Mailbag: Sizing up the Rams' linebackers

Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando

Kristof from Jacksonville writes: Mike, after reading some articles about the Rams, a consensus weak spot are the linebackers, both the quality and the depth. Most of the talk has been about the new staff and the receivers, but how do the Rams' linebackers compare to the rest of the division? And what are the other weak spots in the West?

Mike Sando: The Rams' linebackers have much to prove. Will Witherspoon, Chris Draft, Quinton Culberson and rookie James Laurinaitis are the only ones I would consider as potential starters. Draft is 33 years old and nearing the end. Culberson didn't last long as a starter when the Rams played him in that role last season. That leaves Witherspoon and Laurinaitis as arguably the only Rams linebackers a team would want in its lineup for a full season. The players could prove otherwise, but I think the evidence is there.

The other linebackers on the team -- Dominic Douglas, K.C. Asiodu, Chris Chamberlain, David Vobora and Larry Grant -- own a combined one NFL start.

The Rams need Laurinaitis to emerge as an immediate impact player at the position.

Kenny from Las Vegas writes: If a player -- Michael Crabtree -- were to hold out the entire year, could they re-enter the draft the next year? Could you please explain how this would work? Thanks.

Mike Sando: Yes, a player would become eligible for the draft once again. I cannot recall the last time it happened. A player could go that route to rehab from an injury, thereby improving his stock, or to avoid signing with a particular team. Crabtree won't go that route.

Hayden from San Francisco writes: Sando great work everyday. You make the offseason almost bareable. My question is, what is the deal with Crabtree? Is he getting any closer to signing? Rookies report [Tuesday], don't they? Rookie holdouts by far are the worst thing about football (along with unproven players making top salaries in the league, but that's another email). I know you'll keep us updated when you hear anything. Thanks. GO NINERS!

Mike Sando: Thanks, Hayden. Of all the NFC West choices, Crabtree had the best chance of an impasse, in my view, because Crabtree was perceived as a top-five talent and the best receiver in the draft, only to slip to No. 10 -- after the Raiders made Darrius Heyward-Bey the first receiver drafted.

I don't think Crabtree's potential absence is a huge deal. Crabtree was already going to be behind this season. It was doubtful to me how much he would contribute as a rookie after missing so much time rehabbing the foot injury. If he misses two weeks of camp, yes, that would be significant. If he misses the first weekend, no big deal.

Let's wait to see how much camp Crabtree misses -- if he misses any camp -- before trying to figure out the impact.

Craig from Tennessee writes: What are the odds the Cardinals will try and sign Michael Vick? I mean, on Twitter, Darnell Dockett and Larry Fitzgerald went out of there way to say he has paid his debt. The Cards sure could use a fast RB and maybe even use him as a returner. Ken Whisenhunt had [Antwaan] Randle El in Pittsburgh and loved him. Vick is 10 times better then him. I'm saying it: The Cards will sign Vick for two years at $1 million a year ... and give him a chance!
Mike Sando: Don't see it happening, Craig. One, the Cardinals probably aren't following their players' Twitter accounts for guidance on personnel matters. Two, general manager Rod Graves has already said the team will not sign Vick.

I do think extreme circumstances can change a team's priorities, but unless the Cardinals lose Kurt Warner, Matt Leinart and possibly even Brian St. Pierre to injury, I have a hard time thinking they would sign him. I also don't necessarily see Vick trying to return as a specialist. His value was as a quarterback.

Antonio from Oakland writes: What's the situation with Jordan Kent on the Seahawksawks? Does he have any potential?

Mike Sando: Kent has potential and he has worked hard to maximize it, but I haven't seen evidence he'll be more than the fifth guy on a roster. The Seahawks found out last season what it means to rely upon players of that caliber. It's one thing to keep a player around as the fifth or sixth guy and say you like his potential. It's another thing to play him extensively.