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NFC West rookie grades: Cardinals, 49ers add building blocks

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The 2018 NFL season is in the books, meaning the 2019 NFL Draft is coming down the pike. But before we completely shift focus to the next crop of prospects entering the league, let's take full stock of the rookies who just finished up Year 1. In this division-by-division Rookie Grades series, we're evaluating each team's 2018 draft class and spotlighting areas to address this offseason. Jeremy Bergman examines the NFC West below.

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B+

ARIZONA CARDINALS

Round 1: (No. 10 overall) Josh Rosen, QB, 14 games/13 starts.
Round 2: (47) Christian Kirk, WR, 12 games/7 starts.
Round 3: (97) Mason Cole, C, 16 games/16 starts.
Round 4: (134) Chase Edmonds, RB, 16 games/0 starts.
Round 6: (182) Chris Campbell, CB, 0 games/0 starts (waived by Arizona and signed to Saints' practice squad).
Round 7: (254) Korey Cunningham, OL, 6 games/6 starts.
Notable rookie FA signings: Trent Sherfield, WR, 13 games/2 starts; Colby Gossett, G, 5 games/4 starts; Zeke Turner, ST, 16 games/1 start.

Mission accomplished in Arizona -- kind of. Out of their 2018 draft class, the Cardinals got their quarterback, wide receiver and center of the future. That's three starters in the first three rounds. They were one of just six teams with two rookies on the PFWA All-Rookie Team -- Kirk as a punt returner and free-agent Turner as a special teamer. Cole played 100 percent of the team's offensive snaps, and Rosen, once installed as the starter, didn't miss a snap. All that being said, Steve Wilks' only draft class was not enough to save his hide, and the additions of Kirk, Sherfield, Cole and Cunningham couldn't patch up Arizona's decrepit depth at receiver and on the offensive line, the latter of which was one of the lowest-graded lines by Pro Football Focus at full strength.

Combine/free agency focus: Gifted with the first overall pick, new Cardinals coach Kliff Kingsbury can do anything he wants at the top of the draft, but one potential move is more enticing than others. The reckless internet wants Arizona to draft Oklahoma dual-sport dynamo Kyler Murray with the top selection, making prophecy out of a hypothetical answer Kingsbury gave last year when he was coach of Texas Tech. But would the Cardinals actually give up on Rosen, for whom they sacrificed three picks last year, just so they could appease the web's whims? Hell no.

Let's get more realistic. Arizona needs to find another big-time wide receiver and starters on the offensive line in free agency. Unfortunately, there are few; only Panthers OT Daryl Williams cracks Gregg Rosenthal's top 25 (though rumor has it Antonio Brown is on the block). Odds are, the Cards don't end up with the flashy first-overall pick of years prior. The tops of our mock drafts are defensive-line heavy, which is perfect for an Arizona team that lost constantly in the trenches last season. If the Cards don't pick up a big-time DL in free agency, like Trey Flowers or Sheldon Richardson, they'll have a ton of options come late April.

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B

SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS

Round 1: (No. 9 overall) Mike McGlinchey, T, 16 games/16 starts.
Round 2: (44) Dante Pettis, WR, 12 games/7 starts.
Round 3: (70) Fred Warner, LB, 16 games/16 starts; (95) Tarvarius Moore, S, 16 games/2 starts.
Round 4: (128) Kentavius Street, DT, 0 games/0 starts.
Round 5: (142) D.J. Reed, CB, 15 games/2 starts.
Round 6: (184) Marcell Harris, S, 8 games/5 starts.
Round 7: (223) Jullian Taylor, DT, 6 games/0 starts; (240) Richie James, WR, 13 games/2 starts.
Notable rookie FA signings: Jeff Wilson, RB, 6 games/2 starts; Ross Dwelley, TE, 11 games/0 starts.

John Lynch's second draft in San Francisco was a solid sophomore effort. McGlinchey immediately slid into San Francisco's starting lineup, led the offense in snaps and made the PFWA All-Rookie Team. An impressive run-blocker, McGlinchey is still vulnerable as a pass-protector, but San Francisco has both of its tackle positions solved. Warner led the defense in snaps and tackles (123) and held down as best he could a linebacking corps that lost Reuben Foster midseason. The injury-prone Pettis remains unrefined but dangerous in the receiving game. He did not show his touted return capabilities in his rookie campaign -- unlike James, who was a consistent threat on kick returns. Wilson was a nice find who filled in and surprised down the stretch.

Combine/free agency focus: Fix the secondary. Veteran signee Richard Sherman could only do so much. The combination of Jaquiski Tartt, Jimmie Ward, Antone Exum and Adrian Colbert made 49ers fans long for the days of Eric Reid. Luckily for San Francisco, the safety market should be plush with veteran options, like Landon Collins, Tyrann Mathieu and Sherman's old Seahawks teammate, Earl Thomas. With the No. 2 overall pick, San Francisco will have its pick of trenchmen. An edge rusher to complement DeForest Buckner is expected here, so Lynch and Kyle Shanahan can spend the combine evaluating the pros and cons of Nick Bosa, Rashan Gary and Josh Allen.

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B-

SEATTLE SEAHAWKS

Round 1: (No. 27 overall) Rashaad Penny, RB, 14 games/0 starts.
Round 3: (79) Rasheem Green, DT, 10 games/0 starts.
Round 4: (120) Will Dissly, TE, 4 games/4 starts.
Round 5: (141) Shaquem Griffin, LB, 16 games/1 start; (146) Tre Flowers, S, 15 games/15 starts; (149) Michael Dickson, P, 16 games/16 starts; (168) Jamarco Jones, T, 0 games/0 starts.
Round 6: (186) Jake Martin, LB, 16 games/0 starts.
Round 7: (220) Alex McGough, QB, 0 games/0 starts (spent most of season on practice squad; signed with Jaguars in January).
Notable rookie FA signings: Poona Ford, DT, 11 games/1 start.

It's an odd year when the best performing member of your draft class is a punter, but that's the deal in Seattle. Dickson and his booming leg from down under made the PFWA All-Rookie Team, and deservedly so. Casual fans may only remember his sad onside kick attempt that signaled the end to Seattle's season, but he's so much more than that drop-kick dude. Also a fifth-rounder, Flowers is Seattle's second-biggest success story, as he started across from Shaquill Griffin for most of the season. Shaq's brother, Shaquem, was a heart-warming draft selection, but he was mostly relegated to special teams duty. Seattle's mediocre draft mark can be pinned to another first-round miss (or miscalculation) by general manager John Schneider. The Seahawks reached on Penny the day they selected him, then saw a seventh-rounder from the year prior, Chris Carson, blow the rookie away and rush for the fifth-most yards in the league. Dissly was an enticing option before his season-ending injury in September, and Green and Ford are worthy projects on the defensive line.

Combine/free agency focus: Retain Frank Clark at all costs. The pass rusher is the second-best thing Seattle has going for it in the front seven, besides Bobby Wagner, but Clark is also an impending free agent, as are K.J. Wright and Earl Thomas. Seattle is willing to let Thomas walk, especially after the season-ending injury followed by the bird on the cart incident, but there are plenty of other safeties in the sea(hawks!). The Seahawks must re-sign either J.R. Sweezy or D.J. Fluker (or both) if they intend to maintain continuity along one of the league's most improved offensive lines. Possessing the 21st overall draft pick, Seattle should do its homework on all edge rushers or interior lineman, just in case those spots aren't secured and/or improved upon in free agency.

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D

LOS ANGELES RAMS

Round 3: (No. 89 overall) Joseph Noteboom, T, 16 games/0 starts.
Round 4: (111) Brian Allen, C, 12 games/0 starts; (135) John Franklin-Myers, DE, 16 games/0 starts.
Round 5: (147) Micah Kiser, LB, 16 games/0 starts; (160) Obo Okoronkwo, DE, 0 games/0 starts.
Round 6: (176) John Kelly, RB, 4 games/0 starts; (192) Jamil Demby, T, 0 games/0 starts (waived in September, spent most of season on Lions' practice squad, then was re-signed by Rams in December); (195) Sebastian Joseph-Day, DT, 0 games/0 starts; (205) Trevon Young, DE, 2 games/0 starts.
Round 7: (231) Travin Howard, LB, 0 games/0 starts; (244) Justin Lawler, DE, 16 games/0 starts.
Notable rookie FA signings: KhaDarel Hodge, WR, 14 games/0 starts.

The NFC champions did their team-building through trades and free agency last offseason, opting to part with their first-round selection for Brandin Cooks and mid-round picks for the likes of Marcus Peters and Aqib Talib. Considering all that, Los Angeles' utilization of its draft capital should grade high; Cooks led the team in receiving, and Peters and Talib shored up the secondary (when healthy and/or hungry for gumbo). But when looking at what the Rams reaped from their 11 picks, it's easy to label this draft a total bust. Los Angeles got zero starts from their draft picks. None. Zilch. Nada. Noteboom and Allen were smart plays in case there were significant injuries on the depth-less O-line (there weren't), and Franklin-Myers can grow into a greater role next year. But this haul is easily one of the most forgettable from any team with at least 10 selections in recent memory.

Combine/free agency focus: Los Angeles spent a sizable sum to keep Lamarcus Joyner in house with the franchise tag ($11.3M), pick up Ndamukong Suh in free agency ($14M) and acquire a needed pass rusher in Dante Fowler before the trade deadline (2019 conditional third). The Rams' Super Bowl berth this season proves each move was worth it, but are any worth another go? Each will be a free agent when the new league year begins. Suh and Fowler were indispensable down the stretch, and Joyner is a solid safety entering a market full of solid safeties. L.A. could also choose to move on from either Peters or Talib, or both, and save $17 million in cap space, per Over The Cap. The key for GM Les Snead and friends these next two months should be to evaluate late-first and early-second secondary prospects in Indy; the Rams have just one pick in the first three rounds (No. 31 overall), thanks to the Peters and Fowler trades. Keeping guard Rodger Saffold should be a priority, too. The championship window is still open, and the pieces remain in place -- but an extension for Jared Goff is looming as he enters Year 4 of his rookie deal, and that could affect L.A.'s aggressiveness this offseason.

Follow Jeremy Bergman on Twitter @JABergman.

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