Each Wednesday leading up to the NFL draft (April 22-24), the ESPN.com blog network will take a division-by-division look at key aspects of the draft. Today's topic: Schemes and themes.
The Cardinals should continue becoming a more physical team offensively as Beanie Wells assumes a more prominent role in his second season. Kurt Warner's retirement also makes the running game more important. Selecting Herman Johnson in the 2009 draft showed the Cardinals value super-sized offensive linemen. The trend could continue if Arizona decides to fortify its line in this draft. On defense, the Cardinals have become a more straightforward 3-4 team. Arizona could use a nose tackle in the draft and linebackers with prototypical 3-4 size.
The 49ers varied their approach offensively last season, at one point abandoning their power-running roots, but coach Mike Singletary and offensive coordinator Jimmy Raye want to play a physical game. They want to run the ball more consistently. This is probably the year San Francisco drafts a big right tackle to solidify the line. The 49ers carried only two tight ends on their 53-man roster last season. Another blocking tight end might not hurt. The 49ers have not drafted a running back or defensive back in the first two rounds since general manager Scot McCloughan arrived in 2005. They could stand to get younger at corner.
The theme in Seattle has been to draft for defense early. The Seahawks need to address the offense with at least one of their two first-round choices. They have selected only one receiver in the first four rounds over the past eight drafts. They haven't selected a running back in the first round since 2000 or a quarterback since 1993. This marks the second consecutive offseason in which the Seahawks have talked about the zone-blocking scheme. This time, the team plans to make a full commitment. That probably rules out some of the more massive draft prospects on the offensive line. On defense, the Seahawks will look to get bigger in the secondary, specifically at cornerback.
The Rams enter their second season running a West Coast offense. Any quarterback they consider in the draft should have good short and intermediate accuracy, the ability to move within the pocket and experience working under center as opposed to the shotgun. The accuracy and ability to work under center are pretty much requirements for West Coast quarterbacks because the offense emphasizes timing throws from three- and five-step drops. A backup running back with receiving skills would also help this offense. On defense, tackles Ndamukong Suh and Gerald McCoy would fit the Rams' 4-3 scheme.