The 2010 NFC West was as bad a division as the NFL has seen in recent memory. Based solely on record each of the 4 teams were among the worst 15 in the league. Seattle was lucky enough to qualify for a playoff spot and win their fist game. St Louis is rebuilding and has the only stable quarterback play in the division. Arizona was sunk by sub par quarterback play after missing on Matt Leinart. San Francisco will go back to the drawing board yet again after pulling the plug on the Mike Singletary project. St Louis only needed to plug a few holes and drafted conservatively. Seattle has the divisions least talented roster and was looking to move around in the lead up to the draft. Arizona and San Francisco, bothl young and talented, needed to use their premium draft positions to upgrade their talent and find a quarterback. Arizona took the best value approach while the 49ers were a bit more aggressive in using their twelve picks to move around on draft day. Brent Foshee breaks down each teams draft in the division.
It’s never a bad thing when perhaps the best player in the draft is available at the fifth pick. That Arizona needed a cornerback was superfluous. Patrick Peterson will be an immediate starter and help solidify the defensive backfield for a team with an aggressive defensive coordinator and an emerging front seven. The team had Ryan Williams rated as the 15th best player in the draft so grabbing the running back at thirty eight was a no brainer. Rob Housler is a good developmental prospect at tight end. Defesnive end/outside linebacker Sam Acho and inside linebacker Quan Sturdivant were also nice additions to their roster on the drafts final day.
Arizona stood pat and took their highest rated players. It appears that they got the value they wanted throughout the draft and added two immediate starters and another three prospects that could compete for playing time in a year or two. I’m not really sure who is going to block or play quarterback for them but from a value standpoint they fared rather well. Grade B+
St. Louis Rams
The Rams must have been ecstatic when they realized they could select either Robert Quinn or Nick Fairley as both were considered amongst the most talented five players in the draft. Quinn was the selection and adds depth, talent, and speed to their young defensive end rotation. At pick fourteen he was a great value. Lance Kendricks is a talented receiving tight end whom Josh McDaniels lobbied for. McDaniels historically does not use tight ends in his offense so his interest in Kendricks suggests an immediate role in the passing game. Receivers Austin Pettis and Greg Salas combine with Kendricks to give Bradford some more options in the passing game. The team also selected a trio of safeties late in the draft, presumably to replace OJ Atogwe.
Quinn must have been an easy selection. His addition alone should improve this team. Selecting a trio of pass catchers for Bradford and a trio of safeties to replace Otogwe also shows good judgment on the part of the Rams. Grade B+
Talk about aggressive- the 49ers entered the draft with twelve selections for their new coaching staff. The 49ers traded up once, down once, and left with ten players for the new staff to develop. Aldon Smith was the teams first pick and offers defensive coordinator Vic Fangio and company a dynamic athlete that can rush the passer. (It should be noted that Fangio was unable to develop Jason Babin a similar player to Smith selected in his first year as defensive coordinator in Houston.) In the second round the 49ers traded up to get Colin Kapernick their highest rated quarterback, and the prospect upon whom the success of this draft will rest. Defensive back Chris Culliver continued the trend of selecting athletic developmental prospects in the third round. And running back Kendall Hunter is not only a good value in round four but a nice contrast to Frank Gore.
San Francisco took no fewer than five players that will change positions in the NFL. It’s a risk but could bode well for the future of the franchise as the team was confidant enough in their coaches to take the risk. Kapernick will make or break this draft, and if he succeeds then he justifies the risk associated with the Aldon Smith selection. Still, it’s difficult to see any of these players contributing right away. This is a draft that could be much better 3 years down the road. Grade C +
James Carpenter was questioned by many as a first round selection, though Tony Pauline of this site did mention Carpenter sliding into the late part of round one in his SI.com column before the draft. Carpenter’s strength is his versatility as he is capable of starting at four positions along the line. The Seahawks expect him to be a right tackle. John Moffit is a mauler at guard and like Carpenter has some versatility and the ability to start immediately. Kris Durham is a big bodied possession receiver that could create mismatches in the red zone. At this point he doesn’t appear to be a full time player though. Linebacker KJ Wright, corenrback Richard Sherman, and Byron Maxwell, another cornerback, could all be starters in a few years.
Seattle strategy in the draft appears to be a solid one. Considering they gave up two picks for Charlie Whitehurst, factoring in a deep quarterback pool likely to be available next year, and with so many holes on the Seahawks roster, putting some pieces in place for Whitehurst or his future replacement makes sense. Still the draft wasn’t sexy and the team could have added players with more talent in many instances. Grade C