NFC West: Robert Ayers
Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando
The chart compares mock drafts from four veteran NFC West beat reporters. The four -- Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Matt Maiocco of the Santa Rosa Press-Democrat, Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic and Danny O'Neil of the Seattle Times -- combined to project 39 players for first-round status.
Unanimous first-round choices (24): Matthew Stafford, Jason Smith, Eugene Monroe, Tyson Jackson, Aaron Curry, B.J. Raji, Brian Orakpo, Mark Sanchez, Michael Crabtree, Andre Smith, Jeremy Maclin, Michael Oher, Chris Wells, Robert Ayers, Knowshon Moreno, Malcolm Jenkins, Brian Cushing, Clay Matthews, Brandon Pettigrew, Rey Maualuga, Josh Freeman, Peria Jerry, Ziggy Hood, Eben Britton.
Three first-round selections (8): Larry English, Aaron Maybin, Darius Butler, Darrius Heyward-Bey, Kenny Britt, Vontae Davis, Hakeem Nicks, Donald Brown.
Two first-round selections: (1): Phil Loadholt.
One first-round selection (6): LeSean McCoy, Percy Harvin, Alphonso Smith, Everette Brown, Eric Wood, Fili Moala.
Unanimous top-five picks (3): Stafford, Smith and Curry.
Unanimous top-10 picks (6): Stafford, Smtih, Curry, Monroe, Raji and Crabtree.
Unanimous top-15 picks (12): Stafford, Smith, Curry, Monroe, Raji, Crabtree, Jackson, Sanchez, Smith, Maclin, Oher, Orakpo.
Largest disparity, earliest vote to lowest vote: Ayers, 18 spots; Jenkins and Matthews, 16 spots, Butler (14), English (10), Pettigrew (10), Hood (10) and Britton (10).
Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando
Sensing the shortage of mock drafts this time of year, I joined ESPN.com's other divisional bloggers in putting together our own version.
A confession: I sent Virginia tackle Eugene Monroe to the Rams at No. 2 knowing the decision helped avert a dilemma with Seattle at No. 4.
Sending another player to the Rams -- specifically receiver Michael Crabtree -- might have complicated the choice I was facing two picks later.
If Crabtree disappeared from the available pool at No. 2 and my AFC West counterpart, Bill Williamson, snagged Wake Forest linebacker Aaron Curry for the Chiefs at No. 3, then what for Seattle? I wasn't ready to join the Mark Sanchez-to-Seattle hype machine, but the possibility seemed more realistic without Crabtree and Curry available as alternatives.
The Rams need a tackle more than Seattle needs one, the thinking goes, so it's convenient for St. Louis to take one, leaving the Seahawks with more palatable options two picks later.
Alas, these are all theories built on assumptions. Reality figures to diverge significantly.
Four of Scouts Inc.'s 32 highest-ranked players -- Tennessee defensive end Robert Ayers, Florida receiver Percy Harvin, Western Michigan safety Louis Delmas and Connecticut cornerback Darius Butler -- failed to find their way into our divisional bloggers' mock. Two players appearing on our mock -- Rutgers receiver Kenny Britt and Wake Forest cornerback Alphonso Smith -- did not earn spots on the Scouts Inc. top 32.
I doubt whether any two NFL teams share the same rankings for the top 32 players.
There is no consensus, in other words.
With that, I'll break down where each of my projected NFC West projections could break down.
Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando
Bryan Burwell of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch hails Torry Holt's professionalism after the Rams released the former Pro Bowl receiver. Holt often worked harder and more diligently than less established players.
The National Football Post says the Rams and Titans talked about a trade involving Holt, but the receiver wasn't interested in the suggested contract adjustment.
Jeff Gordon of stltoday.com, in addressing Torry Holt's release from the Rams, says there's no room for sentimentality in the NFL.
Also from Gordon: The Rams' recent moves suggest the team is getting back to the basics of blocking and tackling.
Bill Coats of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch considers it "strange" that the Rams haven't re-signed versatile backup offensive lineman Adam Goldberg, who visited the Browns.
Turf Show Times' Tackle Box thinks the Rams need upgrades at cornerback even after re-signing Ron Bartell. Getting more from Tye Hill would certainly help.
Niners general manager Scot McCloughan says drafting a quarterback 10th overall "sure is" an option for the 49ers even with Alex Smith still on the roster. Not that a GM would want to publicly rule out any options in the draft.
Kevin Lynch of Niner Insider says the 49ers might be more of a passing team than Mike Singletary's image suggests. I expect this to become a theme for the 49ers and the Seahawks at various points this offseason. Everyone assumes new Seattle coordinator Greg Knapp is going to run most of the time, but that will not always be true. Both teams want balance.
Matt Maiocco of the Santa Rosa Press-Democrat breaks down the 49ers' scouting department while noting that the team relied on its area scout -- not McCloughan -- to monitor Andre Smith's recent workout.
Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee ponders a mock draft featuring Tennessee defensive end Robert Ayers as the 49ers' potential choice at No. 10.
Darren Urban of azcardinals.com checks in with Jason Wright during the former Browns running back's visit to Cardinals headquarters. Wright would help on special teams in addition to providing depth at the position. Urban: "Again, if it happens, it's not a sexy signing. But sometimes the best signings are the ones no one notices."
Also from Urban: Tight end Stephen Spach says he expects to return from knee surgery at some point during training camp.
Revenge of the Birds' Hawkwind says Browns fans weren't always high on Wright.
Clare Farnsworth of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer says the Seahawks wanted to re-sign Floyd Womack, but probably as a backup. Womack went to the Browns instead. The Browns' line coach, George Warhop, was with Mike Nolan in San Francisco, so he might be familiar with Womack from playing against the Seahawks.
Also from Farnsworth: He confirms reports that Julian Peterson refused a pay cut and could become a salary-cap casualty.
John Morgan of Field Gulls compares Matt Hasselbeck's numbers to Jon Kitna's numbers over the 2005 through 2008 seasons. They are similar.
Chris Sullivan of Seahawk Addicts says he wouldn't see much value in the Seahawks swinging a trade for Lions defensive lineman Cory Redding. I don't think teams can have enough starting-caliber defensive linemen.