- Mike Sando, NFL Insider
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Brady Henderson of 710ESPN Seattle quotes ESPN's Adam Schefter as saying Arizona is the favorite to land Kevin Kolb once the trading period opens, with Seattle as a fallback option. Schefter: "I think that when the lockout is lifted, there's no doubt that the Philadelphia Eagles are going to trade Kevin Kolb. I think at this point in time, it's fairly certain that he's going to wind up in the NFC West. Right now, all signs point to Kevin Kolb somehow finding his way to Arizona, which would make Larry Fitzgerald very happy, which would make the Cardinals an instant contender in the NFC West, and it would make them the team that they were a couple of years ago when Kurt Warner was playing quarterback, rather than last year when they had the quarterback carousel. Kevin Kolb is going to get dealt from Philadelphia, most likely going to be to the NFC West, and right now all signs point to Arizona." What are those signs? One is that Arizona did not draft a quarterback. With the lockout ongoing, the Eagles can only hope a market builds. The Cardinals' long-reported interest in Marc Bulger suggests the team has options other than acquiring Kolb. Kolb would upgrade the position for Arizona, but there's no evidence, in my view, that he would give the team what Kurt Warner gave the team. Kolb has 11 touchdown passes and 14 interceptions during his career. Warner had 31 touchdown passes with 14 interceptions in the playoffs alone. He had 11 touchdown passes in the playoffs following the 2008 season.
Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic says Warner endorsed Carson Palmer as the best option for Arizona at quarterback. Somers: "Several problems with that for the Cardinals. While Palmer has threatened to retire if he's not traded, Bengals owner Mike Brown has made it clear he's not giving in to trade demands. And if he did, the Cardinals would have to give up assets to get him. After a 5-11 season and with numerous weaknesses, the Cardinals can't afford to give up too much. And Palmer is due to make $11.5 million. That's a steep price, too."
Darren Urban of azcardinals.com was surprised when the Cardinals did not draft an offensive lineman. Urban: "The Cards, surprisingly, did not take an offensive lineman in the draft. Given how many expired contracts are coming (Alan Faneca, Deuce Lutui and Lyle Sendlein all need new deals whenever the league year starts) there was a thought they would cover themselves with another piece, especially with tackle Brandon Keith still unproven and the center position thin even if Sendlein returns. The Cards still have Levi Brown, who is expected to remain in place as the left tackle. Everything else – for now – is in limbo as far as line starters. There should be, in free agency, decent linemen who are available, so it’s possible the Cards may be eyeing a change in that regard."
Danny O'Neil of the Seattle Times had this to say in response to a Kolb skeptic regarding whether the Seahawks should pursue the Eagles quarterback: "He's carved up some opponents in regular-season games. But you're absolutely right, there's a risk. Most explicitly, you don't have a history of quarterbacks produced by Andy Reid having success elsewhere. It's not like Green Bay when the Packers consistently churned out backup QBs who were transplanted around the NFL to become great starters."
Eric D. Williams of the Tacoma News Tribune thinks Kolb would be the Seahawks' No. 1 target in free agency. Williams: "If they do not get him, then I think a fall back could be bringing in Matt Leinart and J.P. Losman. Former Scout Dave Razzano made a good point on the radio yesterday. The 2012 draft class is filled with pretty good QBs, including Andrew Luck, Matt Barkley and Laundry Jones, so maybe the Seahawks are content to wait until next year to get their guy and see how the season plays out. I think Matt Hasselbeck will get a better offer from a team like Tennessee and will not be back, unless Seattle moves the price tag up." I've never sensed an interest in Leinart. The Seahawks had a chance to add Leinart last season. Coach Pete Carroll has not favored his former USC players unconditionally. After joining the Seahawks, he expressed surprise that Lawrence Jackson had been a first-round pick, and he later traded Jackson to the Lions.
Jeff Gordon of stltoday.com says the Rams drafted with character in mind. Gordon: "This regime has weeded out most of the underachievers and assembled a much more diligent group. James Laurinaitis is a leader. Chris Long is a leader. Veteran James Hall is a leader. Steven Jackson caught on and became a leader, too. Sam Bradford proved to be a fast learner and leader. So did tackle Rodger Saffold, the team’s second pick from last season. The Rams staff hopes the latest draft picks will offer those same qualities and create an even more competitive training camp atmosphere. Even the seventh-round picks in this draft will bring the attitude to camp. They are longshots to make it big in the NFL, but it sounds like they have ample drive."
Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch assesses the Rams' late-round picks' chances for earning roster spots.
Matt Maiocco of CSNBayArea.com lists re-signing David Baas as the 49ers' top priority in free agency, diminishing the need to re-sign nose tackle Aubrayo Franklin. Maiocco: "The reason I consider Baas the No. 1 player the 49ers would like to retain is because there are options at other spots on the roster where they have projected unrestricted free agents. Isaac Sopoaga might end up being an upgrade at nose tackle over Aubrayo Franklin if the 49ers choose to move him from left defensive end. Sopoaga is coming off a better season than Franklin, and his technique has gotten much better under the tutelage of defensive line coach Jim Tomsula." That risk would be inadvertently weakening two positions.
Also from Maiocco: a projected 49ers depth chart.
Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee projects how the 49ers' rookies might fit in 2011. Barrows on cornerback Chris Culliver: "The 49ers were clear that they drafted Culliver as a cornerback and not a safety. At 6 feet and 200 pounds, Culliver has nice size. He also has excellent athleticism, which he displayed at the scouting combine. That combination makes him a good fit for a nickel cornerback, which likely will be his role early on. That the 49ers did not use one of their first two picks on a cornerback indicates that they either expect Nate Clements to return in 2011 or that they will find a starting-caliber cornerback in free agency. (Clements played nickel on third downs last year). Let the Nnamdi Asomugha speculation begin."
Eric Branch of the Santa Rosa Press-Democrat says the 49ers apparently have interest in undrafted free-agent tackle David Mims.
D'Marco Farr of 101ESPN St. Louis says the 49ers' decision to take Aldon Smith over Blaine Gabbert was inexplicable.