NFC West: Kevin Zeitler

Russell Wilson, the quarterback the Seattle Seahawks drafted in the third round Friday, probably lost millions of dollars when he stopped growing.

His height, measured by NFL scouting combine officials at 5-foot-10 and five-eighths of an inch, doesn't measure up to long-established league standards. That is why the Seahawks were able to draft the Wisconsin quarterback with only the 75th overall choice even though Wilson appears dynamic by other measures, including his arm, athleticism and leadership.

ESPN's Herm Edwards liked the selection and explains why in the video above.

History discounts the chances for a shorter quarterback. Wilson is not small, however. He had the fourth-largest hands of any quarterback at the combine: 10 1/4 inches, tied with defensive lineman Quinton Coples, guard Kevin Zeitler and 21 others for the 24th-biggest hands at the combine.

Brock Osweiler, the tallest combine quarterback at 6-foot-7, had smaller hands than Wilson. Ryan Tannehill, drafted eighth overall, had substantially smaller hands: 9 inches, tied with Yale's Patrick Witt for smallest at the combine.

Wilson, who finished second to Robert Griffin III among combine quarterbacks with a 4.55-second time in the 40-yard dash, did have the third-shortest arm length for any quarterback at the combine. Nick Foles, Osweiler and Andrew Luck ranked among the top five. The difference between Luck's arm length (32 5/8 inches) and that of Wilson (31) means what, exactly? I'm not sure.

Some of these measurement differentials might not mean much. Height would matter more to teams as they assess whether a quarterback can see the field well enough from inside the pocket. Edwards' feeling is that Wilson should be a good backup, with a chance to become more.


There was some thought the San Francisco 49ers might take a character risk by selecting North Alabama cornerback Janoris Jenkins with the 30th overall choice Thursday night.

Kirkpatrick
A.J. Jenkins
The Jenkins they wound up selecting could not have been much different from Janoris.

Illinois' A.J. Jenkins is a receiver, not a cornerback. A.J. Jenkins was an all-academic selection in the Big Ten Conference, whereas Janoris Jenkins was arrested, suspended and kicked off the team at Florida before transferring to North Alabama.

Enough about that other Jenkins. A.J. is the only one who matters for the 49ers at this point. He joins a relatively crowded position and projects as a starter, but perhaps not immediately.

Scouts Inc. gave A.J. Jenkins high marks for intangibles, separation skills and ball skills while raising questions about his slight frame (6-foot, 190 pounds) and durability.

Nolan Nawrocki of Pro Football Weekly had this to say: "Lean, fast, slippery 'X' receiver boasting playmaking perimeter speed combined with quickness to separate short-to-intermediate. Best football might be ahead of him if he sharpens his route running, grows up and becomes more consistent."

The 49ers had needs at guard and cornerback, plus receiver. Guards David DeCastro and Kevin Zeitler were not available when the 49ers selected. The 49ers could have taken Stanford tight end Coby Fleener, reuniting him with Jim Harbaugh, but they didn't have a need at tight end.
Draft analysts Mel Kiper Jr. Todd McShay, Rob Rang and Nolan Nawrocki have published their final 2012 NFL mock drafts, with NFC West picks on display in the chart.

There's more consensus with the 30th overall choice than with the sixth overall choice. All four have San Francisco selecting a guard. Three of the four point to Wisconsin's Kevin Zeitler as the one.

I'll revisit these after the draft and hand out awards as warranted.

The NFC West chat began amid a report suggesting the Seattle Seahawks and New England Patriots had discussed a trade involving the 12th pick in the 2012 NFL draft.

By the time the chat ended, word had come that no such talks had taken place.

Just another NFC West chat, this one was not. Let's hit some highlights:
Birdman from Arizona thinks the Cardinals could use a first-round choice for a cornerback. He calls into question the team's quality depth at that position and says Stephon Gilmore or Dre Kirkpatrick would be the choice if tackle Riley Reiff were not available.

Mike Sando: That would be purely a value pick, Birdman. The Cardinals like their corner situation. They think they have four starting corners (Patrick Peterson, Greg Toler, A.J. Jefferson and William Gay). They also have Michael Adams, who has played a lot in sub packages. Corner is not really a big priority position for the Cardinals right now. I think we saw that in the value decision they made on Marshall. So, if they take a corner that early, it's because the value screamed at them, not because the need was primary.

Kyle from St. Louis asks whether the Rams appear likely to trade back from the sixth overall pick.

Mike Sando: My general feel is that the Rams have moved back enough in the first round, and now they need to maximize the value of the pick (unless someone makes a crazy offer). Right now, the Rams have the best of both worlds: a pick high enough to get the top-rated player at a position, but also additional picks (this year and in the future).

Gus from Seattle asks about the Seahawks possibly drafting a "touchdown maker" instead of a pass-rusher in the first round. "Does any part of you think they are playing possum and may jump on a Michael Floyd or Kendall Wright or Doug Martin instead?" he asks.


Mike Sando: Yeah, I could see them going in that direction. Mostly, I think they would like to trade back and then take what falls to them. We should account in our minds for the fact that Jason Jones' addition in free agency was seen by the team as a move to upgrade the pass rush. They could also get Dexter Davis back, with some thought he could help their pass-rush. So I would not lock in a pass-rusher as the pick in the first round. It would make a lot of sense, however.

Chex Norris from San Diego asks whether the 49ers would select Kendall Wright or Stephen Hill at No. 30 if other prospects, notably Kevin Zeitler and Janoris Jenkins, were not available.

Mike Sando: Wright was the projection to the 49ers at No. 30 in our initial Blogger Mock Draft. Hill might be the better fit from a physical standpoint. I might lean toward Wright on overall value, but Hill as the more likely fit because of his physical dimensions. Maybe they could move back a couple spots if faced with that dilemma? Thinking out loud here.

We're down to the final few hours before the draft. I'll be heading over to Seattle Seahawks headquarters and getting set up over there in the not-too-distant future.

2012 Kiper mock 5.0: Rams thoughts

April, 25, 2012
4/25/12
3:20
PM ET
Mel Kiper Jr. is back Insider with his fifth and final 2012 NFL mock draft for the first round.

The San Francisco 49ers (Kevin Zeitler), Arizona Cardinals (Melvin Ingram) and Seattle Seahawks (Chandler Jones) went first in our analysis, reflecting reverse draft order.

The St. Louis Rams, picking sixth overall, round out the series.

6. St. Louis Rams: Justin Blackmon, WR, Oklahoma St.

Kiper's give: I had St. Louis as a team likely to move down, given that we know the front office has been openly interested in the idea. But if they're still here, I think Blackmon is the pick. He'll pay immediate dividends for the offense, and Sam Bradford will finally have a target most of us evaluators can see as a potential true No. 1.

Sando's take: Kiper had Morris Claiborne, Trent Richardson and Matt Kalil going with the third through fifth picks, respectively. It doesn't matter so much what order those players come off the board if they're gone among the top five picks. The Rams aren't likely to trade up. Blackmon was also the player I projected going to the Rams at No. 6, despite some concerns about value. The Rams have needs throughout their roster. They have acute needs at wide receiver, defensive tackle and outside linebacker, with a special emphasis on finding weapons to help quarterback Sam Bradford succeed. The Rams don't simply need a wide receiver. They have decent depth at the position. They specifically need a No. 1 receiver, the type teams seek near the top of the draft. The question is whether Blackmon projects as that type of player.

2012 Kiper mock 5.0: 49ers thoughts

April, 25, 2012
4/25/12
1:05
PM ET
Mel Kiper Jr. is back Insider with his fifth and final 2012 NFL mock draft for the first round.

We discussed the previous ones in some detail and will not miss this opportunity to dine on the possibilities, beginning with this look at the San Francisco 49ers, owners of the 30th overall choice.

30. San Francisco 49ers: Kevin Zeitler, G, Wisconsin

Kiper's give: The 49ers have gotten deeper at wide receiver in free agency, and if Stephen Hill and Coby Fleener are off the board, I think they go after a big need in the run game here. The 49ers may have more weapons on the edges, but if they can't run the ball effectively it won't matter. Zeitler can move people up front and start early.

Sando's take: Kiper's logic is sound here, but sound can mean boring, and that is certainly the case when we combine the 49ers' draft position (30th) with Zeitler's on-field position (interior offensive line). The 49ers have used first-round picks for their left tackle, left guard and right tackle. Using another first-rounder for an offensive lineman would seem like overkill, but it would also continue a trend that predates the team's current leadership. Drafting a guard makes sense for the 49ers because it fills a need. Teams should also be able to find a guard or two later in the draft. Cornerback Janoris Jenkins was still available in Kiper's mock draft. I had the 49ers drafting him in the ESPN Blogger Mock we put together earlier in the week. NFL Films analyst Greg Cosell recently sent Jenkins to Tampa Bay with the fifth overall choice in a mock matching on-field football abilities with team needs. His mock disregarded off-field concerns, however, and Jenkins has plenty of those. Fleener's Stanford pedigree makes him a potential fit with Jim Harbaugh, but the 49ers appear set at tight end.
USC tackle Matt Kalil possibly slipping to St. Louis at No. 6 in the NFL draft might count as a positive development, but it could also steer the Rams away from adding needed offensive weaponry for quarterback Sam Bradford.

And that might not be such a good thing from a need standpoint.

With the draft two days away, I reached out to Steve Muench of Scouts Inc. for thoughts on potential unwelcome or complicating developments for NFC West teams, based on their needs and where they are selecting in the draft order.

For the most part, however, Muench liked where teams in the division stood. After discussing every NFC West team with him, I'll pass along highlights from our conversation, beginning with thoughts on the 49ers and working backward through the order:

Muench: I would think they will want a corner, but they probably will not reach for one. Dre Kirkpatrick will probably be off the board. Janoris Jenkins, that would be fascinating for me. I'm not sure how he would work out.

Sando: Jenkins was the choice for San Francisco at No. 30 when I chose for them in our recent ESPN Blogger Mock Draft. My thinking was that the 49ers had the leadership on defense to take a risk on a talented player with a few red flags.

Muench: That is one way of looking at it. My concern with him is that when he gets challenged and has someone get in his face, how is he going to react? If he reacts well, then you've won. If not, it goes south quickly and that is the concern. From what I have understood, I wouldn’t say he was coddled or babied at Florida, but he got away with a lot, and when he was challenged, the next thing you know, he’s at North Alabama. There was talk of him firing an agent. I'm just not sure he's that guy looking for redemption. Some guys, you just cannot get to. Now, at what point does the risk become worth the reward? Maybe it's at the end of the first round. He is a top 15 talent.

Sando: You're talking me out of Jenkins. Maybe he's not the type of guy an organization wants to hold up as a first-round selection. If the 49ers do not find a corner to their liking at No. 30, which direction do they go? They appear set at tight end, so Coby Fleener might be a luxury pick. They do have a need at guard.

Muench: Jeff Allen from Illinoi and Kevin Zeitler from Wisconsin are two guards they could take a look at -- guys who might normally go in the second round. They could consider a defensive end, like a Kendall Reyes from Connecticut, but it's hard to say you're looking to the future there, as well as Justin Smith is playing. It's a little early for Derek Wolfe from Cincinnati, maybe Devon Still from Penn State. Those are all guys that are fringe guys (first-round wise).

Sando: Nothing jumps out.

Muench: I think they can sit there and take the best available player.
Back-to-back seasons with a 7-9 record felt like progress for the Seattle Seahawks under coach Pete Carroll.

Another season with that record would feel like stagnation.

That is one reason the Seahawks would be best off, at least in theory, using their early draft choices for immediate contributors. Selecting a quarterback in the first round Thursday would qualify as more of a long-term move -- and perhaps as a redundant one, given Matt Flynn's addition through free agency.

Art Thiel of Sports Press Northwest says there's no way the Seahawks should select Ryan Tannehill in the first round. Thiel: "Carroll had so many good quarterbacks at USC that he tends to see the world behind center in Trojan colors. But as has been pointed out to him numerous times, relative to their respective empires, the Seahawks aren’t the Trojans. Tannehill isn’t the next Matt Leinart. Actually, maybe he is, which is even worse." Noted: Carroll and general manager John Schneider continue to speak glowingly of Tannehill. The team could be interested in Tannehill and/or trading back in the draft with a team eager to land him.

Clare Farnsworth of seahawks.com has this to say about the team's needs: "An edge pass-rusher is high on Carroll's list, but he’d also like to add to competitive aspect of the roster by adding a touchdown-maker on offense, a young quarterback and depth and unique qualities at linebacker. Carroll said he’s even open to adding to the already large pile on the offensive line and the talented collection in the secondary, if the right player is there."

Jerry Brewer of the Seattle Times likes what he sees from Carroll and Schneider. Carroll on going young: "One of my favorite coaches ever, Bud Grant, said one time, 'For every young guy you start, you lose a game.' That was classic, traditional thinking. I was of that mindset in classic fashion until I had to be in charge of calling all the shots, and then it just flipped in me that we don't know where we're going unless we find these guys out."

Eric D. Williams of the Tacoma News Tribune passes along notes from the Seahawks' pre-draft news conference Monday, including this one: "Barrett Ruud, Seattle's projected starting middle linebacker, is not healthy. Carroll said he’s still recovering from groin, knee and shoulder injuries that landed him on the injured reserve while he was with Tennessee last year." Noted: Seattle will presumably find a starting linebacker in the draft. Ruud is veteran insurance, but not a player to count on at this stage.

Draft analyst Rob Rang considers wide receivers and running backs Seattle could consider, one per round in the upcoming draft.

Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says the Rams ran top receivers Justin Blackmon, Michael Floyd and Kendall Wright through last-minute pre-draft workouts. Thomas: "A six-person Rams contingent traveled from site to site via private jet, a contingent that included coach Jeff Fisher, general manager Les Snead, and offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer. Kevin Demoff, the Rams' executive vice president for football operations, joined the others for the Blackmon workout."

Also from Thomas: Gil Brandt thinks the Rams strongly need to consider selecting Blackmon. Thomas: "Former Rams general manager Billy Devaney was known to say that you could always find a receiver. Thus, it is not a surprise that the team has not used any of its 14 first-round picks since 2000 on the position. The only second-round receiver was Donnie Avery. Instead, the Rams have hoped that lesser-known names would produce. Since drafting Holt they have picked 13 receivers, who have averaged 1 1/2 years with the team each and produced a combined 450 catches, 5,420 yards and 26 touchdowns."

More from Thomas: The Rams need help at linebacker. Thomas: "There are some legitimate options for the Rams in rounds 2-4, including Mychal Kendricks of California and Sean Spence of Miami, who paid pre-draft visits to Rams Park. Kendricks was named Pacific-12 Conference defensive player of the year last season after racking up 107 tackles, 14.5 tackles for loss, three sacks and two interceptions. Under defensive coordinator Clancy Pendergast, Cal ran a complex scheme, and Kendricks was used in a variety of ways -- playing inside, outside and used as a blitzer. (He had 8.5 sacks in 2010.)"

Bob McManaman of the Arizona Republic asks whether the Cardinals would select receiver Floyd even if offensive tackle Riley Reiff were available to them with the 13th overall choice.

Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic says the Floyd-Reiff dilemma is a tough one. Somers: "And depending upon the day, I've taken both players. I guess I have myself covered. My thinking today is that the Cardinals will take Reiff, figuring that they are good enough at receiver with Larry Fitzgerald, Andre Roberts, Early Doucet and whomever emerges from the rest of the pack. They haven't taken an offensive lineman above the fifth round since 2007, so it's time."

Also from Somers: The Cardinals have become more apt to trade draft choices since Ken Whisenhunt succeeded Dennis Green as head coach, with mixed results. Somers: "Green, who coached the team from 2004-06, preferred to stay rooted in the team's original draft slot. His mantra was to never fall in love with players. But since 2007, coincidentally the year Ken Whisenhunt became coach, the Cardinals have been more active during draft week. That year, they made two trades on draft week. In 2010, they made three during the draft in addition to two others that came before. The results have been mixed, but the Cardinals have shown they won't always sit still during the three days of the draft."

Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee thinks the 49ers will address guard, running back and wide receiver in the 2012 draft. Barrows: "While the need for an offensive tackle in 2010 and a quarterback last year helped narrow the list of draft candidates, San Francisco's stacked roster this year means it can go in many directions."

Matt Maiocco of CSNBayArea.com picks one player per round for the 49ers. On first-round projection Kevin Zeitler: "Right guard might be the only starting job on the team that's up for grabs, and Zeitler would enter that competition against Alex Boone and Daniel Kilgore. Zeitler fits the 49ers' style. He started three seasons and won the Badger Power Award for he weight-room dedication. At the combine, he bench-pressed 225 pounds 32 times -- 14 more than his former Wisconsin teammate Peter Konz."

NFL Blog Network mock draft 2.0

April, 23, 2012
4/23/12
3:05
PM ET
The first six picks of ESPN’s Blogger Mock Draft unfolded pretty much as expected.

That’s when James Walker, our AFC East representative, put out the word: “I’m willing to make a trade back with Buffalo at No. 10.”

Before anyone could respond, AFC South representative Paul Kuharsky announced he’d swung a deal with Dan Graziano of the NFC East. The Jaguars had traded the seventh overall choice and a sixth-rounder to Philadelphia for the 15th, 88th and 153rd selections.

The Eagles took defensive tackle Fletcher Cox at No. 7.

“By the way,” I wrote in an email to the group, “Seattle would love to trade back from 12.”

Then came the word from Walker, sent only to me, the NFC West rep: “Don’t make your pick at No. 12 yet. I have an offer from New England coming. Working out the point chart. First, I have to figure out Buffalo’s pick at No. 10.”

A few seconds passed before the AFC West’s Bill Williamson, unaware Walker had already made contact regarding the 12th pick, reached out to me in another email.

“If Melvin Ingram is on the board at 12,” Williamson wrote, “I might have San Diego come up from 18.”

This was intriguing. Seattle’s actual leadership had swung a deal with San Diego for quarterback Charlie Whitehurst a couple of years ago, so trade talks for the 12th pick seemed realistic. But the Seahawks also have a working relationship with the Patriots, having traded Deion Branch to them not all that long ago.

“Sounds good,” I replied to Bill. “James might also make an offer here.”

The potential deal with Williamson and San Diego was fleeting. Walker executed a trade with himself, allowing the New York Jets to move into Buffalo’s spot at No. 10. The Jets took Ingram, the player Williamson had wanted for San Diego.

The fun was only beginning.

Our eight divisional bloggers made four trades involving the seventh, 10th, 12th, 15th, 16th, 27th, 31st and 32nd overall choices, plus later considerations.

Five of our first-round selections in this mock failed to appear in our previous one. Jerel Worthy, Kevin Zeitler, Chandler Jones, Shea McClellin and Coby Fleener pushed out Rueben Randle, Andre Branch, Peter Konz, Kendall Wright and Mike Adams.

Courtney Upshaw, Dontari Poe and Stephen Hill made double-digit drops from then to now. Michael Brockers, Cordy Glenn, Stephon Gilmore and Cox climbed at least eight spots since last time.

We drafted seven defensive ends/outside linebackers, six offensive linemen, five defensive backs, four defensive tackles, three receivers, three quarterbacks, two inside linebackers, one tight end and one running back.

Mostly, we had some fun with the process. Thanks for coming along.

***

ESPN.com's NFL bloggers went through one final mock draft leading up to Thursday's start of the NFL draft. Here is how #ESPNbloggermock played out.

Big Board Bar
QB
6-4
234

Analysis: We're going to hit at least one of the AFC South's four picks here, so we thank the Colts for that. Luck draws raves from all corners and gives Indianapolis another quarterback who could set high standards for more than a dozen years, like the guy he's replacing did. (Paul Kuharsky)

Analysis: A no-brainer for Washington, which traded three first-round picks and a second-rounder to move into this spot to take the young man they believe will be their next franchise quarterback. Skins fans have already been wearing Griffin's name and face on T-shirts for weeks. (Dan Graziano)

OT
6-6
306

Analysis: I burned up the email lines trying to drum up interest for this pick, much as I imagine Vikings general manager Rick Spielman will do in the coming days and heading into Thursday night. But my colleagues were too smart for that, and I was more than happy to scoop up Kalil and presumably put quarterback Christian Ponder's mind at ease. (Kevin Seifert)

RB
5-9
228

Analysis: Not buying into the Browns' interest in wide receiver Justin Blackmon or quarterback Ryan Tannehill. Richardson is clearly the best offensive player in the draft outside of Luck and RG3. The Browns' struggling offense needs an identity, and Richardson can instantly give it a tough one. (Jamison Hensley)

CB
5-11
188

Analysis: Once Richardson went off the board, this became an easy call. The Bucs need to add a top-notch cornerback because Ronde Barber is nearing the end of his career and Aqib Talib could face prison time or a suspension. Even if Talib is able to play this season, he's headed into the last year of his contract. The Bucs addressed the position they needed to most. They can get a running back early in the second or third round. (Pat Yasinskas)

WR
6-0
207

Analysis: Blackmon has long been a popular projection for the Rams. I'm not convinced he'll be the choice or even the first receiver drafted, but there was also a fear of overthinking the situation. (Mike Sando)

DT
6-4
298

Analysis: The Eagles fell in love with Cox and were convinced he wouldn't get past Carolina at No. 9. So after the Rams picked Blackmon, Philadelphia offered Jacksonville the No. 15 pick and the No. 88 pick (third round) for the Jaguars' overall No. 7. Jacksonville countered by asking for a fifth-round pick (No. 153) and offering a sixth (No. 176), and the Eagles said yes. They get the guy they wanted and still have their two second-rounders. (Dan Graziano)

QB
6-3
221

Analysis: There was speculation that Tannehill wouldn't make it to No. 8. The Dolphins do the right thing by not trading the farm to move up to No. 3. Miami gets its quarterback of the future to reunite with Dolphins offensive coordinator Mike Sherman. (James Walker)

LB
6-3
242

Analysis: Defensive tackle is a consideration, but Cox is the only sure-fire player at that spot. With him gone, the Panthers go with another low-risk player. Kuechly was exceptionally productive in college and is NFL-ready. He can contribute right away and that's something the Panthers want from this pick. (Pat Yasinskas)

DE
6-1
264

Analysis: Buffalo didn't like its spot at No. 10, and the Jets are hot on Ingram. So the two division rivals worked out a trade. The Jets get the dominant pass-rusher Rex Ryan covets, while the Bills get additional picks in the third, fifth and sixth rounds (Nos. 77, 154, 187). (James Walker)

G
6-4
316

Analysis: The Chiefs take a sure thing and an instant starter who strengthens a good offense. (Bill Williamson)

S
6-1
213

Analysis: The Patriots pull off a blockbuster trade with Seattle by giving up their two first-round picks (No. 27 and No. 31) for No. 12 overall and a fourth-rounder (No. 106). The Patriots, who were 31st against the pass, get the best safety in the draft. (James Walker)

WR
6-2
220

Analysis: Floyd is arguably the most promising wide receiver in the draft. He would fit well in the Cardinals' offense while providing better value than the offensive tackles available at this point. (Mike Sando)

Analysis: They wanted Barron, and after the Pats made the bold move to trade up and take him at 12, the Cowboys looked into trading down. But they found no takers, so they took the highest defensive player on their board -- a versatile defensive lineman who deepens them at a key position and allows them to be flexible both with roster decisions and on-field alignments. (Dan Graziano)

CB
6-0
190

Analysis: I didn't get a great haul in the trade. But the Jaguars could consider Gilmore at No. 7 and get him at 15 while picking up a third-rounder and swapping a sixth-rounder for a fifth-rounder. Corner is not the biggest need after the acquisition of Aaron Ross, but no defensive end or receiver screams to be taken at No. 7 or 15. Trade details: Eagles sent 15, 88, 153 to Jaguars for 7, 176. (Paul Kuharsky)

OT
6-5
313

Analysis: Buffalo is happy it moved down six spots and still landed its target in Reiff. Left tackle was a rotating door in Buffalo last season, and Reiff has the ability to be a Day 1 starter to protect Bills quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick's blind side. Trade details: Jets sent 16, 77, 154 and 187 to Bills for 10. (James Walker)

DE
6-5
284

Analysis: Things didn't go as planned in the first half of the draft for the Bengals, who watched guard David DeCastro, safety Mark Barron and cornerback Stephon Gilmore all get taken in the top 15. Defensive end isn't a major need for the Bengals, but it would be hard to resist taking a talent like Coples. Even though Coples has boom-or-bust potential, this is a pick based on best player available. (Jamison Hensley)

Analysis: The Chargers go for the best value on the board and take an impact defensive player. (Bill Williamson)

Analysis: The Bears were forced to play their starting defensive ends, Julius Peppers and Israel Idonije, on more than 80 percent of their plays last season. Depth, and a possible replacement for Idonije, was sorely needed. Mercilus seemed a better fit than Syracuse's Chandler Jones or Alabama's Courtney Upshaw. (Kevin Seifert)

DE
6-2
271

Analysis: Perry provides a combination of size and speed that should round out the Titans' top four defensive ends and solidifies the position for the foreseeable future. If he can get to the quarterback with some regularity as a rookie, Tennessee can make a nice jump on defense. (Paul Kuharsky)

OT
6-5
345

Analysis: The decision here came down to Glenn, wide receiver Kendall Wright or cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick. You could argue wide receiver is the bigger need, but Glenn is the better prospect. After failing to get DeCastro at No. 17, the Bengals turn to Glenn to make an immediate impact at right or left guard. (Jamison Hensley)

OT
6-5
312

Analysis: This was a tough call because the Browns need speed at wide receiver, and Wright and Hill are sitting there. But that's the reason the pick is Martin. There are so many more wide receiver prospects available than offensive tackles, so the Browns have a better chance of seeing a wide receiver fall to them early in the second round. (Jamison Hensley)

CB
6-1
185

Analysis: The Lions' secondary was their weakest link in 2011, and starter Eric Wright signed with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers during free agency. General manager Martin Mayhew isn't a need-based drafter, but the position is a high priority. I had hoped for Kirkpatrick's former teammate Mark Barron here, but he was long gone, and I didn't have the guts to take North Alabama cornerback Janoris Jenkins. (Kevin Seifert)

DT
6-3
346

Analysis: Could the Steelers have envisioned a better draft unfolding than this? Pittsburgh would've been happy with Dont'a Hightower, Courtney Upshaw or even Amini Silatolu. Instead, Poe falls into their laps. He becomes the heir apparent to Casey Hampton. (Jamison Hensley)

DT
6-2
309

Analysis: The Broncos would have pounced on Poe, but Worthy is a highly valued player who fills a huge hole. (Bill Williamson)

G
6-3
314

Analysis: The offensive line was a team strength a year ago, but gone are the right guard (Mike Brisiel) and the right tackle (Eric Winston). Houston loves Wisconsin players, and Zeitler will be ready to be plugged right in. We also thought hard about Bobby Massie and Rueben Randle. (Paul Kuharsky)

DE
6-5
266

Analysis: Trading back was the plan all along. Jones has the length Seattle covets in its players on defense (think Brandon Browner, Richard Sherman, K.J. Wright, Kam Chancellor, etc.). Jones also fills an obvious need for a pass-rushing defensive end. Trade details: Patriots sent 27 and 31 to Seattle for 12 and 106. (Mike Sando)

LB
6-3
260

Analysis: There were a number of possibilities here, but defensive coordinator Dom Capers loves to develop wrinkles off his 3-4 base, and McClellin is said to be versatile. It's possible the Packers could trade down and still get him at the top of the second round. (Kevin Seifert)

DE
6-1
272

Analysis: The Ravens are always looking for pass-rushers, and Upshaw gives them another tone-setter on defense. He replaces Jarret Johnson in Baltimore's base defense and plays opposite Terrell Suggs as an edge rusher in passing situations. Upshaw has drawn comparisons to LaMarr Woodley, so you know he's an AFC North type of player. (Jamison Hensley)

CB
5-10
193
N. Alabama

Analysis: The 49ers face a long list of top quarterbacks this season. They lack glaring needs and should be able to find guard help later in the draft. Coby Fleener was a consideration, but the 49ers like their existing tight ends and could extend Delanie Walker's contract. (Mike Sando)

TE
6-6
247

Analysis: The Seahawks need another tight end after losing John Carlson to the Vikings in free agency. Adding Jones at No. 27 gave them flexibility in this spot. Seattle entered draft week with 19 players from the Pac-12. Fleener would give them 20. Trade details: Patriots sent 27 and 31 to Seattle for 12 and 106. (Mike Sando)

WR
6-4
215

Analysis: The Bills aren't done with a busy day of trading. Buffalo gets back in the first round by swapping a second-rounder and two fourth-rounders with the Giants. Hill is a big-play receiver to pair with Bills starter Steve Johnson. Hill averaged an astounding 29.3 yards per catch last season. Trade details: Giants trade 32 to Buffalo for 41, 105 and 124. (James Walker)

Good morning, and thanks to those who offered well wishes as our family drove back to Washington from California following a visit to see my father-in-law. His health has improved in recent days, and we made it back safely.

Thursday was mostly quiet in the NFC West, save for the Seattle Seahawks' re-signing of linebackers Leroy Hill and Matt McCoy. We're to the point in free agency where most of the re-signings feel more like a matter of when, not if. Players have few attractive options at this point. These will mostly be one-year deals with relatively modest compensation.

Clark Haggans and Vonnie Holliday are two candidates to re-sign with Arizona, for example.

The earlier players sign, the more fully they can participate in voluntary offseason programs. The St. Louis Rams and other teams with new head coaches began their programs on April 2. The other teams can begin Monday.

Darren Urban of azcardinals.com previews the Cardinals' offseason program. Urban: "Quarterback Kevin Kolb will be here. I’ve already gotten a bunch of questions about what Kolb has been doing with teammates. I don’t think it’s been anything yet, but the vast majority of players haven’t yet. That'll change now (the new rules allow QBs to throw to receivers without defenders the next couple of weeks before things morph again.) I don’t know why some question if Kolb will be willing to put in the work this offseason. I expect it, and as I had mentioned before, I think it will help him when it comes to how he plays this season."

Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch updates the Rams' free-agent picture after the team signed former Philadelphia Eagles backup defensive tackle Trevor Laws. Thomas on Jacob Bell, who left the Rams for Cincinnati recently: "Bell spent his first four seasons playing for Jeff Fisher in Tennessee, and for a while hoped to re-sign with the Rams and play for him in St. Louis as well. But the Rams never showed more than lukewarm interest in re-signing Bell, who was athletic and played pretty well in space, but occasionally got overpowered by bigger defenders. It's not clear where Bell will play next since since another Bengals free-agent signee, Travelle Wharton, also is primarily a left guard."

Matt Maiocco of CSNBayArea.com looks at four interior offensive linemen the San Francisco 49ers could consider selecting with the 30th overall choice in the upcoming draft. Wisconsin's Peter Konz, Iowa State's Kelechi Osemele, Midwestern State's Amini Silatolu and Wisconsin's Kevin Zeitler were the four prospects. Maiocco on Silatolu, a player Matt Williamson of Scouts Inc. recently referenced in relation to the 49ers: "He dominated at the NCAA Division II level as a left tackle. He'll be a guard in the NFL. His good feet and willingness to play to the whistle are attributes that make him worthy of a late-first or second-round pick."

Clare Farnsworth of seahawks.com has this to say about Matt McCoy's re-signing with Seattle: "McCoy led the Seahawks with 19 special-teams tackles in 2010, his first season with the team. McCoy, also 29, had three special-teams tackles and also was being used as a situational linebacker last season before having season-ending knee surgery after just four games."

Danny O'Neil of the Seattle Times lists dates and times for the Seahawks' exhibitions, beginning with an Aug. 11 matchup against Matt Hasselbeck and the Tennessee Titans. They also play Denver on Aug. 18, Kansas City on Aug. 24, and Oakland on Aug. 30.

Sifting through 2012 NFL mock drafts

April, 11, 2012
4/11/12
11:48
AM ET
With an assist from Clare Farnsworth, I've put together a chart showing 14 mock draft projections for NFC West teams.

The mocks are arranged by which players the St. Louis Rams were projected to select sixth overall. A couple other mocks fell from consideration because they projected trades, throwing off the comparisons.

A quick look at the player counts per team:
Each selection has the potential to affect subsequent ones, a big factor for mock drafts featuring more than one participant. Our ESPN.com Blog Network mock featured eight participants. The others featured one apiece.

These 14 mocks singled out 19 players for the four NFC West teams. There were five offensive linemen, four defensive end/outside linebacker types, four bigger defensive linemen, four receivers, one linebacker and one cornerback.

Most of the picks filled obvious team needs.

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