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NFC West Draft Winds: Rumors connecting players, NFL teams

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College Football 24/7 takes a look at the buzz surrounding the NFC West teams leading up to the 2014 NFL Draft.

Arizona Cardinals

First-round spot: 20
» Cardinals' 2014 draft picks | Draft history

The Cardinals came tantalizingly close to making the postseason in 2013 and will be eager to add the sort of talent that can help them make the leap in 2014. That will be difficult to do in the NFC West, which is arguably the best division in the NFL. Loading up on offensive line might be a priority, as could adding more talent to a defense already loaded with playmakers.

Bruce Ellington, WR, South Carolina
April 14: Elusive receiver meeting with Cardinals
Ellington (5-foot-9, 197 pounds) will visit with the Arizona Cardinals on Monday, and has a workout scheduled with the St. Louis Rams. He already has visited with the Pittsburgh Steelers and worked out for the Atlanta Falcons and New England Patriots. Ellington, who has good speed and is elusive, looks to be a second-day pick. Arizona, which picks 20th in the second (52nd overall) and third (84th overall) rounds, signed Ted Ginn Jr. in free agency, and Ellington would give them another elusive receiver to pair with "bigger" receivers Larry Fitzgerald and Michael Floyd. Ginn's ceiling is a known commodity and isn't that high; that's not the case with Ellington, who also was a weapon on jet sweeps in college. As with Ginn, Ellington has the ability to be a dangerous return man.

Nic Jacobs, TE, McNeese State
April 10: Three teams check out pro day
Representatives from 17 NFL teams -- including tight end coaches from the Cardinals, Colts and Jaguars -- were present for a pro day featuring Jacobs, who transferred to McNeese State following two seasons at LSU.

Ra'Shede Hageman, DT, Minnesota
April 10: Cardinals visited with Golden Gophers star
Hageman (6-foot-6, 310 pounds) looks like a boom-or-bust kind of guy: He has the size and athleticism to be a star, but he also was inconsistent enough at Minnesota to make you wonder how his game will translate to the NFL. Arizona owns the 20th pick but would seem to have bigger needs than a defensive lineman. Hageman possibly could be a 3-4 end, and that could intrigue Arizona, though.

Zach Mettenberger, QB, LSU
April 8: Jeremiah: Cards could draft, groom Mettenberger
The Cardinals already have a starting quarterback in Carson Palmer, but NFL Media analyst Daniel Jeremiah said they should consider drafting Mettenberger with the goal of grooming him to be the team's quarterback of the future. Jeremiah believes Mettenberger's skills as a pocket passer would fit perfectly in Bruce Arians' offense.

AJ McCarron, QB, Alabama
April 3: McCarron in the Cards?
A number of personnel guys have told NFL Media analyst Daniel Jeremiah that McCarron to the Cardinals makes sense. The Cardinals could be on the lookout for a quarterback to work behind incumbent starter Carson Palmer.

Logan Thomas, QB, Virginia Tech
April 2: The Cardinals worked out Thomas on Wednesday, Tony Pauline reported on Twitter. With this deep a class of quarterbacks, everybody should at least be in the market for a quality backup, and the Cardinals are doing their due diligence on Thomas. The guy is a phenomenal athlete, but is far -- quite far, in fact -- from a finished product. Still, coach Bruce Arians, special assistant Tom Moore, coordinator Harold Goodwin and quarterback coach Freddie Kitchens likely would be intrigued by Thomas' attributes; just don't expect Thomas to provide any kind of quality work for a while, if ever.

Adrian Hubbard, OLB, Alabama
March 12: Cardinals coach gets close look
Cardinals defensive line coach Brentson Buckner took a particular interest in Hubbard at Alabama's pro day, putting the linebacker through position drills. The Cardinals boasted a strong defense in 2013, but could look to add depth at certain positions.

Mike Campanaro, WR, Wake Forest
March 10: Campanaro had formal meeting with Cardinals
Campanaro said he held a formal meeting at the NFL Scouting Combine with the Cardinals. Campanaro -- who set a school record with 229 career receptions -- figures to be a third-day pick in the 2014 NFL Draft after running faster than expected at the combine.

Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&M
Feb. 21: Arians: Manziel's height poses 'a question mark'
For all the fuss that has been made over Johnny Manziel's height, Cardinals coach Bruce Arians has a message: It's all warranted. "There are a bunch of 6-5 successful guys who are athletic," Arians said. "The 5-11 guys, it has to throw a question mark out there."

Zack Martin, OT, Notre Dame
Feb. 20: Mayock: Is offensive tackle the route?
On a conference call with reporters, NFL Media draft analyst Mike Mayock broke down the Cardinals' options at pick No. 20 in the first round of the draft, saying, "I think Zack Martin is going somewhere in that range, plus or minus 20. If he's available, do the Cardinals buy into him as a tackle? The beauty in this kid is he can play all five positions in the NFL and some teams look at him as a Pro Bowl guard."


St. Louis Rams

First-round spots: 2 and 13
» Rams' 2014 draft picks | Draft history

The St. Louis Rams figure to be one of the busiest teams in the upcoming draft. Thanks to a trade made with the Washington Redskins to they could select Robert Griffin III in the 2012 NFL Draft, the Rams own the No. 2 overall selection in addition to their No. 13 overall pick.

Jadeveon Clowney, DE, South Carolina
April 11: Clowney visits with Rams
The St. Louis Rams, who own the No. 2 overall pick in the draft, do not have a pressing need for a pass rusher, thanks to the presense of Robert Quinn and Chris Long. But that did not prevent them from hosting a visit with Clowney. Either the Rams have an interest in taking their defense to another level, or they are trying to improve their leverage in trade talks with other teams interested in the South Carolina product by giving the impression they would consider drafting Clowney.

Tom Savage, QB, Pitt
April 10: Rams to meet with strong-armed QB
Savage (6-foot-4, 228 pounds) is one of the more polarizing quarterback prospects -- he has good size and a big arm, but he also is immobile and his mechanics go astray when he feels pressure -- and where he lands in the draft is a "beauty is in the eye of the beholder" kind of thing. St. Louis likely is looking for a young backup quarterback, and Savage could be the guy. Do the Rams like him enough to take him on the second day?

Kony Ealy, DE, Missouri
April 4: Ealy's date with Rams more than average visit
Of all the visits Ealy will be making to various NFL clubs over the next several weeks, the one to the Rams has to rank as a special one for the former Missouri defensive end. For Ealy, it will more than likely seem like a childhood dream come true -- and not just to play in the NFL. As a St. Louis native, Ealy was a Rams fans as a child and hasn't been shy about saying how much he'd like to play there.

Kelvin Benjamin, WR, Florida State
April 4: Rams checking out Benjamin
St. Louis could use a legitimate No. 1 receiver -- Tavon Austin doesn't really fit the mold -- and Benjamin's size (6-foot-5, 240 pounds) intrigues numerous teams. Still, he lacked consistency and focus at FSU and is far from a sure thing. St. Louis has two first-round picks (Nos. 2 and 13), but both seem too high to use on Benjamin. Taking Benjamin with a pick in the mid- to late 20s? That makes more sense (and plays into the "St. Louis could trade down" scenarios floating around). The Rams also pick 12th in the second round, but Benjamin likely will be gone by then.

Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, FS, Alabama
April 3: Rams eyeing free safety in first round?
NFL Media analyst Daniel Jeremiah tweeted that he would be surprised if Clinton-Dix makes it past the Rams at No. 13 overall. Jeremiah is hearing a lot of chatter among league executives about the Crimson Tide safety and thinks he's right in that 10-15 range for a team to pick him.

Greg Robinson, OT, Auburn
April 2: Rams host Robinson for visit
It was more a question of when than if, but the Rams are reportedly hosting Robinson on a visit to the team's facility. Robinson could be the Rams' choice with the No. 2 overall draft pick next month. With the way club took a commanding presence at the pro day workouts of the draft's top offensive tackles, including Robinson's, it would certainly come as no surprise.

Justin Gilbert, CB, Oklahoma State
March 29: Gilbert set to visit Rams
Gilbert told tulsaworld.com that he will meet with the Rams on Monday, and also has meetings scheduled with the Vikings, Jets and Lions. While the Rams are expected to target an offensive tackle with their No. 2 pick -- or possibly Jadeveon Clowney or Sammy Watkins, according to the latest mock drafts on NFL.com -- cornerback is also a big position of need, especially after the release of veteran Cortland Finnegan, according to NFL Media analyst Daniel Jeremiah. Jeremiah points to Gilbert and Darqueze Dennard as potential targets at pick No. 13.

Derek Carr, QB, Fresno State
March 26: Carr lines up workouts with QB-needy teams
NFL Media analyst Daniel Jeremiah revealed on NFL Network's "Path to the Draft" some teams expected to workout Carr, "Derek Carr, I'm told, has individual workouts setup with the Titans, the Cleveland Browns, the Oakland Raiders, Minnesota Vikings and St. Louis Rams."

Aaron Murray, QB, Georgia
March 19: Rams among 12 clubs interested in Murray
A dozen NFL clubs have shown more interest in Murray than others, and the Rams are among them. Murray could serve as a backup to incumbent Sam Bradford, or serve as an eventual starter in the event should Bradford -- a former No. 1 overall draft pick -- falter.

Jadeveon Clowney, DE, South Carolina
March 12: Davis: Rams should consider Clowney with No. 2 pick
While most draft experts view offensive tackle as the Rams' biggest need, NFL Media analyst Charles Davis believes the Rams should give Clowney a hard look with the No. 2 overall pick if he's available. The Rams already have a strong DE tandem in Chris Long and Robert Quinn, but Davis says a team can never have enough good pass rushers. In his latest mock draft, Davis has the Texans selecting QB Blake Bortles, followed by the Rams taking Clowney.

Jake Matthews, OT, Texas A&M
March 5: Rams show interest in top OTs at pro days
Rams offensive line coach Paul Boudreau spent extensive time with two of the draft's top offensive tackles on back-to-back pro days: Auburn's Greg Robinson on Tuesday and Matthews on Wednesday. Both are in contention to be the first offensive tackle taken in the draft, and NFL Media analyst Daniel Jeremiah has identified the position as one of the Rams' biggest needs. NFL Media draft analyst Mike Mayock has said that Matthews would be a logical pick for the Rams at No. 2.

Feb. 26: Pair of safeties on Rams' radar
Ha Ha Clinton-Dix of Alabama and Calvin Pryor of Louisville are considered the top two safeties in the draft, and both had formal interviews with the Rams at the NFL Scouting Combine, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports.

Sammy Watkins, WR, Clemson
Feb. 25: Rams interviewed Watkins
The Rams are sitting pretty at No. 2 overall in the 2014 NFL Draft first-round order and are seemingly in "best available" mode with a roster already possessing some strong talent. At the NFL Scouting Combine, the projected top receiver in the draft -- Watkins -- was one of the players interviewed by the Rams, coach Jeff Fisher said.


San Francisco 49ers

First-round spot: 30
» 49ers' 2014 draft picks | Draft history

The 49ers are loaded at virtually every position group, but -- despite already possessing Anquan Boldin and Michael Crabtree -- could use a receiver that can stretch the field vertically. Defensive line might also be an area addressed in the offseason given that productive, yet aging, defensive lineman Justin Smith can't play forever.

Demarcus Lawrence, DE, Boise State
April 14: 49ers meeting with Aldon Smith replacement?
There's a lot of buzz around Lawrence (6-foot-3, 251 pounds) of late, and he is seen by some analysts as a candidate to potentially sneak into the end of the first round. While he held up relatively well against the run at Boise State, Lawrence's main selling point is his pass-rushing ability, which seemingly means a move to outside linebacker in the NFL. He had a combined 20 sacks and 34 tackles for loss in 2012 and '13 at Boise State. Lawrence left Boise State after his junior season, and played at a junior college before signing with the Broncos. The Sacramento Bee reported that the visit was set up before Sunday's arrest of 49ers pass-rusher deluxe Aldon Smith, but Smith's situation could lead to San Francisco taking a pass rusher in the first round. The 49ers pick 30th overall, which seemingly now is in line with where Lawrence could go. At the least, he should be off the board by the end of the second round.

Storm Johnson, RB, UCF
April 10: 49ers to host visit for UCF RB Johnson
Johnson (6-foot, 209 pounds) was a key player for a UCF team that went 12-1 and beat Baylor in the Fiesta Bowl. He is seen by most analysts as a third-day pick, but he is a solid all-around back and some teams could think he is worthy of a third-round selection. While he's not a burner, he has enough speed to turn the corner and also is effective between the tackles. In addition, Johnson -- who began his career at Miami before transferring -- is a good receiver (30 receptions in 2013). The 49ers are deep at running back, though, and it would be somewhat of a surprise if they drafted him.

Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&M
April 2: Harbaugh: 'I'd welcome challenge of taking Manziel'
Sometimes, a coach who would have no conceivable need for a particular player is far more willing to speak his mind about him. For example, 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh's take on Manziel. "I'd welcome the challenges of taking Johnny Manziel," Harbaugh said. "(He) sees the field like nobody I've ever seen see the field in college football. You'd love to work with that."

Sammy Watkins, WR, Clemson
March 29: Jeremiah: Niners have ammo to target Watkins
The Niners have a need for an explosive wide receiver, and with the 30th pick, Brandin Cooks and Marqise Lee are two possible targets. But with six picks in the first three rounds, NFL Media analyst Daniel Jeremiah says they have the ammunition to trade up and target a "difference maker" like Watkins, who is projected to go no later than the No. 7 pick in NFL.com's latest mock drafts. Should the Niners stay put, Jeremiah also names linebacker Ryan Shazier as a possibility, with NaVorro Bowman sidelined with a knee injury.

March 19: 49ers' Harbaugh at Virginia Tech's pro day
49ers coach Jim Harbaugh attended Virginia Tech's pro day, where he could have been following cornerbacks Antone Exum and Kyle Fuller, defensive end James Gayle and quarterback Logan Thomas.

Mike Evans, WR, Texas A&M
March 5: 49ers meet with Evans
Evans has talked to the 49ers, who might be on the lookout for playmaking receivers in the draft. However, Evans also believes that he will be a top-10 draft pick -- recent mock drafts on NFL.com have Evans going anywhere from No. 9 to No. 13. That would require the 49ers -- who own the No. 30 overall pick in the first round -- to make an aggressive move up via a trade.

Jimmy Garoppolo, QB, Eastern Illinois
March 4: Garoppolo has private workout with Harbaugh
San Francisco 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh was at Northwestern's pro day, reportedly to watch Eastern Illinois QB Jimmy Garoppolo in a private workout. Garoppolo, who is Mike Mayock's No. 5-rated quarterback, was at Northwestern's pro day because Eastern Illinois did not have its own event. The 49ers currently have only two quarterbacks on their roster -- starter Colin Kaepernick and McLeod Bethel-Thompson. They have the 30th pick in the first round.

Kelvin Benjamin, WR, Florida State
Feb. 24: 49ers prefer players with long arms
The 49ers take some of the measureables from the NFL Scouting Combine seriously, notably the length of a player's arms, The Sacramento Bee reports. Four of the team's draft picks in 2013 had arms 34 inches or longer, and the team's first-round pick -- Eric Reid -- had 33 5/8-inch arms (longest among safeties in the 2013 draft class). With a need at wide receiver, Benjamin (34 7/8-inch arms) could be in play for the team's No. 30 overall selection.


Seattle Seahawks

First-round spot: 32
» Seahawks' 2014 draft picks | Draft history

The Seahawks dump trucked the Denver Broncos in Super Bowl XLVIII in one of the most impressive championship victories in the game's history. However, it's time for the champions to reload, and there are areas of needs on this deep and young roster. A big-time tight end would be a nice luxury for quarterback Russell Wilson, as would a true No. 1 wide receiver. Offensive line could be addressed in the draft, too.

Cody Latimer, WR, Indiana
March 30: Seahawks among six official pre-draft visits for Latimer
The Seahawks have a private workout scheduled with Latimer, according to the Baltimore Sun. The report says Latimer is regarded as a rising prospect and that Seattle is one of six clubs that have official pre-draft visits scheduled with the former Hoosiers receiver. Latimer is considered a potential mid-round pick.

Brandin Cooks, WR, Oregon State
March 14: Seahawks assistant attends pro day
Seahawks wide receivers coach Kippy Brown was among those from 20 different NFL teams on hand for Oregon State's pro day, where teams got one last look at Cooks before the draft. The Seahawks could be on the lookout for a receiver to select with their No. 32 overall pick in the first round following the loss of Golden Tate in free agency.

Connor Shaw, QB, South Carolina
March 10: Seahawks showing interest in Shaw
Shaw said the Seahawks are among the teams showing the most interest in him, which makes sense given that the team's offense is operating effectively with a mobile quarterback. South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier compared Shaw's athleticism and escapability to Super Bowl champion quarterback Russell Wilson's.

Deone Bucannon, SS, Washington State
March 2: Bucannon mimics Seahawks' talented safeties
Residing in the same state as the Super Bowl XLVIII champion Seahawks, Bucannon has followed the progress of the team's famed "Legion of Boom" secondary and acknowledged to the Seattle Times that the team's Pro Bowl safeties have supplied him with a blueprint for success in the NFL.

Feb. 26: What options might Seahawks have at pick No. 32?
As the draft order stands now, the Seahawks will wrap up the festivities from Radio City Music Hall on Thursday, May 8 with the final pick in the first round. While some of the premier talent will be long gone, the Seattle Times speculates which players that would fill a team need that might still be available, a list that includes wide receivers Kelvin Benjamin and Brandin Cooks, guards David Yankey and Xavier Su'a-Filo and tight end Jace Amaro.

Sammy Watkins, WR, Clemson
Feb. 21: Carroll: Watkins great, but not because of speed
Watkins is planning to dominate in the NFL Scouting Combine, but don't count on Pete Carroll being among those obsessing over his 40-yard dash time, or about how he fares in any other drill. Not to say that he won't be impressed by his results. Carroll just knows there's much more to Watkins' game than blazing speed.


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