Chat with Mike Sando
Welcome to SportsNation! On Thursday, we'll have ESPN.com NFC West blogger Mike Sando stopping by to talk about the latest NFL happenings.
Sando joined ESPN.com in 2007 after nine seasons covering the Seattle Seahawks for the Tacoma (Wash.) News Tribune. He previously covered Washington State University football and basketball for the Spokane (Wash.) Spokesman-Review. Mike grew up in Northern California before attending Whitworth College, graduating in 1992 with a B.A. in political studies. He lives in the Seattle-Tacoma area with his wife and their two sons.
Send your questions now and join Sando on Thursday at 1 p.m. ET!
Sam (Louisville, KY)
Thanks for the great blog, Sando. My Rams have pick #14, which is, in my estimation, a very tradeable pick. What's the best value they could get from a team that could really use another slot in the draft?
Mike Sando (1:00 PM)
Thanks, Sam. Generally those trades are less glamorous than we might conceptualize. The Rams could, in theory, move back a couple spots and pick up, say, a fourth-round choice from another team. It is less likely they would trade it for something huge in return.
Bill (Larchmont, NY)
Big fan of the chat. Assuming the CBA gets resolved and all things proceed as normal what will it take to get Kevin Kolb for the 49ers? Would you have to part with that seventh pick in the first round or is that too much to give? Today Alex Smith is the best option, but just can't see him coming up big deep in a playoff run. If not Kolb, who can be a legit QB that Jim Harbaugh can get in there?
Mike Sando (1:06 PM)
The 49ers would not be able to acquire a top veteran quarterback from another team. They would be acquiring a Kolb type -- someone with some upside and requiring a projection that could be wrong. The seventh overall choice would be historically too high a price to pay for that type of quarterback. The Matt Schaub trade a few years ago comes to mind. The Falcons and Texans swapped first-round choices, with Atlanta also receiving second-round picks in future years. Beyond Kolb, I'm not seeing an attractive list.
Jae (St. Louis, MO)
Hey Sando, what do you make of Mel Kiper's latest mock draft? He has the Rams taking Corey Liuget, the DT out of Illinois. He's barely in his top 25 prospects. Do you really think that Julio Jones will be gone by then, and if so, why wouldn't the Rams draft the best available player? I mean, I've looked at the scouting ratings, and this guy has pretty much the same ratings as Nick Fairley. Why wouldn't he be projected to come off the board earlier in the first (like the top 10)? Kiper is really starting to get my goat!
Mike Sando (1:08 PM)
The truth is that it's early and the NFL teams do not know for sure how they'll rate the players in the final evaluation. Some teams tweak their rankings the night before the draft. Mel Kiper is making projects based on what he knows, but what he knows is changing all the time -- same as it is for the teams themselves. I find mock drafts useful as conversation starters and am thankful my livelihood does not depend on their ultimate accuracy.
Nick James (Phoenix)
How do you expect to see Horton use Pro-Bowl Adrian Wilson now in this new system? People compare him to Troy Polamalu talent-wise. Do you see Wilson's production going up and him being used more as a blitzer like Troy in Pitt? I foresee a big season for him.
Mike Sando (1:13 PM)
Getting the most from Adrian Wilson has to be a top priority for Ray Horton in his first season as defensive coordinator in Arizona. Wilson is best disrupting things around the line of scrimmage, both in the run game and as a blitzer. Horton has to feature him in these ways. Horton has repeatedly said it's less about his system and more about the players he has available to him. That has to be good news for Wilson and the Cardinals. Now, Polamalu is a different type of player. I wouldn't make a direct comparison there.
DOUG HOLZKAMP (NEWBURY PARK)
Mike, tell me what exactly will change if Coach Harbaugh keeps Alex Smith? You talk about an "offensive minded coach" with Nolan and Singletary being defensive. Tell me how does that change Alex Smith's deciscion making process with broken down protections and pressure in his face? We hear the "hes had no consistency arguement" now as you say the future could be brighter with an "offensive mind"? Aren't offensive coordinaters offensive minds?Look we have all seen flashes of great drives. How many game winning drives against winning teams? How many drives ended with a poorly thrown ball? Coach Harbaugh cannot make Alex Smith the competitor the he was "Captain Come Back". Is Coach Harbaugh the best fit he has had sure I will give you that. I guess we must ask ourleves "can a leopard change his spots? Looks like we will find out!
Mike Sando (1:16 PM)
We should not confuse bringing back Alex Smith with endorsing him as the future of the franchise. Two different things. I'll use an analogy here. I've got a 2005 Hyundai Elantra. I would like to have a better car. I realize the Elantra has some limitations. Should I ditch my Elantra if I cannot acquire something better? Or would I rather drive that Elantra, or at least keep it around, because it sure beats walking?
Joe (St. Louis)
Do you think Adam Goldberg is done as a starter for the Rams? Maybe the Rams can draft someone like Stefen Wisniewski, Rodney Hudson or John Moffitt in the second or third round?
Mike Sando (1:18 PM)
Yeah, I think the Rams will try to upgrade at that position. Goldberg has value as a swing tackle and a guy who can go into a game when needed. He doesn't really project as an ideal starter. He has problems matching up against better interior defensive linemen. We saw those problems hurt the offense in the red zone.
Jesse (Hayden, Idaho)
If there is a lockout do you think it will hurt the NFL and its popularity with its fan base. From a fans perspective it sounds like both sides are acting like spoiled brats. What is your thoughts on the topic. What do you believe is the chance of not having a season next year. Being a Seahawks fan they have a lot to do.
Mike Sando (1:19 PM)
It's a big problem for the league if a lockout ruins or severely damages the 2011 regular season. Otherwise, it's mostly posturing.
Steve (San Jose)
Hey Mike, I've heard suggestions of drafting an OLB or defensive end, but isn't the Niners' biggest need a strong corner or safety? They seemed do be doing OK with stopping the run, but their secondary got killed last year. The Niners were much better at stopping the run, so shouldn't they go for Patrick Peterson if he is available?
Mike Sando (1:21 PM)
The draft is about balancing needs and value. Ideally, those two areas would line up and the 49ers would get a franchise quarterback, shut-down corner and elite pass-rusher with their first three picks. The 49ers are picking early enough, seventh overall, to potentially have a shot at the best player for a given position. They might have to decide whether the best pass-rusher is a better value than the second-best corner, or vice versa.
Hey Mike, I asked this last week but no answer so I'll ask again. If the 49ers could get Kolb for the 7th overall pick (+ maybe a 3rd) or Kyle Orton for a 3rd or 4th would either of those situations be a good deal? Also please tell me if Cam drops to 7th we will not take him!!! Thanks, love the blog.
Mike Sando (1:23 PM)
Thanks for your persistence. Sometimes there's a large volume of questions and I do not see them all during the allotted time frame. The price for Kolb should be lower than what you outlined. As for Cam Newton, my hunch says the 49ers might have some reservations taking him that early. But I do not know what they think about him.
Nick James (Phoenix)
More Cards questions, lol. With Russ Grimm being mentioned as a head coaching candidate all the time, you would think the Cards' offensive line or run game would be at least respectable!? Is the Cards' talent on OL that bad? Or is Russ just being pumped up around the league for just being inducted into the Hall??
Mike Sando (1:26 PM)
Grimm was nearly hired as the Steelers' coach well before he went into the Hall of Fame. I think he's a good coach. The offensive line has been OK in Arizona. Not great, but generally good, and the running game has been pretty good when the team has tried to use it. The yards per carry were decent last season. Grimm's inability to mold Levi Brown into a better player has been costly. Brown is obviously responsible, too, but there is obviously talent there. Brown was universally seen as a legitimate first-round pick. He should be better.
Why oh why do I keep seeing Jake Locker's name as a possible first-round pick for Seattle? Please tell me Seattle's upgrading the OL first and foremost.
Mike Sando (1:28 PM)
Drafting a quarterback at No. 25 and upgrading the offensive line are not necessarily exclusive scenarios.
I think people forget Alex Smith started the season with 3 touch downs and 7 interceptions. Then finished with 11 TDs and 3 INTS
Mike Sando (1:29 PM)
Take away the pressure/expectations and life gets a little easier. Also, they changed offensive coordinators, which could have helped. And he had a monster game against Seattle.
Shades (Chico, CA)
Why do people (not implying you, Sando) tend to over-value draft picks? These are unproven, college players. Kevin Kolb has been an NFL starting QB, has had success, and has a nice upside. If he were a collegiate player, he would surely go high -- perhaps even with the No. 7 pick if he were as he is today. Can somebody, anybody, please, please give me a triple Oy Vey? I'd be all teeth to see the 49ers land Kolb and it doesn't seem like a No. 7 pick is too much of a reach, given the state of the QB situation. Of course, I'd rather trade a large turkey leg, a Prince Purple Rain CD, a sack of frozen burritos, a case of frozen Otter Pops, a BBQ-slathered porksteak, and a gigantic bowl of corn for Kolb. Smile.
Mike Sando (1:35 PM)
I wouldn't give up the Otter Pops, but the rest of that trade package sounds pretty good. And you make a compelling case about over-valuing draft choices. The last 10 players drafted seventh overall: Joe Haden, Darrius Heyward-Bey, Sedrick Ellis, Adrian Peterson, Michael Huff, Troy Williamson, Roy Williams (the WR), Byron Leftwich, Bryant McKinnie aqnd Andre Carter. On the other hand, the 49ers once drafted Bryant Young with the seventh pick. The Redskins drafted Champ Bailey in that slot. Troy Vincent, Sterling Sharpe and Phil Simms were taken seventh.
The true backup QB gem of this year, in my opinion, is not Kevin Kolb, but Matt Flynn. Neither is a proven winner, and both have shown swagger, but Flynn did a much better job against the Pats D when he was given a chance to play, than I have ever seen in Kolb. He would also cost much less to acquire. Since Whitehurst never looked very comfortable under center, would you say it would be a good deal for the Hawks to trade for Flynn rather than drafting a rookie, and let him beat out Charlie for the starting gig?
Mike Sando (1:37 PM)
The Seahawks' general manager, John Schneider, was with the Packers before last season. When he went after a quarterback by trade last offseason, he targeted Charlie Whitehurst. I have no knowledge of him pursuing Matt Flynn. That might tell us something about how the Seahawks viewed Flynn, at least at that time. Another thing to consider: How will the offense change with Darell Bevell as coordinator? Will the things Seattle liked in Whitehurst carry over?
Tom (Bothell, WA)
Which should be a bigger concern for the Seahawks? Signing Matt Hasselbeck or signing Brandon Mebane? It seems that if Pete Carroll and John Schneider focus too much on Matt, Brandon could leave like Steve Hutchinson. I think that would be disastrous for the Seattle D-Line. Thoughts?
Mike Sando (1:39 PM)
There is no reason Seattle cannot re-sign Matt Hasselbeck and keep Brandon Mebane, too.
Bobby (Salem, OR)
What do you think of Robert Quinn pulling a Dez Bryant and falling down to 25 for the Hawks to pick up? Their situations are eerily similar. Or do you think it has no shot considering everyone is usually wary of a wide receiver in round one and a defensive lineman is a safer bet?
Mike Sando (1:39 PM)
I'm the first to admit I do not know how teams will view all players in a given draft. But everything I've heard to this point says Quinn will be gone by then.
Any updated offseason version of the power rankings in the future?
Mike Sando (1:40 PM)
Yes, we do generally put together rankings in the spring.
Hey Mike.I've been reading a lot about Alex Smith's future as a Niner. Do you think there is any way the team can go into the 2011 season with him as a starter without angering the fan base?
Mike Sando (1:41 PM)
It just depends on how the 49ers arrived at that situation. From there, it depends solely on wins and losses.
Joe C. (Fort Worth, TX)
Hey Mike, as always, thank you for the outstanding work you do! My question is as follows: The talk around the Cardinals has been "what to do about the QB situation." The discussion goes back and forth between obtaining a veteran (i.e., Bulger, Kolb, Orton, etc) and drafting one of the top QB prospects at No. 5. From what you hear and see, what do you think is the likelihood that they do BOTH? Sign a veteran and draft a top QB prospect? In an indirect way, I'm kind of asking how you think they feel about John Skelton's potential in a year or two.
Mike Sando (1:45 PM)
Thanks, Joe. They need to sign a veteran. Once they do that, it's a little less likely, but not out of the realm of possibility, that they would draft a quarterback at No. 5. Here is my thinking: This team has needs beyond quarterback. If the Cardinals feel pretty good about the veteran they sign, and if they feel OK about developing one or both of the existing young QBs on their roster, there is even less reason to reach for a quarterback. It's just tough to draft one fifth overall unless you're willing to bet three or four years of your franchise on him. Ken Whisenhunt, in that case, could be betting his future in Arizona on that one pick. High stakes.
Dan (Harrisburg, Pennsylvania)
Love the blog. Do you think there is any chance Seattle could use their first round pick on a CB? I know its a position that needs upgraded. Any chance we grab a young CB that would solidify our secondary with Earl Thomas? It would be great to have a young, strong secondary to watch grow and develop.
Mike Sando (1:48 PM)
That seems unlikely based on what I've heard about the cornerback class and the needs Seattle has throughout its roster relative to the value of the cornerback position. We could see the team turn over that position, though. Josh Wilson is already gone. Marcus Trufant has a high salary. Kelly Jennings' contract is expiring.
Nick James (Phoenix)
Lets try for a record three questions getting answered! If say Gabbert and Von Miller are still on the board and your the GM for the Cards who do you take and why?? Do you take a risk on a QB because of the uncertainty of the CBA or go with the sure talent on the defensive side of the ball??
Mike Sando (1:50 PM)
Is this a record? Congrats! I'd probably go with the franchise quarterback and then blame the Cardinals for failing to develop him if he did not pan out. I'm joking, a little, on that second part. But if Gabbert is indeed a Top 10 pick and likely franchise quarterback, why not go that direction?
OK, so everyone agrees the Rams take Julio Jones if he is there,wouldn't it be better to pull a Belichick and trade down. Get some 2nd and 3rd rounders instead? I mean McDaniels did pretty well as the offensive coordinator without a big-time No. 1 WR in New England.
Mike Sando (1:52 PM)
I'd have no real problem with that. The Rams got James Laurinaitis and Rodger Saffold in the second round recently. They'd be fortunate to find a player at No. 14 able to contribute so much at such key positions. Laurinaitis is the quarterback of the defense. Saffold is the left tackle for a franchise quarterback. Those are a couple potentially sensational second-round picks.
Hey, Mike, great blog, man. How do you think Ray Horton will do with the Cardinals' young corners? Especially DRC --he's never been the big hitter or great tackler. Coach Horton says give me big men that can run, and small guys that can hit. You think Horton will get our guys whipped into shape? Thanks again for the Cardinals blog items!
Mike Sando (1:55 PM)
Thanks, Todd. Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie will need to shape up in terms of his overall approach to the game, in my opinion. He's a young player with tremendous talent, but his play fell off last season. He was not as consistent. While there have been times when Rodgers-Cromartie has not tackled well, I've seen him stick his nose in there other times. Horton will demand he tackles well. We could see Arizona sign a corner from Pittsburgh this offseason, too. The Steelers have a few free agents at the position.
Liam (Oakland, CA)
If the lockout goes into the season, how devestating do you think this will be to the 49ers with a new coaching staff? Do you think it could be bad enough to put them in contention for the No. 1 pick next year? We want Luck!
Mike Sando (1:58 PM)
It would hurt the 49ers, but it would hurt other teams just as much, and some of those other teams have less talent. I'd be surprised if the 49ers finished with the worst record in the league. On a side note, if I would be surprised, imagine how Jed York would feel. Yikes.
Mike Sando (2:00 PM)
Thanks for dropping by the NFC West chat this week. No lockout here!