One question for every NFC West team before the NFL Draft
The NFC West could be the most exciting division in football this season.
The Rams will again be title contenders. Seattle just paid Russell Wilson big money, but can he deliver on the expectations that come with those dollars? The 49ers are finally going to be healthy, and the Cardinals have the look of a Big 12 team thanks to new coach Kliff Kingsbury.
How will each of these teams attack the upcoming NFL Draft? With the first round just two days away, let’s look at one burning question facing each of these teams.
Arizona Cardinals: Is Murray really the pick at No. 1?
The consensus among the NFL community was that Oklahoma quarterback Kyler Murray was the foregone conclusion to be picked by the Cardinals atop the draft. That was until reports late last week suggested that wasn’t the case, at all — go figure, right?
But, would drafting Murray even be the answer? Remember, there were plenty of people that said Murray played his way into the first round in December. In other words, he wasn’t even valued that high up to that point. This whole idea of the supremely gifted, but far-from-prototypical quarterback being selected first overall seems to be as much hype as it has merit as it stands right now.
So, if not Murray, then who? Do you take Ohio State pass rusher Nick Bosa? Or do you trade down? The bottom line here is that if Arizona is going to try to find a QB1 for the second straight year in the top 10, then it has to get it right. Perhaps Murray is that guy. With new coach Kliff Kingsbury, he very well could be the right guy at the right time. But, so was Josh Rosen a year ago.
Los Angeles Rams: Will offensive line be the key to getting back to the Super Bowl?
Heading into 2019, the Rams are stacked (again) after filling many of their needs in free agency. The loss of guard Roger Saffold — who signed with the Titans — hurts, though. Saffold was one of the keys to the team’s dominant rushing attack behind Todd Gurley and C.J. Anderson. And the play action pass is a staple of the McVay offense.
Guard is never a sexy pick, but ask Indy if it regrets taking Quinton Nelson in the top 10 last year. Thus, even with L.A. picking No. 31, a top prospect at the position is likely to still be on the board. Center remains an option, too, with the team having parted ways with John Sullivan. N.C. State’s Garrett Bradbury played center for the Wolfpack last year, but could potentially fill either of those voids on the Rams’ line.
Fortifying the inside of your line won’t excite too many fans, but this ride doesn’t need any jumper cables to get back to the finish line. A couple of replacement parts will do the trick and could have the Rams right back in the mix come January.
San Francisco 49ers: Finally healthy, can they draft the best player available and make the playoffs?
The 49ers have put the pieces in place for a postseason run. They have a quarterback, Marquise Goodwin is a solid starter at wide receiver, and Jordan Matthews is a fine WR3. Tight end George Kittle remains the team’s most intimidating pass-catching target. Does general manager John Lynch think his team has enough juice to draft the top player on their board, regardless of need?
Regardless, the question is moot at pick No. 2, where no pass catcher will be worthy of the selection. The question becomes more intriguing, though at the top of the second round, where multiple quality receivers will be available. But, with running backs Jerick McKinnon and Tevin Coleman playing a large roll in the passing game, does that pick need to be a receiver, especially if a first-round prospect at another position falls?
Receivers such as Oklahoma’s Marquise Brown and Arizona State’s N’Keal Harry could be available, but another position of need is corner. If a prospect such as LSU’s Greedy Williams is still on the board, how much does Lynch still value receiver as the team’s top need?
Seattle Seahawks: Does WR rise to the top of the to-do list?
Speaking of teams that need a receiver. Check out any mock draft, and you’re likely to find a defensive tackle or edge rusher mocked here in the first round. And that’s ok. They could use help in these spots, but could also go in a different route to address the defensive line. The team could turn to free agent Ndamukong Suh, for example. Thankfully, defensive talent will still be available after the first round.
A position of need not discussed as much is wide receiver. As it stands right now, the Seahawks do not have a healthy Doug Baldwin. Tyler Locket is dynamic but is not an ideal red zone threat at 5-foot-10. David Moore has flashed at times. It’s a solid group, but with no Pro Bowl-level player. Seattle has won in the past without a WR1, but that was with one of the best defenses in recent history, a luxury not afforded any longer.
Frankly, Seattle could have afforded to open the offense much more than it did in its playoff loss to Dallas. I just wonder what will happen if the top WR on the board is sitting there at No. 21 overall. Though, I do like the idea of them bolstering the defensive front, too.