Although it was unconventional, the 2020 NFL Draft has officially come and gone. As the majority of the league improved, it has quickly become apparent that the NFC West will be fierce from start to finish in 2020.
As the Los Angeles Rams, Seattle Seahawks, Arizona Cardinals and defending NFC Champion San Francisco 49ers continue to gear up for the upcoming season, it couldn’t be more clear that all four teams will not only compete at a high level but will all seriously attempt to reach the postseason in 2020-21. Even so, there are still some clear frontrunners to ultimately come away with the NFC West crown come next season.
4. Los Angeles Rams
Yes, it is true that the Los Angeles Rams are just two seasons away from reaching the Super Bowl en route to being tabbed as NFC Champions. However, it is absolutely also no secret that life comes at you fast atop the professional ranks of the NFL. Now, with the 2020-21 campaign looming, the Rams are perhaps the worst team in the entire NFC West division.
The Rams most notably elected to part ways with Pro Bowl running back Todd Gurley this offseason in addition to trading away veteran wide receiver Brandin Cooks. With quarterback Jared Goff left with minimal weapons on the offensive side of the football, it is pretty clear that head coach Sean McVay will need to rely heavily on his defense and standout defensive tackle Aaron Donald this time around.
It also doesn’t help that the Rams did not possess a first round NFL Draft pick this year.
3. Seattle Seahawks
This one is pretty simple. Despite the Seattle Seahawks continued success over the years, the team simply does not have enough around perennial Pro Browl quarterback Russell Wilson at this point in the offseason. With Seattle seemingly letting a slew of talented players walk throughout this offseason without replacing many of them, one can expect the typically dangerous Seahawks to have a bit of a down season in 2020-21. That will come partly due to the fact that the NFC West is going to be much better this season as all four teams will be more than competitive throughout the year, which will ultimately prove costly for Seattle.
Wilson can’t do it all by himself on offense while the Seahawks decided to go with two defensive players with the team’s first two NFL Draft picks in 2020. A few wide receivers here and there and an uncertain rushing attack just won’t get it done in the Pacific Northwest next season.
2. Arizona Cardinals
Easily the most improved team in the NFC West division as a result of this offseason, the Arizona Cardinals are now no doubt a legitimate contender heading into 2020-21. Most notably, the Cardinals managed to provide soon-to-be second-year quarteback Kyler Murray with a dynamic wide out in former Houston Texans pass catcher DeAndre Hopkins, who was acquired by Arizona via trade earlier this offseason. Not only that, though, but the Cardinals now have Murray and Hopkins in addition to legendary wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald and an up-and-coming wide out in Christian Kirk to lead the way on offense.
Continuing the team’s highly succesful offseason under second-year head coach Kliff Kingsbury, the Cardinals also addressed the team’s defensive needs en route to drafting former Clemson Tigers standout Isaiah Simmons at No. 8 overall last month.
1. San Francisco 49ers
Despite the fact that this division has gotten a whole lot better in a hurry, it will still be incredibly difficult to dethrone the defending and undisputed NFC Champion San Francisco 49ers in 2020-21. No matter where a hole opened up over the course of the offseason, the 49ers managed to immediately plug it up while even improving and getting younger along the way.
After losing veteran offensive tackler Joe Staley to retirement, standout defensive lineman DeForest Buckner to a trade with the Indianapolis Colts and speedster wide receiver Marquise Goodwin to a trade with the Philadelphia Eagles, head coach Kyle Shanahan and general manager John Lynch immediately filled each and every void. Adding former Washington Redskins offensive tackle Trent Williams via trade, the 49ers then selected both former South Carolina defensive lineman Javon Kinlaw and former Arizona State pass catcher Brandon Aiyuk in the first round of the 2020 NFL Draft.
The 49ers will once again be the team to beat both in the NFC West and NFC as a whole in 2020-21.