The NFC West could be the toughest division in the NFL in the 2021 season. A year after getting two teams in the playoffs, all four are capable of doing so this season and two in particular have bigger aspirations. Seattle is the defending NFC West champion but the Seahawks have some big questions to answer on defense and need the offensive line to protect Russell Wilson. The Los Angeles Rams are all-in this season after swapping Jared Goff for Matthew Stafford at quarterback. San Francisco is hoping better health will key their turnaround, but the 49ers' ultimate outcome is tied to what happens under center. Arizona just missed out on the postseason last year and has added some big-name veterans through free agency to rectify that in 2021.
In order to get an accurate assessment of the NFC South heading into 2021, Athlon asked NFL scouts to talk anonymously about the Cardinals, Rams, 49ers, and Seahawks.
Note: These scouting reports come directly from NFL scouts and do not necessarily reflect the views of Athlon's editorial staff.
"This team has way too many question marks. To have the top overall pick in Kyler Murray under center and miss the playoffs, I don’t see a ton of hope here. I love this team talent-wise, but they’re not putting it all together."
"We all love watching DeAndre Hopkins make acrobatic catches. ... A.J. Green is not on the good size of 30. There’s been a decline with him."
"Andy Isabella is being pushed."
"Rondale Moore is gifted, but we have no idea if a guy who’s 5'7" will translate in the NFL."
"This offensive line is not a very good group, although Rodney Hudson is a very tough, hard-nosed center. He’s a really good football player."
Related: Arizona Cardinals Depth Chart
"Chandler Jones is still a very good football player and a good pass rusher. You know that J.J. Watt is not what he once was."
"Markus Golden is a good edge rusher, but I’m not sold on this front seven."
"Jordan Hicks is a good, instinctive linebacker."
"Zaven Collins is a physical, powerful guy."
"Isaiah Simmons is a great athlete, but I want to see him make more plays on the ball."
"Budda Baker is one of the best defensive players in the whole business."
"Malcolm Butler makes them better on the deep end."
"The defense is still a question mark. Is the defense good enough?"
"What they did is so interesting with the quarterback trade. Jared Goff washes out, a young guy with a lot of talent, and they bring in a better quarterback who can throw the heck out of the football. Matthew Stafford has rare ability."
"Their offensive line is not good. Andrew Whitworth is old. Rob Havenstein is very technically sound, but he’s not a good athlete. Stafford is a little bit brittle. If he takes a pounding, that could be a problem."
"They have good receivers with Cooper Kupp and Robert Woods. DeSean Jackson can still stretch the field. Cam Akers is a good running back. I like him, but I’m not raving about him. He’s a solid all-around back."
Note: Scouting report was filed before Cam Akers tore his Achilles in a workout this summer. He will miss the entire 2021 season.
Related: Los Angeles Rams Depth Chart
"Aaron Donald is from a different planet."
"A’Shawn Robinson is a good stay-at-home lineman."
"Leonard Floyd really blossomed last year. The Donald-Floyd combination is so hard to stop. They can end plays, and they can do it fast. They’re so impactful."
"Jalen Ramsey is such a physical, flexible corner."
"Jordan Fuller played better than I expected him to."
"It will be very interesting to see how this defense plays with Brandon Staley gone. This defense was built in his vision."
"They had better be right about Trey Lance after spending the third overall pick on him despite his limited sample size in college. If they don’t make the playoffs, then jobs could start to be talked about being on the line."
"Deebo Samuel is a very talented player. There aren’t many guys like him after the catch. He’s like a running back once he catches the football."
"Their tackles are studs. Trent Williams deserves every dollar he got. He absolutely crushed people last season. Defensive players had their head on a swivel keeping an eye out for him."
"George Kittle is a unique tight end."
"They’ve got to get Jimmy Garoppolo to stay on the field and develop Lance behind him. When Jimmy isn’t on the field, Kyle Shanahan is a losing coach. Something’s got to give. Jimmy G is not a bad quarterback at all, but availability is so critical in football or anything in life."
Related: San Francisco 49ers Depth Chart
"Having Nick Bosa back is huge."
"Javon Kinlaw has made some really good strides. He was a little raw at first, but he has refined his technique significantly."
"Arik Armstead is solid, but he’s never become a real impact player."
"Dee Ford has never really gotten it done."
"Fred Warner is a really good player; that’s their top guy. He’s the leader."
"It was great to see Jason Verrett finally stay healthy."
"If Bosa is back and plays the way he’s capable of, then this defense will click. If he’s not able to be healthy, it’s a below-average defense."
"This team should be crushing it. They have a lot of really good football players on this team. They need to be more aggressive. They want to run the ball. Russell Wilson is special. He has DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett to throw to. Metcalf is dynamic."
"D’Wayne Eskridge is fun to watch and will be a high-impact rookie out of a small draft class. He’ll make plays. They have a lot of weapons."
"Running back Chris Carson breaks a lot of tackles."
"That offensive line is pretty dang good. The Gabe Jackson trade helps them. Duane Brown isn’t what he was, but he’s still very solid."
"They need to let Wilson throw the ball more."
Related: Seattle Seahawks Depth Chart
"I don’t love their defense in terms of pass rushers. Poona Ford is a tough, strong, powerful guy inside. He’s not tall, but that’s the only drawback with him."
"Kerry Hyder Jr. is a little inconsistent. L.J. Collier has never stepped up."
"Carlos Dunlap will step in and be the guy. He brought the pass rush when he got in there."
"Darrell Taylor needs to play better."
"I love their linebackers. We all know what Bobby Wagner can do, but Jordyn Brooks is a good player who runs to the ball."
"I like them getting Pierre Desir at cornerback."
"Jamal Adams is a very unique safety, an attacking pit bull."
"Unlike in the days of the Legion of Boom, this is not a great defense."
"Let’s see what happens with Aldon Smith after his offseason battery charge, which is just the latest issue for him after a long list of them. Pete Carroll has a history of helping guys with issues and having it work out."