It was just less than five years ago that the NFC West was thought to be the toughest division in football. Every team had a tough defense, and the division games were grueling matches, usually decided at the line of scrimmage. Now a days, it’s more like a Seahawks team with a lot of bark, an under achieving Cardinals team and two of the most poorly run franchises in the league in the Rams and the 49ers.
Here we will discuss the best option for these squads and what they should do with their first round pick.
San Francisco 49ers: 2nd Overall Pick
Finished 2016 with a 2-14 record
Def Yards: 32nd Off yards: 31st
Talk about a complete disaster. The San Francisco 49ers were once considered one of the most cherished franchises in the league, but last year further cemented the “bottom feeder” persona that they really are. The team’s best player is an above average running back in Carlos Hyde and a veteran left tackle in Joe Staley. They went out and signed wide receiver Pierre Garcon but at quarterback they are looking at Matt Barkley and Brian Hoyer. The “woes” don’t stop there either. Defensively they are led by two veteran linebackers Ahmad Brooks and Navorro Bowman – but as 2016 showed, that isn’t scaring anybody. . .
Automatically, people may say: “You need to build this team around a quarterback,” and if that’s the case, have your pick with these “maybe-average-at-best” options, in Deshaun Watson and Mitchel Trubisky. But just what can a rookie quarterback do with this team? Exactly. The only real option for the 49ers here is to auction off this pick to the highest bidder. There is no shame in trading back and getting more picks, when you have one of the worse rosters in the NFL. Since nobody has been able to get a clear feel on how teams feel about these quarterbacks, trading back may still ensure the Niners securing Watson or even maybe a Pat Mahomes or Brad Kaaya (Kaaya in maybe the 4th round). But aside from the quarterback position, the Niners can benefit by getting multiple picks in rounds as last as the 4th or 5th and start plugging in players in positions of need. . . which will be easy because the 49ers need everything.
Los Angeles Rams: 5th Overall Pick
Finished with a 4-12 record
Def Yards: 9th Off Yards:32nd
The draft helps bad teams like the Rams, get a good early pick to bolster areas needed. Defensively, they were in the NFL’s top ten of yards given up, but finished dead last in offensive yardage. They have a potential bust in their quarterback selection last year, have a weak offensive line and no real receiving threat. . . They most likely would’ve went on the offensive side of the ball, but unfortunately this pick is owned by the Tennessee Titans, so. . . that’s it for the Rams, who will continue to be a brutal on the offensive side of the ball.
Arizona Cardinals: 13th Overall Pick
Finished with a 7-8-1 record
Def Yards: 2nd Off Yards: 9th
This Arizona team confused just about everybody. Even I touted them as the best team in the league last year and was left looking as if I had no business talking football ever again. . . keeping that in mind, let me continue to talk about this sport of football. . . The Cardinals lost two safeties in the off-season, but at the start of 2017 they’ll have a healthy Tyrann Mathieu back there, and he is possibly the best at the position. Patrick Peterson is the lone corner on this team, so expect the Cardinals to go after Alabama’s Marlon Humphrey. BleedingGreenNation.com referred to him as “a tone setter in the secondary,” and his aggressiveness proves this to be true. The issue is, he’ll probably be scooped up by Buffalo with the tenth pick, because they just lost Stephon Gilmore to the Patriots in free agency. This leaves them with options though at corner, and the versatile Adoree’ Jackson of USC comes to mind. Not only is he a great athlete at the position (11 passes defensed and five interceptions) – his versatility as a kick returner and a wide receiver can open the door for a mad-scientist-head-coach like Bruce Arians.
The Cardinals, lacked a “spark” or “energy” last season, Jackson is the kind of electric player who can provide that to this franchise. It may be a bit of a stretch at the 13th spot, but I just believe he’s a better corner than Ohio State’s Marshon Lattimore and way better than Washington’s Sidney Jones. Jackson is a player, who loves the spotlight and his kind of attitude would fit in great with Mathieu and Peterson.
Seattle Seahawks: 26th Overall Pick
Finished with a 10-5 record
Def Yards: 5th Off Yards: 12th
The Seahawks are the one team in this division that seem to take winning seriously. Even with that being understood, their franchise quarterback Russell Wilson has a tough go the last few years when it comes to not being sacked. Some of it may be attributed to his inability at times of trying to do more than he can, but the sack numbers since 2013 to 2016 are: 44, 42, 45 and 41 — and last year he coupled that forty-one with his lowest number of touchdown passes, 21. Seattle “helped” Wilson by signing tackle Luke Joeckel to a one year deal. . . Joeckel has been more of a “joke-el” after being selected with second pick overall in the 2013 draft by the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Seattle will most likely address this offensive line issue, although this draft doesn’t really have any standouts – at least not too many ‘first-round’ standouts. The minds at Pro Football Focus ranked this unit as the worst in the league, and although my pick for them is somewhat of a gamble, the selection here is LSU guard Ethan Pocic. He can play both center and guard, but it is likely when drafted he would start out at guard. LSU’s offensive line is one of the more dominant in college football, it didn’t matter if Leonard Fournette or Derrius Guice ran the ball – the ground game was able to pick up yards in chunks. He is a patient player, who was trusted to make adjustments from the line. He finished 2016 as a First-Team All American and SEC player. Some folks have him as a late second round talent, but I have him as one of my top three offensive linemen in the draft.