The 2023 NFL Draft is now in the books, so it’s time for the annual NFL Draft Grades by Simon Shortt. Today we will be discussing the: NFC West.
Arizona Cardinals – A-
Team Needs: OL, DT, DB
Arizona moved around the first round draft order masterfully for a team that was “desperate” to get out of the third pick. And not only did they net an extra first round pick in next year’s draft, but they got potentially the best offensive tackle prospect in this year’s class in Paris Johnson Jr. The Cardinals badly needed to add some youth and talent to this group.
I do like the players they added the rest of the way. Two corners in Garrett Williams in the third round and Kei’Trel Clark in the sixth should play roles this season. And they even added an interior offensive linemen in Jon Gaines II who could compete for some playing time.
As much as I like BJ Ojulari, I might’ve liked to have seen more of an interior defensive tackle taken at that spot, or at least somewhere before the sixth round.
Los Angeles Rams – B+
Team Needs: OL, DL, LB
This grade might be a little high, but here’s the thing: The Rams just needed bodies. They had so few players on the roster going into the draft, that they NEEDED to add these 14 players over the weekend.
Steve Avila in the second round was a home-run pick as a guy who can start at guard right away, and potentially move to center if need be. EDGE Byron Young in the third round, OT Warren McClendon in the fifth and DB Tre’Vius Hodges-Tomlinson in the sixth were also good picks.
With so many selections, I’m not even upset about the 6th round running back, the drafted punter, or Stetson Bennett going in the fourth round.
San Francisco 49ers – C
Team Needs: DB, OL depth, LB
This was a weird draft for the 49ers. No picks until the third round, but they made a good one to kick things off. Ji’Ayir Brown is a versatile DB which is good after losing Jimmie Ward in the offseason.
Then it gets weird. They take a kicker in the third round, and then take TE Cameron Latu just a couple picks later. Latu was someone many saw as a later Day 3 pick.
I did like Robert Beal Jr. in the fifth round, but also wish they added some depth to the offensive line.
Seattle Seahawks – B
Team Needs: DL, IOL
It was a good draft overall – especially the first round. CB Devon Witherspoon AND WR Jaxon Smith-Njigba both go in the top 20 and should be key contributors right away. I particularly like Witherspoon’s personality fit with Head Coach Pete Carrol, and JSN’s fit on the field in the slot between Tyler Lockett and D.K. Metcalf.
Seattle then kicked off Day 2 with edge rusher Derick Hall, so they looked to be addressing that horrid defensive front-seven from last year. Only…they didn’t go back to that room until late in the fourth round.
The Seahawks came into the weekend with five picks in the first 83 selections. Unfortunately they traded out of one of those picks, and spent another…on…A MID-ROUND RUNNING BACK!? A move I didn’t like after the fantastic season from Kenneth Walker last year. Seattle loves to have multiple running backs on the roster, and they did have 10 picks to play with. But take one in the seventh round…not the second…
Oh wait…they did that too.
I like Derrick Hall a lot, but other than that they completely mismanaged Day 2 of the draft, where they had a supreme advantage.
I do, however, think they got a potential Day 1 starting center in Olusegun Oluwatimi all the way down in the fifth round.
There were definitely some fun picks in the NFL Draft out of the NFC West, and some that will be real difference makers. With the San Francisco 49ers getting a less than ideal grade, we’ll see if the other teams did enough to make up any ground on them in the division in 2023-24.
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