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Saturday, March 24, 2012
Mailbag: Why didn't Cardinals chase OLB?

By Mike Sando
ESPN.com

Mackay from Lindon, Utah, wonders why the Arizona Cardinals did not pursue former Oakland Raiders outside linebacker Kamerion Wimbley in free agency. Instead, Wimbley signed with Tennessee.

Mike Sando: The Cardinals seem to have it backward at linebacker. They've invested more at inside linebacker (Stewart Bradley and Daryl Washington) than outside linebacker at a time when teams are paying for perimeter players.

Bradley figures to get more comfortable with a full offseason in the Cardinals' defensive system, but even if that happens, he's still going to be a relatively average inside linebacker in a 3-4 defense. Washington is a very good player and an integral part of the defense, so no complaints there.

As for Wimbley, he's projected to play right defensive end in the Titans' 4-3 scheme. I'm not sure he would have been the answer for Arizona. The Cardinals do like their young players at outside linebacker. Sam Acho played nearly half the defensive snaps last season. O'Brien Schofield was at 38 percent. Those two players do have promise, but the Cardinals need help at that position, in my opinion.

Outside linebacker, offensive tackle and wide receiver are three positions for the Cardinals to consider targeting before the draft. I would want a tackle first. Demetrius Bell is one free-agent candidate there. If the Cardinals could address tackle to some degree in free agency, they could feel better about using the 13th overall pick for an outside linebacker type. They cannot expect the unsigned Clark Haggans, 35, to play forever.

Axel from Eagle River, Alaska, suggests that the St. Louis Rams should be more active in seeking out higher-quality free agents at outside linebacker, defensive tackle and on the offensive line. He asks why they would bring in Chilo Rachal and Robert Turner for visits when neither would seem to be better than Jacob Bell or Jason Brown. Why not check out Vernon Carey, Jake Scott and Chad Rinehart?

Mike Sando: I'm with you on this one, in theory, but I also see what the Rams are thinking. They are building for the long haul, so they do not want to throw money at too many older players, particularly at non-premium positions. They want to go young.

The Rams had the NFL's youngest roster by average age heading into the weekend. Players around the league are not lining up to play for a team that has gone 15-65 over the last five seasons. The Rams might have to pay a premium to land some of these free agents.

Adding 31-year-old Scott Wells in free agency gave Sam Bradford a veteran center to lean on. That could be important.

The Rams already invested in right guard Harvey Dahl last offseason. Carey, 30, played right guard for the Miami Dolphins. His versatility and durability would make him an appealing addition. But if the Rams are going to go the 30-something route at guard, why not bring back the affordable Jacob Bell, who played for Fisher in Tennessee?

The Rams exceeded expectations with their trade sending the second overall draft choice to the Washington Redskins. They have fallen short of expectations in free agency to this point by suffering a net loss in the playmaking department (none added, Brandon Lloyd subtracted). I expect they will address that area in a big, big way on draft day.

The Rams' current receivers, listed in the chart, have 11 combined career touchdown receptions. Restricted free agent Danny Amendola remains unsigned, but the Rams own his rights.

Kyle from Des Moines, Iowa, asks what the San Francisco 49ers should do at right guard. "Are they better off drafting to fill that gap and having an even younger and less experienced line," he writes, "or filling it with a veteran who might not have the same skill level but can provide leadership with fewer mistakes?"

Mike Sando: The 49ers have shown a willingness to invested high draft choices in offensive linemen. Joe Staley, Mike Iupati and Anthony Davis were first-round picks. The two right guards last season, Rachal and Adam Snyder, were relatively early choices as well.

Now would be a good time for the 49ers to show they can develop a later-round choice at guard.

They are proceeding at right guard as though confident in Daniel Kilgore's ability to take the job. Kilgore was a fifth-round pick from Appalachian State in 2011, known for his toughness and tenacity. He played left tackle as a senior in college, but the interior is where he projects in the future. I think the 49ers should sign a lower-priced veteran for insurance, then prove they were right in trading up for Kilgore.

Jeff from Las Vegas asks what the Seattle Seahawks are getting with Frank Omiyale. "Bears fans don't seem to think much of him," Jeff writes.

Mike Sando: The Seahawks are getting veteran depth and a player their line coach, Tom Cable, coached in Atlanta years ago. They are not expecting Omiyale to become a starter, but with Robert Gallery gone, they wanted someone with experience.

Bears fans weren't high on Omiyale because Chicago used him as a starter. You might recall Minnesota Vikings fans wondering why the Seahawks would sign Tarvaris Jackson. Seattle wanted someone to help the team get through the season. The Seahawks were not saying Jackson would become the answer for them. They're not projecting Omiyale as the answer, either.