The NFC West played a major role in 2010 draft especially in the first round holding five of the 32 first round picks (No.1, 6, 11, 14 and 17). The Seattle Seahawks and San Francisco 49ers held two first-round picks and Arizona and St. Louis held both one first-round pick.
During the first round only the 49ers made a trade to move up (13 to 11) and that was to select Rutgers offensive tackle Anthony Davis. Outside of that there was no NFC team to make a first-round trade.
With that being said here is an in-depth breakdown and analysis of the first three rounds for the NFC West St. Louis Rams, San Francisco 49ers, Seattle Seahawks and Arizona Cardinals.
First-round (No. 26 overall): Dan Williams, NT Tennessee
Examination: The Arizona Cardinals needed help on the defensive line in the biggest way so what did they do? They got their ideal nose tackle to anchor their 3-4 defense, something they lacked last season.
Some experts had Texas DE/OLB Sergio Kindle going to the Cardinals but ultimatley they went with the best player on their board who filled a major need, that being Dan Williams.
Williams, at 6-2 327 lbs is an outstanding run-blocking nose tackle that has excellent strength but lacks consistent endurance to be an NFL nose tackle.
His strong points are his brute strength, strong tackler, explosive some times at the point of attack and is able to take up a lot of area on the defensive line. His weak points are consistency, lacking in elite speed and quickness off the snap and is a hot-cold type of player so Ken Whisenhunt and the Arizona staff will have to find a way to motivate him so they get the fullest every play out of Dan Williams.
If they can get Williams to be an only hot player all the time then this pick can grade out to a A.
Second-round (No. 47 overall): Daryl Washington, LB TCU
Examination: By passing on Texas outside linebacker Sergio Kindle in the first round it was important for the Cardinals to pickup that pass-rushing linebacker in the second-round and they did just that with the selection of TCU outside linebacker Daryl Washington.
Washington was graded out as a late first-round early second-round pick and he feel to the Cardinals midway through the second-round so the Cardinals get what they wanted without forcing the issue.
The Cardinals had to move-up slightly to select Washington however with the loss of Karlos Dansby Washington was the perfect fit as the fastest linebacker in the entire draft.
Washington can come in immediately and start in the absence of Dansby and quite frankly could be in the running for rookie defensive player of the year depending on his production this upcoming season.
Arizona did have to maneuver slightly to get Daryl Washington but in the long run it’s a small price to play for an outstanding player. The Cardinals grade out with an A- for this pick.
Third-round (No. 88 overall): Andre Roberts, WR Citadel
Examination: With the trade of Anquan Boldin to the Baltimore Ravens the Cardinals needed to add depth to their wide receiving corps and they did so with the selection or Andre Roberts from Citadel.
Roberts is more a project wide receiver at this point however his skill set does translate into the pro game. He does runs crisp routes so it should be an easy transition into the NFL.
It will take time for him to become a legitimate target in Arizona with Larry Fitzgerald, Steve Breaston and Early Doucet already in the fold.
The Arizona Cardinals grade out at a B- for this pick.
Overall grade: B+
First-round (No. 6 overall) Russell Okung, OT Oklahoma State
Examination: Pete Carroll could not have asked for a better set of circumstances with his first draft pick as head coach of the Seattle Seahawks.
With the Washington Redskins and Kansas City Chiefs passing on the best offensive tackle in the draft it cleared the way for John Schneider and Pete Carroll to select Oklahoma State left tackle Russell Okung with the sixth overall pick.
Coming into the draft Carroll already had it in his mind that 13-year veteran and future Hall of Fame left tackle Walter Jones would not return next season so he knew that left tackle was by far the most important need on this football team.
Once Eric Berry’s name was called fifth overall Pete Carroll all but had his draft card ready to send in to NFL commissioner Roger Goodell with Russell Okung’s name on it.
“With the sixth pick in the 2010 NFL Draft the Seattle Seahawks select Russell Okung, offensive tackle Oklahoma State”. Seahawks fans and the entire organization had long awaited to hear that they had finally drafted the replacement for Walter Jones.
Okung, at 6-5 307 lbs is the perfect fit to replace Walter Jones at left tackle and someone who the Seahawks can plug in this season at left tackle and not have to worry about for the next 10-12 years.
His strong points are everything that you would want from an NFL left tackle. He’s got rare size and long arms that allow him to control defensive ends in anyway he chooses. He’s got excellent balance and footwork as well as great intangibles and durability which is very important for the Seahawks moving forward.
The Seahawks and Pete Carroll grade out with an A+ for their first selection in the 2010 draft.
First-round (No. 14 overall) Earl Thomas, S Texas
Examination: With the Seahawks lucking out with offensive tackle Russell Okung with their first pick in the first round lightning never strikes twice right?
After the Philadelphia Eagles traded up to the No. 13 overall pick the consensus was that they were jumping past Seattle to take Earl Thomas from Texas. However in a shocking turn of events that was not the case and instead the Eagles went with Michigan defensive end Brandon Graham.
With the Eagles passing on Thomas it cleared the way for the Seahawks to select their guy with the fourteenth overall pick, that being Texas safety Earl Thomas.
Seahawks general manager John Schneider said that Earl Thomas was the “cut off” point meaning that if Thomas was still on the board when Seattle selected again at fourteen that they would not trade down with anyone unless a team came in and extremely “wowed” them with an offer.
That didn’t happen and the Seahawks got who some consider the best defensive back in the entire draft ahead of Eric Berry.
Earl Thomas doesn’t have the prototypical NFL safety size at 5-10 208 lbs but what he lacks in size he makes up for with exceptional cover ability. Thomas is an instinctive safety with top end awareness and range and brings that type of Ed Reed and Troy Polumalu type of style to a Seahawks secondary that consistently got trashed last season.
The Seahawks ranked 30th in the NFL against the pass and with the release of Deon Grant and the addition of Earl Thomas the Seahawks have already vastly improved their secondary from a season ago. Also having a fully healthy Marcus Trufant will be huge for the Seahawks this season.
The Seahawks and Pete Carroll are batting 1.000 with the first two picks, a good sign for a head coach that took an eleven year absence from the NFL.
The Seahawks grade out with an A for the selection of Earl Thomas fourteenth overall.
Second-round (No. 60 overall) Golden Tate, WR Notre Dame
Examination: Well the Seahawks took a player from Notre Dame on offense however it turned out to be the electric Golden Tate instead of the quarterback Jimmy Clausen.
However this is actually a better pick that Clausen would have been anywhere for the Seahawks in the first three rounds of the draft simply because wide receiver was a huge need for the Seahawks on offense.
The most important thing for Pete Carroll to do in his first draft back in the NFL was to not get cute and select non-need positions and also to not just select USC players however one USC player, Taylor Mays, took it personally but that’s Mays’ problem not Carroll’s.
Carroll stood stand pat with his first three picks and made the most of them and with the selection of wide receiver Golden Tate it capped it all off.
The Seahawks, aside from needing a quarterback who could throw to the wide receivers/tight ends and an offensive line to give the quarterback time to throw the biggest need on offense was another legitimate receiving option opposite of TJ Houshmandzadeh.
With the pick of Tate the Seahawks now have that option, along with two Notre Damn players on offense. Tight end John Carlson and now wide receiver Golden Tate.
Carroll did what he needed to do to get this organization on the path to success with his first three draft selections in the 2010 draft and his final one could prove the most helpful.
The Seahawks grade out with an A for the selection of Golden Tate late in the second-round.
Overall grade: A
St. Louis Rams:
First-round (No. 1 overall) Sam Bradford, QB Oklahoma
Examination: Without a doubt this was the pick that Steve Spagnuolo and the St. Louis Rams organization had to pull the trigger on.
It’s been a common trend for the Rams organization in recent memory to pass on a quarterback in the first round (Mark Sanchez 2009, Matt Ryan 2008, Brady Quinn 2007) and instead select a defensive end or defensive tackle.
Adam Carriker (DT, 2007), Chris Long (DE, 2008) and Jason Smith (RT, 2009) really set this entire franchise back several years by passing on outstanding quarterbacks for bust defensive linemen.
So this year when it came to the first overall pick for the St. Louis Rams the question had been asked will it be Nebraska defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh or Oklahoma quarterback Sam Bradford?
More or less it was do you want to risk spending the guaranteed $12-14 million on a defensive tackle that won’t improve your team all that much or do you want to finally give your franchise a true direction and select the quarterback to get this rebuilding process truly started.
Here’s the answer.
“With the first pick in the 2010 NFL draft the St. Louis Rams select Sam Bradford, quarterback Oklahoma”.
The impossible has happened in St. Louis, the Rams finally have got their man at quarterback in the form of Sooners’ quarterback Sam Bradford.
Now what does Bradford bring to the Rams long term?
He’s got great accuracy and can make any throw in the books as well as thread the needle and throw the 40+ yard deep post. The only question is can he take the hit? At Oklahoma in his sophomore season he was never touched because of the outstanding blocking in-front of him.
Now in St. Louis not only does he not have the all-world offensive line that he had in Oklahoma (expect for last season when they did not have a great offensive line and coincidentally that’s when he got hurt) but he will also not have a the great supporting cast that he had at Oklahoma.
He’s got Donny Avery, Brandon Gibson and Steven Jackson.
However this pick will not be expected to all of a sudden turn the Rams into NFC West champions for a while but it does set the course to become NFC West champs 2-3 years down the road when the Rams have a lot more talent on their entire roster.
The Rams grade out with an A for this pick of Bradford.
Second-round (No. 33 overall) Roger Saffold, OT Indiana
Examination: With the rumors about teams trying to trade up to the first pick in the second-round the Rams decided to hold on to the pick an select Indiana offensive tackle Roger Saffold who was viewed as a late first-round pick by most.
The selection of Saffold is a solid selection but not exactly the best with Arrelious Benn still on the board however it does make sense with their first round pick Sam Bradford.
Steve Spagnuolo sent a message with the pick of Saffold saying that we are getting our franchise quarterback and protecting him before we give him receiving options or helping improve our defense, a smart decision by Spagnuolo.
Saffold gives the Rams room to maneover on the offensive line with 2009 first-round pick Jason Smith playing at right tackle last season and former first-round pick Alex Barron also being able to play guard and tackle.
Saffold could be the teams left tackle keeping Smith at right tackle and converting Barron to left or right guard with center Jason Brown already locked in at center.
Either way you look at it the Rams can’t go wrong with the selection of Saffold in the second-round because if the Rams did their homework on Bradford which they did they know he will need all the protection he can get coming into the NFL.
The Rams grade out at a B+ with this pick.
Third-round (No. 65 overall) Jerome Murphy, CB South Florida
Examination: One of the more underrated corners in the draft Jerome Murphy fills another need in the Rams secondary.
Murphy has outstanding cover skills at 6-0 194 lbs but has a tendency to get testy and undisciplined some of the time however he has outstanding ball and cover skills and if he stays disciplined he could turn into an outstanding starting corner back in the future.
The Rams grade out with a B+ for the pick of Murphy.
Overall grade: A-
San Francisco 49ers:
First-round (No. 11 overall) Anthony Davis OT Rutgers
Examination: The biggest need for the San Francisco 49ers coming into the 2010 draft was offensive line and more importantly at left tackle.
The 49ers who originally held the 13th overall pick in the draft made an aggressive and bold move to trade up to the Denver Broncos pick at No. 11 and select offensive tackle Anthony Davis filled their need at offensive tackle.
Davis at 6-5 323 lbs is an athletic blocking offensive tackle that can play at either left or right tackle in the NFL which is great for the Niners who have former first-round pick Joe Staley already at right tackle.
The 49ers can plug in Anthony Davis right away at left tackle which will go a long ways to helping their leaky offensive line and also help out both Alex Smith and Frank Gore.
The Niners grade out with an A+ for the selection of Anthony Davis.
First-round (No. 17 overall) Mike Iupati, OG Idaho
Examination: Mike Iupati was a steal for the 49ers at seventeen overall and shores up their gaping need on the offensive line along with their other first-round pick Anthony Davis.
Iupati has incredible run blocking ability and is the perfect player for Mike Singletary’s style of nasty and hard nose.
He can take over and control the defensive from a run blocking point of view but his pass blocking will require some work at the next level but considering Frank Gore runs the show in the bay area that won’t be a problem for Iupati.
The 49ers in their first two picks for the 2010 draft solidfied their holes on the offensive line and now have a complete offense down in the bay area.
The Niners grade out with an A+ for the selection of Iupati.
Second-round pick (No. 49 overall) Taylor Mays, S USC
Examination: Good news for Mays is he doesn’t have to move up the coast very far from southern California to San Francisco. However with his remarks towards Seahawks head coach and former USC head coach Pete Carroll he wanted to travel higher up I-90 to Seattle and was miffed when Carroll passed him over in the first-round for Texas safety Earl Thomas.
However Mays needs to not complain and be a man and prove Carroll wrong come September 12th in Seattle when the Seahawks host the San Francisco 49ers to open the 2010 season.
For now Taylor Mays needs to be mature and realize that just because his former college coach got a head coaching job in the NFL does not mean it’s a free ticket to a first-round pick.
Everson Griffin, Damian Williams, Kevin Thomas or Charles Brown all former USC Trojans complaining that Carroll didn’t take them.
Now to Taylor Mays and what he brings to the 49ers organization. There’s a reason Mays fell to the second-round and it’s because he’s not a play maker and he’s not the hard hitting tackler he use to be in his junior season.
Mays can help the Niners secondary but won’t be the play maker they need.
The Niners grade out with a C for the pick of Mays and Mays grades out with an F for class.
Third-round pick (No. 91 overall) Navorro Bowman, LB Penn State
Examination: Bowman’s stock fell from being a first-round linebacker down to a mid-second to third-round pick and wound up being selected on the back-end of the third-round by the 49ers.
Now on the field Bowman has first-round talent and his best trait is his great snap instinct off the ball and that could propel him into a great starting linebacker in Mike Singletary’s defense along side Patrick Willis.
The reason Bowman had a substantial fall was due to off-the-field concerns that teams were worried about but in the third-round there’s no way Singletary was about to pass up a great talent like Bowman.
The Niners grade out with a B+ for the selection of Bowman in the third round.
Overall grade: B+
Over the first two days of the 2010 NFL draft the NFC West has added 13 new players and at least eight of the 13 have a high likely hood of being immediate starters in the NFL.
Those eight would be Russell Okung (OT, Seattle), Earl Thomas (S, Seattle), Dan Williams (NT, Arizona), Daryl Washington (LB, Arizona), Sam Bradford (QB, St. Louis), Mike Iupati (OG, San Francisco), Anthony Davis (OT, San Francisco) and Taylor Mays (S, San Francisco).
Now with the NFC West becoming more competitive look for the Seattle Seahawks and San Francisco 49ers to become the top two teams in the NFC West this upcoming season.
Overall throughout the NFC West there aren’t really any teams that would be deemed losers because every team improved.
In rounds 4-7 here is how many picks each team holds (I won’t be analyzing the last three rounds).
Arizona Cardinals: 3 picks (4th round, 6th round and 7th round)
Seattle Seahawks: 6 picks (4th round (x2), 5th round (x2), 6th round and 7th round)
St. Louis Rams: 7 picks (4th round, 5th round (x2), 6th round and 7th round (x3)
San Francisco 49ers: 4 picks (6th round (x3) and 7th round)
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