The NFC West is arguably the strongest division in the NFC. Every team other than the Seahawks made it to the playoffs, with the Rams going on to win the Super Bowl. Just because this is the toughest NFC division doesn’t mean that each of these teams doesn’t have some question marks. Look at the Cardinals for example, they started the season 9-2 and then went on to only win two more games the rest of the season. The 49ers are hopefully going to let Trey Lance start, but who really knows at this point. Then we got the Rams, who seem like they won’t have a first-round draft pick or any cap space for the next five seasons. With all of that being said, let’s jump into the top draft needs for each of these teams going into the 2022 NFL Draft.
NFC West Draft Needs
Top Team Needs: CB, EDGE
Notable Offseason Transactions: Re-Signed: James Connor, Zach Ertz, Lost: Chase Edmonds, Christian Kirk, Chandler Jones
If it weren’t for all of the Kyler Murray social media drama, the Cardinals offseason would be considered relatively uneventful. They have not gone out and pursued any of the big names in free agency, but they were able to sneakily lock up James Connor and Zach Ertz to three-year deals. However, Losing Chandler Jones probably hurts the most out of the bunch, due to J.J. Watt’s injury issues. Fortunately for the Cardinals, they are a solid team that can make some moves in the postseason by making smart choices in the 2022 NFL Draft.
The Cardinals own the 23rd pick this year, and they should look to address the edge or cornerback positions. Players like George Karlaftis, Arnold Ebiketie, or David Ojabo would be great options to help replace Chandler Jones. If they decide to address their need for a cornerback they could go with Andrew Booth Jr. or Daxton Hill. Hopefully, whoever they decide to go with in the 2022 NFL Draft helps prevent this promising team from collapsing in the second half of the season.
Los Angeles Rams
Top Team Needs: G, OLB
Notable Offseason Transactions: Signed Allen Robinson, Bobby Wagner, Re-Signed: Joseph Noteboom, Brian Allen, Lost: Robert Woods, Von Miller, Ogbonnia Okoronkwo, Austin Corbert, Darious Williams, Andrew Whitworth
The reigning Super Bowl champs don’t have a pick in the 2022 NFL Draft until the third round. For most teams that would be a disaster, but the Rams are one of the most complete teams in the league. While they lost some big names to retirement and free agency, they brought in some big names of their own. Players such as Allen Robinson and Bobby Wagner are immediate impact players that will fit right in with this team. The only positions the Rams are truly in need of addressing are guard and outside linebacker. Losing Von Miller and Andrew Whitworth was unfortunate, but the Rams seemed to know that neither of those guys was going to be on the team the following season. Even if the Rams aren’t able to find a solid linebacker or guard, this team can still make a run.
San Francisco 49ers
Top Team Needs: G, Edge, DT
Notable Offseason Transactions: Signed: Charvarius Ward, Hasan Ridgeway, Lost: D.J. Jones, Raheem Mostert, Laken Tomlinson
The 49ers are probably the most interesting team to dissect in this division. This team had a solid 3 year run, aside from an injury riddled 2020 season. During the 2019 season they managed to make the Super Bowl, and this past season they made it to the NFC Championship game. However, the assumption is that Jimmy Garoppolo will be shipped off somewhere eventually, and Trey Lance will finally be given the starting job. While Trey Lance is a more exciting player than Jimmy Garappolo, there still might be a few growing pains with him leading the way.
Looking ahead to the 2022 NFL Draft the best thing this team can do is identify the best Guard in the back-half of the 2nd round, because they don’t have a 1st round pick this year. Laken Tomlinson was really the only Guard of note on the team, and with him gone they’re gonna have some problems. We’ve seen it time and time again where a bad offensive line can stifle even the best of offensives. Not everyone can be the 2021 Bengals and get by with an offensive line held together by paper clips and rubber bands. By no means is this current 49ers offensive line that bad, but the point still stands that any sort of offensive line weakness can ruin any season.
Top Team Needs: QB, OT, EDGE, C
Notable Offseason Transactions: Signed: Drew Lock, Noah Fant, Shelby Harris, Uchenna Nwosa, Quinton Jefferson, Lost: Russell Wilson, Gerald Everett, D.J. Reed, Bobby Wagner
Where do I even begin with covering the Seahawks’ offseason? The Seahawks trading away Russell Wilson was one of the first of many exciting moves to happen this offseason. There’s just no describing how important Russell Wilson was to the Seahawks. Fortunately, they were able to get a nice haul for trading Russel Wilson to the Broncos. On the other side of the ball, they also lost Bobby Wagner, to their divisional rivals the Rams of all teams. There is no hope of this team making a playoff push this season. Even if they are able to nail all of their draft picks in the 2022 NFL Draft, don’t expect them to win the division.
When it comes to the 2022 NFL Draft the Seahawks have the 9th overall pick. While Drew Lock was unable to show that he’s a franchise quarterback on the Broncos, that doesn’t mean the Seahawks should draft a quarterback with that pick. Ideally, the Seahawks use their draft picks this year to help either build around Drew Lock or whichever rookie quarterback they decide to draft in the 2023 NFL Draft. The best way to do so would be drafting either an offensive tackle or an edge rusher. I’d lean more towards an offensive tackle mainly due to the fact that the top 3 edge rushers should be gone before the 9th pick. Whereas there’s a very solid chance that someone like Ikem Ekwonu could still be available. The best thing the Seahawks can do is set whoever their quarterback of the future will be for success.