NFC West Draft Grades
5. Patrick Peterson, cornerback, LSU: The Cardinals got a shutdown corner in Peterson and someone who will start from Day 1.
38. Ryan Williams, running back, Virginia Tech: A bit of a surprise pick here as they just drafted Beanie Wells two years ago. Williams is good value at this spot, and could end up being the star the Cards are searching for.
69. Rob Housler, tight end, Florida Atlantic: The Cardinals haven’t had a quality pass catching tight end in forever. Housler fills that need and should find a lot of room to work with, since Fitzgerald will draw the safeties attention.
103. Sam Acho, linebacker, Texas: Really good 4th round value here, Acho wasn’t the best pass rusher of the draft, but he fills a big need and should at least be a situational guy as a rookie.
136. Anthony Sherman, fullback, UConn: Love this pick of Sherman, he is an all-around fullback, and should help the team in a number of areas.
171. Quan Sturdivant, linebacker, North Carolina: Sturdivant is a 2nd or 3rd round talent, but workout and dedication concerns made him fall. While there is some risk involved, it is well worth it in the 6th round.
184. David Carter, defensive end, UCLA: Carter was one of my late round gems so I love this pick. While Arizona is set with their starters at DE, a couple of their backups are pending free agents. Carter fills a need here and displays a lot of potential.
246. DeMarco Sampson, wide receiver, San Diego State: Arizona is still looking for WR depth and Sampson displays good size and speed making him a nice value pick late in the draft.
I love what the Cards did in the mid-rounds including addressing positions like TE and FB that often get overlooked, but my biggest concern is the offensive line. The Cardinals had one of the league’s worst offensive lines last season, and their lone decent player C Lyle Sendlein is poised to be a free agent. While I respect the value and the various other needs the Cards addressed not grabbing a single offensive lineman, is pretty bad. I really don’t have an issue with not grabbing a quarterback as I expect them to go with a veteran. Peterson and Williams should both have big time impacts, though the question will remain if Arizona would have been better off taking an offensive lineman over Williams. If Arizona resigns Sendlein and adds some offensive linemen via free agency then this draft will make more sense, but until then I think the Cardinals will have a hard time getting the most value out of Williams.
SAN FRANCISCO 49ers:
7. Aldon Smith, linebacker, Missouri: While some might think this was a reach, I think it was an absolute steal for the 49ers. I love Smith’s pass rush ability.
36. Colin Kaepernick, quarterback, Nevada: The 49ers traded up to make this pick, but they did have a ton of extra selections making it a low risk trade. Kaepernick has big time upside and I really believe he can can be a future starter.
80. Chris Culliver, cornerback, South Carolina: Slightly high for Culliver who I thought would make a better FS, but it fills a need for the 49ers.
115. Kendall Hunter, running back, Oklahoma State: Frank Gore is the starter, but he is coming off a major injury, and while Westbrook filled in admirably he isn’t a long term solution. Hunter has good upside and should be a nice weapon for San Fran.
163. Daniel Kilgore, guard, Appalachian State: Kilgore is a great value pick here. He’s a small school guy who really could succeed given his work ethic and toughness.
182. Ronald Johnson, wide receiver, USC: While Crabtree and Morgan are okay starters, the 49ers lack depth behind them.
190. Colin Jones, safety, TCU: The 49ers are looking for an upgrade at FS, and while Jones won’t start he helps in the depth area.
211. Bruce Miller, linebacker, Central Florida: Miller adds another pass rusher which is key since the 49ers have a couple free agents at this position, so depth could have been a concern.
239. Mike Person, tackle/guard, Montana State: Good value pick here. Person is a versatile small school guy, who has some potential to develop and should be a decent backup.
250. Curtis Holcomb, cornerback, Florida A&M: Holcomb can play either corner or safety and could make the team given some of their uncertainty at those spots.
The 49ers landed two of my favorite players in A. Smith and Kaepernick, and I think they will be very happy with how they turn out. I think Kaepernick will develop quicker than most believe and I could see him starting by year’s end. Smith is probably their only day one starter from this draft (which is a slight concern), but Culliver, Hunter and even Johnson should have an impact as rookies. Adding depth to their offensive line and secondary was smart as well, and that alleviates some of my concern for their lack of immediate starters.
25. James Carpenter, tackle, Alabama: This was a slight reach for Seattle, but not enough that you can really argue the point. Carpenter fits a need at tackle and improves a very weak offensive line.
75. John Moffitt, guard, Wisconsin: Moffitt is a good fit at this spot and fills another big need for Seattle.
99. K.J. Wright, linebacker, Mississippi State: This is a solid value pick for a Seattle team that has not gotten a lot of production out of their linebackers.
107. Kris Durham, wide receiver, Georgia: I thought this pick was too much of a reach. Durham did some nice things, but he seemed more like a 6th or 7th round guy.
154. Richard Sherman, defensive back, Stanford: Good value here for Sherman as he probably had the talent to go a round earlier. He should develop into a starting corner down the line.
156. Mark LeGree, safety, Appalachian State: LeGree is a great value pick here for Seattle and adds depth to their safety position.
173. Byron Maxwell, corner back, Clemson: Maxwell is a special team’s stud and he adds depth to the secondary, solid pick here.
205. Lazarius Levingston, defensive tackle, LSU: If Brandon Mebane leaves in free agency this position gets very thin fast. Levingston is a good late round value, who should grow into a role player.
242. Malcolm Smith, linebacker, USC: He was a borderline draftable player, but it fills a need and worth a shot this late.
I thought the Seahawks had an alright draft as I see 4 players from this class contributing early. Unfortunately, I don’t believe if Durham their 4th rounder will be one of them. I do like the fact that they targeted offensive line early as they have a couple of key free agents and it was a weak all-around group last year. Now with Carpenter, Moffit and Okung last season the Seahawks have turned a major weakness into a strength. Outside of that Sherman and Wright are the two others most likely to help early on, but neither will likely be a starter. It’s a solid draft class, but not what I’d call impactful.
ST. LOUIS RAMS:
14. Robert Quinn, defensive end, North Carolina: I do like Quinn and realize that Spags like having multiple ends, but DE was probably the team’s biggest strength last year. So while Quinn offered big value, Pouncey or Liuget would have filled bigger needs at guard and DT.
47. Lance Kendricks, tight end, Wisconsin: I would have loved this pick if it was Kyle Rudolph, but Kendricks simply wasn’t a 2nd rounder to me (esp. mid-2nd round). After Rudolph there were about 4-6 TE’s who were roughly equal depending on your need. While Kendricks was in that group I’m sure the Rams could have waited a round or two and found a better value.
78. Austin Pettis, wide receiver, Boise State: Some are really knocking this pick, but I do like Pettis. It might have been a moderate reach, but he offers size as well as another quality weapon to Sam Bradford. There might have been some better names on the board, but other than that I can’t knock it too much.
112. Greg Salas, wide receiver, Hawaii: I like the Rams doubling up at receiver and Salas is one of my favorite mid-round prospects. He looks to be a great possession receiver and he has nice size.
158. Jermale Hines, safety, Ohio State: Safety was a major need area for the Rams, and although they maybe should have targeted it earlier, Hines is a solid value here.
216. Mikail Baker, cornerback, Baylor: Baker increases the Rams secondary depth and he also has big upside as a return man.
228. Jabara Williams, linebacker, Stephen F. Austin: Williams was a project player who was generating some hype as a nice late round find. I think this is good value here for the Rams.
229. Jonathan Nelson, safety, Oklahoma: St. Louis needed to add a pair of safeties and they did. While neither might be an instant starter I like both players upsides.
While I like all the names the Rams went for and the stockpiling of safeties and receivers I think the Rams missed some glaring needs. While Quinn is the heir apparent to 34 year old James Hall, St. Louis ignored finding one for 34 year old DT Fred Robbins. What makes that oversight even worse is the fact that they really have nothing next to Robbins. Had the Rams taken Liuget in the first or Paea/Austin/Jenkins in the 2nd I think this draft is a lot more impressive. The Kendricks pick I thought was a big mistake and simply not worth it when there were starting DT’s, guards and safeties on the board. I’m actually okay with the Pettis and Salas picks, as they did need to add some weapons to Bradford’s arsenal. I didn’t like though how they didn’t add a single guard or running back in this draft. Stephen Jackson is starting to slow down and the Rams have nothing behind him, they could have added a 5th or 6th rounder that would have offered good value.