If you’ve read the Sports are from Venus Mock Drafts, you know that I place a high premium on team needs in the draft. These grades will reflect how well I think each team has done in addressing their weak spots.
So, how did things for the 2020 NFC West teams?
1st Round: 8 Isaiah Simmons, LB, Clemson
3rd Round: 72 Josh Jones, OT, Houston
Man, this division is going to be wild next season.
Because the worst team in the division just absolutely nailed the offseason.
Arizona was the only NFC West team that wasn’t in contention for a playoff spot in 2019. They very well could be in 2020. They got one of the best defensive players in the draft in Isaiah Simmons from Clemson, he’s a sideline to sideline tackling machine. They also got a great offensive lineman in the third round. Josh Jones is versatile and will slide around the line until he most likely becomes Kyler Murray’s blindside protection after he gets some pro experience.
Doesn’t sound like a ton of early picks, I know, but what they got in the trade market is just crazy. DeAndre Hopkins for a second-round pick? Running back Kenyon Drake for a fifth? Add those pieces to a VERY strong draft that focused primarily on defense and you’ve got a recipe for improvement.
Grade: A-. Super strong. Not grading the trades, obvi. But Simmons is a monster and they added multiple pieces to the D-line in the fourth round. Assuming Jones improves as scheduled, the Cards absolutely nailed it.
Los Angeles Rams
2nd Round: 52 Cam Akers, RB, FSU
2nd Round: 57 Van Jefferson, WR, Florida
3rd Round: 84 Terrell Lewis, LB, Alabama
3rd Round: 104 Terrell Burgess, S, Utah
No first rounder, no problem.
Very solid draft for the Rams here, focusing on the skill positions in the second round before turning their attention to the defense in round three. Van Jefferson doesn’t flash with his measurables, but he’s a super clean route runner that will excel in Sean McVay’s precision-based offense.
Cam Akers is a good ball carrier who can be deployed in a range of offensive sets. He’s a good chess piece for the offensive guru to play with. On defense, I like the addition of both Terrells. Lewis is a rough and ready linebacker who’s a bit of a mystery to scouts, having missed some serious time while at Alabama. If he fills out his frame to improve durability, he could be a steal.
Grade: B. The Rams have struggled with their identity after the Super Bowl loss two seasons ago. Is this the year that Los Angeles gets back on top of the NFC West?
San Francisco 49ers
1st Round: 14 Javon Kinlaw, DT, South Carolina
1st Round: 25 Brandon Aiyuk, WR, Arizona State
Weird draft for these 49ers. Two picks in the first round, then nothing until round five. So, pretty simple analysis.
Did the Niners get two legit first round talents with their picks? Yup.
Javon Kinlaw is physically gifted, if unpolished, bull rusher in the middle. He’s intimidating and will cause pockets to collapse at the next level. He doesn’t pile up the stats, but with the limited amount of SEC level-tape (he was a JUCO transfer), Kinlaw projects well.
We had Brandon Aiyuk as an early second-round pick, so I’m not surprised to see him go late in the first. His combination of size and creativity after the catch will make him a very interesting piece in Kyle Shanahan’s offense. He’s not quite a burner, and he isn’t huge, but he has great hands and he makes people miss with great wiggle in his runs and he just gets first downs whenever needed. Expect him to be used as a Swiss Army type piece in San Francisco, where he’s guaranteed to break a huge run or two on end around or reverse-type plays.
Grade: B. Two solid picks in the first round for a team that just wasn’t very needy. A return trip to the NFC Championship game won’t be a surprise.
1st Round: 27 Jordyn Brooks, LB, Texas Tech
2nd Round: 48 Darrell Taylor, EDGE, Tennessee
3rd Round: 69 Damien Lewis, OG, LSU
Pete Carroll has been a defensive mastermind in the NFL, so using the first two picks on defense doesn’t surprise me. But offensive line was clearly a bigger need than linebacker. Yes, they need help at edge rusher, but I’m not sure Darrell Taylor was the best guy left on the board at that position. Jordyn Brooks will be a good NFL linebacker, but I’m not entirely sure he’ll get much play in the first year or two.
For a playoff team that was only a few pieces away, I don’t love this draft, because I’m really not sure if they got any better. Meh.
Grade: C. They didn’t move early to address their needs and the first two picks just reek of a coach trying to be too clever for his own good. In one of the NFL’s toughest divisions, this might not be enough to keep pace.
For more thoughts and opinions from Tom, check out his author page.
Image Source: AP Images