NFC West Draft Needs

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Now that the feverish pace of free agency has cooled off, we can focus on the 2024 NFL Draft, its impact on the NFC West, how each team in the division will approach the draft, and how that might impact your fantasy rosters.

Other than the Arizona Cardinals, the San Francisco 49ers, Los Angeles Rams, and Seattle Seahawks all expect their teams to compete in 2024. Each team has a solid quarterback (Brock Purdy, Matt Stafford, and Geno Smith), a solid running back (Christian McCaffrey, Kyren Willams, Kenneth Walker), and dynamic wide receivers (Brandon Aiyuk/Deebo Samuel, Cooper Kupp/Puka Nacua, DK Metcalf/Tyler Lockett). 

Will this be the year the Cardinals invest heavily in skill positions? The division will see 39 draft picks selected by the division. The division has been the 49ers' to lose for the past two seasons, and it doesn't appear that will change in 2024. However, each team has plenty of assets to improve their teams quickly through the draft.

With the infusion of new talent, the NFC West promises to be an intriguing division during the draft as we head into the 2024 NFL Season. Which team will improve itself the most? Let's analyze the draft from the perspective of the NFC West draft needs.

Arizona Cardinals

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Total Picks: 11

Picks to make: 4 (1st), 27 (1st), 35 (2nd), 66 (3rd), 71 (3rd), 90 (3rd), 104 (5th), 138 (5th), 162 (5th), 186, (6th), 226 (7th)

Team Needs

Offense: WR, IOL

Defense: DL, Edge, CB, LB

Key Players Lost (new team):

Rondale Moore, WR (Atlanta Falcons)

Marquise Brown WR (Kansas City Chiefs)

Leiku Fotu DL (New York Jets)

Draft Predictions:

The Arizona Cardinals are in a very envious position in the 2024 draft. Most analysts are projecting the first three picks in the draft to be Caleb Williams, Jayden Daniels, and Drake Maye. The fourth player in that group is JJ McCarthy. With the Cardinals already having Kyler Murray under center, teams like the Vikings, Raiders, and Broncos could all move up to take McCarthy. In doing so, they will have to pay the Cardinals a handsome amount for that, right? However, the Cardinals' biggest weakness is at wide receiver, and this draft has two ELITE players at the position: Marvin Harrison Jr and Malik Nabers. So, although some draftniks believe the Cardinals will trade out of this spot and accumulate more picks to improve a roster that needs talent, I believe the Cardinals will stand pat and take Marvin Harrison Jr. 

In doing so, they have addressed their weakest position with the best player in the draft. With their second pick in the first round, I believe the Cardinals will be able to fortify their defensive line with either Byron Murphy, Chop Robinson, or Darius Robinson. With the 35th pick, I anticipate the Cardinals draft an offensive lineman. 

This is a deep draft for the position, and at the 35th pick, the Cardinals may be able to pick from Amarius Mims or Kingsley Suamatai. The Cardinals will not be overly picky when choosing between a tackle or an interior lineman. Taking the best available should be the mantra for a team that needs better players all over the field. 

I also won't be surprised to see the Cardinals package two of their 3rd round picks to move up into the late 2nd round and possibly grab a linebacker; Edgerrin Cooper or Junior Colson would be great fits.

From a Fantasy Perspective: After drafting Marvin Harrison Jr, the Cardinals have improved Kyler Murray and Trey McBride for fantasy managers. If they address the offensive line in the 2nd round, Murray and James Conner will become even more valuable to rosters; otherwise, I am a fade on those players due to a porous offensive line.

This offense still has a long way to go before it can support three or four elite fantasy players, but after this draft, it will move closer to doing so. Edgerrin Cooper will be a fantasy stud for IDP managers. His landing spot shouldn't prohibit anyone from grabbing him as one of the top IDP rookies. 

Los Angeles Rams

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Total Picks: 11

Picks to make: 19 (1st), 52 (2nd), 83 (3rd), 99 (3rd), 154 (4th), 155 (4th), 196 (6th), 209 (6th), 213 (6th), 217 (6th), 254 (7th)

Team Needs:

Offense: OT, RB

Defense: DL, Edge, CB, S, LB

Key Players Lost:

Jordan Fuller S (Carolina Panthers)

Coleman Shelton OL (Chicago Bears)

Aaron Donald DL (retired)

Draft Predictions:

The Los Angeles Rams hit the biggest homerun in the 2023 NFL draft by selecting Puka Nacu with the 177th overall selection. Can the Rams strike lightning twice? They hope so!

The Rams' offensive line is not very good. With Coleman Shelton's departure, the Rams have moved players around to fortify the unit. I am convinced the Rams will add another offensive lineman to improve the unit early in this draft.

In my latest mock draft, I have the Rams selecting Tyler Guyton, offensive tackle out of Oklahoma. If the Rams "try" to fill the void created by Aaron Donald's retirement, they may consider Jer'Zhan Newton or Byron Murphy as possible replacements.

With eleven picks in total, I wouldn't be surprised if the Rams looked to package a few picks in the middle rounds to improve the overall quality of their picks in the first three rounds. Some of the other players I believe the Rams should look at in rounds 2 and 3 are Kris Jenkins (DI, Michigan), Khyree Jackson (CB, Oregon), Max Melton (CB, Rutgers), Michael Hall (DI, Ohio State), and Sedrick Van Pran (C, Georgia).

Fantasy Impact:

This is a draft the Rams will add to the trenches. Although many will not have any significant fantasy impact in 2024, I am intrigued if the Rams could draft Byron Murphy in round one. For IDP managers, expect something different from what Donald provided for fantasy managers in the past. Still, with a scheme for the interior to create havoc in the backfield, Murphy would be in an ideal spot to make an immediate impact.

I hope the offensive line gets worked out for Matt Stafford's and Kyren Williams' sakes, and they can provide better blocking for both passing and rushing. This offense is predicated on Matt Stafford being the signal caller, although if something crazy happens and Stafford is sidelined, the Rams did add Jimmy Garoppolo in the off-season.

San Francisco 49ers

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Total Picks: 10

Picks to make: 31 (1st), 63 (2nd), 94 (3rd), 124 (4th), 132 (4th), 135 (4th), 176 (5th), 211 (6th), 215 (6th), 251 (7th)

Team Needs:

Offense: OT, IOL

Defense: DL, Edge, CB

Key Players Lost:

Arik Armstead DL (Jacksonville Jaguars)

Chase Young DL (New Orleans Saints)

Sam Darnold QB (Minnesota Vikings)

Javon Kinlaw DL (New York Jets)

Draft Predictions:

The 49ers were the NFC Conference's representative in the Super Bowl. They are an outstanding team with no glaring weaknesses heading into the 2024 NFL Draft. Adding depth to the defensive line would be a priority based on the losses of Armstead, Young, and Kinlaw. At the 31st pick in the first round, the 49ers may have to play a "wait-and-see" approach with their pick. If Chop Robinson, Byron Murphy, Darius Robinson, or Jer'Zhan Newton are available, I can easily see the Niners drafting one of those players. However, if none are available, I can envision the 49ers drafting Jordan Morgan or Amarius Mims to provide depth at the offensive tackle position.

Otherwise, a trade-down may be in order, especially if Bo Nix or Michael Penix is still available. A team like the Raiders or Broncos, who passed on a quarterback earlier in the first round, may find it helpful to trade back into the first round to gain an extra year on the rookie contract.

The 49ers are in an enviable position to take the best available player in the second round. In my latest mock draft, quality players are still available at the end of the second round. Bralen Trice, T'Vondre Sweat, and Michael Hall all add depth to the defensive line.

However, if Brandon Aiyuk, rumored to be on the trading block, gets dealt, the 49ers may elect to add a receiver via the draft. At the end of the 1st round, players like AD Mitchell, Ladd McConkey, Troy Franklin, and Xavier Worthy will likely be available or early in the 2nd round if the 49ers trade down.

Fantasy Perspective: Drafting an offensive or defensive lineman to the 49ers may not have an immediate fantasy impact. However, if Aiyuk is dealt and a replacement is drafted, that player will have an immediate opportunity to contribute to an already explosive offense. For IDP purposes, any defensive lineman the 49ers draft is only a player with "upside" since it is not projected that the 49ers are drafting a starter.

Seattle Seahawks

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Total Picks: 7

Picks to make: 16 (1st), 81 (3rd), 102 (4th), 118 (4th), 179 (6th), 192 (6th), and 235 (7th)

Team Needs: 

Offense: TE, IOL

Defense: LB, S, Edge, DL

Key Players Lost:

Jordyn Brooks LB (Miami Dolphins)

Will Dissly TE (Los Angeles Chargers)

Bobby Wagner LB (Washington Commanders)

Drew Lock QB (New York Giants)

Damien Lewis OG (Carolina Panthers)

Draft Predictions:

In each mock draft I have conducted, I can't help but pair Jackson Powers-Johnson with the Seattle Seahawks' 16th pick. However, the Seahawks have a massive need at tight end. If something crazy were to occur and Brock Bowers was on the board at #16, I wouldn't be shocked if the Seahawks drafted him.

Without any 2nd-round picks, the Seahawks will have to wait 65 picks between drafting in the 1st round to the 3rd round. That wait may drive Seahawk fans crazy. However, the wait may be worth it. In the 3rd round, players I see available on the defensive side of the ball that I believe will be NFL starters are Kamren Kinchens (S, Miami), Jeremiah Trotter Jr (LB, Clemson), Calen Bullock (S, USC), Tommy Eichenbert (LB, Ohio State).

If the Seahawks try to solidify the offensive line in the 3rd and 4th rounds, I like Cooper Beebe (G, Kansas State), Mason McCormick (G, South Dakota State), and Zak Zinter (G, Michigan).

Fantasy Perspective:

When addressing the "trenches" in the NFL, fantasy football managers always look for an indirect correlation to skill players. Adding Jackson Powers-Johnson to the offensive line immediately improves Kenneth Walker/Zach Charbonnet. It will also give Geno Smith a chance to get the ball downfield to Tyler Lockett, DK Metcalf, and Jaxon Smith-Njigba.

If the Seahawks were to draft Brock Bowers, this offense would become loaded with pass catchers and force defenses to change the way they play. With four playmakers all running routes, I just don't know how teams will be able to stop all the options. Somebody will be open, and it's just a matter of which player Geno Smith finds first.

Do you like my thoughts on the 2024 NFC West draft needs? Or do you disagree? For more content, follow me on "X" @JGoody77 or check me out on IDP+ @IDP_Plus.

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