Around the NFC West: Pivotal pick for Rams' GM?

Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando

Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says the Rams' decision to draft James Laurinaitis over Rey Maualuga in the second round could be a defining one for general manager Billy Devaney. Thomas: "These are the types of decisions that can shape franchises and put their stamp on coaching and general manager tenures. For those reasons and more, no Rams draft pick, not even No. 2 overall pick Jason Smith at offensive tackle, will be under as much scrutiny during his rookie season as Laurinaitis."

Bill Coats of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch provides several notes from the Rams' minicamp. I liked Marc Bulger's quote about getting to know center Jason Brown. Bulger: "We're getting there. It's just a feel thing ... you know, literally." Any levity from Bulger is a good thing for the Rams because it suggests he's having fun after a couple of tough seasons.

Bernie Miklasz of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says the Rams' perceived emphasis on helping Bulger persists even though the team has probably done more to help Steven Jackson. Of course, anything that helps Jackson also helps Bulger.

Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic says the Cardinals' 2008 draft class -- notably defensive end Calais Campbell -- needs to step forward. Good quote from the 6-foot-8 Campbell, who is working on technique: "I've got to be consistent and show them I'm an every-down player. Being 6-8 definitely can be a problem if you don't play with great technique. If you get high and an offensive lineman gets under you, you're going for a train ride."

Also from Somers: Speed isn't a problem for rookie cornerback Gregory Toler.

Bob McManaman of the Arizona Republic says former Rams backup Anthony Becht hopes to become the Cardinals' starting tight end. Coach Ken Whisenhunt: "There's going to be a lot of competition with that group this year, I'm sure of it. We like what we have. I liked what we had last year, too, but we were dealing with a lot of injuries there. It'll be interesting to see how things develop moving forward." Becht's ties to Whisenhunt from their days together with the Jets should help him, to a point. Jerame Tuman also had ties to Whisenhunt.

Ed Thompson of Scout.com caught up with Seahawks rookie Deon Butler before the former Penn State receiver participated in the team's post-draft camp. Butler hadn't made a pre-draft visit to the Seahawks. He had no idea the team was interested in him. Former Penn State teammate Aaron Maybin, who did visit the Seahawks, put in a good word for Butler. The Seahawks liked Maybin, but in drafting Aaron Curry with the fourth overall choice, Seattle selected another player who did not visit team headquarters before the draft.

Rob Staton of Seahawks Draft Blog thinks Aaron Curry has a good chance at becoming defensive rookie of the year in 2009. Staton: "The last six defensive rookies of the year were all linebackers."

Eric D. Williams of the Tacoma News Tribune says Matt Hasselbeck is moving well at Seahawks practices. Hasselbeck surprised and then outran defensive end Darryl Tapp on a bootleg.

Danny O'Neil of the Seattle Times says Hasselbeck and T.J. Houshmandzadeh are working well together. Receiver Courtney Taylor also stood out.

Daniel Brown of the San Jose Mercury News says 49ers rookie linebacker Scott McKillop reminds him of Derek Smith. Brown also touches on the quarterback situation and other rookies. Brown: "Based on his strong play from last season, I think Shaun Hill has the upper hand in the quarterback competition. And he looked crisp on Saturday, betraying his reputation as a shaky practice player."