NFC West: Mohamed Massaquoi

Two of the better receivers from the 2009 NFL draft call the NFC West home after the Seattle Seahawks acquired Percy Harvin from the Minnesota Vikings

Harvin and the San Francisco 49ers' Michael Crabtree, both first-round choices, rank first and second, respectively, in receptions among wide receivers from that 2009 class.

The chart at right shows where they rank among the 26 wide receivers from the 2009 draft with at least one reception. Of those players, Harvin has by far the most rushing attempts with 107. Mike Thomas is second with 34. Crabtree has 14. Harvin ranks second in kickoff returns with 114, behind Brandon Tate (119).

The chart below ranks 2009 drafted wide receivers by receptions. Missing the cut: Brian Hartline (183), Thomas (176), Brandon Gibson (174), Austin Collie (173), Kenny Britt (146), Darrius Heyward-Bey (140), Johnny Knox (133), Mohamed Massaquoi (118) and Louis Murphy (115). No other receivers from that class have more than 69 career receptions.

We should schedule a Michael Crabtree discussion periodically just to get the blood pumping.

Linking to Matt Maiocco's piece from our latest "Around the NFC West" post got us talking Thursday morning.

"While fans expect 1,000-yard seasons from a player chosen with the No. 10 overall draft pick," Maiocco wrote, "the 49ers' offense is not one that features the outside receivers.

"Some view Crabtree as a bust. I am certainly not in that camp."

Indeed, there are mitigating factors to explain why Crabtree's production has lagged compared to other highly drafted receivers from the 2009 NFL class. A rookie contract dispute, injuries, the 2011 lockout, coaching turnover, a run-oriented scheme and spotty quarterback play come to mind. Of course, every team has its issues. The 49ers weren't the only ones.

"I agree with Maiocco," red n g0ld wrote. "Pretty hard to judge 'Crabs' when you consider our run-heavy scheme and that Alex Smith prefers the short passing game and tight ends."

"Yep, we're not built to have any flashy numbers out of our WRs," randdles added, "which is why I think that Randy Moss isn't gonna be particularly happy, especially with the other WRs we brought in. He might not even have one catch per game."

"It hurts me to say it," 4tni9er wrote, "but I think Crabtree would have prospered more with an offense that has more emphasis on the passing game (with another QB). There is a resistance from his side to Alex Smith, but it's getting better."

"Of all the 10 people who drafted ahead of Crabtree (Aaron Curry included), only Matthew Stafford, B.J. Raji and possibly Mark Sanchez are better value," 4949centennial wrote.

"I guess one could say it isn't primarily Crabtree's fault for the type of offense they have been running," Prominent_49ers wrote. "You would think he would produce just a bit more than what he has done so far for the team."

"I think the definition of 'bust' needs to be flushed out while trying to view Crabtree," joe_cool585 wrote. "While Maiocco may not view him as a bust, Crabtree sure as heck hasn't lived up to the reasonable expectations of a top 10 draft choice."

The first chart shows where Crabtree ranks among the eight receivers chosen in the first two rounds of the 2009 draft. The chart below shows stats for all eight of those players.
A couple of people thought the best questions went unaddressed during the recently completed NFC West chat (see comments at the bottom of the chat transcript).

Fire away. I'm listening.
Jeff (Cedar Rapids, IA): Good day Mike. Everyone seems fixated on the Rams drafting a WR and, honestly, I don't see it. Sure, if A.J. Green or Julio Jones falls, that makes sense but realistically that's not going to happen. Both Kiper and McShay have the Rams taking a receiver in the secnd round but logically it doesn't make much sense to me to add another No. 2 guy. Would a WR in the second round be a huge improvement over a healthy Donnie Avery, Danario Alexander or Brandon Gibson? I think that second-round pick would be so much more valuable in getting an outside linebacker, safety or guard. Just wondering your thoughts on that second-round pick. Thanks!

Mike Sando: Your take and my take line up nicely. The last 10 receivers taken in the second round were Arrelious Benn, Golden Tate, Brian Robiskie, Mohamed Massaquoi, Avery, Devin Thomas, Jordy Nelson, James Hardy, Eddie Royal and Jerome Simpson. There have been some good ones over the years -- DeSean Jackson, Greg Jennings, Vincent Jackson, Anquan Boldin -- but I agree that a rookie receiver tends to make less impact. We have seen NFC West teams find good linebackers in the second round. Daryl Washington looks promising for Arizona, while Karlos Dansby worked out well as a second-rounder previously. James Laurinaitis is working out well for the Rams. Lofa Tatupu went to three Pro Bowls for Seattle.

Shane (Los Angeles, CA): Sando, if the Cards do get Von Miller, the LB corps, which was the Achilles heel of the defense last year, should be much better with O'Brien Schofield and Daryl Washington. Depth concerns aside, shouldn't the Cards' starting defense fare much better next year? Of course, having a QB that doesn't put your defense in bad positions all year long will help also!

Mike Sando: I expect improvement. Injuries to Darnell Dockett and Adrian Wilson were also factors. The Cardinals are optimistic on Schofield and Davis. Their optimism on young players in the past held up in a couple instances, notably with Calais Campbell after the team let Antonio Smith leave in free agency.

Corey (D.C.): Please comment on my analysis of the QB situation in the draft. It seems to me that Arizona is in a perfect situation to take a DEF player like Von Miller at #5, then sitting back and waiting for a QB like Ponder or Dalton in early rd 2 (trading up slightly if need be). Seattle needs to take a QB at #25 if they want to because they will all be gone by their 2nd pick. SF wont take a QB at #7, and surely all will be gone by their 2nd round pick. Based on this, and not to mention Tennessee, Washington, Buffalo, Minnesota, and Carolina will all have taken QBs with either their 1st or 2nd picks, it seems to me the one team left out in the cold is the 49ers. Does this make them the most likely to trade for Kolb?

Mike Sando: I like the way you have thought through things, but it all comes down to whether the 49ers would value Kolb enough to part with a high pick for him. I do not see them making that trade with their first-rounder this year, should trades for veteran players even be permissible. Would the Eagles take a high second-rounder for him? Not so sure that would make a great deal of sense for them.

Jeff (Bellevue, WA): If you take stock in what McShay and Kiper believe, it appears to be rather likely that Jake Locker will stay in Seattle. Should that happen, I would think that would be one of the best scenarios for Matt Hasselbeck because that would increase the pressure on Seattle to bring him back. They would need a smart, veteran West Coast QB to teach alongside Darrell Bevell. Thoughts?

Mike Sando: Drafting Locker would preclude the team from acquiring a Kevin Kolb and paying Kolb big money over the long term. Keeping Hasselbeck as a veteran mentor would have greater appeal. I'm just not so sure Seattle would feel that pressure to the point that it would compel the team to start guaranteeing money to Hasselbeck on a longer-term deal.

The lockout could make quarterback selection in the draft interesting for Seattle. The team wouldn't be able to communicate directly with Hasselbeck to let him know its thoughts on the position and where he would fit if he did re-sign. They could explain the situation publicly.

Michael Crabtree and the 2009 receivers

February, 18, 2011
NFL teams selected 34 wide receivers in the 2009 draft.

Of those 34 players, the San Francisco 49ers' Michael Crabtree finished the 2010 regular season ranked seventh in receptions, eighth in yards and sixth in touchdowns.

The 49ers had reason to expect better from Crabtree, the 10th overall choice and second receiver taken in his draft class. Matt Williamson of Scouts Inc. hits on some of the keys for Crabtree heading into the receiver's third season. He sees vast potential for Crabtree in the red zone specifically.

I've put together a couple charts for perspective.

The first chart shows 2010 production for the wide receivers NFL teams selected in the 2009 draft (minimum nine receptions). Note that the St. Louis Rams' Brandon Gibson entered the NFL with Philadelphia.

The second chart shows average 2010 stats by draft round for all wide receivers selected in 2009, minus the Denver Broncos' Kenny McKinley, who passed away in September.

Todd asks via Facebook whether trading draft choices for veteran players generally works out. He suspects not.

Mike Sando: Relatively few early choices change hands in this manner. Teams generally do not trade productive young players.

The Browns picked up an extra 2009 second-round choice and a 2010 fifth-rounder thanks to the Kellen Winslow trade, using the second-rounder for receiver Mohamed Massaquoi. The Chiefs parted with a second-round choice to acquire Matt Cassel and Mike Vrabel from New England last offseason (New England selected safety Pat Chung). The Eagles parted with multiple picks, including a first-rounder Buffalo used for guard Eric Wood, in the Jason Peters trade. The Falcons parted with a 2010 second-rounder for Tony Gonzalez.

The teams acquiring the players arguably fared well in those deals.

In the NFC West, Seattle and St. Louis acquired veteran players last offseason. The Seahawks traded Julian Peterson to Detroit for Cory Redding and a 2009 fifth-round choice, which Seattle later traded to Philadelphia. The Rams swapped spots with Atlanta in the fifth and sixth rounds to acquire receiver Laurent Robinson. Robinson had shown some promise in Atlanta, but injuries held him back. That was the story of his 2010 season with the Rams.