7 Aug 2020

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NFC West Draft Breakdown – Detailed Analysis of Each Selection

I’d like to preface this by saying I like every team here, I have 0 bias (if you choose to believe that) and I hope every player pans out and every team succeeds. That being said, I am basing these evaluations on my personal takes on these players, the teams needs and whether there were better options available. Feel free to let me know your thoughts and ask me any questions about any player, or find me on Twitter @CML2812. Thanks




I gave this an A+ initially, and I would stand by that grade if the FO here had not said they will mostly use him at Linebacker and won’t really play him at Safety or in the Slot. That is just an absolute waste of a world-class versatile talent really as both Safety and NCB are more valuable, check the analytics if you don’t believe me, than Linebacker due to just how easy it is to avoid Linebackers on plays in the modern game. Simmons was my #1 player in the class and is a fantastic talent, yes, I have him 1 spot ahead of Chase Young because while Young is an elite pass rusher; Simmons is an elite versatile coverage player and coverage is more valuable than pass rush. I still think he is a great selection, but he won’t be used to his full potential here, I said this about him “His most valuable assets of length and speed would be wasted if used as a traditional “Mike” Linebacker, he is a do-it-all coverage player. Can be used as on the outer shell of the box consistently to cover TEs and HBs along with even slot WRs. He has elite pursuit speed, coverage instincts, and outstanding length that lets him break up passes with ease. He also offers some rare flexibility as an edge rusher on some plays, along with being an elite blitzer. Has no real weaknesses to his game except perhaps stiff hips when covering WRs with elite agility. He is a very high-floor and very high-ceiling player.”. A great player who can be used all over the field, alas it seems he is destined to be used in a 1-dimensional role here.


This was a steal for me. Jones was my OT4 (yes, above Becton) as he is very NFL ready and can not only start right away but he can also develop very well, I had a late 1st round grade on him. The Cardinals do need an OT for 2021 (they brought back Marcus Gilbert for 2020) and Jones can either sit and develop into a quality OT, or he can slot in at OG and help out right away and the move to OT in 2021. I think this will really help this offense which needed quality pass blocking OL and that’s what Jones is who dominated at the senior bowl, I said this about him “A very high-upside prospect who is very raw. Jones is a very powerful player who has fantastic pure strength. He’s a very good pass blocker who has excellent strength and rarely gives up ground, using great power and good speed very efficiently. He’s a good run blocker, especially on power plays, though his speed isn’t as good as you’d ideally want. He’s fantastic out in space and gets upfield really quickly on screens and almost always finds a player to block. He has excellent balance and is rarely pushed around and almost never falls over. His hands and foot techniques are very raw though and while they’re not bad they can definitely use work as he currently doesn’t have the ability to counter.”

4.08 – LEKI FOTU, IDL, UTAH – B-

Fotu is basically Raekwon Davis but Davis is ever so slightly better. Fotu was my IDL12 and this is a little earlier than I would have taken him, however the Cardinals have a very weak IDL core and struggled mightily against the run so I won’t criticize this too much. I said this about Fotu “Prototype nose tackle. Not a productive pass rusher because he lacks quickness and explosiveness to be effective, and will very likely not be a 3-down player. Will be a force on early downs vs the run”. A nice pickup to help in a division that loves to run the ball.


Rather ironically Lawrence was my IDL13 and is another nice interior piece who I fully expect to see time on a weak Defensive Interior. I said this about him “Explosive rusher with little to no technique. Has a thick base but does not use his power. Has a great get off that will impress coaches. Not a disciplined run defender and reacts rather than acts. Has potential but will need coaching.”. This is a nice high-upside pick in the mid rounds and I fully expect him to see playing time.


Weaver was my LB18 and is a player I like a little bit, I did have other players on the board who I thought have higher upside but Weaver is a really smart higher-floor player who can contribute, he just doesn’t have the desired upside to develop into a quality starter. I said this about him “Thumper. Lacks lateral movement fluidity and can be slow to react in coverage. Accelerates slowly but has enough top-level speed. Likely to struggle moving side-line to side-line to cover quick players. Takes on blocks and defends the run well.”. This a nice little selection here and I think he can at least contribute well in base and on special teams.


Another underrated steal to me, Benjamin was my HB10 and I had a late 4th round grade on him, so for him to fall to here is a really nice value pickup late in the draft and I think Eno could contribute in the kind of offense being run here. I wrote this about him “Benjamin is very good at what he does, he’s fast, explosive out of the backfield, he’s shifty and elusive, he has great vision and moves through space really well. Dump the ball off to him in space and he will make guys miss and get you yards. But his skillset is very particular. He’s not very strong or big or physical, he’s not going to run you over or give a good stiff arm. He doesn’t break tackle. He’s incapable of blocking virtually and his ball security is sub-par. He’s not much of a receiving threat on anything more than screens or swings etc so he’s certainly not an every down back. That being said he’s well worth an early day 3 pick as the kind of player that can thrive in certain modern offenses with the ball in his hands and can give some cheap yards most backs can’t. Can definitely rotate in an NFL offense as the number 2 back.”. A good depth piece behind Drake,


Arizona entered the draft with needs at; OL, LB, EDGE, IDL, and some need for depth in the secondary. The Cardinals did address their need at LB with Simmons, though if they aren’t using him in the versatile way, he should be used this is a wasted pick as he could also play Safety. They did address some of their needs on the OL with a great selection in Jones, and they then added some much-needed quality depth on their IDL which was their biggest defensive weakness. They then picked up a depth player at LB and at HB which may be able to contribute, the only positions I think they should have addressed that they did not are Safety and EDGE. A really good draft all in all.


49ERS – A


I really do like this pick, and unlike some people it makes complete sense to me drafting him. Why pay Buckner $20mil when you can just trade him for a 1st, draft a dominant elite pass-rushing IDL prospect and save approximately $17mil in cap. The 9ers rely on a rotation of quality pass-rushers so that opposing offenses cannot double team them and in order to constantly keep their DL fresh. Kinlaw was my IDL1 and the 12th player on my board as he had 1 of just 10 “elite grades” in this class. I said this about him “Kinlaw is a polished power rusher with elite explosiveness and reach. Uses his length well on the interior to extend and pull when necessary. May lack top end strength in run Defense but he is easily the best pass rusher in the draft with top-5 pass rusher in the league potential.”. Kinlaw is a slam-dunk pick and with this coaching I expect him to become and elite player, however this isn’t an A+ because it is neither a position of serious need nor a highly valuable position.


This was a sizeable reach to me. I did not really like Aiyuk’s tape and he was my WR13 and an early 3rd rounder for me. However, I think he is a great fit in this offense that will scheme him open and let him work after the catch. I wrote this about him “He has absurd speed, agility and acceleration. His 80+” wingspan is just ridiculous for a sub 6FT receiver, and his release off the line of scrimmage is special. He’s fantastic after the catch and can run right by defenders or turn so hard they fall over. He has great footwork and creates separation with ease, his route running is generally good especially slants and posts, and he’s an excellent returner. However, he’s not great in traffic and struggles very heavily with contact and with drops, he didn’t run a very varied number of routes and ran the routes he did run poorly, and he played almost always on the left side of the field, something he will need to change.”. Aiyuk is a high-ceiling player but he has a lower floor, I am not a huge fan of his game and would have taken Laviska Shenault if that’s the kind of player they wanted; however, he will be productive in this scheme.


Not technically a draft selection, but trading a 5th and a 2021 3rd for Williams is an excellent acquisition and supplements the retirement of Staley well, and he is a much better player than anyone they could have taken here.


McKivitz was my OT15 and this is a pretty nice developmental selection here, I did have other OTs higher, but I like the scheme fit here and think he could develop into a good swing-man OT. I wrote this on him “McKivitz is a lengthy finesse pass blocker. Lacks strength and speed to be a good run blocker but can seal the edge and win with his hands against power rushers. Footwork is pretty nice but not very quick. A capable pass protector but not elite due to a lack of strength and quickness.”. A nice pick, but not an exciting one.


Woerner was my TE18 and was not a player whose tape I hated, but I had many TEs higher on my board and this was not a great selection to me, TE depth was needed here though, I said this about Woerner. “A blocking tight end with some athleticism. He has excellent technique as a run blocker and nice quick movements. Has a nice athletic profile and solid hands, though he is not a good route runner.” A high-floor player with his run blocking and a potential high-ceiling player if he can become a receiving threat.


Jennings was my WR22 and I had a 5th round grade on him so this is a really good steal here and a player that fits the scheme here very well. I said this about him in my report “Rare physicality and instincts after the catch, a smart route runner too and he can be a mismatch problem. He tracks the ball well and has solid hands. He isn’t a deep threat nor is he very special before the catch, but when he gets the ball in his hands, he is a fantastic player who is very hard to tackle. Likely to be a nice slot player.”. I like this pick a lot and I know he will be schemed the ball in space and then he will be able to make things happen.


The 9ers entered the draft with very few needs, they only really needed depth at; OL, WR, TE, DL, CB. They added good useful players at all of these positions except for CB. They picked up an elite IDL prospect who can become a great pass rusher, then they acquired a new LT and a good depth piece on the OL who can develop. They got a great blocking TE who has the upside to develop into a nice receiver, and they added 2 great run after the catch receivers who fit their scheme and can be effective. This was a really good draft and my only concern is the lack of CB depth on the roster and all of the FAs in the secondary that they have after the 2020 season, I think that trading up for Aiyuk was a poor move as they should have traded down to acquire more picks and attack the secondary. However, the players drafted here should all be impacts in years 1 or 2 and will help the team.




Considering all the holes on this team, this was a bad pick. Firstly, I don’t believe Akers is better than Henderson who they drafted last year, Akers did not perform well in college at all and while yes, he had a bad OL there are many other HBs who played well with bad OLs also. Secondly, this team has massive holes on the OL and front 7 currently, they do not have the luxury of taking a HB in the top 2 rounds, and the reason their run game was bad last year is not because their HB was bad, but because they had a bottom 5 OL by virtually every metric. Thirdly, when Akers was taken, I had 3 other HBs higher on my board, I understand that Akers is this years’ hype-player because of his athletic abilities but players like Dobbins and Moss were actually good in college and Akers was bad even when he got out into open play. This was what I said about Akers “Versatile back with good speed and acceleration. Has good length that he leverages to make tough catches and put on stiff arms. Has consistently struggled with drops which he will need to clean up. A capable and willing pass blocker as well. Plays a bit upright, doesn’t necessarily understand tackling angles, break a ton of tackles or make too many defenders miss. Will likely be best utilized at the next level on outside zone runs, shotgun runs, and as a receiving threat where his speed and burst can be used.”. A scheme-fit sure, but a bad decision with quality players at positions of need available such as EDGE, LB or the OL.


If anyone else had taken him then this grade would be higher, but this was not a huge need. Yes, the Rams traded Cooks but they still have plenty of depth at WR still and they once again could have used this pick on a real position of need like the OL, EDGE, LB, CB etc. It was not an advisable decision to take Van here as the OL was just so poor last year that I cannot understand why you wouldn’t address it here with a quality IOL or an OT like Josh Jones. I said this about Van who’s tape I loved and was my WR6 without his injuries but was my WR11 due to them “Jefferson is special at all the technical aspects of the game. He has an elite route running ability with incredible fluidity in his movements, this coupled with spectacular footwork at the line and in open play allow him to create separation with ease. His movements are subtle and he makes defenders fall away from him constantly. He has impressive top end speed and when he gets the ball in space he can really move, this speed coupled with serious agility, and a tendency to make defenders miss with jukes and moves, means that he has excellent RAC ability. He’s also very good at the catch point in traffic and contesting catches is definitely a strength. However, his run blocking like so many WRs in the class is poor, his hands can sometimes be weak and he doesn’t catch what you’d expect him to and his release is far from special as he struggles to separate in a straight line early.”.


Okay see this is a good pick, Lewis was my EDGE6 and without his injuries would have been my EDGE5 and a borderline 1st round pick. He is a really talented player who has had an injury-riddled career, but is easily one of the best pass rushers in the class when on the field. EDGE was a big hole for this team and if he stays healthy I believe that Lewis can fill that need, however I question why they would take 2 straight injury-prone players after they just had to let Gurley go who had injuries throughout his college and NFL career, this was the 3rd straight risky pick (Akers is a risk due to lack of production) and this FO’s decision-making is questionable. I said this about Lewis “Elite explosiveness and length. Can get locked into blocks and bullied in the run game. Able to generate power in his rush and converts speed-to-power well. Has a good get off that should translate well. Has very high upside but has injury concerns.”. A pick that I like, but I would like it a lot more had they not take 2 risky picks before him.


Burgess was my 8th Safety and I had an early 4th on him, so the value here is about right, and Safety is a need. However, I cannot justify choosing not to take any OL again despite quality players on the board for them. I said this about Burgess who’s tape I liked “He showed good understanding of his role in his assignments and emerged as one of the leaders on very talented Defense, and played very well out of the slot. He lacks the athleticism to play as a true Free Safety or to play Single-High, but can cover flats and in man well from the slot. He is a well-polished tackler who could act as a 3rd or 4th Safety or a rotational NCB.”. A nice selection here, but more pressing needs in the front 7 or the OL should have been addressed.


Hopkins was my TE5 and I had a late 3rd on him so the value is fine, but this really was far from a need and they once again did not address the OL. Additionally, Hopkins had a 14% career drop rate so his play can be a bit concerning at times. I said this about him “Athlete with quality route running capabilities. Gets after the ball well and can get his hips around to leap and bring the football in with good body control, he gets vertical well. Not much of a blocker, he tries but isn’t strong enough or technically gifted. Drops are a huge concern and will need to improve his finger strength at the catch point.”. A good player with a lot of upside, but not a need and not a selection I can justify.


Fuller was the 16th Safety on my board and I had an UDFA grade on him, once again they take a Safety instead of taking much more significant needs at; OL, LB, CB. I said this about Fuller who I did not like “Fuller is a very smart Free Safety prospect, however he lacks the range and athleticism to be even an average Safety. He is a good tackler in space. He will be nice on special teams and can be a 4th Safety”. A low-upside selection late on day 3 at a position they already drafted.


Johnson was my LB30 and I had an UDFA grade on him, at this point you are just throwing darts but I had many higher Linebackers available on my board. It is at least a position of need, I said this on him “Johnston is a smart, player with a lack of quality traits. He is disciplined vs the run, however, he lacks athleticism in coverage and can be exploited.”.


I’ve said it before, special teamers are not worth drafting. Kickers and Punters have almost 0 correlation between quality of college and NFL play and so it makes much more sense to draft a player of another position here and to just pick up a FA/UDFA Special Teamer, they simply aren’t that valuable and they’re not likely to work out.


I did not have tape on Anchrum, but at least he plays on the OL.


The Rams entered this draft with holes at; OL, EDGE, LB, CB and S. They failed to address their OL in the draft before the 7th round despite this being the biggest weakness on the team last year. They did take a good EDGE player who fell to them in round 3, however he has had an n=injury plagued past and after they experienced injuries with Gurley who was hurt in the NFL and college. They didn’t address the gaping hole at LB left by the departure of Littleton either until round 7 and I fear this may come back to bite them during the season. They did take a Slot CB in Burgess, but they did not address their lack of depth at outside CB which they have to do now that they need to pay Ramsey. They did address their depth at S but I am not sure if the players they chose will be truly effective there, I think that taking an injury-prone WR in round 2 and a running back are simply not moves this team could afford to take, if they wanted to improve their offense they should have got some pass protectors for Goff. This was not a great draft and I have concerns for how a team that I do like will do in the upcoming season.




Why the “+”? Because Seattle is the only team in the league that runs base Defense over 50% of the time for some inexplicable reason (they ran it 60% of the team, comparatively the league runs Nickel at about 70% of the time as its’ base) and that means Brooks will start. He is the best run-defending Linebacker in the draft but he was too tight and stiff in coverage and was poor in that regard, and unless he develops into a quality coverage player then this is a horrible pick and a poor way to play football in 2020. Brooks was my LB7 and was an early 3rd round pick by my board, which is where you should start taking run defenders. I said this about Brooks “Explosive old-fashioned thumper. Flies to the ball, and has the power to explode through blockers and finish hard in his tackles. An elite blitzer who flies into the backfield with accuracy and power. While he may be the best run defender at Linebacker in the class, he offers nothing in coverage. He is not fluid and gets little to no depth in his drops. Lacks the quickness to stay with receivers downfield, and cannot keep up with WRs or TEs with quickness in their route-running.”. This is a player I am sure will be used here and be an impact early in his career as he develops, however unless he becomes a good coverage player then he is unlikely to justify this pick, and the only reason this isn’t an F is because of how much Base Defense is run here he may actually be effective by default.


What a steal! Taylor was the most consistently underrated EDGE in this class in my opinion and he is a player I think can be one of the sneaky DROY candidates. Taylor was my EDGE3 and I had a 1st round grade on him, he really dominated this season as he was the only EDGE in the nation to have multiple pressures in every game, he dominated down the stretch and was PFF’s highest graded SEC EDGE to boot! His tape against Georgia in 2018 and 2019 are quite impressive along with his 2019 Florida tape. I said this about Taylor “Long and powerful EDGE who has a tonne of explosiveness and lateral movement skills. His length is nice and he often uses it to land his hands inside well. His length and power are very nice on the edge and has some really nice athletic upside to his game. He was very productive in college due to his power and explosion along with a small set of moves that are well-developed, will need to develop some more moves and counters to his game to really fulfil his potential. Not an elite run defender but can make more than enough quality plays.”. This is a pick I really like and I hope that Seattle develops him into the quality player I believe he can become.


This was a pick I liked too; Seattle drafts always start out poor on day 1 but become really nice on day 2. I did have a late 3rd round grade on Lewis who was my IOL8 so the value here is pretty good and I actually compared him to DJ Fluker. OL help was needed badly so this is a good pick, I said this about him “Lewis is a fantastic run blocker with excellent strength. He has solid if unspectacular footwork and Hands. He struggles with balance at times and gets pushed around. He’s not great out in space and is quite slow on pass plays, however he does have the desirable power.”. A nice player who can start right away and develop well.


Another nice pick, Parkinson was my TE10 and I had a 5th round grade on him so I think the value is here. I said this about him “A speedy deep threat TE, big and fast, great hands which let him bring it in when in traffic. Lined up outside a tonne and in the slot, great off the LOS and a good deep route runner. Bad blocker, technique is poor and doesn’t seem to care enough to try very hard. Footwork is a mess when releasing off the LOS meaning that he does not separate very well and he’s not great after the catch in creating extra yards.”. A nice little player with some upside who may develop behind Greg Olsen.


Not a team need here, though Seattle loves HBS, and my HB19 so this is a reach as I had other HBs available who were higher on my board. I said this about him “One cut back, a speedy player who is very difficult to catch and bring down but does take a bit long to hit holes and reach his top speed. Smooth hands, could be a weapon on screens.”. A potentially nice player, but with quality OL/CBs on the board I question this pick.


Robinson was my EDGE16, this is a nice pick, I said this about him “Long and explosive. Doesn’t play with power. At his size he needs to learn to play more physical, and use his strength more. Great athleticism at his size, has some developmental upside “. A good pick to add some EDGE depth to a weak EDGE group, Robinson has the possibility to play as an inside rusher on obvious passing downs.


I did not have tape on Swain, however some WR depth was needed.


I liked Sullivan’s tape quite a bit, he was my TE11 but could have been higher had he had more playing time. I said this about him “A lengthy athlete who stood out at the senior bowl but needs develop his blocking. Has nice hands, speed and route running. Has some upside as a starter/offensive weapon.”. I like this type of high upside pick in round 7. That’s what round 7 is for.


A very Seahawks draft. They reached on a player early and picked up talent later. Brooks will undoubtedly be used by them here as a weapon in run D and as a blitzer, put passing on Patrick Queen to draft a Linebacker built for 1985 simply is a poor decision. Then they took a great pass rusher in round 2 who has a chance to develop and be an impact player right away. They drafted some nice help on offense at all 3 skill positions along with a starter on the OL that fits exactly the kind of scheme they want to run. And they got some more potential EDGE depth later in the draft. The only thing I did not like is that they did not take some depth pieces in the secondary. This was a pretty good draft with my only issue being with taking a run Defender in round 1, the rest is a draft of good quality.

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