ST. LOUIS RAMS
2011 Draft Class: Robert Quinn, DE (1-14); Lance Kendricks, TE (2-47); Austin Pettis, WR (3-78); Gregory Salas, WR (4-112); Jermale Hines, S (5-158); Jabara Williams, OLB (7-228); Jonathan Nelson, CB (7-229)
The Rams had a lot of impact rookies in 2010 and they have some guys in this year’s class who could also make an immediate impact. I love the pick of Robert Quinn for the Rams. Had he not been injured this past season he would have probably been a top 5 draft pick so for the Rams to get him at number 14 (with both top wide receivers off the board) was a great value. Lance Kendricks, also looks to be a tight end who could have an immediate impact for the Rams. He is a strong athletic tight end and in that offense, I really believe he could have a huge year. Pettis and Salas could help bolster an ailing receiving corps and so overall I really like what St. Louis accomplished with their draft. The only major problem is that the Rams failed to address issues on their offensive and defensive lines.
KEY ADDITIONS: Quintin Mikell, S (Eagles); Harvey Dahl, G (Falcons); Jacob Bell, G (Rams); Mike Sims-Walker, WR (Jaguars); Mark Clayton, WR (Rams); Ben Leber, LB (Vikings); Daniel Muir, DT (Colts); Justin Bannan, DT (Broncos); Al Harris, CB (Dolphins); Cadillac Williams, RB (Buccaneers); Jerious Norwood, RB (Falcons); Mark Clayton, WR (Rams)
KEY LOSSES: John Greco, G; Daniel Fells, TE; Laurent Robinson, WR
Quintin Mikell is not a name that gets a lot of attention BUT he is without a doubt one of the best safeties in the league. It is going to be really interesting to see how the great defensive mind of Steve Spagnuolo utilizes him in this Rams defense. Dahl was a great move that the Rams had to make to help improve their offensive line. I really do like the addition of Al Harris, Cadillac Williams, and Jerious Norwood to this team but the pick-up Rams fans should be excited about is Mike Sims-Walker. Sims-Walker is a good wide receiver and now with Josh McDaniels at the helm of the offense and a better quarterback than he had in Denver – don’t be shocked if Sims-Walker has a big year. It’s a contract year for Sims-Walker so he is going to be motivated to perform. I think that he should become the number one wideout in that offense. Bradford’s favorite target was Mark Clayton at the beginning of last season and so bringing him back is a definite credit for this receiving corps. Of course the loss of John Greco is a major blow to that line but that was really the one downer in the Rams free agency period.
2011 Draft Class: Patrick Peterson, CB (1-5); Ryan Williams, RB (2-38); Robert Housler, TE (3-69); Sam Acho, DE (4-103); Anthony Sherman, FB (5-136); Quan Sturdivant, ILB (6-171); David Carter, DT (6-184); Demarco Sampson, WR (7-249)
With the 5th overall pick, the Cardinals may have very well selected the best overall player in the draft (although Von Miller is on that same level). Peterson was a force to be reckoned with while he was at LSU and provided the Cardinals with potentially the best young cornerback tandem in the NFL (until the Kolb trade). They followed that up by getting the 2nd best running back in the draft in Ryan Williams. Ryan Williams is a physical runner who can also catch balls out of the backfield. The Cardinals draft was not so much about addressing needs but in most cases, they took the best possible player on the board regardless of position and in my opinion that’s how championship teams are built.
KEY ADDITIONS: Kevin Kolb, QB (Eagles); Vonnie Holliday, DE (Redskins); Richard Marshall, CB (Panthers); Jeff King, TE (Panthers); Daryn Colledge, G (Packers); Lyle Sendlein, C (Cardinals); Deuce Lutui, G (Cardinals); Nick Eason, DT (Steelers); Chester Taylor, RB (Bears)
KEY LOSSES: Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, CB; Derek Anderson, QB; Tim Hightower, RB; Steve Breaston, WR; Ben Patrick, TE; Gerald Hayes, LB
Arizona’s offseason is about Kevin Kolb. On paper it does appear that the Arizona Cardinals overspent for Kevin Kolb by giving up a 2nd round pick and former 1st round pick Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie. However if Kolb can develop into the franchise quarterback that the Cardinals believe he can be than it is well worth it. The trade already gave Larry Fitzgerald the confidence in Arizona he needed to sign a long term contract with the team so that trade has already began to pay dividends. Re-signing Lutui was key for the Cardinals and I like the signing of Todd Heap with the assumption that Arizona plans to incorporate the tight end even more into the passing game. Chester Taylor had a terrible year in Chicago last year but if he can return to Minnesota form, this is going to be a great bargain signing for the Cardinals.
Rodgers-Cromartie was a huge loss and I am curious to see who steps up into the number 2 receiving spot with the departure of Steve Breaston.
2011 Draft Class: James Carpenter, G (1-25); John Moffitt, G (3-75); K.J. Wright, OLB (4-99); Kris Durham, WR (4-107); Richard Sherman, CB (5-154); Mark LeGree, S (5-156); Byron Maxwell, CB (6-173); Lazarius Levingston, DE (7-205); Malcolm Smith, OLB (7-242)
Seattle definitely had one of the worse drafts in the NFL. Their largest need going into the draft (later solidified by the departure of Matt Hasselbeck) was quarterback which they failed to address. I believe that taking Andy Dalton at this pick would have been less of a reach than James Carpenter was. In the second round the Seahawks got a good guard in Moffitt but with greater needs in the receiving corps, quarterback position, and along the defensive line this pick did not make much sense either. While their later picks addressed some key needs in the Seahawk secondary, I have to question whether any of these players will have much of an impact. Overall, a rather unimpressive draft.
KEY ADDITIONS: Sidney Rice, WR (Vikings), Brandon Mebane, DT (Seahawks); Zach Miller, TE (Raiders); Robert Gallery, G (Raiders); Tarvaris Jackson, QB (Vikings); Alan Branch, DT (Cardinals); Leroy Hill, LB (Seahawks); Michael Robinson, RB (Seahawks)
KEY LOSSES: Stacy Andrews, OT; Chris Spencer, C; Lofa Tatupu, LB; Matt Hasselbeck, QB
I love what the Seahawks did in the offseason. I have long been a believer that Tarvaris Jackson has the talent to be a starting QB in this league. I can honestly say that if he doesn’t succeed in his current situation (with his favorite receiving target in Rice and the same offensive coordinator he has had his whole career in Bevell) then he will never succeed. The Seahawks made a splash by grabbing the 2nd best wide receiver on the free agent market and then by signing a great tight end in Zach Miller and getting Robert Gallery from Oakland to help their offensive line. The big signing of course for the Seahawks was bringing back Brandon Mebane who may have been the best defensive tackle available in free agency. The question remains though as to whether Jackson or Whitehurst can emerge as a viable starter for Seattle.
SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS
2011 Draft Class: Aldon Smith, DE (1-7); Colin Kaepernick, QB (2-36); Chris Culliver, CB (3-80); Kendall Hunter, RB (4-115); Daniel Kilgore, G (5-163); Ronald Johnson, WR (6-182); Colin Jones, S (6-190); Bruce Miller, DE (7-211); Michael Person, OT (7-239); Curtis Holcomb, CB (7-250)
Unlike many, I don’t believe Aldon Smith was a reach at 7th overall. He is a fast, physical pass-rusher that satisfies an obvious need for San Francisco and was not going to fall outside of the top 10 picks. However, I believe that San Francisco drafted the wrong Missouri player. The obvious need for San Francisco was quarterback and with every quarterback except Cam Newton still on the board, Gabbert or Locker would have made a lot more sense than Smith. However, Harbaugh found his developmental project in the second round in Kaepernick. However, considering that Mallett fell all the way to the 4th round – I though this was not the wisest of picks. I look at the entire San Francisco draft and pretty much every player they took is a project but the problem is that the 49ers need impact players now. Maybe Harbaugh is just mailing it in so he can grab Andrew Luck next season.
KEY ADDITIONS: Braylon Edwards, WR (Jets); Alex Smith, QB (49ers); Madieu Williams, S (Vikings); David Akers, K (Eagles); Donte Whitner, S (Bills); Ray McDonald, DT (49ers); Carlos Rogers, CB (Redskins); Jonathan Goodwin, C (Saints)
KEY LOSSES: Aubrayo Franklin, NT; Nate Clements, CB; Manny Lawson, LB; Eric Heitmann, C
The first big thing that the 49ers did was go out and get one of the biggest coaching names available in Stanford’s Jim Harbaugh. His brother Jon has had success in Baltimore and Jim took Stanford from nothing to being a legitimate national football power. I really like the Braylon Edwards pick-up for the 49ers because, despite his drops, Edwards is a player with “homerun” ability. Whitner is a player who made giant steps last year and is a risk worth taking in my mind. Goodwin should come in and solidify that offensive line and I really like the addition of David Akers who I believe was the best kicker available in free agency. I really did expect the 49ers to make a splash in either the quarterback or cornerback market but unfortunately, they really did not do anything to improve either position.