Chat with Mike Sando
Welcome to SportsNation! On Thursday, we'll have ESPN.com NFL Insider 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 3 p.m. ET!
Desmond (san Antonio) [via mobile]
Considering all the distractions and that they will be.playing some if not all of the season without their two best players do you think it will be to much for the niners to contend for the super bowl?
Mike Sando (3:04 PM)
Greetings. Let's start this off with a 49ers question. They've been in the news for the wrong reasons lately. They have set out to build an all-time great defense. That defense cannot achieve its potential without NaVorro Bowman and Aldon Smith playing at a high level. Bowman will presumably become a very good player again, but probably not early this coming season. Smith might not have much of a future at all. It's tough to bet on him. I think the defense is going to decline as a result. Also, the day is coming when Justin Smith isn't going to have a big impact. He keeps pushing back that date, but it is coming. I see a little bit of a transition period, possibly. They need their redshirt draft class from 2013 to pick up some of the slack.
Do you like Marqueston Huff or Robert Herron?
Mike Sando (3:06 PM)
These are great questions and I see some similar ones in here, but I'm not a draft analyst. I don't study the college players. I do my homework as the draft approaches, basically talking to people and reading reviews from people who do the studying. But I'm not going to pretend to know the college players.
bob nj [via mobile]
hi mike who do u see the jets taking with pick 18 wr cb or safety?
Mike Sando (3:08 PM)
Hi Bob. I would lean toward upgrading the offense at that point in the draft. So I would say WR is my answer. Now, I also realize this draft has a ton of highly rated players at wide receiver, so perhaps the Jets feel like they can get a good one later than the 18th pick. I do not think they are locked into a WR at 18, in other words. John Idzik played that position in college and presumably has an idea what he wants there.
Give me your NoCal opinion on the Raiders off season?
Mike Sando (3:10 PM)
I think the Raiders have improved their roster this offseason overall, and should have a chance to improve in the standings as a result (although facing the NFC West could undo those gains in the standings). We gave Oakland a low grade in free agency, however, because we thought the moves they made were extremely short-term in nature. They parted with a couple of their younger players in Jared Veldheer and Lamarr Houston, and then they turned around and signed a bunch of older guys who probably didn't have better options. I did not like the philosophical approach from that standpoint even though the team got better.
Kiper has Carr going #20 to Cardinals, I agree with this completely. What are your thoughts?
Mike Sando (3:12 PM)
I had that thought when I saw Derek Carr work out at the Gruden camp a while back. He had a very impressive arm. He seemed pretty mature. The fact that we are talking about the Cardinals taking a QB possibly in the first round tells us the team has done a pretty good job on paper of addressing the most immediate needs. It's not like they absolutely must draft a left tackle, for instance. I see Arizona having flexibility in the first round, and the Carr pickup would make sense from my standpoint. I could also see them seeking more immediate impact in the first round.
Scott (Westminster, CO)
Do you think there's much of a trade market for LaMichael James? I could see the Broncos maybe taking a shot there, but he's baseically a faster Ronnie Hillman...maybe for a 5th rounder?
Mike Sando (3:14 PM)
One thing I was thinking today was that James' old college coach, Chip Kelly, was in the market for a versatile running back, and he went after a 30-year-old Darren Sproles when he had to know James was on the block. I don't get the whole James thing in San Francisco. What has changed since they drafted him? I know they got Marcus Lattimore, and Frank Gore has remained productive longer than anticipated. But the fact that they used an early choice on James and either A) did not have a great plan for him or B) James did not play well enough to carve out a role just doesn't look good.
Keith H (Seattle)
Auto Update is off...
Mike Sando (3:15 PM)
On my screen it says it's on. Sorry.
Jonathan (Tampa FL)
How long do you see McCown starting for the Bucs?
Mike Sando (3:15 PM)
I could see a couple seasons. Lovie Smith isn't going to be looking for the next hot-shot quarterback. He'll go with McCown as long as he's comfortable with him. I would think McCown could have a couple more seasons.
Niners have Lattimore/Carradine/Dial plus 6 picks in top 100. You think all this offseason stuffs completely neuters them?
Mike Sando (3:16 PM)
Not at all. The only thing that would really cut them down, probably, would be if they lost Colin Kaepernick. And that isn't going to happen unless there's a freak injury.
CJ (Spokane, WA)
What do you see as the Seahawks biggest two areas of need?
Mike Sando (3:17 PM)
Maybe both lines. I think they're in a good position here without a ton of big needs. But if they could get another good prospect on the offensive line, it would buy some options behind Russell Okung, who might be an odd man out when it comes time to re-sign some of the younger players such as Earl Thomas and Richard Sherman. And then on the DL, I don't see a big need, but you can never have enough of them.
Scott (Westminster, CO)
Put these guys in order by how likely they are to blow up next season - Golden Tate, Emmanuel Sanders, Terrance Williams...
Mike Sando (3:21 PM)
Sanders intrigues me the most because of the Peyton factor. One thing I want to see in Detroit is what impact the coaching change has on distribution of the football. Their backs caught a ton of balls last season. When I was looking at the 2013 numbers, I wondered whether Tate's production would really spike much beyond what it was in Seattle. Remember, in Seattle, he got his numbers in part because Percy Harvin and Sidney Rice were not in position to get theirs. Now, Tate goes to Detroit, where Megatron is the focus and there are some decent options out of the backfield. I think Tate was a good addition in Detroit but I'm not yet sure his numbers are really going to take off.
Ben (New Zealand) [via mobile]
Are the Rams really that committed to Bradford? Can you see them using their draft capital to go after a QB?
Mike Sando (3:23 PM)
I do think they are committed to Sam Bradford. I also think they could and should draft a quarterback to have another young option at the position. Bradford has an injury history and hasn't performed well enough consistently to merit blind faith. But my feel is that they like him and are committed to him as the starter in 2014.
Keith H (Seattle)
Sorry about that...There was about a 10 minute lag from when I wrote about Auto Update and the question appeared onscreen.
Mike Sando (3:23 PM)
No problem at all.
I was fascinated by your QBR column on Insider. That defense plays no role in QBR was quite surprising. I know that Sam Bradford is no longer considered much of a quarterback, and even as a fan I have lost a lot of faith. But it is still hard to ignore his path relative to his peers. As Chase Stuart frequently points out, no Rams WR has eclipsed 700 yards receiving since Holt. Despite the data that says otherwise, I still can't help but feel that, injuries aside, he can be a quality NFL QB if the Rams stop the rotating old and injured cast at offensive line and finally find an impact WR
Mike Sando (3:26 PM)
Thanks. It was a fun one to research. I also think Bradford will benefit from better help around him. I did speak to a GM type the other day who said the one thing that scares him about Sam is that he sees him sometimes just sort of panic or throw it up against pressure, but this guy also allowed for the fact that there hasn't been a good OL there, and that is a factor. I do think the shift toward a run-heavier outlook last season helped Kellen Clemens and would help Bradford as well. But I think it's a fingers-crossed situation there because we haven't seen enough good from him yet, and he's been hurt, and there are question marks about the line and receivers still.
Ed (Queens Village)
Who should be Jets starting RB?
Mike Sando (3:28 PM)
I'm thinking Chris Johnson could be type who needs to be the starter or primary guy for the team to get the most from him. I'd go with him as the starter for now. Otherwise, why bring him in?
Who should the Steelers draft Evans or Gilbert or Dennard?
Mike Sando (3:30 PM)
Well, if Mike Evans is there, that probably makes sense from a value standpoint based on the way draft analysts are ranking the players. Mel Kiper gave them Odell Beckham (how nice of him) in the mock draft he published today. Kiper: http://es.pn/QgL8gb
I've seen a lot of mock drafts that have the Eagles selecting a WR at 22. Do you think that would be the best course of action or should they look to add a top defensive player in round 1 and address WR in the mid rounds?
Mike Sando (3:32 PM)
I don't think they automatically have to lean toward wide receiver just because they parted with DeSean Jackson. That position seems like a really strong one in the draft, so unless there is a WR in the first round who they absolutely love and cannot resist, I'd be inclined to go in another direction, or at least have an open mind.
Would there be any interest in the NFC West for Brandon Graham? He seems like he could play LEO for the Seahawks or take over for Aldon Smith if the NFL suspends him for any length of time.
Mike Sando (3:34 PM)
Graham is reportedly on the trading block, and he does have size (6-2, 265) that generally matches up with what Seattle has sought in the "Leo" defensive end. I'd have to revisit my notes from 2010 but that could make some sense on the surface. Getting Chris Clemons from Philly a few years back sure worked out OK.
What team do you think has had the best Free Agency so far?
Mike Sando (3:36 PM)
I'll lean toward Tampa Bay and admit that I was influenced to some degree by Bill Polian saying he thought the Bucs might have had the best free-agency signing class in history, or at least since Green Bay got Reggie White. Those were powerful words from a guy who really knows his stuff. I usually would be one to guard against getting too excited over the teams that were volume shoppers in free agency, but the thing is, Polian really hates free agency as a team building staple, and he loved that class. I also thought Denver, New England and Arizona did some nice things in terms of their approaches.
Glenn (New York)
Mike, if Manziel gets past Browns and Raiders. Where do you think he ends up?
Mike Sando (3:40 PM)
Maybe it would be Minnesota at that point. It was interesting to me to hear Mike Zimmer publicly questioning Manziel, and then to have a bunch of mock drafters sending Manziel to the Vikings. Of course, a lot of this depends on which other players are available. And we don't know who will be available when each team picks. If we did know which 32 players would be first-round picks, there would be 263 decillion possible combinations. That is this many: 263,130,836,933,693,530,167,218,012,160,000,000. So the next time you knock someone for not getting things right in a mock draft, think about the sheer number of possibilities.
Rich (New Jersey)
Hi Mike - The Steelers Roethlisberger is 32, Polamalu 33, Ike Taylor 34 and Heath Miller 31, are stars still with some playing time left, so where do you start in draft in making the transition to a younger squard ?
Mike Sando (3:44 PM)
I don't think they need to target one of those specific positions. In general, though, I'd like to see them continue to infuse youth into the defense, possibly at corner.
Is the rumor of the Cardinals taking Derek Carr at #20 a smoke screen or a valid scenario?
Mike Sando (3:45 PM)
I just think it makes some sense on the surface. I haven't heard anything from the Cardinals or from people who say they know the Cardinals' thinking. Carson Palmer isn't going to play forever, and might not be a great option anyway, and the team has no need it absolutely must address, and 20th is late enough where you sometimes draft someone who fell way further than you anticipated.
For a Super Bowl contender, it seems to me that the Patriots have holes at every position except QB, OT, P and K. If you were running the team, how would you prioritize their needs in the draft?
Mike Sando (3:50 PM)
I know they shored up DT in the short term, but that could be a position they could address with an eye toward the longer-term future. That could make some sense for them.
Joey Higgins-Luckow (Madison, WI)
Mike, do you think it will be easier for a team like San Francisco to trade up since the draft is so deep and picks will be more sought after? We traded from 31 to 18 with a 3rd round pick last year, and St Louis moved from 16 to 8 using a 2nd. Could it be possible the 49ers land in the top 10 giving up only a 2nd and 3rd round pick?
Mike Sando (3:51 PM)
Yes, I think they're in prime position to make such a move and I think they will consider making one. They did it last year as well.
No mention of the Bears as free agency winners? They completely revamped their line, got a starting center as a backup, and added at least much needed depth at safety.
Mike Sando (3:54 PM)
Yeah, I could make a case for them having done pretty well also. Getting a young player such as Lamarr Houston in free agency can be better than getting an old guy. Some of the guys they added or re-signed were up there in years, including Jared Allen. But he could help them in 2013, no question. How do you feel about the QB situation with the full commitment to Jay Cutler and the subtraction of Josh McCown? That is one of those storylines that isn't being talked about now, under the assumption Cutler will be just fine. But Cutler has some injury concerns and has not always performed at a high level consistently.
I know sometime next week, but have an exact day when the NFL schedule will be released?
Mike Sando (3:55 PM)
I've seen Wednesday as the reported date, but the league sometimes changes course. There are a lot of things that have to be ironed out behind the scenes.
Joey Higgins-Luckow (Madison, WI)
Hi Mike, miss you at the NFC West blog! You did such a great job there. My question regards 49ers RB Frank Gore. Jim Harbaugh says he has 3 years left. What do you think happens if Gore has another good year? Do we re-sign him and stunt the development of our younger running backs even further? Or do we let go of a still-productive team icon?
Mike Sando (3:57 PM)
Thanks. I think they would have to make an offer lacking in guarantees and for less than he's accustomed, maybe with some incentives, and then let him decide if he wants to chase something somewhere else. It's never easy to say goodbye.
Mike Sando (3:58 PM)
Thanks for dropping by the chat this week. Have a great day.