'NFL Live' recap: NFC West in focus

Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando

NFL Live asked me to project four NFC West players in four categories. I'll list the answers I gave on the broadcast, which runs again at 7:30 p.m. and 12:30 a.m. ET.

Most Impressive Rookie

Aaron Curry, LB, Seahawks. The first-round linebacker from Wake Forest emerged from minicamps as the only sure-fire rookie starter in the division. Curry showed more pass-rush potential than anticipated. He can become an impact player right away in Jim Mora's defense.

Breakout Players

Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, CB, Cardinals. The tallest cornerback in the division might also be the most athletic. That's a rare combination. The 6-foot-2 cover man has picked up where he left off after an impressive finish to his rookie season. Kurt Warner says he sees stardom in DRC's future.

Best Position Battle

Shaun Hill vs. Alex Smith in San Francisco. The 49ers are holding another quarterback competition. Hill is the favorite based on his 7-3 record as a starter. Smith is healthier than he's been and pushing for the job. The organization would love to have Smith emerge, but coach Mike Singletary will make him earn the job.

On the Hot Seat

Alex Barron, LT, Rams. The Rams cut Orlando Pace and drafted rookie Jason Smith to replace him -- eventually. In the meantime, Barron -- chosen 19th overall in 2005 and a disappointment so far -- is lining up as the starter on the left side. This is a contract year for Barron, so it's time to prove himself or move on.