Thursday, February 23, 2012
Around the NFC West: Combine kickoff
By Mike Sando
INDIANAPOLIS -- The NFL combine media work room is beginning to buzz with about an hour remaining before NFL coaches, executives and college players begin filtering through Lucas Oil Stadium.
Bill Williamson, Kevin Seifert, Paul Kuharsky and I will be providing regular updates once things get going.
In the meantime, let's take a look around the division.
Eric Branch of the San Francisco Chronicle looks at Frank Gore's future in terms of the career expectancy of running backs. Branch: "With his 29th birthday looming in May, the 49ers running back ranks fifth among active players in career rushing attempts and his medical dossier includes two torn ACLs (University of Miami), a fractured hip (2010) and nagging knee and ankle injuries that limited his effectiveness and workload during the latter stages of 2011. Given the wear-and-tear factor with Gore, it’s possible the Niners could draft a running back for the third straight year. Anthony Dixon (sixth round, 2010) isn’t guaranteed a roster spot next season and Kendall Hunter (fourth round, 2011) looks like a keeper, but not a bell cow of the future at 5-foot-7 and 199 pounds."
Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch sizes up the Rams' needs heading into the combine. Chief operating officer Kevin Demoff on Jeff Fisher's draft preferences: "He's going to want someone who's physical, who's tough, that plays fast, obviously. Bigger running backs have been his style; bigger offensive linemen. But I think one of the things, and we talked about this at Jeff's (introductory) press conference, he's been able to adapt and win with a lot of different types of players." Noted: The Rams began to favor bigger offensive linemen during their one season under coordinator Josh McDaniels, but the transformation was only beginning.
Clare Farnsworth of seahawks.com previews the combine from Seattle's perspective. General manager John Schneider: "The first draft (2010), we were proud of. But we had the two high picks. But Pete (Carroll) and I also were together for the first time. We had a new coaching staff. We had an old scouting system, and I came in with a new system. So we kind of plugged everything together and just kind of pounded through it. Last year, obviously it was a fluid process because it was our first time through as one group – with one grading scale and more of a clear focus on everybody speaking the same language. We were proud of that group last year because we really focused on the toughness of the group."
Eric D. Williams of the Tacoma News Tribune looks at some of the Seahawks' needs, including for a pass-rusher. Williams: "The Seahawks finished with just 33 sacks in 2011, tied for 19th in the league."
Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic outlines his projected Cardinals coverage from the combine. Somers: "Those watching on television will know about the workouts than the reporters inside the building. With the exception of a limited Sunday session, we are not allowed to watch the actual workouts. That's not such a bad deal, because the days are full of interviews with players, coaches and GMs. It would be tough to do both, and given the choice, I'll take the interviews. We get the results of the combine drills later, anyway."
Also from Somers: a few combine notes and observations. Somers: "Offensive linemen are scheduled to meet with reporters tomorrow. I'm especially interested in talking to some guys in this group. The Cardinals will have some openings in the starting unit and are expected to draft their first o-linemen since 2009. They haven't drafted one higher than the fifth round since Levi Brown in 2007. There are some intriguing tackles: USC's Ryan Kalil, Iowa's Riley Reiff, Stanford's Jonathan Martin and Ohio State's Mike Adams."