It’s all over. Seven rounds and 253 picks later, the 2016 NFL Draft is in the books. Now starts the fight for depth chart supremacy. Aging and underperforming vets are threatened and put on notice by the selection of younger players with the goal of stealing their jobs. We’re going to look at each division’s IDP winners and losers, and today the focus is on the NFC West.
Robert Nkemdiche, DE ARZ
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We’ve heard plenty about Robert Nkemdiche’s maturity issues. He was suspended for Ole Miss’s bowl game for falling out of a hotel window and then getting caught with weed. His path to the draft was just as odd. In what are usually scripted answers to vanilla questions, Nkemdiche said the first thing he was going to purchase after being drafted is a live panther. A. Live. Freaking. Panther. The last thing you want to hear from an immature prospect is that he wants to buy an exotic predator.
Now to the good – Coach Arians runs a tight ship in the desert and the locker room is full of leaders. They have a proven track record of helping players with maturity issues. Tyrann Mathieu has been nothing short of a model citizen since being drafted, thanks in large part to Patrick Peterson. This defense is one of the best in the league and they just added Chandler Jones in a trade with the Patriots. Playing Nkemdiche and Jones on the same side of the defense, across from Calais Campbell, will create havoc on that side of the ball.
Bobby Wagner, LB SEA
The Seahawks were hurting for a defensive tackle and exploited the depth at the position in this year’s draft. After drafting guard Germain Ifedi in round one, they inexplicably had Jarran Reed fall into their laps at pick 49 overall. Ranked as the DT1 in @TheFFGhost’s ORANGE Report, Reed is a dominant run stuffer who was a key cog on Alabama’s defensive line. His ability to disrupt plays will cause offenses to give him extra attention and allow Wagner to patrol the middle of the field with fewer blockers to deal with.
Michael Wilhoite, ILB SF
With 11 selections in the draft, Trent Baalke somehow completely neglected the linebacker position for a collection of corners, defensive ends and offensive linemen. This might not be a big deal if the team had a viable option to play next to all-pro Navorro Bowman. Instead, we’ll enter year two of Michael Wilhoite playing meaningful snaps unless Shayne Skov or Ray-Ray Armstrong finally take a step forward, which is unlikely. Unless talent is added in the off-season, Wilhoite will remain a low end option at the linebacker position.
DeForest Buckner, DE SF
Buckner is big ol’ boy at 6’7” and 291 pounds. His run stopping ability is exceptional and he has the skill set to be a pass rushing force when he wants. Due to his size, he often gets compared to Calais Campbell of the Cardinals and their games are definitely similar. Reuniting with Chip Kelly and Arik Armstead, both who he shared time with at Oregon, will only help the learning curve of transitioning to the NFL. He is going to be a day one starter on a defense that isn’t going to be very good. He has DE2 likelihood as a rookie.
Robert Quinn, DE LAR
When the Rams gave up the King’s ransom to select Jared Goff first overall, the collateral damage was giving up the ability to add more players in the next two drafts. After releasing Chris Long this off-season and failing to add an adequate replacement in free agency or the draft, Quinn will now have to rely on pressure created from the interior of the defensive line. The projected starter opposite Quinn is currently William Hayes who has only had more than 5.5 sacks once in his eight year career. It’s not a good situation for Quinn who will have to fight to keep his top three dynasty defensive end ranking.
Frostee Rucker, DE ARZ
I’m reaching here. There really wasn’t enough defensive draft picks in this entire division to create losing situations, Rucker went from a starting gig opposite Calais Campbell to probably being a situational role player at best. He was only rostered in the deepest of IDP leagues but can now be put out to pasture.
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