The NFC West was one of the best divisions in 2021 providing both the NFC Conference Finalists and the eventual Super Bowl winners The LA Rams. It is likely to figure strongly in the postseason in 2022 but did the gap close between any of them in the draft? The finishing order in 2021 was…
Los Angeles Rams 12-5
Arizona Cardinals 11-6
San Francisco 49ers 10-7
Seattle Seahawks 7-10
Three made the postseason and even the wooden spooners, Seattle had seven wins. In a division this strong getting the draft right is vital and here are our early thoughts…
The Cardinals ended up picking eight times, however, they gave up their first-rounder to give Kyler Murray an early present in his old Sooners teammate Marquise “Hollywood” Brown. He is coming off of his 1st 1000 yard NFL season, but he only managed 6 TDs in 16 games. They added another weapon with their first pick taking a TE, but much of their focus was on the lines where they spent five of their picks.
Colorado State TE Trey McBride (No. 55 overall)
San Diego State DE Cameron Thomas (No. 87 overall)
Cincinnati Edge Myjai Sanders (No. 100 overall)
USC RB Keaontay Ingram (No. 201 overall)
Virginia Tech OG Lecitus Smith (NoAll Posts. 215 overall)
Valdosta State DB Christian Matthew (No. 244 overall)
Penn State Edge Jesse Luketa (No. 256 overall)
Oklahoma OG Marquis Hayes (No. 257 overall)
If we include the Hollywood Brown trade in their haul then they look to have won the best NFC West draft competition. Whether it will be enough to overhaul the Rams & 49ers is another question altogether though.
Los Angeles Rams
Over the last few seasons, the Rams have used their draft capital to acquire players they need to win now and they have made a great success of this strategy. However, this can’t go on forever, can it? Probably not but currently their starting roster is pretty good and thus they were able to use their eight draft picks to add some depth and developmental projects. Kyren Wiliams looks like being a decent backup Running back and they have a bit of extra depth in the secondary with their four picks there.
Wisconsin OG Logan Bruss (No. 104 overall)
South Carolina State CB Decobie Durant (No. 142 overall)
Notre Dame RB Kyren Williams (No. 164 overall)
UCLA S Quentin Lake (No. 211 overall)
Georgia CB Derion Kendrick (No. 212 overall)
Montana State DE Daniel Hardy (No. 235 overall)
Kansas State S Russ Yeast (No. 253 overall)
Michigan State OT A.J. Arcuri (No. 261 overall)
The Draft didn’t make the Rams much better, but when you are Super Bowl Champions and have a stable of quality starters already that’s not so of an issue. The gap could close in 2022 but we still see the Rams as the team to beat in the NFC.
San Francisco 49ers
The 49ers didn’t pick till late in round two and when they did they added more depth to their already formidable defense. Despite giving away a huge haul to get Trey Lance last year they still had nine picks and spread them around pretty well adding five players on offense and four on defense. Their final pick was 2022’s “Mr Irrelevant” QB Brock Purdy who might actually end up as backup if as expected they part ways with Jimmy Garoppolo.
USC Edge Drake Jackson (No. 61 overall)
LSU RB Tyrion Davis-Price (No. 93 overall)
SMU WR Danny Gray (No. 105 overall)
UTSA OT Spencer Burford (No. 134 overall)
Toledo CB Samuel Womack (No. 172 overall)
Fordham OT Nick Zakelj (No. 187 overall)
UCF DT Kalia Davis (No. 220 overall)
Penn State CB Tariq Castro-Fields (No. 221 overall)
Iowa State QB Brock Purdy (No. 262 overall)
This draft was never going to make or break the Niners. Their 2022 success or lack of it probably depends on whether Trey Lance really is as good as they thought he was in 2021. If he steps up then they are contenders, if not then who knows we may see Mr Irrelevant on the field.
Seattle traded away their star QB and given they used the first-round pick they acquired on a top OT it looks like they are planning to roll with one of their incumbent QBs. Drew Lock came as part of the Wilson deal and looks the likely starter although we wouldn’t rule out Jacob Eason who looked promising coming out of Washington.
Otherwise, we think they did pretty well. We like Kenneth Walker III who should see the field early. He will help take the pressure off whoever starts at QB. Charles Cross looks like a long term starter and Boye Mafe could have gone first round. However our sleeper pick Tariq Wollen could be a bargain in round five. He was after all one of our intriguing prospects :).
Mississippi State OT Charles Cross (No. 9 overall)
Minnesota Edge Boye Mafe (No. 40 overall)
Michigan State RB Kenneth Walker III (No. 41 overall)
Washington State OT Abraham Lucas (No. 72 overall)
Cincinnati CB Coby Bryant (No. 109 overall)
UTSA CB Tariq Woolen (No. 153 overall)
Ohio State Edge Tyreke Smith (No. 158 overall)
Rutgers WR Bo Melton (No. 229 overall)
Lenoir Rhyne WR Dareke Young (No. 233 overall)
Whoever ends up starting at QB will benefit from the additions of Cross & Lucas, which looks like a nice pairing on the O-Line. They have added a nice bit of depth at Corner and their last two picks at WR look like good value. If they acquire either Mayfield or Garoppolo before the season starts they could be a threat, however, this draft is not enough to make up 5 wins on the Rams.
Overall we don’t see the draft itself changing the balance of power in this division, and right now we would expect the finishing order to remain pretty much the samein 2022.