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Friday, April 29, 2011
A few words from Mel Kiper on NFC West

By Mike Sando

ESPN's Mel Kiper singled out the Arizona Cardinals for praise while raising questions about the Seattle Seahawks in the first round of the 2011 draft.

His full Insider piece spans more than 1,400 words and touches on multiple teams. I've broken out a couple snippets from his comments on NFC West teams for further analysis.

Peterson
Peterson
Kiper specifically addressed the Cardinals' selection of LSU cornerback Patrick Peterson and the Seahawks' selection of Alabama tackle James Carpenter.

Kiper's give: "In Peterson you have a gifted football player who makes you better immediately, and have made yourself an appealing destination for a quarterback who wants to move."

Sando's take: Can a rookie cornerback change perceptions about whether a team is ready to contend? If Peterson can do that for Arizona, which finished 5-11 last season, he's even more special than the scouting reports suggest. It could happen if Peterson instantly becomes the sort of dynamic return specialist Percy Harvin became for Minnesota a couple years ago. The Cardinals did emphasize Peterson's return skills in explaining why the LSU corner was so appealing to them at No. 5. I tend to think a quarterback on another team would value an offensive player over a cornerback and specialist, although there's no arguing with the Cardinals' decision on Peterson. It was the obvious choice based on what was known.

Kiper's give: "The Seahawks are clearly determined to add talent and build continuity. But Carpenter is a guy they could have gotten later, in my opinion. Gabe Carimi and Derek Sherrod are still on the board, and either could shift to the right side."

Sando's take: Seattle probably could have gotten Carpenter later. The Seahawks would have lost out on Carimi, Sherrod and possibly Carpenter had they traded out of the first round entirely, however. They considered a couple trade options, but nothing came together. Carimi went 29th to Chicago. Sherrod went 31st to Green Bay. There were conflicting reports on Carpenter. Analysts Mike Mayock and Nolan Nawrocki used the term "finesse" in describing him. Seahawks line coach Tom Cable flatly rejected the characterization. The Seahawks' leadership cast Carpenter as a nasty road grader with the versatility to play four positions on the line. The confusion could stem from the fact that Carpenter was a junior-college transfer who added weight and appeared more physical relatively late in the process, at the Senior Bowl.