NFC West: T.J. McCreight
Sadly, that class also included Jeff Alm, who committed suicide following a traffic accident that killed his best friend, and Anthony Smith, who would be charged with murder in 2011.
No one could have anticipated fifth overall choice Junior Seau, 43, joining that second tragic list before taking his rightful place among Kennedy and Smith as Hall of Famers from that draft class.
Clare Farnsworth of seahawks.com grew up in San Diego and covered the AFC West during Seau's prime years with the San Diego Chargers. Farnsworth: "I knew of Seau before I ever saw him play. In the fall of 1973, I was working for a newspaper in Oceanside, Calif., and covering the high school football team. Seau played at Oceanside High before becoming an All-American at USC. Just the mention of his name would create a silence of reverence in the locker room, especially from the players of Samoan decent. Whenever coach Herb Meyer needed an example while discussing a current player, he would evoke memories of Seau. Unfortunately, that’s all any of us are left with -- our memories of Tiaina Baul Seau, Jr."
Also from Farnsworth: Michael Robinson's plan to build on a Pro Bowl season.
Brock Huard of 710ESPN Seattle thinks Visanthe Shiancoe would be an appealing option for the Seahawks at tight end.
Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic offers thoughts on the Cardinals' front-office changes involving Steve Keim and Jason Licht. Somers: "It's interesting, and I would think encouraging for the Cardinals, that both Keim and Licht were considered for general managers' jobs in the off-season. Keim interviewed in St. Louis, and Licht in Chicago. T.J. McCreight, one of the unsung workhorses in the organization, moved from pro personnel director to a job in the Colts' front office."
Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch notes that former Rams kicker Josh Brown has signed with the New York Jets. Thomas: "Brown, 33, was deemed expendable in St. Louis after the Rams drafted Missouri Western State kicker Greg Zuerlein in the sixth round of the NFL draft Saturday. Fisher informed Brown he was being released later Saturday. With the Jets, Brown is expected to compete with Nick Folk for the kicking job."
Also from Thomas: a chat transcript with thoughts on the offensive line, and more. Thomas: "They did add Scott Wells at center, a former Pro Bowler, in free agency from Green Bay. They added G/T Quinn Ojinnaka and C/G Robert Turner in free agency. And they drafted Rokevious "Rock" (or he might spell it "Rok" _ I'll have to find out ) Watkins in the fifth round. Line coach Paul Boudreau is known for being able to develop talent. The belief is he'll get Saffold back up to par at left tackle and can straighten out Jason Smith's technique. For now, Ojinnaka, Turner, Watkins, and returning squad member Bryan Mattison will all be thrown in the mix competing for the left guard line."
Matt Maiocco of CSNBayArea.com offers thoughts on the 49ers' crowded offensive backfield. Maiocco: "As Frank Gore begins his eighth NFL season and has 1,653 regular-season rush attempts, the 49ers finally have some quality depth behind him. It seems likely that Gore's play time will decrease this season with more players capable of filling in. ... Anthony Dixon played just 52 snaps of offense last season. Dixon must convince the 49ers' coaching staff that he's as serious about his football career as the other running backs on the roster. As the offseason begins, Dixon clearly has the most ground to make up in the battle to win a roster spot."
Cam Inman of the San Jose Mercury News offers thoughts from current and former 49ers on Seau's passing.
- Seattle: Longtime Seahawks personnel evaluator Will Lewis is no longer with the team, Adam Schefter reports. Lewis had been vice president of football operations following a long stint as pro personnel director. He stayed with the team when John Schneider arrived as general manager, and the fit seemed good because the two had worked together in Green Bay. The team's flow chart became a bit top-heavy, in retrospect, when former San Francisco 49ers general manager Scot McCloughan joined the team as senior personnel executive in June 2010.
- San Francisco: Trent Baalke's three-year contract extension through 2016 seemed like a matter of when, not if, following the teams' 13-3 record. Just about every move the 49ers made contributed to their deep playoff run. Baalke's top lieutenant, Tom Gamble, has interviewed for the GM job in St. Louis. The 49ers do not want to lose him, but with Baalke signed for the long term, the front-office dynamic should remain similar either way.
- Arizona: Steve Keim, the Cardinals' director of player personnel, has also interviewed for the Rams' GM job. He has been with Arizona since 1999, an unusually long run with one organization. Rod Graves is the general manager, but Keim carries a significant part of the personnel load. The team lists director of pro personnel T.J. McCreight, director of football administration Reggie Terry and assistant pro personnel director Quentin Harris next on its football operations list. They joined the Cardinals in 2009 (McCreight), 2007 (Terry) and 2008 (Harris).
- St. Louis: The latest report from St. Louis suggests the 49ers and Cardinals need not worry about losing top execs to a division rival this offseason. Minnesota's George Paton and Atlanta's Les Snead have emerged as finalists for the GM job, with Paton as the most likely choice, Jim Thomas reports. Check out Paton's profile here.
Enjoy your Saturday.
Bill Coats of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says former Giants defensive tackle Fred Robbins is eager to contribute in St. Louis. Coach Steve Spagnuolo says Robbins has "done a great job in the offseason as far as what he's doing with his body; he looks in good shape. He's a quality veteran and I think a guy that can come in ... and show the younger guys how to be a pro. And I'm not just talking about practicing. All the things that you do in between. That's as important as anything."
Matt Maiocco of CSNBayArea.com says the NFL scheduled the 49ers for more prime-time games because the team finished strong last season and has a significant national following.
Also from Maiocco: a look at the 49ers' key power brokers, from Jed York on down. Maiocco on executive vice president Paraag Marathe: "If York is the most powerful man when it comes to the day-to-day operations, Marathe is No. 2. Actually, nobody in the organization impacts the 49ers in as many different ways as Marathe."
Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee checks in with 49ers running back Michael Robinson, who cites a busy schedule featuring charity work in explaining why he hasn't attended recent voluntary workouts.
Phil Barber of the Santa Rosa Press-Democrat says third-string 49ers quarterback Nate Davis is focusing on mastering the playbook. Barber: "While (David) Carr clearly entered the offseason as the No. 2, Davis was encouraged to get some reps with the first and second offensive units at the OTAs. He's not looking for any guarantees from the 49ers. Just an opportunity to prove himself in the huddle."
Clare Farnsworth of seahawks.com says LenDale White is eager to get his career back on track after a disappointing 2009 season. White: "Sitting the bench for the whole year, dealing with that alone, it's a lot of stress. It's a life-changing thing. But I guess we go through that for a reason. I’m still here. Pete gave me another shot, and I’m looking forward to it."
Also from Farnsworth: a look at Golden Tate's transition from Notre Dame to an NFL offense. Quarterback Matt Hasselbeck: "When the ball is in the air, he goes up and gets it like it’s his. And that’s very important as a wide receiver." The Seahawks' receivers haven't made nearly enough plays on the ball in recent seasons.
Danny O'Neil of the Seattle Times says the Seahawks continue to churn their roster. Coach Pete Carroll: "In a new program, it's really important for us to do this. So we're going to keep doing it. So we're going to keep doing it. There's no deadline when we're going to stop and try to get everybody comfortable and settled. I don't think that's necessary here. Everybody knows that this is a very competitive environment and they're going to have to battle day in and day out and that's the whole idea."
Also from O'Neil: "Dexter Davis worked out with the linebackers during some of the position drills during Monday's voluntary practice. Davis, a seventh-round draft choice out of Arizona State, is a pass-rushing specialist considered to be sort of a 'Tweener in the NFL. The Seahawks are obviously looking for the variety of roles he may be able to fill because he could also seem time at the LEO position, the pass-rushing specialist where Chris Clemons is currently seen as the starter."
Greg Johns of seattlepi.com says Tate made the play of the day Monday.
Eric D. Williams of the Tacoma News Tribune says a "terrific arm" was one of the reasons Seattle signed J.P. Losman as its third quarterback, Carroll said.
John Morgan of Field Gulls says Seahawks rookie Earl Thomas has the rare ability to play the ball, but is lacking as a tackler.
Darren Urban of azcardinals.com says newly hired scout Kyle Johnson replaces longtime scout Jerry Hardaway, whose contract was not renewed. Urban: "The team hired Johnson, a former fullback for the Denver Broncos, to scout players in the northeast region of the country as well as serve as the Cards’ representative with the National Football Scouting Service. Johnson, who played for the Broncos from 2002-2007, was a one-time college and pro teammate of Quentin Harris, who has been working in the Cardinals’ pro personnel office. Harris has earned a promotion himself, to assistant pro personnel director, as he works under director of pro personnel T.J. McCreight." Every team in the division has undergone some sort of change in the personnel department since the draft.
Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando
T.J. McCreight's hiring as the Cardinals' pro personnel director fills the void created when Jason Licht went back to the Patriots after one season in Arizona.
The Cardinals, who announced McCreight's hiring Thursday, also interviewed former Broncos general manager Ted Sundquist. McCreight spent the previous four seasons with the Browns after an eight-year run with the Ravens.
The Browns fired McCreight in January before hiring George Kokinis as general manager. McCreight worked with Cardinals coach Ken Whisenhunt in Baltimore in the late 1990s. In theory, their familiarity could assist Arizona in finding players who fit Whisenhunt's player preferences.
Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando
Clare Farnsworth of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer says the Seahawks are unlikely to bring back cornerback Ken Lucas, released by the Panthers.
Danny O'Neil of the Seattle Times says the Seahawks "have to at least consider" adding Jurevicius to their roster. The Seahawks can never have enough depth at receiver after what happened last season, but T.J. Houshmandzadeh and John Carlson give the offense two strong options in the red zone.
Eric Williams of the Tacoma News Tribune looks at the zone-blocking concepts Seattle plans to adopt under new offensive coordinator Greg Knapp. Williams: "The key to zone blocking is to stretch the defense horizontally, creating vertical seams at the point of attack which allow the running back to quickly get to the second and third level of the defense. That's why it's important to have a one-cut guy at running back who sees the hole and runs downfield quickly instead of hesitating at the line of scrimmage. Both Julius Jones and T.J. Duckett fit that description."
Darren Urban of azcardinals.com says former Browns personnel evaluator T.J. McCreight joined former Broncos general manager Ted Sundquist in interviewing for a job with the Cardinals. The team does not expect to make a hire immediately. Urban also expects the Cardinals to sign former Broncos snapper Mike Leach. Urban also counts 59 players on the Cardinals' roster, one more than I've got on my downloadable roster. Hmmm.
Bill Coats of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says newly signed Rams safety James Butler thinks new teammate Tye Hill can realize his potential beginning in 2009. Butler and Hill are friends and business partners. Also, Butler says Rams defensive backs Oshiomogho Atogwe and Ron Bartell repeatedly hit his cell phone with text messages designed to convince the former Giants safety to sign with St. Louis.
Jeff Gordon of stltoday.com develops the Butler-Hill storyline. Gordon: "If Butler can get Hill on the upward path, this signing will be like a two-for-one special. Not only will the Rams get a new safety to replace Corey Chavous, they will get a new-and-improved cornerback as well."
Matt Maiocco of the Santa Rosa Press-Democrat thinks the 49ers will draft a quarterback, but not with the 10th overall choice. Also, the 49ers aren't showing interest in Orlando Pace at this point, and they likely will not show interest in Torry Holt if the Rams release the veteran receiver. Finally, Alex Smith's new contract does not include $4 million per season in addition to his salaries. That money was owed to him as part of his previous deal.
Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee revisits Urban Meyer's 2005 comments about Smith. Meyer: "I think he is the best football player that I have ever been around. He is one of those guys if you take his intangibles and put him at any position you will probably get the best player at that particular position. His greatest qualities are competitiveness, intelligence and work ethic. Then on top of that, he is very talented too. I am ecstatic that he was the first player picked and I'm excited that he is in San Francisco."