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NEEDS FILLED — The Cards devoted their first two (and three of their first four) picks to needs along their defensive front seven: DT Dan Williams (Round 1) and LB Daryl Washington (Round 2). Arizona also replenished their wide receiver depth, snaring Andre Roberts in Round 3.
NEEDS IGNORED — Three areas Arizona was expected to address got the short shrift: the Cards didn’t pursue a quarterback until Round 5 (John Skelton), a cornerback Round 6 (Jorrick Calvin), and completely ignored their offensive line on draft day.
BEST PICK — Arizona scored tremendous value on both of its first two picks. Williams was expected to go off the board in the early teens, but the Cards were able to pick him up at #26; he’ll start immediately on the nose. The speedy, versatile Washington provides depth to a veteran linebacking corps and can learn from Joey Porter until he’s ready to make the defense his own.
MISSED OPPORTUNITY — For a team that not only lost the quick release of quarterback Kurt Warner but also plans to become a more physical rushing team, the decision to ignore offensive linemen seems misguided at best. The post-draft signing of Alan Faneca helps, but the Cards passed on the likes of Mike Johnson, Bruce Campbell, and Jason Fox in Round 3.
FANTASY RAMIFICATIONS — Roberts should factor into the Cardinals’ plans in four-receiver sets, but he’ll be behind Larry Fitzgerald, Steve Breaston, and Early Doucet in the pecking order. Seventh-round pick Jim Dray is four-deep on the tight end depth chart for a team that rarely uses the position. And if Skelton is thrust into duty this year, it’s likely a lost season for the Cardinals.
San Francisco 49ers
NEEDS FILLED — The Niners got a whole lot more physical in the first round of the draft, taking OT Anthony Davis and OG Mike Iupati; both are pencilled in to start immediately. And the hits didn’t stop there; Mike Singletary grabbed a physical safety in Taylor Mays in Round 2, then swiped one-time projected first-rounder LB Navorro Bowman in Round 3. San Francisco even found a complementary running back in Anthony Dixon early in Round 6.
NEEDS IGNORED — The predraft trade for Ted Ginn filled the receiver/returner need the Niners didn’t tend to on draft day, but picking up Karl Paymah via free agency wasn’t reason enough to ignore the cornerback position until the 224th pick, when they drafted Phillip Adams.
BEST PICK — Some mocks had the Niners taking Iupati with their earlier first-round selection; that they were able to get him later in Round One — and take a quality tackle as well, allowing Iupati to begin his NFL career at his more natural guard position — was a coup for San Francisco’s decision-makers.
MISSED OPPORTUNITY — You have to go to the end of the sixth round to find a quibble-worthy pick in the Niners’ 2010 draft. Maybe you can find a corner (Syd’quan Thompson?) you like more than Adams or a receiver you prefer to sixth-round pick Kyle Williams; at this juncture, you’re just splitting hairs.
FANTASY RAMIFICATIONS — Dixon has the tools to unseat Glen Coffee as Frank Gore’s handcuff and might just insert himself into a 10-carry per game committee role. It won’t hurt either back to be running behind the upgraded line that now includes Davis and Iupati,
NEEDS FILLED — You have to be impressed with Pete Carroll’s first Seahawks draft. The team’s two first-rounders were wisely spent on an heir to Walter Jones at left tackle (Russell Okung) and the playmaking safety (Earl Thomas) this defense desperately needed. But that wasn’t all; Seattle also found a receiver/return man to replace Nate Burleson in second-rounder Golden Tate and more secondary help in CB Walter Thurmond (Round 4) and S Kam Chancellor (Round 5). The predraft trade for Charlie Whitehurst and draft-day deals for RBs LenDale White and Leon Washington made sure that just about every itch Seattle’s roster has was scratched.
NEEDS IGNORED — If you want to nit-pick this draft, you could express concern that with Patrick Kearney retiring the Seahawks didn’t address the defensive end position until Day Three (fourth-rounder E.J. Wilson and seventh-rounder Dexter Davis).
BEST PICK — Each of Seattle’s first three picks could qualify, as there were plenty of temptations to stray from the game plan at each selection. Okung has all the skills to carry on in Jones’ shoes and Tate should be an early factor on special teams and perhaps in a Percy Harvin-type role with the Seahawks, but ultimately it may be Thomas who determines whether this was merely a very good draft for Seattle or a great one that laid the groundwork for Carroll’s triumphant return to the NFL.
MISSED OPPORTUNITY — It’s tough to think of a way the draft, specifically the first two rounds, could have played out any better for the Seahawks. Any quibbling with Carroll’s draft can’t start until Day 3, but by the time Seattle came on the clock in Round 4 pass-rushers like Everson Griffen and Corey Wootten were already gone.
FANTASY RAMIFICATIONS — At minimum Tate will see action in three- and four-receiver sets as well as in the return game and whatever unique situations Carroll concocts to get the ball in his hands. And really, he’s hardly stone-walled behind Deon Butler and Deion Branch on the depth chart. TE Anthony McCoy (Round 6) is a depth pick who might free up incumbent John Carlson to play more in the slot, good news for his fantasy potential. Seventh-rounder Jameson Konz is a big WR or undersized TE whose initial impact will likely come on special teams.
St. Louis Rams
NEEDS FILLED — The Rams have so many needs that even with 11 picks they couldn’t address all of them. When the dust had settled, St. Louis was able to cross franchise quarterback (Sam Bradford, Round 1), playmaking receiver (Mardy Gilyard, Round 4), secondary help (Jerome Murphy, Round 3), and maybe even pass rushers (DEs Hall Davis, Eugene Sims, and George Selvie in the fifth, sixth, and seventh rounds, respectively) off their list.
NEEDS IGNORED — Not only did the Rams pass on the two elite defensive tackles sitting atop most draft boards, they ignored the defensive tackle position entirely. The same goes for running back, where they were expected to find some help for workhorse Steven Jackson. St. Louis also failed to address the linebacker position until the penultimate pick of the draft.
BEST PICK — It’s a bit surprising the Rams hung on to the first pick of Day Two, which they turned into versatile OL Rodger Saffold; he doesn’t have an immediate starting spot, but he should push for playing time at multiple positions and provides depth for the unit charged with keeping The Franchise upright. For pure value, grabbing Gilyard at the outset of Day 3 could prove to be the steal of the draft.
MISSED OPPORTUNITY — In retrospect, Rams fans can’t help but wonder what if they had taken Ndamukong Suh with the first overall pick, then grabbed Jimmy Clausen as their franchise quarterback at the top of Round 2.
FANTASY RAMIFICATIONS — Rookie quarterbacks rarely put up fantasy-worthy numbers; even Matt Ryan and Joe Flacco were fringe fantasy starters at best during their impressive debuts. So temper your expectations for Bradford, but at the same time the playmaking Gilyard could develop into his favorite target — and on an offense that will need to throw to stay in games, that could translate into an immediate fantasy impact.