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Wednesday, March 9, 2011
Around the NFC West: Give Rams DL

By Mike Sando
ESPN.com

Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch explains why he thinks the Rams could come away with a defensive lineman in the first round of the 2011 draft. Thomas: "There shouldn't be a CB, LB or WR at No. 14 overall worth taking. (That's assuming WRs A.J. Green and Julio Jones are gone -- as they should be -- and corners Patrick Peterson and Prince Amukamara are gone -- as they should be.) Once Von Miller goes, and he could be a top five pick, there won't be any LBs worth taking at 14. So where does that leave you? There are no safeties worth taking there; in fact, there may not be a safety taken in the first round. Even if you felt TE was a big need, there are no TEs worth taking there and may not be a TE taken in the first round. So that leaves us with QB -- don't need one -- OT (don't need one), RB (maybe Mark Ingram) or defensive line (where there should be plenty of ends and a couple of tackles that could be in play at 14.) So why not take an end?"

Also from Thomas: Former Rams safety Oshiomogho Atogwe will earn $8 million from the Redskins this season.

More from Thomas: New offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels met with the Rams' offensive staff to watch the team's games from last season. Coach Steve Spagnuolo: "And basically, Josh just listened and absorbed. (Wide receivers coach) Nolan Cromwell might say, 'Here's how we did this. We thought this was pretty good.' Or (tight ends coach) Frank Leonard might say, 'We had our tight ends do this on this route.' Josh just kind of picked the things he saw that we did well here. It was like a clinic for him, and then we started to dig into the stuff that he's used to."

Roger Hensley of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch asks colleagues what's at stake for the Rams if a lockout erases much of the offseason. Bryan Burwell: "The inability to conduct the business of football -- recruiting and signing veteran free agents -- is the biggest problem for the Rams. Sam Bradford is an intelligent football mind and he will pick up on the new offense just fine. He might not be able to talk with McDaniels during the strike, but he knows other QBs who have worked in that system. They can help him in the interim. But the Rams need players to upgrade this roster and if that is restricted in any way, it outweighs whatever delay Bradford might experience in learning the playbook."

Nick Wagoner of stlouisrams.com checks in with general manager Billy Devaney for thoughts on the team's philosophy.

Danny O'Neil of the Seattle Times says a cornerback drafted in the first round would not automatically start for Seattle opposite Marcus Trufant. O'Neil: "Automatically? No sir. Not with Walter Thurmond wanting to compete for that spot. And I would say that I wouldn't be so sure Marcus Trufant's starting job is written in with permanent ink. He would have to compete for that spot, too." Trufant's contract calls for him to earn $5.9 million in base salary for 2011, so if he's back under terms of that deal, he pretty much has to start. I'll be curious to see if the Seahawks bring back Trufant at that price. Trufant showed last season he can play at a high level when the defense is playing well, but the defense had issues as the season progressed and Trufant's performance fell off. Injuries might have been a factor, too, beginning with the one to his ankle suffered against San Diego.

Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic says Cardinals coach Ken Whisenhunt spent part of Tuesday working out Cam Newton at the Auburn quarterback's pro day. Somers: "The draft is seven weeks away, so things could obviously change. But I don't see the Cardinals taking Newton at No. 5, if he even drops that far. To take a quarterback that high, it would have to be someone such as Sam Bradford, Matt Ryan, etc. -- guys who were productive for more than one year in college and had no red flags when it comes to behavior, maturity, etc. Of course, Matt Leinart fell into that category."

Darren Urban of azcardinals.com says Auburn was one of several scouting stops planned for general manager Rod Graves. Urban: "Graves is scheduled to attend the pro days of TCU, LSU and Texas A&M over the next six days. There can only be four players taken before the Cards go. Someone high-profile is going to be sitting there at 5. Who that is, however, remains vague."

Brock Huard of 710ESPN Seattle expresses skepticism on Kevin Kolb as a quarterback prospect for the Cardinals. Huard: "Derek Anderson didn't work. Max Hall was abysmal. They've got the young guy, (John) Skelton, that's a good player from Fordham with some nice size but is certainly unproven. You go back and look at Kevin Kolb, if you didn't know all the hype and the hysteria and everything else and you just looked at the byline, you just looked at the raw numbers of what he's done in four years, he's got a QB rating in four years of 73.2. He has started, in four years, seven games. He got beat out by Donovan McNabb. They drafted him in the second round to replace McNabb; it never happened. He got beat out by Michael Vick, and granted, Michael Vick is a different guy and an All-Pro and everything else. Those are two really good players. But those are the facts."

Eric Branch of the Santa Rosa Press-Democrat puts Michael Crabtree's first 27 games in perspective. Branch: "Consider that Crabtree has played 27 NFL games and has more catches (103) than Detroit’s Calvin Johnson (101), Green Bay’s Greg Jennings (98) and Miami’s Brandon Marshall (85) did at the same stage in their careers. It remains to be seen if Crabtree joins the NFL’s elite. He certainly won’t make the breakthrough due to breakaway speed. But it’s worth remembering his route running and inconsistency aren’t unusual for a 23-year-old wide receiver."

Matt Maiocco of CSNBayArea.com says the 49ers should be wary of drafting pass-rusher Von Miller seventh overall, according to former NFL scout Dave Razzano. Razzano: "He's got some Vernon Gholston in him. I'm not a big Von Miller fan. In looking at Big-12 tape, he does not have a motor. He doesn't chase hard. They run at him, and he doesn't fight off blockers. When he gets sacks, a lot of times he's not getting blocked. He's a one-move guy."

Also from Maiocco: thoughts on the 49ers possibly acquiring a veteran quarterback. Maiocco: "The Cardinals might be the 49ers' biggest competition to land a veteran quarterback. A lot of that has to do with the timing of the new CBA. If the new league year begins after the draft, it could have a major impact. If the Cardinals take a quarterback with the fifth overall pick, that would seem to rule out the possibility of them investing a lot to pursue a trade for Kevin Kolb or Carson Palmer. The Cardinals might also go after 49ers free agent quarterback Alex Smith. Kolb seems to be a better long-term fit with the 49ers because he'd be coming from a West Coast system to another West Coast system. The Vikings, Redskins, Bengals, Seahawks, Titans, Panthers, Bills and Dolphins are among the teams that could use quarterbacks, too."

Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee says Miller would give the 49ers ample speed at linebacker. Barrows: "With Miller, who ran his 40 in a furious 4.51 seconds, the amount of speed the 49ers would have at linebacker would be eye-opening. The future would include him, Patrick Willis and NaVorro Bowman at three of the four positions. The fourth? Fangio would have to decide among returnees Ahmad Brooks, Parys Haralson and Thaddeus Gibson as well as free agents Manny Lawson and Travis LaBoy."