NFC West: 2010 NFC West Draft Projections

Rams: How 2010 draft picks project

April, 7, 2011
Quarterback Sam Bradford wasn't the only player the St. Louis Rams drafted last year.

It seemed that way at times, given the profound impact Bradford made as a rookie. The rest of the Rams' 2010 draft class features one sure starter in left tackle Rodger Saffold, a potential starting tight end, a couple likely rotation players and one big question mark.

Receiver Mardy Gilyard, a fourth-round choice, missed critical offseason work as a rookie when rules prevented him from reporting until the University of Cincinnati held its final examinations. The lockout this offseason is preventing Gilyard from getting valuable work for a second offseason. Throw in a coordinator change and Gilyard will be further behind.

The chart projects how Gilyard and his fellow 2010 Rams rookies might fit in 2011.

Arizona Cardinals coach Ken Whisenhunt has hit upon one theme consistently when discussing the possibilities for his team in 2011.

The short version: Arizona struggled in 2010, but young players gained experience that will pay off for them, and for the team, this coming season.

The longer version, directly from an interview at the NFL owners meeting last month:
"The one thing I do like is we have a lot of young football players that I believe are going to be very good football players that have now had an opportunity to play. We have struggled through those guys having to play. Now, you hope that going into the next year, those guys will be more conditioned to understanding what they have to do to be successful and that will help us."

That message came through during this 12-minute video the team produced for its website.

Some of the young players Whisenhunt referenced were rookie draft choices in 2010.

First-round choice Dan Williams finished strong and should start, provided he continues to overcome the conditioning troubles that led to a one-game benching last season. Second-rounder Daryl Washington looks like another promising starter. Andre Roberts' 74-yard touchdown reception from John Skelton against Dallas stood out as highlights for two other rookies, although the plan was not -- and is not -- for Skelton to start just yet.

The chart lists the Cardinals' 2010 draft choices based on how they could fit in 2011.
San Francisco 49ers general manager Trent Baalke did not hesitate when asked what a new coaching staff means for unestablished players, including some 2010 draft choices.

"The simple effect is that nobody is guaranteed a position," Baalke said.

The 49ers' new coaches won't get a chance to check out incumbent players on the practice field as long as the lockout continues.

I've made a few projections regarding 2010 choices and can tell you the 49ers were quite happy with their first-round selections. Mike Iupati had a strong rookie season at left guard. In speaking with Baalke, it was clear he thought Anthony Davis showed excellent ability, too. The team expects both to remain starters in Jim Harbaugh's offense.

Beyond that, it's more difficult to say how players project, particularly with a new staff.

The chart breaks down the 49ers' 2010 draft choices based on how they could fit in 2011.
The lockout will force NFL teams to rely more heavily on the draft than free agency, for now.

They'll need the players they chose in 2010 to step forward as well. That will be more challenging if the lockout prevents second-year pros from participating in the meetings and workouts that come with a typical offseason. It's still possible to make projections based on what 2010 draft choices showed as rookies.

I'll begin with the Seattle Seahawks.

"Our guys all the way through the picks, not everybody has stuck, but for the most part, we were counting on guys to play," coach Pete Carroll said from the NFL owners meeting last month. "You put together another year like that and another year like that, and your roster should be really be adjusted well."

The chart breaks down the Seahawks' 2010 draft choices based on how they could fit in 2011.