NFL Draft Grades: NFC West
St. Louis Rams: B+
The Rams could very well get an A for this draft, but those types of grades are tough to give out. The picks of Greg Robinson and Aaron Donald are fantastic first round picks and immediately upgrade the roster. Lamarcus Joyner in the second round is a solid value pick for the Rams, and grabbing Tre Mason in the third is exactly where a player of his skill-set should be taken. The pick the won’t get a lot of attention, but could potentially be a major steal down the line is EJ Gaines in the sixth round. Gaines is a corner that could be valued a few rounds higher, so the Rams getting him in the sixth is a major steal. The Rams cleaned up in the second round, nabbing Mitchell Van Dyk, CB Bryant, Michael Sam, and Demetrius Rhaney. The most notable pick of the three is Michael Sam, who as we all know, is the first openly gay player to be drafted into the NFL. However, unless he proves to have some special teams value, he will not make the Rams roster.
Arizona Cardinals: B+
Another very solid draft in the NFC West with the Arizona Cardinals as they made some very solid selections. Favorite pick of the draft for the Cardinals? John Brown from Pittsburgh State. Brown is a physical specimen who possesses good size and speed. A bit unheralded and went under the radar, Brown could wind up being a steal down the road. As for the selection of Deone Buchannon, he may have gone a little higher than his value, but he does possesses the ability to be a solid pick. The surprise for the Cardinals is the fact that they didn’t draft a quarterback earlier with Carson Palmer aging, but they selected project quarterback Logan Thomas in the fourth round, giving him the ability to sit behind Palmer for a few seasons to build off his tools. Troy Niklaus is another high-ceiling player that could pay huge dividends in a few seasons. His immediate impact should be taken with a grain of salt, as he has to work on his overall game, but the upside is there for the taking.
San Francisco 49ers: A
Yes, the theme of this division is solid drafts. The Niners were in a position to do essentially whatever they wanted with their picks to build even more depth on a talented roster. The selection of Marcus Martin in the second give them one of the best centers in the draft, and an immediate starter. The selection of Jimmie Ward gives the Niners a nice complementary safety to Eric Reid, their pick from a year ago. Brandon Thomas was an excellent pick in the third and they brought in yet another runningback with their second round selection of Carlos Hyde. Two other very solid picks for the Niners was Bruce Ellington out of South Carolina and Aaron Lynch from South Florida. These are the types of players they can stash away for a while and bring along at their pace.
Seattle Seahawks: B
The Seahawks made a smart move trading back out of the first round so the Minnesota Vikings could select Teddy Bridgewater, but this wasn’t the draft many had expected. Justin Britt in the second round was an enormous reach, considering most had him pegged as a late round pick. However, the selections of Paul Richardson, Cassius Marsh, Kevin Norwood and Kevin Pierre-Louis were all high-value and high-ceiling picks for a team that just won the Super Bowl.