2010 NFL Draft Recap: NFC West

Here are quick-hit 2010 NFL Draft observations for the NFC West.

Arizona Cardinals
Nose tackle Dan Williams is a great fit for the Cards, who were fortunate he slipped to them at No. 26. The team has been trying to fill the nose tackle position for years and they may have found the player to do it in Williams, who is explosive off the line. There’s a great chance he’ll beat out Gabe Watson for the right to start in Week 1. I also really liked Arizona’s second round pick, linebacker Daryl Washington. He’ll play alongside Geno Hayes in the Cards’ 3-4 alignment and might rack up 100 tackles with his sideline-to-sideline style of play. Citadel receiver Andre Roberts is a sleeper and will help out immediately as a punt returner. Third-rounder O’Brien Schofield had a first round grade on him before tearing his ACL in the Senior Bowl. He’s a prototypical 3-4 edge-rusher and has high upside, although he may need more time to fully recover from the injury. I also love the selection of John Skelton in the fifth. He’s athletic, has a cannon for an arm and he was a gamer at Fordham. He could be a great developmental project down the road, especially if Matt Leinart and Derek Anderson don’t pan out. All in all, this was one of my favorite drafts of any team this year.

San Francisco 49ers
I loved what the Niners did with their first three picks, which is where teams usually find starters and players that can make an impact right away. Anthony Davis will compete with Adam Snyder for the starting right tackle job, while Mike Iupati will battle David Bass at the starting left guard position. To nab two potential starters with their first two picks was excellent for San Fran. I also really liked the Taylor Mays selection in the second round because it showed great value, although he has a lot to prove after a sub par senior season at USC. The good thing for the Niners is that he has a chip on his shoulder, is a great athlete and will be working close with Mike Singletary, who is an excellent motivator. I didn’t like the pick of Navorro Bowman in the third round, only because he’s too small to play inside linebacker in a 3-4 and might wind up being a career special teamer if he stays in San Fran. It was a little early to be selecting special teamers in the third round. I did really like what San Fran did in the later rounds, however, nabbing bruising runner Anthony Dixon and burner Kyle Williams in the sixth.

Seattle Seahawks
Pete Carroll’s first draft in Seattle was a successful one, as he nabbed the best offensive tackle prospect in the draft at No. 6 in Russell Okung and followed up the selection by taking a very productive safety in Earl Thomas at No. 14 (at the expense of ticking off his former USC player, Taylor Mays). Okung will be a starter from day one, but he has the unenviable task of replacing one of the best LTs to have ever played the game in Walter Jones. (No pressure, Russell.) Thomas will also start right away opposite Jordan Babineaux in the Seahawks’ secondary and will hopefully give their defense a much-needed playmaker from the safety position. Golden Tate was a great find in the second round, as he gives Seattle more explosion in both the passing and return game. Cornerback Walter Thurmond III has serious knee issues, but would have been a second round prospect otherwise, while DE E.J. Wilson is a menacing hitter despite lacking ideal burst. Kam Chancellor is a less athletic version of Mays, but he’s a decent in-the-box safety prospect. Anthony McCoy fell do to off-field issues, which include testing positive for marijuana, but Carroll knows what he can do as both a blocker and a pass-catching tight end so he’ll get the opportunity to play. This draft can’t be graded without factoring in the draft day trades of LenDale White and Leon Washington, who should form a solid 1-2 punch in Seattle’s backfield. It’s hard to argue with the decisions Carroll and his staff made over the past couple days. They filled needs, upgraded weaknesses and added at least two starters.

St. Louis Rams
I really like what the Rams did with their selection immediately after taking Sam Bradford with the first overall pick. They could have easily went with a receiver like Arrelious Benn at No. 33, but instead they decided to protect their new investment in Bradford by selecting OT Rodger Saffold, who had a first round grade but fell to the top of the second. Saffold isn’t an elite prospect, but he’s steady and will upgrade the Rams’ shoddy O-line. The team also did well by adding versatile playmaker Mardy Gilyard in the third, a blocking tight end in Michael Hoomanawanui in the fifth and a pass-catching tight end in Fendi Onobun in the sixth. Third rounder Jerome Murphy immediately adds depth to the Rams’ brutal secondary and could push for a starting cornerback job right away. Of course, this draft will inevitably be judged by whether or not Bradford develops. St. Louis had no choice but to take the Oklahoma QB, based on their need at the position. He’ll become the new face of the franchise and usher in hope to an organization that’s currently hemorrhaging.

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