Grading the 2006 NFL Draft Class: NFC West

Paul Augustin, Jr.Senior Analyst IApril 10, 2009

SEATTLE - NOVEMBER 16: Matt Leinart #7 of the Arizona Cardinalswatches the game against the Seattle Seahawks at Qwest Field on November 16, 2008 in Seattle, Washington.  (Photo by Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images)

It is said that NFL teams are built through the draft.  It is also said that a draft class shouldn't be judged until after three years. 

Well, for the class of 2006 which featured Mario Williams, Reggie Bush, Vince Young, Matt Leinart, and others, Judgment Day is here. 

Today, I am looking at the NFC West.  This division features the NFC champion Arizona Cardinals but is also a division that won a total of nine games against non-division opponents.


Arizona Cardinals

1. 10 Matt Leinart QB USC

   -Inconsistent.  Looks great one week.  Throws multiple interceptions the next.

   -Injured in fifth game of 2007 when he broke his collarbone.  Early in the season, he had been alternating series with Kurt Warner.

2. 41 Deuce Lutui G USC

   -Started every game at right guard for the Cards in 2008 and started 15 in 2007.

3. 72 Leonard Pope TE Georgia

   -Has fewer than 50 career receptions and less than 500 yards. Only nine catches in 2008.

4. 107 Gabe Watson DT Michigan

   -After making little impact in 2007 as full-time starter, he has been demoted to second string.

5. 142 Brandon Johnson LB Louisville

   -Made a total of four tackles in two seasons.

   -Joined the Bengals in 2008 and had 83 tackles as a part-time starter.

6. 177 Jonathan Lewis DT Virginia Tech

    -Played a total of four games in 2006.

    -Did not appear in a game in 2007 and 2008.

    -Now with the Jags.

7. 218 Todd Watkins WR Brigham Young

    -Never played a down for the Cardinals.

    -Currently a reserve receiver for the Raiders.

    -Has never caught a pass in the NFL.

Recap: The Cardinals drafted Leinart, who they thought would be their franchise quarterback.

Instead, he lost his job to Kurt Warner and likely won’t regain it for another two years unless Warner gets injured.

Three players no longer play for the team.

Best Pick: Deuce Lutui.  Since teams are built in the trenches, it always good to draft a guy who can make 31 starts in two seasons.

Worst Pick: Leonard Pope.  They could have had Owen Daniels instead.  Daniels has already been to the Pro Bowl for Houston.  Daniels’ second best season is better than Pope’s career combined numbers.

Grade: D


San Francisco 49ers

1. 6 Vernon Davis TE Maryland

    -He is ultra-talented, but also a malcontent.

    -Thrown out of a game against the Seahawks in 2008 by Mike Singletary for unsportsman-like play and attitude.

    -Has hardly lived up to being the No. 6 selection in the draft.

    -Best season was in 2007, when he had 509 yards and four touchdowns.

1. 22 Manny Lawson OLB North Carolina State

     -Best known for good coverage skills.

     -He is a decent pass rusher.

     -He doesn’t play the run as well as the pass, but doesn’t need to, because he often lines up on the same side as Patrick Willis.

     -Tore ACL in third game of 2007 and missed the rest of the season.

3. 84 Brandon Williams WR Wisconsin

     -Has never caught a pass in three NFL seasons.

     -He now plays for the Rams and is a decent kick returner.

4. 100 Michael Robinson RB Penn State

     -Has dropped to third on the depth chart behind Frank Gore and Deshaun Foster.

     -Only contributes in spot duty and hasn’t scored a touchdown since his rookie season.

5. 140 Parys Haralson DE Tennessee

     -Drafted as a defensive end but was switched to outside linebacker opposite Lawson.

     -Had his best pro season in 2008 when he started 11 games and recorded eight sacks.

 6. 175 Delanie Walker TE Central Missouri State

     -Considered more of an end line blocker than a receiving threat.

     -Started 10 games in 2007 when the 49ers featured a lot of two tight end sets.

 6. 192 Marcus Hudson DB North Carolina State

     -Has never started an NFL game and is used mostly in dime situations.

 6. 197 Melvin Oliver DE Louisiana State

     -Had a productive rookie season and made 14 starts.

     -Spent the entire 2007 season on the PUP list after tearing his ACL during OTAs.

     -Oliver was not on an NFL roster in 2008.

 7. 254 Vickiel Vaughn DB Arkansas

     -Never participated in an NFL preseason or regular season game.

 Recap: This draft will always be labeled the Vernon Davis draft for the 49ers, but they also came away with two starting outside linebackers.

With nine selections, the 49ers got three starters but probably should have gotten better depth for the defensive backfield.

Best Pick: Parys Haralson.  He could turn out to be a star at outside linebacker if he continues to improve the way he did last season.

Worst Pick: Brandon Williams.  Third-round picks should at least catch passes in the NFL, especially for a team that hasn’t exactly had Rice and Owens on their roster lately.

Grade: B-


Seattle Seahawks

1. 31 Kelly Jennings CB Miami (Fla.)

      -Has never missed a game in three years but saw his starts diminish to just two in 2008 after starting 15 games in 2007.

      -Has broken up 24 passes in the past two year, but his only interception came in 2006.

 2. 63 Darryl Tapp DE Virginia Tech

      -A solid but not spectacular defensive end.

      -He started all 16 games in 2007 and the final 11 in 2008.

      -Had a career high of seven sacks in 2007.  Seahawks will need more from him in 2009.

 4. 128 Rob Sims G Ohio State

      -After starting all 16 games at right guard in 2007, Sims only played in the opening game of the 2008 season due to a torn pectoral muscle.

5. 163 David Kirtman FB USC

      -Has been mostly a practice squad player with the Seahawks, Chargers, and Saints.

      -He re-signed with the Seahawks on April 7.

7. 239 Ryan Plackemeier P Wake Forest

      -Demonstrated a strong leg his rookie season with 45.0 yard average.

      -His average sharply dipped the following season to just 40.0 yards per punt.

      -He was cut after the first game in 2008 and signed with the Redskins.

      -He has since been signed by the Bengals.

7. 249 Ben Obomanu WR Auburn

       -Played in 13 games for the Seahawks in 2007.

       -Did not make an appearance for any team in 2008 except for a preseason game for the Raiders.

       -He broke his collarbone in that game and was done for the year.

Recap: Seattle did not get any star talent from this draft, which may explain some of their problems in 2008.

They came away with two starters on their lines and a defensive back who lost his starting job.

Best Pick: Rob Sims.  If Sims can recover from his pectoral injury and regain the starting right guard position, the Seahawks will have gotten a steal in the fourth round.

Worst Pick: Kelly Jennings.  A first-round cornerback should not allow himself to be relegated to being a nickel back in his third season.

Grade: C


St. Louis Rams

1. 15 Tye Hill CB Clemson

     -Hill seems to have the makings of a good NFL cornerback.

     -He recorded three interceptions during his rookie season.

     -He started the first four games of 2008 and then missed the rest of the season due to a knee injury.

2. 46 Joe Klopfenstein TE Colorado

     -A better blocker than pass receiver, Klopfenstein has started 37 of 48 games for the Rams.

3. 68 Claude Wroten DT Louisiana State

     -Wroten is known more for dealing and smoking weed than for anything he has done on the field.

     -He was suspended for the entire 2008 season.

3. 77 Jon Alston LB Stanford

     -Played mostly special teams for the Rams in his first and only season in St. Louis.

     -He was cut and joined the Raiders in 2007 where he is a backup linebacker.

3. 93 Dominique Byrd TE USC

     -Was inactive for most of his two seasons in St. Louis.

     -He recorded one touchdown catch and is now out of football.

4. 113 Victor Adeyanju DE Indiana

     -Is a large defensive end who plays the run better than the pass.

     -He had his best season in 2008 in posting 47 tackles and two sacks.

5. 144 Marques Hagans WR Virginia

     -Hagans didn’t play at all as a rookie.

     -He played last season with the Redskins and was at best their fifth wide receiver.

7. 221 Tim McGarigle LB Northwestern

     -Did not play at all as a rookie.

     -He participated on special teams in 2007 and recorded six tackles.

7. 242 Mark Setterstrom G Minnesota

     -Started three games as a rookie.

     -He missed most of 2007 and all of 2008 with multiple knee injuries.

     -He has been re-signed by St. Louis to add depth in 2009.

7. 243 Tony Palmer G Missouri

     -Did not make the Rams’ roster as a rookie.

     -Signed by the Packers and played sparingly at guard for two seasons.

Recap: Overall, this was a terrible draft class for the Rams.  They emerge with a potentially solid cornerback, a marginal starter at defensive end, and several guys who are on other teams or out of football.

Best Pick: Tye Hill.  The only player from this class who looks like he may start for several seasons.

Worst Pick: The entire third round.  None of them played for the Rams in 2008.  They, too, could have had Owen Daniels.  Also available were Jerious Norwood and Jahri Evans.

Grade: D

The NFC West as a whole did not draft well in 2006.  This helps to explain why they did so poorly last season and why they have been one of the worst divisions in football for the past few seasons.

Only San Francisco came away with a decent draft class three seasons ago.  They could be the new kings of the division soon if they can find some consistent quarterback play.



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