NFC West NFL Draft Grades: 49ers Take Risks; Rams Add Top Talent

Greg Robinson, Aaron DonaldThe rich got richer in the 2014 NFL draft as the San Francisco 49ers owned the rest of the league by selecting a fantastic rookie class.

The St. Louis Rams, Arizona Cardinals and Seattle Seahawks also had solid drafts, but nothing compares to the 49ers, who were able to sit back and take the best available players with all 12 of their picks. They already were stacked, so the 49ers must be creative to fit all of the new players on the 53-man roster.

This week, NESN.com graded the picks made in each division, and we finish with the NFC West.

ARIZONA CARDINALS

Round 1, No. 27 overall: Deone Bucannon, safety, Washington State
Round 2, No. 52 overall: Troy Niklas, tight end, Notre Dame
Round 3, No. 84 overall: Kareem Martin, defensive end, North Carolina
Round 3, No. 91 overall: John Brown, wide receiver, Pittsburg State
Round 4, No. 120 overall: Logan Thomas, quarterback, Virginia Tech
Round 5, No. 160 overall: Ed Stinson, defensive end, Alabama
Round 6, No. 196 overall: Walt Powell, wide receiver, Murray State

The Cardinals might have reached for Bucannon and Niklas, but both players have high upside, and they need to take risks to compete with the 49ers and Seahawks. Thomas was another reach in the fourth round, but if he doesn’t work out at quarterback, he has the size and athleticism to move to tight end.

Grade: B-

SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS

Round 1, No. 30 overall: Jimmie Ward, safety, Northern Illinois
Round 2, No. 57 overall: Carlos Hyde, running back, Ohio State
Round 3, No. 70 overall: Marcus Martin, center, USC
Round 3, No. 77 overall: Chris Borland, linebacker, Wisconsin
Round 3, No. 100 overall: Brandon Thomas, guard, Clemson
Round 4, No. 106 overall: Bruce Ellington, wide receiver, South Carolina
Round 4, No. 129 overall: Dontae Johnson, cornerback, North Carolina State
Round 5, No. 150 overall: Aaron Lynch, outside linebacker, South Florida
Round 5, No. 170 overall: Keith Reaser, cornerback, Florida Atlantic
Round 6, No. 180 overall: Kenneth Acker, cornerback, Southern Methodist
Round 7, No. 243 overall: Kaleb Ramsey, defensive tackle, Boston College
Round 7, No. 245 overall: Trey Millard, fullback, Oklahoma

Wow, that’s a haul.

The 49ers had a ton of picks, and they were in position to fill needs while taking the best players available. Ward, Hyde, Martin and Borland are potential starters, and Ellington has the potential to be a star slot receiver. Johnson has prototypical size for an NFC West cornerback, and Millard was regarded as the draft’s best fullback.

The 49ers also were able to take some major risks in the draft with Thomas and Reaser, who recently suffered knee injuries, and Lynch, who has serious effort questions.

Grade: A+

SEATTLE SEAHAWKS

Round 2, No. 45 overall: Paul Richardson, wide receiver, Colorado
Round 2, No. 64 overall: Justin Britt, offensive tackle, Missouri
Round 4, No. 108 overall: Cassius Marsh, defensive end, UCLA
Round 4, No. 123 overall: Kevin Norwood, wide receiver, Alabama
Round 4, No. 132 overall: Kevin Pierre-Louis, linebacker, Boston College
Round 5, No. 172 overall: Jimmy Staten, defensive tackle, Middle Tennessee State
Round 6, No. 199 overall: Garrett Scott, offensive tackle, Marshall
Round 6, No. 208 overall: Eric Pinkins, safety, San Diego State
Round 7, No. 227 overall: Kiero Small, fullback, Arkansas

The Seahawks certainly have their own way of drafting. Richardson, Britt and Marsh were regarded as reaches by draft analysts, while Norwood and Pierre-Louis were steals in the fourth round.

The Seahawks already have a stacked roster, and they’ll have to save money to sign Russell Wilson to a long-term contract, so trading out of the first round might have made sense.

Grade: B-

ST. LOUIS RAMS

Round 1, No. 2 overall: Greg Robinson, offensive tackle, Auburn
Round 1, No. 13 overall: Aaron Donald, defensive tackle, Pittsburgh
Round 2, No. 41 overall: Lamarcus Joyner, cornerback, Florida State
Round 3, No. 75 overall: Tre Mason, running back, Auburn
Round 4, No. 110 overall: Mason Alexander, safety, Utah State
Round 6, No. 188 overall: E.J. Gaines, cornerback, Missouri
Round 6, No. 214 overall: Garrett Gilbert, quarterback, Southern Methodist
Round 7, No. 226 overall: Mitchell Van Dyk, offensive tackle, Portland State
Round 7, No. 241 overall: C.B. Bryant, safety, Ohio State
Round 7, No. 249 overall: Michael Sam, defensive end, Missouri
Round 7, No. 250 overall: Demetrius Rhaney, center, Tennessee State

The Rams aced their two first-round picks. Robinson is nearly guaranteed to be a franchise left tackle, and Donald might have been the best athlete in the entire draft, and he had production to match at Pittsburgh.

Joyner and Mason were solid second-day picks, and Sam has the potential to be a situational pass rusher.

Grade: B+

Check out our other draft grades: AFC East|NFC East|AFC North|NFC North|AFC South|
NFC South|AFC West

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