Monday, February 28, 2011
Mailbag: Rams, receivers and Julio Jones
By Mike Sando ESPN.com
Mike from St. Louis writes: I was wondering after Julio Jones' standout performance at the combine whether you thought he might get drafted before the Rams choose at No. 14. If so, do you think it's worth it for the Rams to make a move up the board to get what could be the next great receiver? What do you think it would cost the Rams to make a move up to Nos. 7 or 8 to get Julio?
After a strong performance at the NFL combine, receiver Julio Jones seems unlikely to be available to St. Louis, unless the Rams move up from the No. 14 overall pick.
Mike Sando: Yes, there's a good chance another team could draft Jones among the top 13 spots. Jones has the size, speed and big-school pedigree to compare favorably with the 19 receivers drafted in the top 13 spots since 2000.
That list features Pro Bowl talent among the top three overall choices, where Calvin Johnson, Larry Fitzgerald and Andre Johnson more than offset Charles Rogers. But the quality usually drops off quite a bit outside the top three, one reason I'd be hesitant moving up for a wideout. If there's an elite talent worthy of selection among the top few picks, take him. Otherwise, history says to be careful with receivers.
Teams have selected at least two receivers among the top 13 choices seven times in the last 11 drafts, but only twice in the last five and once in the last three. There were no first-round receivers in 2008 and none drafted among the top 21 choices last year.
It's tough to say what it might cost the Rams for a move up seven or eight spots. A new labor agreement could impose a rookie scale, for example, and that could affect how teams value choices near the top of the draft. The uncertainties make this a difficult time to make projections.
Jeff from Bellingham, Wash., writes: Mike, I see some people have the Seahawks taking Jake Locker in the draft. I'm a big Hawk fan and would love to see them get the hometown kid, but I have told people that it would be better for Locker to go somewhere else instead of being home and having the pressure of turning around his hometown team and having the distractions of friends and family, like he did when he was a Husky.
Mike Sando: You might be right. Some of that depends upon how an organization handles a player. The Seahawks would not necessarily have to name Locker the starter right away if they drafted him. I don't really see that as a deal breaker by itself. If a franchise quarterback cannot handle high expectations, perhaps he isn't a franchise quarterback after all. And if that is the case, there's no need to draft him.
Grant from Plattsmouth, Neb., writes: What do you think of Iowa quarterback Ricky Stanzi for the Cardinals in, say, the second or third round? I like the size and his arm seems to fit the Ken Whisenhunt quarterback prototype.
Cam Newton has bust written all over him and I would be very disapointed with that pick. I like Blaine Gabbert and Ryan Mallett, but was thinking Stanzi in the third round could be good. Any thoughts?
Mike Sando: Stanzi gets credit for showing great improvement from his junior season. The issue for Ariziona could be whether a second- or third-round quarterback provides an upgrade over Skelton for the No. 2 role.
The Cardinals have quite a few needs. Using a second- or third-round pick on a potential third-stringer seems like a luxury the team cannot afford. I think Arizona's best-case scenario would involve landing a franchise quarterback at No. 5. If that does not happen, the Cardinals are probably better off going into the 2011 season with Skelton backing up a veteran other than Anderson.
Joe from Beaverton, Ore., writes: I'm a longtime 49ers fan and CBA aside (if possible), what do you see happening with their quarterback position? I would love for them to go get Carson Palmer -- his wife is from the Bay Area and he's a So Cal guy -- and keep Alex Smith as a backup. I'm sure both of those are fairly far from happening, but what do you think?
Mike Sando: Ideally, they would find a young quarterback in the draft for Jim Harbaugh to mold, and they would sit that quarterback for a year behind a veteran mentor type. That probably isn't going to happen this year, but it worked for Palmer in Cincinnati when the Bengals had Jon Kitna start for a season.
I do think the 49ers would be wise to consider pursuing a veteran quarterback such as Palmer or a younger, less experienced version such as Kevin Kolb. Acquiring one can be difficult to swing in a normal year and tougher heading into the 2011 season if the labor situation compresses the offseason too much.
We need to find out, also, how much urgency Harbaugh feels. Some first-year coaches with fat, five-year deals can afford to build on their own terms.