NFC West: Everette Brown

Our latest NFC West chat ended with a discussion on Mel Kiper Jr.'s recent success projecting first-round selections to the Arizona Cardinals. Turns out Mel did not have the Cardinals taking Michael Floyd at No. 13 in his final 2012 mock Insider.

Still, the projections have been pretty good. Kiper had the Cardinals taking Dan Williams 26th overall in 2010 Insider, when he also nailed both first-round choices for Seattle (Russell Okung and Earl Thomas). He had Arizona taking Patrick Peterson fifth overall in 2011 Insider.

Going back to 2009, I noticed Kiper had the Cardinals taking Beanie Wells with the 31st pick in his mock from March 12 Insider. However, he changed that pick to Everette Brown in his final mock Insider. Arizona did take Wells.

Dion Jordan is the projection for Arizona in the first round Insider this year, although Mel notes that Jonathan Cooper is another player he thinks the Cardinals would consider strongly. Kiper also made a couple post-publication changes to his 2013 mock, including one affecting the NFC West. He now has the San Francisco 49ers using the 31st pick for safety Eric Reid. That pick lines up with the one I made for the 49ers in our recent blogger mock draft.

Programming note: We've got a full night ahead. I'll be driving over to Seattle Seahawks headquarters shortly and getting set up from there. See you in a while.

Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando

Mackay from Pleasant Grove, Utah writes: Sandman, I always appreciate the time you spend on your blog. It helps me keep up on my team, as well as get excited about the rest of the teams in the division. My question I have for you is directed to the Cardinals' first-round draft pick, Beanie Wells. I have read multiple times that he is injured too easily, or that he was pampered in the NCAA. How do you feel? Do you think that he may have been cautious because he didn't want anything to happen to sacrific a spot in the NFL? Didn't the same sort of information come out on Adrian Peterson? I don't know. I also want to know your opinion on if it is a good idea to start rookies running backs, or have them play backup for a while.

Mike Sando: Thanks, Mackman. Younger backs can certainly have success. Edgerrin James rushed for 1,709 yards at age 22. Clinton Portis topped 1,500 yards at age 21 and again at age 22. Jamal Lewis, Adrian Peterson, LaDainian Tomlinson, Kevin Jones, Marshawn Lynch, Dominic Rhodes and Steven Jackson all had 1,000-yard seasons this decade at age 21 or 22. I see no reason to withhold Wells from the lineup simply because he's a rookie. It's not as though the Cardinals have an established veteran at the position.

As for whether Wells protected an injury in college, I couldn't make that assessment because I did not study him. The people who did study him said things about him that could have been consistent with a player protecting injuries, but that doesn't necessarily make it so.

Steve Muench of Scouts Inc. had this to say about Wells before the draft:

"Everyone in the world has him in the first round, but I am worried about him. He is softer than people say he is -- not soft, but softer than people say he is. And I'm also not convinced he is going to be quick and agile enough. He is a big back with good speed, but I'm worried about his quickness and his wiggle."

Once the Cardinals made the pick, Muench offered this assessment:

"Wells is a big back, but he does not have great toughness. There's a clip you'll see against Michigan where he is 20 yards downfield and one on one against a back and he steps out of bounds. Not encouraging.

"When he hurt his foot this year, the fact that he threw the ball on the ground when he got hurt was not good. His first instinct was to throw the ball down [while the play was live]. Talent-wise, he would be the most talented back on the roster. He is a steal this late in the first round if you can get the light to come on for him.

"It's such a good value and it's such a need. I'm sure they sat down with him and got a feel and if they are comfortable with that, then it's a good fit for them right there. When you can look that kid in the eye and see what kind of player he is going to be, that is important."

(Read full post)

Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando

Previously: The draft and meaningful free-agent signings have passed. Trades remain possible, but less likely as training camps approach. Barring a surprise or two, what you see on NFC West rosters is pretty much what you're going to get for the 2009 season. Where are the Rams, 49ers, Seahawks and Cardinals most vulnerable?

Today: I've weaved my thoughts into the conversation and posted the results below. Thanks for participating. We'll begin with the defending NFC champion Cardinals, followed by the 49ers, Seahawks and Rams.

(Read full post)

Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando

The 49ers obviously weren't excited about some of the higher-profile pass rushers in this draft. They could have emerged with high marks for drafting Florida State's Everette Brown in the second round, but they instead traded the pick, 43rd overall, to Carolina.

The Panthers then selected Brown. If that bums out 49ers fans, consider this: San Francisco landed the 111th overall choice this year and the Panthers' first-round choice in 2010. The Seahawks and 49ers might now have ammunition to consider making a move for a quarterback next season, at least in theory.

As for Brown, I was walking with draft analyst Rob Rang at the combine when news broke that Brown measured 6-foot-2. The stunned look on Rob's face foreshadowed the drop Brown seemed to make from likely first-round choice to mid-second-rounder.

Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando

The chart compares mock drafts from four veteran NFC West beat reporters. The four -- Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Matt Maiocco of the Santa Rosa Press-Democrat, Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic and Danny O'Neil of the Seattle Times -- combined to project 39 players for first-round status.

Unanimous first-round choices (24): Matthew Stafford, Jason Smith, Eugene Monroe, Tyson Jackson, Aaron Curry, B.J. Raji, Brian Orakpo, Mark Sanchez, Michael Crabtree, Andre Smith, Jeremy Maclin, Michael Oher, Chris Wells, Robert Ayers, Knowshon Moreno, Malcolm Jenkins, Brian Cushing, Clay Matthews, Brandon Pettigrew, Rey Maualuga, Josh Freeman, Peria Jerry, Ziggy Hood, Eben Britton.

Three first-round selections (8): Larry English, Aaron Maybin, Darius Butler, Darrius Heyward-Bey, Kenny Britt, Vontae Davis, Hakeem Nicks, Donald Brown.

Two first-round selections: (1): Phil Loadholt.

One first-round selection (6): LeSean McCoy, Percy Harvin, Alphonso Smith, Everette Brown, Eric Wood, Fili Moala.

Unanimous top-five picks (3): Stafford, Smith and Curry.

Unanimous top-10 picks (6): Stafford, Smtih, Curry, Monroe, Raji and Crabtree.

Unanimous top-15 picks (12): Stafford, Smith, Curry, Monroe, Raji, Crabtree, Jackson, Sanchez, Smith, Maclin, Oher, Orakpo.

Largest disparity, earliest vote to lowest vote: Ayers, 18 spots; Jenkins and Matthews, 16 spots, Butler (14), English (10), Pettigrew (10), Hood (10) and Britton (10).

Pick Team Jim Thomas, Rams Beat Matt Maiocco, 49ers Beat Kent Somers, Cards Beat Danny O'Neil, Hawks Beat
1
DET Matthew Stafford
Matthew Stafford Matthew Stafford Matthew Stafford
2
STL Jason Smith
Eugene Monroe Eugene Monroe Jason Smith
3
KC Eugene Monroe
Jason Smith Jason Smith Tyson Jackson
4
SEA Aaron Curry Aaron Curry Aaron Curry Aaron Curry
5
CLE Mark Sanchez
B.J. Raji
Michael Crabtree
Brian Orakpo
6
CIN Andre Smith
Andre Smith Andre Smith B.J. Raji
7
OAK Jeremy Maclin
Michael Crabtree Jeremy Maclin Jeremy Maclin
8
JAC B.J. Raji Mark Sanchez B.J. Raji Mark Sanchez
9
GB Michael Crabtree Michael Oher
Tyson Jackson Eugene Monroe
10
SF Michael Oher Tyson Jackson Michael Oher Michael Crabtree
11
BUF Brian Orakpo Brian Orakpo Brian Orakpo Andre Smith
12
DEN Tyson Jackson Chris Wells
Robert Ayers
Michael Oher
13
WAS Larry English
Jeremy Maclin
Mark Sanchez Chris Wells
14
NO Malcolm Jenkins
Malcolm Jenkins
Chris Wells
Knowshon Moreno
15
HOU Brian Cushing
Brian Cushing
Clay Matthews
Aaron Maybin
16
SD Chris Wells
Rey Maualuga
Rey Maualuga Brandon Pettigrew
17
NYJ Josh Freeman
Josh Freeman Josh Freeman Brian Cushing
18
DEN Clay Matthews
Aaron Maybin
Darius Butler
Malcolm Jenkins
19
TB Peria Jerry
Peria Jerry Peria Jerry Josh Freeman
20
DET Ziggy Hood
Brandon Pettigrew
Ziggy Hood
Rey Maualuga
21
PHI Knowshon Moreno Knowshon Moreno Knowshon Moreno
LeSean McCoy
22
MIN Eben Britton
Percy Harvin
Darrius Heyward-Bey
Eben Britton
23
NE Robert Ayers
Larry English
Larry English
Robert Ayers
24
ATL Aaron Maybin
Vontae Davis
Brian Cushing
Vontae Davis
25
MIA Rey Maualuga
Darius Butler
Vontae Davis Clay Matthews
26
BAL Brandon Pettigrew
Darrius Heyward-Bey
Brandon Pettigrew
Alphonso Smith
27
IND Darrius Heyward-Bey
Ziggy Hood
Kenny Britt
Peria Jerry
28
BUF Phil Loadholt
Phil Loadholt Eben Britton
Everette Brown
29
NYG Hakeem Nicks
Hakeem Nicks
Hakeem Nicks
Kenny Britt
30
TEN Kenny Britt
Robert Ayers
Malcolm Jenkins
Ziggy Hood
31
ARI Donald Brown Clay Matthews
Donald Brown Donald Brown
32
PIT Fili Moala
Eben Britton Eric Wood
Darius Butler

Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando

Matt Maiocco of the Santa Rosa Press-Democrat says the 49ers would draft Michael Crabtree with the 10th overall choice, if available. He says the 49ers would draft Knowshon Moreno over Chris Wells in the unlikely event they decided to draft a running back early. The team would be happy to draft Andre Smith at No. 10, but taking Michael Oher in that spot might not be a slam dunk. LSU's Tyson Jackson could be the preferred defensive lineman, over B.J. Raji. The team probably wouldn't take Malcolm Jenkins at No. 10. Brian Orakpo? Probably not. And it's unlikely the team would take Aaron Maybin or Everette Brown that early, either. Rey Maualuga or Brian Cushing could be higher priorities than Maybin or Brown.

Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee forecasts which players he thinks the 49ers will select with each of their picks. The list: Oher, running back Shonn Greene, outside linebacker Paul Kruger, quarterback Stephen McGee, inside linebacker Scott McKillop, receiver Brandon Gibson, outside linebacker Pierre Walters, receiver/quarterback Julian Edelman and tight end Bear Pascoe.

Daniel Brown of the San Jose Mercury News says there's value in the later rounds. He points to Pat White, Brian Hoyer, Chase Patton, Austin Collie, Ramses Barden, Kory Sheets and Ian Johnson as later-round prospects to watch.

Gary Plummer of 49ers.com says NFL teams can't measure a player's heart. Plummer: "I was never even invited to the Combine and I was never drafted, but I went on to play 12 seasons in the NFL. With those experiences, I've always rooted for guys who don't get drafted."

Niners scout Todd Brunner says the team has spent recent days making sure it has discussed every draft-eligible player.

John Crumpacker of the San Francisco Chronicle says the 49ers' public-relations department shielded coach Mike Singletary from reporters in the days leading to the draft. Crumpacker: "It's just as well. General manager Scot McCloughan put the 49ers' draft board together and will be making the call for the club."

Ray Ratto of the San Francisco Chronicle made me chuckle with this description of the NFL draft: "Today is the worst day of the entire NFL draft process, because it is the day that all the speculation ends and your favorite team is stuck with the choice it made rather than awash in the dozens it could have."

Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic previews the Cardinals' draft in general terms. Forget about getting specifics from Rod Graves or Ken Whisenhunt.

Also from Somers: It appears receiver Anquan Boldin will remain with the Cardinals through the draft. Trades are often contingent on a player passing a physical. The acquiring team also needs time, in many cases, to work out a new contract with the player. Somers: "The Cardinals are surprised there hasn't been more interest from teams, who apparently think the cost is too high, considering they would also have to come to terms with Boldin on a contract that would pay him an average of $8 million to $10 million a year."

More from Somers: The Cardinals would have no interest in Titans running backs LenDale White or Chris Henry if Tennessee offered either player as part of a trade for Boldin.

Greg Johns of seattlepi.com previews the Seahawks' draft options. Johns: "As much as teams talk of drafting the best player available regardless of position, there is an impetus to pick athletes who will be in line to earn starting roles before long in order to justify their draft position and salary slot."

Eric D. Williams of the Tacoma News Tribune says the Seahawks' first-round picks haven't panned out all that well under general manager Tim Ruskell, who has one year remaining on a five-year contract. Yes, this draft is important for him and the organization.

Clare Farnsworth of Seahawks.com takes a peek inside the Seahawks' draft room at their new facility. It's 1,600 square feet, twice the size of the old one. The rapport between Ruskell and vice president Ruston Webster transcends location. Webster: "You know what's sad? When we say something at the same time. That scares me. But it really is good. I know how he thinks. And I think for him, it's important to have somebody who understands that. And he knows how I think. For the most part, we were kind of brought up in this business the same way, so our philosophy is the same."

Tyler Dunne of Scout.com says the Seahawks would draft Wake Forest safety Chip Vaughn in the third round if available.

Nick Wagoner of stlouisrams.com says the Rams are putting an emphasis on character in this draft. Wagoner: "Fortunately for the Rams, most of the players they are considering in this year's draft are about as well rounded and mature as any crop of recent potential draft picks. Offensive tackles Jason Smith and Eugene Monroe, linebacker Aaron Curry and USC quarterback Mark Sanchez have received rave reviews for their personality and attitude at every stop they've made along the way. Taking Curry as an example, he has invited 12-year-old Bryson Merriweather, a leukemia survivor from Madison, Ala., to be his special guest at the draft in New York City."

VanRam of Turf Show Times warns against dismissing talk that the Rams could draft Sanchez with the second overall choice.

Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says he would draft Curry from Wake Forest with the second overall choice if he were making the decision for the Rams. However, all signs point to the team selecting an offensive tackle.

Also from Thomas: The Rams' need at tackle appears too great to ignore early in the draft. Thomas: "Michael Crabtree, the wide receiver from Texas Tech, basically eliminated himself from consideration with what Rams Park sources said was a diva attitude during his pre-draft trip here. Apparently, his rock star mentality was a big turnoff to coaches and front office personnel. Couple that with his foot injury, and the feeling in Earth City was that he wasn't worth the trouble. As for Sanchez, what first looked like pure smokescreen seemed to turn into downright infatuation. To some at Rams Park, Sanchez possesses the leadership qualities -- the 'it' factor -- that may be lacking in Marc Bulger. But at the end of the day, the Rams appear committed to Bulger for at least one more season."

Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando

Matt Maiocco of the Santa Rosa Press-Democrat says the 49ers' alleged tiff with Matthew Stafford stemming from a psychological exam is the "most overblown non-story" of the 2009 draft. Stafford has a visit to the 49ers scheduled for Monday.

Also from Maiocco: The 49ers' pick at No. 10 might not start in 2009.

Gil Brandt of NFL.com was the one who reported Stafford's plans to visit the 49ers.

Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee sees Florida State's Everette Brown as a "one-trick pony" who might not interest the 49ers.

Tim Kawakami of the San Jose Mercury News says 49ers coach Mike Singletary won't shy away from problem players in the draft. Kawakami: "Despite Singletary's blue-collar attitude, team-first passion and deep religious faith (or maybe in conjunction with all three), Singletary believes he can coach anybody. I think we can use the Vernon Davis example to make the point clear."

Deena Andrews of Blockshopper.com says former Rams coach Scott Linehan has listed his St. Louis-area home for sale, seeking $2.3 million. Linehan, who cited family reasons for declining the 49ers' offer to become offensive coordinator, subsequently took a job with the Lions.

Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says former Missouri coach Bob Stull didn't produce many victories at the school, but his staffs did produce ascending coaches, including new Rams defensive coordinator Ken Flajole. Thomas: "Flajole becomes the fourth member of Stull's Mizzou staff [1989-93] currently working in the NFL as a coordinator, joining Marty Mornhinweg [Philadelphia], Dirk Koetter [Jacksonville] and Dave Toub [Chicago]. Mornhinweg and Koetter are offensive coordinators; Toub is special teams coordinator with the Bears."

Paul Coro of the Arizona Republic says the Minnesota Timberwolves donated $2,500 to the Carol Fitzgerald Memorial Fund, established in the name of Larry Fitzgerald's late mother. The fund benefits urban education, the African American AIDS Task Force and the Circle of Love.

Revenge of the Birds' Andrew602 ranks the Cardinals' running backs last in the NFC West. The Rams, 49ers and Seahawks go 1-2-3 in his ranking. Andrew602: "[Tim] Hightower showed flashes of being that franchise back the Cardinals have been waiting for last year. Then at times, he failed to average over 3 yards per carry. He's a quick and tough back that could be a full time starter, but he needs to develop his game more, and stop dancing around in the back field." The scouts I know do not see Hightower as a starter.

Justin Harper of the Oklahoman says former Seahawks linebacker Brian Bosworth administered CPR to a fallen man, according to an eyewitness.

Eric D. Williams of the Tacoma News Tribune says 2008 first-round draft choice Lawrence Jackson is motivated to improve upon his rookie season. Jackson: "For me, I'm done with last year. I watched the film -- I still watch it and I go over it -- but last year was last year. The disappointment I felt is gone. That was year one. I take what happened, good and bad, into preparation for year two and move forward, and that's kind of my plan for things."

Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando

Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch checks in with Chip Rosenbloom following a difficult first year as Rams owner. Rosenbloom: "We've demonstrated to ourselves, and our fans, that we're putting our best foot forward to show how much we care about winning, how much we care about the team and the fans. I don't know how else to demonstrate it. I don't know how else to show it but doing what we've been doing. Meanwhile, I've gained 12 pounds probably from nervous eating. We were not happy with what we saw on the field last year. We're doing everything we can to make sure that doesn't repeat itself."

Turf Show Times' Tackle Box sizes up the Rams' quarterbacks as well as potential later-round draft prospects at the position.

Dan Hinxman of the Reno Gazette-Journal checks in with 49ers coach Mike Singletary during a charity event. Singletary reflects on decisions he made to become a better husband and father. He also sees parallels between those roles and his current job. Singletary: "I look at coaching very much like parenting. If you have one parent saying, 'Don't discipline,' and you have another one saying, 'We need to discipline them into the ground,' you have an imbalance and kids will pick and choose. If both parents are on the same page, it's very difficult for the kid to get away with anything. It's the same thing in an organization."

Matt Maiocco of the Santa Rosa Press-Democrat says the 49ers are meeting with Mississippi tackle Michael Oher. Maiocco: "Last year, the only confirmed player the 49ers brought to Santa Clara and later drafted was wide receiver Josh Morgan. Among the other out-of-the-area players to travel to Santa Clara were Derrick Harvey, Phillip Merling, Quentin Groves and Malcolm Kelly." Oher appears to be a legitimate candidate for the 49ers at No. 10 overall.

Chris Sullivan of Seahawk Addicts has a hard time imagining Seattle drafting running back Chris Wells with the fourth overall choice. Even so, the Seahawks are expected to meet privately with the Ohio State standout. I don't read much into most pre-draft visits because teams take care to disguise their intentions.

John Morgan of Field Gulls would love to see Knowshon Moreno, Everette Brown and Mike Thomas in Seattle uniforms. He also thinks defensive end Lawrence Jackson has the physical ability to bounce back from a disappointing rookie season.

Darren Urban of azcardinals.com doesn't expect Anquan Boldin or Darnell Dockett to attend the Cardinals' voluntary offseason conditioning program while they pursue new contracts. The Cardinals were one of the healthiest teams in the league last season. Coach Ken Whisenhunt has credited strength-and-conditioning coach John Lott.

Revenge of the Birds' Hawkwind would mind seeing the Cardinals add Tony Gonzalez by trade from Kansas City. Hawkwind: "He would become another threat for the offense and he would surely make Kurt Warner happy. He's a dependable blocker and has the best hands in the game for a tight end. His leadership and knowledge of the game could point the rest of the Cardinals tight ends in the right direction as well." Reaching the Super Bowl could conceivably convince a team to think it's one player away from getting over the top, but I think the Cardinals would be better off building through the draft.

Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando

Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic quotes Cardinals general manager Rod Graves as saying the organization must "remain open at all times to possibilities" that could include trading Boldin. Graves: "We still recognize him as a core player and one that we would like to extend, but I think we have to remain open at all times to possibilities. To this point, we have not made any considerations for a trade, and we're focused primarily on trying to make this relationship beneficial for our team." A slight shift in tone?

Darren Urban of azcardinals.com says Kurt Warner's message to teens about accepting those with disabilities coincided with his recent hip surgery. As a result, Warner was getting around on crutches when he addressed the students. Urban: "The program is dear to the Warners' hearts since oldest son Zach is disabled. Brenda Warner told a story how Zach was just invited to his first birthday party recently -- and Zach is 19 years old."

Revenge of the Birds' Andrew602 looks at how Ohio State running back Chris Wells might fit with the Cardinals. Andrew602: "He has great explosiveness, and would be exactly what the Cardinals need to make their offense the best in the league. He has a personality that other players like, and has no character issues. He and Hightower would become a powerful 1-2 punch, and would wear out defenses."

Doug Farrar of Football Outsiders explains why he thinks Boldin has tremendous value to the Cardinals. By Football Outsiders' count, Boldin finished second in the league last season with 595 yards after the catch. Boldin averaged 6.1 yards after the catch, compared to 3.8 for new Seahawks receiver T.J. Houshmandzadeh.

Bill Barnwell of Football Outsiders has fun with a mock draft by forecasting five trades that might make sense for the teams involved. He sends linebacker Aaron Curry (Rams), tackle Eugene Monroe (Seahawks), linebacker Everette Brown (49ers) and defensive end Michael Johnson (Cardinals) to the NFC West. Barnwell has the Cardinals trading up to No. 16 with San Diego before taking Johnson from Ken Whisenhunt's alma mater, Georgia Tech.

Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee says the 49ers could still take a tackle with the 10th overall choice even if they signed a veteran at the position during free agency. The 49ers think there's a chance the top four tackles could be gone by the 10th choice.

Paul Gutierrez of the Sacramento Bee takes a quick look at Jed York's role in representing the 49ers at the league level. York's father still takes the lead at times in these settings, but the younger York is more involved in football operations.

Danny O'Neil of the Seattle Times puts into perspective Leonard Weaver's recent comments (video here) about divisions in the Seahawks' locker room. O'Neil: "It's important to remember what position Weaver played and the players he spent the most time with in meetings in so forth: The running backs. There was no position where there was such a clear delineation of players signed for the future and players who had been there for coach Mike Holmgren's past." Sounds like the Philadelphia media is going to have fun with Weaver.

John Morgan of Field Gulls takes a closer look at Matthew Stafford, while reiterating that the Seahawks must draft him if the quarterback is available at No. 4 and the team thinks he can become a top quarterback. The conclusion? Stay tuned.

Also from Morgan: A look back at how the Seahawks used -- and did not use -- T.J. Duckett last season. Morgan: "He's part power back, part cutback rusher and part feature back. If short yardage be an indicator, he has the most awkward approach I've ever seen. He's all knees and elbows. All knees and elbows on a 6-foot, 250-pound frame. And when he uncoils, he glides with a clunky effortlessness that's something to behold."

Chris Sullivan of Seahawk Addicts looks at Wonderlic scores for the quarterbacks Seattle general manager Tim Ruskell's teams have drafted. Sullivan: "What seems clear to me is that Ruskell does not weight the Wonderlic score all that much, at least not for QBs. Like anything else in the draft, the Wonderlic score, 40-yard dash, arm length, etc., will rarely change anything unless they are dramatically off from expected. They are pieces of data and not stories in and of themselves."

Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says the Rams have had some luck with compensatory choices in recent seasons, but they will not in 2009. Every NFC West team but the Rams picked up at least one comp pick this year. Thomas: "The signing of offensive guard Jacob Bell by the Rams last year to a $36 million contract in free agency far outweighed any free agents lost by the team. As a result, the Rams received no extra picks this year."

VanRam of Turf Show Times touches on labor issues before providing some Rams-related links, including one to a Scout.com report saying the team plans to meet with Cincinnati cornerback Mike Mickens later this month.

Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando

Matt Bowen of National Football Post analyzes trade prospects for Cardinals receiver Anquan Boldin. Bowen: "This guy is for real. I played against him during my career, and I can tell you that he's the last receiver you want to see in the open field with the ball in his hands. Yes, Randy Moss might strike the most fear in NFL players when he lines up before the snap, but once Boldin catches the football, he's the scariest thing on the field."

Revenge of the Birds' Hawkwind summarizes recent reports about Boldin. Hawkwind: "I won't go as far as guaranteeing that he'll be a member of the 2009 Arizona Cardinals but the team seems to be loading up for a championship run with Warner at the helm and Boldin is more valuable, in the short term, than two or three extra draft picks."

Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic quotes Cardinals general manager Rod Graves as saying the team hasn't changed its approach to a potential Boldin trade. I would expect the Cardinals to maintain that stance.

Rebekeh Sanders of the Arizona Republic says the Cardinals are raising lower-level ticket prices while leaving upper-level prices unchanged. Team vice president Mark Dalton: "We're really proud of the product we have not only on the field but also the atmosphere in the stadium. We think it's among the best, if not the best, in the league. In order to compete successfully on the field, we have to have a certain price point."

U.S. Army Sgt. Emily Suhr, writing for the Arizona Republic, checks in with Cardinals receiver Larry Fitzgerald during his USO tour stop in Iraq. Rams linebacker Will Witherspoon is also among those present. Said Sgt. Donald Zeitler of Orting, Wash.: "Who I wanted to see the most was probably Larry Fitzgerald because there's kind of a rivalry between the Seahawks and the Cardinals and I've watched them play a lot. He's really fun to watch play."

PCarn of Turf Show Times likes the way the Rams have upgraded their inside running game with fullback Mike Karney and center Jason Brown.

Bill Coats of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch asks Rams running back Steven Jackson for his thoughts on Karney's addition. Jackson: "I've seen the holes that he's opened up. He's someone I'm looking forward to working with." Jackson also said he liked the Rams' direction so far this offseason.

Also from Coats: Utility offensive lineman Adam Goldberg paid a free-agent visit to the Browns. Coats wonders why the Rams haven't re-signed the versatile backup. Goldberg played reasonably well in relief at times during the 2008 season.

Danny O'Neil of the Seattle Times suggests former Seahawks receiver Joe Jurevicius, recently released by the Browns, might have failed a physical examination prior to his release. I can confirm that Jurevicius did indeed fail the physical. However, that doesn't necessarily tell us much about the nature of his condition. Players fail physicals associated with their releases quite routinely.

Clare Farnsworth of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer asks whether the Seahawks might consider drafting Aaron Curry even though the team has much invested in its current linebackers. The strongest quote comes from Rams general manager Billy Devaney: "Curry was the first guy we put [tape] on, and we were like, 'Wow! This guy is special.' He is really good on tape. And then we started talking about the intangibles and, to a man, everybody said he's top of the line."

John Morgan of Field Gulls lists reasons for the Seahawks to demonstrate interest in Curry, including Julian Peterson's age and salary. Peterson, who turns 31 in July, has remained durable enough to play roughly 95 percent of the Seahawks' defensive snaps since joining the team as a free agent before the 2006 season.

Also from Morgan: He thinks Howard Green's limitations will prevent the ex-Seahawk from making the desired impact for the Jets.

Mike Parker of Seahawk Addicts explains why he thinks the Seahawks will not seriously consider B.J. Raji with the fourth overall choice. Parker: "When all is said and done, if the decision at No. 4 is to be made between Raji and [Eugene] Monroe, the smart money is going to be on Monroe."

David Fucillo of Niners Nation selects Florida State's Everette Brown for the 49ers in a mock draft. For those of you unfamiliar with mock drafts, they consist of ... kidding.

Lisa Goodwin of 49ers.com checks in with Vernon Davis after the tight end spent considerable time meeting with congressmen to promote physical fitness. Rams linebacker Chris Draft also took part in the meetings.

Mailbag: Draft, free agency and more

February, 26, 2009
2/26/09
11:11
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando

Mike from Washington, D.C., writes: Hey Mike, Love the blog, all your hard work is really appreciated, especially for those of us not in an NFC West city. After taking a look at the 'Hawks draft choices, I can't help but think that despite the recent height and health concerns of Michael Crabtree, he is clearly the Seahawks' best pick (assuming he is available). He seems to me to be the guy with the most superstar potential and gives us a playmaker who could score on any play and bolster a receiving core that was a huge weakness last year.

I also don't think any of the other potential top 5 picks make much sense:

  • Stafford/Sanchez - not sold on either of these guys being a franchise QB. Would prefer the Hawks to take a flier on a QB in a later round.
  • Monroe/J. Smith - Our O-line clearly needs to be upgraded this year, but i think it is the interior of the line that has a more urgent need. Wouldn't like the idea of leaving one of these guys at G for a few years, and none of the G or C are worth taking at 4.
  • Curry - he likely wouldn't start ahead of Tatupu, Hill, or Peterson and thus wouldn't be worth the investment. Plus I think he'll be gone by 4.
  • Jenkins - too slow, possible project safety, too much invested at the position, and think we have adequate talent at CB if we can upgrade the pass rush.
  • Raji - character problems and only a one year producer. Not a Ruskell guy.
  • Orakpo - some size concerns, looks more like a mid-first round guy.
  • Moreno/Wells - An upgrade at RB would be great, but seems like the hawks are of the philosophy that we can plug guys like JJ and TJD into our new blocking scheme and be successful. Would love your thoughts, thanks.

Mike Sando: You make a convincing argument and I also see Crabtree as the likely choice, if available, in terms of being an impact player. I'm not sold 100 percent, but when you look at the alternatives, it's tough finding a stronger one. The Seahawks could find safer alternatives, however, and that could be where they go in another direction. Drafting for the offensive line would be safer. I'm just not sure how much money the Seahawks can justify committing to their tackles, particularly if the rookie did not play right away.

(Read full post)

Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando

INDIANAPOLIS -- Draft analyst Rob Rang is back with his best-case scenario for the 49ers with the 10th overall choice in the 2009 NFL draft.

Rob Rang: They would like to get a pass rusher. Brian Orakpo is going to be a possibility there. Everette Brown could be a possibility. A player that certainly is interesting for them would be [receiver] Jeremy Maclin. Michael Crabtree if he fell all the way down, because they certainly need some help at wide receiver.

The reality is, until Sunday, I had Everette Brown being the elite pass-rusher of the bunch. He came in at 6-foot-1 7/8 and that is just too short. I think he's going to drop down a little bit and then Aaron Maybin is still a young guy that needs to bulk up a little bit. He came in at 6-4, 250 pounds. He played last year at 230 pounds. So the 20 pounds he has gained in two months, a lot of that is water weight. I'm curious exactly how he is going to work out. A speed pass-rusher on the outside certainly would complement them.

I think [quarterback] Matt Stafford is going to be long gone. If Mark Sanchez works out very well, he makes some sense as well.

Next: Cardinals at No. 31.

Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando

Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic says Anquan Boldin's willingness to accept a long-term offer from the Cardinals is contingent on receiving an offer by Tuesday. That was the word from Boldin during an interview with XTRA-910 radio host Mike Jurecki in Phoenix. Boldin would appear to be in no position to make such demands. He has two years remaining on his deal and Larry Fitzgerald remains the Cardinals' best receiver.

Also from Somers: more honors for Cardinals strength and conditioning coach John Lott.

More from Somers: Kurt Warner expects to play in 2009. Warner via text message: "I am leaning in that direction. Not sure I have made a definitive decision yet." Warner's agent keeps saying there's little doubt.

And this from Somers: a look at the Cardinals' unsettled situation at running back.

Danny O'Neil of the Seattle Times says the Seahawks' potential interest in Texas Tech receiver Michael Crabtree remains one of the biggest questions heading into the 2009 draft.  O'Neil: "No position is more desperately needed in Seattle than a game-changing wide receiver, but no position has been more unpredictable in the draft's first round. The Detroit Lions drafted four different receivers in the top 10 from 2003 to 2007. Only one of those four is still with the Lions, and two are out of the league entirely."

Adam Schefter of NFL.com says Seahawks linebacker Leroy Hill rejected a six-year, $36 million offer from the team. 

John Morgan of Field Gulls explains why Everette Brown could make an intriguing option for Seattle with the fourth overall choice.

Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says Rams coach Steve Spagnuolo offered little insight into the team's plans for Orlando Pace and Torry Holt. Meanwhile, Oshiomogho Atogwe's agent is expected to meet with the Rams on Saturday.

Also from Thomas: a look at what Spagnuolo enjoys about the combine. When players are bench pressing, Spagnuolo watches those not participating in the drills. He wants to see their level of engagement to get an idea about whether they are team players. 

Nancy Gay of the San Francisco Chronicle says the 49ers' Mike Singletary wants to create a family atmosphere, with Singletary as the father figure.

Matt Maiocco of the Santa Rosa Press-Democrat looks at the 49ers' desire to add a running back to help Frank Gore. The new back would ideally get 10 to 15 carries per game, general manager Scot McCloughan said.

Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee wonders whether 49ers quarterback Alex Smith might have drawn interest from Tampa Bay if Jon Gruden had remained the Bucs' coach.

Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando

Bob McManaman of the Arizona Republic expects Kurt Warner to re-sign with the Cardinals in the next two or three weeks. McManaman: "That was the word circulating through the Warner camp before and following the Cardinals' 27-23 loss to the Steelers in Tampa. And unless management completely drops the ball and short-changes the quarterback at the negotiating table, it's appears to be a done deal."

Also from McManaman: a quick look at questionable calls in the Super Bowl. Aaron Francisco calls out the Steelers' James Harrison.

Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic says Cardinals coach Ken Whisenhunt was "humbled" and "stunned" to receive a phone call from the president following Super Bowl XLIII.

Also from Somers: The Cardinals are five weeks behind most teams as they finally dive into offseason preparations.

Darren Urban of azcardinals.com says the Cardinals said their goodbyes Tuesday, knowing some players would not be back.

Mike Tulumello of the East Valley Tribune says Whisenhunt appeared "bewildered" by the number of penalties called against the Cardinals in the Super Bowl.

Revenge of the Birds' Andrew602 looks at what the Cardinals' Super Bowl appearance might mean to the team in the future. Seven of the last eight Super Bowl losers missed the playoffs the following season.

Niners tackle Joe Staley blogs about his Super Bowl experience. Watching other teams play made him feel sick, or was it the annoying fan seated behind him? Staley's immediate plans include visiting family in Pennsylvania and hanging out with quarterback Shaun Hill in Missouri. It's a good sign when an offensive lineman chooses to hang out with a quarterback.

Kris Anderson of 49ers.com profiles linebacker Patrick Willis.

Matt Maiocco of the Santa Rosa Press-Democrat takes a look at free-agent situations around the NFC West. He considers retirement "highly unlikely" for Cardinals quarterback Kurt Warner.

Also from Maiocco: a look at how the 49ers contained Larry Fitzgerald during the regular season. The Cardinals were a running team when they visited San Francisco in the opener. And then I thought Nate Clements played well during the rematch in Arizona.

Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee looks at whether the 49ers will split carries between backs or rely almost exclusively on Frank Gore.

Dan Brown of the San Jose Mercury News contrasts the 49ers and Steelers in showing how Pittsburgh has built a consistent winner. Brown: "So how does Pittsburgh do it? Their transactions in 2004 certainly helped. That off-season, Pittsburgh drafted quarterback Ben Roethlisberger in the first round (11th overall), and quietly landed linebacker James Harrison (free agent) and running back Willie Parker (free agent). That same year, the 49ers' drafted Rashaun Woods."

Jeff Gordon of stltoday.com suggests the Rams can improve if Steve Spagnuolo can restore their attitudes. Linebacker Chris Draft: "I'm definitely excited. Not just what he's done with the defense in New York, but he is going to come with a swagger. His guys have been playing well, have been playing with passion, playing with physical presence these last few years. That's what we need. We need to have a swagger to us."

Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says the Rams need at least two new starters on their offensive line. Thomas: "To me, the Rams need a new starting center and a new starting tackle at a minimum for the line next season. I don't know if you saw the stat during the Super Bowl, but Bulger has been sacked something like 190 times over the past five seasons, the second-highest total in the league over that period. So it starts there."

Greg Johns of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer summarizes Greg Knapp's comments following Knapp's first interview as the Seahawks' offensive coordinator. Knapp: "One of the strengths of the zone run game is that its history has proven, as the parts have changed -- whether the runner or linemen -- it's still been pretty productive. There's so much turnover now with free agency and coaches, this is a system that maybe lends better to that environment. It provides a quicker learning curve to get on target to have success."

Danny O'Neil of the Seattle Times traces Knapp's NFL roots to his days as camp quarterback for the 49ers and Chiefs.

Dave Boling of the Tacoma News Tribune says the Seahawks will need more than an altered scheme to revive their offense in 2009.

John Morgan of Field Gulls says Florida State's Everette Brown is on his radar as a potential Seahawks draft choice.

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