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Early Look at the Biggest 2017 NFL Draft Needs for NFC West Teams

Carson Palmer

Carson Palmer

The Seahawks, Cardinals, Rams and 49ers collectively finished the 2016 NFL season – playoffs included – with a combined 24 wins. To put that in perspective, the New England Patriots won just seven fewer games than the entire NFC West combined. As you might have expected, the NFC West was easily the worst division in the league from a win-loss standpoint.

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All four teams need some serious help – if not entirely new directions – if they want to compete for a Super Bowl appearance anytime soon. Step one is making the right decisions in what looks to be a fairly loaded upcoming NFL Draft.

Arizona Cardinals

2016 Synopsis: The Cardinals finished with a disappointing 7-8-1 record after entering the season as sexy picks to represent the NFC in the Super Bowl. A pedestrian season from Carson Palmer combined with injuries on the offensive line was enough to doom Arizona's season. The Cardinals are a good mix of experience and youth, but it's beginning to look like the championship window might be closing on its veteran core.

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Biggest needs: For starters, it's time to find Palmer's successor at quarterback. There are plenty of guys available in this draft with the potential to be a franchise quarterback after some time on the sidelines to get settled. Arizona also needs help on the offensive line – specifically at guard. Getting younger at receiver is another priority.

First-round pick: No. 13 overall

Potential picks: The Cardinals are going to take a long look at Clemson quarterback Deshaun Watson if he's still around when they are on the clock. That said, if one of the top two receivers – Clemson's Mike Williams or Western Michigan's Corey Davis – falls to them, both will be hard to pass up.

Los Angeles Rams

2016 Synopsis: It's simple really: the Rams were bad enough to get Jeff Fisher fired and subsequently bring in the youngest head coach in modern NFL history. They finished 4-12 in their first year back in Los Angeles, averaging a league-worst 14 points per game. The Rams also were among the worst teams in the league when it came to getting after the quarterback, collecting less than two sacks per contest.

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Biggest needs: Time. Seriously, this is going to take time, because the Rams are a mess. They need depth at every position on the offensive line. They need more playmakers at wide receiver. They may even need to draft another quarterback, despite taking Jared Goff with the No. 1 overall pick last year.

First-round pick: None

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First pick: No. 37 overall

Potential picks: You'll probably see the Rams go with the best player available at this point. Matching that with their biggest needs, you could see them go with Indiana guard Dan Feeney, Penn State receiver Chris Godwin or Notre Dame quarterback DeShone Kizer.

San Francisco 49ers

2016 Synopsis: the 49ers finished the season 2-14 amidst the Colin Kaepernick kneeling controversy. What really did them in was a defense that couldn't keep anyone out of the end zone, as they allowed 480 points (30 points per game) on the year. There is some young talent scattered around the depth chart, but like the Rams, the 49ers appear to be a couple of year away from being taken seriously.

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Biggest needs: They need a franchise quarterback. They need a line that can protect that quarterback. They need receivers who can consistently get open and catch passes from that quarterback. The need talent everywhere on defense so that quarterback doesn't need to win a shootout every week.

First-round pick: No. 2 overall

Potential picks: You'd be hard-pressed to find many mock drafts that don't have San Francisco taking Stanford defensive end Solomon Thomas. If the new regime defies the experts and go another direction, it will probably be North Carolina quarterback Mitchell Tribusky or Alabama defensive tackle Jonathan Allen.

Seattle Seahawks

2016 Synopsis: Another year, another trip to the playoffs for Seattle. That said, this was not the dominant Seahawks team that played in back-to-back Super Bowls not too long ago. They were very inconsistent, struggling with the Rams and 49ers while defeating the Patriots on the road. The running back position was a revolving door and Doug Baldwin seemed to be the only receiver you could count on each week.

Seahawks Schedule

Biggest needs: Seattle needs help at both guard and offensive tackle if it wants to keep Russell Wilson healthy for the better part of the next decade. The Seahawks also need to get younger quickly in all three levels of their defense.

First-round pick: No. 26 overall

Potential picks: The wise move would be to go after the best available offensive lineman at this point, which could be Utah tackle Garrett Boles. Seattle also could decide to go in a different direction and take Washington cornerback Kevin King or Wisconsin linebacker T.J. Watt. All three would be safe picks.

— Written by J.P. Scott, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. His work has appeared on,, Yahoo! and Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter @TheJPScott.