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!
Mike Sando (1:42 PM)
Whoa, running late here. Sincerest apologies. Let's dive in!
Mike Sando (1:43 PM)
I'll stay a full hour, too.
Ryan K. (Redding ca)
Do you see Marshawn Lynch returning to his past form this year? I was a little peeved that you didn't profile him like you did for Steven Jackson and Frank Gore.
Mike Sando (1:46 PM)
Gore and Jackson got profiles in relation to the votes they received for our package on the 10 best backs in the NFL. Lynch received no votes, so I did not consider profiling him. But we can certainly talk about him here. I think he'll be as good as the Seahawks' offensive line allows him to be. That line was a patched-together mess last season. Lynch could certainly become a 1,200-yard back with the right line in front of him.
What are your thoughts about 49ers looking at QB with their second-round pick? There are some interesting choices in that area like Andy Dalton and my favorite Christian Ponder.
Mike Sando (1:48 PM)
Mixed feelings. The second round historically isn't where teams find quarterbacks. Now, if a good one falls there for whatever reason, take him. But the strongest talent at that position tends to have a hard time getting out of the first round. So, if the 49ers find one in the second round, there's probably a good reason that player slipped -- and we might lower expectations accordingly.
Bill C. (Los Angeles)
At this juncture who do you consider the favorite to win the division this year?
Mike Sando (1:49 PM)
I'm leaning toward the St. Louis Rams based on the quarterback situation and the expectation that Sam Bradford will improve, even with a new system. Now, we need to see how the other teams in the division address that position. Right now, though, the other teams in the division have bigger question marks at quarterback, plus new coordinators. That is tough.
Hey Mike! With the lockout, lots of players in the draft will go dormant until September. Doesn't that make drafting quarterbacks risky?
Mike Sando (1:51 PM)
Well, it's risky already. If the lockout runs deep into the summer, we could see fewer rookies making impacts at any position. And in most cases, quarterbacks aren't going to contribute much, if anything, during their rookie seasons. So it could actually hurt those guys less in the short term, unless you were counting on one of them to play.
Shaun Harper (Salt Lake City, UT )
I'm a big-time 49ers fan. Do they go QB first round? Wouldn't the best option be to try and sign McNabb or Kolb and then maybe still have a shot at getting Ryan Mallet as a back-up for a couple of years?? (Considering there is a 2011 NFL season)
Mike Sando (1:53 PM)
The market for Donovan McNabb is going to be very, very interesting now that two supposed offensive gurus -- Andy Reid and Mike Shanahan -- decided he was not the quarterback for them. If I'm the 49ers, I'm looking at those situations in Philadelphia and Washington pretty closely. And Jim Harbaugh should have a good feel given his background as a quarterback. Now, would McNabb be better than what the 49ers have had in the recent past? Yes, and that alone makes him a decent fallback option if the team doesn't find in the draft a quarterback to play right away. If you get Kevin Kolb, you're probably giving up draft-choice compensation, which makes it tougher to think of him as a bridge to the future. He sort of needs to be the future, then.
Jacob (Saint Louis)
Thank you for all the work you do, Mike. If the two big wide receivers are off the board, do you see the Rams trading down? The Rams have a lot of holes to fill, and this seems to be a deep draft. A little over a week ago, Tim Kavanagh said that he could see the Steelers trading up. Would a trade with them even be possible?
Mike Sando (1:59 PM)
The Steelers trade draft choices less frequently than most teams trade them. When they do look to make a deal, watch out. They tend to have a good reason. The last time they traded up into that No. 14 range, they snagged Troy Polamalu at No. 16. The Rams need quality, too, so I wouldn't move back too far. And it's really unlikely, I think, that Pittsburgh would move up from No. 31 all the way to No. 14. That is a big jump and would be costly.
Alonso (Greenfield, CA)
Do you think Jim Harbaugh is trying to bring back Alex for one more year so he could try and get Luck next year.
Mike Sando (2:01 PM)
Not at all. He is doing that because he has no one else.
Penizze McQuaid (SF)
Why are you running so late today, Sando? Did you get stuck in a vat of donut dough? You may have the footwork of a Ryan Mallett.
Mike Sando (2:03 PM)
Hey, I deserve the heat. Sorry about that. I got all engrossed in an item I was working on. Just lost track of time. Good line on Mallett.
Eric (Carlsbad CA)
In your opinion would drafting Patrick Peterson at No. 7 help the Niners restructure Nate Clements' deal? Would he rather stay knowing that between himself Shawntae Spencer and Peterson they would have potential for a great CB crew?
Mike Sando (2:06 PM)
Unlikely, in my view. Taking a pay cut can be tough to do without changing teams. Peterson would be the top dog and I'm just not sure a veteran player with something left in the tank would be ready to roll over and accept that status in the same locker room where he's been more than that. I make that comment about players in general, without knowing how Clements feels about this specific scenario. That is just what experience tells me.
Dylan (Grant City Mo )
What pick do you think Blaine Gabbert will be ?
Mike Sando (2:07 PM)
My early guess would be first overall just based on general feel.
Do you see Bradford and Josh McDaniels working well together in St.Louis?
Mike Sando (2:08 PM)
I see Sam Bradford working well with any skilled offensive coordinator. This should be a productive relationship.
Nevin (St. Louis)
How would you rate Bradford's first year as an expert of the division??
Mike Sando (2:09 PM)
Sam Bradford exceeded reasonable first-year expectations for durability, maturity and production. He affirmed what the Rams thought about him going into the draft. Expectations will rise now, and that will shape how we analyze him. Another year like last season will not count as progress. He needs to keep going.
Shane (Los Angeles, CA)
True or False: Most significant coaching hire this offseason: McDaniels to StLouis. As a Cards fan, I absolutely HATE this move; Bradford is going to destroy the division next year.
Mike Sando (2:12 PM)
You might find some 49ers fans who disagree. We could make the case for Jim Harbaugh's addition standing as the biggest hire given the overall impact a head coach has on a team, and given the expected jump from the level of offensive coaching in place previously. But, yes, the McDaniels hire can be a good one. I just think Pat Shurmur was doing a good job overall and Bradford would have been fine with him too.
Any updates on Gallery being signed by the Seahawks? If so, would it too far reaching to assume the Seahawks would target a QB (instead of OL) in the first round of the draft?
Mike Sando (2:15 PM)
Let's see if the NFL has free agency before the draft. If it does, then the Seahawks can land Robert Gallery and adjust draft plans accordingly. Without free agency before the draft, there's more risk involved. Overall, though, the Seahawks cannot go wrong drafting for their lines. Ideally, though, they would land Gallery and/or another veteran offensive lineman, then address another need early.
Chris McMahan (San Francisco California)
Hey Mike, great job on the blog as always. Even if a new CBA doesn't get done before the draft but it does get done before the season, couldn't teams like the 49ers and Cardinals trade their 2012 draft picks?
Mike Sando (2:16 PM)
I would think so, but I have not confirmed the status of selections beyond the upcoming draft.
Kalen (Kodiak, AK)
Hey Sando, what's up? So what's the deal on Marcus Trufant and John Carlson's head injuries they suffered in the divisional round of the playoffs? I haven't heard anything about those guys and those were some pretty awful blows to the head that they took. Are they doing all right and on their way to an on time recovery?
Mike Sando (2:18 PM)
I believe Carlson has addressed the injury publicly since then and seemed to be OK. Both have had quite a bit of recovery time, so I would expect them to be ready when the next practices roll around -- whenever that might be.
Cheesehead Sports Nut (Chicago, IL)
There are reports that the NFLPA is encouraging potential first round picks to boycott the 2011 NFL Draft as a sign of solidarity. That seems like a way to enrage your future employer only to look cool to your future co-workers. What do you think about potential first round draft picks not showing up to the actual NFL Draft?
Mike Sando (2:19 PM)
I don't think a boycott would enrage the teams. It might look petty. My position has come to this: I have no problem with a prospect deciding to stay away from the draft in light of the current labor situation. An organized effort seems petty, though.
Cheesehead Sports Nut (Chicago, IL)
The Green Bay Packers and New England Patriots like to trade back in the draft to amass draft picks. Since both teams have quality depth thanks to doing that over the last handful of years, do you see them holding onto their picks despite having very valuable picks since the Packers have the last pick in the first round and the Patriots have the first pick of the second round?
Mike Sando (2:25 PM)
Yeah, Ted Thompson loves draft picks. He would rather make two picks than one pick with less regard for position because he trusts his ability to out-scout other teams. He has a pretty good track record of this, too. When the Packers cut players, others teams pick them up, often. But I do think there is a balance to strike, and moving back can make it tougher to find elite players at some positions. Winning a Super Bowl provides validation, but it doesn't validate every single move a team makes. And I do think there have been times when trading back was the wrong move.
Off topic... NCAA Tourney, whose your national champ?
Mike Sando (2:26 PM)
I think I wound up picking Duke over Wisconsin in the championship game, which means the championship game will not feature those teams.
Two questions: Will the 49ers try to keep Aubrayo Franklin or let him walk, and if Patrick Peterson is not available at the 7 spot, what would they address? Love the blog. Thanks.
Mike Sando (2:29 PM)
My feel for the 49ers is that they will try to get younger on defense, but they will also pay close attention to the quarterback situation near the top of the draft. Stay loose on that one, because if a top passer is there at No. 7, I think they have to strongly consider going in that direction. Short of that, they will most likely look at cornerback and pass-rusher. I know their defensive coordinator, Vic Fangio, believes in building around those positions. He did that (or tried to do that) when he was with the Texans. They drafted Dunta Robinson. They also drafted Jason Babin. Robinson worked out pretty well. They missed on Babin, who did not develop until much later. But Fangio saw Babin as a potential Kevin Greene type and thought they could build around him.
Shane (Los Angeles, CA)
Who would you pick at #5 for the Cards? Assume that your pick is in play at No. 5. If PP7 [Patrick Peterson] is there and they don't want him, there would be NO shortage of teams looking to trade up (Eagles, Cowboys, maybe Pats for starters). What do you think about the Cards trading down?
Mike Sando (2:33 PM)
OK, I would go with Blaine Gabbert at No. 5 based on what I've heard about him (I do not pretend to have first-hand knowledge based on scouting!). If he were not there and Patrick Peterson were there, I would definitely consider moving back. The Cardinals already have Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie. They do not need a stable of top cornerbacks to make that defense work. They need outside linebackers to amp up the pass rush. They also need additional picks. If they could get the pass-rusher and additional picks to help them address, say, their offensive line (a position that can be addressed successfully later in the draft), go for it.
Alex (St Louis)
Hey Mike, what do you think the Rams' top 3 needs are and who do you think we could bring in that would be the best fit?
Mike Sando (2:35 PM)
If I were the Rams and I knew I would be getting a Pro Bowl player no matter what position I addressed, my top three would be: receiver, defensive tackle, defensive end and outside linebacker. Then I might throw safety and offensive guard in there, too. But I would value those other positions more. Receiver might get the nod because I believe in arming Sam Bradford with weapons to get the most from him. And then it's obvious they need some upgrades on defense.
Certified CJ (Altadena,Ca)
Mike, I keep hearing everyone projecting the 49ers to take a pass rusher or corner back. If NFL teams pretty much all feel that a guy can be a franchise QB shouldn't they take him whether they feel its too early or not. Should 49ers really consider Newton or Gabbert if QB guru Jim Harbaugh can turn them into franchise QB's?
Mike Sando (2:36 PM)
Yes, take the quarterback and do not look back if you think that quarterback has "The Guy" status.
Shane (Los Angeles, CA)
Can the Cardinals really afford to draft another QB to develop? If they think Skelton can become the starter, then why draft a QB? If they think Skelton has too many questions, why keep him on the roster? The only logical route for the Cards this year is to sign a vet, fill other holes on the roster, and if their QBs bust in 2011, draft one in 2012. Thoughts?
Mike Sando (2:38 PM)
You might be dealing in extremes there. They should keep John Skelton if they think he could project as a solid backup with a chance to develop into a starter. They should not, in my view, just cut him if they aren't sold on him all the way. Let me turn around your first question: Can the Cardinals really afford to not draft and develop a quarterback? I'm open to going the veteran route if they can make it happen, but if they can draft a better prospect, go for it.
I'm not a conspiracy theorist, but do you think its possible that teams can have trades in place for once the new CBA is signed? For example, the Eagles and Seahawks could have a deal in place swapping the No. 25 pick for Kolb, but keep it under wraps until trades are allowed?
Mike Sando (2:41 PM)
Sure, teams could have those conversations. In the case of Kevin Kolb, though, the teams would need cooperation from Kolb and Kolb's agent to facilitate a trade, because the acquiring team would want to sign Kolb for the long term. And I think it's highly unlikely an NFL team would have those conversations in this climate.
Schneider was one of only two GMs at Ryan Mallett's pro day and has scheduled a private workout with Jake Locker. Can we expect a first-round QB on draft day or is Schneider just exploring all the options?
Mike Sando (2:43 PM)
The Seahawks have to seriously consider a quarterback in this draft based on their current situation at the position. I think their interest in re-signing Matt Hasselbeck has obvious limits, and those limits explain why Hasselbeck has not yet re-signed with the team. As far as whether Schneider attends specific workouts, I can tell you this: He is GM, but like his mentor, Ted Thompson, he is still a scout at heart. He likes to do the work. And so it makes sense for him to check out players with his own eyes.
Mike Sando (2:44 PM)
Thank you for dropping by the NFC West chat. My apologies, again, for the late start. For the record, I was not locked out.