Mailbag: How to approach QBs in draft

Jon from New York writes: One thing you've mentioned a few times on the blog recently is that the vast majority of elite QBs were first-round selections. This year's QB class seems a little weak, however, and I keep hearing that next year's class is supposed to be excellent.

With that in mind, would it be wise for the 49ers to draft a second-tier quarterback -- Christian Ponder, Andy Dalton, etc. -- in a middle round instead of a first-round guy, and then take a first-round guy next year if it looks like it's not working out?

Mike Sando: I do not think the 49ers, or any team, can make draft decisions based on what might be available to them a year later. The 49ers cannot know how early they will draft in 2012, and they cannot know whether they will like any of the quarterbacks available to them at that time. Jake Locker's shifting stock comes to mind.

Until the 49ers have a legitimate long-term starter, they should draft a quarterback in the first round every time they value one as a first-round selection.

NFL teams tend to draft quarterbacks in the first round more frequently than they take them in the second or third rounds. That helps explain why so many more good ones -- and not-so-good ones -- were first-round choices.

Teams have drafted 143 quarterbacks since 2000. They drafted 28 in the first round, 12 in the second round, 14 in the third round, 12 in the fourth round and 77 in the final three rounds.

Sixteen of the 143 have earned Pro Bowl honors. This includes nine of the 28 first-round choices, but only three of the 38 quarterbacks drafted in the second, third or fourth rounds. None of the 23 fifth-round choices has earned a Pro Bowl berth. Three of 30 sixth-rounders and one of 24 seventh-rounders have earned the honors.

Alex from Spokane writes: Hey Mike, love the blog. I just read an article saying Logan Mankins may become a free agent. If that's the case what do you think the chances are of the Seahawks making a play for him?

Mike Sando: Seahawks general manager John Schneider comes from the Ted Thompson school of personnel. Thompson has never valued guards as much as other teams have valued guards. Thompson has also proven relatively averse to free agency.

That doesn't exclude Seattle from pursuing a player such as Mankins. Schneider has described himself as more apt than Thompson to use free agency. We have already seen Schneider and coach Pete Carroll move aggressively to remake the roster. We have also seen the Seahawks struggle to field a sturdy offensive line. Adding Mankins would finally fill the void left when Steve Hutchinson departed following the 2006 season.

So, in the end, I'm saying there's a chance until we learn otherwise.

Travis from Cave Creek, Ariz., writes: I have been a Rams fan all of my life I am a football freak. Ever since that Week 17 loss to Seattle, I have been pondering the best possible offseason for the Rams.

It starts in free agency by signing Nnamdi Asomugha to help out a Rams secondary that has been allowing way too many big plays. Then we could go sign a big-time wide reciever to help out Sam Bradford. I'm thinking Vincent Jackson or Santonio Holmes, if they indeed become free agents.

Lastly, in the draft, the Rams need to help out Steven Jackson, and I cannot think of a better way to do that than drafting Mark Ingram at No. 14. Mel Kiper has him going to the Dolphins at No. 15, so there is a great chance of him falling to 14.

How plausible is all of this? And if indeed most or all of these things happened, where do you think the Rams would be going into next year?

Mike Sando: The Rams would firm up their status as NFC West favorites if those things fell into place. And that is one thing I love about the offseason; it dares us to dream.

I think it's questionable as to whether one of those things will happen, let alone all three. Oakland showed a willingness to pay huge money to Asomugha a couple years ago. Why wouldn't the Raiders do it again? Al Davis loves cornerbacks. His team has made strides. Asomugha is a terrific player and team-oriented guy. I would think the Raiders would be the favorites to keep Asomugha.

On the receiver front, yes, I could see the Rams making an aggressive play to acquire one of the better free agents at the position. Going that route before the draft would take off the pressure to find a top-tier talent from the college ranks -- always a risky proposition, especially at receiver after first few overall choices.

At running back, I just do not think the Rams will have an easy time justifying using a first-round selection for the position. They have too many needs at other positions. Jackson should be able to get them through the next couple seasons. The team would not, ideally, use a first-round pick for a running back right now.

Howie from Jacksonville, Fla., writes: The Jaguars reportedly denied the Rams permission to interview offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter. This struck me as odd. How often does one team deny access to another team's coaches? Isn't that slap in the face to the requesting team? Why would the Jaguars do this? How does Koetter feel about being blocked for possible advancement with another team?

Mike Sando: Teams must allow coaches to interview for head coaching vacancies. In this case, Koetter was already an offensive coordinator. Why should the Jaguars let him interview for a lateral move at the potential expense of their own organization?

My feel from speaking to assistant coaches over the years is that teams regularly deny permission, and that we do not know about it most of the time.

Randy from Peoria, Ariz., writes: Hello Mike. Arizona needs a quality quarterback to assist for the near term (two years), quality on-field personnel at various positions, a quality defensive coordinator, quality offensive coordinators, good draft choices for future development, players who will not demand inordinate income, fans who will not abandon the team while it searches for a way back to the win column, a moneyed partner for a Bidwill family business, new uniforms (my son designed one I'd like to promote) and the need to suspend reality while we hope the previous nine point will be addressed.

Mike Sando: The Cardinals fans I encounter seem relatively unmoved by the success the team enjoyed during its first three seasons under Ken Whisenhunt. They often seem pessimistic, as if conditioned over the years to expect bad fortune to be lurking right behind success. Getting the right quarterback would make some of those other perceived needs seem a lot easier to overcome.

Buddy from Highland, Ill., writes: Hey Mike, I'm just gonna ask a question that's been rollin' through my mind since the Rams announced Josh McDaniels' hiring as offensive coordinator and Dick Curl's retirement as quarterbacks coach. How big of a possibility is it that Kurt Warner can return to St. Louis to replace Curl?

I know it depends on what the coaches want and what's going on in Warner's life, but I think this could be a great hire for the team, and not to mention how much the fans would love it.

Mike Sando: No chance, in my view. Warner doesn't want to trade his new lifestyle for the grind and pressure associated with coaching. McDaniels would have no incentive to hire someone with no coaching experience, no experience in his offense and a profile large enough to overshadow the rest of the staff. Mainly, though, I do not think Warner would want to take his life in that direction, at all.