The 2011 NFC West did not feature an elite offense like it has in years past. The draft provided the division with a shot of life on the offensive side of the ball as three receivers were added in the first 33 picks of the draft (Michael Floyd – ARI, A.J. Jenkins – SF, Brian Quick – STL). By the close of the second round there were two new running backs added to the division (Isaiah Pead – STL, LaMichael James – SF). The Seahawks, Cardinals and Rams have spent the offseason trying to close that gap on the 49ers, who seem to be the front runners to win the division for a second straight year. It should be noted this division has had three different winners in three years.
The Arizona Cardinals season looked to be a lost one. High hopes that Kevin Kolb would turn the Cardinals around were jilted by a 1-6 start. After an injury suffered in week 8 at Baltimore, Kolb would only start and finish 1 game in the second half of the season. Fortunately for the Cardinals, back-up quarterback John Skelton managed to go 5-2 while Kolb was out and the Cardinals managed to finish the season 8-8.
The Best Pick – Michael Floyd. The Cardinals added some good depth to the offensive line later in the draft that could really turn out to be great value, but without a doubt the Cardinals best pick was Michael Floyd. Since Anquan Boldin was traded to Baltimore after the 2009 season, the Cardinals offense has had a severe drop off. The offense has finished 24th and 26th in points scored over the last two years. (Kurt Warner’s retirement is also a factor in this). In addition, Larry Fitzgerald’s numbers have taken a slight dip. With the addition of Floyd, the return of last year’s 2nd round pick running back Ryan Williams and some constant play from the quarterback position the Cardinals offense could return to its 2009 form.
St. Louis Rams
After a record of 10-38 in three seasons, the Steve Spagnuolo and Billy Devaney era came to an end in St. Louis. In walked Jeff Fisher, who becomes the third new coach to join the division in as many years. Fisher has partnered with first time general manager Les Snead. The pair entered the draft with a daunting task of turning around the league’s worst team over a five-year span in the history of the NFL. The partnership started with a bang well before the draft when the Rams were able to trade the 2nd overall pick in this year’s draft to the Redskins for the 6th pick and 39th pick, as well as the 1st round picks in 2013 and 2014.
The Best Pick – Janoris Jenkins. Many pundits criticized the Rams for passing on LSU’s Morris Claiborne when they traded out of the 6th pick. However, when the Rams took Jenkins at 39, passing on Claiborne looked like a perfectly calculated maneuver. Jenkins ability to play man as well as come off the edge makes him a better fit for Fisher’s aggressive style on defense.