Posted: Wednesday April 20, 2005 4:23PM; Updated: Wednesday April 20, 2005 4:23PM
NFC West Five-Year Draft Grades
The Cardinals had a great 2004 draft, finding playmakers with their first three selections: receiver Larry Fitzgerald, linebacker Karlos Dansby and defensive tackle Darnell Dockett. Receiver Anquan Boldin in the second round in 2003 was the heist of that draft. But then things get a bit dicey, because Arizona's mistakes far outweigh its successes. Receiver Bryant Johnson and defensive end Calvin Pace (both 1st, 2003) have not measured up -- same goes for defensive tackle Wendell Bryant (1st, 2002). Add in running back Thomas Jones (1st, 2000), who did little in Arizona, and a clear pattern emerges.
St. Louis Rams
Most of the Rams' draft failures of late have come on defense, where former No. 1's like defensive tackle Damione Lewis (2001), linebacker Robert Thomas (2002), and defensive tackle Jimmy Kennedy (2003) have made an unacceptably low impact. Last year, St. Louis had success in the first round with running back Steven Jackson, and their third-round pick, defensive end Tony Hargrove, was starting and contributing by season's end. Receivers Kevin Curtis and Shaun McDonald were good finds in the third and fourth rounds in 2003, but the Rams still haven't solved their defensive problems.
San Francisco 49ers
It's been a long time since the 49ers drafted a player who made a big first-year impact -- a trend they hope that changes with this year's No. 1-overall pick. Receiver Rashaun Woods (1st, 2004) didn't do much last year, and the 49ers remain in the market for more help at his position. Linebacker Julian Peterson (1st, 2000), cornerback Ahmed Plummer (1st, 2000), linebacker Jamie Winborn (2nd, 2001) and receiver Brandon Lloyd (4th, 2003) have turned out well. But Andre Carter (1st, 2001), cornerback Mike Rumph (1st, 2002) and kicker Jeff Chandler (4th, 2002) all have underachieved.
The Seahawks have gathered three-fourths of their starting secondary in the past two drafts, selecting cornerback Marcus Trufant (1st) and safety Ken Hamlin (2nd) in 2003, and safety Michael Boulware (2nd) in 2004. It's not all good news in the Pacific Northwest. Tight end Jerramy Stevens (1st, 2002) isn't as far along as he should be, and defensive tackle Marcus Tubbs (1st, 2004) had an injury-shortened rookie season. Running back Shaun Alexander (1st, 2000) has been a true-No. 1 rusher, but immature receiver Koren Robinson (1st, 2001) may be getting close to his final shot in Seattle.