib and Marcus Peters, and defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh — and also traded with New England for speedy receiver Brandin Cooks. Linebacker Alec Ogletree is gone, and the Rams need to find a replacement who’s a better fit for Wade Phillips’ scheme. And stellar left tackle Andrew Whitworth is 36 and not going to be here forever.
The 49ers got their quarterback yet they still have plenty of needs, especially cornerback, pass rusher and along the offensive line. They likely will go defense with their No. 9 pick, and the murky future of linebacker Reuben Foster doesn’t help matters. The team is in prime position to get an elite defensive back.
The Seahawks are in a strange spot, because they have the No. 18 pick, then don’t select again until the fourth round. There’s a good chance they’ll trade down to acquire more picks. They need help on the offensive line, an edge rusher, and defensive backs for the next generation of the “Legion of Boom.”
Signing Case Keenum took some of the pressure off the Broncos to get a quarterback right away, but there’s still a need. Fortifying the offensive line with Notre Dame’s Quenton Nelson would be an interesting move, even though guards rarely go as high as Denver is picking (No. 5). Pass rusher is also a consideration, as is running back.
The Chiefs gave up this year’s first-round pick so they could trade up and get quarterback Mahomes last year, so they’re not scheduled to choose until the 54th pick. They need to restock along the offensive line, and they could use some help in the secondary, too, especially after trading playmaker Marcus Peters to the Rams.
Because of injuries, the Chargers got next to nothing out of their top two rookies last season, receiver Mike Williams and guard Forrest Lamp, but they still have high hopes for them. A run-stopping defensive tackle would be a logical pick at No. 17, and they eventually will need to replace quarterback Philip Rivers.
Even though the Raiders went defense with their first three picks last year, they likely will go for a defender again with the No. 10 pick. They need an interior presence and an edge rusher. They also need help in the secondary. It’s probably too early to take an offensive tackle where the Raiders are drafting in Round 1.
Follow Sam Farmer on Twitter @LATimesfarmer
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