Tuesday, January 24, 2012
Chancellor, Pro Bowls and the 2010 class
By Mike Sando
The Seattle Seahawks can thank the division-rival San Francisco 49ers for adding a high-gloss shine to their 2010 draft class.
Kam Chancellor, a fifth-round pick for Seattle that year, is headed to the Pro Bowl after the 49ers' Dashon Goldson withdrew from the game, citing injury. Chancellor's presence on the NFC roster gives Seattle two Pro Bowl safeties from its 2010 class. Earl Thomas, chosen sixth overall that year, was named to the team as the starting free safety.
I went back through that 2010 class and noticed the St. Louis Rams (Mardy Gilyard) and Seattle Seahawks (E.J. Wilson) were the only NFC West teams to release players chosen earlier than the fifth round that year.
Chancellor and the Rams' Mike Hoomanawanui are the only current projected starters chosen later than the fourth round (they were taken one pick apart in the fifth). Hoomanawanui might not start; it's too early to say.
Taylor Mays and Jorrick Calvin were the only NFC West picks traded.
Seattle's Golden Tate, chosen 60th overall, is the highest choice remaining with his team as a backup, not a starter.
A quick run through the 2010 class for the NFC West:
Starters: Dan Williams, Daryl Washington, Andre Roberts.
Backups: John Skelton, Jim Dray, O'Brien Schofield.
Traded: Jorrick Calvin.
Comment: The Cardinals were picking later than their division rivals after winning the 2009 NFC West title. They still found four projected starters. Washington, a second-rounder, stands out as the best selection. Williams and Roberts have much to prove. Schofield appears to be ascending. He did not start in 2011, however, and will have to win the job.
San Francisco 49ers
Starters: Anthony Davis, Mike Iupati, NaVorro Bowman.
Backups: Anthony Dixon, Nate Byham, Kyle Williams.
Traded: Taylor Mays.
Released: Phillip Adams.
Comment: Bowman's emergence as an All-Pro inside linebacker strengthens this class and helps offset Mays' disappointing stint with the team. Byham was emerging as a top blocker before suffering a season-ending injury. Iupati is a first alternate to the Pro Bowl. Williams is coming off a rough NFC Championship Game.
Starters: Russell Okung, Earl Thomas, Kam Chancellor.
Backups: Golden Tate, Walter Thurmond, Anthony McCoy, Dexter Davis, Jameson Konz.
Released: E.J. Wilson.
Comment: Thomas and Chancellor are making this a successful class. Okung might be the best of the three, but only if he can get healthy. Thurmond was a starter until suffering an injury at Cleveland. He'll have a hard time winning back a starting job now that Brandon Browner and Richard Sherman have locked down jobs. But he could still factor. Tate made strides late in the 2011 season.
St. Louis Rams
Starters: Sam Bradford, Rodger Saffold, Mike Hoomanawanui.
Backups: Jerome Murphy, Eugene Sims, Marquis Johnson, Josh Hull.
Released: Mardy Gilyard, Hall Davis, Fendi Onobun, George Selvie.
Comment: This class will succeed or fail based on how Bradford develops under new offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer. Bradford and the rest of this class -- and the entire roster, pretty much -- struggled this past season.
The first chart breaks down NFC West teams' picks by projected status for 2012.
The second chart provides context. The Rams have released four players from their 2010 class, which could look bad. But they also had far more later-round picks than their division rivals. Those players have a harder time earning roster spots.