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, a theoretical here. Let's say Blaine Gabbert, Cam Newton, Von Miller and Patrick Peterson are all gone when Arizona is picking at No. 5. You are the head coach and the GM. Who do you take, hotshot?!
Mike Sando (1:03 PM)
Love the question. And thanks for calling me hotshot. Not many people know that's my given name. I'd go with Marcell Dareus in that spot, then figure out how to use him. The Cardinals have good talent on their defensive line, but they could not stop the run very well last season. Adding another big guy up front would foster competition, improve depth and help the defense overall. I would also consider taking A.J. Green as insurance in case Larry Fitzgerald does not come back. Playmakers are always good to have.
Hey Mike, of course my homer always gets in the way a little bit, but I am loving the prospects of our youngsters, Daryl Washington and O'Brien Schofield. Obviously, the Cardinals need outside linebackers more than anything, but what do you think the future is for Paris Lenon and Gerald Hayes?
Mike Sando (1:07 PM)
Hope you're OK with me fixing the part in the question where you mentioned Karlos Dansby. I'll assume you mean Gerald Hayes, given that you obviously know Dansby left in free agency a year ago. Lenon and Hayes are older guys to consider keeping around as insurance, but it's time for the Cardinals to move forward with younger players at linebacker. Washington has to start. Schofield, if healthier, needs to play. Will Davis needs to play. The team needs to draft at the position and do better than two years ago, when Cody Brown was the choice.
Any word on when the schedule will be announced? Will the NFL delay as PR move with mediation starting now?
Mike Sando (1:08 PM)
The schedule came out during draft week last year. I've heard that could happen again, but people hear different things about the schedule release every year. We'll see it this month. I'm pretty sure of that.
Andrew (Expecting snow in Minnesota )
Mike, I know everyone loves the story about Josh Morgan being drafted so late and being good. But has he really showed us that he has No. 2 potential? Last year was his best season yardage wise. Is he more of a No. 3 guy? Or is a perfectly capable of holding down the No. 2 wideout position?
Mike Sando (1:12 PM)
Morgan averaged 15.9 yards per reception last season. That is a good number for a receiver in this era. Morgan is a very good blocker, which is important to the 49ers. They have a productive tight end, so they do not necessarily need to feature their No. 2 receiver -- particularly if Michael Crabtree shows the necessary improvement. I think Morgan is good enough to be in that No. 2 role, but not so good that the 49ers stop looking to upgrade.
With more character questions coming into the picture for Nick Fairley it seems there is a chance he drops to the Rams. Spags has touted his four-pillars approach but do you think he would break from that philosophy to take such a talented player at a need position?
Mike Sando (1:14 PM)
I tend to lean against that idea given the Rams' general emphasis on multi-year production and consistency of effort.
Shaun (Newcastle, WA)
Sando, what position in your opinion is the Seahawks' biggest need? They have many. Do you see that position lining up nicely with the No. 25 spot?
Mike Sando (1:15 PM)
Quarterback is the No. 1 and most important need. I do not see that lining up nicely with the 25th overall choice. However, the team has needs on its lines -- both of them -- and those positions, particularly offensive line, could match up better with the 25th overall choice.
You would be at the Seattle preseason game against the Vikings if Hasselbeck were starting for the Vikes right?
Mike Sando (1:17 PM)
I would definitely be there. The game is scheduled to be in Seattle, so it would be an easy one for me to attend. Wouldn't that be wild?
Would you say its safe to assume if Jimmy Smith is drafted by the Seahawks that Kelly Jennings will be traded once the new CBA is signed? Or do you think Pete Carroll and crew will be skittish about making the same "mistake" they made in trading Josh Wilson away?
Mike Sando (1:20 PM)
The Seahawks do not see the Josh Wilson trade as a mistake at all. They were very eager to make it -- so eager that they didn't push for a higher pick in return as hard as they probably should have pushed. They knew they would not be bringing back Wilson for 2011, so they figured they would get something in return while they could. If the Seahawks could take back any one trade from last year, it would probably be the Rob Sims trade, which was made only because Alex Gibbs was the offensive line coach. As for Kelly Jennings, his deal expired after the 2010 season. He'll be a free agent. Seattle could not trade him.
What position would impact/help the Cardinals the most this coming season?
Mike Sando (1:22 PM)
Quarterback, without question. Now, if you're asking me which position in the draft would help the team to the largest degree right away, quarterback might not be the answer. If we're just looking at the draft, I would think pass-rushing outside linebacker could make the greatest impact.
Hey, Mike, it's off the topic a bit, but do you see any chance of us (Cardinals) getting a tight end in free agency once business is rolling again? I have Zach Miller in a bubble over my head. Thanks, Mike!
Mike Sando (1:25 PM)
It's not a position the Cardinals have valued to that degree, so it's an upset at this point if they pay big money for one. I would have expected coach Ken Whisenhunt, a former tight end, to emnphasize the position a little more. Maybe he is living proof a team can find tight ends later in the draft.
Tyler (New Hampshire USA)
People have been saying that the Rams will take Mark Ingram with their first pick, maybe. Is this a good idea? Why not draft a position that they need more like receiver or outside linebacker and sign a mediocre RB via free agency.
Mike Sando (1:27 PM)
The Ingram/running back talk is premature by about a year. Replacing Jackson is something the Rams need to think about, but not something they really need to act upon right away. If Ingram were easily the best value, sure, the Rams could consider it. But if I were them, I'd be looking for a shifty, quick back to provide a change of pace.
Travis M (Tucson)
I'm one out of what, 10 or 20 49ers fans that actually likes Alex Smith still?
Mike Sando (1:32 PM)
Is that counting Jim Harbaugh? Hey, it's easy to bash Alex Smith, but what is the alternative right now? He has 32 touchdown passes with 22 interceptions over the last two seasons. Those numbers will look pretty good if the 49ers wind up suffering through a season like the one Arizona just experienced from a QB standpoint.
Keith (Pacific Grove, Calif)
Good morning, Mike. The Niners clearly need a pass rusher, nose tackle, cornerback and quarterback. Which order would you list the above as priority of need?
Mike Sando (1:35 PM)
Quarterback is always the top priority. Alex Smith is not under contract. The team does not plan to bring back David Carr. Something must be done at that position, above the others. After that, if the 49ers could add a Pro Bowl player at one of the other positions you mentioned, I would go with pass-rusher, cornerback and nose tackle. If we're talking about which of those areas is weakest on the team right now, I might go with nose tackle (pending Aubrayo Franklin's status), cornerback and then pass-rusher last.
Hey, Mike, can you ease the on-edge Niner fans about Alex Smith? There is zero chance Jim Harbaugh thinks Alex Smith is a long-term answer and a franchise quarterback for the future, right? But he may make the most sense for just one year and one year only, correct?
Mike Sando (1:38 PM)
That is a good way to read the situation. As I wrote earlier this offseason, I'm not crazy about my 2005 Hyundai Elantra, particularly now that the trunk seal is leaking, but I'd rather have that vehicle than walk everywhere. Smith could be the 49ers' best option for now. If he has a great season, the team could reassess. But any deal for Smith now would be a short-termer.
Cheesehead Sports Nut (Chicago, IL)
Teams that consistently draft towards the end of the first round have the luxury of taking the best player available because presumably they have a talented team based on their draft position. Especially since it looks like the top 10 picks of the draft going forward will get less guaranteed money, do you think more teams should consider employing the best player available draft strategy?
Mike Sando (1:41 PM)
Within reason. The Patriots had a top-10 pick a few years ago. They obviously would not have taken a quarterback in that slot even if they thought a good one were available there. But if I were the 49ers, for example, I would much rather worry about finding a way to play an elite prospect at a position of lesser need than I would want to draft an underwhelming player at a need area.
Jason (Rochester, NY)
Hey Mike, best possible scenario for Seattle? Jimmy Smith at No. 25 and Andy Dalton at No. 57.
Mike Sando (1:43 PM)
I'm not a huge believer in the second-round quarterback. If a quarterback is available in that range, the odds are against him. And he certainly would address the quarterback situation in Seattle for the coming season. I'd be more inclined to add linemen with the first two picks, one on each side of the ball, if possible.
Which NFC West team do you feel has the best OL going forward.
Mike Sando (1:46 PM)
It is clearly between San Francisco and St. Louis. I will lean toward the 49ers for now. They have young first-rounders in both tackle spots and and left guard. Let's see how the teams address their lines once free agency opens, too.
Travis M (Tucson)
Love your blog, best one out there. What is the worst-case scenario for my favorite team, the 49ers? I'm hoping we get either Patrick Peterson or Von Miller (in that order), but after the past decade, I'm preparing for the worst.
Mike Sando (1:47 PM)
Thanks, Travis. The last time the 49ers picked in the top seven, they came away with an eventual Pro Bowl tight end, so don't get too discouraged. The worst-case scenario is reaching for a quarterback, then spending four, five or more years figuring out he cannot play.
Mario (Carmel, Calif)
Hi, Mike. The last great pass-rusher the 49ers had was Charles Haley. They have not had a dominant pass-rusher for decades now (frustration!). Can you give us three names the 49ers should consider drafting who should be available at the seventh spot?
Mike Sando (1:52 PM)
Justin Smith is a force within the confines of a lineman's role within a 3-4, but I get what you are saying. Chris Doleman did have 15 sacks for the 49ers back in 1998, but that was a while back. Robert Quinn is one name to keep in mind. That is the one name that jumps out in the No. 7 range. I don't have three beyond the guys not likely to be there, such as Von Miller.
Corey (Grand Rapids, MI)
It seems like Donnie Avery has had chances to be a star for the Rams and they always fall short. Do you see him having a break out season this year?
Mike Sando (1:53 PM)
That would not surprise me, but his health is a concern until we see him on the field. His speed element would help that offense.
Mike, as the lockout drags on, do you think Harbaugh is getting more and more leeway for his first year performance? What I'm getting at is, do you think he might be more inclined than he might have been a couple months ago to draft a QB at 7 and develop him with the 2012 season in mind and call 2011 a mulligan?
Mike Sando (1:58 PM)
I don't think either of the top two quarterbacks will be available at No. 7, in which case it would not matter. I think it's even sketchy whether one of the top two quarterbacks will be there when Arizona chooses at No. 5. Harbaugh thinks he can coach up quarterbacks. That is one reason, I think, that Alex Smith could have some appeal.
Gabe (Spokane, WA)
Do you really believe that the Seahawks are comfortable going into the season with Charlie Whitehurst as the starting QB?
Mike Sando (1:59 PM)
Comfortable? No. They'll look to have someone else in there to give them another option.
Travis M (Tucson)
How much more do you think Takeo Spikes has left in the tank? He looked good last year to me and I loved watching the game with both he and Patrick Willis carrying those clubs around on their hands.
Mike Sando (2:02 PM)
Takeo Spikes has proven he's not finished. I think he has another good year in him. They should proceed on a year-to-year basis.
Mike Sando (2:02 PM)
Thanks for dropping by the chat. My pleasure, as always.