NFC West: Mel Kiper
Mel Kiper Jr., Todd McShay and six-time NFL executive of the year Bill Polian singled out two NFC West teams when discussing what they liked and did not like in the 2013 NFL draft.
The video features their thoughts.
Separately, ESPN SportsNation provides an opportunity for you to rate how teams fared. The San Francisco 49ers and St. Louis Rams have been leading in polling for the NFC West.
With that in mind, would it be wise for the 49ers to draft a second-tier quarterback -- Christian Ponder, Andy Dalton, etc. -- in a middle round instead of a first-round guy, and then take a first-round guy next year if it looks like it's not working out?
Mike Sando: I do not think the 49ers, or any team, can make draft decisions based on what might be available to them a year later. The 49ers cannot know how early they will draft in 2012, and they cannot know whether they will like any of the quarterbacks available to them at that time. Jake Locker's shifting stock comes to mind.
Until the 49ers have a legitimate long-term starter, they should draft a quarterback in the first round every time they value one as a first-round selection.
NFL teams tend to draft quarterbacks in the first round more frequently than they take them in the second or third rounds. That helps explain why so many more good ones -- and not-so-good ones -- were first-round choices.
Teams have drafted 143 quarterbacks since 2000. They drafted 28 in the first round, 12 in the second round, 14 in the third round, 12 in the fourth round and 77 in the final three rounds.
Sixteen of the 143 have earned Pro Bowl honors. This includes nine of the 28 first-round choices, but only three of the 38 quarterbacks drafted in the second, third or fourth rounds. None of the 23 fifth-round choices has earned a Pro Bowl berth. Three of 30 sixth-rounders and one of 24 seventh-rounders have earned the honors.
Alex from Spokane writes: Hey Mike, love the blog. I just read an article saying Logan Mankins may become a free agent. If that's the case what do you think the chances are of the Seahawks making a play for him?
Mike Sando: Seahawks general manager John Schneider comes from the Ted Thompson school of personnel. Thompson has never valued guards as much as other teams have valued guards. Thompson has also proven relatively averse to free agency.
That doesn't exclude Seattle from pursuing a player such as Mankins. Schneider has described himself as more apt than Thompson to use free agency. We have already seen Schneider and coach Pete Carroll move aggressively to remake the roster. We have also seen the Seahawks struggle to field a sturdy offensive line. Adding Mankins would finally fill the void left when Steve Hutchinson departed following the 2006 season.
So, in the end, I'm saying there's a chance until we learn otherwise.
Travis from Cave Creek, Ariz., writes: I have been a Rams fan all of my life I am a football freak. Ever since that Week 17 loss to Seattle, I have been pondering the best possible offseason for the Rams.
It starts in free agency by signing Nnamdi Asomugha to help out a Rams secondary that has been allowing way too many big plays. Then we could go sign a big-time wide reciever to help out Sam Bradford. I'm thinking Vincent Jackson or Santonio Holmes, if they indeed become free agents.
Lastly, in the draft, the Rams need to help out Steven Jackson, and I cannot think of a better way to do that than drafting Mark Ingram at No. 14. Mel Kiper has him going to the Dolphins at No. 15, so there is a great chance of him falling to 14.
How plausible is all of this? And if indeed most or all of these things happened, where do you think the Rams would be going into next year?
Mike Sando: The Rams would firm up their status as NFC West favorites if those things fell into place. And that is one thing I love about the offseason; it dares us to dream.
I think it's questionable as to whether one of those things will happen, let alone all three. Oakland showed a willingness to pay huge money to Asomugha a couple years ago. Why wouldn't the Raiders do it again? Al Davis loves cornerbacks. His team has made strides. Asomugha is a terrific player and team-oriented guy. I would think the Raiders would be the favorites to keep Asomugha.
On the receiver front, yes, I could see the Rams making an aggressive play to acquire one of the better free agents at the position. Going that route before the draft would take off the pressure to find a top-tier talent from the college ranks -- always a risky proposition, especially at receiver after first few overall choices.
At running back, I just do not think the Rams will have an easy time justifying using a first-round selection for the position. They have too many needs at other positions. Jackson should be able to get them through the next couple seasons. The team would not, ideally, use a first-round pick for a running back right now.
Howie from Jacksonville, Fla., writes: The Jaguars reportedly denied the Rams permission to interview offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter. This struck me as odd. How often does one team deny access to another team's coaches? Isn't that slap in the face to the requesting team? Why would the Jaguars do this? How does Koetter feel about being blocked for possible advancement with another team?
Mike Sando: Teams must allow coaches to interview for head coaching vacancies. In this case, Koetter was already an offensive coordinator. Why should the Jaguars let him interview for a lateral move at the potential expense of their own organization?
My feel from speaking to assistant coaches over the years is that teams regularly deny permission, and that we do not know about it most of the time.
Randy from Peoria, Ariz., writes: Hello Mike. Arizona needs a quality quarterback to assist for the near term (two years), quality on-field personnel at various positions, a quality defensive coordinator, quality offensive coordinators, good draft choices for future development, players who will not demand inordinate income, fans who will not abandon the team while it searches for a way back to the win column, a moneyed partner for a Bidwill family business, new uniforms (my son designed one I'd like to promote) and the need to suspend reality while we hope the previous nine point will be addressed.
Mike Sando: The Cardinals fans I encounter seem relatively unmoved by the success the team enjoyed during its first three seasons under Ken Whisenhunt. They often seem pessimistic, as if conditioned over the years to expect bad fortune to be lurking right behind success. Getting the right quarterback would make some of those other perceived needs seem a lot easier to overcome.
Buddy from Highland, Ill., writes: Hey Mike, I'm just gonna ask a question that's been rollin' through my mind since the Rams announced Josh McDaniels' hiring as offensive coordinator and Dick Curl's retirement as quarterbacks coach. How big of a possibility is it that Kurt Warner can return to St. Louis to replace Curl?
I know it depends on what the coaches want and what's going on in Warner's life, but I think this could be a great hire for the team, and not to mention how much the fans would love it.
Mike Sando: No chance, in my view. Warner doesn't want to trade his new lifestyle for the grind and pressure associated with coaching. McDaniels would have no incentive to hire someone with no coaching experience, no experience in his offense and a profile large enough to overshadow the rest of the staff. Mainly, though, I do not think Warner would want to take his life in that direction, at all.
1. San Francisco 49ers
Actual pick: Alex Smith, QB, Utah
Kiper re-draft pick: Aaron Rodgers
My thoughts: The question, of course, is to what extent Rodgers would have transcended the bad luck and dysfunction that framed Smith's career with the 49ers. Rodgers benefited from having a few years to learn the pro game before taking over for Brett Favre. Rodgers walked into a far more talented offense than the one that helped drag down Smith early in his career. The disparity between Smith and Rodgers has to do with more than circumstances, however. Rodgers has been better across the board. I think his personality would have helped him fare better than Smith has fared. Matt Cassel, the second quarterback selected in Kiper's re-draft, lacks the physical skills Rodgers possesses. I think he might have become another Smith if the 49ers had selected him. The 49ers would have been just fine selecting DeMarcus Ware, the second player chosen in Kiper's re-draft.
8. Arizona Cardinals
Actual pick: Antrel Rolle, CB, Miami
Kiper re-draft pick: Jay Ratliff, NT, Auburn.
My thoughts: Rolle converted to safety and earned Pro Bowl recognition before leaving Arizona in free agency. He wasn't good enough over the course of his time with the Cardinals to justify the early choice, however. Ratliff would have upgraded the Cardinals' defense. Arizona wouldn't have leaned so heavily on veteran nose tackle Bryan Robinson, who has played too many snaps. I might have sent Frank Gore to the Cardinals on a re-draft, however (Gore went 17th in Kiper's version). Taking away Gore from the 49ers and sending him to Arizona would have headed off the Edgerrin James signing while weakening a division rival. Having Gore and Kurt Warner in the same backfield would have upgraded an offense that already had outstanding weapons in Larry Fitzgerald and Anquan Boldin.
19. St. Louis Rams
Actual pick: Alex Barron, T, Florida St.
Kiper re-draft pick: Logan Mankins, G, Fresno St.
My thoughts: Mankins would have provided needed toughness and leadership. Barron's tenure became a yellow blur thanks to all the penalties he incurred. Darren Sproles was available in Kiper's re-draft and he would have given the Rams an scary one-two punch at running back, but building along the offensive line would have made more sense. Mankins became a Pro Bowl guard. The Rams wound up selecting guards Richie Incognito and Claude Terrell in this draft. Incognito lacked self-control and flamed out of St. Louis. Off-field issues drove Terrell out of the league. Selecting Mankins early would have averted the mistake on Barron while sending the team in another direction in the later rounds.
26. Seattle Seahawks
Actual pick: Chris Spencer, C, Mississippi
Kiper re-draft pick: Barrett Ruud, LB, Nebraska
My thoughts: The Seahawks got more immediate help at linebacker by selecting Lofa Tatupu in the second round and Leroy Hill in the third. Seattle would not have reached the Super Bowl following the 2005 season without Tatupu bringing together the defense, in my view. Ruud did not start as a rookie. Tatupu went 15th overall to Kansas City in Kiper's re-draft. Some of the other players I would have sent to Seattle in the 26th spot were also gone in the re-draft. Given how Super Bowl XL turned out, the Seahawks could have used another safety. The team liked safety-turned-linebacker Thomas Davis that year. Nick Collins and Oshiomogho Atogwe were gone on a re-draft.
Aaron (San Diego, Ca): What would you give the 49ers chances againt Philly, They have had strong performances in every road game they have played this year, having a hard time finishing out, I am hearing it is likely to snow in Philly and if the 49ers are learning how to run again and Philly hates to try and run (passing in the snow isnt very easy) and Alex continues to be efficent do you think this is a game we could realalisticly win?
Mike Sando: This is such a great opportunity for the 49ers. They really have nothing to lose. Everyone, including me, has pretty much written them off as a playoff team. They are playing with house money a little bit right now, simply because they were so down after that loss to Seattle. It is a really tough test for them, though. They travel cross country on a short week to play an early game against a playoff-caliber team in tough conditions. Mike Singletary has to secretly love it. In the end, though, it just seems unlikely that Alex Smith will stare down that Philly defense and do enough to win the game. If he does, wow, what a great moment for him and for the 49ers.
Rex Hughes (Troy, MO) : OK, so now we can't get Jake Locker and I'm hoping we aren't stuck with Jabba the Bulger much longer. Who is on Mel Kiper's Big Board at QB that you think the Rams will come with and take a hard look at? Selecting a QB early for this team seems as easy as a one piece puzzle. Oy vey and Happy Holidays, Sando!
Mike Sando: Thanks. Marc Bulger's contract calls for him to make more money in 2010 than the Rams would ever pay him. He will very likely be gone after this season. It's time, anyway. Let's watch to see how the Rams allocate their financial resources. How willing will they be to invest massive capital in a high-risk franchise quarterback when they have so many other needs? Might they be more inclined to look for a cheaper version of Bulger, meaning a veteran quarterback? The Dolphins added Chad Pennington, for example.
Cassius (Doremus): Does Mike Holmgren's deadline of Christmas take him out of the running for a position with the hawks? It doesn't seem like the Hawks are in that big of hurry.
Mike Sando: If Mike Holmgren has set a hard deadline of Christmas, yes, that would take him off the Seahawks' radar. I don't think the Seahawks had him atop their list anyway. If they did, they would be moving on him, probably. It takes a confident organization to not even consider Mike Holmgren as a candidate.
TJ (California): Should the Cardinals be worried about how poor their passing game was against the 49ers? Is it a sign of bigger problems or is it simply that the 49ers match up well against the Cardinals? Also, does it seem like the Cardinals are trying to force the deep ball? What's the solution?
Mike Sando: The solution is to run the ball without fumbling. The Cardinals ran the ball better than expected against the 49ers. They can be a good running team. They need to stick with that. If they do, and if they protect the ball better, the downfield throws will open up. They probably forced the deep ball a little, but I think that is OK. They had Steve Breaston open, but Dre Bly made an excellent play. Larry Fitzgerald nearly caught that jump ball on the play resulting in his injury.
One question for you: Who is going to take the NFC West blog past 8,500 followers on Twitter?