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May 12th, 2017

NFC West 2017 NFL Draft Grades: 49ers Get Back On Right Track

Trey Daubert @treydaubert
2017 NFL Draft

The Arizona Cardinals put themselves back into NFC West contention with a successful 2017 NFL Draft (Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports)

The NFL Draft is the staple for building a winner in the NFL. While the process isn’t an exact science, the draft is the most important part of the offseason. Flushing your system with young talent can go a long way into defining a winning culture. Missing in the draft often times costs people their jobs. Now that the 2017 NFL Draft is in the books we can look at who did well. We start with the NFC West that is compiled of the 49ers, Seahawks, Cardinals, and Rams. Of those four teams, it’s time to look at the winners and losers. Who won the 2017 NFL Draft in the NFC West?

Arizona Cardinals: Draft Grade

  • Round 1, Pick 13 (No. 13 overall) Haason Reddick, LB, Temple
  • Round 2, Pick 4 (No. 36, via trade with Chicago) Budda Baker, S, Washington
  • Round 3, Pick 34 (No. 98) Chad Williams, WR, Grambling
  • Round 4, Pick 8 (No. 115 via Panthers) Dorian Johnson, G, Pittsburgh
  • Round 5, Pick 13 (No. 157) Will Holden, T, Vanderbilt University 
  • Round 5, Pick 36 (No. 179) T.J. Logan, RB, North Carolina
  • Round 6, Pick 24 (No. 208) Johnathan Ford, S, Auburn

Steve Keim has a pretty good recent draft record heading into this one. I thought he put together another solid draft class in 2017. Haason Reddick was a favorite of mine heading into the draft process. Reddick is a really versatile linebacker that can move well in space and rush the passer on 3rd downs. I love the fit in Arizona where Chandler Jones will love his presence on the defense. Reddick put on a show at the Senior Bowl and can do a little of everything for Arizona.

Budda Baker is a baller. I’m not sure if he is a nickel corner or a box safety but Baker is going to make it in the NFL. All of the sudden, this Cardinals secondary is super dangerous that covers a ton of range. While Baker is a bit undersized, I think he will play well with Tyran Mathieu being the perfect mentor. If you saw any Washington games this season, their entire secondary was hard to ignore.

I also love the Chad Williams pick in the 3rd round. Williams is a big nasty receiver from Grambling State that plays with an edge. He even got into a fight at the Senior Bowl. Speaking of the Senior Bowl, this guy dominated the competition coming from a small school. Williams is really a height, weight, speed demon that will succeed. I expect big things in the aerial attack in Arizona.

The late round picks were also productive. The Holden & Johnson picks will provide some quality offensive line depth. T.J. Logan is also a nice change of pace guy to help spell David Johnson.

Los Angeles Rams: Draft Grade F

  • Round 2, Pick 12 (No. 44 overall) Gerald Everett, TE, South Alabama
  • Round 3, Pick 5 (No. 69) Cooper Kupp, WR, Eastern Washington
  • Round 3, Pick 27 (No. 91) John Johnson, S, Boston College
  • Round 4, Pick 10 (No. 117) Josh Reynolds, WR, Texas A&M
  • Round 4, Pick 19 (No. 125) Samson Ebukam, OLB, Eastern Washington
  • Round 6, Pick 5 (No. 189) Tanzel Smart, DT, Tulane
  • Round 6, Pick 22 (No. 206) Sam Rogers, FB, Virginia Tech
  • Round 7, Pick 16 (No. 234) Ejuan Price, DE, Pittsburgh

This draft grade gets an F because of the Jared Goff trade. At the end of the day when you mess up at quarterback, everything else is irrelevant. At this point, it’s pretty clear Goff is a bust (just like I predicted). That isn’t to say I didn’t like some of the Rams picks. Some of my favorites included Cooper Kupp, John Johnson, Tanzel Smart, Sam Rogers, and Ejuan Price.

Getting Kupp in the 3rd round is a steal. Kupp has Jordy Nelson like potential as a smooth route runner with crisp hands. He would have gone much higher if he ran a faster 40 time but this guy showed exactly what he can do at the Senior Bowl. Kupp routinely won one on one matchups catching my eyes during the practice portion.

John Johnson had the smoothest feet of any Senior Bowl participant I watched. Johnson can thrive at either corner or safety making him a chess piece in the secondary. Tanzel Smart and Sam Rogers were also Senior Bowl standouts. Ejuan Price is really going to help that Rams pass rush and was overlooked for all the wrong reasons.

I really question the Gerald Everett pick. I get that you’re trying to help that bust Jared Goff out but c’mon man. Everett is a small school tight end from South Alabama that’s a true boom or bust guy. LA didn’t upgrade the defense enough to my liking. Did they also have to draft Josh Reynolds after taking Cooper Kupp the previous round? Boy, could this draft have looked a lot nicer if they kept the 5th pick in the draft.

2017 NFL Draft

Solomon Thomas is the face of a new start in San Francisco (Matt Rourke/AP)

San Francisco 49ers: Draft Grade A

  • Round 1, Pick 3 (No. 3 overall) Solomon Thomas, Edge, Stanford
  • Round 1, Pick 31 (No. 31) Reuben Foster, LB, Alabama
  • Round 3, Pick 2 (No. 66) Ahkello Witherspoon, CB, Colorado
  • Round 3, Pick 40 (No. 104) C.J. Beathard, QB, Iowa
  • Round 4, Pick 15 (No. 121) Joe Williams, RB, Utah
  • Round 5, Pick 2 (No. 146) George Kittle, TE, University of Iowa
  • Round 5, Pick 34 (No. 177) Trent Taylor, WR, Louisiana Tech
  • Round 6, Pick 14 (No. 198) D.J. Jones, DT, Mississippi
  • Round 6, Pick 18 (No. 202) Pita Taumoepenu, DL, Utah
  • Round 7, Pick 11 (No. 229) Adrian Colbert, DB, Miami

John Lynch wasn’t messing around. It’s hard not to like what the 49ers did. Let’s not forget Lynch also hoodwinked the Bears into giving him additional picks. He did the same to the Saints flipping a 3rd for a next years 2nd. It’s only a matter of time before this franchise is competitive again.

The duo of Solomon Thomas and Reuben Foster figure to pan out pretty well for San Fran. Thomas is a really athletic defensive lineman from Stanford. He can be a real chess piece on the defensive line who can play inside in sub packages. There’s a lot to like about Thomas that can be further explained in my combine notes. The Foster selection does come with some risk as he is viewed as a bit of a knucklehead. The talent is undeniable however as he could be the best Alabama linebacker to come out in recent memory. The hope is Foster is every bit as good as Patrick Willis once was.

I also like what the Niners did was some of the rest of their picks. Ahkello Witherspoon is a long skinny corner that needs to improve his strength but has big time potential. The Colorado secondary was really fun to watch a year ago. George Kittle can be a productive tight end as well. He can also block really well unlike the rest of the tight end class. Maybe Trent Taylor can become Cole Beasley, there’s a whole lot to like with this class.

The lone pick I was not fond of was C.J. Beathard. The Iowa signal caller was undraftable in my eyes. Maybe he can stick in the league as a backup but that’s the best case scenario.

Seattle Seahawks: Draft Grade C-

  • Round 2, Pick 3 (No. 35 overall) Malik McDowell, DT, Michigan State
  • Round 2, Pick 26 (No. 58) Ethan Pocic, C, LSU
  • Round 3, Pick 26 (No. 90) Shaquill Griffin, DB, UCF
  • Round 3, Pick 31 (No. 95) Delano Hill, S, Michigan
  • Round 3, Pick 38 (No. 102) Nazair Jones, DT, North Carolina
  • Round 3, Pick 42 (No. 106) Amara Darboh, WR, Michigan
  • Round 4, Pick 4 (No. 111) Tedric Thompson, S, Colorado
  • Round 6, Pick 3 (No. 187) Michael Tyson, S, Cincinnati
  • Round 6, Pick 26 (No. 210) Justin Senior, OT, Mississippi State
  • Round 7, Pick 8 (No. 226) David Moore, WR, East Central (Oklahoma)
  • Round 7, Pick 31 (No. 249) Christopher Carson, RB, Oklahoma State

Every year I look at Seattle’s draft and think to myself; What in the world was Seattle thinking? Usually, it ends up working out okay but this one is just nerve wracking. The Seahawks volume of picks is what’s saving this grade. Malik McDowell has big time upside but is the definition of inconsistent. There’s just too many times where he disappears, most of the time being when the team is trailing. Drafting a weak motor defensive lineman is risky business. McDowell’s sketchy combine didn’t help him change my opinion either.

Ethan Pocic seems like a pretty safe pick here. Pocic is a zone scheme center who’s absurd height is actually a legitimate question mark. I found it funny that my comp was Max Unger and that’s exactly what Seattle hopes this turns out to be. The other pick I really liked was Shaq Griffin. The UCF corner really caught my attention at the combine with plus speed and smooth feet. Seattle rarely misses in the secondary.

The rest of the picks were underwhelming. Delano Hill wasn’t even on my radar from Michigan. They also drafted two other safeties that might not even make the roster. Why Seattle why? Is Earl Thomas and Kam Chancellor not good enough? There were numerous defensive backs much higher on my board. Nazair Jones looked really slow and sluggish off the ball at the Senior Bowl and Combine.

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