Mailbag: Steven Jackson's shelf life

Howie from Jacksonville wonders whether the St. Louis Rams would select running back Mark Ingram with the 14th overall choice if the top two receivers were gone and Ingram were the best player available on their draft board.

Mike Sando: I think they would go in another direction unless Ingram were vastly better than any other prospect on the board. The Rams could use a complimentary back, but their needs at other positions would make it tough, in theory, to select a starting-caliber runner at this stage.

Next year might be the time to draft a successor to Steven Jackson, who turns 28 this summer and has 2,205 career touches.

Jackson is one of 44 NFL backs with at least 7,498 career rushing yards. Thirty-eight of the 44 did not play in 2010. Those 38 averaged 2,882 career touches (the median was 2,783).

Jackson has averaged 375.5 touches per season since Steve Spagnuolo became head coach. At that pace, he would have 2,956 touches following the 2012 season. He would be 30 years old with more career touches than 22 of the 38 retired backs with at least as many rushing yards as Jackson has now. He would likely be nearing the end.

It is possible Jackson's touches will decrease with Josh McDaniels as his offensive coordinator, but the Rams still need to start thinking about drafting a back.

2011 NFL Draft Glance

Where NFC West teams rank in draft capital, as measured by point values for non-compensatory selections on the draft-value chart.

Paul from San Francisco thinks it's misleading to say the 49ers have tremendous flexibility in the draft because so many of their league-high 12 draft choices are in the later rounds, including four in the seventh.

Mike Sando: I agree to an extent. We shouldn't act as though the 49ers have the most draft capital in the league.

While they do have more draft choices than any team, they rank eighth in terms of how much their non-compensatory choices are worth on the draft-value chart. That is one spot lower than they rank in draft order, a reflection of the fact that New England holds two first-round choices and six picks in the first three rounds.

The draft-value chart is not perfect. It probably overvalues picks at the top. But its use here does give us a general idea which teams have more flexibility than others when it comes to wheeling and dealing.

Tony from Pittsburgh thinks ESPN.com is the one playing the race card by playing up Warren Moon's comments to generate website traffic even "if it might be irresponsible, race-baiting journalism."

Mike Sando: None of it would be possible without a Hall of Fame quarterback raising the issue in relation to the biggest, most controversial name in the NFL draft, Cam Newton. Sounds like a legitimate story to me. Others agree. I turned on NFL Network late Friday night and saw four analysts discussing the same subject.

Seth from Newport News, Va., wonders why Alabama receiver Julio Jones would rate as a top prospect if teams focused more on college performance than 40-yard dash times. He thinks Jones plays slow, has inconsistent hands and will project as a possession receiver along the lines of Muhsin Muhammad, but slower.

Mike Sando: Rob Rang of NFL Draft Scout didn't go quite that far, but he did say Jones' blazing 40-yard time made him wonder why that speed hadn't shown up during the season. It's a legitimate question and one reason the Rams might be better off getting help for their defense withthe 14th overall choice.

Derrick from Anchorage wonders whether the Seahawks should start Justin Forsett over Marshawn Lynch given that the stats favor Forsett.

Mike Sando: I like the way Lynch runs on early downs and think there's room in the offense for both. Pete Carroll wants different things from different backs, and the things Lynch offers apply best in power situations. The team mostly needs improved run blocking. Without that, the running game is going to struggle no matter who starts.

Ryan from Florence, Ariz., wants to know which NFC West wide receiver other than Larry Fitzgerald has been most productive over the course of his career.

Mike Sando: Not much to choose from here, Ryan.

I found only four current NFC West receivers other than Fitzgerald with at least 100 receptions for their current teams. The totals: Steve Breaston 187, Danny Amendola 128, Josh Morgan 116 and Michael Crabtree 103. That is sobering, actually.

We should keep this sort of information to ourselves. Otherwise, people might think the NFC West isn't very strong.