NFC West: Everson Griffen

Cardinals leaning on Skelton, 2010 class

October, 17, 2012
10/17/12
6:15
PM ET

The Arizona Cardinals and Minnesota Vikings are playing Sunday for the fifth consecutive season.

Both teams have cycled through a few quarterbacks during that time. I covered that ground in the "Blogger Blitz" video.

Cardinals quarterback John Skelton will make his second start of the season and first against the Vikings. He's one of five current Arizona starters from the team's 2010 draft class. The first five players Arizona selected are starting. That includes second-round pick Daryl Washington, who has developed into an elite linebacker and recently signed a long-term extension.

The first chart shows the Cardinals' picks that year.

The second chart shows the Vikings' 2010 class. Minnesota has endured a coaching change since that 2010 draft. That can sometimes affect how players fit.

Expanded list: Most sacks per pass play

December, 8, 2011
12/08/11
7:55
PM ET
Expanding on an earlier post, this one ranks NFL players by most sacks per pass play through Week 13.

The San Francisco 49ers' Aldon Smith ranks fourth on the list. The St. Louis Rams' Chris Long is 10th. The Arizona Cardinals' Sam Acho ranks 19th. Ex-Seattle Seahawk Lawrence Jackson is 14th. Ex-Ram Adam Carriker ranks 21st.

Smith is keeping impressive company. The next step for him, likely next season, will be to maintain his pass-rush production as an every-down player, when he'll also have to hold up against the run more frequently. So far, so good.

The St. Louis Rams' Robert Quinn did not quite make the chart. He has five sacks and a 2.2 percentage. Seattle's Chris Clemons has eight sacks and a 2.1 percentage.

Sacks are not the only measure of a player's performance, of course. The best pass-rushers tend to collect a lot of them, however.

.

Setting up Saturday in NFC West

April, 24, 2010
4/24/10
6:00
AM ET
Arizona Cardinals

Needs filled: NT, ILB, WR

Significant needs unfilled: third QB

Picks remaining: 123 (fourth), 195 (sixth), 233 (seventh)

Comment: Getting nose tackle Dan Williams, inside linebacker Daryl Washington and receiver Andre Roberts patched holes. A run on receivers in the third round put pressure on the Cardinals to select Roberts at No. 88. Roberts was the sixth of eight receivers drafted between the 77th and 90th picks. Moving up to get Washington made sense because the decision anticipated a run on the position, but the deal cost the Cardinals one of their third-round choices. That hurt some, but with few remaining needs, Arizona could be in good shape.


San Francisco 49ers

Needs filled: OL, S

Significant needs unfilled: CB

Picks remaining: 173 (sixth), 182 (sixth), 206 (sixth-compensatory), 224 (seventh)

Comment: Adding Anthony Davis, Mike Iupati and Taylor Mays made the 49ers bigger and more physical. Third-rounder Navorro Bowman was an interesting choice as a potential pass-rusher, even though he's smaller than the typical 3-4 linebacker. The 49ers have no picks in the fourth or fifth rounds, so they face a long wait until No. 173 and little ammo to do anything about it. Would they consider trading Manny Lawson? The outside linebacker isn't happy with his contract and the 49ers have added to the position. But teams have been trading picks, not players, in this draft so far and Lawson still has value to the 49ers on defense and special teams.


Seattle Seahawks

Needs filled: OT, S, WR

Significant needs unfilled: DE, RB, CB

Picks remaining: 104 (fourth), 127 (fourth), 133 (fifth), 139 (fifth), 176 (sixth-compensatory), 245 (seventh)

Comment: The Seahawks were supposed to enjoy a strong start to the draft as the only team with two of the top 14 overall choices. They succeeded. Russell Okung, Earl Thomas and Golden Tate filled needs. The Seahawks could use a running back and none was chosen in the third round, when Seattle didn't have a choice. Could be time to find one. USC defensive end Everson Griffen remains available, but there are no indications Seattle has interest. There must be reasons Griffen has slipped so much further than expected and no NFL coach would know those reasons better than Pete Carroll.


St. Louis Rams

Needs filled: QB, OL, CB

Significant needs unfilled: OLB, DE, TE, WR

Picks remaining: 99 (fourth), 132 (fifth), 135 (fifth), 170 (sixth), 211 (seventh), 226 (seventh), 254 (seventh-compensatory)

Comment: Sam Bradford and Rodger Saffold should become starters relatively quickly, with third-round corner Jerome Murphy giving coach Steve Spagnuolo a talented project in the secondary. The team could use weapons for Bradford, but it's tough enough finding difference makers early in the draft, let alone beginning in the fourth round. Besides, general manager Billy Devaney said he thinks the team's young receivers will grow into their roles and be fine. The question I have is whether some of them -- Donnie Avery in particular -- can stay healthy.

Blame game: More Taylor Mays

April, 24, 2010
4/24/10
3:19
AM ET
You won't hear the 49ers complaining about Taylor Mays' fall into the second round. But when Mays himself assesses what happened, he points the blame directly at Seahawks coach Pete Carroll.

We covered the spirit of Mays' frustrations on the blog Friday. ESPN's Shelley Smith quotes Mays more specifically in this subsequent piece:
"I wish I would have known why I wouldn't be taken in the first round. At least have been shown what I needed work on. Here's my head coach, the person I trust most, telling me I had nothing to worry about and then I'm worrying about it [when it's too late] because I'm not getting picked."

This is just baffling. Even if Carroll thought someone would draft Mays higher, he couldn't guarantee the draft would play out a certain way. Lots of players were drafted later than expected. It happens every year. Some projected Mays' teammate, Everson Griffen, would be a first-round choice. He remains available heading into the fourth round. At least Mays went in the top 50.

"This is a remarkably competitive guy and prideful," Carroll said. "I'm sure he's got a chip on his shoulder and it's going to serve him well. It's not going to help us in the division, but he's a terrific player, he's an extraordinary kid and I felt bad for him that it didn't happen quicker in the first round."

Mays' new coach, Mike Singletary, was ticked when he slipped out of the first round back in 1981. All he did was become a Hall of Famer.

Mays will eventually realize Carroll wasn't responsible for his slide. Carroll seemed to sense as much Friday night.

"One of our other coaches got a chance to talk to him," Carroll said. "He might want to wait a couple days before he talks to me. I love him to death and I know how competitive he is and I don't blame him for being the way he is."
Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee says the 49ers haven't committed to naming first-round picks Anthony Davis and Mike Iupati as starters on opening day. Barrows: "(Coach Mike) Singletary said that Davis and Iupati were two of the most physical offensive linemen in the draft. He said there was one other offensive lineman -- Oklahoma's Trent Williams -- they had in the same category."

Also from Barrows: Acting general manager Trent Baalke says the 49ers traded up two spots in the first round because they were afraid someone else would jump ahead of them to draft Anthony Davis. The price was a fourth-round pick. Barrows: "The biggest knock on Davis entering the draft was his commitment to the game. As a freshman, he arrived at Rutgers weighing 363 pounds -- far heavier than what the Scarlet Knights' coaches were expecting. He was suspended for a game in 2008 for violating team rules, and he also was benched for a quarter the following season for undisclosed reasons."

Matt Maiocco of the Santa Rosa Press-Democrat expects Baalke to continue in his current role after the draft. Maiocco: "He made a decisive move to trade up two spots to secure the services of tackle Anthony Davis. It was a questionable strategy, considering the 49ers surrendered a fourth-round pick to jump over a couple teams that did not have any needs at offensive tackle. But Baalke did not want to take any chances of losing out on Davis to a team trading up. Baalke said he'd do the same thing '100 out of 100 times.' " It still seemed unnecessary and impatient, but we'll never know for sure. And if Davis becomes an outstanding player, no one will care.

Also from Maiocco: The 49ers' moves in the first round broke from tradition. Maiocco: "Since the 1970 AFL/NFL merger, the 49ers had not previously chosen an offensive tackle within the top 20 picks, and they've never gone with a guard in the top 30."

Lowell Cohn of the Santa Rosa Press-Democrat says it's clear Singletary is running the draft, and that was a good thing Thursday night, in his view.

Tim Kawakami of the San Jose Mercury News quotes Singletary as saying the 49ers put "very little" thought into drafting a quarterback in the first round.

Also from Kawakami: Singletary reveled in the 49ers getting bigger and more physical through this draft.

Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic says first-round choice Dan Williams was the 11th-rated player on the Cardinals' draft board. Was this the full board or the separate 120-player board? Coach Ken Whisenhunt: "You start to let your mind think, 'OK, we're going to have a chance to get this player,' and you start to worry. You know how superstitious I am, you don't want to think about it because you might jinx it."

The Arizona Republic runs a photo showing the Cardinals' new alternate uniform, to be worn occasionally: "NFL teams can wear the alternate uniform as many as three times per season -- once in the preseason and twice in the regular season (not permitted in the postseason). It has not yet been determined how many times or in which games the Cardinals will wear their alternate uniforms."

Darren Urban of azcardinals.com says defensive end Darnell Dockett was excited when the team drafted Williams. Dockett via Twitter: "IT'S A CELEBRATION. NOW I GOT TO TRAIN THE DOG and we shall GO BITE!"

Bill Coats of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says the Rams are open to trading the 33rd pick of the draft. General manager Billy Devaney on the time between first and second rounds: "It does at least give us more time to weigh options if we do get calls, which is kind of neat. And hopefully there might be a team that thinks that's their last chance to get a certain position ... so maybe they'd be willing to move up."

Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says Rams No. 1 draft choice Sam Bradford felt all the way back from a shoulder injury during a workout for the team in Florida a couple weeks ago. Bradford: "We were down in Pensacola (Fla.) throwing, and it was just one of those workouts where I was accurate. My ball, it was coming out quick. My arm strength felt good."

Bernie Miklasz of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says Bradford offers a new beginning for the Rams. Miklasz: "The Rams must be aggressive in doing everything they can to find Bradford an elite wide receiver and a good-hands tight end. The Rams' offensive line is better than most people assume, but still requires sprucing. Rams coach Steve Spagnuolo and staff will have to prove they know what they are doing. And that they can find the right balance by handling this gift with care — but without being overly protective. Already there are questions about how soon Bradford will start."

Bryan Burwell of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says it's important to be patient with Bradford.

Howard Balzer of the St. Louis Globe-Democrat offers options for the Rams in the second round. Balzer: "The end of the first round left numerous talented players available. It appears the Rams’ most likely choices would be a defensive end or wide receiver. They could choose between receivers Golden Tate, Arrelious Benn and Damian Williams, or defensive ends Sergio Kindle or Everson Griffen. However, Kindle has off-field issues, which could be why he lasted through the first round. Griffen also has maturity questions."

Jim Rodenbush for the St. Louis Globe-Democrat quotes Devaney this way on Bradford: "There’s going to be a learning curve. But at the end of the day, that’s going to be one of his assets. He’s extremely intelligent. The more work he gets here, and he gets exposed to that, that’s going to be one of the real pluses about Bradford. He’s going to be great at that part of the game."

Steve Kelley of the Seattle Times offers approval for the Seahawks' new leadership -- coach Pete Carroll and general manager John Schneider -- after the team drafted Russell Okung and Earl Thomas in the first round. Kelley: "In the postdraft news conference Carroll and Schneider were almost giddy, teasing each other about their bowling night with Okung and kidding about the camera in the Hawks' war room that caught Schneider flexing his muscles at the end of the day. But he deserved a few flexes. Schneider made the right calls. He found two starters to help fill his skinny roster."

Danny O'Neil of the Seattle Times was surprised Okung was available for Seattle. O'Neil: "The biggest surprise about Okung's selection was the fact he was available. For months he was considered the top offensive lineman available, and he was one of two offensive tackles Seattle would have been willing to pick No. 6 overall. The other, Trent Williams of Oklahoma, was drafted No. 4 by Washington. When Kansas City chose safety Eric Berry with the fifth pick, it cleared the way for Seattle to take Okung."

Eric D. Williams of the Tacoma News Tribune says the Seahawks filled two major needs.

Dave Boling of the Tacoma News Tribune says the Seahawks know they didn't land a professional bowler in Okung, but they hope they've gotten a future Pro Bowler. Okung: "I come from very humble beginnings. You learn how to be a hard worker, and be somebody who has a lot of drive, who is self-motivated."
The Seahawks were convinced Philadelphia had leaped over them in the first round to draft safety Earl Thomas, the player Seattle wound up drafting at No. 14.The Eagles drafted linebacker Brandon Graham instead. Seattle wanted Thomas because the Seahawks saw him as a play-making safety with the ability to match up against wide receivers in coverage. Coach Pete Carroll and general manager John Schneider couldn't immediately think of a similar player in the NFL when I asked for a comparison. Schneider finally said he thought Nick Collins had similar abilities that way.

  • I must have missed the announcement naming Mike Solari as the 49ers' new general manager. Solari, the team's new offensive line coach, came out of the first round with tackle Anthony Davis and guard Mike Iupati. Position coaches stress over whether their teams' personnel people will find help for them in the draft. Solari will be the envy of the 49ers' coaches' meetings after this first round.
  • The Rams got their quarterback, as expected, and now they have an opportunity to help him, starting with the first pick of the second round. The top two receivers and the top tight end are gone. Notre Dame receiver Golden Tate is available. Would he make an immediate difference? The Rams have already invested quite a bit in their offensive line, but with Rodger Saffold available and Alex Barron's long-term future in question, would taking a tackle make any sense? What about a defensive end such as Everson Griffen? The Rams have enough needs to feel good about whichever player they take next.
  • The Cardinals hold three of the next 57 choices and they've already landed Dan Williams, widely considered the best nose tackle in the draft. They could move up if they chose or sit back and use the 58th, 88th and 89th choices. The team could use another linebacker and Florida's Brandon Spikes, described by scouts as a thumper with good instincts and strong work ethic, remains available.
Mel Kiper's latest mock draft, available with commentary Insider to Insider subscribers, features quite a few changes.

I'm providing updated thoughts, focusing next on the Seahawks (additional analysis here):

14. Seattle Seahawks

Mel's latest pick: Derrick Morgan, DE, Georgia Tech

My thoughts: Morgan has been a common choice for Seattle in various mock drafts, although Kiper previously had Seattle choosing Clemson running back C.J. Spiller and USC defensive end Everson Griffen. Seattle needs to upgrade its pass rush. Scouts laud Morgan as a high-effort player from the ACC, making me think back to prospects former general manager Tim Ruskell coveted (Kelly Jennings, Josh Wilson, Leroy Hill, Aaron Curry, Mansfield Wrotto and Steve Vallos were all Ruskell picks from the ACC, while Ruskell free-agent addition Patrick Kerney also played in the conference). Every team likes high-effort types, of course, but that aspect stands out more than others in the assessments I've seen. Morgan also appears to have very good versatility, another plus. The Seahawks have significant enough needs to feel good about drafting any qualified prospect at one of the marquee positions. Pass-rusher is a marquee position.

Sizing up NFC West mock drafts

April, 6, 2010
4/06/10
10:00
AM ET
Draft analysts Nolan Nawrocki and Rob Rang posted updated mock drafts Monday.

I've singled out their selections for NFC West teams and run them alongside the Insider projections Mel Kiper and Todd McShay made March 11.

Nawrocki says he thinks Williams' skills mesh perfectly with what the Seahawks want to do offensively, offsetting questions about Williams' work ethic.

Three of the four analysts have Clemson running back C.J. Spiller landing in the NFC West.

Nawrocki and Rang line up on Sam Bradford (Rams), Williams (Seahawks), and Missouri linebacker Sean Weatherspoon.

Weatherspoon would replace Karlos Dansby at inside linebacker in these projections. Cardinals coach Ken Whisenhunt was with the Steelers when they used a second-round choice for a 3-4 inside linebacker with similar height and weight (Kendrell Bell).

I'm just not sure if using a first-round pick for an inside linebacker qualifies as an ideal scenario. Nose tackle Dan Williams remained available for the Cardinals' choice at No. 26 on Nawrocki's mock draft (landing with San Diego at No. 28).

Mel Kiper has kept USC defensive end Everson Griffen as his projection for Seattle with the 14th overall choice in his latest mock draft.

I'm updating the pre-combine and post-combine items making sense of first-round choices for NFC West teams, continuing with the Seahawks:

14. Seattle Seahawks

Mel's latest pick: Everson Griffen, DE, USC

My latest thoughts: Kiper has the Seahawks using their first-round picks for linemen, not playmakers. That sounds like a good way to build a team. Will the Seahawks be that patient? Someone has to score touchdowns for Seattle to regain its competitiveness. Kiper has Oklahoma State receiver Dez Bryant off the board at this point. He has C.J. Spiller dropping into the 20s. He's sticking with Griffen and Seattle certainly could use help for its defensive line.

Mel's previous pick: Griffen, DE, USC

My pre-combine thoughts: The Seahawks will take criticism if they fail to draft an offensive lineman among the first two choices. They'll probably take criticism if coach Pete Carroll seems to be filling the Lawrence Jackson Scholarship with this selection. If the top tackles are gone, however, the Seahawks do need to consider other options. And Carroll's combination of NFL and college experience should give him a good feel for whether Griffen or anyone else from USC is ready for the next level. It was telling, I thought, when Carroll suggested several recent NFL choices from USC might have been overvalued. It's not like Carroll drafted Jackson, after all.

My post-combine follow-up: This might be a little early for Griffen even though he impressed at the combine with a 4.66-second time over 40 yards and 32 reps in the bench press. Seattle does need pass-rush help, though, and Griffen could be a good choice on those grounds. If the Seahawks do draft Griffen, I might consider it a good sign for the team because Carroll probably wouldn't tap into the USC talent pool without being pretty sure about that player's ability to produce. Making mistakes in the draft happens. Carroll will invite harsh criticism if he makes mistakes on players he recruited and coached. The Seahawks have enough needs to justify targeting just about any position in this slot.
Mel Kiper had defensive end Everson Griffen heading to Seattle with the 14th overall choice in his pre-combine Insider mock draft.

I'm revisiting the pre-combine item making sense of first-round choices for NFC West teams, adding post-combine thoughts, continuing with the Seahawks:

14. Seattle Seahawks

Mel's pick: Everson Griffen, DE, USC

My pre-combine thoughts: The Seahawks will take criticism if they fail to draft an offensive lineman among the first two choices. They'll probably take criticism if coach Pete Carroll seems to be filling the Lawrence Jackson Scholarship with this selection. If the top tackles are gone, however, the Seahawks do need to consider other options. And Carroll's combination of NFL and college experience should give him a good feel for whether Griffen or anyone else from USC is ready for the next level. It was telling, I thought, when Carroll suggested several recent NFL choices from USC might have been overvalued. It's not like Carroll drafted Jackson, after all.

My post-combine followup: This might be a little early for Griffen even though he impressed at the combine with a 4.66-second time over 40 yards and 32 reps in the bench press. Seattle does need pass-rush help, though, and Griffen could be a good choice on those grounds. If the Seahawks do draft Griffen, I might consider it a good sign for the team because Carroll probably wouldn't tap into the USC talent pool without being pretty sure about that player's ability to produce. Making mistakes in the draft happens. Carroll will invite harsh criticism if he makes mistakes on players he recruited and coached. The Seahawks have enough needs to justify targeting just about any position in this slot.

Inside Kiper's NFC West mock

February, 18, 2010
2/18/10
3:58
PM ET
Insider subscribers might have seen that Mel Kiper's latest mock draft is updated with his explanations for each pick.

The measurables are all there -- 32 picks, 2,000-plus words, handy links to player bios -- and I'd like to offer some thoughts on his NFC West choices.

And since Kevin Seifert did something similar on the NFC North blog, I'll follow his format (note that a coin toss will determine whether the 49ers pick 16th or 17th):

1. St. Louis Rams

Mel's pick: Ndamukong Suh, DT, Nebraska

My thoughts: The Rams worked last offseason to rebuild their offensive line, with encouraging results. They need to rebuild the defensive line next and Suh would help them on that front. Chris Long improved quite a bit last season. The team needs to replace aging defensive ends Leonard Little and James Hall, who might not be back. Adam Carriker's injury issues prove the Rams cannot count on him. Suh makes sense, in other words, even though the Rams should take a franchise quarterback if they see one in this draft.

6. Seattle Seahawks

Mel's pick: Sam Bradford, QB, Oklahoma

My thoughts: If Bradford is good enough to go sixth overall, the Rams should take him at No. 1. A good quarterback beats a very good defensive tackle. The Seahawks are in better position to take a chance on a quarterback early because they have another pick in the first half of the round. The second pick provides some insurance. Matt Hasselbeck's recent injury history should force the Seahawks to address this issue in the near term. Bradford could spend a season or at least part of a season on the bench, depending upon his health, Hasselbeck's health and Hasselbeck's production.

13. San Francisco 49ers

Mel's pick: C.J. Spiller, RB, Clemson

My thoughts: The 49ers do need a return specialist. They could use a change-of-pace running back, too. Spiller would fill those needs and let's face it, mock drafts are mostly about matching teams needs with the prospects available. But as the 49ers found out when Michael Crabtree fell to them unexpectedly, surprises happen. It's important for the 49ers to keep things in perspective here. It's way too early to write off Glen Coffee as Frank Gore's backup. A running back drafted in the first round needs to play, in most cases, and this selection would invite more questions about Gore's role in an offense that ignored him for stretches once Alex Smith became quarterback. It's possible to find return specialists later in the draft. Spiller should be the pick only if the value is there, not just to fill a couple needs.

14. Seattle Seahawks

Mel's pick: Everson Griffen, DE, USC

My thoughts: The Seahawks will take criticism if they fail to draft an offensive lineman among the first two choices. They'll probably take criticism if coach Pete Carroll seems to be filling the Lawrence Jackson Scholarship with this selection. If the top tackles are gone, however, the Seahawks do need to consider other options. And Carroll's combination of NFL and college experience should give him a good feel for whether Griffen or anyone else from USC is ready for the next level. It was telling, I thought, when Carroll suggested several recent NFL choices from USC might have been overvalued. It's not like Carroll drafted Jackson, after all.

16. San Francisco 49ers

Mel's pick: Trent Williams, OT, Oklahoma

My thoughts: The 49ers would win the draft-day report cards if they emerged with Spiller and Williams, filling two obvious need areas. This might be a little earlier than the 49ers would like to find their next right tackle. They drafted left tackle Joe Staley at No. 28 in 2007. But based on how Staley has performed, the 49ers could have justified drafting him earlier. If Williams is the real deal as a right tackle, he would give the 49ers bookend tackles for years to come.

26. Arizona Cardinals

Mel's pick: Dan Williams, DT, Tennessee

My thoughts: This pick would make a great deal of sense. Veteran Bryan Robinson has exceeded expectations as the Cardinals' nose tackle, but he'll be 36 in June. The Cardinals have committed more fully to a Steelers-style defense, and that makes nose tackles more valuable. No complaints with this pick.

SPONSORED HEADLINES

Insider

NFC WEST SCOREBOARD