Former NFL player and scout Bucky Brooks is performing a division-by-division assessment of the 2016 NFL Draft, spotlighting notable picks and handing out grades for each team. Below is his review of the NFC West. (NOTE: Click on the tabs to see other divisional breakdowns.)
It's hard to find big-bodied defenders with non-stop motors and excellent hand skills in Round 2. Yet, the Seahawks were able to grab the standout interior defender on Day 2 to fill the void created by Brandon Mebane's departure. Reed not only steps into the lineup as a rugged nose tackle on early downs, but he could create bigger "run-through" lanes for linebacker Bobby Wagner by occupying multiple blockers at the point of attack.
The 49ers shocked the football world when they moved up several spots to grab Garnett at the bottom of Round 1. Although the mauler/brawler was considered one of the top offensive guards in the class, it is hard to quantify the value of a road grader in Chip Kelly's zone-based system. Sure, the 49ers will likely execute some "down and around" schemes in the running game, but Garnett's physical style appears better suited to a power-based system that allows him to mash defenders at the point of attack. Time will tell if the 49ers employ a running scheme that allows him to play up to the lofty expectations that will accompany his arrival as a top pick.
Cooper is the kind of "catch and run" specialist who shines in a spread offense that gets the ball to playmakers on the move. He flashes exceptional quickness and wiggle in the open field, but he also possesses the strength and power to run through arm tackles in tight quarters. With the Rams poised to incorporate more bubble screens and RPOs designed to make young quarterback Jared Goff comfortable, Cooper could play a big role opposite Tavon Austin in Los Angeles' revamped offense.
NOTE: Draft classes are ranked from best to worst within the division.
» Round 1: (No. 31 overall) Germain Ifedi, OG.
» Round 2: (49) Jarran Reed, DT.
» Round 3: (90) C.J. Prosise, RB; (94) Nick Vannett, TE; (97) Rees Odhiambo, OG.
» Round 5: (147) Quinton Jefferson, DT; (171) Alex Collins, RB.
» Round 6: (215) Joey Hunt, C.
» Round 7: (243) Kenny Lawler, WR; (247) Zac Brooks, RB.
The Seahawks have assembled one of the most talented rosters in football through shrewd draft-day moves and superb player development. The team has traditionally knocked it out of the park in the later rounds, but the Seahawks also scored well on their early-round selections in 2016. Germain Ifedi and Rees Odhiambo will anchor a revamped offensive line with their collective size, strength and athleticism. Position coach Tom Cable should quickly whip them into shape and insert the young duo into the lineup. Nick Vannett could make key contributions as a TE3 behind Luke Willson and Jimmy Graham. At running back, the Seahawks grabbed three players (C.J. Prosise, Alex Collins and Zac Brooks) to fill the void created by Marshawn Lynch's retirement. Prosise and Collins should push Thomas Rawls for playing time as role players in a deep and talented backfield. Keep an eye on receiver Kenny Lawler as a red-zone playmaker with excellent potential. The 6-foot-2, 203-pounder is a terrific jump-ball specialist with outstanding hands and ball skills. And, as documented above, Jarran Reed was an absolute steal in Round 2. GRADE: B
The grade on the Rams' 2016 class will hinge on the performance of Jared Goff as the team's new franchise quarterback. Los Angeles essentially mortgaged the farm to jump up to the top overall spot for the Cal product, so the pressure will be on him to help the Rams become perennial contenders in the NFC. Some observers question whether Goff can transition effectively into a pro quarterback after honing his skills in the "Bear Raid" system, but the pinpoint passer is deadly accurate, and his distribution skills could make the Rams' offense more dangerous with a cast of "catch and run" specialists on the perimeter. To that point, the Rams deserve credit for snagging Tyler Higbee, Temarrick Hemingway, Pharoh Cooper and Mike Thomas to provide their young passer with athletic weapons to target on quick-rhythm passes. With coach Jeff Fisher and general manager Les Snead surrounding Goff with a host of young, athletic playmakers on the perimeter, the top pick could make an immediate impact as a Day 1 starter. GRADE: B-
The Cardinals certainly aren't risk-averse under GM Steve Keim and coach Bruce Arians. The team's ultra-confident leaders have a knack for getting maximum production from enigmatic prospects, which is why the Robert Nkemdiche pick didn't come as a surprise to the scouting community. The freakishly athletic defender flashes a rare combination of size, strength and explosiveness for a 6-3, 294-pounder. Yes, his pedestrian numbers and potential character concerns made him a tough evaluation for some observers, but the Cardinals snagged a Darnell Dockett clone with tremendous upside as an interior disruptor. Brandon Williams is an intriguing prospect as a converted cornerback with limited experience. The former running back possesses the speed and athleticism to run with receivers down the field, but he must refine his fundamentals and footwork to become more effective on underneath coverage. Cornerback Harlan Miller could surprise as a late pick. The Southeastern Louisiana product has the length and aggressive temperament to thrive in the Cardinals' aggressive scheme. GRADE: C+
» Round 1: (No. 7 overall) DeForest Buckner, DE; (28) Joshua Garnett, OG.
» Round 3: (68) Will Redmond, CB.
» Round 4: (133) Rashard Robinson, CB.
» Round 5: (142) Ronald Blair, DE; (145) John Theus, OT; (174) Fahn Cooper, OT.
» Round 6: (207) Jeff Driskel, QB; (211) Kelvin Taylor, RB; (213) Aaron Burbridge, WR.
» Round 7: (249) Prince Charles Iworah, CB.
The Chip Kelly era begins with a host of rookies poised to play pivotal roles on both sides of the ball. DeForest Buckner will join former Oregon teammate Arik Armstead on the front line to give the 49ers a long, rangy set of defenders to build around. Will Redmond and Rashard Robinson will compete for playing time on the perimeter as sub-package corners. Each corner is a bump-and-run specialist with the agility and quickness to challenge shifty receivers at the line. Ronald Blair is a productive pass rusher with a non-stop motor. He could crack the rotation as a situational rusher on passing downs. On offense, the 49ers pulled off a head-scratcher with the selection of Joshua Garnett at the bottom of Round 1, as I mentioned earlier. Yes, he is a powerful run blocker, but the 49ers might've expended more capital than needed in trading up to acquire an interior blocker with a game that doesn't appear to suit the athletic blocking scheme Kelly used in his previous stops. GRADE: C+