By John Boyle
While we wait to see who the Seahawks pick (or don’t) with the last pick of the first round, let’s keep an eye on the rest of the NFC West. Obviously picking last is the ultimate goal, because that’s what comes with winning the Super Bowl, but the negative of it means watching your opponents get better, especially when they have two first rounder (St. Louis) or 11 overall picks (San Francisco)
Pick No. 2
T Greg Robinson, Auburn, 6-5, 332
Pick No. 13
DT Aaron Donald, Pittsburgh, 6-1, 288
The Rams did what most everyone was expecting with the second pick (acquired in the 2012 trade that sent RGIII to Washington), upgrading a line that had issues last year, a must when playing in the most physical division in the NFL. St. Louis’ defense is already very good, so taking steps to get the offense caught up was the obvious and smart choice.
With their second pick in the first round the Rams added to an already nasty defensive line by picking Donald, considered by most to be the best interior defensive lineman in the draft. Considering that the Rams sacked Russell Wilson 11 times in two games last year, the addition of Donald no doubt caught the eye of Seahawks coaches and execs.
Pick No. 20
Arizona traded back with New Orleans, getting the Saints’ first (27) and third (91).
Pick No. 27
SS Deone Bucannon, Washington State, 6-1, 211
Like the Rams did by adding Donald, the Cardinals made a strong defense even better, making the Wazzu safety the first player from in-state player taken in the draft. As good as the Cardinals are up front, they did have a need in their secondary, so Bucannon, who has been compared to Kam Chancellor, has a chance to contribute a physical presence right away.
Pick No. 30
There was a thought that the 49ers will try to trade up considering they have 11 picks, but they ended up staying put.
S Jimmie Ward, 5-10, 197, Northern Illinois
For the second straight year, the 49ers used a first-round pick on a safety—last year it was Eric Reid, this year it’s Ward, a player some have compared to Earl Thomas. Like the Cardinals, San Francisco has a great defense, but has question marks in its secondary, so the pick fits a need. That the 49ers and Cardinals went safety in the first round could also be a reflection of the rest of the league seeing how valuable good safety play can be thanks to the Seahawks.