Given the uncertainty of the upcoming NFL season, it’s honestly too early to start predicting final standings. But since Opening Day may be delayed, we can still poke and prod the NFC West a bit. It may be the only football fun we have for awhile–other than the launch of Madden 12 in a few months.
Seattle flew under the radar during last week’s draft, shoring up the offensive line and multiple parts of the defense. At a glance, an observer could legitimately guess Seattle is concerned with protecting the quarterback, and gathering better physical specimens all around. That includes their first-round pick, OG James Carpenter.
But truly, Seattle had no choice–their playoff run following a 7-9 record was both exciting and damaging. Hard to believe that their sub-.500 season earned them a spot in the bottom quarter of the picking order. So expecting them to find college players for exciting, franchise-changing choices was too much to ask.
With serious concerns about who’ll be under center in Seattle, the team did what they could nearly everywhere else. There was a run on quarterbacks in the 2011 draft, and Seattle wisely didn’t indulge in a crop of play callers who are above average, at best.
Serviceable QBs are always available in free agency, but the plan appears to include having Charlie Whitehurst and veteran Matt Hasselback stem the tide until next year. Hasselback is a free agent, though it’s difficult to think of many teams who are waiting to snap him up.
The St. Louis Rams, also 7-9 last year, lost the tiebreaker and were eleven picks ahead of the ‘Hawks. That is a huge gap between two mirror-image teams. And considering that Sam Bradford will be the Rams’ centerpiece for the best part of a decade, the rest of the NFC West might be looking up at them for a while.
Just because of Bradford’s presence alone, and the confidence he’s surely gained from a strong rookie season, the Rams have to be the early favorites to win the division–even if it’s with a 9-7 record. San Francisco and Arizona will likely need the entire 2011 year to decide who can quarterback in a competent way. Seattle’s Hasselbeck and Whitehurst, both capable for stretches, are simply not a long-term answer. No news there.