With the draft having concluded, it is high time we take stock of how well our opponents in the NFC West fared in their selections. It's nice to be the two-time division leader, but that leads to a constant looking back. I won't deny the fact that I am worried about other teams in our division catching up and overtaking the 49ers. And while I don't expect that to happen this year, we have played free agency and the draft like a fiddle this offseason, it sure seems like the three teams behind us are catching up quickly. I wouldn't be surprised if both NFC wildcards come out of the West this year.
And that's the underlying thesis of this post: All three opponents in our division did well. Quite well. The NFC West as a whole had an excellent draft.
One quick note before I continue -- since I have written about days one and two in respect to the other teams in our division, I will focus the bulk of my comments upon day three picks in order to provide fresh content for you faithful citizens of Niners Nation. I will still make holistic comments about each team's draft, though.
It's a bit of a shame that all post-draft discussion regarding the Cardinals will be about CB Tyrann Mathieu, because I think the Cardinals improved quite a bit on their O-line, which was probably the biggest area of need. OG Jonathan Cooper should be an immediate shoo-in and fourth round selection OG Earl Watford could be a nice addition. DE Alex Okafor rounds out the Cardinal's fourth round. In the fifth round, the Cardinals got a steal in RB Stepfan Taylor. That feels like pretty good value to my (albeit limited) knowledge. They took a second RB in Andre Ellington in the sixth, along with WR Ryan Swope. TE D.C. Jefferson finished off their draft in the seventh.
While the Seahawks didn't do much in the first two days (due to, of course, the Percy Harvin trade), they did have a host of picks on day three, including another fifth round steal in DT Jesse Williams. This was after their fourth round selection of WR Chris Harper. After Jesse Williams, though, the ball really started rolling. The Seahawks finished off the fifth round with CB Tharold Simon (another good value player) and TE Luke Willson. The sixth round saw the Seahawks select RB Spencer Ware; and the seventh G Ryan Seymour, OLB Ty Powell, DT Jared Smith, and T Michael Bowie. If you take the Percy Harvin trade into account, this draft isn't so bad. Discounting it, though, and the draft is a bit worse. I'm not a huge fan of their first two picks (RB Christine Michael in the second, DT Jordan Hill in the third), but I can't deny that the Seahawks found good value in the fifth round.
I think the Rams also had a great draft, even if they were a bit short on players. The two first round picks in WR Tavon Austin and ILB Alec Ogletree, as I mentioned the other day, are great fits for the Rams. So is WR Stedman Bailey, one of the Rams' third round picks (T.J. McDonald being the other). On day three, the Rams only made three selections, picking C Barrett Jones in the fourth and FS Brandon McGee and RB Zac Stacy in the fifth. I think the Barrett Jones pick was an excellent choice in the fourth round. I saw a few people arguing for his selection in the third, especially if he could put on a bit more strength.