With the preseason and regular season right around the corner, the LWOS NFL department is taking a look at the best players at each position, division by division. This article will focus on the 2021 NFC West offense. There is a lot of talent on the offensive side of the ball in this division, but here are the best at each position.
2021 NFC West All-Division Team: The Offense
Quarterback: Russell Wilson (Seattle Seahawks)
The NFC West is loaded at the quarterback position with Russell Wilson, Kyler Murray, Matthew Stafford, and Jimmy Garoppolo. While most people would have Jimmy G ranked fourth in this group, the fact remains that when he has been healthy, the San Francisco 49ers have gone 24-9 (including the playoffs) with him as their starter. They have gone 5-23 in all other games under Kyle Shanahan. Garoppolo has helped the team win games. The issue has been his inability to remain healthy. NFC West offense
Matthew Stafford has spent his entire NFL career in a football abyss that is the Detroit Lions. While playing for the Lions Stafford has put up impressive numbers. The issue is his production has not translated to enough wins. He will get the chance to prove what he is truly capable of now that he is with the Los Angeles Rams.
Kyler Murray is a dynamic quarterback who can make any play, both with his arm or his legs. In his first two seasons, he threw for 7,693 yards and 46 touchdowns with 24 interceptions. He has also rushed for 1,363 yards and 15 touchdowns. There is a possibility that Murray could become a top-10 quarterback in the league in the next two or three years.
The other three quarterbacks in this division are all talented, but Russell Wilson is the best in the NFC West. He is one of the best in the NFL, period. In his first nine NFL seasons, all with the Seattle Seahawks, Wilson has been selected to the Pro Bowl seven times. Last season he threw for 4,212 yards and 40 touchdowns with 13 interceptions. He also rushed for 513 yards and had two rushing touchdowns.
Yes, there was some drama this off-season when Wilson made comments regarding how unhappy he was, particularly with how often he was hit/sacked. Then his agent leaked a list of four teams Wilson was open to being traded to. But all of that seems to be behind the Seahawks and Wilson. He is their guy, at least for the 2021 season and he is the best quarterback in the division. NFC West offense
Running Back: Chris Carson (Seahawks)
Cam Akers would have been the pick here, but he tore his ACL this off-season. Of the other talented running backs, including James Conner, Chase Edmonds and Raheem Mostert, the top back in the NFC West for 2021 is Chris Carson. In just 12 games last season Carson rushed for 681 yards and five touchdowns. He also added four receiving touchdowns in 2020.
Carson signed a new two-year deal in March which is worth up to $14.625 million and has $5.5 million in guaranteed money. With new offensive coordinator Shane Waldron in Seattle, Carson might be even better in 2021.
Wide Receiver: DeAndre Hopkins (Arizona Cardinals)
DeAndre Hopkins is not just the best receiver in the division, he might the best at his position in the entire NFL (it is either him or Davante Adams). Hopkins spent his first seven years with the Houston Texans before he joined the Cardinals last off-season. He has made five Pro Bowls, including the last four, and been named a First-Team All-Pro three times. Last season he had 115 catches for 1,407 yards and six touchdowns. The Cardinals also have the most depth at receiver in the division which means defenses might not be able to double team Hopkins quite as much as they would like to, given how dominant he can be.
Wide Receiver: DK Metcalf (Seahawks)
There are other talented receivers in the division, but after Hopkins, D.K. Metcalf is the next best receiver in the NFC West. He is 6’4” and 229 pounds and a freak athlete. Last season Metcalf had 83 receptions for 1,303 yards and 10 touchdowns. His 1,303 receiving yards set a Seahawks single-season record and he was named to the Pro Bowl. Metcalf is entering his third year in the league and could be poised to have a huge year.
Slot Receiver: Tyler Lockett (Seahawks)
Metcalf was and is “the guy” for big plays, but Tyler Lockett had more targets and receptions (they had the same number of touchdowns) last season. In 2020 Lockett had 100 receptions for 1,054 yards and 10 touchdowns. Over the past two seasons, Lockett has 182 catches for 2,111 yards and 18 touchdowns. If Pete Carroll allows the Seahawks offense to utilize some of the “Let Russ Cook” style of play, Lockett could put up big numbers in 2021.
Tight End: George Kittle (San Francisco 49ers)
No disrespect to Tyler Higbee, Gerald Everett, Will Dissly, and Maxx Williams, but this was one of the easiest choices. George Kittle is not just the best tight end in the NFC West, he is on the shortlist of the best tight ends in the NFL. Most people who pay any attention to the NFL would put either Kittle or Travis Kelce as the best tight end in the game.
Kittle missed eight games last season, but in his first four seasons in the league, he has made two Pro Bowls and been named a First-Team All-Pro. Not only is Kittle a really talented receiver, he is also superior in blocking. The issue has been his health. Multiple injuries caused Kittle to miss eight games last season. If Kittle can stay healthy he could put up eye-popping numbers in 2021.
Left Tackle: Trent Williams (49ers)
All four left tackles in the NFC West are at least good, but Trent Williams stands above the rest. That is why the 49ers re-signed him to a six-year, $138.06 million contract with $55.1 million guaranteed. That deal makes Williams the highest paid tackle in NFL history. Last season Williams gave up only 19 total quarterback pressures on 562 pass-blocking snaps and continued to be dominant in run-blocking.
Not only is Williams the best left tackle in the NFC West, he is one of the best tackles in the NFL. Most people would rank the two best tackles in the NFL as David Bakhtiari and Trent Williams, in some order.
Left Guard: Laken Tomlinson (49ers)
Laken Tomlinson was drafted by the Detroit Lions in the first round of the 2015 NFL Draft. After spending his first two NFL seasons in Detroit, he was traded to the 49ers. He has allowed three sacks in each of the last three seasons and has been a really good run-blocker.
Tomlinson has missed only one game during his four seasons with the 49ers. And he generally doesn’t leave the field. The 2020 season was a down one for Tomlinson as it pertains to blown blocks, but he was still above average and has generally been reliable and performed well.
Center: Rodney Hudson (Arizona Cardinals)
The Las Vegas Raiders traded Rodney Hudson to the Cardinals during the off-season. Hudson is one of the best centers in the league and the Cardinals signed him to a three-year, $30 million contract. In 2020 Hudson played 1,082 offensive snaps and allowed just one sack and 14 total pressures on 627 pass-blocking snaps. He was also flagged for one penalty last season.
Hudson is a three-time Pro Bowler, and he has started all 16 games in five of the last seven seasons. He has only missed one game in the last five years.
Right Guard: Gabe Jackson (Seahawks)
This came down to Austin Corbett and Gabe Jackson. While the 2019 and 2020 seasons weren’t Jackson’s best, he has been impressive throughout his career and was once one of the best guards in the NFL. But a change of scenery after the Seahawks traded for him this off-season might help rejuvenate him as he hopes to help improve Seattle’s offensive line. In addition, it appears as if Corbett might move to center this season.
Right Tackle: Kelvin Beachum (Cardinals)
While none of the right tackles in this division are exceptional, Kelvin Beachum is very good and is the best of the group. Last off-season the Cardinals inked Beachum to a one-year deal as they were badly in need of a starting right tackle. Beachum started all 16 games at right tackle for the Cardinals in 2020 after spending most of his career playing left tackle. In his new position, he allowed three sacks last season.
Earlier this off-season the Cardinals and Beachum agreed to a new deal. The 31-year old right tackle signed a two-year, $4 million contract this off-season.
Those are the best at each position for the NFC West offense. Click here to see the picks for the 2021 NFC West defense.