Quarterbacks were the major story for the NFC West during the 2020 NFL season, and they became the story of the 2021 NFL Draft. One team took a quarterback with their first pick while the other three used one or more early-round selections to provide support for their current signal-caller. Here is how the draft turned out for these teams.
Objective Achieved: Defensive help
The hope is that Tulsa's Zaven Collins and Duke's Victor Dimukeje can replace what was lost with Haason Reddick's departure. Florida cornerback Marco Wilson, UCF cornerback Tay Gowan, and Cincinnati safety James Wiggins give the back end of this Cardinals defense a boost. Purdue wide receiver Rondale Moore will surprise teams in this offense, as Kyler Murray will love his multi-positional flexibility, while Penn State center Michal Menet adds new blood to the offensive line. But many were expecting the Cards to take running back, which they did not do.
Los Angeles Rams
Objective Achieved: Filled all major needs
Louisville's Tutu Atwell, UCF's Jacob Harris, and Notre Dame's Ben Skowronek give Matthew Stafford plenty of new options in the passing game. Maryland running back Jake Funk adds another body to the backfield as well, but where's the offensive line help? Northwestern's Earnest Brown IV, Concordia-St. Paul's Chris Garrett, and Texas A&M's Bobby Brown III should give this Rams defensive line a much-needed jolt. They also reinforced the back end of the defense with South Carolina linebacker Ernest Jones and Central Arkansas corner Robert Rochell.
San Francisco 49ers
Objective Achieved: Got the quarterback they wanted
The Niners won the Trey Lance (North Dakota State) sweepstakes, but will he play right away? I imagine Jimmy Garoppolo will have something to say about that. Whoever the quarterback is, the front office wants to make sure that the offensive line can protect him better by cutting down on the 39 sacks they gave up last year. The hope is that Notre Dame guard Aaron Banks and Western Michigan tackle Jaylon Moore can help with that improvement.
The Niners also hope to improve last year's 15th-ranked rushing offense (118.1 ypg), hence the reason why they picked up running backs Trey Sermon (Ohio State), and Elijah Mitchell (Louisiana). They also picked up some secondary help with cornerbacks Ambry Thomas (Michigan) and Deommodore Lenoir (Oregon), along with USC safety Talanoa Hufanga. Surprisingly, they didn't grab a tight end to complement George Kittle or a defensive lineman.
Objective Achieved: Made the most with few picks they had
The Seahawks were very limited with draft picks this year, thanks to trades for safety Jamal Adams and guard Gabe Jackson, but they made the most of what they had. They decided to address three vital positions. Most importantly, Seattle gave Russell Wilson yet another fast weapon by picking up Western Michigan wide receiver D'Wayne Eskridge. They followed that second-round selection up by taking Oklahoma cornerback Tre Brown and Florida offensive tackle Stone Forsythe.
— Gabe Salgado is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. He's also written for NBC, Fox, The Sporting News, The Sports Journal, The Undefeated and Complex. He can also be heard on WGN Radio. Follow him on Twitter @GabeSalgado82.
(Top photo by Terrell Lloyd, courtesy of 49ers.com)