NFC West: Adam Jennings
Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando
The Rams could certainly use a starting-caliber wide receiver. Donnie Avery and perhaps the newly acquired Laurent Robinson join Keenan Burton as the Rams' top three receivers. None has proved himsel
f as a consistent starter to this point.
For that reason, I expect the Rams to strongly consider drafting a receiver in the first three rounds. If Michael Crabtree isn't a consideration at No. 2, the Rams might need to hope one of the more talented wideouts falls to them in the second round.
What will the Rams do? Let's start by looking at which receivers their general manager's teams have selected during the 2000s. We see right away from looking at the chart that Billy Devaney's teams -- the Chargers, 49ers, Falcons and Rams -- haven't used first-round choices for the position.
The pattern holds even if we expand the range to 1990, when Devaney broke into the NFL with the Chargers under GM Bobby Beathard (Devaney was there from 1990 through 2000).
Avery still stands as the only receiver Devaney's teams have drafted among the top 40 overall choices. From 1990 to 1996, the Chargers did draft five receivers in the second and third rounds (picks 41 through 70). Throw in Burton's selection at No. 75 last year and we see where Devaney might strike for a receiver in 2009.
Posted by ESPN.com's Mike SandoThe 49ers hold the 10th, 43rd, 74th, 111th, 146th, 171st, 184th, 219th and 244th choices in the 2009 draft. For perspective, I've singled out the last four players chosen in those spots.
The Lions' selection of USC receiver Mike Williams with the 10th overall choice is enough to raise those familiar red flags for receivers drafted in that range. The last 10 receivers drafted between seventh and 10th overall were Ted Ginn Jr., Troy Williamson, the aforementioned Mike Williams, Roy Williams, Reggie Williams, David Terrell, Koren Robinson, Plaxico Burress, Travis Taylor and David Boston.
How many of those once-highly regarded wideouts would you want on your team right now? Not many. Only four have NFL jobs. For those hoping the 49ers might draft a USC quarterback [Mark Sanchez] in the first round instead, it's been done at No. 10 recently and with unconvincing results.
Justin Tuck at No. 74 in 2005 stands out as a terrific value, but I also credit the Giants for developing him.
The 49ers could use a young prospect at safety. They could do worse than the Ravens did when they made Dawan Landry the 146th player chosen in 2006. Landry became a starter as a rookie.
Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando
Thanks to those of you who dropped by the chat earlier today. I've been going through the mailbag, so let's get right to what's on your minds.
Juice from Colma, Calif., writes: Why isn't anybody making a play for Kurt Warner? He obviously wants another shot to start for at least two more years or at least compete for that spot. Not only can he mentor Smith, the learning curve w/ Martz system is minimal at best since his "salad days' with the greatest show on turf. The organization (49ERS) has invested time & monies in Smith if we get rid of him now it would set back the 49ers between 7 to 10 years to un-due selecting him the #1 overall pick. Heck, we have enough linebackers (which Arizona needs) to put together a trade package for Warner. This team needs a leader on offense to elevate to the next level. Your thoughts.
Mike Sando: I've got a different read. One, Warner might start for the Cardinals this season. They aren't going to donate him to a division rival. Two, the Cardinals like their depth at outside linebacker/defensive end after adding Travis LaBoy and Clark Haggans in free agency. Trades have to make sense for both sides. Getting rid of Warner makes no sense for the Cardinals. They still have to find out if they can win with Matt Leinart. An injury forced Leinart to miss much of last season. Warner filled in and put up big numbers. The Cardinals need Warner.
David from Manalapan, N.J., writes: Hey mike, a rams fan from NJ here. I haven't gotten a good look at the team yet this year because of where i live but based on the preseason games its going to be the same old story on defense. I know the overall depth on the team is poor which skews some of the preseason numbers. My question is: barring a bunch of injuries of course, do you think this team can finish any better than 7-9? A .500 season is a fair goal considering last year's 3-13 train wreck. Obviously, winning the division should always be the goal for every team but just based on what the box scores are telling me this team will be hard pressed to win 7 games this season. Any insight to how you think the rams will fare this season? thanks -Dave
Mike Sando: First, a confession. I went into last season looking to identify a potential playoff team coming off a nonplayoff season. I narrowed my choices to the Packers and Rams. I went with the Rams. Injuries blew up their roster beyond recognition.
The thought entering this offseason was that a healthy Rams team might have a chance to contend. Then Steven Jackson held out. Injuries depleted depth on both lines, at receiver, tight end and in the secondary.
I'm reassessing the Rams at this point. I do think the Rams have a chance to field a good pass-rushing defensive line. Depth in the back seven is a big concern. The Rams probably need one of their young receivers, Donnie Avery or Keenan Burton, to emerge this season. And of course they need that offensive line to avoid what happened in 2007.