Connor Rogers examines the draft hauls from NFC West squads, highlighting the Seattle Seahawks' terrific all-around haul, the 49ers questionable moves, Arizona's strong moves and the Rams' under-the-radar moves.
CONNOR ROGERS: Recapping the NFC West, the division that, for the most part, handled the 2023 NFL draft extremely well. I'll start with the Arizona Cardinals here. They get an A from me. When you look at the Cardinals, the way they were able to navigate the board, they got a lot more draft capital, especially allowing the Texans to come up and take Will Anderson. But they charged them a hefty price.
And they still walked out of this draft with Paris Johnson, who can be a long-term answer for them at tackle. I thought the Cardinals did a good job of making their roster better. I absolutely love the Owen Pappoe pick for the middle of their defense. They got him 168th overall. I valued him at 103 in this draft with his speed in the middle of the field. And I just can't get enough of the extra draft capital they were able to walk away with while also making their team better now, especially as they're in year one of the Monti Ossenfort era.
Moving along to the Los Angeles Rams, a rock solid B for the Rams. Listen, this is a team that was without a first-round pick. It's obviously hard to knock it out of the park without that. I think they still did pretty well, especially when you walk away with a B from this draft. Steve Avila is a player that has started at guard and center at a high level from TCU. I think that value at 36 is spot on. And shoring up their offensive line is especially key.
And they did the same thing with Kobie Turner in the third round as well, an underrated defensive player. It was a shame he wasn't invited to the NFL combine. But he's somebody that could play in their rotation immediately from day one. Their best value pick for me, edge rusher Nick Hampton from App State. They got him 161. I had him at 102.
Let's move along to the Seattle Seahawks. I'm going to be honest here, guys. This was my favorite draft class out of anybody. All the headlines have gone to the Eagles. I get it. But what Seattle was able to do was phenomenal. They walk away in the first round with Devon Witherspoon, one of the best defensive players in this draft. Jaxon Smith-Njigba, one of the best skill players in this draft.
But here's where the value was. Olu Oluwatimi, the center out of Michigan, they got him at 154. I valued him as a top-100 player. I had him at 88. Seattle, A-plus all day. It feels like they had a great draft in 2022, but they put on an encore for the fans this year.
And then finally, we'll close things out with the San Francisco 49ers, the only draft class that I just couldn't get jacked up over in this division. Now to be fair to the Niners, who are already a loaded roster with an excellent coaching staff and not a lot of needs, didn't have a lot of picks. They had to wait until the third round. And I have no problem taking Ji'Ayir Brown.
But when you don't have a lot of picks, can really afford to spend a top-100 selection on a kicker? That's a strategy that just does not add up for me. The Niners, we know they're going to be back in contention. That's simply what Kyle Shanahan does. But it would have been nice to get a couple sweetener pieces for this roster, especially considering how well everyone else in this division did.