Tag Archives: San Francisco 49ers

2018 NFL Draft Grades: NFC West

The NFC West fell silent for a few years after the San Francisco 49ers collapsed. It was the Seahawks division, with the exception of a few flash years from the Arizona Cardinals. But last year, the Rams emerged from the shadows and took the top spot within the division.

And even more interestingly, after a trade deadline deal that saw the Patriots ship beloved backup Jimmy Garoppolo to the Niners, San Francisco went on an absurd winning streak to close out the season and hint that the 49ers may be back.

Then there is the retooling in Seattle, that saw the team shake up the Legion of Boom. Cornerback Richard Sherman was released and he signed on with the Niners, partially in an effort to seek revenge on his old squad. With all this exciting turnover in the NFC West, how else did the teams add to the equation over draft weekend? Well the answer is below…

Arizona Cardinals: A
1.) Josh Rosen, QB, UCLA
2.) Christian Kirk, WR, Texas A&M
3.) Mason Cole, C, Michigan
4.) Chase Edmonds, RB, Fordham
6.) Chris Campbell, CB, Penn St.
7.) Korey Cunningham, OT, Cincinnati

Entering the offseason the Arizona Cardinals said they were going to be aggressive in addressing their quarterback situation. Well, they did just that. The Cards traded up to the No. 10 spot and selected Rosen. And most interestingly, they didn’t have to give up a lot to move up five spots, only handing over a third- and fifth-round choice. Rosen, is arguably the best pure passer in the draft, but questions about his character bumped the other top prospects above him. With veteran leadership like Larry Fitzgerald in house, I doubt Rosen’s character will be an issue. And speaking of the future Hall-of-Famer, he finally has another quality receiving partner in Kirk. Kirk, isn’t the biggest target, but he makes plays and, really, what more can you ask for? He is a consistent playmaker and will really benefit having the opportunity to grow with Rosen. Cole and Cunningham provide needed depeth along the line.¬† Cole, could start sooner than later. Edmonds, is a small back, but hyper productive. He should excel in a third down role.

LA Rams: C
3.) Joseph Noteboom, OT, TCU
4.) Brian Allen, C, Michigan St.
4.) John Franklin-Myers, DT, Stephen F. Austin
5.) Micah Kiser, LB, Virginia
5.) Ogbonnia Okoronkwo, OLB, Oklahoma
6.) John Kelly, RB, Tennessee
6.) Jamil Demby, OG, Maine
6.) Sebastian Joseph, DT, Rutgers
6.) Trevon Young, OLB, Louisville
7.) Travin Howard, LB, TCU
7.) Justin Lawler, DE, SMU

The Rams traded their first-round choice to the Patriots for Brandin Cooks, which left them out of the draft until the end of Day Two. When finally they got on the board they reached, to say the least, in selecting Noteboom. While he is massive, but struggles versus speed rushers. He may have to move inside. Adding Allen and Demby later on Day Three, shows how much depth the Rams wanted and needed to build along their offensive line. The line isn’t getting any younger and they need to develop some players to keep Jared Goff upright. The Rams really hit it out of the park in Round 5 with the additions of Kiser and Okoronkwo. Kiser is the ideal thumper for the Rams 3-4 defensive scheme. He should be an immediate help. Okoronkwo, should similarly help albeit on the outside. He lived in the opponent’s backfield the past two seasons at OU, raking up 17 sacks and 29.5 tackles-for-loss. He should excel under defensive coordinator Wade Phillip’s tutelage.

San Francisco 49ers: C
1.) Mike McGlinchey, OT, Notre Dame
2.) Dante Pettis, WR, Washington
3.) Fred Warner, LB, BYU
3.) Tarvarius Moore, S, Southern Miss
4.) Kentavius Street, DE, NC State
5.) DJ Reed, CB, Kansas St.
6.) Marcell Harris, S, Florida
7.) Jullian Taylor, DT, Temple
7.) Richie James, WR, Middle Tennessee

Mike McGlinchey, is a good pick. With a young, new franchise quarterback under center like Jimmy Garoppolo, you have to protect him. McGlinchey, could start on right side and eventually could play on the left side. Either way, Garoppolo now has a pair of bookend tackles protecting him. He also had a new weapon in Dante Pettis. Pettis, is a playmaker who can be a big factor in the return game as well. He is a good compliment to Pierre Garcon. With the the 22nd ranked pass defense in the league last year, the Niners clearly wanted to bolster their secondary. Moore, Reed, and Harris all have the potential to contribute. Warner, is a needed addition to the 49ers linebacking corps. He is a bit undersized, but can fly around the field and drop into coverage. A good class, but one seemingly with reaches all over the board.

Seattle Seahawks: C+
1.) Rashad Penny, RB, San Diego St.
3.) Rasheem Greene, DE, USC
4.) Will Dissly, TE, Washington
5.) Shaquem Griffin, LB, UCF
5.) Tre Flowers, S, Oklahoma St.
5.) Michael Dickson, P, Texas
5.) Jamarco Jones, OT, Ohio St.
6.) Jake Martin, DE, Temple
7.) Alex McGough, QB, FIU

I would really like to give this draft class a higher grade, but the offensive line has been in shambles the past few years and spending just a single Day Three draft pick to address it won’t get the job done. That being said Jones is a great value addition. He started 27 games at left tackle for the Buckeyes, that is consistency the Seahawks need up front. Maybe he plays on the right side in the NFL, but regardless he has starter upside. The selection of Penny in Round 1 was surprising. He is a big back who rushed for over 2,000 yards in his final college season. For a back his size, his production in the passing game is a considerable bonus. The Seahawks moved on from inside/outside defensive lineman Michael Bennett and replaced him with Greene, a near clone of Bennett. Greene, had 16 sacks over the past two seasons and could really excel in Seattle’s scheme. Griffin, a two year starter at UCF, has the ability to really excel. He has good awareness and can drop into coverage. He had an absurd 18.5 sacks and 10 interceptions over his final two seasons.

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2018 NFL Mock Draft 3.0

It’s usually said because of a bout of excitement, but this year things are lining up to have this actually be the greatest draft ever. They say everything is bigger in Texas, well, tonight’s first round in Dallas may just be the biggest opening round in NFL history.

Most of the time at this point in the draft process you can break down the Top 10 with a fare degree of comfort, but not this year. It’s widely regarded that four quarterbacks (Sam Darnold, Josh Allen, Baker Mayfield, and Josh Rosen) could all go within the first five picks.

If that is to happen, the Browns would have to trade down from the fourth overall pick. But even if Cleveland doesn’t trade down, Denver (at No. 5) and Indianapolis (at No. 6) have both announced they are willing to trade down.

So, if all these teams are willing to trade down that means teams are willing to trade up. Who are they? Buffalo already moved a lot of capital to get to No. 12, Arizona has publicly said they will be “aggressive” in their pursuit of a quarterback, and then you have Baltimore and Miami as dark horse candidates.

But there is a second issue that arises from a (probable) run on quarterbacks and that is a wealth of talented players at other positions being pushed down the board. Because of this reaction to the (probable) run on quarterbacks, teams like Green Bay are now incentivized to move up to get their skill position players.

It’s all crazy, it’s all fun. Tonight should be an all timer in NFL draft history and I can’t wait. So lets stop talking about scenarios and actually look at how things could break down. Here is the final mock draft of the 2018 NFL draft season…

1.) Cleveland Browns: Sam Darnold, QB, USC
(Rd 2: Orlando Brown, OT, Oklahoma; Jessie Bates, S, Wake Forrest)
I’m just going to come out and say it…I don’t have a lot of confidence in this pick. Not a great way to start a mock draft, but it had to be said. It’s certainly down to Darnold, Allen, and Mayfield. It’s just a matter of preference. The Browns should select Darnold, but as proven time and time again — the Browns are gonna Brown.

2.) New York Giants: Saquon Barkley, RB, Penn St.
(Rd 2: James Daniels, C, Iowa)
The only way Barkley doesn’t go here is if Darnold falls to them and even then I still have a hard time seeing the Giants select a quarterback. The team still believes in Eli Manning and adding Barkley takes a lot off of Manning’s shoulders.

3.) New York Jets: Baker Mayfield, QB, Oklahoma
Again, Mayfield could go first overall and throw this whole mock draft off, but as I see it Mayfield is the pick here. Like the Browns pick, it’s a matter of preference. Here they will be looking at Mayfield, Darnold, and Rosen.

4.) Cleveland Browns: Bradley Chubb, DE, NC State
(Rd 2: Derrick Nnadi, DT, Florida St.)
This is a matter of best player available. The Browns certainly could take calls from teams looking to trade up, but it’s hard to ignore a player who has racked up 46.5 tackles-for-loss and 20 sacks over the past two seasons.

5.) Denver Broncos: Josh Allen, QB, Wyoming
(Rd 2: Isaiah Oliver, CB, Colorado)
This is the point in the draft where we could really see our first trade of the night take place with either the Bills or Cardinals making the move. I can see the Bills making the jump, but even if Denver stays I think Allen is the pick here.

6.) Indianapolis Colts: Roquan Smith, LB, Georgia
(Rd 2: Taven Bryan, DT, Florida; Sony Michel, RB, Georgia; Christian Kirk, WR, Texas A&M)
The Colts are switching to a 4-3 defense under the new Frank Reich regime. With that they need someone who can lead their new look defense and fly sideline to sideline. Smith is that man. He ended his college career with over 130 tackles and 6.5 sacks. That is production the Colts haven’t seen in a long time.

7.) Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Minkah Fitzpatrick, S, Alabama
(Rd 2: Austin Corbett, OT/OG, Nevada)
Fitzpatrick is cursed by his versatility. A tremendous asset, but tricky when it comes to finding a role. He could slide, but for our final mock draft Fitzpatrick stays in the Top 10. Tampa finished last in passing defense last year. That’s a need that has to be addressed quickly when facing Drew Brees, Cam Newton, and Matt Ryan twice a year.

8.) Chicago Bears: Quenton Nelson, OG, Notre Dame
(Rd 2: Calvin Ridley, WR, Alabama)
Last year the Bears moved up to get their man Mitch Trubisky, now they have to protect their asset. Nelson is a 10-year starter who can take the field on Day One. With the college game becoming more and more dedicated to the spread offense, the development of offensive lineman has suffered. Nelson is a rare prospect nowadays.

9.) San Francisco 49ers: Tremaine Edmunds, LB, Virginia Tech
(Rd 2: Arden Key, DE, LSU)
The Niners selected Reuben Foster in the first round last year and due to severe off-field issues GM John Lynch has already announced that Foster could potentially be released. Edmunds not only addresses a need, but allows the Niners to wash their hands of the Foster mess.

10.) Oakland Raiders: Mike McGlinchey, OT, Notre Dame
(Rd 2: Malik Jefferson, LB, Texas)
Look crazy? That’s because it is. The draft class is very obviously thin at the tackle position and in years past teams would wait to take a tackle, but this year it looks like the opposite happens. McGlinchey, could start Day One on the right side before taking over for veteran Donald Penn on the left side in his second year.

11.) Miami Dolphins: Josh Rosen, QB, UCLA
(Rd 2: Dallas Goedert, TE, South Dakota St.)
This is a dream come true for the Dolphins. Now, a team could very well trade up to fourth overall and select Rosen there or maybe he goes third to the Jets. But for this mock draft (which doesn’t mock trades) Rosen falls into the laps of the Dolphins.

12.) Buffalo Bills: Denzel Ward, CB, Ohio St.
(Rd 2: Tyrell Crosby, OT, Oregon)
The slide stops for Ward. Don’t get me wrong, Ward is an immensely talented cornerback who is just scratching the surface of his talent, but slides happen every year. Remember fellow Buckeye Malik Hooker dropped last year? Ward lands in a great spot though and will form a formidable pairing with last year’s first-round pick Tre’Davious White.

13.) Washington Redskins: Derrius Guice, RB, LSU
(Rd 2: D.J. Chark, WR, LSU)
This isn’t the pick I would like to see happen, but something in my gut says it could happen. The Redskins have been really doing their homework on the running backs in this year’s draft with Guice getting the most attention. I’d like to see Vita Vea go here, but alas Guice is the pick.

14.) Green Bay Packers: Mike Hughes, CB, UCF
(Rd 2: Lorenzo Carter, OLB, Georgia)
Hughes comes with some baggage off the field, if the Packers feel comfortable with things, they add a much needed piece on defense. He’s a bit raw, as last year was his lone year starting, but he turned in a quality campaign with four interceptions and 11 passes broken up.

15.) Arizona Cardinals: Leighton Vander Esch, LB, Boise St.
(Rd 2: Luke Falk, QB, Washington St.)
Similar to Hughes, Vander Esch is a one year wonder and what a year it was. As a redshirt junior, Vander Esch tallied 141 tackles, four sacks, four forced fumbles, and three interceptions. The Cardinals are switching to a 4-3 defense and need a traditional linebacker to man the middle.

16.) Baltimore Ravens: Lamar Jackson, QB, Louisville
(Rd 2: Mark Andrews, TE, Oklahoma)
I have had Jackson all over the board in my mock drafts and I keep coming back to the Ravens. Joe Flacco looks to be on the back nine of his career, but with his presence it allows Jackson to sit and develop behind him. Jackson is the most intriguing prospect in this year’s draft. If he puts it together, he could be special.

17.) LA Chargers: Derwin James, S, Florida St.
(Rd 2: Harrison Phillips, DT, Stanford)
James is a wild card. He could go Top 10, he could fall to the Chargers. If he does fall, he falls into a perfect situation. Defensive coordinator Gus Bradley helped build the Seattle’s Super Bowl winning defense. If LA can bring in a Kam Chancellor-type of safety, as Derwin has been compared, nobody knows how to utilize his talents better than Bradley.

18.) Seattle Seahawks: Marcus Davenport, DE, UTSA
Davenport is a raw prospect, but offers so much potential. He lived in the backfield his last two years at UT-San Antonio, racking up 27 tackles-for-loss and 15 sacks. With Seattle having lost Michael Bennett, Sheldon Richardson, and Malik McDowell this offseason  and Cliff Avril nearing the end of his career an injection of youth is needed

19.) Dallas Cowboys: Vita Vea, DT, Washington
(Rd 2: James Washington, WR, Oklahoma St.)
I know, I know. Every mock draft says the Cowboys will take a wide receiver and if Vita Vea goes earlier than this, I promise you they will. But if Vea manages to slide this far down the draft, the Cowboys will have no choice, but to take him. Vea is a Top 10 talent, but because this draft is going to be so crazy, this has the possibility of happening.

20.) Detroit Lions: Harold Landry, DE, Boston College
(Rd 2: Isaiah Wynn, OG, Georgia)
Everything here screams Landry. The Lions need more of a pass rushing options than just Ziggy Ansah. Not to mention new defensive coordinator Paul Pasqualoni coached Landry at BC. Paired with Ansah, Landry has the ability to get back to his 2016 self when he racked up 22 tackles for loss and 16.5 sacks.

21.) Cincinnati Bengals: Will Hernandez, OG, UTEP
(Rd 2: Sam Hubbard, DE, Ohio St.)
The Bengals offensive line had been a mess for a few years, then they let veteran left tackle Andrew Whitworth walk via free agency last offseason. Needless to say things got worse. Hernandez, is an absolute road grader who can stabilize the line.

22.) Buffalo Bills: Mason Rudolph, QB, Oklahoma St.
(Rd 2: Rashad Penny, RB, San Diego St.)
If the Bills can’t make the trade up to the fifth overall pick, Rudolph becomes their man. It may be a reach, but there are few teams as desperate for a quarterback as the Bills. They did sign A.J. McCarron, but that’s not enough.

23.) New England Patriots: Rashaan Evans, LB, Alabama
(Rd 2: Rasheem Greene, DE, USC)
Evans is the versatile linebacking option the Patriots sorely missed when Dont’a Hightower went down with an injury and was lost for the season. Most importantly Evans has the speed to cover running backs and tight ends, another quality their linebacking corps has missed for a few years now.

24.) Carolina Panthers: D.J. Moore, WR, Maryland
(Rd 2: Billy Price, OG/C, Ohio St.)
Moore broke out in 2017, recording 80 catches for 1,033 yards and eight touchdowns. He followed that up with a stellar combine and the arrow has been pointing up ever since. The Panthers have had a dearth of weapons for Cam Newton to utilize and then traded away Kelvin Benjamin at the trade deadline last year. Moore will be a welcomed addition.

25.) Tennessee Titans: Josh Jackson, CB, Iowa
(Rd 2: Josey Jewell, LB, Iowa)
I’ve had this pick penciled in before, erased it, and now have come back to it. The Titans are in a tricky spot. They need an inside linebacker badly and I wouldn’t be surprised to see them move up and take one of the top four options (there is a considerable drop off in talent after that). But if Jackson does come off the board here, it would be with the intention to move him to safety.

26.) Atlanta Falcons: Da’Ron Payne, DT, Alabama
(Rd 2: Connor Williams, OT/OG, Texas)
The Falcons lost veteran Dontari Poe via free agency and now have big shoes to fix. Atlanta already has a budding playmaker in Grady Jarrett and now need to pair him with a big body to close the running lanes. Payne was built just for that.

27.) New Orleans Saints: Courtland Sutton, WR, SMU
Sutton has been rising up draft boards steadily throughout the process and understandably so. There simply aren’t a lot of receivers who have Sutton’s size, foot work, and ball skills. In back-to-back seasons Sutton went over the 1,000 yard mark and brought in a combined 22 touchdowns.

28.) Pittsburgh Steelers: Justin Reid, S, Stanford
(Rd 2: Nick Chubb, RB, Georgia)
For years now, the Steelers have been pouring high draft capital into their defense and yet they have still failed to fix the problem. At safety former-second round pick Sean Davis has failed to be consistent and Mike Mitchell was released. Reid, improved considerably each year and capped off his college career with five picks.

29.) Jacksonville Jaguars: Hayden Hurst, TE, South Carolina
(Rd 2: Ronnie Harrison, S, Alabama)
Some people have Hurst going higher, but I can’t see a team using too high a draft pick on a prospect who will be 25 years old at the start of the season. That being said, Hayden is arguably the best prospect at his position.

30.) Minnesota Vikings: Frank Ragnow, OG, Arkansas
(Rd 2: Maurice Hurst, DT, Michigan)
When veteran Joe Berger retired earlier this spring, it left a glaring hole along the teams offensive line. Ragnow, could be a Day One starter and offers versatility, having also played center for the Razorbacks.

31.) New England Patriots: Kolton Miller, OT, UCLA
(Rd 2: Ronald Jones, RB, USC)
After veteran left tackle Nate Solder left for the Giants via free agency, left tackle became the teams most pressing need. Miller has the height, length, and footwork to succeed on the edge in the NFL, but comes with some injury concerns. If Miller can stay healthy and continue to improve on a impressive 2017 campaign, Tom Brady will be happy.

32.) Philadelphia Eagles: Jaire Alexander, CB, Louisville
The Super Bowl champs had the 17th ranked pass defense last year and then lost three players at cornerback. That’s not a good combination. Alexander, has his medical concerns, but his playmaking ability is unmistakable. He has the speed and swagger to succeed on the outside in the NFL, but may start out as a nickle corner.

54.) Kansas City Chiefs: Donte Jackson, CB, LSU

NFC West: Training Camp Snapshot

At the close of the 2016 season the Seattle Seahawks were atop the division and the only surprise came from the floundering of the Arizona Cardinals at 7-8-1, who had entered the season as legitimate Super Bowl contenders.

The least surprising story of 2016 was the futility of the Los Angeles Rams and San Francisco 49ers. Both teams fired their coaches and are starting over with Sean McVay and Kyle Shanahan, respectively. Both are leading an organization for the first time, with McVay being the youngest head coach in NFL history at 31 years old.

With the Cardinals having already reported to camp, let’s take a sneak peak at the division and their best training camp battles.
* Order is in predicted standings for 2017

1.) Seattle Seahawks
The Seahawks once again boasted a top-five defense and Russell Wilson continued to lead the organization, no thanks to the offensive line. Wilson was sacked 41 times (tied for second worst in the league) and played most of the season hobbled. The line was in shambles all season, except for Justin Britt who manned the pivot admirably. The team drafted Ethan Pocic in the second round of the draft and has the versatility and talent to start at either guard or center. Eddie Lacey will look to revive his career in the Pacific Northwest, similar to Marshawn Lynch back in 2010.

On defense, cornerback will be under close scrutiny. All-Pro Richard Sherman was on the trading block, after an overly pugnacious 2016 season. DeShawn Shead, started opposite Sherman, but tore his ACL in the postseason. His return is up in the air. Safety Earl Thomas also suffered an injury, playing in only 11 games. It was the first time he failed to complete a full season in his career. Depth is a major issue for the secondary, which lead to the team spending four draft picks on this unit.

Best Camp Battle: Luke Jockel vs George Fant
Left tackle will be under close watch as Jockel and Fant battle it out to be top dog. Fant started 10 games last season, but as an undrafted former basketball player, his game still has a long way to go. Jockel, like Lacey, is looking to revive his career after four injury plagued seasons in Jacksonville after being selected as a Top 10 pick.

2.) Arizona Cardinals
The Cards are, seemingly, giving it one last swing with Carson Palmer at the helm. Injuries took out most of the team in 2016, but one bright spot was the emergence of David Johnson. He took as much off of Palmer’s shoulders as possible, rushing for over 1,200 yards and 16 touchdowns, while adding 80 receptions (second best on the team) and another 800-plus yards. Similarly to Palmer, this could be the last go for club legend Larry Fitzgerald. Fitzgerald, has transitioned well to playing the possession role more as he gets older. He posted another 100-plus catch season.

Arizona posted the second best overall defense in the league last year, however the team lost five starters during free agency. One position they addressed via free agency was inside linebacker, where the team brought back Karlos Dansby for his third stint with the team. Even at his age, he is still an asset. The front line is a strength, but lost another club legend in Calais Campbell. That leaves last year’s first-round pick Robert Nkemdiche. He under-performed last season and has a lot to prove in 2017.

Best Camp Battle: Brandon Williams vs Justin Bethel
Marcus Cooper led the team in interceptions and is now in Chicago, leaving Williams and Bethel to start opposite Patrick Peterson. Both started three games last year and neither left an impression. Williams, a third-round choice last year, has the inside track, but is still new to the position. Bethel, a special teams stud, needs to be more consistent to keep the spot after starting his career at safety.

3.) San Francisco 49ers
A lot is new in San Francisco. The team is now being led by Shanahan and fellow first-timer in GM John Lynch. Lynch, proved legitimate after wisely maneuvering the draft. He and Shanahan were smart in building their roster. They brought in familiar faces from Shanahan’s previous coaching stops, signing Brian Hoyer, Pierre Garcon, and Aldrick Robinson. The team finished the season with the second worst offense, there is only room for improvement. Jeremy Zuttah, was acquired via trade, fresh off his first Pro Bowl appearance. He adds another top talent to work with left tackle Joe Staley.

While the team finished second to last in total offense, they finished dead last in total defense. Again, there is only room to improve. Coordinator Robert Saleh is also a first timer. He’ll be switching the team from their long time 3-4 alignment to a 4-3 and got two tremendous building blocks in Solomon Thomas and Reuben Foster in Round One of the draft. Defensive leader NaVorro Bowman will also be back. The linebacker missed 12 games in 2016 thanks to a torn Achilles. Third-round draft pick Ahkello Witherspoon could compete for a starting spot at cornerback.

Best Camp Battle: Jimmie Ward vs Jaquiski Tartt
Safety will be a fun position battle. Ward, has been used at cornerback and safety over his three years in the league, while Tartt has been used as a supersub at both safety positions. Safety is Ward’s natural position, but if the corner position fails to solidify and Tartt beats out Ward, corner could be Ward’s new home.

4.) Los Angeles Rams
In five years under Jeff Fisher, the Rams only produced 31 wins. It got so bad, that star running back Todd Gurley said their offense “looked like a middle school offense out there” after a 42-14 thrashing by the Atlanta Falcons last season. Fisher is out and McVay is in. He has a lot of work to do in bringing life to the Rams’ offense. Early reports are that the players are buzzing over McVay’s new scheme, but a lot still needs to be upgraded. The addition of proven and consistent veterans like Robert Woods, Andrew Whitworth, and John Sullivan should pay off. Jared Goff, will be looked at to take the next step.

McVay was very smart to hire Wade Phillips as defensive coordinator. He’s still one of the best in the league and will transition the team to his preferred 3-4 scheme. It will be interesting to see if it pays off as all-world talent Aaron Donald has excelled as a three technique over his first three years. He’ll move to a five technique. Similarly, Robert Quinn’s transition from end to linebacker will be worth monitoring. He has not aged well. Trumaine Johnson is the No. 1 corner and excels in zone schemes, however Phillips’ defense requires more press-man coverage.

Best Camp Battle: Tyler Higbee vs Gerald Everett
Tight end is an important part in McVay’s offense. Higbee started seven games last year as a rookie, but only turned in 11 receptions for 85 yards and a single touchdown. Everett, is a rookie who plays like a supersized wide receiver. If he can translate that ability, the payoffs could be big.

2017 NFL Draft Grades: NFC West

Talk about the Wild West, I don’t think anyone could have predicted how the NFC West shaped up in 2016. Preseason division favorites the Arizona Cardinals collapsed despite running back David Johnson breaking out into a star. Head coach Bruce Arians was in and out of the hospital during the year and after the year they faced a retirement scare with Carson Palmer, who ultimately, decided to give it one more shot in 2017.

Not surprisingly the Seahawks won the division in the end, going 10-5-1, despite Russell Wilson battling injuries all season and the Niners pulled up the rear which saw coach Chip Kelly fired, as well as GM Trent Baalke. The intriguing part postseason was the hiring Kyle Shanahan as head coach and former-All Pro safety John Lynch as GM despite having no front office experience

The Rams were a sad story in their first year back in Los Angeles after a 20 year hiatus in St. Louis. Head coach John Fisher got caught up in an ugly fight in the media with LA Ram legend and NFL Hall-of-Famer Eric Dickerson, the team floundered in every way, and Fisher was eventually fired. Taking over is the spry 30-year old Sean McVay.

So how does this new look division shape up following the draft? Here’s a look…

Arizona Cardinals: B
1.) Haason Reddick, LB, Temple
2.) Budda Baker, S, Washington
3.) Chad Williams, WR, Grambling St.
4.) Dorian Johnson, OG, Pittsburgh
5.) Will Holden, OT, Vanderbilt
5b.) T.J. Logan, RB, North Carolina
6.) Rudy Ford, S, Auburn

This is a draft class that will certainly help Arizona down the stretch, most notably with the selection of Johnson and Holden. The offensive line has been underwhelming despite recent first-round investments. Johnson could become a starter as a rookie. Holden is a more developmental prospect with high upside. Reddick, is a tremendous story, walk-on turned Top 15 selection. He is the perfect defender in Bruce Arians’ defense. He can be deployed all over the field and wreak havoc. Williams and Logan, provide developmental prospects at skill positions.

Best pick: Budda Baker
Like Reddick, Baker can be lined up all over the field. He can play safety, nickle, even as a linebacker. Baker, gets dinged, because he is not the biggest prospect, but Baker is a baller with great ball skills.

LA Rams: B
2.) Gerald Everett, TE, South Alabama
3.) Cooper Kupp, WR, Eastern Washington
3b.) John Johnson, S, Boston College
4.) Josh Reynolds, WR, Texas A&M
4b.) Samson Ebukam, LB, Eastern Washington
6.) Tanzel Smart, DT, Tulane
6b.) Sam Rogers, FB, Virginia Tech
7.) Ejuan Price, OLB, Pittsburgh

This is a proven and steady draft class brought in by the new regime in LA. First time head coach Sean McVay comes to town after running the Redskins offense the past three seasons and with a roster absent of playmakers, McVay went right out and picked some up. Everett, is a natural pass catcher who can make plays, but needs to get bigger to help as a blocker. Kupp, is not a burner, but he will run the best routes and always make the catch. Reynolds, has a great size-speed combo that will allow him to make the big play. Ebukam and Smart provide depth.

Best pick: John Johnson
Johnson, is an underrated prospect, but don’t be surprised if he winds up starting sooner than later. He is versatile prospect having played both corner and safety with proven ball skills (18 PBUs, six INTs in two years) and range to make the play.

San Francisco 49ers: B+
1.) Solomon Thomas, DE, Stanford
1b.) Reuben Foster, LB, Alabama
3.) Ahkello Witherspoon, CB, Colorado
3b.) C.J. Beathard, QB, Iowa
4.) Joe Williams, RB, Utah
5.) George Kittle, TE, Iowa
5b.) Trent Taylor, WR, Louisiana Tech
6.) D.J. Jones, DT, Ole Miss
6b.) Pita Taumoepenu, LB, Utah
7.) Adrian Colbert, S, Miami

How about GM John Lynch, huh? The former-Pro Bowler went straight from TV commentator to front office executive seamlessly. Not only did he fleece the Bears, but he was able to move up and down the board effectively, picking up a second- and third-round pick for next year’s draft. Kicking things off with the trade and still getting their guys Thomas and Foster was tremendous. Round 3 was more intriguing. Witherspoon, has tremendous size and potential, but is raw having only played the game for five years or so. Beathard, has the intangibles you look for in a quarterback, but is still developing. Williams, Kittle, and Taylor provide needed depth at the skill positions. Taylor, is lightning fast capable of breaking out a big play whenever he has the football in his hands.

Best pick: Reuben Foster
The Niners were big, big fans of Foster and as his slide continued. The Niners waited till the end of Round 1, gave up very little and jumped up to stop the fall. Foster is a Top 5 talent, who sets the tone on defense. He’ll make his impact felt much sooner than later in the Bay Area.

Seattle Seahawks: C
2.) Malik McDowell, DT, Michigan St.
2b.) Ethan Pocic, C, LSU
3.) Shaquill Griffin, CB, Central Florida
3b.) Delano Hill, S, Michigan
3c.) Nazair Jones, DT, North Carolina
3d.) Amara Darboh, WR, Michigan
4.) Tedric Thompson, S, Colorado
6.) Michael Tyson, S, Cincinnati
6b.) Justin Senior, OT, Mississippi St.
7.) David Moore, WR, East Central
7b.) Christopher Carson, RB, Oklahoma St.

The Seahawks always have very unique drafts. Their never afraid to trade out of Round 1 and are never afraid to take a player who may be seen as a reach. McDowell, is another piece of the rotation in Seattle. He has the natural ability to be special, but takes too many plays off. Pete Carroll, always gets the most of his guys. Jones, in Round 3, gives them another versatile prospect who can play inside and out. Age and contracts are starting to hit the Legion of Boom, highlighted by Seattle taking four defensive backs. All this comes, of course, comes with virtually no addressing of the offensive line which was a sieve last year, allowing Russell Wilson to get smacked around for a whopping 41 sacks.

Best pick: Ethan Pocic
A versatile lineman, always a bonus in a Tom Cable coached unit, Pocic could be the pivot they desperately have needed since trading away Max Unger. Pocic, has the ability to pull and get to the second level and the football IQ to make an impact.