The dust has finally settled from an offseason filled with free agency and the draft, as well as your usual healthy dosage of contract drama. Rosters are overflowing at ninety spots a piece and contributors for the coming season are more then likely already in place on their current team. With that in mind, I'm going to go through each division, ranking each position group from 1-4. Up first is the home of your Seattle Seahawks, the NFC West.
Quarterback: Seattle, Arizona, Los Angeles, San Francisco
Seattle has a young, established quarterback who is coming off of the best statistical season of his career and will continue to improve. Carson Palmer came back from a torn ACL to deliver the best season of his career, at age 36 no less. With the future of the position in Arizona looking unclear, the Cards must hope Palmer can keep away father time for another season. The Rams went from a laughable situation in March (and the ten March's before that) to a promising one in June. The draft's number one pick, Jarred Goff, gives the freshly branded Los Angeles Rams reason for hope. Chip Kelly guided Nick Foles to 27 touchdowns, so the winner of the Blaine Gabbert/Colin Kaepernick competition shouldn't be written off immediately... but Blaine Gabbert.
Running Back: Los Angeles, Seattle, Arizona, San Francisco
By the end of 2016 it's entirely possible we are talking about the Rams having the best running back in football. Gurley will be just 22 when the season begins and is fresh off of an incredible rookie season. With the talented Tre Mason backing him up (for the time being), Los Angeles is the cream of the crop at the running back position. It was a struggle choosing between Seattle and Arizona for the second spot, but the Seahawks won out on the back (legs?) of the bevy of talent behind the starter. While the Cards will again look to Chris Johnson for help behind starter David Johnson, incoming draft picks CJ Prosise and Alex Collins gives Seattle options behind Thomas Rawls. David Johnson may be the more talented player then Rawls, but as you'll see often here, it's all about depth. Carlos Hyde is a nice player and has been recently touted as a complete back, but we haven't seen enough from promising youngsters Mike Davis and Kelvin Taylor to have them higher then fourth.
Wide Receiver: Arizona, Seattle, San Francisco, Los Angeles
For at least one more season the Cardinals will enjoy an embarrassment of riches at the receiver spot. Future Hall of Famer Larry Fitzgerald has taken to his late-career move to the slot absolutely wonderfully, and he's complimented by the more-then-a-speedster John Brown and the strong, possession game of Michael Floyd. Additionally, in case the Cards needed more speed on the offensive side, second-year receiver JJ Nelson may be the quickest receiver in the NFL and Bruce Arians gets another offseason to figure out a way to use him creatively. Seattle enters 2016 with the reigning receiving touchdown king, a sophomore coming off of an All-Pro rookie year (albeit in the return game), as well as mainstay Jermaine Kearse. If third-year receiver Paul Richardson can stay healthy, the Seahawks receiver group is as dangerous as any. Neither the Rams nor the 49ers receiver groups instil confidence in me, but I'll take the 49ers over LA. Torrey Smith gives them a touchdown threat anytime he gets the ball, Anquan Boldin still could be back, and rookie Aaron Burbridge could give them more production then one would think of a 7th round pick. Despite Jeff Fisher's claims of a 100-catch season for Tavon Austin on the horizon (career high is 52), the Rams will again start Kenny Britt in 2016.
Tight End: Seattle, San Francisco, Arizona, Los Angeles
Even with Jimmy Graham a doubt to start the season, the Seahawks tight end group is head and shoulders above the rest of the division. Luke Willson and rookie Nick Vannett give the team options behind Graham and when at full health this group is as complete as any in the league. Vance McDonald came out a bit towards the end of 2015 after Blaine Gabbert was inserted, and the team seems to have confidence in backup Garrett Celek, who signed a four-year extension earlier this offseason. The name's aren't exciting; Darren Fells and Jermaine Gresham aren't going to be stealing the Gronk spike anytime soon, but the talent around them, both on the field and on the sideline wearing headsets makes me feel okay about this group. The Rams went head-scratcher again, selecting Tyler Higbee in the fourth-round despite legal troubles to join starter Lance Kendricks.
Offensive Line: Arizona, Los Angeles, Seattle, San Francisco
What could be one of the best offensive line groups in the NFL this season, the Cardinals are set at every spot. Incoming free agent Evan Mathis will shore up the right guard spot with Iupati moving to the left. They played their cards perfectly with 2015 first-round pick DJ Humphries; redshirted last season, he's expected to come in and start at right tackle. Three of the five expected starting Rams offensive lineman came into the league together in 2015, with 2014 second-overall selection Greg Robinson and Tim Barnes making up the rest of the group, it's fair to assume they will take a step forward as a unit in 2016. Another year of changes on Seattle's line will see the team open 2016 with all five starters different then week one of 2015. The promise is there, but will it deliver? Joe Staley and 2016 first-round pick Joshua Garnett will solidify the left side of the 49ers' offensive line, but after that it's a group of no-names and question marks.
Defensive Line: Los Angeles, Seattle, Arizona, San Francisco
With five first-round picks playing along the defensive line, you would hope the Rams were tops in the division. They have the second best defensive player in the league, a perenial double-digit sack artist in Robert Quinn, and Willie Hayes will be an improvement over Chris Long at this stage in their careers. Michael Bennett and Cliff Avril seemingly get better every year, while rookie Jarran Reed will come in and help the defense not miss a beat following Brandon Mebane's departure. Seattle needs sack production to return to the interior of their defensive line in 2016. Arizona had a need and addressed it this offseason, bringing in Chandler Jones from New England and drafting the enigmatic Robert Nkemdiche in the first-round. Combined with the ageless Calais Campbell, the Cardinals may have finally found their pass rush. With Glenn Dorsey returning from a torn ACL, last year's first-round pick Arik Armstead has a chance to grab the starting spot opposite DeForest Buckner. While injury concerns wiped away a big payday for Ian Williams this offseason, he'll remain one of the premier run-stuffers if he can stay healthy.
Linebacker: Seattle, Arizona, San Francisco, Los Angeles
With half of the division running a 3-4 and half running a 4-3 it might be a bit unfair to group all linebacker and defensive line groups together, but I'm going to anyway. Despite the question marks at SAM linebacker, Seattle still has the two best players at their position in the division. Bobby Wagner was as solid as ever in 2015, and KJ Wright may have been even better. Deone Bucannon was a revelation at his $LB spot in 2015 and with Kevin Minter playing alongside him again they should continue to improve. Additionally, Markus Golden will draw into the starting lineup with Dwight Freeney not being resigned, with good reason. NaVorro Bowman came back from a gruesome knee injury to lead the NFL in tackles in 2015 despite losing a step. Aaron Lynch took a huge step last season as a complete linebacker and will be the 49ers best defender again in 2016. Alec Ogeltree will slide over to MLB with the departure of James Laurinaitis, with the incoming Akeem Ayers joining Mark Barron on the outside. Ayers did well in New England following a mid-2014 trade from Tennessee, and Barron played perhaps the best football of his NFL career following a shift to linebacker from safety.
Cornerback: Seattle, Arizona, Los Angeles, San Francisco
Depth has returned once more to the Seattle secondary, with players like DeShawn Shead, Tharold Simon and Marcus Burley all able to play in the slot or outside behind starters Richard Sherman and Jeremy Lane. While Patrick Peterson finally has his health in order and enjoyed a terrific 2015, the rest of the cornerback group in Arizona leaves one wanting more. Former Chiefs and Raiders safety Tyvon Branch signed with the team this offseason and will find himself playing a lot of corner in Arizona's sub packages, alongside Tyrann Mathieu and Justin Bethel. The Rams let Janoris Jenkins walk in free agency, instead deciding to place the franchise tag on fellow cornerback Trumaine Johnson. The team has to hope former sixth-round pick E.J. Gaines can step up in 2016. The 49ers first-round pick from 2014, Jimmie Ward, came on strong towards the end of the year playing out of the slot. Behind him is a group of castoffs and late-round draft picks, including the future King of England. It's no wonder both the Rams and 49ers were reportedly interested in Josh Norman when he hit free agency.
Safety: Seattle, Arizona, San Francisco, Los Angeles
Earl Thomas and Kam Chancellor are both fully healthy and fully participating heading into 2016, good news for the Seahawks following a relative down year for the duo in 2015. Tyrann Mathieu's status for the beginning of 2016 is up in the air, but even 50% of the Honey Badger is a great player - as we saw in 2014. He'll be parterned by notoriously reluctant special teamer DJ Swearinger. Antoine Bethea is coming back from a torn pectoral that ended his season in week 7, while the 49ers have to be hoping Eric Reid's concussion issues are in the past. The Rams' best safety, TJ McDonald, was arrested for DUI earlier this offseason and could be facing league discipline. Outside of him, they'll be depending on former rookie free agent Cody Davis to replace the departed Rodney McLeod.
There you have the NFC West! Disagree on any groups? As always, let me know in the comments.