What It All Means: NFC Draft Breakdowns

Andy Benoit
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Philadelphia Eagles

Speedy slot receiver Josh Huff joins the Eagles as part of Chip Kelly's Oregon family reunion. (Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images)
Speedy slot receiver Josh Huff joins the Eagles as part of Chip Kelly’s Oregon family reunion. (Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images)

1.26 Marcus Smith, DE/OLB, Louisville
2.10 Jordan Matthews, WR, Vanderbilt
3.22 Josh Huff, WR, Oregon
4.01 Jaylen Watkins, DB, Florida
5.01 Taylor Hart, DE, Oregon
5.22 Ed Reynolds, S, Stanford
7.09 Beau Allen, DT, Wisconsin

It’s hard to see where Marcus Smith fits up front. Yes, soon-to-be 32-year-old Trent Cole might play fewer snaps going forward, but that’s where former first-rounder Brandon Graham comes in. And, though he’s more of a down lineman, 2012 second-rounder Vinny Curry has the explosive first step to be a part-time standup rusher. Smith’s role this fall could be to back up Connor Barwin, which means the Eagles would be getting less than 10 meaningful snaps per game from their first-rounder.

The Eagles at least traded down before taking Smith. Aided by the acquisition of additional picks, they added a pair of wide receivers: Jordan Matthews, a 6-3, 212-pounder who will likely fill the Jason Avant role, and Josh Huff, a mighty mite slot receiver who played for Kelly at Oregon.

St. Louis Rams

1.02 Greg Robinson, OT, Auburn
1.13 Aaron Donald, DT, Pittsburgh
2.09 Lamarcus Joyner, CB, Florida State
3.11 Tre Mason, RB, Auburn
4.10 Maurice Alexander, S, Utah State
6.12 E.J. Gaines, CB, Missouri
6.38 Garrett Gilbert, QB, SMU
7.11 Mitchell Van Dyk, OT, Portland St.
7.26 Christian Bryant, S, Ohio State
7.34 Michael Sam, DE, Missouri
7.35 Demetrius Rhaney, OL, Tennessee St.

Greg Robinson is a raw talent who needs time to develop. He’ll initially do so at left guard, and many believe he’ll capture Jake Long’s left tackle job soon after. But Long, if healthy, is not a player you can squeeze out. Recall that Andre Smith entered the league as an enormous raw talent a few years ago and wound up finding a permanent home as Cincinnati’s right tackle. Robinson could do the same thing.

But right now Robinson is a guard, which likely means the Rams are staying committed to the between-the-tackles running game that kept their injury-marred offense afloat last year. Tre Mason can add some quickness to that cause, providing a nice complement to Zac Stacy. The Mason pick was also a tacit admission that Isaiah Pead, a second-round pick in GM Les Snead and Jeff Fisher’s first draft in St. Louis, is a bust.

Aaron Donald represents a classic case of the rich getting richer, as he joins what was arguably already the best front four in football. On a related note, getting drafted so late by St. Louis was just about the worst thing that could have happened to Michael Sam. There simply isn’t room for him unless Fisher is willing to carry five defensive ends. If Sam had gone undrafted, he could have chosen a team with less depth.

Lastly, Lamarcus Joyner and Mo Alexander will both have a chance to play right away given the paucity of talent in St. Louis’s secondary.

San Francisco 49ers

Carlos Hyde looks like the Niners' feature back of the future. (David Dermer/Diamond Images/Getty Images)
Carlos Hyde looks like the Niners’ feature back of the future. (David Dermer/Diamond Images/Getty Images)

1.30 Jimmie Ward, DB, Northern Illinois
2.25 Carlos Hyde, RB, Ohio State
3.06 Marcus Martin, OC, USC
3.13 Chris Borland, ILB, Wisconsin
3.36 Brandon Thomas, OG, Clemson
4.06 Bruce Ellington, WR, South Carolina
4.29 Dontae Johnson, CB, N.C. State
5.10 Aaron Lynch, DE/OLB, South Florida
5.30 Keith Reaser, DB, Florida Atlantic
6.04 Kenneth Acker, CB, SMU
7.28 Kaleb Ramsey, DE/LB, Boston College
7.30 Trey Millard, FB, Oklahoma

A team that’s reached the NFL’s final four each of the past two years made seven of the first 129 selections in this year’s draft. Plus, the Niners acquired a sharp-skilled veteran, Stevie Johnson, for a mere fourth-round pick, instantly quelling concerns about depth at wide receiver. Outstanding job by GM Trent Baalke.

Jimmie Ward will be the No. 3 safety behind Eric Reid, a 2013 first-rounder who was scintillating as a rookie, and free agent addition Antoine Bethea. Reid isn’t going anywhere, and while Bethea seemed to be in Indianapolis forever he doesn’t turn 30 until July, so the investment of a first-rounder in Ward could indicate that the Niners will move to a more-modern three-safety, three-corner dime package. That would mean either Patrick Willis or, more likely, the injured NaVorro Bowman, coming off the field in that package. Are the Niners skeptical of Bowman’s ability to come back from his gruesome leg injury? Not only do they now have dime personnel, but they also spent a third-round pick on inside linebacker Chris Borland.

Naturally, most of Baalke’s other picks are luxury items or long-term investments. Carlos Hyde can, hopefully, be the new Frank Gore whenever the actual Frank Gore runs out of gas. Marcus Martin can challenge for a starting spot right away. Once healthy, Brandon Thomas provides quality insurance across the line. Bruce Ellington adds depth to a now-rich receiving corps, while Dontae Johnson deepens a revamped (but still shaky) group of cornerbacks.

Seattle Seahawks

2.13 Paul Richardson, WR, Colorado
2.32 Justin Britt, OT, Missouri
4.08 Cassius Marsh, DE, UCLA
4.23 Kevin Norwood, WR, Alabama
4.32 Kevin Pierre-Louis, OLB, Boston College
5.32 Jimmy Staten, DT, Middle Tennessee St.
6.23 Garrett Scott, OT, Marshall
6.32 Eric Pinkins, CB, San Diego St.
7.12 Kiero Small, FB, Arkansas

GM John Schneider and Pete Carroll seemed to agree with their fans: Seattle’s biggest needs were at wide receiver and offensive line. Paul Richardson is similar to what the ‘Hawks have in Percy Harvin, a quick, fluid long-strider with a slight frame and durability concerns. Another wideout, Kevin Norwood, was added two rounds after the trade-down pick that brought Richardson. This suggests Schneider and Carroll are priming for a hard negotiation with Doug Baldwin, a restricted free agent who is looking for a new contract.

It seems only a matter of time until Justin Britt beats out last year’s seventh-rounder, Michael Bowie, for the departed Breno Giacomini’s old right tackle job. As for Cassius Marsh, Kevin Pierre-Louis and Jimmy Staten… we’ve seen Seattle uncover defensive gems in the middle rounds before.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

1.07 Mike Evans, WR, Texas A&M
2.06 Austin Seferian-Jenkins, TE, Washington
3.05 Charles Sims, RB, West Virginia
5.03 Kadeem Edwards, OG, Tennessee St.
5.09 Kevin Pamphile, OT, Purdue
6.09 Robert Herron, WR, Wyoming

Apparently one Vincent Jackson wasn’t enough for Lovie Smith and new GM Jason Lichth. Now they have a second in Mike Evans. Austin Seferian-Jenkins also gives them a second tight end, which they’ll probably feature regularly in a base 12 package (one back, two tight ends). Tim Wright, undrafted a year ago, is set to break out as a premiere pass catcher. Seferian-Jenkins is cut from a more traditional cloth, a presence as a receiver and an in-line blocker.


Andy Benoit's breakdown of AFC teams' drafts.


Peter King’s Monday Morning Quarterback look back at the draft. FULL STORY


Robert Klemko on Michael Sam’s giant leap. 


Ten later-round picks who could have a big impact. 


Richard Deitsch on how ESPN almost missed the Michael Sam moment. FULL STORY


Josh Gordon’s potential suspension casts a pall on Manziel Mania in Cleveland. FULL STORY


Jenny Vrentas on first round’s wild ride. FULL STORY


Greg Bedard’s first-round breakdown. FULL STORY

It’s hard to understand why Licht and Smith did not use their third-round selection on another wideout. They have nothing behind Jackson and Evans, while the guy they did take, Charles Sims, is joining a backfield that already boasts a featured weapon (Doug Martin), and two serviceable back-ups (Bobby Rainey and Mike James). Martin and James are both coming back from serious injuries, so perhaps Sims is just a pricey insurance policy.


2.15 Trent Murphy, OLB, Stanford
3.02 Morgan Moses, OT, Virginia
3.14 Spencer Long, OG, Nebraska
4.02 Bashaud Breeland, CB, Clemson
5.02 Ryan Grant, WR, Tulane
6.10 Lache Seastrunk, RB, Baylor
7.02 Ted Bolser, TE, Indiana
7.13 Zach Hocker, K, Arkansas

Washington gave up the second overall pick as part of the RG3 trade—a deal that’s looking more and more like a lopsided victory for the Rams. They spent their second-rounder on the one position where they’re well-stocked: outside linebacker. It seems unlikely that Brian Orakpo, who is working under a one-year franchise tag, won’t be re-signed long-term. So unless GM Bruce Allen doesn’t believe Ryan Kerrigan will be worth his price tag in 2016, there is not an obvious spot for Trent Murphy to fill.

There are obvious spots for Morgan Moses and Spencer Long: Moses at right tackle, where he’ll bring more athleticism than veteran scrapper Tyler Polumbus and Long at guard, where a vacancy should open up as either Chris Chester or, more likely, Kory Lichtensteiger, slides to center in place of Will Montgomery.



wonderful.... now I am all keyed up for football and there is nothing to take my mind off of it like the start of the NBA playoffs or anything.  at this point in the NBA playoffs it is kinda boring for most people unless you are a fan of the teams playing OR an "ultra-fan" of the NBA (being just a fan of basketball may not always be the same thing).


ᴊᴜsᴛ ᴀs Rᴏʙɪɴ ᴀɴsᴡᴇʀᴇᴅ I ᴀᴍ sᴛᴀʀᴛʟᴇᴅ ᴛʜᴀᴛ ʏᴏᴜ ᴀʙʟᴇ ᴛᴏ ᴘʀᴏғɪᴛ $7191 ɪɴ ғᴏᴜʀ ᴡᴇᴇᴋs ᴏɴ ᴛʜᴇ ᴄᴏᴍᴘᴜᴛᴇʀ . ʏᴏᴜ ᴄᴀɴ ᴛʀʏ ᴛʜɪs ᴏᴜᴛ 



Brock Vereen (New England RB Shane’s brother) was selected because it must be a franchise bylaw that the Bears are to take a safety in the third or fourth round.

-GSH must call this one in from the grave every year.


It's a great time to be a 49ers fan! They have so much depth at so many spots. A few nits to pick though... Is Lattimer's knee healing slowly? I love the kid and I've really been hoping he'll emerge as the heir apparent to Frank Gore. The Hyde pick seems to say that he's going to be that guy instead.

Also, I thought they could really use a big guy to play the nose. They play with just two D-linemen a lot of the time, but any 3-4 needs a guy in there who can eat blocks in short yardage situations.

Other than that as long as the corners can step up and Kaepernicking doesn't pull a Flacco on their salary cap this should be a great decade!


Tampa Bay definitely upgrades an anemic offense.....Evans, Sefarian-Jenkins, Vincent Jackson, Doug Martin, Sims....this could be an offense which gives opposing defenses fits....


Kelly's O takes a lot of conditioning for both his O and his D, because the D gets less rest because the O is so fast.  I can see an extra LB needed to keep the D fresh, although I grant it doesn't seem a 1st round need.