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Key NFL Draft Picks To Fill NFC West Offensive, Defensive Holes

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(credit: Al Bello/Getty Images)

(credit: Al Bello/Getty Images)

By Tony Meale

The 2013 NFL Draft will take place this week, so let’s take a look at which holes each team in the NFC West needs to fill to have a successful draft.

Arizona Cardinals

Wow, who would’ve thought signing Carson Palmer would have been such an important move?

In acquiring Palmer, the Cardinals accomplished two things: 1) they can now start a quarterback who isn’t off-the-charts terrible, and 2) they don’t have to use the seventh overall pick on a quarterback who, let’s be real, probably won’t pan out in the NFL.

Oklahoma offensive tackle Lane Johnson or Alabama offensive guard Chance Warmack would improve an aerial attack and ground game that last year ranked 28th and 32nd, respectively – all while building for the franchise quarterback Arizona may draft in 2014 or 2015.

Speaking of quarterback, Arizona is reportedly interested in North Carolina State’s Mike Glennon. At 6-7, 225 pounds, Glennon is a strong-armed quarterback just inside the top ten on most QB position boards.

The Cardinals will also likely draft a running back, as Beanie Wells was released, LaRod Stephens-Howling remains a free agent and Ryan Williams has been anything but durable.

2013 NFL Mock Draft – First Round Picks Here

San Francisco 49ers

It’s a good time to be a 49ers fan.

San Francisco may be coming off a last-second loss in the Super Bowl, but it has arguably the best team on paper in all of football – not to mention 13 draft picks, including 31st and 34th overall.

The 49ers signed wide receiver Anquan Boldin to pair with skill-position players Michael Crabtree, Vernon Davis, Frank Gore and Colin Kaepernick. San Francisco is reportedly interested in trading up for slot sensation Tavon Austin, who would make the offense just silly good.

If the Niners stand pat at 31, look for them to replace two-time Pro-Bowl safety Dashon Goldson, who signed with Tampa Bay, with Florida’s Matt Elam or possibly even Florida International’s Jonathan Cyprien. San Fran also lost defensive tackles Isaac Sopoaga and Ricky Jean-Francois, so Alabama’s Jesse Williams and Ohio State’s Johnathan Hankins are also possibilities.

In the end, the 49ers have so few holes – and so many draft picks with which to fill them – that anything but a return to the Super Bowl this year would be a disappointment.

2013 NFL Mock Draft – First Round Picks Here

Seattle Seahawks

Remember how I said it’s a good time to be a San Francisco 49ers fan? Well, the same can be said for the Seattle Seahawks.

Seattle came within a field goal of advancing to the NFC title game – with a rookie quarterback, no less – and responded by adding stud playmaker Percy Harvin, pass-rush extraordinaire Cliff Avril and shutdown nickel corner Antoine Winfield. Couple that with the fact that Seattle averaged 38.6 points in its final five regular-season games last year – including a 42-13 thrashing of San Francisco – and you have a team that enters the draft without any glaring weaknesses.

The only rain-on-the-parade news is that the Seahawks are without a first-round pick (it was traded to Minnesota in the deal for Harvin). Still, Seattle has 10 picks, including No. 56 and No. 87 overall; these will likely be spent adding depth at offensive tackle, defensive tackle and linebacker.

All in all, a two-team race is shaping up in the NFC West – and perhaps the entire NFC altogether.

2013 NFL Mock Draft – First Round Picks Here

St. Louis Rams

The Rams are one of only two teams with two first-round picks (the other is Minnesota), and that’s good – because they’ve got a whole lot of holes to fill.

And it all starts with putting pieces around Sam Bradford.

Never before, perhaps, has a quarterback been drafted No. 1 overall and been given so few opportunities to succeed. Yes, Bradford has been St. Louis’ starter since his rookie season, but calling the weapons around him even mediocre would be generous.

To make matters worse, the Rams enter 2013 without Danny Amendola, who signed with New England after leading the Rams with 63 catches last year – despite playing only 11 games – and Steven Jackson, who signed with Atlanta after posting nearly 1,400 total yards.

Tavon Austin, if available at 16 overall, is a no-brainer pick, while Alabama’s Eddie Lacy would be a steal at pick 46.

St. Louis also needs help in the back seven, particularly at safety and linebacker. If Austin doesn’t make it to 16, Georgia linebacker Alec Ogletree would be a smart pick – in which case the Rams could take a wideout with their 22nd pick. If St. Louis lands Austin and Ogletree is unavailable at 22, a safety – such as Florida’s Matt Elam LSU’s Eric Reid – would be the ideal way to go.

Bottom line: The Rams have eight picks, including five in the first four rounds, and can’t afford to miss on any.

More:

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Cincinnati-based sportswriter Tony Meale is the author of The Chosen Ones: The Team That Beat LeBron and contributes to several outlets, including MLB.com and MaxPreps. He has a master’s in journalism from Ohio University and is available for guest-speaking engagements. Follow Tony Meale on Twitter @tonymeale.

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