The Cardinals have no QB and Larry Fitzgerald has said that he will not stay in Arizona if they cannot take the QB position seriously this season and get him someone to throw him the ball. They opted not to draft a QB with the 5th overall pick, but instead they snatched up the safest and among the most talented players in this year’s draft. LSU’s Patrick Peterson was projected by a lot of analysts to go #1 overall to the Panthers earlier in the offseason, but he fell to Ken Whisenhut at #5. Peterson will be an impact player and shut-down cornerback in this league. He has the intangibles to be as good as Darrelle Revis or Nnamdi Asomugha, but it will be up to Ray Horton (Cardinals Defensive Coordinator) to groom him and get him to realize this potential. In the second round, the Cardinals continue to ignore the available QB talent (though it was pretty well picked over by this time) to take Ryan Williams, RB from Virginia Tech. I was surprised here as Williams was not a name I was very familiar with, and with Beanie Wells, Tim Hightower and LaRod Stephens-Howling all on the roster already… I did not expect to see another RB taken. There is no concealing that Wells was a disappointment, but Hightower still has some gas in the tank and Stephens-Howling is a playmaker who they like to have touch the ball around 5 times a game. And in the third round the Cards took TE Robert Housler, an athletic pass catcher that reminds me a little bit of Tony Moeaki. Housler has very good leaping ability to go with his reliable hands and considerable speed. It still all depends on which QB the Cards get from free agency, but Housler has a chance to make an impact in his rookie season. Taking a QB with their picks would have been a mistake and if the trades didn’t work in their favor, the Cards made a solid, disciplined decision to wait on taking a QB of the future. Solid draft for the Cards.
My Grade: B
St. Louis Rams
I expected St. Louis to take a RB and WR early in this draft. Sam Bradford progressed quickly and was very close to getting his team into the playoffs in his rookie campaign. The Rams do not have a #1 caliber WR and Steven Jackson is quickly running out of gas in the tank after many seasons carrying the entire Rams offense. Unfortunately for St. Louis, Julio Jones was long gone by the 14th pick and there was no reason to reach that far up on Mark Ingram, so the Rams took Robert Quinn from UNC. Quinn is a bit of a developmental prospect, but I expected him to be off the board by this pick as his 6’4’’ 265 lb frame and the potential he showed in college shows that he could be one of the elite pass rushers in the NFL before long. Initially he will be part of a rotation with Chris Long and James Hall, but after one or two seasons, I expect Quinn to surpass both of these guys in production. In round two, the Rams took TE Lance Kendricks from Wisconsin. Kendricks is 6’3’’ and also has more than enough speed to be an impact player in the passing game. Young QB’s tend to lean on their TE in a sticky situation so hopefully for Bradford, Kendricks is able to start Week 1. In rounds 3 and 4, the Rams finally address the WR need. They took Austin Pettis and Greg Salas consecutively, but neither guy is a #1 receiver. The Rams seem to have an army of slot receivers and no one capable of getting open against the opponent’s top cornerback. I like that the Rams didn’t reach for a player that shouldn’t have been drafted yet, but I would have liked to see them get involved in some of the trades going on to try and fill some of their bigger needs.
My Grade: C+
San Francisco 49ers
San Francisco made the first eyebrow raising pick in the draft this year with the first round selection of DE Aldon Smith. Smith is an explosive pass rusher off the edge and once he adjusts to playing from a 2-point stance, he will prove to be a key part of Jim Harbaugh’s new defense. The 9ers do have questions at QB and DB, but I think they are going to re-sign Alex Smith for one more season, which allowed them to take a more developmental QB in the second round. That QB is Colin Kaepernick. Colin is a dual-threat, with the ability to take off and run as demonstrated from his “pistol” offense that he ran in Nevada. Kaepernick was one of my favorite QB prospects in this draft and was probably the only one that wasn’t selected too early by their new team. In round three, the 49ers took DB Chris Culliver from South Carolina. He is a bit of a ball-hawk and a versatile one at that. I expect Culliver to compete for time in nickel packages. Overall, the 49ers stayed true to their board and were able to do a good job addressing their biggest needs early in the draft. Very solid draft and a great start for new coach Jim Harbaugh.
My Grade: B+
Head Coach Pete Carroll tore this team down last season to rebuild it in his image. It proved to be a success as he took his team to a playoff win against the Saints despite being just 7-9 in the regular season. Russell Okung proved to be a great pick for the future and Carroll wanted to give him some support, so with his first two picks this year, he took James Carpenter (round 1) and John Moffitt (round 3). Carpenter is a VERY versatile player that can play at guard or tackle on either side of the ball. He will provide stability to the line in the event of injuries and will likely be a solid starting offensive lineman for years to come. Moffitt is a bit more of a developmental prospect, he probably will not see the field unless there are injury problems in his rookie season. Time will tell whether or not he has the tools to be a starter in this league, but he sure has some great young talent around him to develop with and learn from. This wasn’t a very sexy draft for the Seahawks, but the offensive line is crucial to sustained success in this league and soon there will be a new QB in Seattle that will need protecting.
My Grade: B-