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Kyle Shanahan
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NFL Draft Recap

Draft Decisions: NFC West

by Josh Norris

I love producing this series every year. It takes time, but digging into the reasons behind each and every selection, straight from the decision makers, is very valuable. Sure, head coaches and general managers might not reveal every piece of information, but immediately following the draft is as open and honest as they will be. These notes come directly from post-draft press conferences and any extra videos team sites pump out. Some quotes are verbatim, others are paraphrased.

Arizona Cardinals

Speaking: Steve Keim and Kliff Kingsbury on Day 1, Both on Day 2, Both on Day 3

1.1 (1). QB Kyler Murray, Oklahoma - The more we dug in, the more it became crystal clear Kyler Murray was the pick. “I’ve been doing this for 20 years. I’ve seen guys that can throw it like him, seen guys that can run it like him. Never the combination. We wanted to take the player that would give us the best chance to succeed moving forward… He can start a play as a polished pocket passer who can launch it from multiple angles then take off on then run… At the start of the process, Keim didn’t want to watch the tape or fall in love with the player. But as he watched and saw what he could do, get to know the person, the more he became convinced he was the pick… In this day and age you adapt to a player’s skills. He was the funnest player Keim watched on tape. We have been sick of facing someone who has similar skills. Kyler looks to throw first… There are 6-foot-5 QBs with 12 passes batted down. He had 5. He’s never in the training room… Born and bred to be what he is today. Dad is one of the best quarterback coaches in the country… Called Rosen on the phone day of the draft. “Private conversation”... Can’t point to the exact moment when they decided Kyler would be the pick.  

2.1 (33). CB Byron Murphy, Washington - Had him rated extremely high. Has everything we look for in a corner: feet, movement skills, tremendous ball skills for a corner, coached by Keim’s friend Jimmy Lake at Washington… Local kid so they got to spend a lot of time with him. Previous teammates with Christian Kirk and Budda Baker certainly went a long way… Defensive staff rates him very highly. Always near the ball, production shows that. 

Traded to Dolphins
QB Josh Rosen - Due to the Rosen trade, team was able to acquire four players in their top 35 on the board. 

Received
2019 second round pick (62)
2020 fifth round pick

2.30 (62). WR Andy Isabella, UMass - Two people in the building that were with him at UMass. Could vouch for who he Isabella is on the inside and the outside… He brings a skill set the team does not currently have. Foot speed and explosiveness to take the top off… Has been productive against everybody he’s faced… Kliff thinks he had a lot of production inside and outside. Outside he can separate and create space… As soon as Keim watched him, he walked into Kliff’s office to talk white slot receivers from Texas Tech. All those guys ran in the 4.6s, Isabella ran in the 4.3s and has quickness.  

3.1 (65). iDL Zach Allen, Boston College - One of the prospects Keim was most fond of during the process. Spoke about Kyler doing things he hasn't seen from a QB when scouting, “I’m not sure if I’ve seen a defensive lineman have 100 tackles in a season.” This guy plays like his hair is on fire. Relentless. Brings character, toughness and intensity from end and 5-technique… Motor. Every snap you turn on he is chasing. Ideal 3-4 end, bounce him around alignments… Sometimes You leave a more talented player on the board for someone else who has A personal and A character. Regardless of ability, if you have an AA you have a real chance. Limited amount of risk... Keim said the top four draft picks all ranked in the top 35 on their board.
 
4.1 (103). WR Hakeem Butler, Iowa State - Never anticipated he would be on the board. Outstanding size, length and athleticism. Kliff played against him. Checked every box, conducted a private workout with him. Liked him as a person. Spoke with his college coach the morning of Day 3, they couldn’t say enough good things about him. Top 60 on the board… Texas Tech did not recruit him out of high school. Special talent. Kliff will refine his technique and some of his fundamentals.

5.1 (139). S Deionte Thompson, Alabama - We don’t have a post safety that has the range and movement skills he has. He loves the game. Met with him at the Combine. Top 60 on the board… Did not have the same issues as other teams with the medical.

6.1 (174). WR KeeSean Johnson, Fresno State - Had no clue they would take two more receivers on day 3. All three of the receivers they selected had outstanding production… One of the more natural route runners in this class. Can play Z and X. Lower his weight to get out of breaks. Top 60 on the board.

Traded to Bucs
Bruce Arians
2019 seventh round pick (215)

Received
2019 sixth round pick (179)

6.6 (179). iOL Lamont Gaillard, Georgia - The grade justified the pick. Came into Georgia as a defensive lineman. We like that intensity about him. He’s a guard and center… OL board fell where top-rated guys went early, then there was a cliff, then later rounds presented some value. Didn’t want to pass on a good player for an OL.

7.34 (248). OL Joshua Miles, Morgan State - Size jumps out. 36-inch arms, big hands. Just a few years of football. Sean Kugler can develop him.

7.35 (249). iDL Michael Dogbe, Temple - May not have ever heard a player more excited when they were drafted. 7 sacks from the inside.

7.40 (254). TE Caleb Wilson, UCLA - Led all of CFB at TE in receiving yards. Productive players.

 

Los Angeles Rams

Traded to Falcons
2019 first round pick (31)
2019 sixth round pick (203)

Received
2019 second round pick (45)
2019 third round pick (79)

Early in the process the team knew the pool of players they would be selecting from at 31. A few favorites that if they fell you would hold the pick, but if not the goal was to drop back and add a third-round pick, leaving you four in the top 100. When asked about Montez Sweat: Big fast pass rushers are always intriguing.

Traded to Patriots
2019 second round pick (45)

Received
2019 second round pick (56)
2019 third round pick (101)

Traded to Chiefs
2019 second round pick (56)

Received
2019 second round pick (61)
2019 fifth round pick (167)

2.29 (61). S Taylor Rapp, Washington - The goal of this draft was to get as many shots in the top 100 basket as possible, that would benefit the Rams. In the short term and long term. In year 3 of the program Sean’s schemes have evolved and we’ve evolved with him. The things we want are more specific than in years past… Was one of their favorite football players in the draft. Rare instincts, short area quickness… Has a feel for navigating tackles. As a blitzer. In the box. Helps them disguise and activate different coverages… He plays fast and that is what is important.  

Traded to Bucs
2019 third round pick (94)
2019 third round pick (99)

Received
2019 third round pick (70)

3.6 (70). RB Darrell Henderson, Memphis - Think back to signing Lance Dunbar, McVay has always thought his offense could be more explosive with a change of pace back. Attempted this with Dunbar, knee didn’t work out. Thought about it in last year’s draft. “A few enemies” chose those backs ahead of them. Something they have wanted to do since hiring McVay… Being able to add a playmaker is the biggest thing. Have 5 skill guys on the field at once, so having a playmaker in that group is important. Todd Gurley and Malcolm Brown offer 3 down ability, Darrell is more change of pace. Again similar to their plan of Lance Dunbar, skill set to activate different personnel groupings… McVay is very specific in the skills for this role, so the week of the draft they went out and worked out COP backs as receivers, like James White. Stealthily conducted private workouts… 

3.15 (79). CB David Long, Michigan - Local guy. Snead met him a few years back before Michigan when he was dropping his son off for school… Can come up and play man coverage, stay in guys hips, mirror, cancels guys out,  

Traded to Patriots
2019 third round pick (101)
2019 fourth round pick (133)

Received
2019 third round pick (97)
2019 fifth round pick (162)

3.33 (98). Oklahoma T Bobby Evans, Oklahoma - Brian Allen and Joe Noteboom likely slide in to start, Evans now to depth. Played left and right tackle, OL coach will work him at left and right guard too. 

Traded to Patriots
2019 fifth round pick (162)
2019 fifth round pick (167)

Received
2019 fourth round pick (134)
2019 seventh round pick (243)

4.32 (134). iDL Greg Gaines, Washington - A priority of Day 3 was to get into a spot to draft Gaines to fill the nose tackle role in a base defense. Three of the trades were with the Patriots. Just a good rapport with them.

5.31 (169). OL David Edwards, Wisconsin - The last tackle on the board that we desired and could work with. Coach Kromer won’t let linemen play just one position. Played through an injury. Toughed it out. We talked the morning of when he played well versus Chase Winovich.

7.29 (245). S Nick Scott, Penn State - Goal of helping position coach and special teams coach. One of Coach Bones’ favorite special teams players he’s ever graded. Joked that he was a “priority” because of that.

7.37 (251). LB Dakota Allen, Texas Tech - Interviewed him at the Combine. How does someone react to adversity (Last Chance U). Hopefully he will cover a lot of kicks for us. 

 

San Francisco 49ers

Speaking: John Lynch and Kyle Shanahan all 3 days

1.2 (2). EDGE Nick Bosa, Ohio State - A player we long coveted. Two things we talked about as soon as we got here was finding a quarterback and finding the people that knock him down... First step stands out. Gains a ton of ground. Combination of speed and power and he’s a technician with his hands. Looks like he’s been doing pass rush moves since he was 3 years old… Greg Schiano said never has he had a play with his hand and feet married together… Three down player. Armstead and Solomon are good at stopping the run from the outside but best at rushing the passer from the inside, just like Buckner. Bosa and Dee Ford are best at rushing from the outside… Bosa and Quinnen Williams separated themselves from the pack. Even in grade, so you look at need. Have known for weeks who will be the pick… Nick is prideful of being his own person, not just Joey’s brother… Lunch and another staffer went down to a Rose Bowl practice. Coincidentally, Bosa was attending the practice. Entire practice stopped and every player, manager embraced him after he missed months… Met with Solly the day of round one. He’s an important part of the team. Stay fresh. Close out halves, close out games… Did not receive too many inquiries into No. 1. There was one phone call but it wasn’t really serious… Nick is fully healthy… Felt very good about the person, don’t condone liking homophobic or racist posts, but never felt like it was a current issue on his personality… 

2.4 (36). WR Deebo Samuel, South Carolina - Common theme in this draft for us is adding guys who combine speed, power and versatility… One of the elite competitors in college football this year. You're going to have to fight him, and he will fight for yards. That is contagious. Can catch and then break away. Plays big and has juice… Spent a lot of time around Deebo at the Senior Bowl. Kept bringing up his ability after the catch, it separates him. Thought Deebo and Jalen Hurd were the most physical receivers in the draft… Playing on the outside means he can threaten people on a vertical route. It’s not about size. It’s about how explosive you are, it backs people off so you can run every other route… There were 3 to 5 receivers we really liked in this draft.

3.3 (67). WR Jalen Hurd, Baylor - Coaches have an exciting vision for the use of this player. He can do everything. Was drafted as a receiver, kind of. Would have been drafted as a running back. Would have been drafted as a tight end. Don’t think I could every say that about a player I’ve studied before… Definitely won’t draft guys who will just go up and get a jump ball. But when you have a certain size and have good hands, you don’t have to be as open as others… Neatest thing about him is at any point you can put him in the backfield, you can run power with him. Varied between 230 and 250 pounds, the team’s tight ends are around that size as well. Will first work in receiver position group… Will demand nickel defenses because he can beat a linebacker. That means you can line up in 11 and do anything on 3rd down, but at the same time you’re in 21 personnel… We will use him wherever the best advantage is. Niles Paul might be the comparison in terms… Had a private workout with him a week before the draft… Was at the Senior Bowl for a day so we got to know him then... 

Traded to Bengals
2019 fourth round pick (104)

Received
2019 fourth round pick (110)
2019 sixth round pick (183)
2019 sixth round pick (198)

4.8 (110). P Mitch Wishnowsky, Utah - We studied punters way more than we ever will, and we believe he is the answer. We are talking a 10 year guy. He has a huge leg. Very adept at pinning people back. Has all the clubs in the back, can hit it with different spins. Kicks off and is a very good holder as well… Dickson in Seattle really benefited his team. 

5.10 (148). LB Dre Greenlaw, Arkansas - Competition at Stack or Sam linebacker. We had him a lot higher on our board. Tremendous value. Was on the other Senior Bowl team. Fit for what we do. Arkansas uses a ‘Catapult’ system and Greenlaw was the fastest player on their team. Met with him at the Combine… Scheduled a visit with the 49ers, then the team cancelled. Felt like they had seen enough at the Senior Bowl and Combine… Was highly rated by special teams coach despite not playing special teams.

6.3 (176). TE Kaden Smith, Stanford - Lynch watches a lot of Stanford football, and Kaden makes big plays in big moments… In our eyes he played faster than he timed. Sometimes people just have bad days.  

6.10 (183). T Justin Skule, Vanderbilt - Started 40 games in the SEC. Compete at swing tackle. The game is not too big for him. He’s made of the right stuff. Will compete with Shon Coleman. Coaches are a bit late on prospects who aren’t at the Combine. Same thing with Quinnen Williams brother, went right where he should. 

6.25 (198). CB Tim Harris, Virginia - You just can’t have enough good corners. He is a profile fit. We are not married to that profile… Exclusively a corner. Brought him in on a visit. 

 

Seattle Seahawks

Speaking: Pete Carroll and John Schneider all three days.

Traded to Packers
2019 first round pick (21)

Received
2019 first round pick (30)
2019 fourth round pick (114)
2019 fourth round pick (118)

1.29 (29). EDGE LJ Collier, TCU - We are back in the mix in this draft after trades for more picks. Really important to move back since we started with just four picks. Started talking trade out 8 to 10 picks away from 21… LJ fits us. He’s a heavy handed, chip on his shoulder guy. Lost his mother when he was a freshman in college. He didn’t play well in the final game his mom saw, and he’s always used that to his advantage and inspiration… Played in a complicated system at TCU. It was important after the trade of Frank, we have to move on… Planned on doing a long term deal with Frank Clark, budgeted for it, but Chiefs aggressiveness and Dallas’ deal with Demarcus Lawrence didn't help… Will play 5-technique, he’s a lot like Michael Bennett. Really slippery. Has a pass rush bag of tricks, fell in love with the chip on his shoulder… Very scared he wouldn’t be available after they traded back… Stood out when you watched him on the field at the Senior Bowl. A lot of juice in practice, harping on heavy hands and “our kind of guy”... We love Frank Clark so much that we are happy he went to a place that could afford him… “Body blows” with each defensive lineman going off the board.

Traded to Giants
2019 first round pick (30)

Received
2019 second round pick (37)
2019 fourth round pick (132)
2019 fifth round pick (142)

Traded to Panthers
2019 second round pick (37)

Received
2019 second round pick (47)
2019 third round pick (77)

2.15 (47). S Marquise Blair, Utah - Physical, great athlete, ran fast, tempo setter, even thought he could play corner. Starting at safety inside, like him attacking the line of scrimmage. Strong safety… Didn’t understand people calling him undisciplined. Blair is violent. He just needs to do it correctly. Really quiet. Silent assassin. Scary tough… 

Traded to Patriots
2019 third round pick (77)
2019 fourth round pick (118)

Received
2019 second round pick (64)

2.32 (64). WR D.K. Metcalf, Ole Miss - The pick hit him really hard. Got Pete emotional too. He’s a great worker, and it means the world to him to be great… Extraordinary potential. His QB (Russ) was really excited for it too… Equipped to do a lot of stuff. He’s going to be a factor in the running game, play action game. Releases off the line with great violence. Ran a 1.46 10 yard. Can’t wait to fit him in the play action game. We want him running downfield fast… Haven’t really seen a player with his physique. David Boston and TO… We thought he was going to be drafted earlier, that’s why we traded up… Worked with Jerry Sullivan during the offseason. We aren’t worried about his development at all. Whenever we get a young guy we want to go to his strengths and build from there… Doctors were cool with the neck injury… They had Doug Baldwin graded as a 5th rounder in 2011… Seahawks have been attempting to find a big fast guy. Can have a real weapon to line up and win one one one. Have not found one. DK can be that guy… Walked in to the Combine looking like Willie McGinest…Never thought we would’ve had a shot to pick him… 

Traded to Vikings
2019 third round pick (92)
2019 fifth round pick (159)

Received
2019 third round pick (88)
2019 six round pick (209)

3.24 (88). LB Cody Barton, Utah - Can play all three spots. Has always been a good special teamer. Utah had a really good defense. Played everywhere from inside linebacker to out to the slot… Handled a lot of the communication for them. Gifted on special teams. Really stood out during Shrine week. 

Traded to Vikings
2019 fourth round (114)

Received
2019 fourth round (120)
2019 sixth round (204)

4.18 (120). WR Gary Jennings, West Virginia - Four selections at the start of the draft turned into 11. Goal was to get to 6 or 7… Did a great job at the Senior Bowl. Fastest guy on the GPS… Phenomenal hands, really strong after the catch… We wanted to take advantage of Russ throwing the ball downfield… 

4.22 (124). iOL Phil Haynes, Wake Forest - Player we targeted early, because of his makeup and style. This is a guy who fits in our mold. Will be 340 pounds… A guy we had sighted from early on because of his makeup and JS was able to figure out where he was going to be drafted… We’ve shifted in what we look at in guards…  

4.30 (132). DB Ugo Amadi, Oregon - Start him off at free safety. Has done nickel work… Spoke to the Pac-12 coach the week of the field who called him an alpha dog…  We will let competition take care of the safety position… 

5.4 (142). LB Ben Burr-Kirven, Washington - Reminded Carroll so much of Lofa Tatupu. Has the productivity and the speed, running down players and making hits… The guy is so productive it is ridiculous… We like the guys who can fly around and knock the crap out of people… This year’s linebacker class was much better than 2018... 

6.31 (204). RB Travis Homer, Miami - Really good special teams player. Only 20 years old. A grit guy for us. Had him in the third down category. Really good pass protection. 

6.36 (209). iDL DeMarcus Christmas, FSU - Will play him at 3-technique. 

Traded to Jaguars
2020 sixth round pick

Received
2019 seventh round pick (236)

7.22 (236). WR John Ursua, Hawaii - One of our favorite players in this draft. Had an awesome visit with us. Led the nation in receiving touchdowns. Will compete for that slot spot. Did his mission in Paris… Suddenness, instant separation, has a real feel for zones… Spent significant times with a number of teams, so we didn’t want to take the chance on him as a UDFA. Wanted to secure him. Had extra picks in 2020.  
 

Josh Norris
Josh Norris is an NFL Draft Analyst for Rotoworld and contributed to the Rams scouting department during training camp of 2010 and the 2011 NFL Draft. He can be found on Twitter .