Around the NFC West: Lott likes Mays

April, 26, 2010
4/26/10
9:32
AM ET
Daniel Brown of the San Jose Mercury News says former USC and 49ers defensive back Ronnie Lott approves the selection of Taylor Mays and hopes to watch him become an All-Pro safety. Lott: "The next step in the evolution will be perfecting his skills. But what he can do with that speed is just unbelievable."

Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee says the 49ers took steps toward become a bigger, more physical team. But the 49ers did not appear to add a change-of-pace runner. Barrows: "Before the draft, for example, (acting general manager Trent) Baalke noted a trend in the league to have three running backs who complement each other. Two of those backs are what the 49ers call 'bell-cow' rushers, every-down runners who keep each other fresh throughout a game and season. The third runner is a home run hitter -- a smaller speedster capable of breaking a defense's back with a long run. With Frank Gore, Glen Coffee and now (Anthony) Dixon, the 49ers have three copies of the same runner – someone who makes one cut and operates within the tackles. That's a strategy that didn't work well last season but one the 49ers seem to be pursuing even more doggedly this year."

Also from Barrows: a B-plus grade for the 49ers in the draft.

Matt Maiocco of the Santa Rosa Press-Democrat recaps the 49ers' draft. Coach Mike Singletary had more input than in the past. Singletary: "Did I? I'd say yes. When the season was over, I get really excited about the upcoming year. I don't want to go into hibernation and go relax. I want to know who's out there. I want to know their stories. I want to know where they came from. I have a vision in there. I want to make sure everybody understands what that is and that we're all on the same page."

Steve Overbey of the St. Louis Globe-Democrat says the Rams are in the very early stages of pursuing Brian Westbrook, according to coach Steve Spagnuolo.

Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch profiles Rams draft choice Mardy Gilyard, who spent part of draft day crabbing the old-fashioned way. Thomas: "Following his freshman season in 2005, Gilyard had his scholarship pulled because of academic problems. Unable to afford tuition and housing, Gilyard worked three jobs: construction, pizza delivery and selling cutlery door-to-door. For months, he slept in a car. By the fall of '07 he had righted himself, was back in school, and back on the team."

Bryan Burwell of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch offers high marks for the Rams' draft, particularly the manner in which the team drafted Gilyard. Burwell: "The moment that truly defined the new attitude and approach of the (Billy) Devaney/Steve Spagnuolo era came late Friday night at the end of the third round. As every pick went by during the second and third round -- and as all the wide receivers and tight ends kept vanishing from the draft board -- there were plenty of puzzled expressions in Rams Nation. Why didn't Devaney draft a wideout at the top of the second, or trade up into the bottom of the round? Why didn't he use that third-rounder or move up into the bottom of the third round to get a pass catcher to go with Bradford?" Devaney had his reasons, and Burwell liked them.

Bernie Miklasz of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch thinks Sam Bradford will be a good fit for the Rams, not just because Bradford was born on the day of the biggest fourth-quarter comeback in team -- and NFL -- history.

Reid Laymance of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says NFL commissioner Roger Goodell wants to know the details of Stan Kroenke's bid to buy the Rams before commenting at length. Laymance: "Noting that it's only been 10 days since Kroenke announced his intentions, Goodell didn't rule out the bid being presented to the NFL's finance committee, which meets in the next two weeks. Having it ready to present to the owners for approval by their next gathering, May 24-26 in Dallas, might be too optimistic a timetable, he said."

Tom Timmermann of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says Kroenke's intentions regarding the Rams are far more clear than his intentions with soccer club Arsenal.

Jerry Brewer of the Seattle Times passes along a humorous anecdote showing Russell Okung's protective nature. The Seahawks' new left tackle protects more than quarterbacks.

Danny O'Neil of the Seattle Times recounts the Seahawks' flurry of activity during the draft Saturday. O'Neil: "Seattle entered the draft with two of the first 14 picks, making the Seahawks power brokers. But on Thursday and Friday, the Seahawks held their ground and filled needs. On Thursday, they picked a rock-solid left tackle and dynamic free safety. On Friday, they waited for Notre Dame's Golden Tate to fall in their lap, and then waited some more since they lacked a third-round pick. No sooner had the fourth round begun on Saturday than the Seahawks started making deals and taking chances. White faces questions about his attitude and weight; Washington is coming back from two broken bones in his right leg. Both players are under contract for one more year."

Greg Johns of seattlepi.com was surprised to see Golden Tate fall to Seattle in the second round. Seattle drafted him 11 spots after the 49ers selected USC's Mays. Johns: "Mays has a bit of a history with Tate as well, with Mays trying to take two knockout shots on Tate twice in their meeting last year ... and Tate scoring touchdowns both times."

Eric D. Williams of the Tacoma News Tribune says Seahawks coach Pete Carroll didn't go overboard selecting his former players from USC. Tight end Anthony McCoy was the only one Seattle drafted.

Dave Boling of the Tacoma News Tribune had this to say about Okung: "Okung, in fact, may be the most imposing physical specimen to show up here since Walter Jones – also a No. 6 draft choice – arrived to play left tackle in 1997. Although 310 pounds, he’s lean and rangy. Obviously a rare athlete. Okung promised to be the hardest-working player in the franchise."

Darren Urban of azcardinals.com says injured pass-rusher O'Brien Schofield made a positive impression during a conference call with reporters covering the Cardinals. Urban: "You look at the numbers -- 12 sacks, 24 tackles for loss -- and you can understand why the Cards took a chance. And coming back from ACLs isn’t the same as it used to be. I remember covering Kyle Vanden Bosch back in 2001-2003 when he blew out his knee twice and look how he turned out after he left. It takes so much less time to recover, too. (Coach Ken) Whisenhunt pointed out that when he played in the 1980s, you put a guy in a cast for six weeks after tearing an ACL, and then going from there. Schofield was walking around the combine without a limp about a month after his injury."

Also from Urban: The Cardinals could sign a veteran cornerback after trading Bryant McFadden, although Greg Toler will probably start. Urban: "General manager Rod Graves said the team is open to signing a veteran cornerback. But there was a reason the Cards selected Calvin, the Troy cornerback who fell in the draft because he was academically ineligible in 2009. Calvin said he flunked a class after a death in the family and didn’t let the teacher know he was leaving campus. When he was failed, he couldn’t play football, but both Whisenhunt and Graves felt comfortable Calvin was a good choice, especially late in the sixth round."

More from Urban: Schofield plans to play this season.

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