Darren Urban of azcardinals.com says Steve Keim, the team's director of player personnel, places narrow parameters on the type of quarterback a team would draft fifth overall. Keim: "If you take one (with the fifth pick), to me, you have to be convinced that is 'The Guy.' He is 'The Guy' for the next 10 years, and you have no questions or concerns on both the ability side as well as the character and passion for the game and fit and intangibles. He has to be that complete player." Quarterbacks with those credentials get drafted first overall, and even then, it's tough to know for certain whether the player will meet expectations. If teams are going to miss on players that early, they would prefer to miss on non-quarterbacks. The stakes are lower.
Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic identifies Texas A&M's Von Miller as his early favorite for the Cardinals with the fifth overall choice in the 2011 draft. He's not convinced the team will draft a quarterback at all, necessarily. The Cardinals would expose themselves to easy criticism if they ignored the position in the draft and acquired an underwhelming veteran. But if they did not value any of the available quarterbacks enough to draft them early, the criticism might be off-base.
Also from Somers: The Cardinals say they are having "ongoing" talks with Larry Fitzgerald regarding a new contract. Somers: "It would behoove the Cardinals to do it before the season starts. If Fitzgerald doesn't have a new deal by then, hitting the open market becomes an even more-attractive option for him."
More from Somers: Thoughts on the quarterback class and whether Arizona might draft one fifth overall. General manager Rod Graves: "One [question] is whether or not with that fifth pick, you can afford to have a player who won't make an immediate contribution to you."
More yet from Somers: Outside linebacker Joey Porter played more snaps than anticipated, making it tougher for the Cardinals to fault his individual contributions during a difficult season, coach Ken Whisenhunt said. That context is helpful in evaluating Porter, who would have benefited from playing on a better team.
Clare Farnsworth of seahawks.com says coach Pete Carroll expects more from receiver Mike Williams and running back Marshawn Lynch in particular. On Lynch: "He missed all the stuff and the principles and the foundation of how we put the thing together. He missed all of that missing camp. So there will be still a sense of newness for him. We’re excited about him coming back and we’re looking forward to it." Lynch mostly needs improved blocking. Seattle used 11 starting combinations on its offensive line last season, and the position was not very strong at its best.
Also from Farnsworth: big-picture thoughts from Carroll, including one about how the new offensive coaches, Darrell Bevell and Tom Cable, should experience a smooth transition. Carroll: "Even in terminology. There’s always some things you have to tweak. But the great majority of it, these guys absolutely know. They cross right over. Immediately, each guy can talk his offense and they know what the other is talking about. And it allows us to not have to change much. There’s a real continuity of thought in mind there to help our players move ahead. To wholesale shift and change everything, particularly in this year, it could be even harder."
More from Farnsworth: The Seahawks are looking for bigger offensive linemen this offseason now that Cable has replaced Alex Gibbs as offensive line coach. That's a better fit for the Seahawks' personnel department, which generally adheres to Ron Wolf's thinking about football being a big-man's game, particularly over the course of a season.
Eric D. Williams of the Tacoma News Tribune passes along comments from Schneider at the combine, noting that he met with the agents for defensive tackle Brandon Mebane. Schneider on Mebane: "Brandon played well. I think Brandon’s a steady pro. Definitely, we hope we can have him back. We talked to his guys last night, and we’re having good discussions with them." Just a guess here, but Mebane is presumably hoping to get paid as though he's more than just a steady pro.
Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch profiles receiver Julio Jones, who could wind up catching passes from Sam Bradford after turning down a chance to play with him at Oklahoma. Thomas: "Some common themes at the combine are that the Rams are looking to add playmakers at every position; that there should be plenty of options -- particularly on the defensive line -- at No. 14 overall; and that they're willing to trade down. General manager Billy Devaney has said that there should be plenty of wide receiver options in the second round." The Rams have used first-round choices for offense in both seasons under coach Steve Spagnuolo. Adding a defensive lineman would certainly make sense, but passing over a potentially dynamic offensive playmaker would be tough. Building around Bradford is key.
Also from Thomas: Rams scout Luke Driscoll faces charges in Indianapolis after authorities allegedly found him intoxicated and urinating on a building at 3:20 a.m. Bars tend to be bustling with NFL types at night during the combine. Most of those bars have restrooms.
More from Thomas: Safety Oshiomogho Atogwe, released by the Rams, visited the Redskins and left without a contract offer. Thomas: "Buffalo may bring him in next week after the Bills return from the combine. Dallas and Denver are also interested but Dallas in particular isn't expected to bring in any free agents for visits until there is a new collective bargaining agreement."
Matt Maiocco of CSNBayArea.com checks in with 49ers executive Paraag Marathe for thoughts on the team's contract negotiations, strategic planning, stadium outlook and Marathe's evolving role with the team. Marathe was recently named chief operating officer. Marathe: "Where I'm able to have leadership is on the business side: marketing, business development, ticket sales, sponsorships."
Kevin Lynch of Niner Insider thinks 49ers coach, Jim Harbaugh likes quarterback Alex Smith more than the team's general manager, Trent Baalke, likes Smith. And that is logical, based on public comments from both men. The GM is going to take a bigger-picture view more of the time. And in the bigger picture, Smith isn't the answer. But in looking at the short-term options, a coach might see things differently. That is probably the case with Harbaugh.
Eric Branch of the Santa Rosa Press-Democrat wonders whether LSU cornerback Patrick Peterson could be the 49ers' choice with the seventh overall pick. Branch: "The Niners faced six signal-callers who ranked among the NFL's top 12 in passer rating last year and the results weren't pretty. Those quarterbacks completed 67.2 percent of their passes with 14 touchdowns and three interceptions. Passer rating: 110.6, which, loosely translated, means astronomical. This brings us back to Peterson, a dazzling combination of size and speed who won the Bednarik Award given to the nation's top defensive player as a junior this past season."
Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee says the 49ers could suffer from a lockout more than most teams this offseason. Barrows: "The 49ers are in an awkward position. They also are one of the teams that promise to suffer the most if owners dig in and pressure the players with a lockout that lasts through the summer or longer. They have an almost entirely new coaching staff that, in a normal year, would spend the offseason implementing new schemes on offense and defense. They also are without a starting quarterback."
Also from Barrows: 49ers defensive coordinator Vic Fangio said the team is "searching" at outside linebacker. Barrows: "None of the four 49ers outside linebackers who took meaningful snaps last season finished with more than five sacks."
More from Barrows: "Lord Fangio" was what Stanford players called him last season.