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  • Mike Sando's NFC West Draft Analysis

    NFC West draft analysis
    April, 24, 2010

    By Mike Sando
    The 2010 NFL draft should stand as a watershed event for the NFC West.

    The division entered the draft with a league-high six first-round choices, and NFC West teams used those picks to fill obvious needs with highly rated players.

    That's what stood out about this draft for the division. Teams filled obvious needs with almost every pick. There was less talk about drafting the best player available regardless of position. There were exceptions, like when the Rams valued tackle Rodger Saffold enough to take him 33rd overall even though they could have justified going in another direction from a need standpoint.

    In most cases, however, perceived value aligned with need -- exactly what teams want from a draft. Some of those perceptions will prove incorrect, of course, but there's very little to complain about based on what we think we know.

    The Rams found their franchise quarterback in Sam Bradford. The Seahawks found their replacement for all-world tackle Walter Jones, the sixth player chosen in 1997, when they drafted Russell Okung with the sixth pick this year. The ***** finally addressed a lingering issue at tackle when they drafted Anthony Davis at No. 11. The Cardinals filled their primary need when nose tackle Dan Williams fell to them somewhat unexpectedly at No. 26.

    Every NFC West team emerged from this draft legitimately able to claim things went their way. Three of the four second-round choices -- Saffold (Rams), safety Taylor Mays (*****) and receiver Golden Tate (Seahawks) -- were widely considered likely first-round choices by general managers I spoke with in recent weeks.

    "I thought, overall, the NFC West killed it," Steve Muench of Scouts Inc. said.

    Best move

    The Cardinals' ability to land Williams at No. 26 without maneuvering stood out.

    Arizona was picking later in the first round than any team in the division, but the Cardinals' need at nose tackle was significant. Most mock drafts suggested Williams could go 12th to the Dolphins. The Cardinals said they had Williams rated 11th overall.

    Those factors, coupled with the growing list of other teams running 3-4 defenses, put pressure on Arizona to consider moving up for Williams as its pick approached. The team held an extra third-round choice, so the Cardinals had options. But instead of panicking, they let the draft come to them.

    Arizona has emerged from its plast three drafts with Pro Bowl cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie (2008), ascending running back Beanie Wells (2009) and now Williams despite picking in the last half of the first round each time. Those are building-block players.

    Coach Ken Whisenhunt has pushed the Cardinals toward a purer version of the 3-4 predicated on strong play from the nose tackle position. Arizona already has a Pro Bowl left end in Darnell Dockett and a strong starter at right end in Calais Campbell. Adding Williams to the mix could help the Cardinals become more consistent defensively.

    "He has the potential to be their franchise nose tackle with the potential to develop into a Vince Wilfork, Jamal Williams-type player," Muench said. "We were really high on Maurkice Pouncey, the center/guard from Florida. These guys really got after each other in the Florida-Tennessee game. You get a sense when he makes the jump in the NFL, he is definitely is going to be able to hang."

    Riskiest move

    Drafting a quarterback first overall carries great risk when that quarterback has had trouble staying healthy.

    Bradford was the smart choice for the Rams at No. 1 based on their obvious need at the position. But so many factors go into determining whether a quarterback succeeds ultimately.

    Steve Young has stressed the importance of having a strong organization with the right mix of top-notch offensive coaches. Are the Rams a strong organization right now? Do they have the right mix of top-notch offensive coaches? It's tough to answer those questions definitively in the affirmative at this point.

    Throw in the question marks surrounding Bradford -- his health, how he'll adjust to an NFL offense -- and it's clear the first overall choice was also the riskiest one.

    "There are concerns about Bradford and I get it," Muench said. "Anytime you are in an offense where you turn to the sideline to get the play, there are questions. I think he is so smart, he can make the transition to a pro-style offense and two, he can beat pressure because he's smart. He'll learn where pressure is going to come from."

    Most surprising move

    The ***** sacrificed a fourth-round pick in moving up two spots to No. 11 before selecting Davis out of Rutgers. San Francisco then took Idaho guard Mike Iupati with the 17th overall choice.

    I figured the ***** were excited about upgrading their offensive line. I figured coach Mike Singletary would have more input following Scot McCloughan's departure as general manager five weeks before the draft. I still didn't expect the ***** to be so aggressive and emphatic in their effort to beef up their offensive front.

    The ***** punctuated their first round with exclamation points.

    The picks they made might be wise ones. I was just surprised they would double up on the offensive line early while trading up to get it done.

    File it away

    The Seahawks and Cardinals invested fourth-round choices in talented defensive players coming off serious knee injuries.

    Look for cornerback Walter Thurmond (Seattle) and pass-rusher O'Brien Schofield (Arizona) to emerge as more significant contributors in 2011. Both would have been drafted much earlier if healthy.

  • #2
    Re: Mike Sando's NFC West Draft Analysis

    Our rivals blew us away in this draft.

    Comment


    • #3
      Re: Mike Sando's NFC West Draft Analysis

      Originally posted by Springfield Rams View Post
      Our rivals blew us away in this draft.
      Agreed completely. Even though I think we had a decent draft. We didn't even compare to any of our division rivals. I give:

      Seattle an - A+
      Cardinals - B+
      Whiners - B (only because they did not address the one spot they desperately need - QB)
      Rams - B-

      Rams did very well in addressing the areas we needed to fill. The downfall came in not trading back when they suggested they would and instead potentially reaching for a couple of players. Saffold being the biggest surprise and the TE's were a shocker. In the end I think we took a lot of high risk reward guys. Lets hope for Reward!

      Comment


      • #4
        Re: Mike Sando's NFC West Draft Analysis

        Who did the Rams reach for? Saffold was coming off the board two picks after 33 from what i hear and was a late first round projection to the Colts.

        The TE picks were the most questionable picks. Onubo is the type of guy you stay awake at night game planning for if he pans out. 6th round flyer by any definition, I like that risk. The other guy I think will be a solid every down guy who is a crushing blocker.

        Comment

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        • r8rh8rmike
          NFL Nation: 4 Downs--NFC West
          by r8rh8rmike
          NFL Nation: 4 Downs -- NFC West

          May, 29, 2014
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          By almost everyone’s estimation, the rough and rugged NFC West was the best division in the NFL in 2013. It had the Super Bowl champion Seattle Seahawks, two teams in the NFC Championship Game (Seattle and the San Francisco *****) and another 10-game winner in the Arizona Cardinals. The St. Louis Rams were 7-9 but likely would have had a winning season in any other division.

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          Most experts believe the Rams had one of the best drafts in the NFL, adding Auburn offensive tackle Greg Robinson and Pittsburgh defensive tackle Aaron Donald, giving St. Louis four first-round picks on what is arguably the best defensive line in football.

          The ***** had 12 draft picks, including seven in the first four rounds, and made a trade during the draft for talented Buffalo receiver Stevie Johnson.

          The Cardinals signed gigantic left tackle Jared Veldheer and blazing kick returner Ted Ginn in free agency. They also added a vicious hitter, Washington State safety Deone Bucannon, with their first draft pick.

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          Believe it or not, the best division in the NFL just got better.

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        • MauiRam
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          Catch us if you can.

          Thatís a message the Seattle Seahawks could send out to the rest of the NFC West.

          It is also something the San Francisco ***** might say to the Arizona Cardinals and the St. Louis Rams. But the Cardinals and Rams might have a statement of their own: Weíre coming for you.

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          The Cardinals have been active in free agency, signing cornerback Antonio Cromartie, offensive tackle Jared Veldheer, tight end John Carlson, receiver/kick returner Ted Ginn, running back Jonathan Dwyer and offensive lineman Ted Larsen.

          Clearly, the competition in this division keeps getting better.

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        • Nick
          NFC West: Rams set defensive tone with Long
          by Nick
          NFC West: Rams set defensive tone with Long
          By Mike Sando
          ESPN.com
          Updated: April 27, 2008

          It's no secret: The NFC West has been as soft as any division, particularly on defense. The Seattle Seahawks have been the only team with the talent or mettle to succeed in the playoffs since the 2004 season.

          In an effort to toughen up, every team in the division drafted a defensive lineman among the top 50 overall choices. Three teams did so in the first round.

          The Rams set the tone by taking Virginia's Chris Long second overall. The Seahawks drafted USC's Lawrence Jackson at No. 28. The San Francisco ***** followed suit one pick later with Clemson's Kentwan Balmer. And the Cardinals, after addressing a need at corner in the first round, added Miami's Calais Campbell in the second round.

          Best move

          The Rams needed to get younger and more active on their defensive line. Long helps on both fronts.

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          Riskiest move

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          Because they favor players with extensive experience in major college programs, the Seahawks have become predictable early in the draft.

          The Rams selected Avery even though conventional wisdom said other candidates were more worthy.

          With the Rams coming off a 3-13 season and owner Chip Rosenbloom recently calling the Rams a playoff team, coach Scott Linehan might need this decision to pan out. Isaac Bruce is gone, Torry Holt is gutting it out on a chronically sore knee and Drew Bennett's receiving totals have declined every year since 2004.

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        • Rampage39
          Breaking down the drafts in the NFC West
          by Rampage39
          Sean McCormick and Doug Farrar / FootballOutsiders.com
          Posted: 5 hours ago

          http://msn.foxsports.com/nfl/story/5590920

          The Rams draft is a good example of a team drafting with an eye towards, both its current roster construction and its offensive and defensive systems rather than simply grabbing the top rated player each time out. As a result, their draft does not grade out well on the draft boards, even though the players taken may well be effective in their roles. Only one of the Rams' ten selections graded out as a steal on a majority of the boards, and four of them were universally graded as major reaches. Tye Hill does not have the size of Jimmy Williams or Jason Allen, but he has none of the red flags that accompany those two players. Moreover, he has the natural size and skill set to contribute immediately as a nickel back, thus addressing a need. It's possible that in three years the team would be better off with a bigger corner on the outside, or someone with the skill set to match up with Vernon Davis, but in the short term Hill figures to see the field a lot in nickel and dime packages.

          The Rams decision to repeatedly attack the tight end position was a direct result of a change in offensive philosophy. Mike Martz did not utilize the position much, but the tight end is a major part of Scott Linehan's offense, so the team felt it was necessary to radically upgrade the unit's playmaking ability. Klopfenstein and Byrd are not the all-around prospects that Leonard Pope is, but each is a superior short-area receiver. Jermaine Wiggins caught 80 balls in the Linehan offense two years ago, and the tight ends St. Louis ultimately chose fit that profile. It's entirely understandable that teams target players to fit their systems, but in order for the strategy to pay off long-term, you need to have coaching stability; otherwise, a new coach with a new system will come in and find a roster that is less talented than it could be, and the process of rebuilding will take longer.

          According to the draft board, the Rams did a better job of attaining value on the second day of the draft than they did on the first. Dominique Byrd and Victor Adeyanju were both considered major steals by at least two draft boards, and Tim McGarigle and Mark Setterstrom were considered good value as well. At a point in the draft when many teams are taking players who grade out as unrestricted free agents, the Rams were signing guys who were considered draftable. Look for both players to make the final roster or to end up on the team's practice squad.

          Recent free agent moves

          On April 30, St. Louis traded TE Brandon Manumaleuna to the Chargers for a fourth-round pick, using that selection to draft Victor Adeyanju.

          Remaining team needs

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          -05-10-2006, 05:40 PM
        • MauiRam
          Rams best positioned to dominate in the NFC West ..
          by MauiRam
          NFC West dominant team 2014-16
          July, 19, 2011 Jul 19 1:00PM By Mike Sando

          No team dominated the NFC West in 2010, but the St. Louis Rams are best positioned to control the division down the road.

          They've got the franchise quarterback in Sam Bradford, and that separates them from the other teams in the division, at least for now. The San Francisco ***** might have the answer in rookie second-round choice Colin Kaepernick, but it's too early to say. The Arizona Cardinals and Seattle Seahawks can improve their chances by addressing the position during free agency this offseason or in the 2012 draft.

          The Rams have no such worries. Bradford showed them plenty last season as rookie, particularly with the way he commanded the offense and kept his poise. The stats were there for stretches -- 11 touchdowns against one pick over a six-game stretch in the middle of the season -- and the numbers should only improve. If all goes as planned, Bradford will be hitting full stride by the 2014 season, and probably before then.

          St. Louis already has the most consistent defense in the division. Defensive end Chris Long and middle linebacker James Laurinaitis give coach Steve Spagnuolo young building blocks. Defensive end Robert Quinn, drafted 14th overall this year, should become one as well.

          The Rams have more building to do, of course. They'll need to improve at receiver and find Steven Jackson's successor at running back. They must continue replenishing their defensive line while getting help for Laurinaitis at linebacker.

          As much or more than other teams in the division, though, the Rams have shown an ability get things right in the draft. Long, Bradford, Laurinaitis and left tackle Rodger Saffold give St. Louis a strong core to build around. Right tackle Jason Smith hasn't been a big hit after being the No. 2 overall pick in 2009, but he's not a bust, either. Smith and Saffold should give the Rams bookend tackles for years to come.

          Thanks to Bradford and billionaire owner Stan Kroenke, the Rams have the strongest foundation in the NFC West. That doesn't guarantee divisional dominance for the time period in question, but it certainly gives the Rams a head start.
          -07-19-2011, 12:51 PM
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