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Friday, April 22, 2011
Around the NFC West: About trade inquiries

By Mike Sando
ESPN.com

Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic puts into perspective information about the Cardinals receiving trade inquiries regarding the fifth overall choice. General manager Rod Graves says the conversations have been nothing out of the ordinary. Graves: "There are going to be some excellent football players there in the top 10. Many of those guys will be deemed as franchise-type players. So there will be interest to get up in there, and I wouldn't be surprised that we will get more calls as we get closer to the draft and even on draft day."

Darren Urban of azcardinals.com passes along thoughts from Cardinals personnel director Steve Keim regarding draft strategy. Keim: "There is a difference between ‘now’ and building an organization correctly the long-term way, and the only way to do it correctly long-term is to go in with the mindset of the best available. There are need-based thoughts to that process, but we can’t get consumed with the aspect of need. It’s something you fight every year. That’s just natural. But if you stay focused on long-term goals it keeps you safe."

Bryan Burwell of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch joins colleagues in explaining why Alabama receiver Julio Jones should appeal to the Rams. Burwell: "Jones is a play maker, fast, strong, amazing athleticism and an outstanding downfield blocker. He has everything it takes to be a No.1 receiver. But allow me to ponder what might happen with that No. 14 pick because Jones will not be there. Would the Rams be tempted to go with Florida offensive lineman Mike Pouncey or Boston College G/T Anthony Castonzo to tighten up the interior offensive line? Just throwing out other possibilities for draftniks to mull over." Ideally, any offensive lineman drafted 14th overall would project at tackle, a position the Rams have covered in recent drafts.

Nick Wagoner of stlouisrams.com assesses the Rams' cornerback situation heading into the draft. Wagoner: "As injuries and inconsistencies mounted in the nickel position last year, the Rams rifled through a number of options without ever truly settling on one. At various times, the Rams tried Kevin Dockery, Justin King, rookie Jerome Murphy and Quincy Butler in the nickel role. None ever staked a full claim to the job, leaving it as a potential question mark heading into next season. Of that group, 2010 third-round pick Murphy might have the most potential. Murphy proved to be unafraid of the moment in his opportunities last season and is just scratching the surface on his potential as a strong press corner."

Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee says 49ers general manager Trent Baalke downplayed the team's ability to land a quarterback with experience in the West Coast offense. Also: "One more point about Jim Harbaugh's praise of Alex Smith, which has been interpreted by some as evidence that Harbaugh absolutely adores Smith. Harbaugh told me the other day that he's gone over every NFL snap that Smith has taken. And as we all know, there are more than a few uglies in that group. Harbaugh knows very well that Smith isn't the second coming of Joe Montana. His effusive words are calculated. Harbaugh not only has to convince Smith to return to a town that boos him at every incompletion. He also is trying to pump Smith up if indeed he is Harbaugh's starting quarterback on Sept. 11."

Kevin Lynch of Niner Insider offers thoughts on Harbaugh and what he'll need from the 49ers to succeed. Lynch: "Recently, I've talked to a few people who have spent time observing Harbaugh at Stanford and here's what they say. First, Harbaugh's greatest attributes are his ability to motivate and his reputation as a quarterback whisperer. Harbaugh believes he could coach an Oompa Loompa into spinning NFL-quality spirals, and that's why he wants Alex Smith to stay so badly. Harbaugh believes he can unleash Smith's first-pick talent. But interestingly, Harbaugh is not a great X's and O's man. In fact, Stanford really took off after Harbaugh hired Greg Roman on offense and Vic Fangio on defense. Offensively, Roman, now the 49ers offensive coordinator, was known as the brains of the operation with his use of motion and emphasis on the run. Roman also had the luxury of an extremely bright quarterback in Andrew Luck who sometimes called three plays in the huddle and then chose the best one at the line of scrimmage."

Jeff Dickerson of ESPNChicago.com checks in with former Seahawks general manager Tim Ruskell for thoughts on how Chicago's draft process has chanced since Ruskell and Bears general manager Jerry Angelo joined forces again. Ruskell: "A lot of the things I incorporated in Seattle are things Jerry and I worked on in Tampa and maybe he got away from. I've taken them and went further with them, and some of them are things we re-instituted, things Jerry is familiar with in terms of the draft boards. There are no earth-shattering changes, but we've talked, and the best of both worlds is what it's felt like. It's felt good to the scouts, it's felt good to the coaches in terms of the way we went about our business. Everyone got their say and the work was thorough. No matter how you get to that point, that's the goal."

The Almanac Online says Seahawks owner Paul Allen plans to discuss his new book Monday at the Computer History Museum in Menlo Park, Calif. The admission price -- $32 for one person and $40 for two -- includes a copy of the book.