2011 NFL draft update: Carpenter's outlook

The first in a series of items revisiting 2011 NFC West draft choices and their 2012 outlook:

For months, the Seattle Seahawks assumed James Carpenter would land on the "PUP" list for players injured severely enough to miss camp and the start of the season.

There were even rumblings Carpenter, a first-round draft choice in 2011, would miss the season entirely after suffering a severe knee injury during a November practice.

The outlook has changed. While teams around the league have begun placing players on their physically unable to perform lists, Carpenter stayed on the roster at the reduction to 75 players. If he remains active at the reduction to 53 on Friday, which now seems likely, Carpenter could factor into Seattle's plans much earlier than once anticipated. Players on the PUP list must miss the first six weeks.

Under one potential scenario, Carpenter could work his way into the lineup at left guard, at which point the current starter there, Paul McQuistan, would serve as a swing tackle. McQuistan can play every position on the line but center. He even played left tackle late last season, including when Marshawn Lynch ended the San Francisco 49ers' streak of 36 games without allowing a 100-yard rusher.

Pairing Carpenter with tackle Russell Okung on the left side appeals to the Seahawks even though Carpenter entered the NFL as a right tackle. Carpenter struggled initially at right tackle. The injury set him back. With Breno Giacomini fairly entrenched at the tackle spot opposite Okung, Carpenter projects to guard for the long-term future. His size and aggressive demeanor could serve him well there.

For now, Carpenter continues to rehab.

Eight other 2011 draft choices are projected to start for NFC West teams heading into the regular season. That is the average number for the NFL's eight four-team divisions.

Back in a bit with a look at those players.