Print and Go Back ESPN.com: NFC West [Print without images]

Wednesday, January 28, 2009
Mailbag: Where to draft first-round receivers

By Mike Sando
ESPN.com

Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando

Rick from Provo, Utah, writes: Sando, great work. With the Hawks holding such a high pick and WR's so hit or miss (especially drafted that high) what are the odds Seattle could trade down and add a young 'veteran' WR?

Also, with Jim Mora wanting to focus more on the run, is Julius Jones really the back to do that? Is a sign and trade of the recently arrested Leroy Hill and the 4th pick be sent to the Chargers for LT, Naanee and the Chargers 2nd rounder feasible? Trading down into the second round would offset Tomlinson's salary (and then some), and Naanee has shown flashed of his skills. Are there any other deals that can be swung? I just don't trust Julius Jones and a young high pick WR.

Mike Sando: Teams have actually done pretty well drafting receivers at the top of the first round. They've gotten into trouble after the first few picks.

NFL teams have drafted five receivers among the top three picks since 2003 (Calvin Johnson, Braylon Edwards, Larry Fitzgerald, Charles Rogers and Andre Johnson). Those were mostly fortunate selections.

NFL teams have drafted five receivers fourth through 10th during the same period (Ted Ginn Jr., Troy Williamson, Mike Williams, Roy Williams and Reggie Williams). Big difference.

As for the trade you mentioned, I don't think the Seahawks need to be acquiring an older running back coming off an injury-affected season. They've been down that road with Shaun Alexander. Lesson learned. Also, if the Seahawks do not see great value in that fourth overall spot, what is the likelihood that other teams will see enough value there to pay a steep price in moving into that spot?


Adam from Sacramento writes: Sando, in one of the articles you posted from a Dallas paper, they were saying something about Manusky being a candidate for the DC in Dallas ... at what point did Manusky's job security come into question? He seemed to pull things together on the D after Nolan left and they committed to the 3-4.

What are your thoughts? Have you heard any rumblings that he may be fired. It doesn't make sense that they would wait so long and possibly miss out on the best guys available. Have fun at the Super Bowl. I'm supremely jealous.

Mike Sando: Manusky's job security does not appear to be an issue. My understanding is that Manusky has signed or likely will sign an extension, standard procedure for the 49ers as assistants approach the final years of their deals. Manusky does have some ties around the league, including to the Cowboys' Wade Phillips and the Packers' Mike McCarthy. But I expect him to coordinate the 49ers' defense in 2009.


Kurt from parts unknown writes: My question is in response to something you wrote on the 22nd, about the late-2nd-quarter blooper kickoff by Rackers and subsequent Cardinals recovery. Your text:

"If referee Walt Anderson and crew thought the ball touched Abiamiri on the left arm after Abiamiri stepped out of bounds, they should have awarded possession to the Eagles at the 40-yard line, standard procedure for a kickoff out of bounds."

It's a complex scenario that wasn't fully fleshed out in the game, but I don't understand how an in-bounds live ball touching a man who is stepping out of bounds automatically kills a play, or counts as "kick out of bounds" on a kickoff.

If a kickoff was rolling in-bounds down by the goal line, for instance (short of the end zone, on the typical "I waited for this ball to roll out of bounds and it stayed in and now I'm stuck" play), couldn't the kick returner just place some part of his body out of bounds and then grab or bat the ball, causing the ball (which never touched out of bounds) to be ruled out, and a penalty for out-of-bounds kickoff along with a nice spot at the 40 yard line?

Mike Sando: Yes, a player can do that, and it has been done, and officiating director Mike Pereira discussed it on his NFL Network program this season. Not everyone knows the rule, but it is the rule.


Hannan from Hershey, Pa., writes: Hi Mike, I'm a huge Seahawks fan and this is how I've laid my draft plans out for the first few rounds … thoughts? 1st round: Malcolm Jenkins 2nd round: Darrius Heyward-Bey 3rd round: Trimane Goddard (S, UNC. I know him personally, so it would be amazing if they drafted him) What do you think?

Mike Sando: I just wonder how many cornerbacks a team can draft in the first two rounds within a relatively short window. Marcus Trufant can cover Larry Fitzgerald well enough to prevent Fitzgerald from taking over the game. He just can't do it if Kurt Warner frequently has an extended period to throw. I could see taking the corner that early if he's clearly the best value. But if you have a chance to upgrade the pass rush -- and that's a big 'if' -- I would tend to go in that direction. I would also consider a receiver or running back there.


Harold from Columbia writes: Sando Thanks for the coverage in Tampa (the city). Somehow it feels like I am there - not that feelings matter. I was at the game against Tampa last year and sat under the ship - got some beads from the Bucs crew. Sando - that may be a good picture for the blog. it is different and kind of cool. I doubt they will raise the flags - Buccaneer flags when the Cards get in the Red Zone. Maybe we could arrange a deal with the stadium crew. I am not sure what dance Antrel Rolle will do when he scores - he did the Dirty Bird vs. Atlanta - did the Muhsin Muhammed walk with the football between his legs. Maybe the Icky Shuffle for one of the Steelers divisional rival Bengals. Not sure if the steelers have a matchup or personnel package for Antel. H-

Mike Sando: You might be getting a little too confident there, Harold. Let's see if they score a defensive touchdown before predicting how they'll celebrate!


Clu from Phoenix writes: Hey Mike, do you think that people will say that the Cardinals are the worst team to win a Super Bowl if they do win? Or will there be no such comments since they did win the Champion
ship? Thank you, and hopefully I'll see you at the game. (years as a season ticket holder finally paid off!)

Mike Sando: I hadn't even thought of that. As a Cardinals fan, you shouldn't worry about that. Super Bowl winners are Super Bowl winners.


Steven from Tampa writes: Thanks for your hard work covering all 4 NFC West Teams, Sando! This question pertains to this weeks festivities. I'll be attending the NFL Experience on saturday and was wondering if they have any shops there. Thanks.

Mike Sando: You're welcome, Steven. The NFL has a Web site with lots of information on that event. I'm seeing shops open early in the week. You might consider calling them for details.


Mike from Los Angeles writes: Mike, now that Leroy Hill has made a fool of himself and cost himself millions of dollars, do you see the Seahawks looking in another direction? If Terrell Suggs hits the open market, would he be a possibility for the Seahawks? I realize he's a 3-4 linebacker and not a 4-3, but he can certainly rush the passer, something the Seahawks obviously really need.

Or will the Seahawks give up on Daryl Tapp as a defensive end and move him to linebacker and just cur their losses with Hill? Also, will they look at other Ravens players like Ray Lewis or safety Jim Leonhard? Lewis could push Lofa outside and bring some much needed leadership and toughness to our defense. I know (to put it mildly) Lewis has some character issues, but let's face it, the Ravens can't franchise both guys and either one could really help the Seahawks defense.

Mike Sando: Ray Lewis strikes me as a high-character player, exactly what you want on your team. His troubles seem like a lifetime ago. That said, I do not see Lewis signing with Seattle. And I don't see Suggs leaving the Ravens. It's usually wishful thinking for a team to expect those types of players to come their way.

The Seahawks have talked about their new defensive staff getting more from the young talent already assembled. As for Hill, he hurt his chances for a return, but I suspect Seattle would take him back if the money made sense.


Tony from Springfield, Ill., writes: Keep up the good work Mike, Let me just say GIVE IT A REST! I am sick and tired of hearing the Cardinals don't deserve to be here. Sure they were 9-7. Three others in the NFC were also 9-7. Outside of Chicago, who finished 2nd, Dallas and Tampa Bay all finished 3rd in their Divisions. As for the AFC the only real aberration were the Patriots. I have been a Cardinal fan since St. Louis. I am stoked for the Super Bowl!! Let's just all give it a rest about us not deserving to be here. Cards fans just sit back and enjoy, we have been waiting a long time and we DESERVE to be here!!!!!!

Mike Sando: Any team that wins in the wild-card, divisional and championship rounds most likely deserves to be in the Super Bowl.


DBullock from Greenfield, Ohio, writes: Whats your thoughts on when the play clock expires, a buzzer or horn sounds to let the refs. know the clock is at zero. They use this in basketball for a shot clock violation. Just an idea. Thanks..........lvsthisgame.

Mike Sando: I was talking with someone about this issue the other day. Why not force teams to provide play clocks in similar locations at each stadium? That would help the mechanics without complicating the process. Officials haven't had a hard time calling delays of game against the Cardinals, by the way.


Adam from Mesa, Ariz., writes: Hey Mike, as always great Job with the blog, this is the first and last place to go for all the information about my beloved Cardinals (and yes I've been a Cardinals Fan long before the bandwagon started offering rides).

I've heard the Giants are hoping to trade for Anquan Boldin? Is this true? I know he won't stay another season with his current contract, what would the Cardinals have to offer to make him stay, and how does that affect the rest of our salary cap and personnel decisions?

Also, if the morbidly unthinkable happens, what would the Cardinals be able to get him? (picks, players they have we could use, and don't start with the the whole Derrick Ward thing, he's a lucky 1000 yard rusher who rode Jacobs coat tails)

Mike Sando: Appreciate the compliment, Adam. The Cardinals don't need to do anything to convince Boldin to stay. They own his rights for the next two seasons. If Boldin wants to sit out, he doesn't get paid and he runs the risk of watching Larry Fitzgerald carry the offense, further diminishing his power.

Despite having the leverage here, the Cardinals are in a bit of a tough spot here. They have already extended Boldin's contract once. They don't want to get into the habit of revisiting contracts every time a player has a strong season. At the same time, they recognize what Boldin has represented during his time with the team and they should probably take care of him in some way.


Joe from Davis, Calif., writes: Hey Sando, I'd just like you to know that I have interviewed for the 49ers OC job.

Mike Sando: What's next? Are you going to tell me you turned it down to take a job coaching Pop Warner? That would be crossing the line, so let's not make any cracks along those lines here on the blog. Deal?


Nick from New York writes: Sando, as a seahawk fan my eyes are already on the 2009 season, its the only way i can occupy myself long enough to distract me from this superbowl with two hated rivals playing. ive been looking alot at what Ruskell and others say about his draft strategy and what positions usually warrant 1sr round selections. he will always say stuff like, "i believe talent at that position can be found in later rounds", there is no doubt that it can be found but what positions do u think he warrants first round status. QB, DE, DT, CB?

If that is the case, we kinda got screwed this year. the only top 5 pick that fits that description is M. Jenkins. we have used 2/3 first picks on CBs ... what do u think he will do?

Mike Sando: I would also include left tackle in that group. Seattle probably could have picked a better year to pick this early, but they do not get a free pass. This draft will undoubtedly produce future Pro Bowl players. Seattle needs to identify them and find one in that spot.

I tend to think the Seahawks will go for a playmaker instead of a "safe" pick. But I really do not have a great feel this early.