The State Of The NFC West

This is a part 1 of 2 about the state of the NFC West. I’m writting this post draft but pre camp, which means that a lot of players will get cut, a lot of undrafted players will make a name for themselves and a few free agents will still be picked up until the start of the season, so remember that when you’re reading this. I will be making a part 2 of this during the preseason when all of the squads are (mostly) set and give you my thoughts on which NFC West team is at the pole position to win the division then.

San Francisco 49ers

Notable Free Agents signed :

Brian Hoyer (QB) ;
Matt Barkley (QB) ;
Pierre Garçon (WR) ;
Earl Mitchell (DT) ;
Tim Hightower (RB) ;
Kyle Juszczyk (FB) ;
Malcolm Smith (LB) ;
Marquise Goodwin (WR) ;
Brock Coyle (LB) ;
Garry Gilliam (T) ;
Tim Barnes (C)
Robbie Gould (K).

Notable Free Agents lost :

Colin Kaepernick (QB) ;
Blaine Gabbert (QB) ;
Wilhoite (LB) ;
Antoine Bethea (S) ;
Phil Dawson (K) ;
Marcus Cromartie (CB) ;
Quinton Patton (WR).

I don’t want to spend too much time in FA loses, the 49ers only lost players that they wouldn’t count on for next season so it was an expected Free Agency period when talking about departures.

From these free agent signings however we see John Lynch trying to accommodate the players so they’ll fit Kyle Shannahan’s system, Garçon should be their number 1 receiver and Goodwin the burner (Taylor Gabriel esque), the 49ers also signed one of the best full backs in the league because it’s are a featured position in Shanahan’s playbook. We also see a few quarterback signings and the reunion of Hoyer with his former offensive coordinator, they were together back in 2013 when both were on the Browns. Hoyer is not going to be Matt Ryan but it saved the 49ers from drafting a QB high this year as he should allow the 49ers to win at least 5 to 6 games.

We also see a few former Seahawks signed up such as Coyle, Gilliam and superbowl MVP Malcolm Smith, none of these will be world beaters but can be decent contributions although I believe they overpaid for Smith.

Robbie Gould was a necessary pick up as they didn’t have a kicker.

Drafted players :

Solomon Thomas (DE) ;
Reuben Foster (LB) ;
Akhello Witherspoon (CB) ;
C.J Beathard (QB) ;
Joe Williams (RB) ;
George Kittle (TE) ;
Trent Taylor (WR) ;
D.J Jones (DE) ;
Pita Taumoepenu (DL) ;
Adrian Colbert (S) ;
Kapri Bibbs (RB) – aquired via trade with the Broncos.

After a free agency spent on offence the San Francisco 49ers went defence on 6 of their 11 picks. Reuben Foster could be the steal of the first round but a lot of question marks made him fall from a top 10 prospect to almost not being drafted in the first round (31st pick). Solomon Thomas is a blue chip player, he’s got the traits to be a francishe guy and the ability to make an immediate impact : “run Wilson run”.. Akhello Witherspoon was a great pick for the 49ers, he’s a strong, physical corner and will provide a much needed help to a depleted secondary where only Eric Reid is a set starter.

Overall the 49ers had a scary good draft, picking up both Thomas and Foster was great for a terrible defence, George Kittle is going to be a great utility players (that the Seahawks fans actually wanted), Joe Williams is going to push for a decent spot on the depth chart and maybe C.J Beathard could be the next Russell Wilson / Dak ? I doubt it but still.. One thing is sure however, a couple more drafts like these and the 49ers will be able to challenge the Seahawks and the Cardinals for the first place of the NFC West, who doesn’t miss the good ol’ Seahawks – 49ers rivalry ?

Los Angeles Rams

Notable Free Agents signed :

Andrew Whitworth (T) ;
Robert Woods (WR) ;
Kayvon Webster (CB) ;
Lance Dunbar (LB) ;
Nickell Robey-Coleman (CB) ;
Tre Mason (re-signed) (RB).
Tre’ Jackson (G).

Notable Free Agents lost :

Kenny Britt (WR) ;
Case Keenum (QB) ;
Tim Barnes (C) ;
T.J McDonald (S).

Offensive line, offence and secondary were the keywords for Sean McVay and Les Snead. The signing of McVay was clearly to try and get the most out of Goff, Sean had a good year as the Redskins OC and if he can continue to improve then he’s the right guy to help Goff, while bringing Wade Phillips to an already increbly pass rushing defence should make the Rams a threat for the future.

The Rams picked up Whitworth and Tre’ Jackson, two players that should bring more protection to Goff. The signing of Robert Woods also thinking about another weapon for Jared to you.

Robey-Coleman, Lance Dunbar and Kayon Webster were signings that needed to be made, despite having one of the best DTs in the league (Aaron Donald) this Rams defence is still very poor and it’s mostly because of their secondary, adding some quality players and Wade Phillips should help change that.

Drafted Players :

Gerald Everett (TE) ;
Cooper Kupp (WR) ;
John Johnson (S) ;
Josh Reynolds (WR) ;
Samson Ebukam (LB) ;
Tanzel Smart (DT) ;
Sam Rogers (FB) ;
Ejuan Price (DE).

The draft just continued the FA trend for the Rams, offence, offence, offence. They’re looking to give Goff all the tools to be a successful QB, although I only like Cooper Kupp of all their picks, if Everett and Reynolds can also help make an impact we could see a very good fight for third place between the 49ers and the Rams, yet they are still far away from challenging both the Seahawks and the Cardinals.

Arizona Cardinals

Notable Free Agents signed :

Antoine Bethea (S) ;
Phil Dawson (K) ;
Jarvis Jones (LB) ;
Gabbert (QB) ;
Andre Ellington (re-signed) (WR) ;
Jumal Rolle (CB) ;
Tony Bergstrom (C).

Notable Free Agents lost :

Calais Campbell (DT) ;
Tony Jefferson (S) ;
D.J Swearinger (S) ;
Kevin Minter (LB) ;
Alex Okafor (LB) ;
Taylor Boggs (G) ;
Catanzaro (K).

The Cardinals lost some playmakers. They’ll definitely miss Calais and Tony Jefferson, as they were vital to Arizona’s defence in the past few seasons, I’d say their deffence didn’t get significantly weaker but their pass rush took a hit, as for other losses, they were minor players that didn’t make this Cardinals team better.

Signing Jones was good for them as he’ll help improve the linebacking core. Bethea can be a good backup for a secondary that lost Tony Jefferson and Dawson was a signing of need after losing Catanzaro.

Gabbert is a head scratcher for me beacuse I don’t rate him highly but, I guess that if needed, he can come in and do an okay job as a backup. I think the Cardinals need to draft a quarterback next season though.

Drafted Players :
Haason Reddick (LB) ;
Budda Baker (S) ;
Chad Williams (WR) ;
Dorian Johnson (G) ;
Will Holden (T) ;
T.J Logan (RB) ;
Rudy Ford (S).

I’m not sure how good most of these players will do but one thing is certain, boy oh boy am I jealous the Cardinals got Baker! He’s a do it all type of player, he can play in the box, he can play as a strong / free safety, he can be in the slot and he can even play outside corner! Arizona added another playmaker to an already brilliant secondary. Hasson Reddick should also prove to be an upgrade on the Cardinals linebacking core and if they’re lucky they got a Ryan Shazier type of player for the forseable future, crazy! As for the other draft picks, they went offensive line twice in a row picking up a guard and tackle, they were a position of need, so there’s not much to it. If at least 3 of these players, plus some of the free agents, make an immediate impact this year then the Cardinals are set to challenge the Seahawks for the first place in the NFC West.

Seattle Seahawks

Notable Free Agents signed :

Eddie Lacy (RB) ;
Blair Walsh (K) ;
Terrence Garvin (LB) ;
Wilhoite (LB) ;
Bradley McDougal (S) ;
Aboushi (G) ;
Luke Willson (re-signed) (TE) ;
Shead (re-signed) (CB) ;
Neiko Thorpe (re-signed) (CB) ;
Luke Joeckel (T/G) ;
Dion Jordan (DE / LB) ;
Jake Heaps (QB).

Notable Free Agents lost :

Brock Coyle (LB) ;
Steven Haushka (K) ;
Sowell (T) ;
Gilliam (T) ;
Brandon Williams (TE) ;
John Jenkings (DT) ;
Damontre Moore (DT) ;

The Seahawks didn’t lose much when it came to FA as only GG and Haushkha were starters on the team, they clearly thought they could do better than GG and Haush$ wanted a big contract, to replace Steven the Seahawks signed Walsh (yeah, that one) and for GG the Seahawks invested in the draft (Pocic). Brandon Williams was probably the other significant loss as he was a very important special teams player.

Free agent signings got me very excited, signing Lacy means the Seahawks finally have that power back they’ve been missing since Lynch got injured two years ago, while adding Joeckel and Aboushi provides depth and experience in one of the worst offensive lines in the league. McDougal’s signing went under the radar but he’s a backup that could very well start when needed, he’s definitely an upgrade over Terrell and McGray. I’m also happy with the players that the Seahawks re-signed as Shead was coming into his own (pre injury) and Thorpe was a great special teamer, they should still be able to help the squad this year. The linebackers signed were due to competition, Pete Carroll said he wasn’t happy with his linebacker core and they started to to add players, don’t be surpised if they sign a few more.

The only question marks to me are Luke Willson and Dion Jordan. Luke Willson was never really a good enough player to play for the Seahawks but is a decent backup (I just wonder if we could have gotten someone else?) and Dion Jordan.. I’m low-key very excited to see him play, there’s a reason he was picked number 3 overall in the draft a few years back and with a locker room as good as Seahawks’ if he’s going to thrive somewhere it’s going to be in Seattle, although I am aware of the risk he brings to the team if he sticks around.

Drafted Players :

Malik McDowell (DT) ;
Ethan Pocic (C/T) ;
Shaquill Griffin (CB) ;
Delano Hill (S) ;
Nazair Jones (DT) ;
Amara Darboh (WR) ;
Tedric Thompson (S) ;
Mike Tyson (S) ;
Justin Senior (T) ;
David Moore (WR) ;
Chris Carson (RB).

The Seahawks draft was a weird one, there’s several opinions about it but one thing is sure, either you loved it or you hated it, there isn’t a middle ground when it comes to this draft for Seahawks fans. I’m an optimistic guy so, to me, this draft was a pretty good one, the Seahawks got a possible star for the next 10 years in Malik McDowell (who the Seahawks compare to Calais Campbell), Ethan Pocic that was one of my favourite linemen in the draft because of his great versatility. The 3rd round was a total hit, Shaquill has the abilty to become one of the best corners in the league, he’s fast, hardworking, cocky and is a playmaker (reminds you of anyone?), Delano Hill was one of my favourite picks, a very fun player, a hard hitting safety that can also play as a linebacker (don’t be surprised if he sees more minutes this year than you would have expected), Jones could be a sleeper in this year’s draft, he’s a nose tackle with a bit of a pass rush abilty, if he can polish his technique it’s not difficult to imagine a future defensive line with Clark, McDowell, Jones (Reed) and Quinton Jefferson (one can hope). The last pick of the third round was Darboh and here’s hoping he can replace Kearse and be a very solid receiver for the Seahawks. In the next 5 picks I definitely love Tedric Thompson! He can be Earl Thomas 2.0 so let’s hope he develops well, it’s also worth keeping an eye out for Mike Tyson, he’ll be a safety turned corner, and if this experiment works out well then he’s a steal, if not then at least he’s a camp body.

So, overall my very premature choice to win the NFC West is, unsurprisingly, the Seattle Seahawks, while I believe the 49ers got better, I also think that the Cardinals got slighty worse so I doubt they’ll be able to finish first however if they have a few results going their way and the Seahawks lose a game or two more we can see an upset happen, while the Rams are still far away from being a contender.

You can follow me on twitter @Peter1678 and don’t forget to also follow @SeattleSportCo and @TablerDotCom


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