Mailbag: Whether pass-rusher would fit

April, 11, 2011
4/11/11
8:24
PM ET
Matt from Phoenix thinks the Cardinals could have a difficult time filling a primary need such as pass-rusher with the fifth overall choice, given that Von Miller might not be available. He wonders how well North Carolina's Robert Quinn would fit in Arizona, and at what point the Cardinals might lean more toward taking the best player regardless of immediate need, such as LSU cornerback Patrick Peterson.

Mike Sando: Every first-round choice under Ken Whisenhunt has addressed a primary need, from tackle Levi Brown (2007) to cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie (2008) to running back Beanie Wells (2009) to nose tackle Dan Williams (2010). None qualified as a blatant reach, however. Value lined up with need more often than not in those examples.

Arizona has enough needs for most first-round selections to address one. The Peterson example stands out as more extreme than most. As much as the team wants more consistent play from its corners, including Rodgers-Cromartie, that position doesn't rank among the primary need areas for Arizona.

The Cardinals need to help their pass rush by adding and developing talent at outside linebacker. That looks like a priority whether or not O'Brien Schofield emerges after more fully recovering from a knee injury that hurt his draft stock in 2010.

What if Miller isn't available? I do think Arizona could justify selecting Peterson fifth if he stood out as clearly the best player on the board. He's seen as a safe pick, and I'm sure new defensive coordinator Ray Horton, a former cornerback, wouldn't fight adding an elite talent at the position. I bet the Cardinals would get more from Rodgers-Cromartie with Peterson competing for acclaim.

The team could seek pass rush help later; when Horton was with Pittsburgh, the Steelers used second-round choices for Jason Worilds (2010) and LaMarr Woodley (2007). The Steelers did not ask those players to contribute right away.

Any player Arizona selects fifth overall will have to contribute right away. I'm convinced of that. It's one reason I do not think the Cardinals will draft one of the quarterbacks potentially available in that slot. Peterson would start right away.

As for Quinn, he was a defensive end in college. He was known more for rushing the passer than playing the run. He did not play in 2010. Doctors discovered a brain tumor (benign) in 2007. I suspect the Cardinals would have too many questions to use such a high choice for him. They'll be looking for a safer pick in that spot.

It's tough to imagine Arizona passing on Miller if he's available at No. 5.


Mike from Friday Harbor, Wash., wonders whether Tom Cable's presence in Seattle will steer the Seahawks toward an offensive lineman -- and away from a developmental quarterback -- with the 25th pick in the 2011 NFL draft. He thinks drafting to fill immediate needs appears more sensible with a long list of potential free agents and no third-round choice.

Mike Sando: The Seahawks do hold the second choice of the fourth round, plus consecutive picks in the fifth, but you are right about having immediate needs.

Cable's presence makes the Seahawks more likely to sign Oakland Raiders guard Robert Gallery in free agency, which could lessen the need to draft an immediate starter along the line. Cable's presence also makes the team more likely to consider a guard in the first round because Cable, unlike predecessor Alex Gibbs, shares the personnel department's affinity for larger interior linemen

Since 1995, Gibbs' teams never drafted a guard or center in the first round. The guards his teams drafted since 1995 averaged 289 pounds. Tackle Russell Okung was the only offensive lineman Seattle drafted in Gibbs' lone season with the team. While Gibbs lauded the selection, drafting a left tackle sixth overall was an organizational move. Gibbs was more particular about interior offensive linemen; that is why the team signed veteran guards Ben Hamilton and Chester Pitts, who had played for Gibbs previously.


Ernest from Corpus Christi, Texas, expects the San Francisco 49ers to draft a quarterback, but he wonders whether they'll play said quarterback right away, and how those plans could change based on which veteran the team adds.

Mike Sando: There's almost no way the 49ers would go into the 2011 season planning to start a rookie quarterback. It could happen, I suppose, if the 49ers surprisingly selected one seventh overall, then failed to land a veteran of any note. And it could happen if the quarterback they drafted outperformed reasonable expectations during camp and showed himself to be the team's best option.

More likely, the 49ers will add a quarterback after the first round, then give that quarterback some time to develop.


Heef from Chesapeake, Va., wonders why the 49ers select seventh in the first round without holding the seventh pick in subsequent rounds.

Mike Sando: The 49ers were one of seven teams with a 6-10 record last season. They picked seventh overall, then rotated with the seven other 6-10 teams in subsequent rounds.

For example, Tennessee picked 39th, followed by Dallas (40th), Washington (41st), Houston (42nd), Minnesota (43rd), Detroit (44th) and San Francisco (45th). The 49ers moved up one spot in that rotation in the third round, and so on.


Ronan from Dublin asks whether NFL rules on cross-ownership will come into play regarding Stan Kroenke's expected increased stake in the Arsenal Football Club.

Mike Sando: The cross-ownership rules apply most stringently when an NFL owner owns a non-football team in a competing market. Kroenke's interests in Arsenal shouldn't affect his interests in the Rams.

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