ESPN's Mel Kiper breaks down the offseasons and needs of each NFC West team in the latest addition to his summer audit series. Kiper examines what teams have done so far this offseason to improve, the areas that still need to be addressed and a player from the 2012 draft class who could help each team in 2011. The article is Insider-only, but here's a peek at Kiper's take on team needs.
Arizona: "I think the biggest, most obvious area of concern is what the Cardinals will do at quarterback. Linked to several names, most notably Kevin Kolb, this is a roster that can do some things if they can find a decent conductor back there. The question is: at what cost? And after that, are they talented enough on the offensive line? I can see them targeting another tackle in free agency. This is an obvious destination for some help at outside linebacker as well."
San Francisco: "I think San Francisco got some talent in the draft but they can't be done if they plan to continue to rise out west. That's because they added talent, but both of their top picks have developmental requirements. The Niners have some semblance of continuity at quarterback, but does Jim Harbaugh really think he can save Alex Smith's career? Smith simply isn't a young guy anymore. I wouldn't be surprised to see the Niners take a look at the very limited free agency or trade market to at least consider someone capable of truly pushing Smith.
This team has talent, you just wonder if they can take the next step given Smith's history."
Seattle: "Mimicking a constant question in this division, what happens at starting quarterback is still the biggest question for this team. I can see Matt Hasselbeck back, but his performance last year was, for the most part, in line with the idea that he is past his prime. Late-season heroics helped his cause, but it's clear Seattle has its eyes wide open. I think Pete Carroll believes that if they can block, they can continue the improvement that was shown in 2010. But fans looking for big gains from the draft may be disappointed. More questions will be answered by health and more continuity on the roster."
St. Louis: "I think the Rams did the best they could in adding pass-catching help in the draft. When Julio Jones and A.J. Green were both off the board, and when they had a chance to take a high-impact talent like Quinn, it was a no-brainer to get the stud. That said, free agency has to involve at least one solid wideout. They need to afford Bradford every opportunity to succeed.
Elsewhere, I'd like to see the Rams target a guard and some outside linebacker help. They just didn't have the picks to get it all in the draft, but they should be able to augment a roster that really has a lot of solid pieces."