NFL roster cuts: AFC | NFC

NFC West combine primer

February, 22, 2012
2/22/12
1:01
PM ET
A few of the NFC West angles I'll be tracking from the NFL scouting combine beginning Thursday:

  • Value of the No. 2 overall pick. The St. Louis Rams hold it, but they already have their quarterback. The pick's trade value could fluctuate based on how well Baylor quarterback Robert Griffin III performs — not just at the combine, where he is expected to run (not throw), but also at his pro day. The Rams have needs throughout their roster. They need additional picks. Moving back from No. 2 would not necessarily require settling for a lesser player if quarterbacks were the first two players chosen.
  • [+] EnlargeJustin Blackmon
    Doug Pensinger/Getty ImagesReceiver Justin Blackmon could help his draft stock depending on how well he performs at this week's NFL combine.

  • Justin Blackmon's 40-yard time. The Rams need weapons for quarterback Sam Bradford. Blackmon, the big wide receiver from Oklahoma State, could help in that area. NFL teams will want to see how well he runs at the combine. Raw speed isn't everything for wide receivers, of course. It can be vastly overrated, particularly for wideouts with Blackmon's size. Still, a respectable 40-yard time could make teams feel better about drafting Blackmon among the first few picks overall.
  • Coin toss. Seattle and Kansas City finished tied in calculations for draft order. As a result, they will flip a coin to determine which team picks 11th and which one picks 12th.
  • QBs beyond the top two. Andrew Luck and Griffin figure to be long gone when Seattle picks 11th or 12th overall. Will Ryan Tannehill or another quarterback open eyes at the combine? Last year, early mock drafts projected only a couple first-round quarterbacks. Teams wound up drafting four among the top 12 overall choices. Seahawks general manager John Schneider recently stressed an aversion to forcing a quarterback pick based on need. Is it too early to rule out taking one 11th or 12th?
  • Sizing up the pass-rushers. Seattle would love to snag a top-tier rusher in this draft, particularly if quarterback isn't a viable option early. North Carolina's Quinton Coples and South Carolina's Melvin Ingram are two to watch. We'll want to emerge from the combine with a better feel for which players might fit.
  • Kalil and the tackle class. Arizona and St. Louis need help at offensive tackle. USC's Matt Kalil figures to be the top prospect and gone among the first several overall selections. Where do Iowa's Riley Reiff and Stanford's Jonathan Martin fit into the picture? Will they be gone when Arizona picks 13th overall?
  • Value at the receiver position. The San Francisco 49ers have relatively few needs. They went 13-3 on the strength of good coaching and talent. They could use help at wide receiver, however. That doesn't necessarily mean they need to draft one in the first round. Last year, they watched Doug Baldwin, who had played for 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh at Stanford, become a threat in Seattle as an undrafted free agent. Receiver wound up being one of the very few positions San Francisco did not address particularly well, either through free agency or the draft. Which wideouts could make surprising rookie impacts among those chosen later?

Thanks to those who weighed in with thoughts earlier Wednesday. I'm still going through some of those and will follow up as the combine gets going.

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