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Friday, April 29, 2011
Around the NFC West: Cards' wise choice

By Mike Sando
ESPN.com

Dan Bickley of the Arizona Republic likes the Cardinals' selection of LSU cornerback Patrick Peterson with the fifth overall choice. Bickley: "This was the smart play. The Cardinals didn't get the yips and trade down, as they once did with Terrell Suggs on the board. They selected an impact player who immediately will upgrade Arizona's defense, rewarding fans that suffered through a 5-11 debacle last season. In the process, they resisted reaching for a quarterback, a move that suggests the Cardinals must have someone in mind when hunting season finally opens in the NFL." Selecting a quarterback over arguably the best player in the draft would have carried undue risk. This looks like a solid selection for Arizona. Cleveland might have come out better at No. 6, however, thanks to the Falcons' wacky dealing for a shot at Julio Jones.

Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic says the Cardinals plan to use Peterson in the return game as well. Coach Ken Whisenhunt: "I think he could line up today and be a kick returner in the NFL and be one of the best ones. As a punt returner . . . he certainly has the skill set to do it, but we obviously want to see him do it."

Also from Somers: The Cardinals have options in the second round. Somers: "The Cardinals need a tight end, and there's Notre Dame's Kyle Rudolph. A quarterback? TCU's Andy Dalton, Nevada's Colin Kaepernick and Arkansas' Ryan Mallett weren't taken in the first round Thursday night. The Cardinals could also use a pass rusher, and outside linebackers Akeem Ayers of UCLA, Bruce Carter of North Carolina, Brooks Reed of Arizona and Tucson Sabino High and Dontay Moch of Nevada and Chandler Hamilton High are available."

Bob McManamon of the Arizona Republic says the Cardinals could have a new starting quarterback next week.

Darren Urban of azcardinals.com says the team expects to have players working out at the facility beginning Friday. Whisenhunt: "It will be exciting to have guys at the facility. It’s nice to have contact with these guys immediately. We got a number of calls and communication from players, and that’s exciting. When your players say they want to be here working out, I know they didn’t miss (strength and conditioning coach) John Lott, but they say they want to work out and that’s a good thing."

Also from Urban: Cardinals general manager Rod Graves says the team had Peterson fifth on its board.

Bryan Burwell of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch sizes up the Rams' selection of Robert Quinn this way: "The selection of University of North Carolina defensive end Robert Quinn sounds just like the sort of logical pick you would expect from a guy such as Spagnuolo, who likes collecting pass rushers the way Donald Trump likes collecting birth certificates. Quinn is a big, fast, strong and aggressive guy who Spags can plug into his rotation that already includes Chris Long, James Hall, George Selvie, Fred Robbins, C.J. Ah You and Eugene Sims."

Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says the Rams were surprised Quinn remained available at No. 14. Thomas: "The Rams liked Prince Amukamara, who ended up going No. 19 to the New York Giants. They really liked Corey Liuget, who went No. 18 to the San Diego Chargers. As for Quinn, well, in the Rams' minds he was too good to pass. As such, Quinn became the first defensive player taken in the first round in coach Steve Spagnuolo's three-draft tenure in St. Louis."

Howard Balzer of 101ESPN St. Louis says the Rams are taking a chance on Quinn, a player with some question marks.

Clare Farnsworth of seahawks.com passes along Pete Carroll's thoughts on not drafting a quarterback in the first round Thursday. Carroll: "John (Schneider, the GM) and I are of the mindset that we always have to look at the quarterback position -- every year, every draft we’re going to continue to do that. This year’s draft, Charlie (Whitehurst) is our third-round pick. I don’t know if you guys (reporters) realize that, but that’s something we’re very well aware of. We’re going to continue to deal with the quarterback position. Remember last year, the first big thing we did was to go get Charlie. He’s already come in and won a big game for us (the season finale against the Rams) as our pick in this year’s draft. So we think we’ve already been paid back on that front. But by no means are we done. We’ve got some question marks there, obviously."

Jerry Brewer of the Seattle Times says the Seahawks wanted to trade down and wound up taking a second-round talent in James Carpenter when they couldn't move back. Brewer: "Ultimately, the Seahawks were more concerned about finding a good player who fits the style they're trying to create. For them, Carpenter carried a high value because of his physical, aggressive brand of football. In Carpenter and Okung, the Seahawks now have two young bookend tackles to stabilize the offensive line. That's not a bad start. It seems they could've gotten better value out of that No. 25 pick, but they didn't. And now it's on Carpenter to make this decision pan out." Carpenter appeared at No. 31 in Rob Rang's final mock draft. That was as high as I'd seen anyone project him to go.

Christian Caple of seattlepi.com says the Seahawks were unapologetic about their first-round selection. Schneider: "I would say to a fan that they should take reassurance in the fact that we’ve been busting our tail since last May covering this guy. And that we spent countless hours the last probably eight weekends in a row just evaluating this thing, and this guy’s never changed."

Art Thiel of Sportspress Northwest says the Seahawks' recent first-round struggles make it tough for fans to get too excited about Carpenter -- even if the team's current leadership wasn't responsible for past mistakes.

Eric D. Williams of the Tacoma News Tribune says Carpenter was "shocked" to be selected in the first round.

Matt Maiocco of CSNBayArea.com expects the 49ers to select a cornerback, then work toward securing a veteran quarterback. General manager Trent Baalke: "We understand as an organization that we need to get a quarterback. But when that takes places, how it takes place, that's all been discussed internally and that will stay internally. We've looked at every option available to us. When you look at free agency, and you look at the trade opportunities and possibilities, and you look at players still on the board. There are players out there and situations out there that will allow us to address the position. But we have to let it play itself out."

Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee casts the 49ers' selection of Aldon Smith in the context of not selecting quarterback Blaine Gabbert. Barrows: "By bypassing Gabbert, the 49ers still will be eager to re-sign quarterback Alex Smith. Alex Smith, in turn, likely was watching carefully to see if the 49ers used their No. 7 pick on a quarterback. Gabbert was taken by the Redskins at pick No. 10. Harbaugh said he and the 49ers took a long look at Gabbert as well as every other prospect."

Also from Barrows: Opportunities to trade down never materialized for the 49ers.

More from Barrows: Alex Smith and the 49ers plan to get together Friday.

Lowell Cohn of the Santa Rosa Press-Democrat likes the 49ers' decision to select a pass-rusher in the first round. Cohn: "Smith was an enviable pick because it took guts to go against the conventional wisdom. And it shows Trent Baalke and Jim Harbaugh think for themselves and act on conviction. They actually do. They knew who and what they wanted and they got him. Even after the 49ers made the selection, writers were tweeting the 49ers would trade Smith to the Eagles for Kevin Kolb. It's like no one believed the Niners did what they did. But they didn't trade. When writers later asked Harbaugh if he considered trading Smith, he looked dumbfounded, as if the question made no sense. It didn't." The trade talk came out of nowhere. The 49ers weren't trading a pick that high for Kolb without being convinced they could win a championship with him. I'm not convinced they're convinced enough on Kolb to make that sort of move.

Eric Branch of the Santa Rosa Press-Democrat says Smith's toughness appealed to coach Jim Harbaugh.

Also from Branch: The 49ers realize Smith faces a transition period.

Tim Kawakami of the San Jose Mercury News says the 49ers appeared patient in making Smith their selection. Harbaugh does have a five-year contract. He didn't have to take a quarterback right away.

David White of the San Francisco Chronicle describes Harbaugh as relieved to get a shot at working with players now that the lockout is ending.

Gwen Knapp of the San Francisco Chronicle wasn't impressed with the 49ers' use of the seventh overall pick. Knapp: "They deserve credit for not allowing themselves to be seduced by one of the many overrated quarterbacks in the draft, but the two teams in front of them spun their slots into gold. By comparison, Aldon Smith, a promising but raw Missouri defensive end, seemed like a poor yield on the No. 7 pick."