The teams in the NFC West have all gotten better via the draft. There will be a number of rookie impact players on each team. This is truly a case of the rich getting richer. Let’s take a look at the impact players on each team in the NFC West.
Deone Buccanon would be the easy choice here because of the physical presence he brings to the secondary. However, the rookie impact player we will go with here is wide receiver John Brown. The rookie from Pittsburg State impressed at OTAs and mini camps. He gives the Cardinals a speed option that will compliment their bigger receivers Larry Fitzgerald and Michael Floyd. He will also make up for the loss of Andre Roberts to the Washington Redskins.
Brown will also get the chance to have an effect in the return game for the Cardinals. The Cardinals will be able to have very good field position thanks to his explosive play making ability. He will also be a match up problem for teams when he lines up in the slot. Expect Bruce Arians figure out ways take advantage of mismatches as defenses focus on Fitzgerald and Floyd. Brown’s ability to stretch the field will be a perfect match for Arians’ vertical passing game.
St. Louis Rams
The Rams surprised many people when they selected Aaron Donald with the 13th overall pick. He quietly was one of the most impressive participants in the 2014 NFL Scouting Combine. His addition to the Rams gives them the best defensive line in the NFC West. Donald will give them a major interior pass rush that will wreck havoc as he forces the pocket to collapse into the quarterback’s lap.
Donald is a one gap, three technique defensive tackle that is perfect for the Rams 4-3 base defense. He is also very stout against the run. Opposing offensive linemen will have trouble with him because of his phone booth quickness. They’ll have to go head up with him because Chris Long and Robert Quinn will be more likely to be double teamed. Defensive coordinator Greg Williams will be able to do a lot with his new weapon on the defensive line.
San Francisco 49ers
The 49ers selected Marcus Martin in the third round. Some considered him to be the best center in the draft. Getting him with the 70th overall pick was a big time value. Daniel Kilgore is the starter by default as free agent Jonathan Goodwin signed with the New Orleans Saints. Kilgore’s status as a starter is not likely to last too long.
Martin has instant starter potential at center and can play right guard. At 6-3 320 pounds, he brings the ideal size that a power run football team such as the 49ers need. He relishes physical play which is again right in line with what the 49ers want to do. His long arms will allow him to strike defensive linemen first as he fires off the ball. Expect Martin to become the starting center by mid season if he doesn’t win the job in training camp.
The choice here is receiver Paul Richardson. Richardson is a burner that will make plays on the outside while Percy Harvin wrecks havoc from the slot. He has already made a series of deep catches against the Seahawks secondary in OTAs and mini camp. Russell Wilson likes to push the ball down field when plays break down. There aren’t many defensive backs that can stick with a guy like Richardson for an extended period of time. Richardson will also be a target on play action passes and double moves that will give him a chance to use his elite footwork.
That same footwork will help the Seattle defensive backs, especially Richard Sherman. Sherman tends to struggle against receivers that are able to work him at the line of scrimmage by using their feet. This is something that also troubles him within routes. Going against Richardson will give Sherman the chance to face someone who is strong in the areas that cause him problems. Richardson will be an immediate contributor and impact player even if he doesn’t see the field right away.
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