BEWARE: Another long post by me. I’ve ranked the NFC West teams using a simple points system. Since this a NFC West ranking much of the end results means that its relative to the NFC West, however, since our division owns two of the best teams in the league (SEA and SFO), plus a fast up-and-come (RAMS), and a mysterious dark horse who many believe possess the ingredients of a quality had they had better QB play (ARI). With 2 of the more potent offensives in the NFL and 4 of the better defenses in the league, one can definitely take these rankings outside of the NFC West as well.
I’ll start with OFFENSES:
QUARTERBACK (#1 = 5, #2 = 4, #3 = 3, #4 = 2): Rank based on Total Depth w/ an extra 1 point given to the best starter.
#1) SEATTLE SEAHAWKS (5.0 + .5 = 5.5 Points)
Russell Wilson*/ Tarvaris Jackson/ Brady Quinn
#2) SAN FRANSISCO 49ERS (4.0 + .5 = 4.5 Points)
Colin Kaepernick*/ Colt McCoy/ Scott Tolzien/ B.J. Daniels
#3) ST LOUIS RAMS (3.0 POINTS)
Sam Bradford/ Kellen Clemens/ Austin Davis/ Timothy Jenkins
#4) ARIZONA CARDINALS (2.0 POINTS)
Carson Palmer/ Drew Stanton/ Ryan Lindley/ Caleb TurBush
I think based on depth Seahawks have the best group of all NFC West Teams based on overall experience and starting history. One could argue McCoy over T. Jack but Jackson is coming into a situation in which he is familiar with. He is respected by his teammates, has chemistry/history with much of the players in the Seahawk’s Offense, and extensive experience in Bevell’s system while McCoy has to transition from the Browns to 49ers and replace Alex Smith. Bradford showed quality growth in 2012 but this is another season that should test him as this will be the first time in his career where he’ll be without Steven Jackson, Danny Amendola, and Brandon Gibson. A 33 year old Palmer has to make the switch from AFC to NFC as well as playing in one of, if not the best defensive divisions in the NFL behind the NFC West’s worst O-Line group.
Which leaves the argument between Wilson and Kaepernick. I for one think Wilson is the better overall QB while Kaepernick is the better overall athlete… so I just ended up splitting the best starter point in half and giving it to each team as both Wilson and Kaepernick are productively elite in their own ways.
RUNNINGBACKS (#1 = 5, #2 = 4, #3 = 3, #4 = 2): Rank based on Total Depth w/ an extra 1 point given to the best starter.
#1) SEATTLE SEAHAWKS (5.0 + 1.0 = 6.0 Points)
RB: Marshawn Lynch*/ Robert Turbin / Christine Michael/ Derrick Coleman/
FB: Michael Robinson/ Spencer Ware
#2) SAN FRANSISCO 49ers (4.0 Points)
RB: Frank Gore/ Kendell Hunter/ L. James/ Anthony Dixon/ Marcus Lattimore
FB: Bruce Miller/ Will Tukuafu
#3) Arizona Cardinals (3.0 Points)
RB: Rashad Mendenhall/ Ryan Williams/ Stefan Taylor/ William Powell
RB: Alfonso Smith/ Andre Ellington
#4) St. Louis Rams (2.0 Points)
RB: Daryl Richardson/ Isaiah Pead/ Zac Stacy/ Chase Reynolds
RB: Terrance Ganaway/ Eric Stevens
Might get arguments from 9er fans but Seattle has the best RB corps overall. Lynch was also the best RB in the NFC West in 2012 and 2011. Turbin was impressive enough in a limited role as a rookie and from reports he has made improvements in developing his lower body as well as understanding the Seahawks Zone blocking scheme more. Michael was the highest RB taken in the draft out of NFC West teams and they all took at least one. Furthermore, some draftniks believed Michael had 1st round talent but was knocked down because of character risks. Robinson is not as good as a blocker as Bruce Miller but he is solid enough and is a better rusher/receiver. Spencer Ware is a swing-back with Marshawn Lynch physicality as runner with Michael Robinson versatility to be a well-rounded FB.
While SF has a good group, very comparable at their best: Gore is 30 years old, Hunter is coming off an injury which is why I give Turbin the edge over him while they would be equal, James while limited did flash at times but isn’t the type of workhorse Turbin and Michael have the potential to be, Dixon has been under-utilized other than when Gore was injured in 2010. Lattimore likely won’t play this season. So their situation could go downhill fast which is probably why they have 10 RB/FB listed on their total roster. SF’s FB are great blockers but offer little else.
It was hard to gauge the Rams and Cardinals as both team’s websites don’t list a FB on their roster. However, I decided it with talent Mendenhall and Williams are both 1st round picks while the Rams will need multiple young players to step-up to replace versatile and productive workhorse, Steven Jackson.
WIDE RECEIVER: (#1 = 5, #2 = 4, #3 = 3, #4 = 2): Rank based on Total Depth w/ an extra 1 point given to the best starter.
#1) SEATTLE SEAHAWKS (5.0 Points)
Top 5 WR: Sidney Rice/ Percy Harvin/ Golden Tate/ Doug Baldwin/ Chris Harper
WR: Jermaine Kearse/ Phil Bates/ Stephen Williams/ Charly Martin/ 5 Others
#2) ARIZONA CARDINALS (4.0 + 1.0 Point = 5.0 Points)
Top 5 WR: Larry Fitzgerald*/ Michael Floyd/ Andre Roberts/ Ryan Swope/ Jarett Dillard
WR: LaRon Byrd/ Kerry Taylor/ Robert Gill/ 5 Other Rookies
#3) SAN FRANSISCO 49ERS (3.0 Points)
Top 5 WR: M. Crabtree (INJ)/ Aquan Boldin/ Mario Manningham/ A.J. Jenkins/ Quinton Patton
WR: Ricardo Lockette/ Kyle Williams/ Kassim Osgood/ Marlon Moore/ 2 Others
#4) ST. LOUIS RAMS (2.0 Points)
Top 5 WR: Chris Givens/ Tavon Austin/ Austin Pettis/ Steadman Bailey/ Brian Quick
WR: Raymond Radway/ Nick Johnson/ Andrew Helmick/ Blake Emory
I think Seahawks should have the most formidable corps in the West. In 2012, Rice and Tate were both ranked among the best in the NFL in production and efficiency per target. Harvin is one of the most versatile dynamic play-makers in the league and has been in Bevell’s system previously. Baldwin is a quality slot WR and is very clutch. Harper leads a very young and talented cast of WRs at the backend and gives the Seahawks a Boldin-esque type WR at 6’1, 234 pounds with a 4.45 forty speed possessing long-arms and big hands.
To put that in perspective there are 10 variables of height out of 46 WRs in the NFC West from 5’8 to 6’5 (I’ll chart the top names in WT in each HT variable):
(2) 5’8: SFO- C. Hall, 187; ARI- C. Hawkins, 180
(1) 5’9: STL- T. Austin, 174
(6)5’10: SEA- G. Tate, 202; STL- S. Bailey, 193; SEA- D.Baldwin, 189
(5)5’11: ARI- A. Roberts, 195; J.Dillard, 190
(13)6’0: ARI- R. Swope, 205; SFO- Q. Patton, 204; SEA- B. Swain, 200; STL- K. Taylor, 200
(6) *6’1: SEA- C. HARPER, 234*; P. Bates, 220, SFO- A Boldin, 220; M. Crabtree, 214
(3) 6’2: SFO- R. Lockette, 211, STL- J. Brown, 205; M. Rios, 203
(5) 6’3: ARI- M. Floyd, 225; STL- Brian Quick, 220; ARI- L. Fitzgerald, 218
(3) 6’4: STL- LaRon Byrd, 220; D. Buckner, 215; SEA- S. Rice, 202
(2) 6-5: SFO- K. Osgood, 220; SEA- S. Williams, 208
3 Closest WRs relative to Harper’s HT and WT are Malcolm Floyd, Aquan Boldin, and teammate Phil Bates. Floyd has 2 inches on Harper but weighs about 10 pounds less. Both Boldin and Bates measure the same in HT but Harper has about 15 pounds on them. I know a lot of evidence to get to a minuscule point but Seahawks’ Chris Harper is in a league of his own, out of the 46 WRs in the NFL West, he might not be the tallest but he certainly by a safe margin is the biggest especially compared to the WRs in the 5’8 – 6’2 range. Seahawks continue to draft players that are physically and athletically unique to the standard. Harper in just athletic comparison is a bigger, faster, stronger version of a rookie Anquan Boldin.
Cardinals come in at 2nd but tied for 1st because of Larry Fitzgerald. Had Crabtree not been injured I would have probably split SFO and ARI for #2. But I would take Arizona’s top 5 over Boldin, Manningham, Jenkins, Patton, and whomever. Boldin is an aging veteran and certainly isn’t the type of WR that ages well especially when he has to transition to a new team and build chemistry with a new QB, so asking him to produce like a #1 guy is going to be a long-shot, Manningham is coming off an injury. Jenkins is under heavy pressure in the wake of Crabtree’s injury and after a very unimpressive rookie year. Patton although very talented is still a rookie but I’ll at least predict he’ll be more productive than A.J. Jenkins.
Rams come in last, had this been purely on potential they would rank higher as all of their listed WRs have 2 or less years of total experience.. Austin and Bailey have a lot of talent, they are like the rookie versions of Harvin and Baldwin but they are still rookies and have to replace two of Bradford’s favorite targets in Amendola and Gibson. Givens and Pettis are quality wideouts while Quick needs to step-up to his draft status. Down the road this could become a dangerous corps, but as of now, they need a lot of seasoning compared to the rest of WEST.
TIGHT ENDS (#1 = 4, #2 = 3, # 3 = 2, # 1 = 1). Point reduction as 3 TEs usually make a roster with only 2 making any impact. Team with best starter gets 1.0 point bonus.
# 1) ST. LOUIS RAMS (4.0 Points)
TOP 3 TE: Jared Cook/ Lance Kendricks/ Zach Potter/
TE: Phillip Lutzenkirchen/ Cory Harkey/ Mike McNiell/ Cameron Graham
#4) ARZONA CARDINALS (3.0 Points)
TOP 3 TE: Rob Housler/ Jeff King/ Jim Dray
TE: Kory Sperry, Alex Gottlieb/ D.C Jefferson/ Kyle Auffray
#3) SAN FRANSISCO 49ERS (2.0 + 1.0 = 3.0 Points)
TOP 3 TE: Vernon Davis*/ Vance McDonald/ Garett Celek
TE: DeMarcus Dobbs/ MarQuis Gray/ 2 others listed as Long Snappers
#4) SEATTLE SEAHAWKS (1.0 Points)
TOP 3 TE: Zach Miller/ Sean McGrath/ Luke Willson
TE: Cooper Helfet/ Victor Marshall/ Darren Fells/ Anthony McCoy (I.R.)
Call me crazy but depth and experience is why I rank Rams and Cards better than 49ers and Seahawks. The 49ers and Seahawks both have very good well-rounded starters but both are relying on a rookie and 2nd year players to make up the depth whether or not those players are talented or not. Vernon Davis lifts the 49ers to tie in 2nd place with his best starter bonus. St. Louis has the best set of TEs in the NFC W and potentially in the NFL now that Hernandez was released with Cook and Kendricks. Potter provides them an experienced and solid blocker type. Card’s TEs aren’t name sexy but they have 12 years of experience between them. Housler, the youngest, had a very good season in 2012. King and Dray look to be well-rounded role players.
OFFENSIVE TACKLE (#1 = 5, #2= 4, #3 = 3, #4= 2): No individual bonus points for Offensive Line players. However, the best collective group in terms of experience and chemistry factors gets a 1.0 point bonus. That team of course is SAN FRANSISCO.
3 TIED FOR #1 (5 points + 4 points + 3 points = 12 points/ 3 teams = 4 points)
SAN FRANSISCO 49ERS (4.0 Points)
Starters: LT -Joe Staley/ RT- Anthony Davis
OT: Kenny Wiggins/ Luke Marquart/ Carter Bykowski
SEATTLE SEAHAWKS (4.0 Points)
Starters: LT- Russell Okung/ RT- Breno Giacomini
OT: Mike Person/ Michael Bowie/ Alvin Bailey
ST. LOUIS RAMS (4.0 Points)
Starters: LT- Jake Long/ RT- Roger Saffold
OT: Chris Williams, Joe Barksdale, Ty Nsekhe, Terrell Brown, Sam Hooey, Braden Brown
ARIZONA CARDINALS (2.0)
Starters: LT- Levi Brown/ RT- Bobby Massie
OT: Nate Potter/ Paul Fanaika/ Joe Caprioglio/ J. Johnson-Webb
I think San Fran and Seattle are equal at Tackle although I’m sure 49er fans would argue. I would take Okung over Staley. Davis over Giacomini. However, both teams lack experienced depth which kind of hurt them in overall rankings, however, both team have guards who can swing over if necessary.
St. Louis had the most interesting and best depth overall. Long is a very good and premier LT. Saffold is quality and both have the potential to get better as they get to practice against not only the best D-Line in the NFC West but probably the best in the NFL which I factored into the Ram’s ranking on par with San Fran and Seattle. Cardinals of course end up in last place.
OFFENSIVE GUARD (#1 = 5, #2= 4, #3 = 3, #4= 2)
#1: San Fransisco 49ers (5 points)
Starters: LG- Mike Iupati/ RG- Alex Boone
OG: Adam Snyder, Dan Kilgore, Joe Looney, Al Netter, Wayne Tribue, Patrick Omameh
#2 Seattle Seahawks (4 Points)
Starters: LG- Paul McQuistan/ J.R. Sweezy
OG: John Moffitt, Rishaw Johnson, Ryan Seymour
#3 Arizona Cardinals (3 Points)
Starters: LG- Jonathan Cooper/ RG- Daryn Colledge
OG: Chilo Rachal/ Sergio Kelemete/ Earl Watford
#4 St. Louis Rams (2 Points)
Starters: LG- Harvey Dahl/ RG- ???? ????
OG: Barett Jones, Shelly Smith, R. Watkins, B. Washington, Ryan Lee
More or less self-explanatory.
OFFENSIVE CENTER: (#1 = 4, #2 = 3, #3 = 2, #4 = 1) Reduction in points due to usually only 2 OCs making a roster with 1 making impact.
#1 Seattle Seahawks (4 Points)
OC: Max Unger, Lemuel Jeanpierre, Jared Smith
#2 St. Louis Rams (3 Points)
OC: Scott Wells, Tim Barnes, Kevin Saia
#3 San Francisco 49ers (2 Points)
OC: Johnathan Goodwin, Sherman Carter
#4 Arizona Cardinals (1 Points)
OC- Lyle Sendlein, Scott Wedige, Adam Bice
No one is going to argue Seattle’s position or shouldn’t they have the best starter and likely the best depth at the position. And I felt the Rams have a better overall group than the 49ers as the Rams O-line improved when Wells came back from injury plus he’s been one of the premier OCs since his time with the Packers. Goodwin is also the oldest of the 4 starters, and while a quality player, he isn’t better than the first two. Arizona again is last but in years past Sendlein was a decent player.
BACKS RANKING: 11.5/10
WR/TE RANKING: 6/ 9
O-LINE RANKING: 12/14
OFFENSIVE POTENCY: 89% (89.39)
SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS:
BACKS RANKING: 8.5/10
WR/TE RANKING: 6/9
O-LINE RANKING: 12/14 +1 FOR BEST O-LINE OVERALL = 13/14
OFFENSIVE POTENCY: 83% (83.33)
ST. LOUIS RAMS:
BACKS RANKING: 5/10
WR/TE RANKING: 6/9
O-LINE RANKING: 9/14
OFFENSIVE POTENCY: 60% (60.60)
BACKS RANKING: 5/10
WR/TE RANKING: 8/9
O-LINE RANKING: 6/14
OFFENSIVE POTENCY: 57% (57.57)
AVERAGE OFFENSIVE POTENCY: 73% (72.72)
Teams under the average, the average becomes the maximum output.
Teams over the average, the average becomes the minimum output.
SEATTLE SEAHAWK’S OFFENSIVE POTENCY OUTPUT: 73% to 89%
SAN FRANSISCO 49ERS OFFENSIVE POTENCY OUTPUT: 73% to 83%
ST. LOUIS RAMS OFFENSIVE POTENCY OUTPUT: 60% to 73%
ARIZONA CARDINALS OFFENSIVE POTENCY OUTPUT: 57% to 73%
So at worst the Seahawks will sputter around 73% potency, while at best they could be as high as 89%.
So for this to make any sense, over a course of 16 games at times the Seahawks at max potential could perform up to 16% better than San Fran’s offense. Relative to the Ram’s O: up to 29% better. Relative to the Card’s O, up to 32% better.
San Fran O on the other hand have up to a 10% chance to perform better than the Seahawks’O. Vs Rams: 23%. Vs Cards: 26%.
St. Louis has up to a 16% chance to perform better than the Cards over a course of a season. While the Cards have up to 13% chance to perform better than St. Louis offenses at times. Both teams need to be at their best and need SFO and SEA to be at their worst for their offenses to even compare.
I think the eye test proves my analysis well as most people would agree:
Seahawks O > 49ers O > Rams O > Cards O
Once I get to the Defensive rankings, we will get a better gauge on head to head matchups, NFC W Offenses vs Defenses.
Speculative: All the air missing from Tom Brady's deflated balls now inflates Russell Wilson's growing ego.