Around the NFC West: 'Big O' sighting

March, 18, 2011
3/18/11
7:45
AM ET
Dan Caesar of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says former Rams tackle Orlando Pace has invested in a company that owns sports media properties in St. Louis. Pace's involvement could lead to an on-air radio role periodically. Pace had previously made an hour-long appearance that went better than expected, according to the company president: "I jokingly told him he hadn't said a word in his Rams days, so we were surprised when he had so much to say. Nothing really came of our meeting and then we reconnected through our mutual friendship with (former Ram) Roland Williams. ... We met again and really found mutual passion for sports and for media and the more we talked the more we realized what a great fit he could be as a partner in the company."

Tony Softli of 101ESPN St. Louis offers a detailed scouting report from Missouri's pro day featuring Blaine Gabbert and Aldon Smith. 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh was among those in attendance. Softli on Gabbert: "In my top 32 regardless of position, Gabbert is ranked 9th and will remain there because I don’t move players up and down the draft rankings based on a spring workout. But, he did solidify himself as a top-five pick in a lot of minds of those NFL coaches and general managers that were in attendance yesterday. When asked by several coaches, scouts and media if this quarterback compares to Sam Bradford, I paused and said no. The grade I put on Sam Bradford, my last draft class with the St. Louis Rams, was second only to Peyton Manning, who is the highest graded quarterback in my 15-year tenure as a personnel man in the NFL."

Howard Balzer of 101ESPN St. Louis passes along thoughts on the Rams from general manager Billy Devaney, plus a note about the Rams' chances of appearing in the NFL exhibition opener in Canton. Devaney on the 2011 draft's depth of defensive linemen: "Yeah. Outside guys, defensive ends, it looks like it's really deep. In fact, it looks like it's deep in 3-4 ends. We're a 4-3 team and we think there's some really quality depth as pass-rushers at defensive end, that goes into the second round. So we're excited about that."

Jeff Legwold of the Denver Post blames Aaron Curry's underwhelming first two NFL seasons on forces largely beyond the Seattle lienbacker's control: injuries, injuries to teammates and coaching/scheme changes. He expects more from 2011 draft prospect Von Miller. Legwold: "Defensive players who can get to the quarterback in college, especially at the Division I-A level, usually find a way to get to the quarterback in the NFL. Miller led the nation in sacks with 17 in 2009 and had 10.5 sacks in 2010, when he faced a lot of double-team blocks. He plays well outside and inside and should be a high pick in the April 28-30 draft. Pass-rushers who struggle in the NFL usually are pass-rushers who have trouble working inside, like former Broncos first-round draft pack Jarvis Moss." Curry's instincts haven't come through to the degree I would have expected. That could be his fault or the fault of factors Legwold cited, or a combination.

Darren Urban of azcardinals.com isn't convinced the Cardinals will draft a quarterback in the first round, but if they had to choose between Blaine Gabbert and Cam Newton, he thinks Gabbert would be the choice. Urban: "There’s just something about everything that swirls around Newton off the field that I think they think Gabbert would be a safer pick." That is my sense as well, based in part on comments the team has made about needing to make sure a quarterback drafted that early has no question marks.

Also from Urban: A look at how the Cardinals' video department puts technology to use. One example: When the team hired Ray Horton as defensive coordinator, several players asked for Steelers video, the better to help them learn the defense Horton is bringing from Pittsburgh.

Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee says multiple 49ers coaches attended Stanford's pro day, no surprise given proximity and those assistants' history at the university. Barrows: "Among the coaches making the short drive up Highway 101 were defensive coordinator Vic Fangio, offensive coordinator Greg Roman, offensive line coach Tim Drevno and running backs coach Tom Rathman, who put Stanford fullback Owen Marecic through cone drills and then spent more than a half hour chatting with Marecic in a corner of the practice field." Rathman was not at Stanford last season, so this workout was probably more helpful for him.

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