Biggest remaining needs for each NFC West team
Finishing up on the NFC side of things, I analyze the rosters of the Cardinals, Rams, 49ers and Seahawks, to point out the biggest areas of need for each squad with the main phase of free agency and the draft in the past.
This division is in a state of transformation, but every team still has major holes to fill.
Arizona Cardinals – Dual-duty safety
I feel like these Cardinals are not talked about enough at all. Of course, there’s a lot of change with quarterback Carson Palmer retiring, the release of versatile defensive back Tyrann Mathieu and even giving up the speedy receiver John Brown. Regardless of that, this team went 8-8 last season despite playing with their third-string QB and not having several key pieces healthy.
They get an outstanding all-around back in David Johnson, starting left tackle D.J. Humphries and guard Mike Iupati back from injury. So the ground game should already take a huge boost. Newly signed Sam Bradford has proven to be a more than capable signal-caller if healthy (which is a big if) and they have their future of the franchise in tenth overall pick Josh Rosen from UCLA.
I don’t know if the rook will be able to beat out the eight-year veteran in training camp, but either way, they should have an upgrade at the position to what they had for most of last year. I see a bigger role for second-year receiver Chad Williams and Christian Kirk will learn the nuances of the receiver position from Larry Legend.
Defensively, they return the reigning sack king in Chandler Jones, a fast LB unit and a premier corner in Patrick Peterson. I could point out a rather slim defensive line and the fact Haason Reddick only collected 2.5 sacks in his rookie campaign, but with Budda Baker taking on Tyrann Mathieu’s role of rolling into deep coverage as well as covering in the slot, the Cardinals need another versatile defensive back to bring in sub packages.
Former Browns’ cornerback Jamar Taylor was just shipped to the desert, but Arizona used more three-safety packages than any other team in the league and without Mathieu or Tyvon Branch, they probably won’t put Rudy Ford or some of those undrafted free agents on the field that much.