Eight in the Box: Ideal first rounds

April, 19, 2013
4/19/13
12:00
PM ET
NFC Eight in the Box: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South

What’s the ideal first-round scenario for each team?

Arizona Cardinals: The Cardinals would ideally trade back from the seventh overall spot in a draft lacking clarity. The team has seven picks, one in each round. Adding selections would make sense for coach Bruce Arians and general manager Steve Keim as they look to put their stamp on the roster. Guard and safety are two of their primary needs, but those generally aren't positions teams target among the top 10 overall choices. Trading back would allow the Cardinals to address their primary needs without over-drafting at those positions. Absent trade options, the Cardinals would ideally find an immediate starter for their offensive line or to supplement their pass rush, which could take a hit early in the season when Daryl Washington serves a suspension.

St. Louis Rams: The Rams would ideally add firepower to their offense without reaching for one of the riskier wide receivers available in this draft. Scouts seem to think Tavon Austin is the one wideout most worthy of an early selection. The Rams would get high marks for snagging Austin with the 16th overall choice and then selecting an immediate starter at safety or guard with their other first-round selection, which is 22nd overall. Of course, no one knows with much certainty whether Austin is indeed the best wideout available in this draft. The first round will feel like a success if the Rams come away with at least one immediate projected starter, most likely at safety or guard but possibly at receiver or, less likely, running back.

San Francisco 49ers: The 49ers hold the 31st overall choice, the second-to-last pick of the first round. They also hold the 34th and 61st overall choices, however, so they have added flexibility. The 49ers have 13 choices overall, including five of the first 93 selections. They aren't going to find 2013 roster spots for all those players. For that reason, the ideal scenario could involve bold plays up or down the draft order, making that draft capital work for them in ways that address immediate and long-term planning. For example, the 49ers could parlay the 31st pick or possibly one of those second-round choices into picks for the 2014 draft, perhaps even a first-rounder, while still coming away with a potential immediate contributor at safety or for the defensive line in particular. Or, they could use their extra picks to move up higher in the first round for a specific player they think can make an immediate contribution.

Seattle Seahawks: The Seahawks do not hold a first-round pick after trading the 25th overall choice to the Minnesota Vikings as part of the Percy Harvin deal. They almost certainly will not be trading up into the first round. Their willingness to part with the 25th pick appeared to reveal a belief that the team wouldn't get a dynamic player in that slot. Otherwise, why not keep the pick and select a player at a price much lower than what Harvin is commanding? Ideally, the lack of a clearly defined pecking order for players in this draft would work to the Seahawks' advantage. Under this scenario, a few players with first-round grades on the Seahawks' board would remain available when the team is on the clock for the first time with the 56th selection.

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