2023 NFL Draft: What does each team in the NFC West division need? Projected picks
Each team within the NFC West division has successfully earned a place in the playoffs during the previous two seasons, showing the level of play over there
Over the past two seasons, all teams in the NFC West division have secured a spot in the playoffs, indicating that any of them could significantly impact 2023 with just a few strategic moves.
Under the leadership of new head coach Jonathan Gannon, formerly the Philadelphia Eagles defensive coordinator, and general manager Monti Ossenfort, previously the director of player personnel for the Tennessee Titans, the Cardinals possess a top-three draft pick and adequate cap space to revamp their roster. Despite limited draft picks and cap space, the Rams could regain their former strength if their star players remain healthy. The Seahawks, having qualified for the playoffs last year and now with two first-round picks and substantial cap space, have the potential to make the most progress out of all the teams. The 49ers, with one of the strongest rosters in the league and a modest amount of cap space, are likely to once again emerge as one of the division’s top teams.
The Arizona Cardinals face a critical juncture, and their future course of action is uncertain. Nonetheless, the team has an advantage in possessing a top-three selection in the upcoming 2023 NFL Draft and other valuable draft picks, which could enable the Cardinals to make significant improvements.
For the 2023 NFL Draft, Arizona has a total of eight picks. The Cardinals have retained all their original selections for the first four rounds and possess their Round 6 pick. Furthermore, the Cardinals have received three compensatory picks due to the loss of Chase Edmonds, Chandler Jones, and Christian Kirk in the 2022 offseason.
To fortify their defense, the Arizona Cardinals require a top-tier cover corner to enhance a unit that ranked 24th in passing yards allowed (230.3 per game) and 28th in passing touchdowns allowed (29). While Colt McCoy is a reliable option as a spot starter, he cannot regularly lead the team through high-scoring games. Additionally, the Cardinals require a player who can effectively pressure the opposing quarterback. Although they acquired L.J. Collier in free agency, who has only achieved three career sacks, he is an inadequate substitute for the recently retired J.J. Watt (12.5 sacks in 2022) and the free-agent departure of Zach Allen (5.5 sacks). The defense will likely be a significant focus for new head coach Jonathan Gannon, who previously served as the Eagle’s defensive coordinator.
Los Angeles Rams
The Los Angeles Rams are currently facing a crucial offseason, having recently finished a disappointing 5-12 season after winning the Super Bowl only 14 months prior. Rams’ general manager, Les Snead, has described the start of the offseason as “tedious” due to their struggles with the salary cap, which forced them to part ways with key players such as Jalen Ramsey, Bobby Wagner, and Leonard Floyd. With limited resources, the Rams will heavily rely on the 2023 NFL Draft to enhance their roster.
The Rams are expected to have 11 picks in the upcoming draft, starting with the 37th overall pick. ESPN predicts that every pick will be vital for the team’s success.
In the past weeks, the Seattle Seahawks have been very active in free agency, making significant additions to their roster by signing defensive tackle Dre’Mont Jones and bringing back linebacker Bobby Wagner, which has thrilled their fan base.
However, with free agency winding down, general manager John Schneider and coach Pete Carroll have shifted their focus to the 2023 NFL Draft. Holding the fifth overall pick, their highest since 2009, and four selections in the top 53 picks, the Seahawks have an excellent opportunity to strengthen their team with young talent.
Despite already re-signing Geno Smith last month, Seattle has been strongly linked to quarterbacks. Carroll and Schneider have fueled speculation by taking selfies with each of the top four quarterback prospects at their pro days. Additionally, mock drafts suggest that the team may opt for a defensive tackle or an EDGE rusher, with Jalen Carter from Georgia and Will Anderson Jr. from Alabama being popular choices.
San Francisco 49ers
The San Francisco 49ers did not make many high-profile signings during NFL free agency, but their priorities for the 2023 NFL Draft have certainly changed. General Manager John Lynch made one significant acquisition by signing former Philadelphia Eagles defensive tackle Javon Hargrave, which helped to address a pressing need and bolstered the pass rush alongside All-Pro EDGE Nick Bosa.
On the offensive side, the 49ers arguably possess the best set of weapons in the league. The team boasts three dynamic pass catchers, Christian McCaffrey staying healthy in 2022, Deebo Samuel, Brandon Aiyuk, and George Kittle. However, the offensive line still requires improvement.
San Francisco has maintained an elite defense over the past few years, partly due to their exceptional defensive line. Although Nick Bosa is arguably the best pass rusher in the NFL, the team has also received valuable contributions from Charles Omenihu and Samson Ebukam, free agents next week, and will likely receive better offers elsewhere. Although the team drafted Drake Jackson in the second round last year, they should still consider using a third-round selection this year on another edge rusher.
One promising prospect is Adetomiwa Adebawore, a former Northwestern edge rusher who only registered 12.5 sacks during his four-year college career but possessed excellent raw talent. Moreover, Adebawore ran an impressive 4.49 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine last week.