NFL Nation: drafting for defense

Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando

The first five weeks of the NFL season have forced NFC West defenses into deep soul searching.

The Seattle Seahawks fell 15 places in the NFL's defensive rankings after allowing 532 yards to the New York Giants during a 44-6 humiliation at the Meadowlands.

The St. Louis Rams allowed 1,370 yards and 13 offensive touchdowns in their first three games.

The San Francisco 49ers have struggled in key third-down situations, spending more than 37 minutes out of 60 on the field in two of their three defeats.

Even the Arizona Cardinals, though ranked 12th in yards allowed, can relate to their defenseless divisional brethren. The Cardinals watched Brett Favre toss six touchdown passes during a 56-35 defeat to the New York Jets in Week 4.

"I can't speak for those other teams," 49ers linebacker Patrick Willis said. "For us, it's just attention to detail. And as far as a team lining up against us and whooping our tails, that has yet to be done."

Perhaps, but we've seen enough already this season to draw conclusions about the defenses in this division. None appears good enough to hold up on its own. Each needs significant protection from its offense -- through points and ball control -- to mask flaws.

"The mystery in this whole division is what the hell is wrong with the Seahawks?" said Keith Kidd of Scouts Inc.

A team-by-team look at what ails each defense:

(Read full post)

Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando

Matt Maiocco of the Santa Rosa Press-Democrat looks at the 49ers' high draft choices on defense. We're going to stick with this theme across the division today. I've prepared a look at the last 10 defensive players each team has drafted in the first three rounds.

Mark Emmons of the San Jose Mercury News checks in with former 49ers player Ben Lynch, who is leading efforts to better understand and avoid concussions.

Darren Urban of azcardinals.com says Steve Breaston refused to run onto the field for introductions in honor of the fallen teammate he replaced, Anquan Boldin. Also, the Cardinals hold sole possession of first place in the division later than they have since the 1988 team opened with a 4-2 record.

Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic explores connections between the Cardinals' coaching staff and the Cowboys, who visit University of Phoenix Stadium on Sunday.

Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch takes Rams-related questions from readers. He thinks Dante Hall is "on a very short leash."

Also from Thomas: The Rams cut Eddie Kennison, then re-signed him almost immediately.

More from Thomas: Rams defensive end Leonard Little has high hopes now that he's healthy.

Frank Hughes of the Tacoma News Tribune describes Jordan Kent, recently signed from the practice squad, as the Seahawks' best deep threat at receiver.

Danny O'Neil of the Seattle Times looks at what remains of the Seattle passing game. It's not a pretty picture.

Clare Farnsworth of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer says the Seattle defense faces a long list of talented running backs.

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