May 14, 2013; Tempe, AZ, USA; Arizona Cardinals quarterback Carson Palmer (3) and wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald (11) looks on during organized team activities at the Cardinals Training Facility. Mandatory Credit: Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

NFC West Roster Changes: Hammering Out The Offensive Depth Chart


 

Sports media has essentially crowned the NFC West the toughest, most dominate division in the NFL this coming season, which is hard to argue against. The big cliche surrounding the teams’ offseasons has been the “NFC West Arms Race,” started by the Seattle trade for Percy Harvin and the 49ers’ trade for Anquan Boldin, then inflamed by the Seahawks signing of every “big name” defensive end available in free agency. The Rams’ added their two cents with the acquisitions of Jake Long and Jared Cook, and the Cardinals tagged in with Carson Palmer.

The fun didn’t stop there though, at least not for some teams, especially on offense. The Rams added the most explosive player in the 2013 NFL Draft class (Tavon Austin), then took the most productive receiver in college football last season (Stedman Bailey) a couple of rounds later. In less flashy fashion, the Cardinals took a chance on Ryan Swope late in the draft, soon after the 49ers’ stole Quinton Patton in the 4th round.

So, with all of these changes, what do the NFC West offenses look like right now? With a little help from our friends over at OurLads.com, here are the updated depth charts, with a couple of projected changes, via Ramblin’ Fan.

Note: CAPITALIZED name designate a new starter at that position from the team’s 2012 roster. This could be a new player or a returning player that either a) switched positions or b) moved up in the depth chart.

 

Seattle Seahawks

Position Name
Quarterback Russell Wilson
Running Back Marshawn Lunch
Wide Receiver (No.1) Sydney Rice
Wide Receiver (No.2) Golden Tate
Wide Receiver (No.3) PERCY HARVIN
Tight End Zach Miller
Right Tackle Breno Giacomini
Right Guard Paul McQuistan
Center Max Unger
Left Guard JAMES CARPENTER
Left Tackle Russell Okung

For Seattle, the offensive roster is relatively unchanged, with the exception of Percy Harvin as their slot receiver and utility back. James Carpenter has had trouble staying healthy since being selected 25th overall by the ‘Hawks back in 2011. He could be the final piece of the Seattle offense line if he can stay on the field.

If there were any area of concern in their offense, it was likely the tight end spot, with Zach Miller failing to show the fluidity and pass catching ability he had in Oakland. Anthony McCoy was likely to have some chance at more reps this season, but was reported today to have torn his Achilles’ tendon.

 

St. Louis Rams

Position Name
Quarterback Sam Bradford
Running Back DARYL RICHARDSON
Wide Receiver (No.1) BRIAN QUICK
Wide Receiver (No.2) Chris Givens
Wide Receiver (No.3) TAVON AUSTIN
Tight End Lance Kendricks
Right Tackle RODGER SAFFOLD
Right Guard Harvey Dahl
Center Scott Wells
Left Guard BARRETT JONES
Left Tackle JAKE LONG

The Rams did an full make-over of the offensive roster this offseason, not only through free agency, but through the draft as well. The “starters” at both running back and wide receiver have yet to be determined, but we do know that it will not be Steven Jackson lining up in the backfield or Brandon Gibson lining up out wide. Daryl Richardon, Isaiah Pead, and 2013 draftee, Zac Stacy, should all have a legitimate shot at earning the lion’s share of reps, but that is anyone’s guess at this point. At receiver, Chris Givens and Tavon Austin are locks for a “starting role,” who will fill the slot left by the departing Gibson is still up in the air. Brian Quick is likely the favorite at this point in the offseason, but it would not be surprising to see Stedman Bailey penciled in at the No. 1 position come August.

The offense line will look completely different from last season. Scott Wells will hopefully be returning to the center of the line, sitting out most of last season with a combination of injuries. Rodger Saffold has been moved to the right side of the line, taking over Barry Richardon’s spot, while the blindside will be manned by Jake Long, the Rams’ biggest offseason acquition. The left guard spot is a bit of a mystery at this point. Rokevious Watkins was the assumed favorite for the spot, but was recently handed a 1-game suspension by the NFL for violating their drug policy. Now, the spot will likely be a battle between Chris Williams, a former 1st round tackle selection by Chicago, and Barrett Jones, St. Louis’ second 3rd round pick in the 2013 draft.

Every position that needed an upgrade in the offense, according to Snead and Fisher, got one. They prefer the running back-by-committee approach, and with three very young backs taking reps, they have to hope that some combination will step up to fill the massive shoes of Steven Jackson. The other needed upgrades were right tackle and receiver, and with Jake Long, Stedman Bailey, and Tavon Austin in tow, it is fair to say the Rams completed their offseason checklist.

 

San Francisco 49ers

Position Name
Quarterback Colin Kaepernick
Running Back Frank Gore
Wide Receiver (No.1) ANQUAN BOLDIN
Wide Receiver (No.2) Mario Manningham
Wide Receiver (No.3) A.J. Jenkins
Tight End Vernon Davis
Right Tackle Anthony Davis
Right Guard Alex Boone
Center Jonathan Goodwin
Left Guard Mike Iupati
Left Tackle Joe Staley

Until about three days ago, the San Francisco 49ers looked to have maintained their nearly perfected offensive roster from the season before, with the addition of the should-have-been Super Bowl MVP, Anquan Boldin. However, the injury to Michael Crabtree will send the receiving corps into a bit of a question mark headed into the opener. Boldin should be able to jump in and take the No. 1 reps, but that doesn’t mean he can produce in the same fashion as Crabtree, especially given Kaepernick’s favoritism of the young wide out.

However, consistency builds contenders, and the rest of the squad is back in full force. In fact, LaMichael James and Mario Manningham should be able to step this year, now fully healed during the offseason. The loss of Delanie Walker might have some effect, but they are certainly hoping that Vance McDonald, their 2nd rounder from the 2013 Draft, can fill the void and help in the passing game.

 

Arizona Cardinals

Position Name
Quarterback CARSON PALMER
Running Back RASHARD MENDENHALL
Wide Receiver (No.1) Larry Fitzgerald
Wide Receiver (No.2) Andre Roberts
Wide Receiver (No.3) Michael Floyd
Tight End Jeff King
Right Tackle Bobby Massie
Right Guard EARL WATFORD
Center Lyle Sendlein
Left Guard JONATHAN COOPER
Left Tackle LEVI BROWN

Much like the Rams, the Cardinals made some massive changes the to roster, including a new head coach and coaching staff. They have attempted to solve their “skill position” woes with Carson Palmer and Rashard Mendenhall, who are both massive upgrades over the quarterbacks and running backs of last season… yes, those are both plural. Ryan Swope will likely not see much time on the field, aside from four or five receiver sets, but could be a game changer with his impressive straight-line speed.

The big changes are on the offensive line. Levi Brown, who was injured last year, will return as the blindside protector and, hopefully, provide an upgrade to the worst line in the NFL last season. The Cardinals will be relying on two rookies to hold down the interior of the line, with Jonathan Cooper and Earl Watford both projected to start at the guard spots this season.

The Cardinals likely would have preferred an upgrade at tight end and center, but there are only so many moves that can be made during the offseason. They are obviously a team in “rebuild mode.” There is no better way to start that process than with some young, dominate players on the offensive line, and some veteran talent at the skill positions.

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Tags: Arizona Cardinals San Francisco 49ers Seattle Seahawks St. Louis Rams

  • Hawkman54

    Good look at the rosters – Seattle is easing Carpenter back in , but he is suppose to be fine now, which means Sweezy-Moffitt & McQuistan will all fight for the ORG postion( Pete’s competition mantra). Zach miller has done exactly what the coaches have asked of him, but as everyone saw towards the end of the year with the opened up offense allot more throws were going to Zach and he did great! The new guy Willson at TE will be in right from the start and probably would have shared time with McCoy anyway.
    Should be great fun this year with the NFC West Now the BEST!

  • Beer O’Clock

    The Rams information is somewhat deficient.

    First, there is no mention of Jared Cook. The Rams paid $35 million for a player and you don’t mention him as a factor in the Rams offense. He will be Bradford’s primary target in 2013 either in the slot, joker or at tight end and will have more of an impact on the Rams offense than either Quick, Austin, Bailey or Kendricks.

    Rok Watkins has done little to make him the assumed starting guard. He reported to last year’s camp overweight and out of condition, filled in one game for an injured (infection) Harvey Dahl for which he became injured himself in the same game and was out for the rest of the season. Shelley Smith, not even mentioned in your analysis, started six games last year and, though his performance was often substandard, it was better than what Watkins showed.

    • Nathan Kearns

      It is a list of projected starters, not an entire depth chart for the team or an in-depth analysis of offseason moves

      Jared Cook will be a huge part of the offense, and will see a lot of time on the field, but he will not be in nearly as much as Kendricks. Unless they keep Kendricks as the top “fullback” on the roster, he will be listed as the starter, which is why he is there, and Cook is not. Cook will see between 500-700 offensive snaps, Kendricks will see between 700-900 offensive snaps.

      Rok Watkins has done plenty to be ahead of Smith on the depth chart, just not in the NFL. There is a reason that Watkins moved into the starting line-up as soon as Rob Turner moves up center, and that’s because the coaching staff saw him as the eventual starter in that spot. Sure Smith “started” six games last season, but he only took 75%+ snaps in four games last year. In those contests, he allowed 3 sacks, 4 hits on the quarterback, and 4 hurries. To put that into perspective, the Lions’ Rob Sims played 1230 snaps, and allowed fewer sacks (0) and fewer hits (1) than Watkins, and did so in a pass-oriented offense with sub-par talent on his left side. Smith was a fourth string player in 2011, and will be a fourth string player this season. Watkins, Dahl, Williams, and Jones will all be ahead of him; and, barring some injury catastrophe, will never see the field again in the NFL.

      Last year is last year, Shelley Smith will likely not even make the final 53-man roster, and certainly does not deserve to any recognition as the projected starter.

      • Beer O’Clock

        Sorry, Nathan. Your logic doesn’t work.

        Jared Cook will see more snaps than Brian Quick and more targets than Tavon Austin. Kendricks will see a lot of snaps at fullback and Cook will be used in several positions to create mismatches both in the seam and on the outside. Not mentioning Cook is the equivalent of not mentioning Aaron Hernandez when discussing the Patriots offense. Defend your position all you want, it’s still an bad oversight.

        By all accounts of the OTAs, Cook is quickly becoming Bradford’s favorite target. At $35 million and Bradford’s favorite target, they’re going to get the ball to him. And, if the defenses start keying on Cook to prevent these mismatches, it will open up the field for all other aspects of the offense.

        I never said Smith was a likely starter. I said Watkins has not shown any more than Smith (actually less) which is more a comment about Watkins as a projected starter than it is about Smith.

        • Nathan Kearns

          What logic does not work…

          Cook will essentially be used in the same way that he was in Tennessee, as an off-line, slot-receiving tight end. He will undoubtedly be moved all around the offense, including some on the outside, and maybe even in the backfield.

          And yes, he will like see more snaps than whoever is listed as the “No. 1″ receiver replacing Brandon Gibson, but that does not mean he will be listed as the “starter” on the depth chart, which is the point.

          The Patriots run a completely different offense than the Rams… but, if I was doing an article about the starting roster for each team, I would like have made two slots for tight end and only two slots of receivers. The Rams will still run their offense out of a traditional formation for a majority of snaps… that means two or three receiver sets. It would be completely biased in the article to give the Rams an “extra” roster spot just to include another player.

          There is no “bad oversight,” that is simply how the “starter” roster shakes out. You are misinterpreting the point of the article, which is merely to show the changes to each teams starting lineup and give a brief overview of the team and the changes. There are only 11 “starting” spots… I cannot add one just to appease Rams Nation.

          There have been very few accounts from OTAs about who Bradford is targeting. The only information that has been given about Cook and Bradford was from a press conference citing that the two had been working together regularly since he got there.

          No one is saying that Cook isn’t going to get the ball, no one is saying that Cook will not get the bulk of targets… but, Cook will NOT get the bulk of snaps at the tight end position, and thus was not listed as the starter.

          There is no way to know how much either of those players “has shown.” Watkins clearly showed enough potential in college to be selected in the 4th round, and he clearly showed enough during camp last season (even after showing up out of shape) to be the backup left guard, and the first off the bench when Rob Turner moved to center.

          Watkins was, and still is, the projected starter by most prominent sites.

          I love the enthusiasm, my friend! I am as high on the Jared Cook bandwagon as anyone, but he will still not be a “starter” on the roster, even if he does end up leading the team in receptions, yards, and touchdown catches, and eventually going to the Pro Bowl. :)