NFC West: Brandon Chillar
My unofficial counts show the Steelers and Packers among four teams with more than 35 of their own draft choices on the 53-man roster or injured reserve. Carolina and Indianapolis are the others.
The Panthers are in a different category as a rebuilding team attempting to save money.
San Francisco (33), Arizona (27), Seattle (26) and St. Louis (24) are at various points on the spectrum. Cleveland has only 17 such players on its roster or on injured reserve, easily a league low.
In looking at rosters for the Steelers and Packers, I'm seeing only two NFC West draft choices: Green Bay's Ryan Pickett, a first-round choice by St. Louis in 2001; and Pittsburgh's Arnaz Battle, a third-round choice by San Francisco in 2003.
Update: Former Rams draft choice Brandon Chillar is on injured reserve with Green Bay (thanks, Paul).
Then came the correction: Rodgers is active.
Receiver Patrick Williams, listed below Rogers on the numerical roster, is the one inactive.
Also inactive for Green Bay: Derrick Martin, Korey Hall, Trevor Ford, Brandon Chillar, Breno Giacomini, Ryan Pickett and Michael Montgomery.
Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando
The Rams certainly never set out to amass 13 seventh-round draft choices, three more than any other team in the league. It just worked out that way.
Ronald Curry, a seventh-round choice of the Raiders in 2002, became the lucky 13th when St. Louis acquired him from the Lions by trade Wednesday.
Rosters are at their fattest this time of year, so the total will certainly shrink.
The Rams' failure in the early rounds of past drafts -- before the current regime took over -- has probably left more room for later-round players.
Billy Bajema's addition could help cost 2006 second-rounder Joe Klopfenstein a roster spot. At linebacker, the Rams have parted with 2003 second-rounder Pisa Tinoisamoa, 2004 fourth-rounder Brandon Chillar and 2006 third-rounder Jon Alston, creating room for seventh-rounders David Vobora and Chris Chamberlain. At running back, the Rams practically gave
away 2007 second-rounder Brian Leonard, making it more likely for seventh-rounder Chris Ogbonnaya to stick.
Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando
Percy Allen of the Seattle Times checks in with Matt Hasselbeck, Nate Burleson, Lofa Tatupu and other Seattle-area athletes for Mother's Day stories. Ah, the memories. Hasselbeck: "My mom and I were pretty similar. As a child, we probably went at it more because we're so alike. At my house, growing up, we got spanked. My dad, who was 6-feet-8, 255 and a big guy, you'd always want to get spanked by my dad because he was so big he wasn't sure how hard he should go. But my mom, she's little, she's like 5-5, she would just whack you. You'd never want to get spanked by my mom."
Clare Farnsworth of Seahawks.com provides an overview of the zone-blocking scheme Seattle coaches are emphasizing this offseason.
Mike Reiss of the Boston Globe says the Patriots could have some interest in former Rams linebacker Pisa Tinoisamoa. The Rams presumably released Tinoisamoa to avoid paying his salary and because they wanted bigger linebackers. Tinoisamoa has played as light as 220 pounds, which would make him too small for a 3-4 scheme, but the Patriots did bring him in for a pre-draft visit in 2003.VanRam of Turf Show Times says the Rams would be in better position to release Tinoisamoa if they hadn't let Brandon Chillar leave in free agency last offseason. He wonders if Rocky Boiman might fit for the Rams as a strongside linebacker.
Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee takes a break from his Hawaiian "vacation" to feed his blog. What would a trip to Hawaii be without thoughts of Ahmad Brooks and Jimmy Williams? Barrows: "Both have off-the-chart talent, but have been hurt by off-the-field issues and lack of motivation. I'm wondering if the Mike Singletary magic will work on these guys. If it does, and Singletary can get Brooks and Williams to realize their potential, then the 49ers suddenly have excellent depth at OLB, where they are thin, and at strong safety where Michael Lewis isn't getting any younger. It also might embolden Singletary to take chances on other so-called high-risk players."
Ann Killion of the San Jose Mercury News checks in with the Singletary family. The coach and his wife, Kim, are celebrating 25 years of marriage this month. Killion: "Kim is the velvet to Mike's iron. She moderates the white-hot flame that he brings to every endeavor. She points out the bigger picture surrounding the object of his intense focus."
Bob McManaman of the Arizona Republic says 6-foot-7, 365-pound Cardinals rookie offensive lineman Herman "House" Johnson is working on his conditioning. McManaman: "Johnson topped out at 411 pounds when he reported to LSU as a freshman and last season, carried a playing weight between 385 and 390. ... He's dropped about 25 pounds since then, down to 365, and the Cardinals are encouraging him to trim down even further, to about 350 or 355."
Revenge of the Birds' mbn explores how the Cardinals' defensive players fit new coordinator Bill Davis' 3-4 plans: "It will be interesting to see what the Cardinals do with [Darnell Dockett] or if they will still run a hybrid scheme just to highlight Dockett's skills. [Calais] Campbell fits better than Dockett in the 3-4."
Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando
Rick from Charleston, West Virginia, writes: Hey Mike! As I'm seeing all these 2009 NFL Draft grades immediately hitting the presses, I'm reminded of what I heard a long time ago -- not sure who gets the credit -- you cannot judge a draft for 5 years. With that in mind, I went back and looked at each NFC West team's first 5 picks in the 2004 Draft.
Maybe you could post this and get some reader feedback. The numbers in parenthesis are the round, followed by overall pick:
Marcus Tubbs, DT, Texas (1,23)
Michael Boulware, SS, Florida St (2,53)
Sean Locklear, G, NC State (3,84)
Niko Koutouvides, LB, Purdue (4,116)
D.J. Hackett, WR, Colorado (5,157)
Rashaun Woods, WR, Oklahoma St (1,31)
Justin Smiley, G, Alabama (2,46)
Shawntae Spencer, CB, Pitt (2,58)
Derrick Hamilton, WR, Clemson (3,77)
Isaac Sopoaga, DT, Hawaii (4,104)
Steven Jackson, RB, Oregon St (1,24)
Anthony Hargrove, DE, Ga Tech (3,91)
Brandon Chillar, LB, UCLA (4,130)
Jason Shivers, S, Arizona St (5,158)
Jeff Smoker, QB, Michigan St (6,201)
Larry Fitzgerald, WR, Pitt (1,3)
Karlos Dansby, LB, Auburn (2,33)
Darnell Dockett, DT, Florida St (3,64)
Alex Stepanovich, C, Ohio St (4,100)
Antonio Smith, DE, Oklahoma St (5,135)
My two initial impressions were that:
- The Cardinals had a GREAT draft. You could argue they hit a home run on 4 of their first five picks, and a grand slam on their #1 (Fitz.) Of course, they were picking high, and you would expect the #3 overall pick to be an impact player 5 years in. By all accounts, though, this would probably measure up quite well against ANY NFL team's draft over the last five years.
- The Rams seem to have done themselves a disservice by trading their 2nd, 4th, and 6th round picks (Chillar and Smoker were both compensatory selections.) They made a great first-round pick (Jackson) but by trading away a couple of picks, their 5th selection (201 overall) was a whopping 66 picks lower than the Cardinals (135).
Mike Sando: Good work, Rick. I was playing around with some related information over the weekend. I went through the Pro Football Reference database and collected 2008 starting information for every player in the league. I then singled out draft choices still playing for their original teams, adding up how many starts they made for their teams in 2008. The totals would not reflect players released since last season, but I thought that was a minor issue and something I could work around with a little more time.
The findings backed up what you are saying. Members of the Cardinals' 2004 draft class still with the team combined for 68 regular-season starts last season. The rest of the league averaged 16 combined starts for members of their 2004 draft classes still with their original teams. San Diego ranked second with 45. The Rams had zero.
Members of the Cardinals' 2003 draft class still with the team combined for 69 regular-season starts last season, another league high. The rest of the league averaged 15 combined starts.
In fact, the Cardinals' 2003 through 2008 draft classes averaged a league-high 42 regular-season starts for their original teams last season (again, not counting any players released since last season). The rest of the league averaged a combined 25 starts last season.
This is something I'll break out in greater detail once I have time to do some more tinkering.
If the Rams knew how bad they were going to be in 2008, they presumably would have added more than a kicker and a guard in unrestricted free agency.
Paying a $7 million signing bonus for Tennessee guard Jacob Bell might have worked better if Bell could have brought the rest of the Titans' offensive line to St. Louis as well.
The Rams' line struggled again. Josh Brown, signed to help the Rams win close games, continued to distinguish himself as one of the best long-range field goal kickers in the league. He made 10 of 13 tries from 40 to 49 yards and 6 of 8 from 50 yards or longer.
Retaining safety Oshiomogho Atogwe as a restricted free agent was an easy call.I did not watch Brandon Chillar play for Green Bay this season, but the Rams could have used another linebacker. Some of the Rams' other moves -- adding Reche Caldwell, for example -- escaped serious criticism here because they cost relatively little financially.
Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando
Greg from Vancouver, Wash., writes: Starting the post-Holmgren era in Seattle, what do you see as the three biggest needs for the Seahawks this offseason, and how would you address them in the draft and free agency?
Beyond that, the Seahawks should upgrade their pass rush, find another strong defensive tackle to pair with Brandon Mebane, stabilize the situation at receiver and rebuild continuity on the offensive line. Every team wants to upgrade its pass rush, but the Seahawks badly need to do this if they hope to maximize substantial investments at linebacker and cornerback.
Seattle will try to achieve these things through the draft, obviously, and through coaching changes. They think their new staff can realize production gains by pushing players harder. If this happens, Tim Ruskell and Ruston Webster will become better personnel people overnight. Some of the players they selected haven't met expectations to this point. The new coaches need to maximize those players' talent.
I'll be watching to see if the Seahawks take chances in free agency. They invested lots in Kerney and he has rewarded them with top-notch play when healthy, but they might wind up getting only two or three really good years from him.
Nathan from parts unknown writes: If the Cardinals do not pick up Warner (which would be a shame) could Haley try to pick him in order to maybe have a chance at the playoffs especially with a veteran like Gonzalez and a stud like Bowe? And better yet if they could get rid of Johnson and replace him with Brandon Jacobs wouldn't this make the Kansas City offense a very good one?
Mike Sando: Agreed, the Chiefs would be instantly competitive on offense if that were to happen. I just do not expect Kurt Warner to uproot his family and start over with new teammates. The Cardinals need to protect themselves from losing Warner, even if it means naming him their franchise player.
Joe from Pennsylvania writes: Hey Mike, quick question. What type of compensatory draft pick do you suppose the Rams might get for losing Isaac Bruce last season? By that I mean 'how high,' if anything.
Mike Sando: The Rams released Isaac Bruce, so they will receive no compensation. The formula for compensatory picks reflects overall net gains minus overall net losses in free agency. The Rams signed Josh Brown, Jacob Bell, Anthony Becht, David Macklin and Reche Caldwell. They lost Milford Brown and Brandon Chillar.
Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando
Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee gets 49ers linebacker Patrick Willis' take on Giants running back Brandon Jacobs. The two became friends at the ESPY Awards in July. "He's just a cool, down-to-earth, funny guy," Willis says.
John Crumpacker of the San Francisco Chronicle says Willis figures to be busy against Jacobs and the Giants.
Also from Crumpacker: The 49ers claim an offensive lineman off waivers while one of their current starters tangles with linebacker Roderick Green.
Matt Maiocco of the Santa Rosa Press-Democrat says the 49ers will have to play more physical to hang with the Giants at the Meadowlands.
Dan Brown of the San Jose Mercury News looks at 49ers linebacker Takeo Spikes, who is suddenly forcing turnovers.Steve Korte of the Belleville News-Democrat says the Rams have confidence in Adam Goldberg if Orlando Pace can't start at left tackle.
Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says the Rams haven't scored more than 19 points in a game this season.
Bill Coats of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says the Rams will wait until Sunday before determining whether Pace plays this week. Pace doesn't have to practice in order to play.
Greg Bedard of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel says former Rams linebacker Brandon Chillar has become a key player for the Packers on defense. Chillar has helped Green Bay defend opposing tight ends.
Frank Hughes of the Tacoma News Tribune says the NFL stands by the holding call that wiped out Julius Jones' 51-yard run against the Packers. I watched the play closely and thought Mike Wahle did hold on the play, at least technically. He grabbed the defender's jersey. This was not a blatant hold, however, and referees routinely allow much more flagrant holds. That makes it tough for an offensive lineman to know how a call might be applied.
Jose Romero of the Seattle Times gives Seneca Wallace a good chance to start at quarterback for the Seahawks at Tampa Bay.
Art Thiel of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer envisions a Seahawks future without quarterback Matt Hasselbeck. Are age and injuries catching up to the former Pro Bowl passer?
Clare Farnsworth of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer checks in with Seahawks defensive coordinator John Marshall. Seattle has forced only four turnovers this season. Marshall says it's no mystery why.
Michael Steffes of Seahawk Addicts says the Seahawks' Jones has managed to tick off another opponent with bulletin-board comments.
Scott Johnson of the Everett Herald says the Seahawks have allowed 71 points in their last two games.
Dan Bickley of the Arizona Republic says the Cardinals are grabbing the national spotlight. Great quote from Cardinals Hall of Famer Larry Wilson following Arizona's overtime victory over Dallas: "I tell you what, my chest has been puffed out all week, and almost since the start of the season. When you whip up on Dallas, it's pretty special. I'm running into people who are telling me, 'Way to go! Way to go!' What the hell did I do?"
Bob McManaman of the Arizona Republic says the Cardinals are fielding an effective pass rush.
Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando
Nancy Gay of the San Francisco Chronicle explores Ashley Lelie's move from the 49ers to the Raiders. Barry Sims and Kwame Harris have also played for both franchises. "In the right situation and with the right coaching, Lelie could be a decent vertical option for a team," she writes. Lelie has speed, which can't be coached. The Raiders have long coveted speed at the position. Drew Carter's injury left them depleted at receiver.
Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says Quinton Culberson is beating the odds once again. Culberson surprised when he earned a roster spot as an undrafted free agent in 2007. He finished last season strong and won a starting job this summer when injuries limited veteran Chris Draft. The Rams need Culberson to produce after Brandon Chillar left in free agency.
Darren Urban of azcardinals.com perked up when former Cardinals linebacker Calvin Pace, now with the Jets, ragged on the talent in Arizona. Pace: "This is a far better situation than Arizona because we have talent here. I'm not saying they don't have talent there, but when I first got out there it was ridiculous. Here you got guys that are Pro Bowlers, guys that have played in the Super Bowl, guys that have been in the league nine, 10 years. You've got some good rookies. It's a good mix of people."
Jose Romero of the Seattle Times says the Seahawks' unknown receivers relish being unknown receivers. Courtney Taylor, Jordan Kent and Logan Payne call themselves "The Mystery Group" -- not the most creative nickname, but an accurate one. Romero: "Kent led the team in receptions in exhibition play with 11. Payne overcame a rib injury from the public scrimmage a month ago and made eight catches while showing his worth on special teams. Taylor had just four catches in exhibition play, but has regular-season game experience and will likely start with veteran Nate Burleson."
Frank Hughes of the Tacoma News Tribune checks in with Seahawks running back Julius Jones, who has found a laid-back atmosphere in Seattle after stints at Dallas and Notre Dame.
Also from Hughes: Olindo Mare's strategy for winning the kicking job in Seattle.
Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando
Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic offers counseling for Anquan Boldin and the Cardinals as their contract impasse simmers. Somers: "If Boldin performs at his usual level while taking the high road and allowing his agent to be the bad guy, the Cardinals will be under pressure to give him a deal comparable to (Larry) Fitzgerald's. And if they don't, they'll be forced to trade him to try to get value for one of the league's better receivers." We're a long way off from that. As the story notes, Boldin has three years remaining on his current deal.
Bob McGinn of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel explains why former Rams linebacker Brandon Chillar hasn't unseated Brady Poppinga as a starter in Green Bay. McGinn quotes an NFC personnel evaluator this way: "Chillar is a better athlete than Poppinga and will probably make more plays. He's an old-school, traditional outside linebacker. He can stack. But the reality is, if you've got those other two (A.J. Hawk and Nick Barnett), you don't need a third guy to make a lot of plays. You just need him to be in the right spot." Poppinga is apparently more reliable than Chillar that way, which is to be expected because Poppinga has been in the Packers' system longer.
This Associated Press story about Marc Bulger concludes with an interesting quote from the Rams quarterback, who is apparently asserting more leadership now that longtime teammate Isaac Bruce is catching passes in San Francisco. Bulger: "It was tough before when Isaac would run a wrong route or something. I'd say something and he'd give you the Isaac look, so I kind of kept my mouth shut. I think now with some of the younger guys and even some of the older guys, they respect me now, because they think I have a better grasp of the offense than anyone in there. I have been in it for such a long time, and with knowledge you can have that confidence."
Dave Boling of the Tacoma News Tribune takes a closer look at Seahawks offensive lineman Mansfield Wrotto, who is suddenly getting work at center with the first-team offense. The Seahawks drafted Wrotto in 2007 with the fourth-round choice they acquired from San Francisco in the Darrell Jackson trade. If Wrotto develops into a contributor, we'll have tangible evidence of what already appears obvious: Seattle's new line coaches know how to develop younger players.
Bill Coats of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch breaks down the Rams' situation at receiver, with an eye toward Derek Stanley. Coats: "The Rams probably will employ six, and Torry Holt, Drew Bennett, plus draft picks Donnie Avery and Keenan Burton, almost surely are safe. If the team doesn't have the luxury of keeping (Dante) Hall strictly as a returner, then the last spot probably will come down to Stanley, Reche Caldwell, Marques Hagans, Dane Looker and Brandon Williams."Danny O'Neil of the Seattle Times takes a look at the Seahawks' situation at running back. Julius Jones and Maurice Morris are both starters, coach Mike Holmgren hedges. The trend in the league has been to sharing carries, but there's an old saying some coaches stand by: running back by committee means you don't have anyone worthy of the job.
Clare Farnsworth of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer sets the scene as the Seahawks put on pads for the first time this summer. Offensive coordinator Gil Haskell:"It's as elemental as it sounds. It's just a different game."
Steve Korte of the Belleville News Democrat checks in with Rams left tackle Orlando Pace, who wants to leave the game on his own terms. Rams coach Scott Linehan is taking the optimistic view on Pace's recent injury troubles. He attributes them to bad luck, which he says usually doesn't stay bad. Unless you're the 2007 Rams, who couldn't get a break.
Chrissy Mauck of sf49ers.com caught up with former Bucs, Ravens, Seahawks, Browns and 49ers quarterback Trent Dilfer, who dropped by 49ers practice. Said Dilfer, now an analyst for ESPN: "I hope if I have a legacy at all with the 49ers that it was that I taught them a little bit about football, but most importantly, showed them what it means to be a great teammate at the quarterback position. In our room, we always emphasized that we couldn't be successful unless that room knows how to compete, but at the same time, help support and be a cheerleader for one another. We always made sure we had an absolute blast working hard and getting better and knowing that this thing is about wins and losses, not your personal achievements."