fbpx
Bettings
article featured image background
Article preview

2023 NFL Draft Wish List: NFC West

NFL Fantasy

Authors

Share
Contents
Close

The NFC West is very interesting leading up to the NFL Draft. Two teams have selections inside the top five, while the other two don’t even have first-round selections. Trades are always a huge aspect of the draft, and this division could have a lot to do with that come Thursday.

Let’s break it down. 

 

Check out our whole Draft Wish List series here:

2023 NFL Draft Wish List: NFC West

Arizona Cardinals

  • First pick: 1st round, 3rd overall
  • Total first-rounders: 1
  • Total selections: 8

As of now, Arizona holds the third overall selection of the draft, but that could quickly change come draft day. Many teams are going to be contacting the Cardinals looking to move up, and with Arizona already having a quarterback (and plenty of holes on the roster), the Cardinals should strongly consider trading out of the three spot. For now, let’s operate under the assumption the Cardinals stay put. Will Anderson would most likely be the selection, but all of a sudden there is a chance Anderson goes second overall to the Texans. If Anderson is there at 3, I think Arizona stays put and adds him to their roster. With J.J. Watt retired and Zach Allen in Denver, the Cardinals’ front seven has become one of the worst in all of football. The Cardinals were slightly above average in pressure rate this past season, but that was with Watt and Allen in town, on top of the fact that Arizona also blitzed at the second-highest rate in the NFL (34.5%). Over the past two seasons, Anderson recorded 29 sacks, thanks to his strong athleticism and wicked first step. He’s also a plus run defender and has tremendous pursuit and effort against the run. If Arizona trades back, however, I’d imagine it would move them to the seven or eight range, which would likely have them looking at one of the draft’s top defensive backs in Devon Witherspoon or Christian Gonzalez. Unless Jalen Carter is still on the board, in which case, Arizona would likely select him.

Outside of drastically improving the defensive line, Arizona has to upgrade the offensive line and secondary. Byron Murphy, their top defensive back over the last two seasons, signed with the Vikings in free agency, leaving the Cardinals with Marco Wilson and Antonio Hamilton atop the depth chart at corner. And that is without even mentioning the fact that Pro Bowl safety Budda Baker recently requested a trade. Arizona has two selections in the third round this season, along with the third pick of the second round. If I’m the Cardinals, I am looking at Steve Avila towards the top of the second round, assuming Florida’s O’Cyrus Torrence doesn’t fall to them at 34th overall. They could also very easily draft a defensive back to start the second round, and there is a good chance that Cam Smith and Emmanuel Forbes are both on the board. If they elect to wait until the third round, Julius Brents from Kansas State, Garrett Williams from Syracuse or Clark Phillips from Utah would all make for solid selections. I have already shared how much I love Phillips but I also like Williams, who has excellent hip fluidity and footwork which allows him to stay right in a wideout’s pocket. A torn ACL ended his season after just seven games but if the Cardinals can draft him in the third round, they should be thrilled.

 

Seattle Seahawks

  • First pick: 1st round, 5th overall
  • Total first-rounders: 2
  • Total selections: 10

Things are looking up in Seattle. 

The Russell Wilson trade worked out better than anyone could have imagined, as Geno Smith was an All-Pro signal caller in 2022, and the team now has two first-rounders in this draft, as well as six total selections within just the first four rounds. Seattle’s first pick is fifth overall, which is a very interesting spot. Teams will be looking to trade up ahead of them, most likely for a quarterback. But the Seahawks just gave Smith an extension after he played at a borderline elite level this past season. The Seahawks could very possibly draft Anthony Richardson and have him sit behind Smith, but it feels like they are going to select Jalen Carter if he falls to 5. Seattle’s pass rush is very underwhelming, making Carter or maybe even Tyree Wilson the most logical selection here.

Of course, the Seahawks also hold the 20th overall selection. I have been mocking a slot wide receiver to Seattle here for a while and I am staying with it. For a while, it looked like Jaxon Smith-Njigba could be there at 20, but I’d be shocked if that was the case now. Still, this draft is full of really good slot wideouts and while the Seahawks have one of the best wideout duos in the league in DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett, they could still use more help at the position. Dee Eskridge hasn’t quite panned out, and this offense was so concentrated last season, as Metcalf and Lockett accounted for 47% of the team’s targets, 44% of the receptions and 49% of the receiving yards. Zay Flowers and Jordan Addison would be tremendous additions to this team, could play that slot role and then eventually fill in for Lockett, who will be 31 years old this season. Addison did play more out wide this past season but has plenty of experience playing in the slot. He’s arguably the most complete when it comes to route-running, while his hands have improved every year in college, dropping 21 passes during his first two years at Pittsburgh, but just two this past season at USC. The Seahawks also could use help on the interior of the offensive line, which makes O’Cyrus Torrence a potential target at 20th overall. Torrence has tremendous power and great hands and according to PFF, had one of the best run-blocking grades in zone concepts, which is a lot of what Seattle implements in their offense.

Seattle has two selections in the second round, so perhaps this is where the Seahawks address the slot receiver position. Josh Downs would be fantastic in this offense, as he gives the Seahawks a second strong contested catch wideout, even at 5-foot-9 and 171 pounds. Downs caught over 72% of his contested targets last season and excels on slot fades and pivot routes in the red zone because of his tremendous footwork and ability to manipulate defenders. Meanwhile, Seattle likely looks to draft a center around this range, which would put them in a great spot to add Luke Wypler, Joe Tippmann or possibly John Michael Schmitz. 

San Francisco 49ers

  • First pick: 3rd round, 99th overall
  • Total first-rounders: 0
  • Total selections: 11

Barring any trades, San Francisco will have to wait a while to make a selection on draft weekend. Their first pick doesn’t come until late in Round 3, where they hold three of the final four selections of that round. It is almost a guarantee that they select at least one defensive back in one of those spots and if TCU’s Tre’Vius Hodges-Tomlinson is available, I’d bet he heads to San Francisco. At 5-foot-8 and 178 pounds, you won’t be asking Hodges-Tomlinson to play press man coverage. Fortunately, San Francisco has been one of the more zone-heavy defenses in the league — DeMeco Ryans is no longer the defensive coordinator, but I don’t expect their philosophy to change too much. 

Outside of defensive backs, San Francisco will also look to add more at the tackle position on the offensive line. Of course, they still have left tackle Trent Williams, who is still arguably the best offensive lineman on the planet. But they need more at right tackle, as well as more overall depth, especially after losing Mike McGlinchey in free agency. Alabama’s Tyler Steen could be available with one of their picks in the third round.

 

Los Angeles Rams

  • First pick: 2nd round, 36th overall
  • Total first-rounders: 0
  • Total selections: 11

In a shocking twist of events, the Rams do not have a first-round pick this year. (Yes, that was sarcasm.) Their first selection comes toward the top of the second round — all of a sudden, this team has many positions they have to address. Jalen Ramsey and Bobby Wagner are gone, the offensive line remains a major question mark, the running back depth is awful, and they could probably use more help at wide receiver after Cooper Kupp. Oh, and they could also use a safety. It is difficult to pinpoint exactly what position the Rams will select where with their 11 picks, but just know that defensive back, offensive line and running back will be selected relatively early. Cam Smith won’t wow you with crazy athleticism, but his ball skills are unbelievable, while Emmanuel Forbes also has tremendous ball skills but lacks the ideal frame. Both are still very strong candidates to be the top selections by the Rams in this draft.

I also think we see a safety and running back come off the board with one of the team’s two third-round selections. This isn’t the greatest safety class in the world, but Antonio Johnson, Sydney Brown or Jartavius Martin would be strong additions to this team that is currently starting Jordan Fuller and Russ Yeast at safety. Finally, although Cam Akers played at a top–12 level during the final five weeks of the season, the Rams still have to add to the running back room. Darrell Henderson is a free agent and behind Akers is only Kyren Williams (a 5-9, 194-pound pass-catching running back) and Ronnie Rivers. The Rams could draft a running back as early as 77th overall in the third round, which could have them looking at Auburn’s Tank Bigsby or Syracuse’s Sean Tucker. Bigsby played behind an awful offensive line, which is why 740 of his 976 rushing yards came after contact last year. He was also hit at or behind the line of scrimmage on almost half of his carries.  Still, he is a really good short-yardage running back with good size and lateral agility, though he will bounce runs outside and try to do too much at times. Tucker, meanwhile, could see his stock rise if his April 24th Pro Day is impressive. He has tremendous acceleration and has some of the best jump cuts you’ll see from any running back in this class. Tucker’s vision on back-side runs is fantastic, while he has the hip fluidity to cut back and rip off explosive runs.

Previous 2023 NFL Rookies Who Should Offer Immediate Fantasy Impact Next The Aging Curve: What Age Group Is Getting the Touches These Days?