NFC West 2021 NFL Draft recap: 49ers get QB of future in Trey Lance
May 4, 2021, 7:07 AM
Three days and 259 players later, the 2021 NFL Draft is just a memory.
While the Arizona Cardinals added seven new rookies through the draft, what about the rest of an already stacked NFC West?
A look at how Arizona’s divisional foes fared in this year’s draft, including their biggest additions and needs still left to address:
NFC West 2021 NFL Draft overview
San Francisco 49ers
Total picks: Eight (five offense, three defense)
Like many expected the 49ers went out and added their quarterback of the future — and most likely present — in North Dakota State QB Trey Lance with the third overall pick.
San Francisco didn’t stop there in addressing the offense, selecting Notre Dame guard Aaron Banks in the second round before taking Ohio State running back Trey Sermon in the third. Western Michigan guard Jaylon Moore (fifth round) and Louisiana running back Elijah Mitchell (sixth) were also picked up.
Defensively, a third-round pick was used on cornerback Ambry Thomas, while Oregon CB Deommodore Lenoir and USC safety Talanao Hufanga were taken in the fifth-round.
Biggest addition: Trey Lance, QB (North Dakota State)
The 49ers held the only other first-round pick in the division outside of the Cardinals in 2021.
After shooting up the draft board following a trade with the Miami Dolphins that resulted in the No. 3 pick, it was clear the 49ers were all-in on adding a new face to the quarterback room.
San Francisco highly coveted Lance, with ESPN’s Adam Schefter reporting that the team saw the QB as the smartest among this year’s class.
Lance’s sample size is small, but his stats are impressive. In his only full season as NDSU’s starter (2019), the 6-foot-4, 224-pounder threw for 2,786 yards and 28 touchdowns on 66.9% passing (192-of-287) in 16 games played.
He also flashed his abilities as a runner, tallying 1,100 yards and 14 scores on 169 carries.
Lance now walks into an open competition with Jimmy Garoppolo, whose days in San Francisco appear numbered given his injury history and team’s desire to add the former Bison.
Needs to still address: Wide receiver, defensive tackle
Total picks: Three (two offense, one defense)
The Seahawks held just three picks in this year’s draft, the lowest among NFC West teams.
Seattle used its highest draft pick (second round) on Western Michigan WR D’Wayne Eskridge and a fourth-rounder on Oklahoma CB Tre Brown. Florida tackle Stone Forsythe was the team’s sixth-round pick.
Biggest addition: D’Wayne Eskridge, WR (Western Michigan)
While Brown gives the Seahawks even more depth in the secondary, Eskridge has the potential to fight for snaps as the team’s third receiving option with David Moore joining the Carolina Panthers this offseason.
After two 1,000-yard and 10-touchdown seasons for D.K. Metcalf and Tyler Lockett, there was a significant drop in production in the wide receivers room. Moore was third on the team with 35 catches for 417 yards and six touchdowns.
In his final season at Western Michigan, Eskridge made 33 receptions for 768 yards and eight touchdowns in six games. He ran the rock twice for 43 yards.
Eskridge expects to compete with Freddie Swain for reps.
Needs to still address: Offensive guard, defensive end, defensive tackle, tight end
Los Angeles Rams
Total picks: Nine (four offense, five defense)
The Seahawks had few and the Rams had many.
Los Angeles had an NFC-West-leading nine picks in the draft, using a second-rounder on Louisville WR Tutu Atwell. The Rams went on a run of defenders with their next three selections, taking South Carolina inside linebacker Ernest Jones (third round), Texas A&M defensive tackle Bobby Brown III and Central Arkansas cornerback Robert Rochell (fourth). The last of the Rams’ three fourth-rounders was used on UCF wideout Jacob Harris.
Northwestern defensive end Earnest Brown IV represented the team’s fifth-round pick before a trio of seventh-rounders — Maryland RB Jake Funk, Norte Dame WR Ben Skowronek and Concordia-St. Paul OLB Chris Garrett — summed up the Rams’ draft.
Biggest addition: Tutu Atwell, WR Louisville
The Rams enter 2021 with a new quarterback at the helm in Matthew Stafford.
And while Cooper Kupp and Robert Woods are proven commodities, Josh Reynolds’ departure to Tennessee makes the Atwell addition that much more important.
Behind a pair of 900-yard seasons from Kupp and Woods, Reynolds reeled in 81 receptions for 618 yards and two scores, leaving a lot of targets up for grabs in Sean McVay’s offense.
The 5-foot-9, 159-pound Atwell hauled in 46 receptions for 625 yards and seven touchdowns over the course of nine games last season as a junior at Louisville. He also added a rushing score.
Atwell will likely compete with free-agent addition DeSean Jackson for playing time as the team’s deep threat.
Needs to still address: Center, offensive tackle, safety