NFC West: First-Round Predictions

Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to prime time.

That time is fast approaching. These days, the months of hype and scrutiny leading up to this point almost outweigh the event itself. Hell, it even got its very own feature film. If nothing else, one has to stand back in awe of the marketing ability of the NFL. They’ve managed to create quite the spectacle that cascades into three days full of insanity and chaos that only serves as an all-too-appropriate precursor to the months ahead.

And I can’t remember a time in the NFL Draft when there was so much scrutiny surrounding the first overall pick. In recent years past, the Colts would’ve been total morons to pass on Andrew Luck two years ago. We know that. Last year was a bit more of a question mark, with big tackles Eric Fisher and Luke Joeckel going back and forth as the presumed #1 to the Chiefs. This year, it’s a total crapshoot.

Will the Texans trade down? Will a dark horse team emerge from out of nowhere as the trade partner to get South Carolina monster DE Jadeveon Clowney? Or will Houston shock the hell out of the entire planet and take Johnny Manziel at #1?

Seahawk fans will be doing a lot of watching tonight. Watching, and waiting. This isn’t unfamiliar territory to us – we waited through the entire first round last year to see if John Schneider would trade back into it, but all was quiet at the VMAC until day two. With the second-round pick that finally came, the team confused us and took RB Christine Michael, the heir apparent to Marshawn Lynch. Did we see that coming? Did ANYONE see that coming?

This year will be especially interesting for the NFC West. Why?

  • The St. Louis Rams have the #2 and #13 overall picks
  • San Francisco 49ers have three of the first 61 picks – one in the first, two in the second – and 11 picks total
  • The Seahawks have only seven picks total, with no third-rounder and two in the 5th

The surplus of picks means the 49ers and Rams have plenty of ammo to execute something insane. With the Legion of Boom (minus Browner – should this be “LOBMB” from now on?) locked in with Seattle for another four years, the need for an upgrade at receiver for both StL and SF is now glaring. Kenny Britt is a question mark at best for the Rams, while SF’s Crabtree was exposed as beatable last year by Richard Sherman. (And that’s putting it charitably.) Anquan Boldin doesn’t have time on his side, despite his high level of play last year. The Niners need to give Colin Kaepernick more weapons to work with, especially with the competition in this division.

Some have pinned LSU WR Odell Beckham as a favorite of the 49ers, who would almost certainly have to trade up to get him, given the Jets’ reported interest. But this is an especially WR-heavy draft, so if the Niners can’t get their coveted vertical threat in Beckham, they won’t have to look very far if they stay at #29. Cody Latimer, Bradon Cooks, and Marquise Less are all in the realm of possibility.

But the Seahawks are in need of a vertical threat as well. But will they stay in the first round to get him? I don’t think so.

What you can expect to see today:

  • The Rams or 49ers will take a receiver – the 49ers appear more likely to pull the trigger on trading up to get one today.
  • Despite Jeff Fisher insisting on the contrary, the Rams could take a blue-chip quarterback like Manziel. Sam Bradford has proven as durable as a stained-glass window over the course of his career, and St. Louis can’t rely on a backup QB to get them to the next level.
  • The Seahawks will trade out of the first round to get more picks. In their four years on the job together, Pete Carroll and John Schneider have never gone into a draft with so few picks. Expect them to stockpile mid- to late-round picks to find the under-the-radar talent other teams won’t go after. (See Wilson, Russell.)