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Wednesday, March 18, 2009
Double Coverage: Advice at top of the draft

By Kevin Seifert
ESPN.com

Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando and Kevin Seifert

The Detroit Lions, St. Louis Rams and Seattle Seahawks combined for six victories last season. That included two Seahawks victories over the Rams.

The draft won't fix these wayward teams overnight -- unless, of course, they follow the advice of NFC West blogger Mike Sando and NFC North blogger Kevin Seifert.

Kevin Seifert: Well, Mike, first off I'd like to thank the Seahawks and Lions for making our jobs a bit easier for the next six weeks. Before last weekend's trade that sent defensive tackle Cory Redding to Seattle for linebacker Julian Peterson, we were weighing the candidacies of too many players for the No. 1 overall pick in the April 25-26 draft.

 
  AP Photo/Darron Cummings
  Baylor tackle Jason Smith would help solidify the Lions' offensive line.

Would the Lions take Georgia quarterback Matthew Stafford? Would they capitalize on the strong tackle class and swoop up Baylor's Jason Smith? Or would they make a compromise selection and take the player considered the safest pick in the draft, Wake Forest linebacker Aaron Curry?

Seems to me this trade has eliminated Curry from the Lions' mix. Don't you agree? I mean, would you draft Curry after giving up a promising defensive tackle (and also a fifth-round pick) for someone who plays the same position? I don't think I would. They say Curry could project as a middle linebacker in the NFL, but it would be awfully hard to justify drafting a middle linebacker with the No. 1 overall pick.

So that pretty much settles it, right? Wouldn't you agree that Curry is much more likely to wind up with one of your NFC West teams, whether it's St. Louis at No. 2 or Seattle at No. 4? If it were up to me, the Lions would take the best left tackle in the draft, and that would be Smith.

Mike Sando: I tend to see Curry landing with Kansas City in that third slot. The Rams could use him, sure, but they pretty much have to emerge from this draft with a starting offensive tackle. Can they find one after the first round? Probably, but 'probably' might not be good enough for a team that has invested so much in Marc Bulger and Steven Jackson. Upgrading the offensive line was the No. 1 priority this offseason. Signing Jason Brown solved the problem at center, but Alex Barron is the starting left tackle now that Orlando Pace is out. They're talking about having Jacob Bell move from left guard to right tackle. That doesn't sound promising.

As much as Steve Spagnuolo wants to build that defense, I'm not sure the Rams can resist taking a tackle. Once Curry makes it past the Rams, the Chiefs would seemingly be a good fit -- which would put Seattle in an interesting position. They've got Matt Hasselbeck, but should they consider Stafford under our scenario?

Kevin Seifert: We all know how good Hasselbeck is, of course, after listening to T.J. Houshmandzadeh sing his praises earlier this month. When you have a combination of Joe Montana, Joe Namath and John Elway, why would you need to draft some junior out of the University of Georgia?

Seriously, there are significant questions about Stafford independent of Hasselbeck's presence. Some scouts are concerned about his accuracy (57.1 percent for his three-year career), while others just aren't sure he's worthy of the No. 1 overall pick. The Lions can't afford to miss with that pick, and I think they're better off looking deeper in the draft -- or even to 2010 -- to find their quarterback of the future.

 
  L. Scott Mann/Icon SMI
  If Michael Crabtree is available, would the Seahawks consider him with their pick at No. 4?

The Seahawks wouldn't need Stafford on the field right away, but he'd be a risky pick not only because of the questions, but because quarterback is hardly a need at this time. (Right, T.J. ?)

Mike Sando: I tend to agree. It's the same reason I'm not convinced the Seahawks should take a tackle with that fourth pick. They expect Walter Jones to be OK following knee surgery. They've got quite a bit invested in right tackle Sean Locklear. And with Ray Willis having re-signed, depth at tackle isn't too bad.

The way I see it, these top draft choices are commanding too much money for teams to sit them on the bench for a year or two. That's why I think Seattle needs to target an impact player at No. 4. Michael Crabtree could be available. Receivers tend to be high-risk, high-reward propositions early in the draft, but after watching Larry Fitzgerald shred their secondary, I wouldn't begrudge Seattle for taking a hard look at the Texas Tech receiver.

Kevin Seifert: One thing I can assure you of, Mike: Crabtree will make it past the Lions at No. 1. After whiffing on Charles Rogers (No. 2 overall, 2003) and Mike Williams (No. 10, 2005) and trading Roy Williams (No. 7, 2004), I think it's safe to say the Lions won't be targeting Crabtree or any other receiver at No. 1 overall. It would take about three Calvin Johnsons (No. 2, 2007) to change the Lions' luck at receiver.

Mike Sando: The Seahawks can probably never have too much depth at the position after going through so many receivers last season. Here's how bad it was: Koren Robinson signed with Seattle in October and still played more snaps than any receiver on the team.

At least Houshmandzadeh has proven to be durable. His signing lets the Seahawks enter this draft without feeling extra pressure to land a starting receiver early. The Rams might not feel so fortunate. Isaac Bruce and Torry Holt are fading memories in St. Louis. Donnie Avery and Keenan Burton showed promise as rookies, but neither has proven he can produce consistently over a full season. I could make a case for the Rams taking a receiver if they didn't need a tackle so badly.

 
  Paul Jasienski/Getty Images
  Virginia's Eugene Monroe could be an option for the Rams.

Kevin Seifert: I don't doubt the Rams' need at tackle. But if things go the way I think they should, coach Spagnuolo is not going to have his choice of tackles. If the Lions take Jason Smith, that will leave the Rams to decide between Virginia's Eugene Monroe and -- gasp! -- Alabama's Andre Smith.

Unless Smith affects a massive rebuild of his reputation, it's hard to imagine the Rams seriously considering him at No. 2. So, Mr. NFC West, do you think the Rams like Monroe enough to take him in that spot?

Mike Sando: The word at the combine had the Rams favoring Monroe over Smith, so I could see them going that direction if the Lions follow the Seifert plan. As an aside, the Rams haven't drafted a player from the University of Virginia second overall since ... way back in 2008. Hey, Chris Long could use some Cavalier company.

Kevin Seifert: As a Virginia graduate myself, I'd have no problem seeing Monroe go No. 2. And I've had no problem enjoying this discussion with you, Mike. Good day!