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Wednesday, May 13, 2009
Mailbag: Cardinals loading up in secondary

By Mike Sando
ESPN.com

Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando

William from Vancouver, Wash., writes: Concerning Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, Matt Hasselbeck said, during a Super Bowl pregame show this last season, that Cromartie was hands down the best CB in the Super Bowl and the best corner he played against that season. You can take a lot of things from that (both supporting my claim that he is one of the best and against it). I think he has to be in the discussion, though.

There is no clear cut way to know if someone is "the best" at their position. But Nnamdi Asomugha in Oakland has been widely regarded as the best for a couple years now and I would agree that he is one of the best, but you just can't say without a doubt he is the best. Rodgers-Cromartie, as a rookie, has already made himself known in the NFL, and should only get better. That's scary as a Seahawks fan.

Mike Sando: The thought might be scarier if comparisons between Rodgers-Cromartie and the Cardinals' fourth-round choice, Gregory Toler, prove accurate. Arizona has funneled significant resources to its secondary since last season by adding Toler, plus cornerback Bryant McFadden in free agency and Alabama safety Rashad Johnson from Alabama in the third round. Safeties Adrian Wilson and Antrel Rolle were also high draft choices. This group should be strong.


Hb2P from Seattle writes: This past couple of weeks the rookie camps have been going on and a few of them have been injured. If some poor guy blows out his knee before he signs the multi-million dollar contract, how are they financially protected? Thanks, HB2P

Mike Sando: The NFLPA advises unsigned players to work out injury protection agreements with their teams. Some NFL prospects also take out insurance policies protecting for specific injuries. Teams can come under fire for allegedly putting players at undue risk, in some cases leading to lawsuits, but those situations are the exceptions.


Sork from parts unknown writes: What games do you see the Hawks winning this year?

Mike Sando: I haven't picked results game by game yet. I did put together a projected record breakdown before the draft and the record came out at 7-9. I might upgrade that in light of subsequent moves. We can revisit that after a bit.


Bob from Collierville, Tenn., writes: Sando, I have seen many blog references to people being rabid fans. We should determine what a rabid fan is? I am assuming that contracting rabies is not a requirement.

Mike Sando: Surely there are some rabid Rams fans out there. None wrote in to the mailbag recently, however. We're back to 49ers and Seahawks fans carrying the conversation. A Seahawks fan asked our lone Cardinals-related question in this session. That's the way it goes in this division sometimes.


Ernest from Corpus Christi writes: Hey Mike, I just wanted to ask how real a possibility is the 49ers trading for Terrell Suggs? I believe it would be a great improvement to a good defense. How much of an impact, and how much sense do you think that trade would make? Thanks.

Mike Sando: The possibility is highly remote, in my estimation. Acquiring Suggs would certainly help the 49ers' defense. It's just not a deal I envision happening, based on available information.


Kettlepop from Spokane writes: First off, I am exctied about this season. I feel that the Seahawks are going to have a great year. I also feel that we did a great job on the draft ... but I thought we needed to address the safety position with one of our top three picks.

Did we have a safety in mind that we wanted, but was he gone when it was our turn? Is that why we traded our second-round pick to Denver? How is Curry doing in the minicamps and has he been signed yet?

Mike Sando: The Seahawks feel better about their safeties than most of the fans I encounter. General manager Tim Ruskell's teams have generally targeted safeties in the third round or later. Some of the higher-rated safeties did come off the board shortly before Seattle was scheduled to select in the second round.

Seattle held the 37th overall choice heading into the draft. The Lions drafted Western Michigan safety Louis Delmas with the 33rd choice. The Patriots selected Oregon safety Patrick Chung with the 34th choice. Seattle traded out of the 37th spot, later trading back into the round at No. 49, where Oregon center Max Unger became the choice.

The Seahawks selected Unger right after the Raiders drafted Ohio safety Michael Mitchell (47th) and the Broncos drafted Texas Tech safety Darcel McBath (48th). Unger and Arizona's Eben Britton were the only offensive linemen selected from the 29th through 50th choices. Four safeties came off the board from the 33rd through 48th picks.

Right or wrong, the perceived value was higher for the offensive lineman.

As for Curry, he remains unsigned, as do 255 of the 256 choices, with Matthew Stafford as the exception. High picks tend to sign in late July. Curry did make a positive impression at the post-draft camp. He'll be back on the field for the Seahawks on May 19.


Brent from Montana writes: Hi, I really am addicted to your stuff. What do you think about Glen Coffee? He looks li
ke a great runner. He reminds me of Adriain Peterson the way he runs upright. He is a pounder and I think we will finally have a 1-2 punch duo. I think having him alone will give us a whole new personality. How about you?

Mike Sando: This is one addiction I have no reservations about enabling, Brent.

As for your question, Coffee does seem to fit exactly what the 49ers want to do offensively. I see why you are excited. Frank Gore is a terrific back and one of my favorite players to watch, but he could use some help.

DeShaun Foster wasn't scaring opponents at this stage of his career and he wasn't pushing Gore for playing time. Competitions should benefit Gore and Coffee.

I think a strong 1-2 punch in the backfield will certainly help the 49ers as they continue to adopt Mike Singletary's mindset. I would not go so far as to suggest Coffee alone will give the 49ers a whole new personality, though.


Matt from Kirkland writes: Sandman, I'm in Seahawks country and love their offseason. But I must ask, how is my fellow Coug Jason Hill doing down in San Fran, how did his mini camp go? He played well last year but I can't help but think his touches go way down this year with Michael Crabtree in town. thanks.

Mike Sando: I agree that Hill could have a tougher time getting the ball, through no fault of his own. It's a better situation for the 49ers and a harder one for Hill. He made strides last offseason. I think Hill has shown enough promise to still factor into the equation at the position, but he's going to face stiff competition for opportunities from Crabtree, Brandon Jones and a healthy Josh Morgan.


Mike from Bellevue, Wash., writes: With Leon Washington disgruntled in NY what are the odds we offer a 2nd round draft pick to the Jets next year for him. He seems to be just the kind of runner we need and he's still young.

Mike Sando: Is he dramatically better than what the Seahawks already have at the position? Good enough for Seattle to part with a high draft choice? He's going to want a new contract. How much is he worth? Would he be the starter in Seattle automatically? I do think Seattle could use quality depth at running back. I have no indication the Seahawks would make that type of move, though.


Jesse from Santa Barbara writes: Hey Mike, Thanks for the blog, it's a great read every morning before school. My question is about the Cards, I know Ken Whisenhunt wants to become more like the Steelers and create a stronger run game. We have Chris Wells now with Tim Hightower to support him, we have the threat of great WRs. Even if one leaves, that will help keep the box clear, but what about the line? During the playoffs, I noticed they didn't get much of a push, especially against teams like Philly who have a big D-line. Do you think that the line, the most important factor of any run game, will be up the challenge? Thanks Mike!

Mike Sando: The line will become better at running the ball if the Cardinals run the ball more. I do think the team could use more power at center and more consistent play at right guard. Unger might have been a good fit for Arizona late in the second round if the Seahawks hadn't taken him at No. 49. However, Ken Whisenhunt has expressed confidence in his personnel on the line. I think that's because he knows line coach Russ Grimm does a good job.


John from St. Louis writes: Hey sando. Dont mean to put you on the spot but do you think, as of now, you could tell us what you think the records in the nfc west could be? I see a couple of teams finishing 8-8 one team 6-10 and another 10-6. Thanks mike.

Mike Sando: My initial thought when the schedules came out had the Cardinals around 9-7, the 49ers and Seahawks between 7-9 and 8-8, and the Rams somewhere below that. It looks like a pile of 8-8 among the top three teams.

I think the Cardinals could have a hard time staying unusually healthy for a second consecutive season, but I also think they'll become more consistent in other areas. The Seahawks have helped themselves this offseason, it appears, and I could see them beating my initial expectations with better health at quarterback, receiver and along the offensive line.

The 49ers are tougher to figure until we see the quarterback situation shake out.


Alex from Sea-Town writes: Sando long time reader, first time messenger. Seattle greatly under achieved last year on the defensive side of the ball. With the addition of Cole at DT, Curry at LB, and a couple more additions in the secondary, how do you see the defense stacking up against powerhouses in the AFC? And do you think they have the makings of a championship defense?

Mike Sando: Thanks for reaching out. I do not see a championship defense in Seattle unless the team dramatically improves its pass rush. We're hearing a lot about the great promise at linebacker, but Seattle had talented linebackers in past seasons. It's hard to take the Seahawks' defense too seriously after 11 consecutive seasons without a ranking higher than No. 15. I want to see more results on the field before buying any hype.


Dustin from Idaho writes: Sando - I love reading your posts, keep up the good work! Any word on the Mike Vick front? Coach Singletary has picked up some players with off the field issues ... any chance he thinks about Vick?

Mike Sando: Thanks, Dustin. I do not expect the 49ers to show interest in Vick, at least not this season. The team issued a statement earlier in the offseason suggesting the team had no interest in him.


Tim from San Jose writes: Hey Sando, the Seahawks have done a lot to help themselves this offseason from a personnel standpoint, but how will the team perform in the new offensive and defensive schemes? Historically, how well have teams handled totally revamped playbooks on both offense and defense? Is it reasonable to expect instant success or will there be a long and slow learning curve even with all the right personnel.

Mike Sando: The Seahawks started 8-2 in Mike Holmgren's first season. They had new systems on both sides of the ball that year as well. Teams turn over coaching staffs regularly in the NFL. The offensive system in Seattle is supposedly easier to learn. The defensive system sounds more complex, based on what I've heard from players. I'm sure there will be an adjustment period, but Seattle opens at home against a St. Louis team also learning new systems. No excuses allowed.