Mailbag: Houshmandzadeh and Seattle's draft

Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando

Jon from Seattle writes: Hi Mike, how does the acquisition of T.J. Houshmandzadeh affect the Seahawks' strategy going into the NFL draft?

Is Michael Crabtree still an option? If so, where does he fit into our WR corps? I feel like he's from the exact same mold as T.J.: big body, possession receiver that won't blow by corners. Can teams get by having the same type of receiver at each wideout? Would Nate Burleson in the slot provide the deep threat we need to keep the safeties honest?

If Crabtree doesn't fit our needs anymore, what do we do with the 4th pick? I had also seen a lot of talk about us talking BJ Raji, from BC. We just signed Colin Cole from GB, and they're both in the 6-1, 330 lb run stopper range , so that seems unlikely.

About a month ago, there were talks of us taking Aaron Curry (assuming he was still available at 4), but now that we've franchised Leroy Hill, seems unlikely too.

What's our best play here? Do we try to take an OT and mold a
replacement for an aging Walter Jones? Are we going to trade down and try to pick up a RB? Mo Morris left and I am still not convinced Jones can carry the load.

Do we address the abysmal secondary? I still love the idea of Crabtree. I understand our other needs, but I don't see many other prospects like him out there. What are your thoughts? Thanks!

Mike Sando: Your confusion means the Seahawks have done a nice job in free agency, at least on paper. The team doesn't have a single glaring need at this point, beyond pass-rush help. We should not dismiss the need for a young receiver, however. Houshmandzadeh turns 32 this season. Deion Branch turns 30 in July. Nate Burleson is coming off reconstructive knee surgery. Ben Obomanu has some potential at age 25, but the Seahawks still need to develop receivers for the future.

As for the speed aspect, it's a little overrated. The Cardinals have the best receiving tandem in the league even though Larry Fitzgerald and Anquan Boldin are not speed receivers. The Seahawks can't have enough good receivers at this point.

If Seattle does not view Crabtree or another receiver as the answer at No. 4, I would think Jim Mora might like to bolster than defensive front seven. Trading down for a running back might also make sense, but only if you're convinced the value isn't right at No. 4.

Yousef from Virginia writes: Hey Mike, how come people don't talk about the Rams WR position as a major weakness for this team. I mean, if they release Holt like they are expected to, their top 3 WRs are Avery, who had his moments last year but is still a bit raw, Burton, who looks like he might be able to be a possesion WR but hasn't done anything to prove it and Dane Looker, who's best attribute is his ability to hold kicks.

It seems to me as if they are hitching their wagon to three rather unproven players. Can they really count on these guys to make an impact, or will they make a move to address the WR position?

Mike Sando: I predict people will more frequently talk about receiver being a weakness for the Rams once the team releases Torry Holt. You make great points, and I can take it further by noting that Looker isn't even on the team. He's a free agent. If I were the Rams, I would strongly consider drafting a big-play receiver early if I thought Orlando Pace could start at left tackle for one more season.

The Rams have enough needs to justify quite a few directions in the draft. They need to strengthen the middle of that defense, too.

Jeffrey from Blackwood, N.J., writes: Hey Mike I see how deliberate the 49ers are this year in free agency. They are not just picking guys off the heap like we did in the past. A lot of talk has gone around about this QB or that Corner and Wide receiver. It looks to me that Mike Singletary is making sure the players fit the scheme or mold of the way we are going to play.
I am curious. With all the competition for QB , is there any talk about Mike Robinson getting a shot, or even a look. I know he was very raw as a QB at Penn State, but he has a cannon for an arm, and won quite a few games at Penn State. He is mobile which we will need with the O-line the way it is. I know it was not always pretty, but with the QB's we have on the roster or lack of maybe a look in mini camp won't hurt

Mike Sando: The signing of Damon Huard -- subsequent to your mailbag question -- changes the dynamics a little bit. To me, it looks like the 49ers are setting up themselves to draft a quarterback at some point in the first three rounds. Huard is the classic mentor.

As for Robinson, it's probably a little late for him to make that adjustment at the pro level.

Kris from Terre Haute, Ind., writes: T.J. is a talent at WR and should benefit the Seahawks, but realistcally, how is Seattle any better than Cincy? Hasslebeck had injury issues last year just like Palmer. Both O-lines have holes that need addressing. Both running games are non-existent. Both defenses struggled to produce? Other than proximity to L.A., I can't see much if any upside for T.J.. What am I not seeing here?

Mike Sando: Seattle's running game wasn't bad last season. Both backs averaged better than 4 yards per carry. Seattle averaged about 30 additional yards per game without Houshmandzadeh and often without any other viable receivers. No question, both teams have issues, but Seattle has a much better chance to win its division.

Paul from Santa Barbara writes: Know some folks who fly Gulfstream IV's. Price to the customer is $5000/hr. That was in good times, maybe things are cheaper now. You can "build a trip". It says that trip would be $45K. -Longtime Sando fan.

Mike Sando: Great info, Paul. And thanks to the others who came through with flight-related cost analyses after I wondered how much the 49ers might have spent in flying Kurt Warner from Phoenix to San Jose and back for his visit. Others said they thought a flight might cost as little as $10,000 depending on the aircraft. Todd from London passed along a link to a page with cost estimates.

I would much rather get some frequent-flier miles sitting in an exit row, not that a private jet is a realistic option at this point in the blog's development.

Mike from Danville writes: I was recently on a business trip and sitting next to me was a private pilot for one of the jet services. He told me a couple of things. If you do not own your own jet, you buy into a cooperative where you are part owner in a jet service and the dues to belong are $500,000 plus. Then you pay a monthly fee to belong of $6,000 to $12,000 a month depending on the size of the aircraft. Then you pay for the pilot, and co-pilot and the fuel when the plane is in use. Plus airport fees. So just in fuel and fees to get Kurt Warner to San Francisco was somewhere in the neighborhood of $35,000 to $42,000 plus. Hope that this helps.

Mike Sando: More good information. I can find out what teams pay for these flights. I'll just have to ask the right person when I get the opportunity.

Toby from Granada Hills writes: Mike, Not that I think they'll sign him, but would Jason Taylor fit as an OLB in the Niners' 3-4 scheme?

Mike Sando: At a reasonable price, sure. I just do not think Taylor would sign with the 49ers for a reasonable price.