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Monday, April 20, 2009
Around the NFC West: James family tragedy


Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando

The Naples (Fla.) Daily News says leukemia has claimed Andia Denise Wilson, mother to Edgerrin James' four children. According to the story: "James, who plays for the NFL's Arizona Cardinals, is listed as Wilson's 'loving spouse and significant other' in an obituary notice. James and Wilson had four children: Edquisha, 11, Ehyanna, 7, Edgerrin Jr., 4, and Euro, 2. Wilson also is survived by her parents, Jodi Wilson and Larry Green, and grandmother, Viola Fuller." Funeral services are planned for Wednesday in Naples. Wilson was 30 years old.

Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic describes the Cardinals as unified and more efficient in their approach to the NFL draft. Player personnel director Steve Keim: "I think in the past we would get consumed with 'need' or the lines of communication weren't opened. One side or the other didn't quite have their listening hats on. Honestly, this is what, my fourth staff? I don't think you can get any better than it is now. Coach [Ken] Whisenhunt is a tremendous listener and our coaches respect our scouts' opinions."

Dave Boling of the Tacoma News Tribune says the Seahawks need to select an offensive tackle with the fourth overall choice. Boling: "Yes, left tackle Walter Jones was once the absolute state-of-the art, glorious to behold, stunningly efficient and admirably durable through the years. So was the Alaska Way Viaduct. Jones, too, has been patched and retrofitted. But he's 35, coming back from microfracture knee surgery, and will be increasingly vulnerable over time, or during the next seismic event. Left guard Mike Wahle, center Chris Spencer, right guard Rob Sims and right tackle Sean Locklear all had to be shut down for repairs last season. Wahle is 32 and missed six games with a shoulder injury; Spencer missed five games and Sims 15."

Danny O'Neil of the Seattle Times sounds unconvinced about the Seahawks taking a quarterback in the first round. O'Neil: "The Seahawks have a quarterback -- a pretty good one -- whom [GM Tim] Ruskell still believes is in his prime. Choosing [Mark] Sanchez would start the clock ticking on Hasselbeck's time in Seattle. Grade inflation is an annual occurrence for that position in the draft. Franchise quarterbacks are like gold in the NFL, only a lot more rare, and each year teams talk themselves into the idea certain quarterbacks are the answer, sending them floating up the draft order. It's a unique reality of that position in the draft."

Also from O'Neil: He profiles Seahawks receiver T.J. Houshmandzadeh, providing details on Houshmandzadeh's relationship with the father he never met. O'Neil: "[Touraj Houshmandzadeh] was an Iranian exchange student, and it was a turbulent time then in the late 1970s, and he was called back to Iran by his family." Father and son spoke for the first time two years ago, by phone. It's unclear if or when they might speak again.

Rob Staton of Seahawks Draft Blog sent Michael Crabtree to the Seahawks in a mock draft featuring other would-be GMs. Aaron Curry was also available, but Staton wasn't convinced Curry would have a dramatic impact in a defense already featuring Lofa Tatupu and Leroy Hill.

Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch quotes Baylor's Jason Smith as saying he isn't sure whether the Rams prefer Smith to Virginia tackle Eugene Monroe. Smith: "I do know that they like me, and at the end of the day they need a tackle because they let Orlando Pace go. So who knows? They may draft Andre Smith." Andre Smith is a wild card in this draft. An assistant coach I spoke with over the weekend told me he thought Smith -- Andre, not Jason -- was clearly the best offensive tackle available in the draft.

Also from Thomas: The Rams can't afford to blunder with the second overall choice. General manager Billy Devaney was with the Chargers when the team made Ryan Leaf the second overall choice in 1998.

VanRam of Turf Show Times wonders if the Rams would be placing need over value if they selected an offensive tackle with their first-round pick. VanRam: "In year deep with OTs (yes, beware the deep at a position label for a draft) insiders are whispering about potential second round tackles that could be as good as the guys taken among the top three. Why pay second overall pick money when you can get the same guy for second round pick money?" These are good questions to ask.

David Fucillo of Niners Nation wonders how much power 49ers coach Mike Singletary wields in personnel matters, specifically the draft. While Singletary did tell reporters he has control over the 53-man roster, he also said he reports to general manager Scot McCloughan. My take: McCloughan is clearly the key figure for the 49ers come draft time. That is his area of expertise. If Singletary and McCloughan could not resolve strong differences over a draft prospect, the team would probably select someone else.

Daniel Brown of the San Jose Mercury News suggests the 49ers could pursue a pass-rusher with the 10th overall choice in the draft. One reason: NFL players have reached double-digit sacks 94 times since 2003, but never for the 49ers. Some of the blame rests with the offense. The 49ers too often haven't scored enough points to force opponents into obvious passing situations. Those situations produce sacks.