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NFL Draft Review: 49ers, Rams dominate draft in NFC West

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The Sports Network
5/13/2014 1:18:33 PM
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Arizona Cardinals

1 (27) - Deone Bucannon, SS, Washington State; 2 (52) - Troy Niklas, TE, Notre Dame; 3 (84) - Kareem Martin, DE, North Carolina; 3 (91) - John Brown, WR, Pittsburg State; 5 (160) Ed Stinson, DE, Alabama; 6 (196) - Walt Powell, WR, Murray State

Top Picks Analysis: Arizona traded down seven spots and went with safety Deone Bucannon, who was rated as a second-round prospect by most. The choice could mean the Cards are concerned with the health of emerging second-year player Tyrann Mathieu, who tore both his ACL and LCL in December of last season.

Bucannon is bigger and faster than the two top-rated safeties in this draft -- Calvin Pryor and Ha Ha Clinton-Dix -- but he is not as far along. If Mathieu is healthy, though, he and Bucannon could be a top-level pairing on the back end for years.

Tight end Troy Niklas is another talented but raw prospect who would have benefited from another year at Notre Dame. His frame and functional-football strength says he could develop into the best blocking tight end in football but he is a 270-pound guy who wants to be a receiving tight end. Blame the current NFL culture for that.

At 6-foot-6 North Carolina defensive end Kareem Martin is a lengthy player who could be the eventual replacement for Calais Campbell.

Best Value Pick: The Cards needed the heir apparent for veteran quarterback Carson Palmer and they got a nice developmental prospect in the fourth round in former Virginia Tech star Logan Thomas. Thomas has a first-round skill set but really failed to develop in Blacksburg. With sound and patient coaching, however, he has the talent to be a starter in this league.

Questionable Call: Arizona saw the safety position as a need but Bucannon, despite his upside as a player, was not worthy of a first-round grade.

Summary: The Cardinals snared three eventual starters in the meat of the draft (Bucannon, Niklas and Martin), and added a solid developmental prospect at quarterback (Thomas).

FINAL GRADE: B

Undrafted rookie free agent signings: WR Kevin Smith, Washington; DL Justin Renfrow, Miami; OT Kelvin Palmer, Baylor; LB Glenn Carson, Penn State; LB Jonathan Brown, Illinois; CB Todd Washington, Southeast Louisiana; CB Brandon Sermons, UCLA; OL Kadeem Williams, Albany; RB Zach Bauman, Northern Arizona; WR Corey Washington, Newberry; G Anthony Steen, Alabama; RB Tim Cornett, UNLV WR Kelsey Pope, Samford; S Craig Loston, LSU; K Chandler Cantanzaro, Clemson

St. Louis Rams

1 (2) - Greg Robinson, OT, Auburn; 1 (13) - Aaron Donald, DT, Pittsburgh; 2 (41) - Lamarcus Joyner, DB, Florida State; 3 (75) - Tre Mason, RB, Auburn; 4 (110) - Mo Alexander, SS, Utah State; 6 (188) - E.J. Gaines, CB, Missouri; 6 (214) - Garrett Gilbert, QB, SMU; 7 (226) - Mitchell Van Dyk, OT, Portland State; 7 (241) - C.B. Bryant, FS, Ohio State; 7 (249) - Michael Sam, DE, Missouri; 7 (250) - Demetrius Rhaney, OC, Tennessee State

Top Picks Analysis: The Rams were expected to tab the draft's best offensive tackle in Greg Robinson at No. 2 overall but they followed that up by snaring the best defensive tackle with the 13th pick, Pittsburgh three-technique Aaron Donald.

Robinson is so athletic that many project him as the next Orlando Pace in St. Louis, while Donald is a bit undersized but has such great quickness that some have compared him to John Randle, the former Minnesota Vikings star who is now enshrined in Canton.

Teaming Donald, who should have been a top-10 pick, with ends like Robert Quinn, perhaps the best pass rusher in all of football, and Chris Long is sure to give Russell Wilson and Colin Kaepernick some sleepless nights in the ultra-tough NFC West.

"We're a lot better now," Rams coach Jeff Fisher said. "We all know what Greg (Robinson) is capable of doing. He's an outstanding young man. We'll plug him in where we feel he's got the best chance to be successful right now. We don't know exactly where that is, but he may start out inside before we move him back outside. You talk about an athlete. Powerful, quick, great quickness and strength. He's got a chance to be a dominant player inside initially.

"Then of course, Aaron (Donald) is very, very productive; he's an outstanding young man. He's way ahead in hand use on the line of scrimmage. He does an outstanding job with his hands."

St, Louis was also able to add talented Florida State cornerback Lamarcus Joyner, who should project in the nickel right away, in the second round, and Auburn runner Tre Mason, a very solid north-south runner, in the third.

Best Value Pick: It's tough to call the 13th overall pick value because he is supposed to be good but Donald was probably the sixth best player in this draft.

Questionable Calls: Michael Sam might have been a big story to the national media but at the end of the day, the Missouri defensive end is a classic tweener, lacking the length to be an impact player at defensive end and the lateral mobility to play in space as an outside linebacker.

Summary: Robinson became the eighth player taken by the Rams with the picks acquired from the Robert Griffin III trade and he may end up being the best of them all. Meanwhile, Donald has Pro-Bowler written all over him, while Joyner and Mason could be contributors in short order.

FINAL GRADE: A

Undrafted rookie free agent signings: TE Alex Bayer, Bowling Green; CB Jarrid Bryant, South Dakota; LB Johnny Millard, Cal Poly; DE Ethan Westbrooks, West Texas A&M; FB Kadeem Jones, Western Kentucky; LB Aaron Hill, Minnesota; WR Jamain Sherman, East Texas Baptist; S Avery Cunningham, Central Michigan; WR Austin Franklin, New Mexico State; LB Emmanuel McCray, Ole Miss; RB Trey Watts, Tulsa

San Francisco 49ers

1 (30) - Jimmie Ward, SS, Northern Illinois; 2 (57) - Carlos Hyde, RB, Ohio State; 3 (70) - Marcus Martin, OC, USC; 3 (77) Chris Borland, ILB, Wisconsin; 3 (100) - Brandon Thomas, OG, Clemson; 4 (106) - Bruce Ellington, WR, South Carolina; 4 (129) - Dontae Johnson, CB, North Carolina State; 5 (150) - Aaron Lynch, DE, South Florida; 5 (170) - Keith Reaser, CB, Florida Atlantic; 6 (180) - Kenneth Acker, CB, SMU; 7 (243) - Kaleb Ramsey, DE, Boston College; 7 (245) - Trey Millard, FB, Oklahoma

Top Picks Analysis: Trent Baalke and Jim Harbaugh might not like each other personally but come draft time the 49ers' GM and head coach sure make beautiful music together.

San Francisco has another excellent draft despite starting out at No. 30 overall, where they took Northern Illinois playmaking safety Jimmie Ward, a natural center fielder who must overcome a few durability issues, to team with lat year's first-round pick, Eric Reid, in the team's defensive backfield.

With their second-round pick the Niners snared one of the best pure runners in the draft, Ohio State's Carlos Hyde, a 6-foot, 230-pound mauler between the tackles.

"The 49ers like to bludgeon people running the football. That's what Hyde can do," NFL Network Draft analyst Charles Davis said.

The third round is where Baalke and Harbaugh scored really big, though, snaring three excellent choices -- USC center Marcus Martin, perhaps the best pure pivot in the process, Wisconsin inside linebacker Chris Borland, who could hold down the fort while NaVorro Bowman recovers from his gruesome leg injury, and Clemson guard Brandon Thomas, who had a second-round grade before recently tearing his ACL.

Best Value Pick: Thomas won one of the better guard prospects in this draft before tearing his ACL during a pre-draft workout with New Orleans. The Niners are talented enough to redshirt him for a year -- just like they did with Tank Carradine and Marcus Lattimore in 2013 -- and wait for his ceiling as a player.

Questionable Calls: Still waiting for one.

Summary: There is a reason San Francisco has been the most talented team in football from one through 53 for three years running and it all starts on draft day.

FINAL GRADE: A

Undrafted rookie free agent signings: QB Kory Faulkner, Southern Illinois; DE Morgan Breslin, USC; S L.J. McCray, Catawba; TE Asante Cleveland, Miami; LB Shayne Skov, Stanford; C Dillon Farrell, New Mexico; OT Fou Fonoti, Michigan State

Seattle Seahawks

2 (45) - Paul Richardson, WR, Colorado; 2 (64) Justin Britt, OT, Missouri; 4 (108) - Cassius Marsh, DE, UCLA; 4 (123) - Kevin Norwood, WR, Alabama; 4 (132) - Kevin Pierre-Louis, OLB, Boston College; 5 (172) - Jimmy Staten, DT, Middle Tennessee State; 6 (199) - Garrett Scott, OL, Marshall; 6 (208) - Eric Pinkins, FS, San Diego State; 7 (227) - Kiero Small, RB, Arkansas;

Top Picks Analysis: The Super Bowl champs probably deserve the benefit of the doubt but their draft didn't look all productive, especially early on. The Seahawks traded out of the first round before reaching for undersized speed threat Paul Richardson at wide receiver in the second.

Richardson is a one-trick pony who can run by just about everyone but the least physical corner in the game could maul him at the line of scrimmage. Turn around the classic cliche when talking about Richardson in the NFL, he's a boy among men.

The team's other second-round pick, Missouri tackle Justin Britt, was certainly a selection at a need position but he was given a late-round grade by most scouts. Britt isn't very physical and spent most of his time working out of a 2-point stance in a spread-option offense at Mizzou.

Best Value Pick: Alabama WR Kevin Norwood, a fourth-round pick, has a better chance to help this team than Richardson. Norwood has some size at 6-foof-2 and should be able to help on special teams right away.

Questionable Calls: Call it a tie between Richardson and Britt, a pair of second-rounders who shouldn't have been breached in the conversation until the third day.

Summary: Call it a Super Bowl hangover. Two of the best in the business -- Seahawks GM John Schneider and head coach Pete Carroll -- came up empty this time around.

FINAL GRADE: D

Undrafted rookie free agent signings: S Dion Bailey, USC; LB Brock Coyle, Montana; TE Chase Dixon, Central Arkansas; QB Keith Price, Washington; OT Garry Gilliam, Penn State; OT Andu Pulu, Eastern Michigan; DE Jackson Jeffcoat, Texas; OG Bronson Irwin, Oklahoma; CB Jimmy LeGree, South Carolina

Greg Robinson (Photo: The Canadian Press)

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(Photo: The Canadian Press)
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