NFC West: Brandon LaFell


NFC West teams landed the second (Michael Floyd), fourth (A.J. Jenkins) and fifth (Brian Quick) wide receivers selected in the 2012 NFL draft.

ESPN's fantasy analysts, gathered in the video above, mentioned Floyd just long enough to dismiss his rookie prospects based on the Arizona Cardinals' quarterback situation. They mentioned nothing of the others, instead focusing on what production Jenkins' teammate in San Francisco, Randy Moss, might provide this season.

I wondered, however, to what extent our perceptions about quarterbacks match up with the production rookie receivers actually provide. Eleven rookie receivers caught at least 27 passes last season. Several, including undrafted Seahawk Doug Baldwin, fared well without benefiting from what anyone would have called an ideal quarterback situation.

A year ago, we might have downgraded Cincinnati's A.J. Green based on the Bengals decision to go with a rookie quarterback. Baldwin was largely unknown, and critics were questioning Seattle's decision to go with Tarvaris Jackson at quarterback. In Cleveland, Greg Little caught 61 passes despite the Browns' obviously deficient quarterback situation.

In 2010, Brandon LaFell and David Gettis ranked fourth and fifth, respectively, among rookies in receptions despite playing in Carolina, where Jimmy Clausen and David Moore were the starting quarterbacks.

Receivers benefit from solid quarterback play, obviously, but they don't always need it to produce.

It's possible some NFL receivers will spend more time catching passes from a division rival than from their own quarterbacks over the next five weeks.

Collectively bargained rules prevent players from holding informal practice sessions at their teams' facilities. Some of them will work out at their former colleges, where former teammates are sometimes current rivals.

Clare Farnsworth of seahawks.com says Seattle quarterback Matt Flynn has plans to work out at LSU, where his former college teammate, Arizona Cardinals receiver Early Doucet, also works out. Flynn: "That’s kind of my home base in the offseason. There’s a bunch of NFL guys that are from LSU, so I get together with the Early Doucets, Brandon LaFells -- guys that I played with in college that are in the NFL. We all get together and we work out in the mornings." Noted: Players bargained for freer offseasons. The new rules assure freer offseasons. Allowing players to practice informally at team headquarters would put pressure on them to do so.

Dave Boling of the Tacoma News Tribune offers in-depth thoughts on Seattle quarterbacks Tarvaris Jackson, Matt Flynn and Russell Wilson. On Flynn: "I don’t care for his throwing motion. He has a bit of an elbow-first push to it. At first look, it makes him seem a bit unimposing as a passer. Many great quarterbacks have flourished with unique styles, though. Whereas Jackson has the look of a thoroughbred athlete, Flynn is less impressive on the hoof. The difference is in efficiency. Flynn identifies his target, anticipates the opening, and gets the ball into the receiver’s catching-window with great regularity. His timing and accuracy make him look like a quarterback who can move the sticks, and be a very nice fit in the Hawks' run-balanced offense."

Dan Hanzus of NFL.com says coach Pete Carroll has "no remorse" after incurring league punishment for the way his team practiced during recent minicamps. Carroll: "We get docked a little bit for that but we were trying to make the most of a situation that was not guided very clearly. There were some things written, but there's always been some things written. We saw no tape, nobody showed us, nobody talked to us about it. I have no remorse about it at all; we got 10 OTAs in eight days, that's all I can tell you."

Brian McIntyre of NFL.com revisits a recent Alan Branch interview for thoughts about how the Seattle defensive tackle plans to improve his pass-rush ability. McIntyre: "Branch played in over 60 percent of the Seahawks' defensive snaps last season and frequently remained on the field in nickel and dime packages. With Jones improving the team's depth, and Irvin expected to play a prominent role opposite Chris Clemons, Branch will likely rotate with Red Bryant, Brandon Mebane and Clinton McDonald in pass-rushing situations."

Matt Maiocco of CSNBayArea.com looks back on R.C. Owens' career after the former 49ers receiver died Sunday. Maiocco: "Owens was also a standout basketball player at the College of Idaho. In 1962 while with the Baltimore Colts, Owens blocked a 40-yard field goal by jumping up and swatting the ball away in front of the goal posts. In those days, the goal posts were situated at the goal line. The NFL enacted a rule to make that play illegal. Now, field-goal attempts can only be blocked at the line of scrimmage."

Kevin Lynch of the San Francisco Chronicle checks in with 49ers safety Donte Whitner for thoughts on how coach Jim Harbaugh runs minicamps. Whitner: "It’s very intense. I don’t know if coach is just trying to run as many plays as we can, but I guarantee you if we’re not the team that runs the most plays in mini-camp, we’re in the top five."

Nick Wagoner of stlouisrams.com runs through the schedule for Rams rookies this week. Wagoner: "On Thursday comes perhaps the keynote event of the week as the rookies join the entire Rams staff for a trip to Joplin, Mo., to participate in the Governor’s Challenge. Following an early morning departure, the entire staff will arrive in Joplin to spend the day helping to build five houses in conjunction with Habitat for Humanity. After a day of work, the entire staff and rookies will arrive back in St. Louis late Thursday night."

Howard Balzer explains why the Rams tore up an agreement with offensive lineman Jovan Olafioye earlier this offseason. Hypertension and high blood pressure were the culprits, the Vancouver Sun reported. Olafioye to the Sun: "I stopped taking my medication. Me, just being young, thinking about the workouts, I thought I would be all right if I just ate right. I thought, ‘I should be good.’ Was I trying to do the right thing, and it turned out not to be the right thing? Exactly. I’m taking my meds now and staying away from things like red meat. I’m eating lots of salads."

Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic offers thoughts on a Pro Football Focus piece identifying Cardinals defensive lineman David Carter as a key contributor. Somers: "Coaches liked him from the day he stepped on the field and he made a great impression during training camp. He also played well early in the season, spelling Dan Williams, who was not in shape. PFF found it curious that Nick Eason, not Carter, became the starter when Williams suffered a broken arm against the 49ers on Nov. 20. ... Eason was a veteran of this defense, having played in it previously with the Steelers. The defense was just starting to turn the corner and coaches were more comfortable with a veteran. Coaches also thought Carter was wearing down toward the middle of the year."

Darren Urban of azcardinals.com projects the team's starting lineup on defense for 2012. He's taking Greg Toler over William Gay at cornerback. Urban: "Yes, William Gay was there this offseason and yes, Gay has a good chance to be the starter. But for some reason, I think Toler finds his way there. Both are going to play regardless."

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