NFC West: Vladimir Ducasse

Trent Williams' substance-abuse suspension for the final four games of the 2011 season delivered another blow to the 2010 draft's offensive tackles.

Five of the first 10 tackles drafted that year are unavailable to their teams, including the Seattle Seahawks' Russell Okung and the St. Louis Rams' Rodger Saffold.

Seven of the 10 are starters or would be starters if healthy.

Okung was playing as well as any of them when Trent Cole's takedown ended his season. Saffold, slowed by back and ankle problems at various points, was struggling in his second season starting with the Rams. The San Francisco 49ers' Anthony Davis, though improved, continues to struggle some in pass protection.

The chart shows the first 10 tackles drafted. A few other potential tackles, including Denver's Zane Beadles, projected to guard in the NFL. They were not listed.

The Oakland Raiders' Bruce Campbell remains on the list even though he has been a backup guard to this point. He projected at tackle coming out of college and still could wind up there.

Chat wrap: Marshall trade thoughts

April, 15, 2010
The latest NFC West chat came and went without much from Cardinals fans. The 26th overall pick just isn't as much of a talker. Transcript here. Highlights below:
six (albany ny): Mike, what's your opinion/take on the Brandon Marshall-to-Miami trade?

Mike Sando: My opinion is that the Broncos did a great job getting value in return, and the Seahawks were a victim of that. Seattle really lost out on a chance to get a rare talent, but when the price exceeded the Seahawks' realistic means, the team bowed out instead of panicking. That had to be hard, but giving up a second this year and a second next year would have left Seattle without second- or third-round choices for consecutive years. And that would have been tough.

will (slc ): Cody Brown, second-rounder last year for the Cards. What kinda season or player can he be? He was a good player at UConn.

Mike Sando: That's an important question for the Cardinals. The word on Brown was that he was very raw and would need some seasoning. That's why his injury was so costly. It was serious and really set him back. He's a guy to keep in the back of your mind. Don't expect much, but keep him on your radar. The Cardinals haven't seen enough of him to know what to expect right away.

Mike Murphy (Wood River, IL): Hi Mike, big fan of yours by the way. I'm a Rams fan and my question is, do you see them trading the first pick to the Browns and if so, what would you see them getting in return? And also, who do you see the Rams getting with the 33rd pick if they don't trade up or down to get a couple extra picks?

Mike Sando: The Browns' entire draft is worth 2,692 points on the trade-value chart. The first overall pick is worth 3,000 points on that chart. Let's say the 3,000 figure is overvalued. Still, the Browns would have to give up too much, in my opinion. It just doesn't seem feasible. The top of the second round is where the Rams can hope to find a touchdown maker. Maybe a receiver falls. They need points.

Tre (Florida): With Mike Solari and Ray Brown as 0-line coaches now for the 49ers, can we expect to see marked improvement from any of the players along the offensive line and if so, who would you say has the most upside (currently on the roster)? Also don't you think these guys could coach up a second-round pick like Vladimir Ducasse or Jared Veldheer into a starting right tackle if necessary?

Mike Sando: Chilo Rachal would probably have the most untapped potential among offensive linemen already on the 49ers' roster. Joe Staley and Eric Heitmann are already veterans at this point. Coaching up a tackle does sound appealing. The question is really whether the 49ers can feel good about taking their chances at that position. The need might be great enough to consider taking one earlier.

One week to the draft. Let the smokescreens intensify.
Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says Shahid Khan plans to stand by Stan Kroenke's pending attempt to purchase full control of the Rams. Khan: "Earlier this evening, Stan advised me that he was going to pursue that opportunity (to purchase controlling interest in the Rams). I have had the chance to get to know Stan over the past 60 days. As I told Stan during our conversation earlier this evening, I enjoy his company, admire his success in sports, and certainly respect his right to try to purchase the Rosenbloom family's interest in the Rams."

Bernie Miklasz of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch expresses surprise at Kroenke's seemingly bold move. Miklasz: "One theory making the rounds is that Kroenke is pulling the power play as a ploy to get Khan to offer him more money for the 40 percent share. But I talked to enough people in the know Monday night who insist that this is no game -- and that Kroenke genuinely wants to gain 100 percent control of the Rams and he believes there is a way to get it done with the NFL." As Miklasz notes, the timing is poor for the Rams. But no matter what happened Monday, the league was going to begin a more earnest review of an ownership bid. The league is more familiar with Kroenke than Khan.

Howard Balzer of the St. Louis Globe-Democrat recounts the evening Khan and Kroenke spent together at a Denver Nuggets game in February. Balzer on Kroenke: "Does he plan to challenge NFL cross-ownership rules? Will he sell the Nuggets and Avalanche? Does he have something up his sleeve where he would transfer ownership of those teams to family members? Kroenke’s son, Josh, a former basketball player at Missouri, is currently vice president of player development for the Nuggets."

Tim Klutsarits of offers thoughts on Kroenke's bid. Klutsarits: "From a business perspective the move by Stan Kroenke tells me one of two things. The first is that he thinks he has enough votes from the NFL owners to waive the cross-ownership rule for him. ... The second option would be that Kroenke is making a business move and is wanting to get paid. ... I can't believe that the NFL would be interested, in the midst of trying to negotiate a new contract, in getting in a nasty court dispute over cross ownership. I don't know if they would win but I do know that they would not want to get in front of a jury or judge to make that decision. Stan Kroenke knows this too."

Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee says the 49ers are meeting with tackle Vladimir Ducasse and receiver Dez Bryant as part of their draft preparations. Bryant and Michael Crabtree share the same agent, by the way, and Bryant could wind up getting drafted later than his talent would suggest. Sound familiar? Barrows: "Will the 49ers take a Big 12 receiver represented by Eugene Parker in two straight drafts? Boy, I really don't see it happening, but the 49ers are adding a bit of intrigue by bringing the Oklahoma State wideout in for a visit. My read on Bryant is that he's more physically gifted than Michael Crabtree but lacks Crabtree's intensity. Perhaps the 49ers figure that a passing offense that features Crabtree, Bryant and Vernon Davis is too dangerous to pass up. Or maybe they're appearing interested to drum up a draft-day trade. Who knows? (Which is exactly what the 49ers want the league to think). It's noteworthy that both Mike Singletary and Trent Baalke attended Bryant's workout in Lufkin, Texas last month."

Also from Barrows: Drafting Anthony Davis to play right tackle would give the 49ers more than one player known for inconsistent play on the right side of the line.

Matt Maiocco of the Santa Rosa Press-Democrat says the 49ers are probably just doing their diligence by meeting with Bryant.

Brian McIntyre of expects former Saints defensive back Joe Porter to participate in the Seahawks' upcoming minicamp on a tryout basis. Seattle is low on numbers at defensive back and on the offensive line, at least by offseason standards. It's looking like the team could have a large number of tryout players for the camp beginning Tuesday.

Danny O'Neil of the Seattle Times says the Seahawks aren't expecting to see tackle Walter Jones at their voluntary minicamp, the latest indication Jones might not return. O'Neil: "Jones' agent has not returned repeated messages about his client's status, and attempts to contact Jones have not drawn a response. The Seahawks have acknowledged Jones is considering retirement, but were awaiting a firm, final conclusion from Jones. Seattle's approach to prepare for life after Jones is the only pragmatic one at this point. Jones is 36, and he has undergone two knee surgeries and missed 20 regular-season games since last suiting up. The Seahawks banked on his ability to come back and play left tackle last season, and when he couldn't, the offensive line never recovered."

Also from O'Neil: the latest on Leroy Hill. O'Neil: "He was arrested and taken to the Issaquah City Jail for investigation of misdemeanor assault. Hill was not included among the online listing of inmates Monday afternoon, indicating he had been released. A date for his arraignment could not be determined."

Eric D. Williams of the Tacoma News Tribune has this to say about Pete Carroll's first minicamp as Seahawks coach: "Carroll’s focus during his first months on the job has been to create a competitive environment where all starting positions are up for grabs. That was evident in the team’s move to trade for San Diego restricted free agent quarterback Charlie Whitehurst, signing him to a two-year, $8 million deal with the expectation that he will push veteran quarterback Matt Hasselbeck for the starting quarterback job."

John Morgan of Field Gulls says it's pretty clear the Seahawks have strong faith in the 2010 draft class.

Darren Urban of checks in with nose tackle Gabe Watson, who is attempting to overcome knee troubles. Urban: "Watson said he’s down about 30 pounds from the end of the season. He needs to build back up some muscle mass, but ideally, he’ll play at 315 or 320 pounds. That’ll help his quickness and agility, important at a position where he’s the starter for now, especially with veteran Bryan Robinson still un-signed and a question mark to return. But Watson is also doing it with an eye on his star-struck knees and also his post-football life." This item makes even clearer the Cardinals' obvious need for a nose tackle heading into the draft. Unless I'm missing something, bringing back Robinson could be a necessity even if the team does draft at the position.

How much to value a right tackle

April, 6, 2010
Matt Maiocco's take on the 49ers possibly having to trade up from No. 13 for an offensive tackle hits on a significant theme in the 2010 NFL draft.

Seattle might have a shot at only the third-rated tackle -- all the way up at No. 6. That would make it tough for the 49ers and teams picking later in the round to feel as good about their options.

In 2007, the 28th overall choice landed the third-rated tackle, Joe Staley, and the 49ers were happy to draft him. Joe Thomas (third overall to Cleveland), Levi Brown (fifth to Arizona) and Ben Grubbs (29th to Baltimore) were the only other offensive linemen drafted in the first round.

The 49ers' need for a right tackle shouldn't blind them to value. Right tackles are still right tackles, not left tackles or quarterbacks. But finding a good one in the second round could be tougher if a first-round run on the position depletes the pool. Massachusetts' Vladimir Ducasse projects as a possible second-round choice with the size San Francisco might like at the position, but the 49ers aren't picking until 17 choices into the round.

As the chart shows, eight of the 12 playoff teams from last season used starting right tackles drafted in the first two rounds (by other teams in two cases). Brown was the only one chosen in the first half of the first round. The Cardinals drafted him to protect the blind side for left-handed quarterback Matt Leinart, although plans have changed. Brown is moving to left tackle this year, just as Leinart has become the starter following Kurt Warner's retirement.

NFC West draft watch: Offensive linemen

November, 12, 2009
Rank Offensive Tackle Prospect College Height Weight Scouts Inc. Grade
1 Russell Okung Oklahoma St.
6-8 299 96
2 Trent Williams
Oklahoma 6-5 306 94
3 Bryan Bulaga
Iowa 6-6 311 93
4 Charles Brown
USC 6-5 285 92
5 Anthony Davis
Rutgers 6-5 328 91
6 Tony Washington
Abilene Christian
6-6 300 83
7 Sam Young
Notre Dame
6-7 314 81
8 Selvish Capers
West Virginia
6-4 293 80
9 Kyle Calloway
Iowa 6-6 318 78
10 Jason Fox
Miami 6-6 301 77
Posted by's Mike Sando

Steve Muench of Scouts Inc. passes along a "thank you" to those who left thoughts and comments in the recent item soliciting feedback about 2010 draft priorities for NFC West teams. Steve read through the comments in preparation for our first in-season discussion matching projected team needs with available talent.

We covered offensive linemen in this discussion, figuring the Seahawks and 49ers in particular could target tackles as early as the first round. I spend all of my time watching NFC West teams. Steve spends his time evaluating college prospects. It was nice to compare notes.

Muench sees Oklahoma State tackle Russell Okung as a potential top-five overall selection. We discussed several other prospects, beginning with the top two listed on the chart.

(Read full post)