Sunday, August 23, 2009

Top 10 Building Blocks/Cornerstones- NFC West

If I was to draft 10 players from the NFC West to serve as my core of a Superbowl contender for the next 3-4 seasons, the players I would draft and the priority I place on them are:

10. John Carlson, TE, Seattle Seahawks- I'll be completely and bluntly honest. There are two reasons that Carlson is on this list. One of those reasons being that he used to play for the Fighting Irish, and another because the NFC West is absolutely pathetic. That being said, Carlson is a bright young player with a lot of skill who had an excellent rookie year. He had 55 catches for 627 yards, and 5 TDs, playing with a bunch of nobodies on an injury ravaged Seattle offense. He has a bright future ahead of him. Oh, and go Notre Dame!

9. Dominique Rodgers Cromartie, CB, Arizona Cardinals- While he has a tendency to give up the big play, as he showed in the postseason, he still is an incredibly gifted athlete who showed some good things as a rookie. His kind of natural ability isn't matched by many CBs in the NFL. if he can harness the nuances of his position, the sky is the limit for this guy.

8. OJ Atogwe, S, St Louis Rams- I rarely hear this guy's name mentioned among the league's best safeties, but he definitely is one of them. He's one of those really good players on a REALLY bad team so he doesn't get the notoriety some other players would. The last three seasons, Atogwe has 16 interceptions, and 24 pass deflections . He has proven he is adept in coverage, and has done so despite playing with a team practically devoid in talent in every other aspect of defense.

7. Lofa Tatupu, MLB, Seattle Seahawks- Lofa is Mr Reliable. He isn't going to wow you with his natural ability, but the guy is a really good football player. He always seems to be in the right spot, and hits very well. The last four years he has racked up 431 tackles and nine interceptions. He is one of the best middle linebackers in football.

6. Darnell Dockett, DT, Arizona Cardinals- Dockett is one of those guys who is just a disruption up front. He causes havoc on most weeks for whoever happens to have the unenviable task of blocking him. He's one of the league's better pass rushers from the defensive tackle spot, and can line up anywhere on the defensive line and cause problems. He doesn't have the greatest numbers in the world, but numbers aren't as paramount for defensive tackles, and don't really tell the whole story.

5. Marcus Trufant, CB, Seattle Seahawks- I like Trufant. I believe he's a top CB in the league and has been so for awhile. He has great physical ability, and has been excellent for the Seahawks. He has poor hands, but that is not a prerequisite to being a good CB, it is a bonus. Trufant and Cromartie give the team a potentially dynamic set of CBs.

4. Adrian Wilson, S, Arizona Cardinals- I think Wilson is behind only Ed Reed when it comes to safeties in the NFL. His speed, his size and his hitting ability (just ask Trent Edwards) makes him one of the league's best defensive players. He also is one of the league's best blitzers from the safety spot.

3. Anquan Boldin, WR, Arizona Cardinals- The only reason he isn't #2 on this list is durability concerns. Boldin plays fairly recklessly so he's a risk, given his age and injury history. All that being said, the guy is a top WR in the game and embodies consistency. Year in and year out, you can rely on Boldin for very good numbers. He is arguably the league's best possession WR, but can beat you in a variety of ways. Add to that the fact that he's probably one of the two or three hardest WRs in the league to tackle and you have a force.

2. Patrick Willis, MLB, San Francisco 49ers- There might not be a more talented defensive player in the league than Willis. He might also be one of the fastest players in the NFL, and an LB being in that discussion is saying something for sure. Willis flies to the ball and makes a ton of plays. His 315 tackles, 15 pass deflections and 5 sacks over the last two years speak to that ability and the scary part is that he can get even better.

1. Larry Fitzgerald, WR, Arizona Cardinals- Fitzgerald is one of the game's very best wideouts. His size, his strength, his physical ability and most of all his amazing hands separate himself from the pack. Regardless of the terrible QBs and offensive lines he has been around, Fitzgerald has produced in a major way pretty much every season he has been in the league. He's one of those receivers you can pretty much build an entire offense around, and be successful that way.

Others who garnered consideration
Stephen Jackson, HB, St. Louis Rams
Frank Gore, HB, San Francicso 49ers
Matt Hasselbeck, QB, Seattle Seahawks
Karlos Dansby, LB, Arizona Cardinals
Steve Breaston, WR, Arizona Cardinals
TJ Houshmanzadeh, WR, Seattle Seahawks

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