Keeping this train rolling with NFL Draft grades, we now turn our attention to the NFC West. This division is a competitive set of teams, all four of whom have achieved moderate success over the last decade or so. However, several teams in this division are coming off an offseason full of changes making this division even more enticing than it already has been. Seattle sent Russell Wilson out to Colorado and seemingly have embraced a full rebuild, the Rams are coming off of a Super Bowl win and added perennial All-Pro linebacker Bobby Wagner, the 49ers seem to be turning the starting QB job to last year’s number three overall pick Trey Lance, and the Cardinals have got to find a way to get out of their playoff slump with Kliff Kingsbury and Kyler Murray. It is certainly an exciting time for the NFC West and each team took vastly different approaches to April’s NFL Draft. With the draft wrapped up, it is time to reflect on how teams did and grade their overall classes.
For those who haven’t read any of my draft grades articles in past years, here is how I personally hand out grades for draft classes. I assess each pick individually based on the value of the pick and who else was on the board at the time of the selection. Then I will take the class as a whole and grade the class based on teem needs addressed, scheme fit, and overall value found in the draft. I also take into account asset movement and allocation. This basically means that for trades that were made, I assess whether the team that made the trade got the most value out of what they were giving away and if they maximized the player and value at each of the selections that were traded for.
2.55: Trey McBride/TE/Colorado State
3.87: Cameron Thomas/EDGE/San Diego State
3.100: Myjai Sanders/EDGE/Cincinnati
6.201: Keontay Ingram/RB/USC
6.215: Lecitus Smith/IOL/Virginia Tech
7.244: Christian Matthew/CB/Valdosta State
7.256: Jesse Luketa/EDGE/Penn State
7.257: Marquis Hayes/IOL/Oklahoma
This entire Cardinals draft class just confuses me. First of all, let’s address the elephant in the room: trading pick 23 for Marquise Brown was not a good decision. It was an overpay for a player that, albeit in the Baltimore Ravens offense, hasn’t produced enough to warrant giving up a first round pick. Especially looking at the other receivers that were getting first round compensation – Davante Adams, Tyreek Hill, AJ Brown, Stefon Diggs – “Hollywood” Brown is not in that same tier of player, so giving up premium capital is a questionable decision in my eyes. There’s no doubt the fit with Kyler will be exciting and fit the offense, but the price paid is a little too substantial for me.
Taking a step further into the actual draft choices made by Arizona, it felt like Steve Keim had little direction, and they were trying too hard to cater to their disgruntled QB with their early draft capital while neglecting some needs at other positions. Trey McBride is a fantastic football player and was my number one tight end in the class, but with Zach Ertz and Maxx Williams already on the roster, the draft pick didn’t make much sense to me.
Cameron Thomas and Myjai Sanders are solid players that will contribute early for this football team that has a hole to fill at pass rusher with Chandler Jones now in Las Vegas. I think getting Jesse Luketa in the seventh is one of the best value picks in this draft by any team. I had a fourth on Luketa and think his athletic ability was undervalued in this draft class compared to other prospects. Overall I like the edge players that Arizona was able to acquire. My one major gripe with this draft is the lack of a premier corner. Drafting just one secondary player in the seventh round does not improve this unit nearly as much as I felt they needed to. Adding a boundary corner seemed like a must for this team and they did not do anything to give them immediate help at that spot.
Best Pick: Cameron Thomas/EDGE/San Diego State
Head Scratcher: Marquise Brown trade
Overall Grade: D+
Los Angeles Rams
3.104: Logan Bruss/IOL/Wisconsin
4.142: Decobie Durant/CB/South Carolina State
5.164: Kyren Williams/RB/Notre Dame
6.211: Quentin Lake/S/UCLA
6.212: Derion Kendrick/CB/Georgia
7.235: Daniel Hardy/EDGE/Montana State
7.253: Russ Yeast/S/Kansas State
7.261: AJ Acuri/OT/Michigan State
“F them picks”. That’s the mantra of the Los Angeles Rams at this point, who haven’t made a first round pick since they drafted their previous QB Jared Goff in 2016. This team is built on acquiring already proven NFL stars to be the foundation and using later round picks to add depth and fill out the roster. It worked. The Rams won the Super Bowl last season after acquiring Matthew Stafford, Von Miller via trade, and Odell Beckham after he was let go by Cleveland. Overall, I don’t think the Rams are missing any of the draft picks that were sent away to gain premium players, but we still have to grade the draft class that the Rams had and look at the picks that they were unable to trade away for future Hall of Famers.
Looking at this class as a whole on paper, there is not much appeal. That is to be expected when premium high draft picks are lacking. The Rams are not ever a flashy team when it comes to the draft and this is a prime example of that. Bruss is a fine player. I thought there were better players available, but Bruss is at least a fit for this team. Decobie Durant and Kyren Williams are both players I think could see rotational playing time for this team by the end of the season, especially Williams given the injury history the Rams have at the running back position.
Derion Kendrick is by far the most intriguing name on this list. Low-risk taken in the sixth round but an incredibly high reward if his NFL play matches a lot of his collegiate tape. Kendrick had a chance to be a day two pick if it wasn’t for bad testing throughout the draft process. Overall the Rams draft wasn’t anything for me. It wasn’t very good in my eyes with very few players expecting to make an immediate impact on this roster, but the Rams don’t need them to contribute right away because of how the roster is constructed.
Best Pick: Derion Kendrick
Head Scratcher: N/A
Overall Grade: D+
San Francisco 49ers
2.61: Drake Jackson/EDGE/USC
3.93: Tyrion Davis-Price/RB/LSU
3.105: Danny Gray/WR/SMU
4.134: Spencer Burford/OT/UTSA
5.172: Samuel Womack/CB/Toledo
6.187: Nick Zakelj/OT/Fordham
6.220: Kalia Davis/IDL/Central Florida
6.221: Tariq Castro-Fields/CB/Penn State
7.262: Brock Purdy/QB/Iowa State
The 49ers have been in the headlines as of late with standout wide receiver Deebo Samuel requesting a trade out of the Bay Area. As of now, Deebo has not been traded and judging by the way San Francisco attacked this draft they were not very urgent in trying to find a potential replacement for him. The Niners drafted just one pass catcher with their nine draft selections, which to me shows they are confident he will be back in red and gold this coming NFL season.
I felt like the 49ers had to go into this draft attacking the holes on defense and getting a few pieces to help benefit the projected new starter at QB, last year’s first round pick Trey Lance. Drake Jackson is a very good football player and we all know how the 49ers love their defensive linemen. The value was decent at this spot as Jackson was a projected high to mid second round pick by most experts, so getting him at the tail end of the round was a fine selection by John Lynch and company. Then for me the draft took a turn for the worse. Tyrion Davis-Price is a player I had a late day three grade on, and even though the 49ers love their running backs, drafting one this early was not a necessity.
Danny Gray and Spencer Burford are fine players that will see spot starts and rotational playing time in their rookie season and the value was right around where those players were grading out. I felt the 49ers needed to address corner way earlier than the fifth round so the lack of an early selection in the secondary hinders this grade for me a decent amount. I think the 49ers got a few really good players in Drake Jackson and Danny Gray that will help this team early, but the rest of this draft was quite underwhelming to me.
Best Pick: Danny Gray/WR/SMU
Head Scratcher: Tyrion Davis-Price/RB/LSU
Overall Grade: C-
1.09: Charles Cross/OT/Mississippi State
2.40: Boye Mafe/EDGE/Minnesota
2.41: Kenneth Walker III/RB/Michigan State
3.72: Abraham Lucas/OT/Washington State
4.109: Coby Bryant/CB/Cincinnati
5.153: Tariq Woolen/CB/UTSA
5.158: Tyreke Smith/EDGE/Ohio State
7.229: Bo Melton/WR/Rutgers
7.233: Dareke Young/WR/Lenoir-Rhyne
A lot has been made about the Seattle Seahawks and their drafting skills in recent years, but I have got to be honest: I really like this draft haul by John Schneider and his front office. They didn’t reach for a quarterback in round one and filled massive needs on both sides of the ball up and down the draft board.
Charles Cross and Abraham Lucas very well could be the bookend starters at tackle come week one. Kenneth Walker was an intriguing selection given the team already has Chris Carson and Rashaad Penny, but both have struggled with injuries and neither are guaranteed to be on this team past this season. Walker has all the traits you want in a potentially starting RB and should come in and affect the offense early, especially on a run-heavy team like the Seahawks. Boye Mafe fits the mold of pass rushers Seattle has drafted in the past. Long, athletic, and quick, Mafe has a chance to be a massive disruptor for this team on the defensive front from the first day of camp.
Seattle followed up a strong first two days with two of my favorite corners in the fourth and fifth rounds with Cincinnati’s Coby Bryant and UTSA’s Tariq Woolen. Bryant was one of my favorite players in this draft class and his physical nature and experience will bode well in the NFL. Woolen, on the other hand, is one of the most athletic players in this draft regardless of position. He offers ideal length and first step quickness to excel at the NFL level. Bo Melton was another late round steal I really liked for this team to help round out one of the most complete draft classes by any team this cycle. If I had to knock this draft at all it was not taking a QB somewhere in this draft. It did not have to be an early selection but with Drew Lock, Geno Smith, and Jacob Eason the QBs currently on the roster, I would have liked to see them add a young rookie to push the veterans for a starting spot somewhere in the draft.
Best Pick: Coby Bryant/CB/Cincinnati
Head Scratcher: N/A
Overall Grade: A-
NFC West Division Rankings
- Seattle Seahawks (A-)
- San Francisco 49ers (C-)
- Arizona Cardinals (D+)
- Los Angeles Rams (D+)