Sifting through West's top draft bargains

January, 25, 2013
1/25/13
1:58
PM ET
Recent pieces from Adam Schefter and Mel Kiper Jr. Insider have focused attention on some of the strongest decisions NFC West teams made during the 2012 NFL draft.

With Kiper's 2012 draft re-grade in mind, I've put together a list showing the NFC West rookie draft choices providing the most value relative to draft status, at least in my view.

I've ruled out players drafted in the first two rounds, figuring those players should produce relatively early in their careers. I've ruled out special-teams players, figuring teams can find those throughout the draft. And I've ruled out mid-round picks contributing as backups, figuring those players should contribute as backups.

We're left with eight players, four of them drafted by the Seattle Seahawks, three by the St. Louis Rams and two by the Arizona Cardinals. The San Francisco 49ers did not need their rookies as much this season.

St. Louis' Trumaine Johnson arguably should be on the list. He made three starts and picked off two passes as a third-round choice. In the end, that seemed reasonable for a player drafted 65th overall. Johnson's teammate, kicker Greg Zuerlein, would lead any list of special-teams draft choices in the division.

I left off the Cardinals' Ryan Lindley even though he became Arizona's starting quarterback as a sixth-round choice. Lindley exceeded expectations in becoming a starter. However, he had zero touchdown passes and seven interceptions while ranking last in Total QBR (9.8) among the 43 quarterbacks with at least 50 pass attempts during the regular season.

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