With the 2014 NFL Draft now in the books, it is a great time to take a look into each NFC West teams' draft relative to each other, and the implications for the 2014 season. We will start with the Seahawks.
The Seahawks in my opinion had a so-so draft. I really liked the pick up of Paul Richardson, but his immediate impact should be minimal given the Seahawks overall draft. Most of their other picks are not likely to see the field given the insane amount of depths that the team has at all positions. However, there is no question that despite picking last, they got some great values to extend their Super Bowl window past the usual 3-5 years. I also like the Justin Britt pick, as it should help stabilize what was an inconsistent offensive line throughout the year. Their overall draft strategy usually involves selecting people they believe they can coach up over time to contribute down the line, a theme they followed this year with most of their picks. So far, it has worked well for them. This type of consistency is required to keep pace in a division that includes 4 potential Super Bowl contenders.
The main competitor to Seattle is still the 49ers, who are hoping next year's draft class can help contribute in big ways. However, the current draft class is stuck in a similar position as the Seahawks because they have so much depth it is unlikely that there is a significant impact. I do believe the Carlos Hyde pick will affect Frank Gore's fantasy potential, as the teams begins to phase him out in the last year of his contract. Jimmie Ward has the potential to more than replace Carlos Rodgers, but those are big shoes to fill as a rookie. Bruce Ellington is a great developmental pick. But with a deep receiving corps, he is unlikely to make an impact. If the 49ers choose Stevie Johnson as a replacement for Michael Crabtree, that could be the biggest mistake made by the team in the draft. People should not believe that Johnson can replace Crabtree's consistency or chemistry with Colin Kaepernick. Outside of that, most of these players wont even see the field, and have the potential to be cut. It would have been prudent to simply forgo some picks this year in lieu of better picks in next year's draft.
The Cardinals had my least favorite draft in the NFC West this year. Deone Bucannon was my favorite safety only because I thought he would be a great value in the 2nd or 3rd round. Drafting him in the first cost the Cardinals opportunities on better players such as Bradley Roby, or even Derek Carr. They also could have added more pass rushing depth in order take some pressure on an up-and-coming secondary. That being said, the Cardinals did nothing to jeopardize their future, and should remain extremely competitive this coming season. However, I don't believe Carson Palmer has the ability to win a Super Bowl. And unless he has a Kurt Warner type revolution, that is unlikely to change.
The Rams had my favorite draft in the NFC West. Drafting Greg Robinson will only serve to improve both Sam Bradford's and Zac Stacy's production as he is physical enough to dominate in both pass blocking and run blocking. In fact, I expect to see him take over at their left tackle position early on when Jake Long inevitably gets hurt. I also thought the Aaron Donald pick made the Rams defensive line the best in the NFL. There are now 4 players on the line who can get to the quarterback and play the run, making it incredibly difficult to move the ball. I also believe they made some value upgrades in their secondary with Lamarcus Joyner and E.J. Gaines. Overall, the Rams took some big steps forward in competing with the 49ers and Seahawks. That being said, they lack the explosion on offense to truly make a deep run at the playoffs.