NFL 

NFL Draft Grades: NFC West

Five or six years ago, the NFC West was considered the worst division in the NFL, with a Seahawks team limping into the playoffs at 7-9. Now, for the past few years, this has been widely regarded as the toughest division in the league, often with two or even three teams reaching the 10 win mark. The division has reached it’s strength through building in the draft, as it’s filled with young talent. Let’s see how this year’s class stacks up.

 

Arizona Cardinals: 11-5 in 2015, 24th Overall

Round 1 Pick 24                 D.J. Humphries                 OT          Florida

Arizona nabbed one of my favorite linemen in the draft. D.J. Humphries is a fighter, and he plays to the whistle. He’s bulked up about 30 pounds since the end of the season, which he needed to do for his own longevity and success. He’s a good technician and should immediately be Arizona’s starting Left Tackle. Carson Palmer isn’t getting any younger or faster, so the more upright you can keep him, the better. Just rewatch the playoff game if you don’t believe me. Grade: A

Round 2 Pick 58                 Markus Golden                 LB           Missouri

This pick wasn’t nearly as good of a value as the first one was. Golden was seen as the lesser of the two Missouri EDGE rushers, and lacks elite athleticism. He plays with a good motor, and plays smart, but I don’t really see him as ever being more than a third pass rusher in the NFL, not something you want to invest a 2nd round pick in. Grade: D

Round 3 Pick 86                 David Johnson                   RB           Northern Iowa

I was much happier about this selection. Johnson is one of the most versatile backs in the draft, and possesses some interesting traits. He’s tall at a little over 6’1″, and is between 220 and 230 pounds. He’s an excellent receiver out of the backfield; he torched Iowa for well over 100 yards receiving in their match up this season. I don’t think he’ll ever be a feature back in the NFL, but he can do a lot of things well, and this is a good spot and fit for him. Grade: B+

Round 4 Pick 116              Rodney Gunter                  DL           Delaware State

“Ummm. Okay? I don’t know.” This was my exact reaction to this pick being announced. Maybe it was my fault for not watching enough MEAC film this season, but I had no idea who Rodney Gunter was, or did I expect him to be a 4th round pick. However, he’s a big body for the Cardinals 3-4 scheme, and they must know something that I don’t. There were a lot of very good players still on the board here. Grade: D+

Round 5 Pick 158              Shaquille Reddick              LB           West Virginia

This pick I was much happier with. Shaq Riddick played at Gardner Webb before transferring to West Virginia, and flashed the ability that he has. He was a bit miscast in the Mountaineers weird 3-3-5 stack defense, where he played a 5 technique End. He’ll be a EDGE player in the NFL, a much better application of his length and talents. He could easily end up being a better player than Golden, and was drafted 3 rounds later. Grade: A-

Round 5 Pick 159              J.J. Nelson                           WR         UAB

This pick was another surpriser, but in a good way. The Cardinals seem to take one speed receiver per draft, so I wasn’t surprised to see that. I was surprised, but happy, to see a UAB player selected, after their program was shut down at the end of this past season. Nelson was the fastest player at the Combine, and will look to use that speed in Arizona. The thing about Nelson though, is that he’s 5’11” and 156 pounds. A slight gust can knock him off balance. Jokes aside, I like this pick quite a bit. Grade: B

Round 7 Pick 256              Gerald Christian                 TE           Louisville

Mr. Irrelevant goes to the former Florida product, who transferred to Louisville. Christian is an athletic Tight End who doesn’t possess the size to play in-line, but could be a nice Move Tight End and target for whoever is Quarterbacking the Cardinals. A nice pick for Mr. Irrelevant. I expect him to make the roster. Grade: B-

Overall Grade: B. Nothing overwhelming, but the Cardinals certainly got better in this draft. They added some pass rushers, something that’s always important when you face Russell Wilson and Colin Kaepernick twice each season. They also bolstered their protection, and gave Palmer some pieces to work with. I like this overall haul for Arizona.

 

San Francisco 49ers: 8-8 in 2015, 17th Overall

Round 1 Pick 17                 Arik Armstead                   DL           Oregon

After trading down with the Chargers, the Niners still got their guy. With the now known retirement of Justin Smith still looming for the 49ers, they knew they would need some help along the Defensive Line. Armstead give them that in a big way. And by big, I mean 6’7″ 292 pounds. Oh, and he’s 20 right now. He’s a raw prospect, but with Joe Tomsula and Eric Mangini being in charge of the defense, Armstead should have the guidance needed to develop. Grade: B

Round 2 Pick 46                 Jaquiski Tartt                      S              Samford

This was an interesting pick, as Tartt is a small school kid with some big talent. It was somewhat undecided where Tartt would go, whether in the early to mid 2nd, to as low as the 4th. A hard hitter with great closing speed, Tartt won’t be asked to start right away in San Fran, but he could develop into a very similar player to Donte Whitner, something Niner fans probably wouldn’t mind too much. Grade: B

Round 3 Pick 79                 Eli Harold                             LB           Virginia

I really liked this pick. Eli Harold was not very well liked in the Twitterverse, but in the 3rd round, even his harshest critics couldn’t complain too much. Harold is an athletic marvel. He just struggles to play his position from time to time. However, with the proper time needed to develop, he could eventually end up as a starting Outside Linebacker in San Francisco’s 3-4 alignment. Grade: A-

Round 4 Pick 117              Blake Bell                             TE           Oklahoma

Blake Bell is an intriguing prospect. I’ve written about him twice previously, and he’s a former Quarterback moved to Tight End. He’s around 6’6″ and 260 pounds, and can scoot for a bigger former signal caller. I think the 4th round might have been a little rich for me, but San Francisco does as many things on offense as anyone, and they’ll find a way to incorporate Bell into their scheme. Grade: C

Round 4 Pick 126              Mike Davis                          RB           South Carolina

I like this value a lot, as early in the process Davis was thought to maybe be a 2nd round pick, or even late 1st. However, his middling speed and lack of power for a bigger runner brought his stock down. At any rate, getting a talent like Davis in the 4th round is a great value, and he’ll contribute. I don’t know where, as they drafted Carlos Hyde last year, but Davis will stick around. Grade: B+

Round 4 Pick 132              DeAndre Smelter             WR         Georgia Tech

I love this pick. Smelter was one of my favorite players in this class, and I always have a soft spot for Triple Option Wide Receivers. Smelter is a former baseball player at Georgia Tech who decided to give football a shot. He’s a big receiver at 6’2″ and 228 pounds, and runs better than you’d expect. For such a small sample size, Smelter is already good at a few of the positional intricacies that often have to be taught, so he’s ahead of the curve, despite his torn ACL. Smelter won’t contribute this season, but next season I expect to see a lot of him. Grade: A

Round 5 Pick 165              Bradley Pinion                   P             Clemson

What can I say? It’s a punter. I don’t know if he was highly sought after, but there were good players available in the 5th that could have been taken, and I didn’t view Punter as a huge position of need for the 49ers. Grade: D

Round 6 Pick 190              Ian Silberman                    OG         Boston College

This is a player that I didn’t watch, although I watched his teammate Andy Gallik, and I was surprised to see a BC Linemen drafted before Gallik. I don’t have much to say about this pick, other than that he’ll compete to add Offensive Line depth. Grade: D

Round 7 Pick 244              Trenton Brown                 OG         Florida

One of my favorite players to watch period in the draft, the mammoth person has some potential at the next level. Trenton Brown stands at an impressive 6’8″ and 355 pounds. He’s a mountain masquerading as a man. If he can lose a little more weight, he could provide some value and even compete for a starting spot. It’s all work ethic for Brown. Grade: B

Round 7 Pick 254              Rory Anderson                  TE           South Carolina

The Niners grab an athletic Tight End at the end of the draft. Nicknamed Busta, Anderson will probably play move Tight End for San Fran, to compliment Bell playing in-line. I don’t know if he makes the roster, but he was a player that deserved to get drafted. Grade: C+

Overall Grade: C+. A surprisingly sub par draft for Trent Baalke, who may be trying to prove that it’s his team and not Jim Harbaugh’s, but this class lacks the value that the Niners normally hit on, and with Armstead, Tartt and Harold all needing some development before they can contribute right away, this may have been more of a future draft.

 

Seattle Seahawks: 12-4 in 2015, No 1st round pick (Jimmy Graham trade)

Round 2 Pick 63                 Frank Clark                          DE           Michigan

This is the epitome of a Seahawk pick. They know what they’re looking for, and they don’t care what you, or anyone else thinks about it. Frank Clark is a talented player, don’t get me wrong. He was dismissed from Michigan’s football team for domestic abuse allegations, although Seattle GM John Schneider has been adamant that they’ve done their due diligence to feel comfortable drafting Clark. This is a risky pick, but if anyone can make it work, it’s Seattle. Grade: C+

Round 3 Pick 69                 Tyler Lockett                      WR         Kansas State

Finally, a legitimate Wide Receiver for Russell Wilson to throw to. Lockett probably would have been a 2nd round pick if he wasn’t 5’9″. The ultra productive player for Kansas State simply gets open, which isn’t always a quantifiable aspect of a football player, but it’s unteachable. Lockett will likely be Seattle’s best and most productive Wide Receiver in 2015. Grade: A

Round 4 Pick 130              Terry Poole                         OL           San Diego State

Truth be told, like a couple of Seattle’s picks this year, I hadn’t heard of them before the draft. If there has been a weakness for the Seahawks these past couple years, it probably has been their Offensive Line, so this is an addition looking to boost the unit. Poole was an above average athlete for the position, so that’s no surprise. Grade: C

Round 4 Pick 134              Mark Glowinski                 OL           West Virginia

Glowinski, although not being an exceptional athlete, is a good football player, and a technician. I expect him to compete inside at Center, where Seattle lost Max Unger, their former Pro Bowler in the Jimmy Graham trade. This is a good value here. Grade: B

Round 5 Pick 170              Tye Smith                            CB           Towson

Smith is a long, athletic Corner from Towson in the FCS. Seattle always seems to pull these kids from the places that no one else is scouting, but Smith generated a bit of hype. He wasn’t targeted much this past season, as teams wanted to avoid Smith. He fits what they like to do, and this is a good spot for Seattle to nab the youngster. Grade: B-

Round 6 Pick 209              Obum Gwachum              LB           Oregon State

Okay, so get this. Gwachum is a freak athlete, going to Seattle? No way. He played his first 3 seasons at Oregon State as a Wide Receiver. He was then moved to Defensive End, where he didn’t start, but still recorded 4 sacks. I don’t know if Seattle wants the former California Triple and Long Jump champion as a Linebacker or EDGE, but either way, they’re getting one of their typical, no risk but all potential reward picks here. Grade: B

Round 6 Pick 214              Kristjan Sokoli                    DL           Buffalo

Earlier in this article I mentioned that Shaq Riddick had been miscast in West Virginia’s “Stack” defense. Well, I’m gonna say it again. The explosively athletic 300 pounder was placed at Nose Tackle in Buffalo’s defense, when he should have really either played in a different scheme, or at least Defense End. Either way, he’s a boom or bust pick without any risk. Grade: C+

Round 7 Pick 248              Ryan Smith-Murphy       S              Oregon State

Another player that I knew nothing about leading up to the draft, although I saw on Twitter that the former teammate of Obum Gwachum may be looked at as a Linebacker, as he was a big Safety in college. He could either be a clone, or replacement for Kevin Pierre-Louis, the team’s “Depth” Linebacker. I sound like a broken record, but there is no risk for most of these picks, only potential gain, as they’re not depending on these players to contribute.

Overall Grade: C+. It’s not flashy, and it’s not filled with big names, but it is filled with talent throughout, it’s just a matter of whether the talent develops under the Seahawks’ tutelage. John Schneider knows what he’s doing, and he’s made it pretty clear that they’re good at it, so I’ll let him do what he does.

 

St. Louis Rams: 6-10 in 2015, 10th Overall

Round 1 Pick 10                 Todd Gurley                       RB           Georgia

As risky as it is drafting a Runningback with a torn ACL at all, much less in the top 10, Gurley is worth it. I was very high on both Gurley and Gordon in this class, and I didn’t think that you could go wrong between the two of them. That being said, it appears that St. Louis is dedicated to doing whatever it needs to do to help Nick Foles. They give him a potential franchise Runningback here to pair with Tre Mason, and suddenly the Rams offense is potent. Gurley is a top 10 talent in this class, injury or not, so I can’t blame the Rams for nabbing him here. Grade: A-

Round 2 Pick 57                 Rob Havenstein                OT          Wisconsin

So this pick surprised me a bit. Of course, being a Badger fan, I was very happy for Big Rob to be selected this high. However, I think that this is higher than he probably should have gone. As a run blocker, his specialty, he is absolutely a 2nd round run blocker. However, I don’t think his overall package warrants taking him in the 2nd. Although down almost 60 pounds from when he came to Madison, he’s a below average athlete, and it’ll be interesting to see how he develops. This is a bit of a reach, but it’s clear what direction the Rams are moving in. Grade: C

Round 3 Pick 72                 Jamon Brown                    OL           Louisville

Again, maybe a reach. Jamon Brown likely plays Guard in the NFL, after a nice career at Tackle at Louisville. Although a reach, Brown excels at run blocking, and if you’re going to take a Runningback who’s hurt and have a bit of an unproven Quarterback, what better way to help either of them than a punishing running game. I like the concept, just not the player at the spot he was picked. Grade: C-

Round 3 Pick 89                 Sean Mannion                   QB          Oregon State

Okay, I lied. Yesterday I wrote that Ereck Flowers would get the worst grade I’d give out throughout this process. This is the worst pick in the draft. Sean Mannion is the Pac 12’s all time leading passer, and he’s got a decent arm, but he’s awful. He’s a below average athlete, completely crumbles under pressure, and regressed significantly when his talent left for the NFL. I still can’t comprehend how he was drafted at all, much less before Brett Hundley. It wouldn’t surprise me at all to see Mannion out of the league in 3 years. Unbelievable. Three minuses for this one. Grade:F—

Round 4 Pick 119              Andrew Donnal                 OT          Iowa

Okay, so another lineman for the Rams. Their Offensive Line was pretty bad, so it’s not surprising seeing them address it so thoroughly. Again, if you’re going to run the ball, might as well run it as well as you can. Donnal is likely a swing Tackle right away, but could develop into a starter down the road. I like this pick, and it’s a good value for Donnal, who was underrated. He has great hair too, by the way. Grade: B-

Round 6 Pick 201              Bud Sasser                          WR         Missouri

Think the Rams wanted to improve their offense? Sasser is a hometown product who was often lost in the spotlight playing with Dorial Green-Beckham, but he should be a nice slot receiver in the NFL. I think he has a good shot at making the team. This was a nice value for Sasser. Grade: B

Round 6 Pick 215              Cody Wichmann               OG         Fresno State

Hey look! An Offensive Lineman! I didn’t know anything about Wichmann, but he’ll provide interior depth and competition. This late in the draft, you’re building the depth of your roster, so I don’t mind a chance on a kid like this. Grade: C+

Round 7 Pick 224              Bryce Hager                        LB           Baylor

I liked this pick a lot. Hager was a gamer at Baylor, and although he isn’t a freak athletically, he’ll stick on this team as a Special Teamer before contributing at Linebacker. He’ll play Sam likely in the Rams 4-3 alignment. Hager could have easily gone earlier than this. Grade: B+

Round 7 Pick 227              Martin Ifedi                        DE           Memphis

A similar pick in thought as Michael Sam a year ago, in the off chance that Ifedi makes the team, it means that their Defensive Line will have gotten stronger. Ifedi is a nice prospect coming out of Memphis, and might have a decent shot at making an impact in the preseason and likely getting interest from another team. Grade: B

Overall Grade: B-. I can’t say that the Rams always got the best value, or the most talented player at the time that they picked, but they had a plan and they stuck to it. I expect them to be again improved this upcoming season, and maybe push for one of the Wildcard spots.

Written by 

Adams-Friendship Green Devil and Carroll University Pioneer for life. Aspiring to be great. @RieseDraft

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