Thursday, June 2, 2011
Chat wrap: About those sleeper receivers
By Mike Sando
The later-than-usual kickoff for the NFC West chat hopefully worked better for those unable to participate earlier in the day.
I'm getting enough questions about NFC West running backs to consider running a poll asking which player is best, Frank Gore or Steven Jackson. First, though, a few chat highlights followed by some closing thoughts.
Nathan (DC): No one seems to think the Seahawks will win the division this year. The Rams have Sam Bradford, the Cardinals just need a quarterback, Jim Harbaugh is the next great coach, etc. But Seattle seems to be building its team the right way, and I have a hard time doubting Pete Carroll. Your thoughts?
Mike Sando: Those concepts aren't exclusive. In fact, we could even say Seattle's decision to do this "the right way" by overhauling the roster and building from the inside out has contributed to perceptions that they will not fare as well in the near term. The Seahawks have said they're building this for the long haul. They will of course try to compete in the meantime, and last year showed they do have a chance.
Henery (Florida): Five years from now, who do you think will have the best offensive line?
Mike Sando: Five years is forever in the NFL, but I get what you are asking. Let's rephrase the question this way: Which NFC West offensive line appears set up best for long-term success? I would start with the 49ers based on what we've seen from Mike Iupati, plus the significant investment through the draft (three recent first-rounders in starting roles). I might lean toward the Seahawks next based on Russell Okung's presence and the investment made in the 2011 draft. The Rams would be next. They have some question marks at guard. Center Jason Brown might need a strong year. Jason Smith's concussion history is a concern. The Cardinals would be last simply because they haven't invested significant draft resources in their line since selecting Levi Brown.
tomas (Los Angeles): Does Darren Sproles have any gas left in his tank, and do you think he would fit in Rams new offensive system?
Mike Sando: Sproles is talented enough to fit in any system as a situational back. I would applaud the Rams for adding him, but the value might not be right. Sproles turns 28 this month. The Rams are going to give the ball to Steven Jackson most of the time. Spending big on a long-term deal for Sproles wouldn't make sense.
Scott (Northglenn, CO): Who is a sleeper at receiver that you can see having a surprisingly good year? Danario Alexander, Ben Obomanu, Early Doucet, Mark Clayton?
Mike Sando: Those are good names to consider. Don't forget about the Cardinals' Andre Roberts. He progressed last season and could factor, particularly if Early Doucet doesn't seize a greater role in the offense. One thing to consider for Arizona: Patrick Peterson can factor in the return game, perhaps lessening the need to keep an extra receiver active on game days. Just a thought.
The questions about receivers hinge so much on what happens at quarterback. We know Larry Fitzgerald is going to get his 85-plus catches. Some of those secondary receivers need a healthier offense to get their catches, as when Arizona had three 1,000-yard receivers a few years ago.