NFC West: Phillip Adams

Seahawks sign CB Phillip Adams

March, 27, 2014
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The Seahawks have added some depth in the secondary by signing free-agent cornerback Phillip Adams to a one-year deal, NFL.com reported Thursday evening

Adams (5-foot-11, 195 pounds) spent the past two seasons with the Oakland Raiders, but he was on the Seahawks' roster in 2011, playing in one game. He played college football at South Carolina State and was a seventh-round draft choice by San Francisco in 2010.

Adams, 25, played in all 16 games for Oakland last year, finishing with 30 tackles and one fumble recovery.
Seattle Seahawks coach Pete Carroll cited interesting evidence Monday regarding the team's roster strength. Even the team's castoffs are highly valued around the NFL, he said, and a check of the waiver wire would confirm it.

Was this true? If so, what might it mean? I'll offer some thoughts on that. First, though, let's consider what Carroll said during his interview with 710ESPN Seattle.

"We have had more players claimed [off waivers] than any other team in the NFL over the last three years by a pretty good number," Carroll said. "That is a statement of who you have on your team and that is including the first year, when nobody wanted our guys. There will be teams that wanted our guys coming off this roster, too. We will have a very, very difficult time organizing the 53 this year."

Jason Vida of ESPN Stats & Information confirmed Carroll's information regarding waiver claims. A league-high 25 players waived by Seattle since 2010 were subsequently awarded to other teams. Other players were claimed but never awarded because the claiming team had placed a higher priority on other players it was seeking within the same waiver cycle.

So, Carroll was right. But was he correct in tying the league-leading number to overall roster strength? That question is tougher to answer.

In looking at the chart, we do not necessarily see high correlation between players awarded and perceived overall roster strength.

San Francisco and Baltimore rank below Oakland in this category, for example. The 49ers' roster has been as strong or stronger than the Seahawks' roster, by most accounts, but Seattle holds a 25-6 lead in released players awarded to other teams on waivers. Is that meaningful? Would anyone rank the St. Louis Rams, with 18 waived players awarded to other teams, over the 49ers in overall roster strength since 2010?

Of course, having a waived player claimed by another team and awarded to that team could in some cases reflect a personnel mistake. Last year, for example, the Seahawks kept veteran corner Marcus Trufant on their roster at the expense of Phillip Adams, who wound up contributing to the Oakland Raiders. Good move?

The 25 former Seattle players awarded to other teams since 2010 did not go on to stardom elsewhere. And there were actually more Seattle castoffs awarded to other teams in 2010 (10), when the team was rebuilding, than there were in 2011 (four), 2012 (eight) or to this point in 2013 (three).

The overall number (25) indeed marks a dramatic increase from the three seasons before Carroll and general manager John Schneider arrived in Seattle. The number was five over that span. But the team's priorities obviously changed when the front office and coaching staff turned over simultaneously after the 2009 season.

The bottom line: The Seahawks have made an unusually high number of overall roster moves in the past few seasons. They have continually churned their roster. A team waiving players more frequently should have a higher total number of players awarded to other teams via waiver claims. This could explain why the Seahawks and even the Rams rank higher in the chart than the 49ers or Ravens. San Francisco and Baltimore were ahead of these teams in the roster building process, so they did not churn as vigorously. As a team gets better, the number of released players awarded to others via waivers could fall even as the roster decisions become more difficult.
Pete Carroll, Jim Harbaugh Ric Tapia/Icon SMIPete Carroll's Seahawks and Jim Harbaugh's 49ers have continued their rivalry into the offseason.
The 2012 battle for NFC West supremacy between the San Francisco 49ers' and Seattle Seahawks' has turned into a perceived battle this offseason.

"It just feels like the Seahawks make a move, then the Niners make a move," former NFL quarterback Damon Huard said Wednesday during our conversation on 710 ESPN Seattle. "The Seahawks sign Percy Harvin, then the Niners go get Anquan Boldin. The Niners just signed Nnamdi Asomugha, they signed Colt McCoy, and now it's the Seahawks' turn to sign a quarterback. It really feels like this competition that was so fun to watch last fall has carried over into the offseason between the Niners and the Seahawks."

That's what it feels like from this angle, too. So, when ESPN's Bill Polian listed 49ers general manager Trent Baalke among his top six executives Insider without a mention of Seattle counterpart John Schneider, I knew some Seahawks fans would take offense.

"Schneider should be on there," SamW9801 wrote in commenting on the Polian piece.

I'm going to ratchet up the discussion with an assist from Tony Villiotti of draftmetrics.com. Tony identified ranges of picks by how frequently teams have found five-year starters within those ranges.

Using those general ranges, displayed at right, I've put together a chart at the bottom of this item comparing the 49ers' and Seahawks' draft choices since 2010.

Baalke took over the 49ers' draft room roughly a month before the 2010 draft. Schneider became the Seahawks' GM that offseason. The 49ers then underwent a coaching change after the 2010 season, at which point Baalke assumed the GM title officially. We might cut Baalke some slack for selecting Taylor Mays, a player then-coach Mike Singletary valued. There were surely other times when both GMs followed their coaches' input, for better or worse.

Seattle has drafted 28 players during this period, three more than San Francisco has drafted. The Seahawks had more to work with from a qualitative point as well. Their median choice was No. 130 overall, compared to No. 165 for the 49ers.

It's pretty clear both teams know what they are doing in the draft.

Aldon Smith, Anthony Davis, Mike Iupati and NaVorro Bowman have earned Pro Bowl and/or All-Pro honors for the 49ers. Russell Okung, Earl Thomas, Russell Wilson, Kam Chancellor and Richard Sherman have done so for the Seahawks.

Both teams have found franchise quarterbacks after the first round. Colin Kaepernick was chosen 36th overall in 2011. Wilson went to Seattle at No. 75 last year.

Neither team has missed in that first category, which includes players taken among the top 13 overall picks. Smith and Okung are elite players at premium positions.

Both teams have unanswered questions in that 14-40 range. The 49ers are waiting on receiver A.J. Jenkins to produce. The Seahawks haven't gotten much from guard James Carpenter. But in Iupati and Thomas, the 49ers and Seahawks, respectively, found players among the very best at their positions. Kaepernick's selection puts this group over the top for San Francisco. Seattle got eight sacks from Bruce Irvin as a rookie in 2012, so the Seahawks aren't far behind. It's just impossible to overlook the value a franchise quarterback provides.

Seattle has the edge in the 41-66 range. Mays is long gone from the 49ers. That leaves LaMichael James for the 49ers against Bobby Wagner and Golden Tate for Seattle. Wagner was an instant starter at middle linebacker and a three-down player who commanded consideration for defensive rookie of the year. Tate blossomed with Wilson at quarterback.

The Seahawks also have an edge in that 67-86 range, having selected Wilson.

Seattle holds a 7-3 lead in number of picks used between the 87th and 149th choices, a range producing five-year starters 16 percent of the time, according to Villiotti.

Both teams used picks in that range for players whose injury situations dragged down their draft status: Joe Looney in San Francisco, Walter Thurmond in Seattle. Both teams found starting linebackers in this range: Bowman to the 49ers, K.J. Wright to the Seahawks. Both teams found developmental running backs in that range: Kendall Hunter to the 49ers, Robert Turbin to the Seahawks. Both teams found Pro Bowl players: Bowman in San Francisco, Chancellor in Seattle.

Sherman, arguably the NFL's best cornerback, gives Seattle an edge in the 150 through 189 range of picks. Both teams found backup tight ends there. Anthony Dixon (49ers) and Jeremy Lane (Seahawks) have the potential to expand their roles.

The 49ers found starting fullback Bruce Miller in the final pick range, which runs from 190 to the end of the draft. Seattle found a projected starting guard there in J.R. Sweezy. Malcolm Smith is a candidate to start at linebacker for Seattle. Miller and Sweezy both played defense in college. Miller already has successfully transitioned to offense. Seattle believes Sweezy will do the same.

Summing it up: Both teams can feel good about their draft performance in the past three seasons. I doubt either team would trade its picks for the other team's. That makes sense. Teams draft the players they like best. The 49ers have six projected 2013 starters to show for their choices. The number is eight for the Seahawks, not counting Irvin or Tate. Seattle has had more choices and higher choices, and more openings in the lineup to accommodate those players. I think that shows in the results.

NaVorro Bowman has joined Daryl Washington and James Laurinaitis as NFC West inside linebackers with new contract extensions in 2012.

The San Francisco 49ers announced a five-year deal with Bowman after ESPN's Adam Schefter tweeted that an agreement would be imminent. Bowman, who earned All-Pro honors as a first-year starter in 2011, is now signed through 2018.

This is fantastic news for 49ers fans fearful the team might not find the resources to keep two stars at inside linebacker. Perennial Pro Bowl choice Patrick Willis already received a big-money deal. Getting Bowman's deal done now, while he had another year on his contract, surely allowed San Francisco to get better value. Bowman, meanwhile, gets long-term security earlier than most players can command a lucrative second contract.

The 49ers have done a good job identifying their best players and extending those players' contracts. Left tackle Joe Staley, tight end Vernon Davis and Willis are among the players San Francisco retained in advance of free agency. Those players were first-round draft choices. Bowman's case was a little different because he was a third-round pick and therefore had not received money even close to commensurate with his contributions.

With Bowman signed, free safety Dashon Goldson stands out as the one highly productive player with an uncertain future. Goldson earned Pro Bowl honors in 2011 while playing on a one-year deal. The team named him its franchise player for 2012. That move gave Goldson a raise to $6.2 million. The team could use the tag on Goldson again for a 20 percent raise.

Bowman's deal comes two-plus months after Washington (Arizona Cardinals) and Laurinaitis (St. Louis Rams) reached extensions. Laurinaitis was a second-round choice in 2009. Washington was a second-rounder in 2010.

Bowman is part of a 2010 49ers draft class featuring Anthony Davis, Mike Iupati, Anthony Dixon and Kyle Williams. Taylor Mays, Nate Byham and Phillip Adams were also part of that group.

2012 NFC West practice squad eligibility

September, 1, 2012
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NFL teams can begin forming practice squads once eligible players clear waivers Saturday.

A look at which players released by NFC West teams have eligibility:

Arizona Cardinals

Eligible: Crezdon Butler, Antonio Coleman, Blake Gideon, Ricky Lumpkin, Colin Parker, Larry Parker, Steve Skelton, Quan Sturdivant, Everrette Thompson, Martell Webb, Scott Wedige, Brandon Williams, Isaiah Williams, D.J. Williams.

Not eligible: DeMarco Sampson, Alfonso Smith, Ronald Talley, Stephen Williams, Clark Haggans, Russ Hochstein

St. Louis Rams

Eligible: Cornell Banks, Tim Barnes, Tom Brandstater, Mason Brodine, Aaron Brown, Sammy Brown, Kendric Burney, Ben Guidugli, Cory Harkey, T-Bob Hebert, Jamaar Jarrett, Nick Johnson, Joe Long, Deangelo Peterson, Chase Reynolds, Scott Smith

Not eligible: Vernon Gholston, Bryan Mattison, Jose Valdez, Kellen Clemens, Ovie Mughelli

San Francisco 49ers

Eligible: Derek Hall, Joe Holland, Tony Jerod-Eddie, Cam Johnson, Matthew Masifilo, Anthony Mosley, Kyle Nelson, Al Netter, Chris Owusu, Nathan Palmer, Mike Person, Konrad Reuland, Kenny Rowe, Michael Thomas, Kenny Wiggins, Michael Wilhoite

Not eligible: Eric Bakhtiari, Ikaika Alama-Francis, Rock Cartwright, Josh Johnson, Brett Swain

Seattle Seahawks

Eligible: Pierre Allen, Allen Bradford, Kris Durham, Cooper Helfet, Rishaw Johnson, Jermaine Kearse, Kyle Knox, Cordarro Law, Pep Levingston, Ricardo Lockette, Sean McGrath, Kris O'Dowd, Josh Portis, DeShawn Shead, Vai Taua, Korey Toomer, Lavasier Tuinei

Not eligible: Phillip Adams, Deon Butler, Paul Fanaika

Note on eligibility

Straight from the collective bargaining agreement:
"The Practice Squad shall consist of the following players, provided that they have not served more than two previous seasons on a Practice Squad:
  • "players who do not have an Accrued Season of NFL experience;
  • "free agent players who were on the Active List for fewer than nine regular season games during their only Accrued Season(s).

"An otherwise eligible player may be a Practice Squad player for a third season only if the Club by which he is employed that season has at least 53 players on its Active/Inactive List during the entire period of his employment.

"A player shall be deemed to have served on a Practice Squad in a season if he has passed the club's physical and been a member of the club's Practice Squad for at least three regular season or postseason games during his first two Practice Squad seasons, and for at least one regular season or postseason game during his third Practice Squad season.

"(For purposes of this Section, a bye week counts as a game provided that the player is not terminated until after the regular season or postseason weekend in question.)"

Seattle Seahawks cut-down analysis

August, 31, 2012
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Click here for the complete list of Seattle Seahawks' roster moves.

Most significant move. The Seattle Seahawks emerged from last season with high hopes for Josh Portis as a developmental quarterback. The arrival of Matt Flynn in free agency and new starter Russell Wilson through the draft left Portis on the outside. The Seahawks released him, leaving Wilson and Flynn as the only quarterbacks on the initial 53-man roster.

Some teams with rookie starters brace themselves for what they know will be a long season. The Seahawks think Wilson upgrades the position immediately. They appear unworried by rookie walls and all the other ominous metaphors that typically pop up with inexperienced players behind center. The team could always consider adding a third quarterback in the future, but the value wasn't there given what Seattle thinks about its top two quarterbacks.

Onward and upward: Portis, cornerback Phillip Adams, guard Rishaw Johnson, linebacker Korey Toomer and defensive tackle Pep Levingston (injury settlement) have all shown positive signs. Toomer in particular appears to have practice-squad potential, at least.

The cut list also included Pierre Allen, Cordarro Law, Allen Bradford, Paul Fanaika, Jermaine Kearse, Kyle Knox, Sean McGrath, DeShawn Shead, Lavasier Tuinei, Cooper Helfet (injured) and Vai Taua (injured).

Receivers Deon Butler and Kris Durham lost out as former mid-round draft choices. They remain young and could carry appeal, as could speed receiver Ricardo Lockette. But with veteran Braylon Edwards playing well enough to earn a roster spot comfortably, there were fewer spots for less-proven prospects at the position.

Note that the unspectacular but steady Ben Obomanu stuck on the roster, at least for now. Seattle hasn't fared as well upgrading depth at receiver as it has at other positions. Obomanu's continued annual presence as a 2006 seventh-round choice reflects that, in my view.

What's next: The Seahawks could use depth at linebacker, one reason I was a little surprised to see the team release Toomer, a rookie fifth-round choice with speed. Another linebacker, Matt McCoy, landed on injured reserve.

Seattle also could consider pursuing a slot receiver as insurance against lingering injury concerns for Doug Baldwin.

It's looking like running back Marshawn Lynch will avoid, for now, a suspension stemming from his DUI arrest earlier this offseason. That was a potential concern, mitigated some by rookie Robert Turbin's emergence.

While cornerback Walter Thurmond went on the reserve/physically-unable-to-perform (PUP) list, offensive lineman James Carpenter did not. With Carpenter available early in the year, the Seahawks appear relatively set on their offensive line. Rookie J.R. Sweezy's emergence as the potential starting right guard was another factor there, even with guard Allen Barbre going on the reserve/suspended list.
Four Arizona Cardinals quarterbacks have started 16 games in a season since the team moved from St. Louis for the 1988 season.

Jake Plummer did it three times. Kurt Warner (2008), Dave Krieg (1995) and Timm Rosenbach (1900) did it once apiece.

It's pretty clear the Cardinals will need their top two quarterbacks, John Skelton and Kevin Kolb, to start games in 2012. And while coach Ken Whisenhunt has said rookie Ryan Lindley doesn't factor as a potential starter for Week 1, I won't be surprised if Lindley finds his way into the lineup at some point this season. The Cardinals like him.

Lindley, scheduled to start the team's exhibition finale Thursday night, would be the second third-stringer to start for the Cardinals since 2010, when Max Hall made three starts for the team.

Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic says that's not the plan, however. Somers: "The only thing that appears settled at the quarterback position is that Lindley has at least secured the No.3 job over Rich Bartel, who has not played in the past two preseason games. Bartel is likely to play Thursday. Lindley is not a threat to start any time soon. He's completed 51.5 percent of his passes this preseason with two interceptions and no touchdowns. He has looked good at times, however, and the Cardinals are optimistic about his future." Noted: Arizona had three starters in the 2010, 2004 and 2000 seasons, most recently. Only once since 2005 have the Cardinals had one quarterback start more than 11 games in a season. That was in 2008, when Warner led the Cardinals to the Super Bowl.

Darren Urban of azcardinals.com updates the team's situation at offensive tackle.

Dan O'Neill of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says the Rams are searching for their identity. Coach Jeff Fisher: "What we want from this football team is tough and aggressive. To me, that's the only way you should be. You're tough, smart and aggressive. You play through the whistle, you play hard and you go out expecting to win every game, from the start of the season to the end of the season."

Will from RamsHerd.com takes a play-by-play look at Sam Bradford's performance against Dallas in the team's most recent preseason game. He sees negative tendencies born of pressure.

Rich Cimini and Chris Mortensen of ESPN break down the Rams' trade that sent Jason Smith to the Jets for Wayne Hunter: "The Jets had no intention of dealing Hunter, but they received a call from the Rams shortly after demoting him, a source said. Rams offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer, who held the same position with the Jets from 2006 to 2011, always held Hunter in high regard. On Sunday night, Hunter struggled again in a backup role, surrendering a fourth-quarter sack at left tackle. Behind the Jets' bench, he was verbally abused by unruly fans. Hunter lost his temper and had to be restrained by teammate Vladimir Ducasse, according to a team source. In the previous game, Hunter allowed 2.5 sacks against the New York Giants."

Nick Wagoner of stlouisrams.com says Hunter could push Barry Richardson for the starting job at right tackle.

Matt Maiocco of CSNBayArea.com says the 49ers' Vic Fangio called the team's defensive effort against Denver a learning experience. Maiocco on Perrish Cox: "Cox has seemingly surpassed Tramaine Brock on the depth chart, and figures to find a role once the regular season begins. Cox is currently the No. 2 nickel back behind Carlos Rogers and a spare corner."

Daniel Brown of the San Jose Mercury News offers 49ers notes, including this one: "There was no official update on receiver/returner Ted Ginn, who was sporting an orthopedic boot around his right ankle. Ginn sustained the injury while running a reverse against the Broncos. Coach Jim Harbaugh said after the game that X-rays were negative."

Clare Farnsworth of seahawks.com focuses on opportunistic play from Earl Thomas and the Seahawks' secondary. Farnsworth: "Thomas intercepted a Josh Portis pass that went off wide receiver Ricardo Lockette, added a second pick on a Wilson pass and then made a leaping deflection of a Russell Wilson pass that was intended for wide receiver Ben Obomanu. Thomas’ lead-by-example efforts were infectious, as cornerbacks Brandon Browner and Phillip Adams also had interceptions; and safeties Jeron Johnson and Winston Guy, cornerback Byron Maxwell, linebacker Mike Morgan and Browner broke up passes."

Also from Farnsworth: Wilson's work ethic has deep roots. The quarterback's late father used to wake his son at 5:30 or 6 in the morning to throw pass routes.

Danny O'Neil of the Seattle Times says backup Matt Flynn tested a sore elbow during Seahawks practice. Also: "The highlight of the day was a catch by wide receiver Sidney Rice over the middle as he extended to grab a ball thrown by Russell Wilson. He caught the ball with his fingertips, extending so far it really did look like he only got the first two fingers of both hands and his thumbs on the ball, pulling it to his body and tucking into a roll as cornerback Byron Maxwell dove -- futilely -- to try and break up the pass. It was simply remarkable."

More from O'Neil: thoughts on why rookie quarterbacks are getting chances to play.

Bill Swartz of 710ESPN Seattle includes this Terrell Owens-related note from coach Pete Carroll: "Carroll was asked about the release of Owens and emphasized that it had nothing to do with attitude. Carroll said he was a terrific teammate and that he'd be surprised if Owens is not given a shot by another team.

Where Seahawks stand after cuts to 75

August, 27, 2012
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Releasing Terrell Owens and trading Tarvaris Jackson helped the Seattle Seahawks reach the 75-man roster limit by the NFL's deadline Monday.

No other team in the NFC West made such big waves on the first league-mandated reduction.
Coach Pete Carroll has said the Seahawks would consider bringing back Owens if the need arose. He made those comments during an interview with Brock Huard and Mike Salk of 710ESPN Seattle. That audio is here .

The chart shows where Seattle stands at each position in relation to positional counts for Week 1 last season.

Jackson's departure leaves the Seahawks with the three quarterbacks they'll take into the regular season: starter Russell Wilson, backup Matt Flynn and third-stringer Josh Portis.

The team could be in the market for depth a few spots, including linebacker and possibly slot receiver, depending upon how well Doug Baldwin's hamstring injury responds.

At corner, Phillip Adams' emergence gave Seattle some protection for losing Roy Lewis to injury. The team waived Lewis with an injury designation, meaning Lewis would revert to injured reserve upon clearing waivers. Lewis played about 24 percent of the defensive snaps last season.

Earlier: thoughts on Seahawks' cuts.
Our two-day look at NFC West rosters continues with projections for the Seattle Seahawks’ defense and special teams.

Defensive linemen (13)

Average number kept since 2003: 8.8

Safest bets: Red Bryant, Jason Jones, Brandon Mebane, Chris Clemons, Bruce Irvin, Alan Branch

Leading contenders: Clinton McDonald, Jaye Howard, Greg Scruggs, Pep Levingston

Longer odds: Pierre Allen, Cordarro Law, Dexter Davis

Comment: The Seahawks finished the 2009 season with Bryant, Mebane, Craig Terrill, Colin Cole, Nick Reed, Lawrence Jackson, Patrick Kerney, Cory Redding and Darryl Tapp on their 53-man roster. Pete Carroll has transformed the line since becoming head coach before the 2010 season. The changes have been as much about fit as personnel. The group keeps getting stronger.

Linebackers (12)

Average number kept since 2003: 6.6

Safest bets: K.J. Wright, Leroy Hill, Bobby Wagner, Korey Toomer

Leading contenders: Heath Farwell, Matt McCoy, Malcolm Smith, Barrett Ruud

Longer odds: Michael Morgan, Allen Bradford, Kyle Knox, Jameson Konz

Comment: Toomer's arrival in the fifth round cranks up the pressure on Smith, a 2011 seventh-round choice. Farwell and McCoy could be competing for a spot. Farwell is better on special teams. McCoy offers more at linebacker. Bradford is converting from running back and has a chance to stick in some capacity. Ruud looks like insurance for Wagner, but his health is a concern.

Defensive backs (17)

Average number kept since 2003: 8.2

Safest bets: Earl Thomas, Kam Chancellor, Brandon Browner, Richard Sherman

Leading contenders: Jeron Johnson, Byron Maxwell, Roy Lewis, Marcus Trufant, Walter Thurmond, Winston Guy

Longer odds: DeShawn Shead, Ron Parker, Coye Francies, Donny Lisowski, Jeremy Lane, Phillip Adams, Chris Maragos

Comment: Three of the four starters went to the Pro Bowl last season; Sherman arguably should have gone. Trufant's conversion to a nickel role has the potential to upgrade Seattle's coverage. Injuries sidelined Trufant and Thurmond last season. Both can contribute at a reasonably high level if healthy. It's tough to bank on either one, however. Don't forget about Maxwell. He impressed in camp as a rookie, only to fade from the picture after suffering an ankle injury. Seattle likes its depth at corner. Johnson should be ready to take a step forward at safety. The Seahawks like what they've seen from Guy as well.

Special teams (4)

Average number kept since 2003: 3.1

Safest bets: Jon Ryan, Steven Hauschka, Clint Gresham

Leading contenders: none

Longer odds: Carson Wiggs

Comment: Ryan led the NFL with 34 punts downed inside the 20 (against eight touchbacks). Opponents returned two punts for touchdowns, however.
The newest Seattle Seahawk is also the team's longest-tenured one.

And the oldest one.

Marcus Trufant, released in a salary-related move earlier this offseason, is returning on a one-year contract, the team announced. The move should be popular with fans and a relief to Trufant, who grew up in nearby Tacoma, spent nine seasons with the team and wasn't looking to relocate.

Whether the move pays off from a football standpoint hinges on whether Trufant, 31, can bounce back from an injury-shortened 2011 season. He started all 16 games in 2010, then missed the final 11 last season.

The Seahawks found new life at cornerback last season when Brandon Browner and rookie Richard Sherman manned the position. Both were new to the Seahawks. Both have the size coach Pete Carroll covets in his cornerbacks. Browner went to the Pro Bowl thanks to a physical style that wore down opposing receivers and helped make him the most penalized player in the NFL.

Trufant, a first-round draft choice in 2003 and Pro Bowl selection in 2007, is a more traditional style of cornerback. With Sherman and Browner projected to start in 2012, Trufant could conceivably project in a nickel role. Much will depend on his health and how well younger players compete in camp.

Also: Walter Thurmond's injury status could help explain why the Seahawks re-signed Trufant after re-signing Roy Lewis, Danny O'Neil notes.

Thurmond had significant injury concerns relating to a knee coming out of college. He has missed 12 of 32 games to start his career and could miss another six if he opens the 2012 season on the physically unable to perform list, as O'Neil indicated the case could be.

In 2010, Thurmond missed one game to a concussion and another to a hamstring injury. He missed the final 10 games last season after suffering a broken fibula.

The Seahawks' corner situation could change again during the draft later this month.
The Seattle Seahawks can thank the division-rival San Francisco 49ers for adding a high-gloss shine to their 2010 draft class.

Kam Chancellor, a fifth-round pick for Seattle that year, is headed to the Pro Bowl after the 49ers' Dashon Goldson withdrew from the game, citing injury. Chancellor's presence on the NFC roster gives Seattle two Pro Bowl safeties from its 2010 class. Earl Thomas, chosen sixth overall that year, was named to the team as the starting free safety.

I went back through that 2010 class and noticed the St. Louis Rams (Mardy Gilyard) and Seattle Seahawks (E.J. Wilson) were the only NFC West teams to release players chosen earlier than the fifth round that year.

Chancellor and the Rams' Mike Hoomanawanui are the only current projected starters chosen later than the fourth round (they were taken one pick apart in the fifth). Hoomanawanui might not start; it's too early to say.

Taylor Mays and Jorrick Calvin were the only NFC West picks traded.

Seattle's Golden Tate, chosen 60th overall, is the highest choice remaining with his team as a backup, not a starter.

A quick run through the 2010 class for the NFC West:

Arizona Cardinals

Starters: Dan Williams, Daryl Washington, Andre Roberts.

Backups: John Skelton, Jim Dray, O'Brien Schofield.

Traded: Jorrick Calvin.

Released: none.

Comment: The Cardinals were picking later than their division rivals after winning the 2009 NFC West title. They still found four projected starters. Washington, a second-rounder, stands out as the best selection. Williams and Roberts have much to prove. Schofield appears to be ascending. He did not start in 2011, however, and will have to win the job.

San Francisco 49ers

Starters: Anthony Davis, Mike Iupati, NaVorro Bowman.

Backups: Anthony Dixon, Nate Byham, Kyle Williams.

Traded: Taylor Mays.

Released: Phillip Adams.

Comment: Bowman's emergence as an All-Pro inside linebacker strengthens this class and helps offset Mays' disappointing stint with the team. Byham was emerging as a top blocker before suffering a season-ending injury. Iupati is a first alternate to the Pro Bowl. Williams is coming off a rough NFC Championship Game.

Seattle Seahawks

Starters: Russell Okung, Earl Thomas, Kam Chancellor.

Backups: Golden Tate, Walter Thurmond, Anthony McCoy, Dexter Davis, Jameson Konz.

Traded: none.

Released: E.J. Wilson.

Comment: Thomas and Chancellor are making this a successful class. Okung might be the best of the three, but only if he can get healthy. Thurmond was a starter until suffering an injury at Cleveland. He'll have a hard time winning back a starting job now that Brandon Browner and Richard Sherman have locked down jobs. But he could still factor. Tate made strides late in the 2011 season.

St. Louis Rams

Starters: Sam Bradford, Rodger Saffold, Mike Hoomanawanui.

Backups: Jerome Murphy, Eugene Sims, Marquis Johnson, Josh Hull.

Traded: none.

Released: Mardy Gilyard, Hall Davis, Fendi Onobun, George Selvie.

Comment: This class will succeed or fail based on how Bradford develops under new offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer. Bradford and the rest of this class -- and the entire roster, pretty much -- struggled this past season.

The first chart breaks down NFC West teams' picks by projected status for 2012.

The second chart provides context. The Rams have released four players from their 2010 class, which could look bad. But they also had far more later-round picks than their division rivals. Those players have a harder time earning roster spots.

Assessing 2010 NFC West draft classes

August, 31, 2011
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The Arizona Cardinals' division rivals selected five players among the first 17 overall selections in the 2010 NFL draft.

The Cardinals weren't on the clock until they made nose tackle Dan Williams the 26th overall choice.

A year later, Arizona expects to have three members of its 2010 class starting in Week 1, a number that compares favorably within the division.

With the regular season less than two weeks away, I'll revisit the 2010 NFC West draft classes, pointing to injury considerations and key variables.

St. Louis Rams

Total 2010 picks: 11

No longer with team (1): Hall Davis, LB, fifth round (traded to Washington).

Projected starters (2): Sam Bradford, QB, first round; Rodger Saffold, LT, second round.

Others (8): Jerome Murphy, CB, third round; Mardy Gilyard, WR, fourth round; Michael Hoomanawanui, TE, fifth round; Eugene Sims, DE, sixth round; Fendi Onobun, TE, sixth round; George Selvie, DE, seventh round; Josh Hull, LB, seventh round; Marquis Johnson, CB, seventh round.

Injury considerations: Murphy underwent ankle surgery and is out indefinitely, a setback for the secondary. A series of injuries to Hoomanawanui makes it tougher for the team to count on him. If healthy, he's a key role player.

Key variable: Gilyard's development, discussed in some detail Tuesday. The Rams have other options at receiver. Gilyard suffered when the Rams lost their offensive coordinator heading into the NFL lockout.



Seattle Seahawks

Total 2010 picks: nine

No longer with team (1): E.J. Wilson, DE, fourth round (waived).

Projected starters (4): Russell Okung, LT, first round; Earl Thomas, FS, first round; Walter Thurmond, CB, fourth round; Kam Chancellor, SS, fifth round.

Others (4): Golden Tate, WR, second round; Anthony McCoy, TE, sixth round; Dexter Davis, DE, seventh round; Jameson Konz, DE, seventh round.

Injury considerations: Okung's repeated ankle sprains have kept him off the field for long stretches. The team needs him healthy to stabilize the line.

Key variable: Tate's development, discussed in some detail Tuesday. The section on Gilyard applies here. The Seahawks have other options. Tate suffered when the Seahawks fired their offensive coordinator heading into the lockout. It's looking like an upset if Tate becomes a key contributor this season.



San Francisco 49ers

Total 2010 picks: eight

No longer with team (1): Taylor Mays, SS, second round (traded to Cincinnati)

Projected starters (3): Anthony Davis, RT, first round; Mike Iupati, LG, first round; NaVorro Bowman, LB, third round.

Others (4): Anthony Dixon, RB, sixth round; Nate Byham, TE, sixth round; Kyle Williams, WR, sixth round; Phillip Adams, CB, seventh round.

Injury considerations: A season-ending knee injury will sideline Byham, who was looking like one of the better young blocking tight ends in the league.

Key variable: Davis' development. The 49ers need their young right tackle to gain consistency in his second season. Like other members of the 2010 draft class, Davis could have used a fuller offseason to develop in an organized setting. Instead, he's pretty much picking up where he left off last season.



Arizona Cardinals

Total 2010 picks: seven

No longer with team (1): Jorrick Calvin, CB, sixth round (traded to Philadelphia)

Projected starters (3): Williams, NT, first round; Daryl Washington, LB, second round; Andre Roberts, WR, third round.

Others (3): O'Brien Schofield, OLB, fourth round; John Skelton, QB, fifth round; Jim Dray, TE, seventh round.

Injury considerations: A high-ankle sprain has sidelined Skelton, the No. 2 quarterback. The team signed Brodie Croyle as insurance in the short term. Rich Bartel could push for the No. 2 job as well.

Key variable: Schofield's development. The Cardinals knew Schofield would require time to more fully recover from the knee injury he suffered during 2010 Senior Bowl practices. They've seen flashes from Schofield during the preseason and badly need whatever he can give them from a pass-rushing standpoint.
Matt Maiocco of CSNBayArea.com offers thoughts on the 49ers' quarterback situation. Maiocco: "The 49ers plan to take four quarterbacks to training camp. If you were to ask me which four quarterbacks the 49ers would want in camp, I'd tell you: Alex Smith, Colin Kaepernick, Josh Johnson (somehow acquired in a trade with Tampa Bay) and Adam Froman (to be signed as an undrafted free agent once they're allowed to do so.) That is pure speculation, of course. But it seems to make sense to me. That way there could be some form of competition for each of the three spots, and the undrafted rookie would have a chance to stick on the practice squad, too." Acquiring Johnson and bringing back Smith would make things quite interesting. That would give the 49ers considerable insurance against having to play Kaepernick prematurely in the case of an injury to Smith.

Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee says 49ers cornerback Phillip Adams is ahead of schedule in his recovery from a gruesome leg injury.

Kevin Lynch of Niner Insider provides alternative draft choices for the 49ers in 2011. What if the team had selected Jake Locker with the seventh overall choice?

Eric Branch of the Santa Rosa Press-Democrat passes along jersey numbers for the 49ers' draft choices.

Danny O'Neil of the Seattle Times offers highlights from Seattle Seahawks coach Pete Carroll's session with Northwest sports editors. Carroll took on the NCAA, which uncovered wrongdoing at USC during Carroll's tenure there. O'Neil: "The most interesting insight Carroll offered was about the NCAA. Carroll coached USC for nine years before coming to Seattle, and he was asked about the way the NCAA monitors and enforces its rules, something he has firsthand experience as USC was placed on probation after he left. Carroll said he believes the NCAA starts with the objective of finding wrongdoing, something that is reactive rather than trying to protect the game from outside influences to prevent problems. He pointed out that schools are being punished for actions of people who aren't even affiliated with the university."

Brady Henderson of 710ESPN Seattle says the Seahawks should bring back slot receiver Brandon Stokley, according to ESPN.com's John Clayton. Stokley quickly became a favorite target for Matt Hasselbeck. Bringing him back makes sense from a football standpoint if Hasselbeck does return. I think Stokley's concussion history should raise questions about whether the veteran wideout should continue playing, however. He suffered one last season and had reportedly suffered eight to 10 previously. How many is too many in a league trying to emphasize safety? Twelve? Fifteen? Twenty?

Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic says the lockout has given Cardinals outside linebacker O'Brien Schofield time to record a rap single. Somers: "If you are at work or at home with the kids around, I suggest using headphones. From what I can hear, there are some lyrics that might offend some people."

Darren Urban of azcardinals.com says Ken Whisenhunt's assistant coaches must resort to unusual tactics when trying to keep pace with their boss on the golf course, where Whisenhunt excels. Russ Grimm: "You have to resort to different tactics. I carry the [rubber] snake in the bag, I may make a noise in his backswing. It’s all accidental. But if it affects his shot, so be it."

Roger Hensley of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch asks colleagues whether the Rams were drafting for need or to fit a specific scheme. Value presumably also came into play. Bernie Miklasz: "I suppose I'm confused. Last season I watch the Rams move the ball only to repeatedly collapse in the red zone. I saw an offense that finished next to last in the NFL in converting red-zone chances into touchdowns. I saw a team that finished 27th in the league in touchdowns from scrimmage. For several months I heard fans and media express an urgent need to get some better receivers for young QB Sam Bradford. So the Rams go ahead and do that -- bring in three potentially big, strong and productive receivers for Bradford ... and people are complaining? The Rams defense is in pretty good shape. The unit finished 7th in sacks last season, was the second-best third-down defense in the league, and only three defenses allowed fewer TDs from scrimmage. So here's a bulletin: the Rams need offense more than anything. I don't know why anyone would question that."
With the San Francisco 49ers in the market for cornerback help and our offseason power rankings focusing on the position later Tuesday, I'll look back at the corners current NFC West teams have drafted over the last decade.

This is the second part in a series that began with a look at 15 classes of NFC West quarterbacks. Then as now, I'll break up the charts with narration from teams' perspectives.

These guys had better start early and challenge for Pro Bowls ...

Some prospects aren't ideal in one area or another, but they could shine in the right scheme ...

Still not too late to find decent starters ...

Last chance to find a likely contributor ...

Time to fill out the 80-man roster ...
San Francisco 49ers general manager Trent Baalke did not hesitate when asked what a new coaching staff means for unestablished players, including some 2010 draft choices.

"The simple effect is that nobody is guaranteed a position," Baalke said.

The 49ers' new coaches won't get a chance to check out incumbent players on the practice field as long as the lockout continues.

I've made a few projections regarding 2010 choices and can tell you the 49ers were quite happy with their first-round selections. Mike Iupati had a strong rookie season at left guard. In speaking with Baalke, it was clear he thought Anthony Davis showed excellent ability, too. The team expects both to remain starters in Jim Harbaugh's offense.

Beyond that, it's more difficult to say how players project, particularly with a new staff.

The chart breaks down the 49ers' 2010 draft choices based on how they could fit in 2011.

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