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2011 NFL Draft Recap - NFC West
John Tuvey
May 17, 2011

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NEEDS FILLED — Arizona certainly got better in the secondary and the return game with first-round pick Patrick Peterson, and though they didn’t pick up a top-flight edge rusher they at least addressed linebacker depth with Sam Acho in the fourth round and Quan Sturdivant in the sixth. And while the Cardinals haven’t really done much with their tight ends in the past they at least gave themselves an option at the position with athletic third-rounder Rob Housler.

NEEDS IGNORED — Passing on Blaine Gabbert in the first round may be something the Cardinals eventually regret, but it suggests they have designs on a veteran fix to the problem via free agency or trade. Arizona will also need to go fishing for defensive line help, as they added only sixth-rounder David Carter to a group that could be gutted by free agency.

BEST PICK — Peterson was a top-two talent in this draft class who slipped to Arizona at No. 5; kudos to them for pulling the trigger. Value-wise, Sturdivant was projected to be a Day Two pick on many boards; snagging him in the middle of Round Six could turn out to be a real coup.

MISSED OPPORTUNITY — Bypassing Gabbert isn’t a gaffe if the Cards follow up by snagging Carson Palmer or Kevin Kolb this offseason. The real mistake in Arizona appears to be ignoring one of the deepest defensive line classes in recent memory. Ryan Williams is a nice pick, but Jarvis Jenkins, Marvin Austin and Stephen Paea were still on the board; so was DaQuan Bowers as well as potential edge rushers like Akeem Ayers, Bruce Carter, and Brooks Reed.

FANTASY RAMIFICATIONS — Ken Whisenhunt keeps trying to put in a Steelers-style offense, and in Housler maybe they’ll have a pass-catching tight end; his potential value depends on both how quickly he adapts to the NFL game and who the Cards have throwing the ball his way. Williams offers a tremendous change-of-pace option to Beanie Wells; more importantly, for fantasy purposes at least, with Wells both oft-injured and unproductive thus far in his career Williams may wind up with more than just a share of the touches in Arizona’s backfield.


NEEDS FILLED — Though they maybe shuffled the order around from what many expected, the 49ers did address their three biggest needs coming into the draft: a pass rusher (first-rounder Aldon Smith), a quarterback (second-rounder Colin Kaepernick), and a cornerback (third-rounder Chris Culliver).

NEEDS IGNORED — San Francisco is another team that for some reason avoided the deep defensive tackle talent pool, despite having precious little on their roster at nose tackle.

BEST PICK — The athletic Kaepernick should thrive when paired with new coach Jim Harbaugh, who successfully developed the similarly talented Josh Johnson in college. Additionally, fourth-round selection Kendall Hunter was a great value who could not only spell Frank Gore but also eventually replace him for a bulk of the workload.

MISSED OPPORTUNITY — The Niners had a shot at Prince Amukamara in Round One but opted to go with a rush linebacker first; by the time they were able to address the cornerback position again they were forced to reach a little for Culliver.

FANTASY RAMIFICATIONS — Kaepernick is raw, but he could be on the field sooner than expected and offer Tim Tebow-like rushing potential along with a big arm. Hunter should see at least some work in relief of Gore, especially in third-down and passing situations. Sixth-round pick Ronald Johnson may seem like an afterthought, but San Francisco’s wide receiver corps is anything but set.


NEEDS FILLED — The Rams didn’t check off many boxes on their hit list, at least not until the back half of the draft. St. Louis did use third- and fourth-round picks on wide receivers Austin Pettis and Greg Salas to flesh out a definite position of need on their roster; they also used the quantity-over-quality approach at safety in selecting Jermale Hines in the fifth round and Jonathan Nelson in the seventh.

NEEDS IGNORED — Among the many areas St. Louis failed to address was defensive tackle, despite that being the deepest position in this draft. The Rams also neglected to add an offensive guard to a line that could lose both backup guards to free agency and once again ignored the running back position, meaning once again they’ll be wafer-thin behind Steven Jackson.

BEST PICK — In Pettis and Salas the Rams added not only depth to their wide receiver corps but also a pair of sure-handed targets who can develop along with Sam Bradford.

MISSED OPPORTUNITY — Robert Quinn could wind up being one of the better pass rushers in this class, but the Rams are still iffy along the interior of their defensive line. Corey Liuget in Round One might have been a better option, or Marvin Austin in Round 2 rather than tight end Lance Kendricks.

FANTASY RAMIFICATIONS — Both Pettis and Salas could move into the Rams’ receiving rotation with a full training camp, especially with Mark Clayton a potential free agent and Laurent Robinson, Danario Alexander, and Donnie Avery all demonstrating the durability of wet tissue paper. Perhaps the Rams’ offense will be different with the talented Kendricks at tight end; last year St. Louis lightly used Michael Hoomanawanui and Billy Bajema at the position.


NEEDS FILLED — The Seahawks continued to address their offensive line, using their first two picks to bookend Russell Okung with tackle James Carpenter and beef up their interior with guard John Moffitt. Linebacker was also on Seattle’s hit list and they double-dipped at the position with fourth-rounder K.J. Wright and seventh-round selection Malcolm Smith.

NEEDS IGNORED — Passing on a quarterback shouldn’t have been that surprising, given what the Seahawks invested last year in Charlie Whitehust. But they waited to address their two largest defensive areas of need until the back end of the draft, throwing fith- and sixth-round picks at cornerbacks and not picking a defensive tackle until the top of the seventh round.

BEST PICK — Moffitt had a second-round grade on many boards and was a solid pick for Seattle in Round 3; he could team with Carpenter to solidify one side of the Seahawks’ line for the foreseeable future.

MISSED OPPORTUNITY — Though they still netted Moffitt at 3.11, trading back out of the second round cost Seattle a shot at cornerback Brandon Harris. And in what seemed to be a theme for the NFC West this season, the Seahawks failed to address defensive tackle needs in a draft class where that position ran deeper than any other.

FANTASY RAMIFICATIONS — Wide receiver Kris Durham was the only “skill” position player the Seahawks selected; he’ll enter training camp battling for playing time with Ben Obomanu, Deon Butler, and Golden Tate. And seeing how Seattle reached for him a good round or two earlier than most draft boards anticipated, someone in the organization sees something they like in Durham.

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