Mailbag: Rams could be stuck with pick

Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando

Josh from Fontana, Calif., writes: Hey Mr. Sando, my Rams have some needs but have been doing a great job filling them. Now we have the 2nd pick and we should have the two best players in the draft available to us then (Aaron Curry and Michael Crabtree).

I know there are some teams that would do some trading for these guys, giving my Rams some additional picks (hopefully a 1st and an additional 2nd). Now, what teams do you see attempting to do this. Your comments please.

Mike Sando: This question provides an opportunity for a little draft history lesson, courtesy of some research I conducted before the 2008 draft.

Three teams have traded into the top 10 picks since 2003. The moves proved costly in more ways than one.

"Trades are a unique thing in the first round anymore because of the cost of the top 10 picks financially," Indianapolis Colts president Bill Polian said. "To take on that cost, then to give up something to do so, it is almost counterintuitive, and that's clearly not what the draft was designed to be."

In 2003, the Saints sent the 17th and 18th choices as part of a package to Arizona for a package that included the sixth pick. New Orleans drafted Georgia defensive tackle Johnathan Sullivan, who was out of the league after 16 starts and three NFL seasons.

Also in 2003, the Jets traded the 13th and 22nd picks as part of a package to Chicago for the fourth overall choice. The Jets drafted defensive lineman Dewayne Robertson, a durable starter who hasn't become an impact player.

In 2005, Minnesota traded receiver Randy Moss to the Raiders for the seventh and 219th choices, plus linebacker Napoleon Harris. The Vikings used the seventh choice for receiver Troy Williamson.

In other words, the Rams might not find anyone eager to take that second overall choice off their hands. This draft doesn't feature anyone perceived to be a Peyton Manning-type player. For that reason, I'd be a little surprised if someone swooped into that No. 2 spot.

No team since 2003 has traded into the top five picks from lower in the round. I had thought this was the case since 1999. Thanks to Damon Moffa for setting me straight (ever so politely, of course) via Facebook.

Chad from Denver writes: Shaun Hill is a sight for sore eyes with how calm he looks in the pocket. But then again, this is compared to watching J.T. O'Sullivan run the offense for half a year.

Mike Sando: I'm still shocked O'Sullivan didn't pan out given the high expectations for him at this time last year. Oh, wait ...

Sarmstro from Philly writes: Question about the cardinals RB's. Are they really as down as every seems to think on hightower. I mean I have not watched him all year but he looked pretty good to me in the Super Bowl. Drafting a young back you have to ask the question can he block...etc.. IF they are mimicking the steelers program, yes, you draft but you let the previous year's starter play until it is time to move on ... is Tim's days numbered?

Mike Sando: I don't think the Cardinals are necessarily down on Hightower. They liked him enough to rely upon him in critical situations last season. Hightower came through better than the typical fifth-round choice from a smaller program. The issue would be whether he projects as a starting tailback for years to come. I think it's fair to say the team should try to upgrade that position from that standpoint.

Gerald from Norcross writes: I disagree with you about Arizona needing a tailback. First they need one and possibly two starters on that offensive line. Until that happens, no RB that they acquire is going to be any more effective than was Edgerrin James, Thomas Jones, Emmitt Smith, or Garrison Hearst.
This is not to say that they do not need a starting tailback, but rather that if they do not improve their OL, getting a starting tailback wouldn't be worth the 1st round draft pick. If their OL is going to remain terrible, they might as well use their draft picks on defense. Also, upgrading their OL will help Matt Leinart or whoever else replaces Kurt Warner.

Mike Sando: I think we are both right. Here is what I mean. Quite a few NFL people think a great back makes the offensive line. Now, a great offensive line can help an average back succeed while putting a great back over the top. But a great back can make defenders miss, turning nothing into something. The Cardinals do not have that type of back.

Arizona could use an upgrade at center. Deuce Lutui made strides at right guard, I thought, but a top-flight player in that spot would help the offense. I liked Mike Gandy. He played through a pretty bad ankle injury and was mostly effective. Yes, the Steelers got to him in the Super Bowl, but it wasn't like the Cardinals were max-protecting, either.

Beau from LaGrande, Ore., writes: Mike -- In regards to the Peterson/Redding trade I couldn't be happier. There was no way the Seahawks were going to keep him past this season so in reality we only lost him for one year. Redding helps turn a weakness into a real strong point for the Hawks. We have added a couple less expensive DL that should help shore up the run D. In my humble opinion for every "highlight" play JP made he would be out of position the next one. He has a tendancy to overpursue and lock onto the QB and forget they may run the ball.

Mike Sando: That's not a bad way of thinking about it. Peterson's cap number would have jumped to $9.8 million in 2010. Lofa Tatupu's contract would also balloon at that point. That makes you correct in assuming the price tag for Peterson would have been prohibitive one year from now -- particularly with Leroy Hill becoming a big-money player.

Lee from Greensboro, N.C., writes: Mike, two quick questions. With the signing of Ray Willis, what are the chances the Hawks take a OT in the draft? Is Willis strictly a RT to battle with Sean Locklear or is he a potential heir apparent to Big Walt? Do you think the Hawks are still looking at Michael Crabtree at the 4th pick since Housh is in the fold? Guess the questions weren't all that quick.
Mike Sando: They were quick enough. Thanks. Wills projects as a right tackle or as a guard. He would not project as a left tackle. Locklear would probably move to left tackle if something happened to Walter Jones. Willis would then be the leading candidate at right tackle. Re-signing Willis diminishes tackle as an immediate need, but the team could still take one.

Matt from Westbrook, Maine, writes: Sando, before the release of Pace I thought the Rams' best bet would be to draft Curry at #2 and grab the best OT in round 2. But now that we have one OT on our roster, I beleive Jason Smith is the #2 pick if he lasts past the first pick. Do you see the Rams grabbing Ron Brace or the best available LB in round 2?

Mike Sando: Yes, I do think the Rams would need to strengthen the middle of their defense if they went with the offensive tackle in the first round. I could definitely see the team taking a defensive tackle or linebacker in the second. Receiver would be another position of need.