Wednesday, May 16, 2012
Second thought on some, but not Campbell
By Mike Sando ESPN.com
NFL rosters turn over quickly. It's no shock to see a team's draft class disperse after five or six years.
Sometimes it takes a special player to thrive through injuries, coaching changes, temptations and other issues that can send a promising career in the wrong direction.
Arizona's Calais Campbell might be considered one of the better bargains out of the 2008 NFL draft.
Calais Campbell is looking like that type of player. He has stayed relatively healthy, succeeded despite multiple changes in coordinators and commanded a lucrative second contract from the Arizona Cardinals.
Campbell, still only 25, is the longest-tenured second-round draft choice remaining with his original NFC West team. That seems difficult to believe, but much has changed since the Cardinals made Campbell the 50th overall choice in the 2008 NFL draft. Every other team in the division has changed head coaches multiple times. Those changes negatively affected quite a few players.
The chart shows NFC West second-round choices since 2007, excluding the class selected last month. Shading indicates players no longer with their original teams.
Eight of the 10 drafted from 2009 to 2011 remain with their teams. Taylor Mays and Cody Brown are the exceptions. Campbell is the lone second-round survivor among seven taken during the 2007-2008 drafts.
I've singled out five second-rounders to watch in the division:
Colin Kaepernick, 49ers:Alex Smith projects as the starter for this season, but his contract provides flexibility for the team. Kaepernick could get a chance this season if Smith struggles or fails to remain healthy enough to start all 16 games for a second consecutive season.
Ryan Williams, Cardinals: Williams spent much of his offseason at team headquarters rehabbing a serious knee injury. The team remains cautiously optimistic that Williams can become a game-breaking back. Coaches and scouts loved what they saw from him before the injury.
Golden Tate, Seahawks: Tate started five games and dropped no passes last season. The Seahawks think Tate might be turning a corner after a rough start to his career. This is a pivotal season for Tate.
Rodger Saffold, Rams: Saffold quickly emerged as the Rams' starting left tackle, showing promise as a rookie. His second season wasn't as smooth. A pectoral injury suffered while lifting weights required surgery. Saffold looks like a long-term starter even if it means sliding to guard at some point in the future.
Lance Kendricks, Rams: Former offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels was a big supporter in the Rams' decision to draft Kendricks. McDaniels is gone. Kendricks remains in the Rams' plans, by all appearances. He was inconsistent as a rookie and still must find his bearings.
St. Louis and Arizona each used five second-round choices from 2007 to 2011. Seattle used four. San Francisco used three and has gotten relatively little from those selections, pending Kaepernick's potential emergence as the starting quarterback at some point in the future.
The Rams have gotten 118 starts from their five second-round choices during the five years in question. The Seahawks have gotten 99 starts, the Cardinals 74 starts and the 49ers 44 starts. Teams with weaker rosters and/or additional second-round choices would generally have larger totals.
The chart shows starts made only for the teams that selected each player. Some players have made additional starts for other teams.