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NFC West 2021 NFL Draft Day 1 Recap

What Seattle’s three NFC West rivals did on Day 1 of the 2021 NFL Draft. 

North Dakota State quarterback Trey Lance, right, holds a jersey with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell after being chosen by the San Francisco 49ers with the third pick in the first round of the NFL football draft Thursday April 29, 2021, in Cleveland. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak)

The 2021 NFL Draft kicked off Thursday evening with the first round, though the Seahawks were non-participants having sent their first-rounder to the Jets as part of last year's trade for Jamal Adams.

As for Seattle's three NFC West rivals, two of them made picks on Friday, while the Rams were in the same boat as Seattle, sitting out Round 1. Here's a look at what the rest of the NFC West did on Thursday:

San Francisco 49ers

Pick No. 3: Trey Lance, QB, North Dakota State

There wasn't a lot of mystery about the top two picks heading into Thursday's first round, and as everyone expected, Jacksonville took Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence with the first pick and the New York Jets selected BYU quarterback Zach Wilson with the second pick.

The real intrigue began with the third pick, which the 49ers acquired earlier last month in a trade with the Dolphins. Considering how much the 49ers gave up to move up to No. 3—this year's first-round pick (No. 12 overall), this year's third, and first-round picks in 2022 and 2023—the assumption was they were moving up for a quarterback, but what wasn't as clear is which quarterback they were going to pick.

After month of speculation, reports and rumors, the 49ers went with North Dakota State's Trey Lance, a player with limited experience—he started only 19 games for the Bison—but a ton of upside.

"I'm glad that we got our guy, glad that we feel so good about it, and I'm just pumped to get him here," 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan said in a press conference with Bay Area media. "… I loved his natural ability to play the position, which is very impressive."

Here's what had to say about Lance: One-year starter who dazzled in 2019. Lance is mature for his age, but will be just 20 years old at the time of the 2021 NFL Draft. He's a rare dual-threat quarterback in that he's tasked with setting his own protections and reading the full field. Coaches rave about his football IQ and film work. They believe he will come into the league more football savvy than most of the quarterbacks in this draft. Tape shows very average arm strength but velocity should improve with better lower-body drive. While his recognition of coverage danger is a plus, he's currently more of a "yellow light" quarterback who needs to find a "green light" risk-taking mentality to become a playmaking talent in the NFL. An offensive coordinator willing to blend his run/pass talent with a play-action attack could get the most out of Lance, who should become a good NFL starter.

Arizona Cardinals

Pick No. 16: Zaven Collins, LB, Tulsa

For the second year in a row, the Cardinals used their first-round pick to upgrade their defense, taking Tulsa linebacker Zaven Collins a year after taking linebacker Isaiah Simmons.

Here's the draft profile on Collins: Combines rare size and athleticism as a big outside linebacker. Collins is a team-oriented defender willing to plug gaps and spill the action wide for teammates to run down. He's rangy with the burst and length to track and capture his prey from the back side or out on the perimeter. His athletic gifts help him overcome his tardiness in diagnosing the action. There is still room for improvement when it comes to taking on blocks and pursuing with proper leverage so cutbacks don't cross his face. The second effort is evident with how frequently he's able to recover from an early block and still make plays. He's aware and dangerous in spot drops with the read and reaction to jump the passing lane. Collins could use more aggression in his play demeanor, but his combination of talent and traits should make him a productive pro starter.

Los Angeles Rams

Like the Seahawks, the Rams did not have a first-round pick, having sent last year's and this year's first to Jacksonville for cornerback Jalen Ramsey, so they hung out at the Malibu beach house they rented to turn into their draft headquarters.

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