2011 NFL Draft Results: Grading the NFC West in the first round

Like the St. Louis Rams, the San Francisco 49ers drafted a top pass rusher in the first round of the 2011 NFL Draft.

The 2011 NFL Draft results are in the books, the first round anyway. It was the year of the quarterback reach. Four quarterbacks were drafted in the top 12 picks, and more will likely come off the board early in the second round. Passer-happy teams allowed the highly rated North Carolina DE Robert Quinn to fall to the Rams at #14. How did the Rams' pick stack up to the rest of the NFC West's first round draft results? 

Arizona - CB Patrick Peterson, LSU: I like this pick. Peterson was regarded by many as the best player in the draft. Arizona has a pretty tough secondary now with Peterson paired with Dominique Rodger-Cromartie and safeties Adrian Wilson and Kerry Rhodes. Some question Peterson's size - he's 220 lbs - and how that translates to being an NFL cornerback. 

San Francisco - DE Aldon Smith, Missouri: The 49ers needed some pass rush from the edges to pair with a stout interior defensive line. They get that with Smith. It also means that LB Manny Lawson is probably gone, which could be good news for the Rams now that it looks like free agency will start next week. Lawson was never a true pass rusher, but he should be an excellent 4-3 OLB with his ability to drop back in coverage and pursue. The 49ers got a good pick too, but just how long will it take for Smith to get up to speed?

Seattle - OT James Carpenter, Alabama: This pick turned a few heads when it was announced, but it's a solid pick for Seattle. They need some reliability on their offensive line after once again going through a random set of groupings last year. Russell Okung, their first rounder from last year, dealt with injuries. If he continues to struggle, they can slide Carpenter over, though he profiles much more like a right tackle. Sound familiar? Pundits said the same thing about Rams OT Rodger Saffold when they drafted him atop the second round last year. 

I still like the Rams pick best, obviously. A fearsome defensive line should give all of these teams fits in 2011.

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