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Wednesday, April 22, 2009
Around the NFC West: Rams, Raji and risk

By Mike Sando
ESPN.com

Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando

Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says the Rams could use defensive tackles, but the team does not appear interested in Boston College's B.J. Raji. Thomas: "There has been next to nothing in terms of hints that the Rams are interested in Raji. Perhaps most telling was the fact that he was not invited to Rams Park last week for a pre-draft visit. About half the projected first round was invited among the 23 players at Rams Park, but not Raji." General manager Billy Devaney says the Rams have a "zero tolerance" policy for players convicted of crimes or known to be involved with illegal substances. Sports Illustrated retracted a story claiming Raji had failed a drug test at the combine.

Bill Coats of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says Rams legend Deacon Jones used the word "asinine" to describe the team's failure to retire his jersey number.

Mike Garafalo of the Newark Star-Ledger profiles Rams general manager and New Jersey native Billy Devaney, who once told Don Shula he would play in the NFL. Devaney was wrong, of course. He would become a baggage handler at Newark Airport before breaking into the NFL as a scout for the Chargers in 1990.

Steve Korte of the Belleville News-Democrat says the Rams are valuing their scouts' opinions more heavily.

Dan Bickley of the Arizona Republic says Cardinals coach Ken Whisenhunt gives the team needed credibility. Bickley: "Look at Rod Graves. The compliant general manager is sitting at a table softly explaining his draft philosophies, and given his record at this sort of thing it is a sight that should strike terror in the hearts of all Cardinals fans. But they are calm because Whisenhunt is sitting there, too, and somehow, he'll figure it out."

Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic quotes Whisenhunt as saying NFL teams have a relatively easy time evaluating defensive linemen. There simply aren't as many good ones as teams would prefer, and so sometimes teams reach for them in the draft.

Also from Somers: The Cardinals denied reports they have asked for first- and third-round draft choices in return for receiver Anquan Boldin.

More from Somers: Highlights from a pre-draft news conference featuring Whisenhunt and Graves.

Darren Urban of azcardinals.com quotes Whisenhunt as saying the Cardinals are not "proactively" trying to trade Boldin.

Scott Bordow of the East Valley Tribune thinks the Cardinals should trade up in the draft to select running back Knowshon Moreno, even if it means parting with a third-round choice. I think Arizona can probably find a starter at No. 31.

Revenge of the Birds' Hawkwind says the Cardinals might need to consider drafting an inside linebacker given Karlos Dansby's apparent desire to hit the market after the 2009 season.

John Crumpacker of the San Francisco Chronicle says the 49ers' plans for the second through fourth rounds of the draft could mean more than what they do with the 10th overall choice.

Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee sent Brian Orakpo to the 49ers at No. 10 in a mock draft for the Sporting News.

Danny O'Neil of the Seattle Times quotes Sports Illustrated's Jim Trotter as saying Seahawks coach Jim Mora has a "man crush" on receiver Michael Crabtree.

Eric D. Williams of the Tacoma News Tribune doesn't expect the Seahawks to draft an offensive lineman in the first round.

Also from Williams: He checks in with Rob Rang for a round-by-round list of running backs and tight ends the Seahawks might consider in the draft. Receivers: Michael Crabtree, Hakeem Nicks, Mike Wallace, Kenny McKinley, Brandon Gibson, Markko Mitchell and Quan Cosby. The tight ends: Brandon Pettigrew, Jared Cook, James Casey, Richard Quinn, Cameron Morrah, Kory Sperry and Jared Bronson.

John Morgan of Field Gulls sizes up the Seahawks' needs at fullback. He calls Owen Schmitt a "highlight-reel" run-blocker, although it's a pretty short reel at this stage of Schmitt's career.

Also from Morgan: Seahawks center Chris Spencer isn't as bad as advertised, but he might be injury prone. Morgan looks at centers available in the draft.

Michael Steffes of Seahawk Addicts doesn't expect the Seahawks to draft Eugene Monroe after reading that Seattle was one of two teams not to attend the Virginia tackle's pro day.

Chris Sullivan of Seahawk Addicts breaks down at which point each Seattle player was drafted.

Clark Judge of CBSSports.com considers the Seahawks' decision with the fourth overall choice pivotal to how the draft will fall.