Friday, April 26, 2013
Around the NFC West: Movers and shakers
By Mike Sando
Good morning, NFC West. This division knows how to shake up the first round of a draft.
The Seattle Seahawks bailed on the 25th overall pick weeks ago, using that choice to land Percy Harvin, one of the NFL's most dynamic playmakers. Bold move.
The St. Louis Rams and San Francisco 49ers moved up a combined 21 spots in the first round Thursday to snag the guys they really wanted.
The Rams got West Virginia receiver Tavon Austin, advertised as the most dynamic playmaker in the draft. Very bold move.
The 49ers got LSU safety Eric Reid. That one didn't feel as bold, but moving up 13 spots to get Reid at No. 18 marked the most ground any team moved within the first round (Minnesota jumped from outside the first round into the 29th slot). So, that was a bold move, too.
The Arizona Cardinals played it safe and straight, standing pat at No. 7 and taking a guard. Jonathan Cooper was the first guard selected. He was, by definition, the one Arizona wanted the most. This was not a bold move. But with only seven picks in their possession entering the draft and only six slots ahead of them in the round, the Cardinals weren't going to make a dramatic move up the board.
And so we emerge from the first round feeling ... what? Seattle and St. Louis got the game-changing weapons to energize their offenses and special teams. The 49ers got a potential Pro Bowl safety to replace Pro Bowl safety Dashon Goldson, an efficient tradeoff given how much more Goldson would have cost against the salary cap. The Cardinals got a badly needed building block for their offensive line. The Rams weren't done with Austin, either. They recouped some of what they lost in the trade up for Austin when they moved back eight spots to No. 30 and drafted linebacker Alec Ogletree.
Opponents will fear playmakers such as Harvin and Austin more than they will fear top safeties and guards. From that standpoint, we could favor Seattle and St. Louis for likely dynamic impact. I'd say every team in the division had good reason for following the course it followed. Three of the four teams made targeted strikes, meaning they got exactly what they wanted from first-round capital. They can feel good about that.