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Sunday, April 19, 2009
Around the NFC West: Hightower to be starter?

By Mike Sando
ESPN.com

Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando

Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic expects Tim Hightower to enter next season as the Cardinals' starting running back. That surprises me a little bit. I would think the Cardinals might find their next starter in the draft. They certainly picked a good year to pick near the end of the first round. Cardinals director of player personnel Steve Keim: "To be quite honest with you, I don't see a whole lot of difference between the fifth pick and the 31st pick. That obviously bodes well for us." And not so well for Seattle.

Also from Somers: He isn't expecting a quick trade involving Cardinals receiver Anquan Boldin.

The Associated Press quotes former Giants defensive end Michael Strahan advising Boldin to keep his frustrations to himself.

Darren Urban of azcardinals.com offers a few thoughts on Boldin's situation and a possible trade. Urban: "On a new team, Boldin doesn't have the Fitz/Warner system and he'll be paid a lot more. That could drive down his value outside of Arizona."

Revenge of the Birds' Hawkwind602 explores in greater detail the pros and cons associated with trading Boldin. One thought in relation to Boldin's physical style possibly shortening his career: "The bottom line points seems to be that even though the Cardinals are not a better team without Boldin, they might have a brighter future for a longer period of time given the picks that they'll receive for him."

Clare Farnsworth of Seahawks.com -- more on that pairing in a sec -- says the team could have picked a better year to be drafting fourth overall, given the lack of obvious franchise players in this draft. Note: Clare has covered the Seahawks for newspapers since the 1970s. That changed when the Seattle Post-Intelligencer ditched its print edition. It's tough to envision Seahawks coverage without Clare, so it was great seeing him over at Seahawks headquarters for general manager Tim Ruskell's recent session with reporters.

Danny O'Neil of the Seattle Times isn't expecting the Seahawks to draft an offensive tackle with the fourth overall choice. I tend to agree, but it's tough finding likely scenarios for Seattle -- particularly if Matthew Stafford, Michael Crabtree and Aaron Curry are off the board when Seattle is on the clock.

Doug Farrar of Field Gulls says it's tough to get a great feel for Mark Sanchez's prospects in the NFL when respected analysts offer disparate opinions.

ViperLjs of Turf Show Times summarizes St. Louis Post-Dispatch reporter Jim Thomas' comments about the Rams' draft plans based on what Thomas said during a radio interview. ViperLjs: "Thomas came on Bernie Miklasz's radio show today to discuss the draft, and revealed that there are indications coming from the organization that [Eugene] Monroe will be the pick. This corresponds with glowing comments made by [GM Billy] Devaney in his assessment of [Eugene] Monroe. I am one of the few who prefers Monroe to [Wake Forest linebacker Aaron] Curry; I'm consistently seeing doubts about his lateral mobility and ability to be a game changer at the MLB position."

John Crumpacker of the San Francisco Chronicle looks at the history of the 10th overall choice in the NFL draft. The 49ers once found J.J. Stokes in that spot. Crumpacker lists offensive tackle, outside linebacker and defensive end as the 49ers' top needs, but coach Mike Singletary is adamant about taking the best player without as much regard for need.

Also from Crumpacker: He lists players the 49ers might consider in the draft, including running back Rashad Jennings.

Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee thinks the 49ers will address outside linebacker and running back in the second and third rounds.

David Fucillo of Niners Nation sizes up Brian Orakpo as a prospect for the 49ers. He asks: "How do you get playing time for the draft choice alongside [Manny] Lawson and [Parys] Haralson?"