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2012 NFL Team Needs: NFC West

By: Roshan Bhagat

Arizona Cardinals: OT, 3-4 OLB depth, CB, TE, WR, DL depth
Any major improvement from the Cardinals will require improved play from the quarterback and with their interest in Peyton Manning, they seem very aware of it. After winning 7 of their last 9, improved play at the position should give them a good shot of getting into the postseason, but there are still improvements on the rest of the roster to turn them into a legitimate Super Bowl contender—and it seems reasonably possible they make them this offseason. At left tackle, Levi Brown appears to be the Cardinals' favorite next season, but that will require restructuring his a contract that is scheduled to be a $14.5 million hit against the cap next year. At right tackle, Brandon Keith is scheduled to be a free agent, making the position likely to be addressed this offseason. At tight end, the Cardinals would like improved play though they like Rob Housler's potential. The coaching staff likes Andre Roberts opposite Larry Fitzgerald, but Early Doucet is a free agent, leaving room for depth on the roster. The Cardinals defense improved by leaps and bounds over the second half of the season, but could still use an infusion of talent and depth at corner and outside linebacker. They have some interesting prospects at outside linebackers in Sam Acho and O'Brien Schofield, but it remains to be seen whether they can hold up as 3-down backers. At corner, Richard Marshall stepped in at corner and safety when called upon in both roles and has drawn strong interest again from the Cardinals. Depth on the defensive line remains a little thin.

St. Louis Rams: WR, CB, SS, OL, DT, OLB, RB Depth
t’s difficult to prioritize the Rams needs, because they have many potential starting vacancies forthcoming through free agency in addition to the weaknesses they already had last year. After striking a deal with Washington, they will surely have the ammo needed to fill them over the coming years as the Rams look to become an up-and-coming team. Offensively, the Rams will need to improve to get any better as a team. Losing Brandon Lloyd will assuredly set them even further back, but with or without him, the Rams have a strong need at receiver. Lloyd is a great deep threat and Amendola's return should help improve the slot, but the offense still desperately needs a complete receiver that can work the intermediate routes and also produce after the catch. Additionally, the offensive line could use big improvements; however, in hoping to tap into the talent stuck Rodger Saffold and Jason Smith, there will always be reservations about making serious investments at tackle. However, across the interior line, that concept won't exist in the organization's mind and will be addressed this offseason. Depth or young talent at running back to become Steven Jackson's injury or eventual replacement may also be targeted with Jeff Fisher running the show. Of course, to see any real improvement will also require improved play from Sam Bradford. Defensively, the Rams need to begin by addressing the talent level and depth in the secondary. Devastated by injury, the team should get a big boost by the return of starting corners Bradley Fletcher and Ronald Bartell. However, coming off season-ending injuries, there is some looming uncertainty of whether they can achieve their pre-injury level of play. Replacing Darian Stewart at strong safety is another definite possibility. In the front seven, there isn't enough playmaking, at outside linebacker or defensive tackle. Both positions could use big upgrades.

San Francisco 49ers: WR, Interior OL, CB, DL depth, 3-4 OLB depth, RB depth
With a season no one would have expected in year one of the Harbaugh era, the Niners showed remarkable improvement and stoutness on defense. Seeing big improvements and emergences from at least a player at every level on defense, the unit carried the team all the way to the Championship game. And even in that last game, it was the offense that came up just short. This offseason, it will be the offense that will almost assuredly be improved the most. With Harbaugh almost guaranteed to bring back Alex Smith, they'll need to surround him with better weapons to give him any shot at taking even a modest step forward. At tight end, they're set with a pair of great tight ends, but at wide receiver, they lack explosiveness and consistency. And perhaps just as important, the interior offensive line play has been so poor at times as not to even give Alex Smith a shot to hit his third and fifth step in his drop before being met with pressure. Center and right guard are positions where improvement will need to be made. Running back is a position of strength for the team right now, but as Frank Gore turns 29 in the coming months, depth may become important. A late round pick at running back seems a possibility. Advancing the roster on defense will primarily come through re-signings and building the depth of the program in place. The impending free agency of Carlos Rogers is something to keep an eye on and could increase the necessity of a corner this offseason. Regardless, depth is a possibility in that area. Further depth on the defensive line and at outside linebacker are areas of sensitivity to the defense if injuries begin to mount up.

Seattle Seahawks: QB, DE, OL depth, LB, CB, S depth
Using low key free agent pick-ups and solid drafts, the Seahawks have done a nice job of acquiring solid starters and red-chip players, but lack true blue-chip difference makers on the roster. The new regime has done a nice job improving the talent level, but must now either find more elite blue-chippers or upgrade the premium positions on both sides of the ball. At quarterback, Tarvaris Jackson has taken the team about as far as he can, but he just isn't a great starter in the league. While they could go with him for another season, they must at least begin the search and grooming process for an eventual starter. With Jackson's ability, one of the free agents (outside of Manning or Flynn) seems unlikely to help the team much. Additionally they should continue adding depth to the offensive line, an area where the team can't seem to stay healthy. On defense, the premium position of upgrade would be at defensive end. Despite finishing below the average mark in sacks, the pass defense played above average without a single corner on the roster drafted above the fourth round. While corner seems like a position they could address, end seems like their greatest need on defense, especially with four players set at the position set to become free agents. In the secondary, depth at safety may be a minor concern. Finally, at linebacker Pete Carroll is looking to get more athletic. Middle linebacker doesn't appear as if he'll be back with the team and outside linebacker Leroy Hill is also a free agent. There may be significant turnover at the position on next year's opening day roster.

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