- Mike Sando, NFL Insider
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Each Wednesday leading up to the NFL draft (April 22-24), the ESPN.com blog network will take a division-by-division look at key aspects of the draft. Today’s topic: The decision-makers.
President Michael Bidwill and general manager Rod Graves are the highest-ranking personnel people, but the draft is clearly a collaborative effort in Arizona.
Coach Ken Whisenhunt has earned additional input after helping Arizona produce back-to-back division titles and a Super Bowl appearance. A stronger say in personnel was reportedly part of the understanding when Whisenhunt recently agreed to a contract extension through the 2013 season.
Director of player personnel Steve Keim plays a leading role in identifying talent at the college level. Keim and Graves have been together in Arizona since the late 1990s.
This appears to be a stable situation.
The situation in San Francisco appears far less stable than the one in Arizona.
Scot McCloughan's abrupt departure as general manager five weeks before the draft raised legitimate questions about how the power structure would shake out -- both in the long and short term.
Player personnel director Trent Baalke has taken over for McCloughan. It's clear the 49ers want Baalke to serve as a stabilizing force through the draft and probably longer.
It's still fair to wonder how draft day might go.
Coach Mike Singletary has stepped up his role in scouting. Team president Jed York and executive vice president Paraag Marathe remain influential. Their profiles are higher than they were a couple years ago.
What will it all mean when the 49ers are on the clock and various draft scenarios are playing out at full speed? That's a little tough to say at this point, though the 49ers appear determined to prove they'll proceed as usual.
Coach Pete Carroll is the highest-ranking football decision-maker in the organization and that's fine by GM John Schneider, whose role should be significant nonetheless.
Most head coaches with strong personnel power lean heavily on their GMs and scouting departments. Carroll's recent experience at the college level makes him more personally familiar with the talent in this draft, adding an important dynamic to the Seattle front office, particularly in this first draft under Carroll.
The Seahawks did maintain significant continuity in their personnel department. Will Lewis, Ruston Webster, Scott Fitterer and Mike Yowarsky remain in prominent roles. Each has been with the team for several years or longer.
General manager Billy Devaney, executive vice president Kevin Demoff and coach Steve Spagnuolo are the primary decision-makers for a second consecutive draft.
One question in St. Louis is to what degree the pending ownership change might affect the team's thought process. There are no indications so far that the Rams will do anything other than proceed as they normally would.
Devaney, Demoff and Spagnuolo appear unified. They've been together for a couple of seasons and seem to have a good working relationship.