NFC West Draft Comparison

Los Angeles Rams

Grade: C

The Rams didn’t have a single draft pick in the top 100. The Rams traded away a lot of picks for Matthew Stafford. Zero day one picks and just one day two pick, Logan Bruss (OG) who they hope to be an immediate starter filling a void left by the departure of Austin Corbett. Fun fact: the Rams haven’t picked in the first round since 2016 when they selected Jared Goff. They currently don’t hold a first round pick until 2024. I can buy into the trading high draft picks away mentality. You end up with more draft picks and it saves you some cap space having more rookie deals on your team which in turn gives you the money to pay some of the big name free agent players or afford to keep some of your talented guys. At the running back position it will remain to be seen how Cam Akers performs after tearing his achilles and missing all of 2021. His backup Darrell Henderson, who did play solidly last year, ended up on the COVID/Reserve list so it makes sense to have some depth. Kyren Williams should provide that. Fourth round CB Decobie Durant should slide right behind Troy Hill on the depth chart (Hill played well for the Rams in 2020 but played the 2021 season for the Browns. He had a down season in Cleveland so hopefully the return to the Rams ups his quality of play. Los Angeles gave up a 2023 fifth round pick for him.) With the exception of 7th round OT A.J. Arcuri the five picks the Rams had in rounds 6 and 7 went to defense. With a Super Bowl MVP QB, Offensive Player of the Year Cooper Kupp at WR along with Allen Robinson and Van Jefferson the Rams have a lot of talent at offensive skill positions. (Not to mention that they are favorites to re-sign Odell Beckham Jr. who still remains a free agent. He did make a touchdown catch for the Rams in the Super Bowl in 2021.) Those defensive picks consisted of safeties Quentin Lake and Russ Yeast, CB Derion Kendrick, and Daniel Hardy on the edge. So what you end up with is a maybe starter on the O-line and rotational or back-up players everywhere else. They have already set themselves up poorly for a 2023 draft having no picks in the 1st, 4th, or 5th rounds. (Your second fun fact: before Sean McVay became head coach of the Rams they hadn’t been over .500 or had a positive point differential since 2003. Under McVay every season has had a positive point differential and win:loss record.) The Rams have been leveraging the future to push for a ring and they were successful in getting one last year. Even though their system of trading high picks has been working pretty well for them, if you put all the pressure on a few shoulders you simply don’t have the quality depth. If the Rams lose Kupp, Stafford or Aaron Donald to injury it feels like they will be up a creek without a paddle. You also miss chances to land blue chip talent. Their draft haul just seems weak, with a trend likely to be repeated next year. 

San Francisco 49ers

Grade: B-

Second round pick Drake Jackson (Edge) feels like a little bit of a reach for a player that has the potential but is currently without the technique. RB Tyrion Davis-Price in the 3rd is a bit of a head scratcher. Eli Mitchell seems darn good thus far and Deebo Samuel can do it all. With 6x Pro Bowl FB Kyle Juszcyk to run behind as well, using your second pick on a running back just doesn’t feel like a big enough need. Not to mention the solid play and depth they possess at RB with guys like Trey Sermon or JaMycal Hasty. To round out the 3rd round they selected WR Danny Gray. There is always room for more pass catchers so not a bad pick, especially with a bit of uncertainty with the long term status of Deebo Samuel the speedster makes a lot of sense here. Pro Football Focus ranked the 49ers as the third best offensive line after the 2021 season. The additions of OG Spencer Burford and OT Nick Zakelj hopefully provide some depth to an already strong position group. Seemingly not the biggest area of need, San Francisco spent their mid round picks on guys that don’t seem likely to be starters. They did add two CB’s in 5th rounder Samuel Womack and 6th rounder Tariq Castro-Fields. Given the departure of former All-Pro Josh Norman at the position I would have liked to see them have attacked the position earlier in the draft. DT Kalia Davis and quarterback Brock Purdy round out the 49ers’ draft. Jackson and Gray make a lot of sense as picks and being without a first rounder because of the trade for Trey Lance their day 2 draft had a couple really solid picks. With 9 picks total it’s a little surprising they didn’t trade up to get say a second guy in the 4th or 5th instead of taking three guys in the 6th round. But their draft was fairly versatile. Davis-Price in round 3 is the only pick I strongly dislike. San Fran was good on offense in 2021, ranking 7th in total offensive yards, 7th in rush yards, and 12th in passing yards. Defensively, they were 9th in points allowed, 3rd in total yards allowed and 7th in passing yards allowed. They feel like a decently rounded team. Their draft seemed to simply add more depth overall but only truly upgrade a couple positions. 

Arizona Cardinals

Grade: C+

I feel as though how you feel about the Cardinals’ draft hinges on one simple question: is Marquise Brown worth a first round pick? It was the 23rd overall pick they gave up. By the 18th pick this year six receivers had already been taken. Brown was the first WR taken in 2019 at 25th overall. While his numbers don’t jump out as much as other recent first round WR’s he has not missed many games, has absolutely incredible speed, and is still on his rookie deal. So he is probably worth it. With his catches and yards steadily increasing each season and given how little passing the Ravens did in general since Lamar Jackson became the starter, “Hollywood” Brown seems likely to be a 1,000 yards a year guy on a regular basis. Arizona did also get a third rounder in the trade that they used on Myjai Sanders, one of two edge players they took in the third with the other being Carmeron Thomas. Their 2nd round pick was used on TE Trey McBride, the first TE taken in the draft. If you still believe in Zach Ertz, who used to be one of the best TE’s in football not named Travis Kelce then there could be some two TE sets this season (not to ignore that Maxx Williams is also on the team). Which they may have to do given DeAndre Hopkins suspension. Arizona added some more offensive pieces with RB Keaontay Ingram and a pair of OG’s in Lecitus Smith and Marquis Hayes. None of which are high profile names. DB Christian Matthew and LB Jesse Luketa were also added. Technically they didn’t have a pick in rounds 1, 4, or 5. In the final two rounds of the draft they had 5 picks total. The choices the Cardinals made aren’t terrible but it’s hard to feel really excited about any of them.

Seattle Seahawks

Grade: A

Seattle was the only team in the entire division to actually draft a player in the 1st round. The Panthers and Giants both took an OT at picks 6 and 7 respectively. That left OT Charles Cross who Seattle selected 9th overall using one of the many draft picks they received from Denver in the Russell Wilson trade. Widely considered the 3rd best tackle in the draft, this was a solid choice for a team that lost a chunk of their offensive line from 2021. In the 3rd round they drafted another tackle, Abraham Lucas, further trying to get players at a position of need. This was true for the Seahawks entire draft. In order to replace the pass rush they lost, they took two edge players, Tyreke Smith in round 5 and Boye Mafe which they used another one of those Bronco trade picks on in the 2nd round. Also in the 2nd round they added running back Kenneth Walker III. Rashaad Penny led the backfield last year. Although his 6.3 yds/carry looks great on paper it was also the first time he ever broke 100 carries in a season, having had a paltry 11 carries in 2020 the Seahawks certainly don’t view him as a bell cow. His injury history has prevented him from ever playing a full season in his entire NFL career. Chris Carson (RB) was also limited by injury in 2021. Alex Collins, their back with the 2nd most yards last year didn’t even manage 4 yds/carry and also was plagued by injury ending up on injured reserve. Brian Dawkins said “the best ability is availability.” So a new RB makes a ton of sense. Especially with Drew Lock/Geno Smith at QB this season, they will be looking to run a lot. Cornerbacks Coby Bryant and Tariq Woolen were both taken on day 3 of the draft, maybe they can get some of that “Legion of Boom” energy back. They still have wide receivers Tyler Lockett and DK Metcalf (neither of which was a 1st round pick) on the team so they took a couple late round fliers with Bo Melton and Dareke Young. Every single pick in the first five rounds helped to fill an immediate need. What impressed me the most about their draft was the restraint to not reach for a quarterback. They didn’t even draft one. But thanks to their Wilson trade they have an extra 1st and 2nd round pick in 2023 that boasts a more talented QB class than this year’s draft. So they will have the draft capital to make a move at QB in 2023 if they so choose. Last year they were a losing team at the bottom of the division with every other team having double digit win totals. They are unlikely to perform well in the division this year. Yes, it’s a rebuild year. But at least the Seahawks are smart enough to realize that. Excellent draft. Best draft in the division by far.

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