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Friday, March 27, 2009
Sizing up NFC West cornerbacks

By Mike Sando
ESPN.com

Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando
Projected Starting CB Team Ht. Wt.
Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie ARI 6-2 184
Bryant McFadden
ARI 6-0 190
Jonathan Wade
STL 5-10 195
Ronald Bartell
STL 6-1 200
Nate Clements
SF 6-0 205
Walt Harris
SF 5-11 196
Marcus Trufant
SEA 5-11 197
Josh Wilson
SEA
5-9 192

With Bryant McFadden aboard via free agency, Arizona's starting cornerbacks appear best suited among NFC West tandems to defend the Cardinals' receivers.

The 49ers' Nate Clements fared well against Arizona last season, I thought. The Seahawks' corners had no chance even when they were in position, which led me to ask coach Jim Mora if his secondary was simply too small.

Mora: "I wouldn't dispute the fact that there are a couple guys that aren't of ideal size, but we don't have a small secondary, per se. Playing the secondary in this league today, you are very exposed because of the rules and the fact that we want to put points on the board to put people in the stands and keep people attached to their TV sets. This year there was more points scored per game in the NFL in at least the last 10 or 15 years. I think we were at 44 points per game [44.06]. You're always working at a disadvantage on defense. That is one of the things you love about it, the challenge."

That wasn't exactly an air-tight refutation of the size criticism. The Seahawks very much like what Josh Wilson brings to their defense. He's tough and competitive. He makes plays on the ball and becomes a scoring threat when the ball is in his hands. He is also 5-foot-9.

The chart shows projected starting corners in the division. The Rams' Tye Hill could become a factor. He's about the same size as Jonathan Wade. Justin King is 5-foot-11 and 192 pounds. The 49ers' Walt Harris might not remain the starter. Shawntae Spencer is 6-foot-1 and 190. Reggie Smith is converting to safety.