Monday, March 12, 2012
Where Levi Brown fits among West peers
By Mike Sando
With Levi Brown possibly out in Arizona, a look at the first player each NFC West team drafted under its current head coach:
- Cardinals (2007): Brown. Durability has been a strength for Brown. He owns four consecutive seasons with 16 starts, and 75 regular-season starts in 77 games. Brown started at right tackle early in his career, including in Super Bowl XLIII. He played left tackle last season. Run blocking has been his strength. Brown has not been reliable in pass protection. His salary balloons in value for the upcoming season. If Brown returns, he'll do so under a reduced contract. Coach Ken Whisenhunt has said he wants Brown back. The team needs to address the tackle position either way.
- Seahawks (2010): Russell Okung. Okung has been the opposite of Brown to this point. Durability has been a problem. Okung has flashed Pro Bowl potential when he's been on the field, but repeated ankle problems slowed him early. An allegedly dirty play from Philadelphia Eagles defensive end Trent Cole forced Okung to finish last season on injured reserve with a torn pectoral muscle. Okung, chosen sixth overall in 2010, missed six games as a rookie and four last season.
- 49ers (2011): Aldon Smith. The 49ers did not regret using the seventh overall choice for Smith, who collected 14 sacks during the regular season and two more during the playoffs. Smith played in passing situations, logging about half the snaps. The 49ers expect Smith's role to grow in 2012. Smith will compete for a starting job at outside linebacker. His pure pass-rushing ability arguably makes him worth the investment even in a situational role.
- Rams (2012): To be determined. The Rams hold the sixth overall choice after trading back four spots in a deal with Washington. That deal becomes official Tuesday. Oklahoma State receiver Justin Blackmon and LSU cornerback Morris Claiborne are two players frequently projected as considerations for the Rams in that spot.
Looks like the Houston Texans released right tackle Eric Winston, adding one candidate to the pool of offensive linemen Arizona and other teams can consider. That move was a big surprise.