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Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando
Jason from Greeley, Colo., writes: Hey Sando. Great job as usual. I know it is very early in the season, but how do you feel about the 2006 draft picks in the West? They say it takes 3 years to evaluate a draft class and this is the 3rd year. As a Cards fan I feel Deuce Lutui has been a solid starter and Leinart's time will come (I hope another on the bench helps him like it helped Aaron Rodgers and Tony Romo.)
What are you evaluations of guys like Vernon Davis and Leonard Pope at TE? Pope seems to be more productive. I am not as familiar with the draft picks of the other West teams, but I would think that the Cards picks from that year would grade the highest of the four teams. Your thoughts?
Mike Sando: Thanks, Jason. The 2006 class appears very weak from an NFC West standpoint. Vernon Davis might be a very good blocker, but you expect a top-10 pick to catch passes more frequently. Matt Leinart isn't starting. Tye Hill is struggling. Manny Lawson was having a hard time getting playing time before his hamstring injury.
Kelly Jennings has been exploited in coverage this season. Deuce Lutui has been OK, but the Cardinals have threatened to replace him with Elton Brown more than once. Joe Klopfenstein has been a disappointment. Darryl Tapp is no longer starting for Seattle.
Claude Wroten is suspended. Leonard Pope is a good receiving tight end and a tough guy, but blocking is not a strength. Jon Alston is long gone. Dominique Byrd is long gone. A couple of the later-round picks have done OK -- Delanie Walker, Parys Haralson, Gabe Watson, Rob Sims -- but overall this is not a great class for NFC West teams.
Mike Sando: I give Arizona the best chance based on what we've seen from these teams. I think the division winner could be in the 8-8 range.
Mike Sando: No problem. That was actually from before the game.
Mike Sando: The 49ers have seemed fired up going into games. I'm not noticing this team coming out flat repeatedly. Remember, they got pressure on Drew Brees early. Did you have specific examples of this team going through the motions?
Mike Sando: Yes, I think this 49ers team is better because the offense is more productive. I do not expect this 49ers team to beat the Eagles, however. Look for the Eagles to pick off J.T. O'Sullivan more than once, and look for Donovan McNabb to make plays down the field. That is my feeling at this point.
Mike Sando: Thanks, Cedric. I tackled this issue after you sent this mailbag item. Overall, I think Mike Martz is keeping Gore involved.
Mike Sando: I think Holmgren was trying to
prevent players from using the time change as an excuse. He's tired of hearing about it and that comes through in his interviews. The team's record in early games -- those played at 10 a.m. PT -- wasn't so bad in the previous couple of seasons.