The 2023 NFL Draft has been completed, and each team made plenty of picks over the course of the three days. Some of those picks, the players they drafted, were steals where they got them and are going to be major impact players for the team. This series will go over each team’s steal of the draft, with today being the NFC West!
Seattle Seahawks: Olusegun Oluwatimi, Center, Michigan
As far as centers go, Oluwatimi was among the best in this class, and the Seahawks were able to get him in the fifth round. Seattle’s starting center, Austin Blythe, retired and even after signing Evan Brown in free agency they needed more competition for that starting spot. Oluwatimi will bring that. Over the 2022 season, he only allowed nine pressures and zero sacks. Where Oluwatimi wins is with how instinctive he is to quickly react to stunts and timid his hand placement well to latch onto defenders. From there, he uses his strength to move them in the run game, or not let them get their counters off in pass protection. With the impact he can have on the offensive line, don’t be surprised if he ends up as the Week One starter.
San Francisco 49ers: Dee Winters, Linebacker, TCU
The 49ers came into the draft needing help at linebacker to get more playmakers in the room after Azeez Al-Shaair left in free agency. Enter Dee Winters, who was selected in the sixth round and provides major versatility, being able to play in the slot as well. In 2022, Winters had 30 pressures, nine sacks, 40 run stops, and allowed only 8.9 yards per reception over 33 receptions. Winters has played with great range in coverage, being able to play from sideline to sideline. This also translates to against the run, where he is able to diagnose where the running back is going and get to the lane to make a stop. Winters will see playing time as a rookie, and could very well end up being a steal down the line with what his role could become.
Los Angeles Rams: Tre’Vius Hodges-Tomlinson, Cornerback, TCU
After losing Troy Hill and David Long Jr in free agency, and trading Jalen Ramsey, the cornerback room was looking extremely thin. Hodges-Tomlinson will help with that. He fell to the sixth round, while he may be undersized at 5’8, he doesn’t play like it. This shows with his willingness to go against running backs and make a stop, as he did 39 times over his career. Hodges-Tomlinson uses his length extremely well to disrupt the passing lane, as he created 29 pass breakups over four seasons to go along with allowing only 72 receptions over 184 targets for 975 yards. The athleticism Hodges-Tomlinson has to mirror receivers superbly and the speed he has as well to stay with them downfield is what the Rams needed in their cornerback room.
Arizona Cardinals: Dante Stills, Interior Defensive Lineman, West Virginia
Rashard Lawrence, Leki Fotu, and Carlos Watkins weren’t exactly going to cut it for the interior defensive line depth of Arizona. Dante Stills has the skill set to beat any of them for the day one starting job, making him a pick the Cardinals couldn’t pass up in the sixth round. Stills plays with a hot motor on every down and is quick off the line, which allows him to get past defenders and make an impact in the backfield. Enough so to where he finished his college career with 112 pressures, 23 sacks, and 103 run stops. With the strength, speed, and pad level he plays with, Stills is going to provide a boost that Arizona needs.
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–2023 NFL Draft Steals: NFC East Division
–2023 NFL Draft Steals: AFC East Division