Following up: Four high picks in focus

Following up an earlier item, a look at four relatively recent NFC West draft picks, one per team and each highly drafted, under scrutiny heading toward 2011:

  • Levi Brown, LT, Cardinals. Arizona made Brown the fifth player chosen in the 2007 draft. The Cardinals could have drafted Adrian Peterson, but with a young Matt Leinart under center and Edgerrin James already in the backfield, they sought to upgrade their line. Brown has been durable, but not consistent or productive relative to his draft status. That's a surprise given Russ Grimm's presence coaching the line.

  • Donnie Avery, WR, St. Louis Rams. Avery makes the list in part because the Rams have already cut ties with several high draft choices, notably Alex Barron, Adam Carriker and Tye Hill. Health is the issue for Avery. The wideout missed only one game in his first two seasons, but he played hurt and his production sometimes suffered. A knee injury incurred during the 2010 exhibition season landed Avery on injured reserve. He needs some better luck on the injury front.

  • Manny Lawson, OLB, San Francisco 49ers. With all eyes on quarterback Alex Smith, let's consider Lawson, the 49ers' 2006 first-round choice. He has been a dominant special-teams player, but the 49ers expected more than 14.5 sacks over five seasons when they drafted him. Lawson is a free agent and the 49ers have a new coaching staff, so his future with the team is in question.

  • Aaron Curry, LB, Seattle Seahawks. Curry was considered the "safest" choice in the 2009 draft, but no one appears safe from scrutiny as the team's new leadership remakes the roster. Curry's status as the fourth player chosen in the 2009 draft raises the stakes. The 2011 season is huge for him.

Three of the four remain under contract and likely to return this season. The labor situation is limiting teams' options, anyway.