NFL Draft Preview: NFC West

Read our complete 2006 NFL Draft Coverage!

Arizona Cardinals
Current 1st Round Draft Position: 10th
Top Team Needs: OL, S, QB, TE

OL: The Cardinals have problems all along the offensive line. LT Leonard Davis is inconsistent. RT Oliver Ross struggled with the team last year. Rookie Elton Brown had a miserable rookie season, and the team is unsure if Alex Stepanovich or Nick Leckey would make better G’s than C’s. Milford Brown was signed as a free agent and will compete with Elton Brown for a starting spot. At worst, this team needs to find consistent starters. At the very least this team needs better quality depth. OL will be a day one priority.

S: Adrian Wilson is solid at SS, but Robert Griffith at FS is at the end of his career and needs to be replaced in the starting lineup. The depth is big concern there doesn’t appear to be a suitable replacement for Griffith on the roster right now. S is another day one priority for the Cardinals.

QB: Kurt Warner surprised in 2005 with great numbers, when healthy. And that’s the caveat: when healthy. Warner is not the future and neither is backup John Navarre. Arizona needs to be thinking of the future at this position and while more likely to look at an available veteran to back up Warner than a rookie, if Vince Young slides down to them in the first round, they’ll take him.

TE: Adam Bergen is mediocre at best. This position needs someone who can better take advantage of the attention the WR’s get by going over the middle and being more of a vertical threat. It may or may not be on the first day, but it will be addressed somewhere in the draft.

St. Louis Rams
Current 1st Round Draft Position: 11th
Top Team Needs: C/G, S, DT, TE, QB

C/G: Which one of the two positions depends a lot on which position the Rams plan on grooming Richie Incognito to take over for in another year or two. C Andy McCollum will be 36 this season, and G Adam Timmerman will be 35. Incognito missed the entire 2005 season and is untested. Regardless, he can’t fill both spots, and there’s concern about whether he can fill either. It may not be the most pressing need, but the Rams will look at interior offensive linemen in this draft.

S: Corey Chavous replaces Adam Archuleta, and while not the hitter Archuleta was, he is less of a liability in passing situations then Archuleta. O.J. Atogwe is expected to start at FS, but he didn’t distinguish himself last year as a rookie. There’s a definite need for someone to come in and push for a starting job.

DT: The team lost both Ryan Pickett and Damione Lewis to free agency, but upgraded by getting LaRoi Glover to start with Jimmy Kennedy. Biggest problem though is that the team needs quality depth that isn’t currently on the roster. Considering the Rams were 28th vs. the run in 2005, a big bodied run stuffer in the middle is on their draft day agenda.

TE: Brandon Manumaleuna is too inconsistent and Jerome Collins is still making the transition to the position. The Rams under Mike Martz rarely threw to their TE’s, but new coach Scott Linehan’s offense wants them more involved. With the depth at the position in this draft, look for the Rams to select a TE somewhere.

QB: Marc Bulger has problems staying healthy and Gus Frerotte isn’t the long term solution if Bulger goes down. Ryan Fitzpatrick had one good game before looking completely lost last year. While it’s more likely the team holds off until 2007 to take a QB for the future, they might start thinking about it now.

San Francisco 49ers
Current 1st Round Draft Position: 6th and 22nd
Top Team Needs: LB, DE, CB, S, TE

LB: After losing both Julian Peterson and Andre Carter to free agency, the 49ers need to be looking for replacements on the outside. Currently Corey Smith, Renauld Williams, and T.J. Slaughter are slated to battle it out for the starting spots, but none are of the same caliber as they players they’re taking over for. OLB is a high priority for the 49ers.

DE: Bryant Young is 34 and the 49ers need to be thinking of the time when he retires. Marques Douglas admirably mans the other starting spot, but depth is a big concern. Getting someone who can become part of a rotation and also be groomed to take over in another year or two is another high priority in this draft for San Francisco.

CB: The 49ers were dead last in pass defense in the NFL in 2005, and it was almost literally by a mile. 3rd year veteran Shawntae Spencer has shown flashes of becoming a solid cover guy and holds down one spot, but opposite him is a mess. Mike Rumph hasn’t lived up to expectations and while the team signed Walt Harris, he’s on the downside of his career. The team traded for former Charger Sammy Davis and while they may be hopeful of resurrecting his disappointing career, they need to be looking at CB in this draft in case they can’t.

S: It’s not just the CB’s who were brutally abused by opponents in 2005. SS Tony Parrish returns after breaking a leg in 2005, but the FS spot is up for grabs. Mike Adams has ball hawking skills, but lacks speed. Keith Lewis is a hitter, but a liability in coverage. Between the two of them, you have a pretty good FS, but individually, neither is a complete package. At the very least a need for higher quality depth is needed.

TE: If Eric Johnson can stay healthy, the team may not look for a TE, but he hasn’t been able to in 2 of the past 3 seasons. Given the fact the team is likely to be staring at Vernon Davis with their first pick, they might decide to give up on Johnson.

Seattle Seahawks
Current 1st Round Draft Position: 31st
Top Team Needs: S, OG, CB, WR

S: Ken Hamlin has received medical clearance to continue playing football after suffering severe head injuries in a fight outside a nightclub during the 2005 season. Hamlin may not be the dominant, punishing player he was before the injury and since his backup last year was signed elsewhere, the Seahawks would be wise to draft a S to have ready just in case.

OG: You don’t just replace a guy like Steve Hutchinson. His departure to Minnesota hurts and while the team has a capable backup in Floyd Womack, Womack’s ability to play 4 OL positions makes him better suited as a top backup. Seattle also needs to be thinking of the future as Chris Gray will be 36 at the start of the season. A top OG could be a first round consideration for the Seahawks.

CB: Marcus Trufant is very good and holds down one spot. Kelly Herndon steps in for departed Andre Dyson, but he is seen as a better fit as the nickel back. The depth is shaky behind them so this will be another area the Seahawks will consider in the first round.

WR: The Seahawks extracted a small measure of revenge on Minnesota when they signed Nate Burleson away from them. Burleson likely will step in as a starter opposite Darrell Jackson and allow the team to move Bobby Engram back to the slot position. But Engram is 33, and the depth behind him is suspect with guys like Peter Warrick, D.J. Hackett, and Kevin Kasper. While the WR position isn’t a high priority, it will likely get some attention from the team in this draft.

See Russ's other 2006 NFL Draft articles:

Russ Bliss is FantasyFootballStarters.com's exclusive fantasy football expert, a member of the Fantasy Sports Writers Association, and for 10 years has been the radio host of "The Red Zone, Talking Fantasy Football and the NFL," in Phoenix, Arizona.

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