Mailbag: Don't take Rams' choice for granted

Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando

Greg from parts unknown writes: With the rumours none of the OTs are worth the #2 pick, why is Michael Crabtree's name not mentioned for the Rams? Or B.J. Raji? WR is not the biggest need, but can you pass up a guy of his talent? And I think they need a big disruptive DT on that defense first and foremost and they are not going to find that in Rnd 2+ where they might find a quality OT.

Mike Sando: I hear you. The Rams talk has indeed focused very strongly on offensive tackles. The team does believe in building from the inside out (starting with the lines). The team does need a starting tackle after investing heavily in Marc Bulger and Steven Jackson. Adding a tackle makes sense.

You're right in saying that doesn't necessarily mean the Rams will draft one with the second overall choice. Drafting Raji might be a little tough to justify so soon after using early choices for Chris Long and Adam Carriker. Veteran Rams beat reporter Jim Thomas has all but ruled out Raji as a player the Rams are considering. But the team does have a huge need at defensive tackle. Steve Spagnuolo has a defensive background. Raji would instantly make the Rams more talented on their defensive line.

Crabtree would be an immediate starter. Pairing him with Donnie Avery would give the Rams two exciting young wideouts to build around. The value might be better than it appears to be at offensive tackle, although receiver is a harder position to evaluate.

I just think outsiders perceive the Rams' needs at offensive tackle to be great enough to justify selecting one second overall. Devaney and Spagnuolo also seem to be promoting lower-risk strategies, which also points to offensive tackle.

Overvaluing an offensive lineman in the draft can still produce a 10-year starter, as the Raiders' Robert Gallery is proving. Overvaluing players at another position can be catastrophic, as the Rams' own experience with Jimmy Kennedy demonstrated.

Few are mentioning quarterback as an option for the Rams, but we shouldn't take much for granted in this draft.

Hawk from the United Kingdome writes: Mike, I read this article by Rob Demovsky of the Green Bay Press-Gazette regarding Ted Thompson's draft strategy.

It mentioned teams using "phantom" Facebook pages in an attempt to evaluate the character of potential draft picks. This is the first I have heard about this so I wondered if you could shed some light on this practice!

Who is actually or allegedly doing it? Thanks, Todd (As always you blog makes the day a whole lot better!)

Mike Sando: I've known Thompson for about 10 years and would be shocked if he knew anything about Facebook. He's as old-school as they come. The quote he provided in response to a question about the alleged practice made me chuckle:

"I have never heard of it. If we do, I would be shocked. Actually, we don't do it, but I've never even heard of that. Quite frankly, I don't know what a Facebook is."

His reference to "a Facebook" was classic. The Vikings are reportedly one of the teams that has used those types of tactics. I'm sure others do as well.

Leesters from Phoenix writes: Hey Mike.. Sorry, they've cut off my access to blog comments at work. Leesters' wisdoms are minimized now. Did I hear you say "whew!"? It's good stuff, but it's a medium read. Theory about Boldin never "really" being on the trading block. Lurking quietly, Leesters PS: Cards will take Donald Brown, RB, Conn. Ciao!

Mike Sando: I've been in touch with your employer. It's now OK for you to resume commenting on the blog during work. As long as you don't get caught.

You raise some interesting points in your piece, but if the Cardinals truly do not find ample trade value for Boldin, the agent could ask for permission to seek trades. Don't hold your breath on that one. Arizona might not grant permission. But I do think the team will want to trade Arizona at some point before his deal expires. My rationale:

The Cardinals would essentially be trading two years of Boldin. That is probably the best way to look at the situation. Boldin has two years left on his deal. He probably would not re-sign with Arizona once the deal ended. The Cardinals probably would not name him their franchise player. The question then becomes this: At what point does the value Boldin could command in a trade exceed the value of the contributions he will make to the Cardinals?

Jake from Prescott, Ariz., writes: Hey Mike, You heard anything about Boldin to Ravens for Heap and first rounder? Out hear we heard that deal is pretty close to being closed. We also heard Boldin to Ravens for Heap, Magahee (sp?) and a draft pick. Any news? And, if its too late, what do you think of the deal?
Mike Sando: Yes, I have heard those rumblings. Cannot confirm that anything is close -- close does not count in these things -- but that move could make sense for both teams. Baltimore would clear cap space while parting with a player who has had some injury problems. The Cardinals would help themselves in the draft, rid themselves of a headache and add a starting-caliber tight end. It's not ideal value from Arizona's perspective, at least on the surface, but if Ken Whisenhunt liked Heap for his offense, it could make sense.

Jeremy from Seattle writes: Hey Mike, Out of shear boredom at work, I was looking at the AFC West NFL Nation page. I really liked the "Looking back at #(insert draft pick here)" that Bill Williamson wrote up for the AFC West teams. Is there any chance you could do something similar for the NFC West teams? I think it would be cool. Thanks!
Mike Sando: I like that stuff and can dial up any overall selection for as many years back as you would like. I'm a little surprised our tracker doesn't allow for sorting by overall choice. I put together an Excel file you can download showing every player drafted second, fourth, 10th and 31st overall since 1990, figuring that would cover enough ground. Hope it helps you get through the boredom!

Drew from Seattle writes: Who do you think each of the NFC West teams will draft?

Mike Sando: Check out the bloggers' mock draft on the site, scheduled to appear around noon ET, last I heard. The picks I made for NFC West teams tapped into only those players that remained available.

Ryan from Vancouver, B.C., writes: Hey mike, love the blog, it's always awesome to read. The one thing that worries me as a Seahawks fan about the draft this weekend is the fact that so many people are saying the Hawks will draft Mark Sanchez.
Like it would not be a bad pick for maybe a couple years down the line, but right now the team's biggest need is OT because Walter Jones is not getting any younger and there is no point in trying to get a QB if you can keep him from being sacked.

Do you see it as an option that the Hawks may take a QB from the later rounds and develop one of them in to Hasselbecks successor?

Mike Sando: In a perfect world, Seattle would draft a quarterback somewhere around the third round, then develop him into Matt Hasselbeck's eventual successor. This draft might not be conducive to a perfect world. If the Seahawks don't see a player worth anywhere near the investment that goes along with picking fourth, I think the team will have to consider one of the quarterbacks, if available. But I'm not convinced it would be the right move.

Chris from Hialeah writes: Hey Mike do you think that the 49ers will make an attempt at signing a proven veteran like Duece McCalister to take the workload off of Gore? Do you agree with the latest mock draft from cbs that J. Maclin will end up with San Fran? Thanks for taking my question.
Mike Sando: You're welcome. I think the 49ers will draft a running back instead of signing a veteran. General manager Scot McCloughan pretty much said so at the combine.

Joe from Davis, Calif., writes: You took Aikman over Manning in the all-time mock draft? Wow. I'll give credit where credit is due, Aikman is a true Hall of Fame QB, but he was a Cowboy. I know the whole premise of the article and all, but you can't put an iconic Cowboy in red and gold like that.

Mike Sando: I had nothing to do with drafting Aikman on behalf of the 49ers. I think Scouts Inc. made the selections. They asked me to provide comments.

Steven from Illinois writes: Regarding ESPN's Mock Draft for the Ages or whatever, let's go ahead and never photoshop Troy Aikmen into a Niners uniform again, right? (yes, I know what the whole purpose of that article was, but still...)
Mike Sando: It was a tough visual. Here's one for ya: Aikman would have been the 49ers' third quarterback if the team would have drafted him in 1989. Not that the 49ers enjoyed strong QB play during the Bill Walsh era.

Jim from Anchorage writes: Mike, just wanted to say good job on your comments for the Draft of the Ages. You should get a link set up on the blog just in case anybody missed it. I especially enjoyed the comment about Singletary lobbying for the team he coaches to draft himself (not a comment you get to make very often.) Keep up the good work!

Mike Sando: Thanks. The smart mouth that my wife appreciates so much came through pretty well on those, I thought. As noted, I didn't pick the players. But I did write the comments, which I'll pass along here to save you the clicking.

On Orlando Pace going to the Rams at No. 2: The Rams wanted a physical presence for their offensive line. Although Tony Mandarich appealed to unnamed members within the organization, general manager Billy Devaney ultimately couldn't resist Pace's stunning athleticism.

On O.J. Simpson going to the Bills at No. 4: General manager Tim Ruskell has built his reputation in Seattle by drawing a hard line against high-risk prospects who have demonstrated a pattern of nefarious off-field behavior. The 21-year-old Simpson checks out favorably on all fronts after his former USC teammate and Bay Area prep rival, Mike Holmgren, offers a glowing recommendation.

On Aikman going to the 49ers: Coach Mike Singletary, eager to fill the Ted linebacker spot next to Patrick Willis, made a strong case for drafting himself. In the end, team president Jed York and general manager Scot McCloughan made a stronger case for selecting the most complete college passer in recent memory.

On Eric Dickerson going to the Cardinals at No. 31: Anquan Boldin was still on the board, but team president Michael Bidwill and general manager Rod Graves sense they'll have an easier time negotiating with Dickerson's agent, Leigh Steinberg, than with Boldin's man, Drew Rosenhaus. A chance to arm Kurt Warner with a potential Hall of Fame running back proves irresistible.

Zach from New York writes: Why is KC never listed as a potential home for Crabtree (he's my current luke-warm favorite for the Hawks at 4)? Yes, they need defense, but if Curry's stock is falling that leaves the top of the draft pretty unevenly weighted towards offensive players. Also, my current thinking on the top draft picks vs the money they command is that all drafts are not created equal. I would love to be in a contract negotiation with a top-5 pick when the team says "you were number 5 this year, but #15 last year. You're no xxxx."

Obviously this won't happen, which is another reason I'm all for a salary cap on rookie contracts. Keep up the top-notch work, and let me know if you need an intern/assistant/sycophant!

Mike Sando: It's funny you offer your services as an assistant. I'm getting a few offers along those lines in the mailbag. I do want to harness the individual and collective smarts/abilities of people who share the passion we have for the subject material. Ideas?

As for why people do not link Crabtree to the Chiefs? Well, perhaps people don't have a great idea what is going to happen.

Jericho from Lodi, Calif., writes: Hey mike. what do you think about josh freeman dropping to the second round and the niners pickin him up? also do you think the niners could trade for sheldon brown? he wants out of phili... thanks for your time
Mike Sando: That option intrigues me some. I guess it depends upon what you thought about the Damon Huard signing. Shaun Hill lacks experience. He has 10 starts. Alex Smith's durability is in question. Huard gives the 49ers someone with experience. If you're comfortable going into the season without an experienced backup --
Smith really hasn't played much, either -- then I think that move could make sense.

SES from Mill Creek, Wash., writes: Hey Sando, Great Job on your blog, I read it every day. Question: Do you think the Cardinals would have to make a move with Boldin before the draft? I would think they would pretty much have to before the draft, right?? I just can't wait for AZ to fall apart!

Mike Sando: I don't think they have to make a move at all. But I do think they should at least consider trading him. You figure the team is going to strive for more balance. Acquring another first-round choice could allow the Cardinals to emerge from this draft with, say, a starting running back and a pass rusher in the first round, plus an offensive lineman in the second round. If the deal were with Baltimore, the Cardinals might be able to snag a tight end (Heap) as well. Something to consider, but Arizona could always keep Boldin, too.