Breaking down the NFC West first-round picks

Taking a look at the first-round selections of the 49ers' three divisional rivals in the NFC West and breaking down what they mean to their teams.


Cardinals: Floyd a nice complement for Fitzgerald


The Arizona Cardinals had offers to trade down from No. 13 during the first round on Thursday night, but none were good enough to entice them to pass on Notre Dame receiver Michael Floyd.

At 6-3, 220 pounds, Floyd gives the Cardinals another physical presence to go with Larry Fitzgerald.

"One of the things that was apparent this year...is how important field position has become with the new kickoff and the touchbacks and you're starting field position," coach Ken Whisenhunt said. "When you really look at it, you have a player that can change field position really quickly. We feel it gives us a really good receiving corps."

Floyd is likely to start with Andre Roberts and Early Doucet battling for the third and fourth spots.

Floyd is another offensive playmaker the team has added over the past two offseasons, but the club has yet to see the expected production.

Quarterback Kevin Kolb didn't play well last year when he was healthy and he missed seven games with injuries.

Running back Ryan Williams missed his rookie season with a knee injury. If the Cardinals can get decent play out of their quarterback, Kolb or John Skelton, then they should be able to score points next year.

Fitzgerald is one of the game's best, and he lobbied for the team to take Floyd.

"I think what we're going to be able to do with our tight ends and our receivers is going to be something that our coaches are excited about experimenting with this spring," Whisenhunt said.

The Cardinals had offers to trade back but they had placed a high value on Floyd, the highest rated player left on their board.

They needed a receiver and thought the drop-off after Floyd was stepper than the drop in talent after Iowa tackle Riley Reiff.

The Cardinals didn't have a second-round pick, and it's hard to see them being willing to give up much to move into that round.

They're hoping an offensive lineman, preferably a tackle, is available in the third round. In the end, Floyd's talent and size was too enticing to pass up.

"As you see highlights of this young man over the next couple of days, or even today, you can see some of those catches in the red zone, down the sideline," Whisenhunt said. "Those are the types of catches that you have to make in the NFL."


Rams: Brockers brings bang to defense


To asess the first day of the St.Louis Rams' draft, it's necessary to go deeper than to simply evaluate the selection of Louisiana State defensive tackle Michael Brockers in the first round.

What the Rams accomplished must be viewed from within the prism of where the they were as the new league year approached in mid-March.

With the second choice in the first round, general manager Les Snead and coach Jeff Fisher knew they had a precious commodity because of the obvious knowledge that quarterbacks Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III would be first two picks in the draft.

In unprecedented fashion, the Rams were able to engineer a deal with Washington that was completed before the start of the league year and landed them with the sixth pick in the first round, a second-round choice (39th overall) as well as first-round picks in 2013 and 2014.

Meanwhile, as their evaluations unfolded, it became apparent that a team with numerous needs could benefit from a draft that had a large number of very good players that were rated close to each other.

The plan came to fruition as the Rams watched Cleveland trade to select running back Trent Richardson and Jacksonville jump in front of them for wide receiver Justin Blackmon.

The Rams were in position to take Louisiana State cornerback Morris Claiborne, but instead moved down eight slots with Dallas and acquired the Cowboys' second-round pick (45th overall).

Asked about the rationale behind the deal, Snead said, "I'm not going to name the players but there were multiple players that we really liked at that pick (No. 6), but we also had a plan that we talked about all week. If they didn't fall there then we would try to move back and pick up another pick, and the goal was to pick up another second so that we could spread the pick and get more and also get a player we wanted."

That player was Brockers.

Said Fisher, "We had Michael up there with No.-6 value and he was one of our considerations. We had other players up there with that No.-6 pick value, so when you have a number of players up there and the guy that you have interest in is no longer there, it makes sense to go. We talked about our needs and to be able to get pick No. 45 from Dallas was a deal we couldn't refuse. So now you wait and things start falling into place, and there was a run on defensive tackles and the only club we really had to wait on was Arizona and Michael fell to us."

There was a consideration to trading down again, but Fisher said, "We were prepared to. We had set the value. There were other players on the board, but we couldn't wait any longer. We couldn't pass up this opportunity."

When the dust cleared and their dealing was done, the Rams had Brockers, plus two additional second-round picks and first-round picks the next two years.

They now enter the second day of the draft with the first, seventh and 13th choices of the second round and the second pick of the third round. That gives them four of the first 34 picks on day two.

Concluded Fisher, "We feel real good. There's not a head coach or a general manager right now talking about their pick that doesn't feel good, but we feel really good about this. We've got different needs than other clubs. We got another pick. We're going to get a top-notch player at 45, and we've got a guy that's going to be a dominant impact player for our defense."


Seahawks: Irvin another shocking Seattle selection


For a second straight year the Seattle Seahawks shocked the league by drafting a player most NFL observers projected as a second-round pick.

After trading back in the first round, sending the No. 12 overall pick to Philadelphia for the Eagles' No. 15 pick, along with picks in the fourth (114 overall) and sixth round (172), Seattle selected speedy pass rusher West Virginia's Bruce Irvin.

Last year, Seattle selected Alabama offensive tackle James Carpenter with the team's No. 25 overall pick, even though several draft analysts had him rated as a second-round prospect.

In need of pass-rush help after finishing tied for 19th in total sacks last year with 33, Seattle head coach Pete Carroll believes he secured the best pass rusher in this year's draft.

At 6-3, 245 pounds, Irvin finished with 22.5 sacks in 26 games at West Virginia, including 14 in 2010. Irvin was an All-Big East Conference first-team selection by the league's coaches as a senior.

Carroll said he recruited Irvin out of Mt. San Antonio Junior College while at USC and developed a relationship with the 22 year old from Atlanta, Ga.

"He's a fantastic football player," Carroll said. "He's a great pass rusher. The speed that he brings is so unique and so rare. When he had his opportunities to show it in college, he came out as the best pass rusher in America. That's something that we're really excited about.

"The fact that I've known him for so long and have background with the kid - I know what he's been through as John (Schneider) mentioned - I feel like we've got a guy that we had interest in from a lot of areas. This guy's going to be a great asset to the program."

One of the reasons Irvin was considered a second-round prospect was his troubled past. Irvin said he dabbled in drugs and crime as a teenager.

Irvin's mother kicked him out of the house during that time and he dropped out of school. He only played three games at wide receiver his sophomore year, and was ineligible the next two years at Stockbridge High in Atlanta.

But Irvin eventually turned his life around, earned his GED and made his way to Mt. San Antonio Junior College, where he developed into one of the best pass college pass rushing prospects.

"I went through a lot of stuff in my life," Irvin said. "I've seen a lot of stuff, man. If the average person went through what I went through, they would not be on this phone with you right now.

"I could have chosen right, but I chose to go left. And when I chose to go left, I told God that I wasn't going back to what was trying to suck me in. I just surrounded myself with a lot of positive people."

Seattle considered trading back again at No. 15, but teams like the N.Y. Jets, Chicago and New England likely had Irvin in their sights in the second half of the draft, and the Seahawks could have lost their player if they moved back too far.

"We were extremely excited," Seattle general manager John Schneider said. "We didn't want to get too cute with it. Obviously we viewed him as the best pass rusher in the draft. ... There was a certain area we thought we could get to. And then we talked about going back again, but then we decided to just go ahead and lock it down.

"We had this guy rated as one of the top players in the draft."

Carroll compared Irvin to Denver's Von Miller in terms of his get-off and ability to rush the passer. But he understands that Irvin is not a finished product, and will have to learn the different aspects of playing pass coverage.

Irvin will backup defensive end Chris Clemons, and will line up opposite Clemons on third down, similar to how Seattle used Raheem Brock last year.

Carroll said he plans on using Irvin the same way he used Clay Matthews at USC, as mostly a rusher who drops at times into coverage.


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