It took me a couple days to realize I had not even looked into the drafts of our NFC West rivals. While it's important for the 49ers to improve their own team, the drafts and free agent performances of the rest of the division can play an equally important role in 2008 results. As my knowledge of many of the late round picks is not superb, I've supplemented some of my thoughts with some of the impressions of the well-coiffed one.
Picks: 1(16) - CB Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie; 2(50) - DE Calais Campbell; 3(81) - WR Early Doucet; 4(116) - DE Kenny Iwebema; 5(149) RB Timothy Hightower; 6(185) - DE Christopher Harrington ; 7(225) - OT Brandon Keith
Analysis: Considering the Cardinals defensive issues, I think they made some solid additions in DRC and Campbell. I think I'm most intrigued by Doucet in part because of the early season projections. He was projected as a fringe first rounder heading into the offseason, but as was the case with all the wide receivers, his stock plummeted. If Doucet can stay healthy, he could be a solid replacement for Bryant Johnson. And as a 3rd round pick, there is less risk than if he had gone on the first day. Mel Kiper gave them a B- in part because they didn't get somebody to complement Edgerrin James.
Picks: 1(28) - DE Lawrence Jackson; 2(38) - TE John Carlson; 4(121) - DT Red Bryant; 5(163) - FB Owen Schmitt; 6(189) - LS Tyler Schmitt; 7(233) - RB Justin Forsett; 7(235) - K Brandon Coutu
Analysis: Two things strike me right off the bat. First, as a Cal fan I'm rooting for Justin Forsett to make the team (minus any impact against the 49ers of course). Beyond that, I'm intrigued by their selection of a long snapper and a kicker late in the draft. Considering how often 6th and 7th round picks don't make the team, maybe it's worth the flier. The Seahawks are rolling out Olindo Mare at kicker, and he has definitely lost some of the proverbial zip on his fastball. If Kiper is right and Coutu proves to be this year's Mason Crosby, I'd say it's a great selection. Bryant was a guy discussed here but it seems like he underperformed in college. Considering what he was playing for, you'd like to see a better performance. If Jackson can take the step up to the next level, that'd give Seattle a pretty sweet pair of defensive ends to bookend their 4-3.
Picks: 1(2) - DE Chris Long; 2(33) - WR Donnie Avery; 3(65) - OT John Greco; 4(101) - CB Justin King; 4(128) - WR Keenan Burton; 5(157) - OG Roy Schuening; 7(228) - ILB Chris Chamberlain; 7(252) - OLB David Vobora
Analysis: I'll say right off the bat that my favorite Rams pick (aside from Mr. Irrelevant of course), is Keenan Burton. Burton struggled with injuries but made some big plays for the upstart Kentucky Wildcats and I think he could become a player in the NFL. He is only helped by getting the chance to learn from one of the best in the league. Chris Long will definitely give that defense a lift and paired with Adam Carriker, provides a nice foundation for the future. Kiper thinks Schuening could start at guard as soon as this season. If that's the case, that is certainly a nice value in the 5th round.
Looking at those three drafts, my personal opinion is that the Cardinals had the best draft, the Rams are second and closing and the Seahawks bring up the rear, although it's a pretty packed bunch. Every team certainly added some talent, so we'll see whose 2008 draft class has the biggest impact this year and into the future.