NFC West: Nick Perry
Rookie Bruce Irvin, the 15th overall choice in the draft, will start in Clemons' place. Recently signed veteran Ryan Longwell will handle kicking duties for Hauschka.
Those moves led me to compile IR lists for remaining NFC playoff teams. I used the reserve lists at Ourlads.com, which updates its rosters daily.
Joe Barksdale will make his first career NFL start Sunday and will match up against Green Bay Packers outside linebacker Clay Matthews, who has eight sacks this season.
Barksdale replaces the injured Wayne Hunter, who was replacing the injured Rodger Saffold. Hunter, acquired from the New York Jets before the season, missed practice Friday and was named inactive Sunday. A back injury was the culprit.
The Rams will presumably help Barksdale with tight ends, running backs and their game plan. They are also playing with their third-string left guard and second-string center.
Barksdale, Shelley Smith, Robert Turner, Harvey Dahl and Barry Richardson will start. Tim Barnes and Quinn Ojinnaka are the backups. They are the only other healthy linemen on the roster. Teams typically keep seven linemen active for games.
Smith is replacing Ojinnaka, who has struggled. Smith could provide an upgrade in run blocking.
The Packers, meanwhile, will be without receiver Greg Jennings and defensive tackle B.J. Raji. Both were named inactive.
The Rams' inactive list: Austin Davis, Danny Amendola, Terrance Ganaway, Mario Haggan, Matt Conrath, Hunter and Saffold. The Packers' list: Johnny White, Sam Shields, Nick Perry, Greg Van Roten, Jennings and Raji. The Packers have one open roster spot, meaning they could list one fewer player on the inactive list.
Teams can have 46 players active for games under NFL rules.
The Cardinals do have a pretty good idea which players those tackles will have to block in passing situations this season.
The list includes Jared Allen and Jason Babin, who combined for 40 sacks last season while ranking first and third, respectively, in that category. Overall, the Cardinals face nine of the 17 NFL players with at least 10 sacks last season, plus another player, John Abraham, who finished with 9.5. There are also players expected to reach double figures in sacks this season after failing to do so in 2011. Mario Williams and Clay Matthews head that list.
Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic identifies D'Anthony Batiste (left) and rookie Bobby Massie (right) as potential favorites to start at tackle after a triceps injury knocked out left tackle Levi Brown, perhaps for the season.
Batiste, 30, started four games for Atlanta in 2007. Massie, a fourth-round choice, started 29 consecutive games at right tackle to end his career at Mississippi.
The chart shows the Cardinals' 2012 schedule, plus projected top pass-rushers from the left and right sides of each opponent's defense. Those pass-rushers' sack totals from 2011 appear in parenthesis.
"The Cardinals have caught grief over the last few years for not drafting offensive lineman, so this year they go out and draft three," he writes. "Now, they are catching grief for not addressing the outside linebacker position. Why can't this team ever do anything right?"
Mike Sando: I don't know whether the Cardinals are taking significant grief for failing to select an outside linebacker. Let's assume they are, and then let's weigh their perceived needs against known opportunities.
The Cardinals used the 13th overall choice for receiver Michael Floyd when they could have selected Melvin Ingram, who went 18th to San Diego. Whitney Mercilus (26th to Houston) and Nick Perry (28th to Green Bay) were the other projected outside linebackers drafted in the first round by teams running 3-4 defenses. Time will tell whether the Cardinals might have fared better selecting one of those players over Floyd.
Having no second-round choice limited the Cardinals' options in this draft, but drafting an outside linebacker in that round might have been a stretch. Courtney Upshaw, chosen 35th overall by Baltimore, was the only 3-4 outside linebacker chosen in the second round (Miami used a third-round choice, 72nd overall, for Olivier Vernon).
That suggests Arizona, which sent the 51st overall pick to Philadelphia in the Kevin Kolb trade, did not necessarily miss out on pass-rush help in that round.
Vernon was the only 3-4 outside linebacker selected in the third round. Arizona, picking eight spots later, took cornerback Jamell Fleming.
The fourth round did provide an opportunity for the Cardinals to select help at outside linebacker. Arizona was picking 112th overall. Dallas took outside linebacker Kyle Wilber with the 113th pick. Washington took Keenan Robinson at No. 119.
Offensive tackle was clearly the No. 1 need for Arizona, however. The Cardinals' decision to use the 112th choice for tackle Bobby Massie seemed reasonable and almost imperative because the team had not taken an offensive lineman to that point in the draft.
Perhaps things would have been different for Arizona in the fourth round if the team had held onto the 51st overall choice. Tackle Mike Adams, selected 56th overall by Pittsburgh, would have been an option for the Cardinals.
Arizona used its fifth-round choice (151st overall) for another offensive lineman, Senio Kelemete. This again appeared reasonable, although teams did take 3-4 outside linebackers among the next 14 picks.
The Cardinals already have young pass-rushing prospects in Sam Acho and O'Brien Schofield. If they were going to select an outside linebacker, they arguably needed to get a true difference maker. Ingram, Mercilus and Perry would have been the options, but drafting one of them would have meant passing on Floyd.
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.
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
Analysis: The Chiefs take a sure thing and an instant starter who strengthens a good offense. (Bill Williamson)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
Analysis: The Broncos would have pounced on Poe, but Worthy is a highly valued player who fills a huge hole. (Bill Williamson)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
The chart below shows new projections from reporters covering the Seattle Seahawks, San Francisco 49ers and St. Louis Rams.
All three have the Rams and Seahawks drafting for defense. They all have the Arizona Cardinals drafting an offensive lineman and the 49ers drafting a pass-catcher of some sort.
I'll be participating in a live mock draft Monday at 1 p.m. ET, with trades permitted. Details to come.
Moving along ...
Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic checks in with Ken Whisenhunt and Rod Graves regarding the Cardinals' draft options. Somers: "Addressing the offensive line in the first round makes considerable sense. The Cardinals haven't drafted a lineman the past two seasons. They haven't taken one above the fifth round since selecting Brown fifth overall in 2007. They have tried to plug holes with veterans at the end of their careers (guard Alan Faneca) and low-round picks they hoped would develop (right tackle Brandon Keith). The results have been mixed at best."
Also from Somers: Whisenhunt points to continuity with Graves and personnel director Steve Keim as keys to success in the draft.
Darren Urban of azcardinals.com looks at whether the Arizona Cardinals need a stronger No. 2 receiver to pair with Larry Fitzgerald. Urban: "The Cardinals went to a Super Bowl with Anquan Boldin alongside Larry Fitzgerald, but one of the reasons the Cards were eventually comfortable with dealing Boldin was the success Fitzgerald and the passing game had even in games Boldin missed with injury." Noted: Kurt Warner was the constant.
Eric D. Williams of the Tacoma News Tribune has the Seahawks selecting Alabama inside linebacker Dont'a Hightower in his 2012 first-round mock draft. Williams: "Hawks might move down to get Hightower, but he fills an obvious need and will be the team's quarterback on defense for the next 10 years."
Danny O'Neil of the Seattle Times looks at the Seahawks' need for a linebacker, noting that general manager John Schneider says this draft has more good ones than the previous draft offered. Schneider: "It's completely different than it was last year. There's good numbers up there." Noted: Value could lead the Seahawks to draft a linebacker in the first round, but if there are more to be found throughout the draft, the team could have reason to draft early at a position featuring fewer talented prospects.
Dave Boling of the Tacoma News Tribune explains why he thinks Melvin Ingram might have more appeal to the Seahawks than Luke Kuechly. Boling: "Carroll and his staff like to find players with unique skills and then develop ways to work them into a scheme. While Kuechly looks to be a conventional middle linebacker type, Ingram could be more of a fun toy for Carroll."
Brock Huard of 710ESPN Seattle makes two observations after attending a charity event featuring most of the team: Team chemistry appears strong, and the Seahawks have become a much bigger team physically.
Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch projects LSU cornerback Morris Claiborne to the Rams with the sixth overall pick after teams picking among the top five selected Justin Blackmon and Trent Richardson, among others.
Also from Thomas: The Rams need help at defensive tackle, but none of the top three prospects appears worthy of the sixth overall choice. Thomas: "In a deep defensive tackle class, there should be multiple options for the Rams at the top of the second round and perhaps even at the top of the third."
More from Thomas: a closer look at Claiborne and the cornerbacks. Thomas: "From a pure coverage standpoint, there are those who feel Claiborne is a significantly better prospect than his much-ballyhooed predecessor at LSU, Patrick Peterson, who went No. 5 overall in the 2011 draft to Arizona."
More yet from Thomas: New Rams linebacker Jo-Lonn Dunbar has good things to say about Gregg Williams.
Pat Yasinskas of ESPN.com says HBO has interest in the Baltimore Ravens and San Francisco 49ers as "Hard Knocks" alternatives to the Atlanta Falcons, who declined to participate. Noted: Tough to envision the 49ers accepting. Their football leadership has sought to close ranks.
Matt Maiocco of CSNBayArea.com passes along thoughts from 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh on GM Trent Baalke's suggestion the team has one player in mind for the 30th overall choice. Maiocco: "I think Trent's trying to be dramatic with you guys -- build the drama. There's several -- there's a lot of good guys. There are a lot of good guys we'd love to have at that pick. Having been through this once, most of the guys you recognize as great football players are going to be playing against you. That's just the fact of business. But getting the right guy, the right fit for our team, is what we're all focused on."
Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee has the 49ers drafting receiver Stephen Hill with the 30th pick.
Gwen Knapp of the San Francisco Chronicle looks at history precipitating the 49ers' impending stadium move from San Francisco to Santa Clara.
Eric Branch of the San Francisco Chronicle says new 49ers running back Brandon Jacobs has great speed -- on the highway.
Phil Barber of the Santa Rosa Press-Democrat outlines five positions to watch in the draft for San Francisco.
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:
- St. Louis Rams: receiver Justin Blackmon 7, cornerback Morris Claiborne 3, defensive tackle Fletcher Cox 3, tackle Matt Kalil 1.
- Seattle Seahawks: linebacker Luke Kuechly 7, defensive end Quinton Coples 5, Cox 1, defensive end Nick Perry 1.
- Arizona Cardinals: outside linebacker Melvin Ingram 4, guard Cordy Glenn 3, receiver Michael Floyd 2, tackle Riley Reiff, 2, tackle Jonathan Martin 1, Blackmon 1, outside linebacker Courtney Upshaw 1.
- San Francisco 49ers: guard Kevin Zeitler 4, receiver Stephen Hill 3, defensive tackle Dontari Poe 2, tight end Coby Fleener 1, receiver Kendall Wright 1, defensive lineman Chandler Jones 1, defensive lineman Jerel Worthy 1, Glenn 1.
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.
Adam Snyder is out, having signed with Arizona. Chilo Rachal appears to be out, having reached free agency without the 49ers showing much interest in him. Daniel Kilgore remains, but he remains a developmental player entering his second NFL season.
What about swing tackle Alex Boone?
Matt Maiocco of CSNBayArea.com says the 49ers are expected to give Boone a shot at the job. Former NFL center LeCharles Bentley, who helps train Boone during the offseason, had this to say about the idea: "Honestly, in their scheme, guards are a dime a dozen. A good young offensive tackle is such a premium. It would be a waste of ability. .. But if he's one of the five best, yeah, get him on the field." Noted: The 49ers paid more than a dime for left guard Mike Iupati, a first-round choice in 2010, the year before Jim Harbaugh arrived as the 49ers' head coach. Boone could, in theory, remain a backup option at tackle even while playing guard. At 6-foot-8 and 300 pounds, however, Boone looks like a tackle, not a guard. Bentley thinks the team should move right tackle Anthony Davis to guard, but there are no indications the 49ers plan to head in that direction.
Also from Maiocco: lists players scheduled to attend the 49ers' pro day for local prospects.
Eric Branch of the San Francisco Chronicle says the 49ers have shown interest in tight end Andre Hardy, a college basketball player.
Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee says the 49ers made little apparent effort to keep safety Madieu Williams, who reached agreement on a contract with the Washington Redskins. Noted: The 49ers signed Williams last offseason while Dashon Goldson remained a free agent. They then signed Goldson to a one-year deal. They had less need for Williams as an insurance policy with the franchise tag restricting Goldson this offseason.
Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch points during a recent chat to Jeff Fisher's history in suggesting the Rams probably will not select guard David DeCastro with the sixth overall choice. What if Matt Kalil were available? Thomas: "No. 6 is too high for DeCastro. Plus, I think it's been pretty well established that Fisher would rather not taken an offensive lineman in the first round. He didn't do it once in 16 full seasons with Houston/Tennessee. So it'll be very interesting if Kalil's there at No. 6, as was the case in the P-D's latest mock draft from last Sunday. Do the Rams take him or trade down?"
Also from Thomas: The Rams might need to draft a punter after watching Donnie Jones sign with the Houston Texans.
Clare Farnsworth of seahawks.com shares what various mock drafts are projecting for Seattle in the first round this year. Luke Kuechly showed up four times and Quinton Coples twice. Nick Perry and Fletcher Cox each showed up once. Pat Kirwan of CBSSports.com: "The Seahawks could go in a few directions at this spot, but Kuechly makes the most sense to me to QB Pete Carroll’s defense. As Carroll said to me last week, linebackers in free agency moved off the board slowly because there are some very interesting linebackers in the draft."
Also from Farnsworth: Ricardo Lockette's speed overshadows other parts of the receiver's game.
Danny O'Neil of the Seattle Times has this to say about new Seahawks guard Deuce Lutui: "Lutui was signed to a one-year deal. That's not a long-term investment. Rather, it's an opportunity for Lutui to play his way back into position to earn a longer-term contract, going to a team coached by a man he's familiar with. For Seattle, the upside is that if Lutui is motivated and in shape, the Seahawks are getting a former second-round draft pick who started for five seasons at a bargain of a price."
Brady Henderson of 710ESPN Seattle passes along Adam Schefter's note about former 49ers and Saints nose tackle Aubrayo Franklin paying a free-agent visit to the Seahawks. Noted: Former 49ers general manager Scot McCloughan works for the Seahawks now, giving Seattle a feel for Franklin.
Darren Urban of azcardinals.com has details on Adrian Wilson's cameo appearance on "Hawaii Five-O" Monday night. Wilson was a prison guard on the show. Urban: "The scene was shot while Wilson was in Hawaii recently, although his spot in the show was somewhat of a fluke. One of his publicists, Carrie Carnie, got to talking to one of the producers of the show on an airline flight. Turned out the producer was a fan of Wilson’s and the role was created. It's not exactly Wilson’s arena, though. While the actual scene was being shot, it was fun, he said. But mostly, 'there was a lot of time in between shots, just waiting around.' "
Also from Urban: Cardinals guard Chris Stewart put on hold his pursuit of a law degree to play in the NFL. Urban: "He got his bachelor’s degree in history and political science in just three years at Notre Dame, and after redshirting his freshman year on the football field, he ended up with two years of football eligibility left with every option open for classes. The first year he took grad school courses trying to find his life’s direction, including some law courses. The next year -- his senior year on the football field -- he decided to work out the logistics, take the LSAT, and enter Notre Dame’s law school."
The NFL's transformation into a pass-happy league has sent teams scrambling for ways to keep up defensively.
Perhaps that explains why defensive linemen and 3-4 outside linebacker types dominated ESPN.com's first NFL Blog Network mock draft for 2012.
AFC West blogger Bill Williamson snapped up three of them for the division he covers. Six other defensive linemen and 3-4 outside linebackers found homes elsewhere in the first round.
Offensive linemen (seven), defensive backs (five) and wide receivers (five) accounted for most of the remaining first-round selections.
In keeping with the pass-oriented theme, Alabama's Trent Richardson was the lone running back selected, landing in Cleveland with the fourth overall choice.
And, of course, we kicked off the mock with a couple of quarterbacks.
Analysis: They look at Luck and see a young guy who reminds them of the quarterback the franchise selected first overall in 1998. (Paul Kuharsky)
Analysis: Not much mystery here. The Redskins traded three first-round picks and a second-round pick to get to this spot, from which they believe they're taking their next franchise quarterback. The only way they don't take Griffin here is if the Colts take him, in which case the Redskins will happily take Luck. (Dan Graziano)
Analysis: The Vikings would love to trade down a few spots, presumably with a team that wants to draft Texas A&M quarterback Ryan Tannehill. But barring a deal, Kalil is the best player remaining on the board and the Vikings just so happen to need a long-term starter at left tackle. We're not buying (yet) any of general manager Rick Spielman's posturing about LSU cornerback Morris Claiborne. (Kevin Seifert)
Analysis: Not buying the speculation that the Browns will take Texas A&M QB Ryan Tannehill here. The Browns tipped their hand when coach Pat Shurmur and general manager Tom Heckert skipped Tannehill's pro day to watch Richardson, the draft's only elite running back who can be the centerpiece of Cleveland's offense. (Jamison Hensley)
Analysis: The Bucs could be considering Richardson and he's a possibility if he stays on the board. But Claiborne is the top cornerback in this draft. The Bucs need a long-term replacement for veteran Ronde Barber and could need a short-term replacement for Aqib Talib, who could face prison time or a league suspension. (Pat Yasinskas)
Analysis: The Rams are eager to find weapons for quarterback Sam Bradford. They had a tough time addressing that area during free agency despite an aggressive approach that led to deals with Cortland Finnegan, Scott Wells and others. The last time the Rams drafted a WR sixth overall, they landed Torry Holt. (Mike Sando)
Analysis: If he catches on quickly and can have an impact as a pass-rusher, Ingram can be the final piece for a very good defense. (Paul Kuharsky)
Analysis: Tannehill shot up the draft boards fast and may be a tad overrated at No. 8. But Miami needs a quarterback of the future in the worst way, and this is the best of what's left. Both Matt Moore and David Garrard have one year left on their contracts, leaving it open for Tannehill to take over in 2013. (James Walker)
Analysis: There's a common assumption the Panthers are locked in on getting a defensive tackle. That could end up happening. But they're open to all options and Kuechly might be the best player available. This team needs help anywhere it can add it on defense. (Pat Yasinskas)
Analysis: Going receiver here is the sexy pick. But getting an offensive tackle to protect QB Ryan Fitzpatrick's blind side is the smart pick. Reiff received great coaching at Iowa, which has become Offensive Tackle U. He closes Buffalo's revolving door at left tackle for the foreseeable future. (James Walker)
Analysis: The Chiefs would be thrilled to see Poe on the board at 11. He is the best player available who fits their biggest need. Poe has a chance to be a dynamic player on a defense full of young talent. (Bill Williamson)
Analysis: The Seahawks ranked fifth in takeaways, seventh in points allowed and ninth in yards allowed last season, but their pass rush was lacking. Coples would give them a badly needed pass-rusher opposite Chris Clemons, who had 11 of the team's 33 sacks during the 2011 season. Linebacker is another need position. (Mike Sando)
Analysis: The Cardinals could also use an offensive tackle and possibly another receiver. Michael Floyd was a consideration here. But in Upshaw, the team would be targeting a potential No. 1 pass-rusher, providing welcome support for promising youngsters Sam Acho and O'Brien Schofield. The Cardinals have no second-round pick, and pass-rush help is at a premium. (Mike Sando)
Analysis: They were hoping Upshaw would fall to them, as he'd upgrade the pass rush instantly and could make Anthony Spencer expendable before long. But with Upshaw gone one pick before, the Cowboys stick with the national champs and take a safety to upgrade their biggest 2011 weakness: the secondary. (Dan Graziano)
Analysis: Michael Brockers was tempting, but the pick here is Cox because he provides a pass rush from the interior of the defensive line right away and could be more NFL-ready than Brockers at this point. The Eagles are a win-now team that relies on its defensive line to pressure the passer, and Cox fits nicely into their interior line rotation. (Dan Graziano)
Analysis: The Jets would like to go defense here under head coach Rex Ryan. But with Alabama DE/OLB Courtney Upshaw and safety Mark Barron both off the board, drafting Floyd is a good fallback option. Floyd has a chance to start from Day 1 opposite Santonio Holmes and gives quarterback Mark Sanchez a much-needed weapon. (James Walker)
Analysis: The Bengals need a starting right guard, and DeCastro is the best guard in the draft. Smart and fundamentally sound, DeCastro is one of the safest picks this year and would extend the Bengals' recent good fortune in the draft. (Jamison Hensley)
Analysis: Mercilus is the best pass-rusher on the board at No. 18 and the Chargers would be happy to take him. He could be a slight over-draft, but he has big league potential. (Bill Williamson)
Analysis: Coach Lovie Smith expressed confidence last week in left tackle J'Marcus Webb, but rarely will you hear a coach say otherwise until he has an upgraded replacement. Webb was penalized 15 times last season and gave up 12 sacks, according to Pro Football Focus. Martin would provide an upgrade at a key position. (Kevin Seifert)
Analysis: They can go many different directions, but Kamerion Wimbley doesn't solve their pass-rush issues by himself, and Perry can help. (Paul Kuharsky)
Analysis: Cincinnati has done a great job in bolstering the depth at cornerback in free agency, signing Jason Allen and Adam Jones. But the Bengals, who eventually need to replace veteran Nate Clements, can't pass on the second-best cornerback falling into their laps. (Jamison Hensley)
Analysis: The Browns need speed and a deep threat. Look no further than Hill, who averaged 29.3 yards per catch last season (albeit 28 receptions) and ran faster than Baylor's Kendall Wright at the NFL combine. (Jamison Hensley)
Analysis: ESPN.com colleagues chose Gilmore in my absence based on an obvious need the Lions have at cornerback. Starter Eric Wright departed via free agency, and the Lions' pass defense collapsed in the second half of 2011. General manager Martin Mayhew doesn't draft for need, but Gilmore would address a big one. (Kevin Seifert)
Analysis: Inside linebacker is a big need for the Steelers after they released James Farrior. Hightower excelled in Alabama's 3-4 defense and was the unquestioned leader on the nation's top defense. Seems like a perfect fit. (Jamison Hensley)
Analysis: The Broncos would gladly snag Brockers. Defensive tackle is, by far, their most pressing need, and the versatile Brockers is a good value at No. 25. (Bill Williamson)
Analysis: Randle's size will make him a nice target for Matt Schaub and the Texans, and he brings a lot of upside to an offense that's already quite good. (Paul Kuharsky)
Analysis: The Patriots need athleticism on defense and the ability to rush the passer from the outside. Branch can help replace the combined 20 sacks New England lost this offseason with the departures of DEs Mark Anderson and Andre Carter. (James Walker)
Analysis: In my absence, ESPN.com colleagues chose Konz, the draft's top center, knowing that veteran Jeff Saturday is likely a one-year bridge from departed starter Scott Wells. General manager Ted Thompson will almost certainly draft a center, but he might wait until a later round knowing he has 2012 insurance in Saturday. (Kevin Seifert)
Analysis: The Ravens have a history of top prospects falling to them in the first round. Their luck would continue with Glenn, an athletic and versatile blocker who would start immediately at left guard. (Jamison Hensley)
Analysis: Receiver was the team's obvious top need heading into free agency. Adding Randy Moss and Mario Manningham bought some flexibility, but Moss represents a short-term investment. The 49ers could use another young receiver to grow with Alex Smith and, eventually, Colin Kaepernick. (Mike Sando)
Analysis: The Patriots were surprised such a top-end talent is available at No. 31. Sure, Jenkins comes with some character concerns. But New England's strong locker-room leadership will make sure it gets the best out of Jenkins, who has the physical ability to develop into a legit No. 1 corner. (James Walker)
Analysis: This was a tough call, because Syracuse defensive end Chandler Jones just looks so much like a Giants pick. He's a super-athletic, high-upside pass-rusher from Tom Coughlin's alma mater. I mean, if Adams weren't on the board, this would have been a slam dunk. And the Giants still could go this way, or with Nebraska LB Lavonte David or Stanford TE Coby Fleener. But there's nothing wrong with Adams' upside potential, either. He becomes the Giants' starting right tackle right away, and if Will Beatty doesn't pan out, Adams has the ability to someday play on the left side. (Dan Graziano)
They succeeded in pushing back an offseason that had encroached on their recovery time as teams sought competitive advantages through year-round preparation.
Those victories have come at a price in some situations, however. This would be a perfect time for St. Louis Rams quarterback Sam Bradford and other young quarterbacks to spend time with their coaching staffs, but rules prevent that from happening until deep into April. Even Bradford's rehab from an ankle injury became a solo endeavor at times.
Is that what is best for Bradford's career? Is that the path he would choose if given a choice in the matter? It's still only March 29, so perhaps Bradford and other young quarterbacks still have plenty of time. It just seems counter-productive for an outright ban to prevent players from getting in the work some of them would surely welcome.
Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says Bradford recovered from his ankle injury about a month ago, according to coach Jeff Fisher. Fisher: "Now had it been during the season, they probably would've taken a different approach to the rehab. But they felt the best thing for him was to just shut it down. My understanding is that as part of his rehab, he has been doing his drops and sets, and throwing some balls. But we're not permitted to be a part of that."
Also from Thomas: The timing of the NFL's announcement regarding the bounty-related punishments put the Rams and Saints in a difficult spot, perhaps by design. Thomas: "Factor in also the date -- March 2 -- when the NFL released the findings of its investigation. League bylaws prohibit teams from seeking permission to interview a coach under contract with another team after March 1. ... As a result, if Fisher wants to hire a Williams replacement this season, it has to be someone currently out of the league, severely limiting the pool of potential candidates."
Bernie Miklasz of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch offers thoughts on Rams owner Stan Kroenke's failed bid to purchase the Los Angeles Dodgers. Miklasz: "Kroenke can still try to move the Rams. Unless he can make a deal to extend the lease at the Edward Jones Dome, Stan the Businessman almost certainly will have an escape clause to leave St. Louis after the 2014 season. ... I'm still among the seven or eight people in St. Louis who believe Kroenke will stay. As one NFL owner told me recently, Kroenke still has one of the best lease arrangements in the NFL. So what's the problem? Kroenke is a cold guy, but he isn't a bad guy. Stan just can't help himself; tough negotiations, and the art of the deal, excite him. So he'll push hard to get the necessary stadium improvements here." Noted: Kroenke is most likely going to want a new stadium, not a refurbished Edward Jones Dome. That is the likely end game. The dome's design is outdated.
Eric Branch of the San Francisco Chronicle looks into Brandon Jacobs' reputation as a soft runner. Jerry Rice: "I like Brandon Jacobs, but I feel like Brandon Jacobs is a little bit soft. He can’t get away from a defender. This guy is 265 and it upsets me when I see him get tackled by a guy that’s like 190 or 200 pounds."
Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee says Pro Football Weekly draft analyst Nolan Nawrocki thinks the 49ers can find a receiver after the first round. Nawrocki: "You can find them anywhere throughout this draft, so I don't know if they should reach for one that early."
Clare Farnsworth of seahawks.com checks in with former center Blair Bush, now 55 and a financial analyst. Farnsworth: "Bush anchored the Seahawks’ line from 1983-88, starting 78 games on teams that averaged 9.5 victories, played in the AFC Championship game (1983), won the team’s first division title (1988) and advanced to the playoffs four times (1983, 1984, 1987 and 1988)."
Danny O'Neil of the Seattle Times links to a photo gallery from the movie set where Marshawn Lynch is working this week. O'Neil: "Lee Majors is in it. So is Edward Furlong, aka the young John Conner from 'T2' who is not so young anymore. And then there's Lynch, whose role is detailed as 'Massive Goon.' He's a security guard for the bad guy, and while he does have a line, the script also calls for him to get aced during a bank robbery before he even gets in the building."
Brock Huard of 710ESPN Seattle sees the Seahawks addressing linebacker and pass-rusher early in the draft. Huard: "Todd McShay's latest mock draft would be a dream scenario with a prototypical pass-rusher with the length and strength Carroll desires in UNC's Quinton Coples, and the rare burst and acceleration at linebacker with Cal's Mychal Kendricks. However, the mock draft script could be flipped with the draft's most dynamic and instinctive linebacker at No. 12 with Luke Kuechly going first, and at No. 43 a pass-rusher such as USC's Nick Perry or Marshall's Vinny Curry."
Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic quotes Ken Whisenhunt and analyst Daryl Johnston on the Cardinals' quarterback situation. Johnston on whether Kevin Kolb or John Skelton is the best choice: "Kevin Kolb. You have the financial commitment to him. The big thing that happened to Kevin last year is the fact that he didn’t have the offseason to work in, and it was a big change from his style of offense from Philadelphia to Arizona. So he struggled at times. You look at John Skelton did and you look at the record and you say, 'How can you pick Kevin Kolb? [Skelton] has a better win-loss record and football is all about winning.' They won with fewer points per game with a higher turnover ratio, so there are some other things that go there."
Darren Urban of azcardinals.com checks in with Larry Fitzgerald, who is working with Anquan Boldin to fight the effects of drought and famine in Ethiopia. Fitzgerald: "There are so many needs here, basic ones to us back home. Just having clean drinking water or having water at all, (which is) something we never even think about at home. You turn the faucet on and you get clean drinkable water. (Here there is) no water for the livestock who plow the fields for vegetables and food. It’s an ugly cycle."