NFL Nation: chat

Here are highlights from our weekly San Diego Chargers chat. You can check out the full transcript here.

Heidijoy (Iowa): How are Manti Te'o and Chris Watts doing?

Eric D. Williams: Te'o looks faster now that his foot is fully healthy. But I want to see how he plays in a preseason game first before saying that he will be an impact player on defense. I think Chris Watt can be a fill-in guy at interior offensive line this season, and potentially a starter at center or guard in the next two or three years. Watt gets after it and appears to be picking up his assignments quickly.

Rashad (San Diego): Has the Brandon Flowers deal broke down with the chargers and why? Do you know his asking price?

Williams: I have no specifics on Flowers and the possibility he ends up in San Diego, other than he visited the team's facility Wednesday and Thursday. Flowers and his representation are likely listening to other potential suitors and weighing their options. The Chargers appear to be in a good position to land Flowers. He fits defensive coordinator John Pagano's system and would be an upgrade over anyone at cornerback on San Diego's roster as it stands right now. My only concern would be how having Flowers on the roster affects the playing time of Jason Verrett and Steve Williams. Those young corners have to play in order to get better. Flowers has to weigh scheme fit, opportunity for playing time and, of course, price.

Milwaukee Dan: What's the story on Woodhead .... a luxury that the Bolts will let walk after this year or do you see them making an effort to keep him?

Williams: Danny Woodhead is a productive player and a good fit in the locker room. I would be surprised if Woodhead is not on San Diego's roster in 2015.

LeAndre (Los Angeles): For some reason, WR Tevin Reese intrigues the heck out of me -- I've heard he's had a few drops here and there during practice, but you can't teach speed. What role might he fill this season OR do you see Reese having a legit shot at being on the field with Keenan, M-80, Vincent Brown/Eddie Royal?

Williams: I like his skill set. I thought Reese actually had his best practice that I watched Wednesday during the team's final minicamp practice. I think he needs a redshirt year to learn a pro-style offense and gain weight. He has an uphill battle to earn a roster spot. I think more likely he winds up on the practice squad, unless he can seize one of the return jobs.

Chat about the Packers today

February, 11, 2014
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Much has happened since our last get-together. The Green Bay Packers hired assistant coaches and changed duties for some others.

So there's much to talk about in our weekly chat, which gets underway at 4 p.m. ET (or 3 p.m. for those of us who live in the surrounding areas).

Join us live or submit your questions ahead of time. All you have to do is click this link and off we will go.

Chat about the Packers today

February, 4, 2014
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Now that the NFL season is officially over and we all have a little more time on our hands, we'll be hosting a weekly Packers chat every Tuesday at 4 p.m. ET (or 3 p.m. for those of us who live here).

It's open to any and all Packers-related topics.

Join us live or submit your questions ahead of time. All you have to do is click this link and off we go.

Let's chat about the Rams

January, 16, 2014
Coming Friday at 1 p.m. ET, I'll be hosting our first of many chats to discuss all things St. Louis Rams. Free agency, draft ... anything you want to cover we'll talk about it for an hour every. You can submit questions now and/or join me Friday when we go live. Hope to see you there.
Our NFC West chat won't start til 1 p.m. ET, but one of the questions waiting in the queue caught my attention already.

"Let's face it, everyone is worried about the 49ers' defensive line," Andrew from Minnesota wrote. "I think, however, most people are overlooking the Ian Williams contract extension. We all gave puzzled looks at the Ray McDonald extension a few years ago, and that move paid off. Maybe Williams will be an awesome new anchor in the D-line? Thoughts?"

Sando: The five-year extension McDonald signed before the 2011 season did come as a bit of a surprise, mostly for its timing and $20 million value. The 49ers had a new coaching staff, so it was tough to know from the outside which players the team might value most.

McDonald had played more than half the defensive snaps in two of the previous three seasons, however. He had played in 47 of the previous 48 games. McDonald was an established player and someone the team had valued as a third-round choice in 2007.

Williams, 23, was undrafted in 2011. He has played 39 snaps in four games over two seasons. His contract averages $1.5 million per year, less than half the $4 million average for McDonald. The deal for Williams included $2 million in guaranteed money, one-third what McDonald's contract contained.

I tend to think Glenn Dorsey's signing is the more significant one for the 49ers' defensive line. I'm not quite sure what the 49ers have in mind for him, but that signing indicates to me a specific plan is in place for the line in 2013.

As for the draft, I do think the 49ers need to address that position regardless.

McDonald and Justin Smith had both played at least 85 percent of the defensive snaps through Week 15, which was when an arm injury forced Smith to the sideline until the playoffs. Tampa Bay (three) and New Orleans (two) were the only other teams with more than one defensive lineman logging 85-plus percent of his team's snaps to that point in the season. The Bucs and Saints had a combined seven other defensive linemen logging at least 30 percent of the snaps to that point. The 49ers had none.

Tampa Bay and New Orleans ran different defensive schemes, of course. Outside linebacker Aldon Smith played on the line a fair amount for the 49ers depending on the situation. Still, it's a position the 49ers could stand to address. Smith is 33 years old and arguably the most important player on the defense. His contract runs through 2013 and the team will need to find a successor.
The latest NFC West chat has come and gone, but it's not finished quite yet.

We're headed to overtime -- a chance to address questions that eluded us during the hour-long session.

Crawford from Glendale, Ariz., wants to know when the Arizona Cardinals will be most likely to name a starting quarterback.

"Do you see the Cards having one named by mid-preseason rather than typically at the end?" he asks.

Well, the Cardinals waited until Aug. 30, 2008, to name Kurt Warner the starter over Matt Leinart heading into that season. That was after the fourth preseason game, although ESPN's Chris Mortensen reported the expected decision several days earlier. There was no quarterback competition heading into the 2009 season, when Warner was firmly established in the No. 1 role. In 2010, Arizona moved Derek Anderson over Leinart as the starter on Aug. 27, after two preseason games. And then Kevin Kolb was the presumed starter during a lockout-condensed 2011 offseason.

I could see naming Kolb the starter a little early if he emerged as the clear favorite right away. But if there's little separation between the two, the team might be best off waiting longer. There's just no reason to pull the plug on Kolb prematurely, given all the money Arizona has invested in him.

Note: This is going to come as a great shock given the 20-20 hindsight that comes with the job, but I've got a routine eye exam scheduled for this afternoon, which means I need to bail for a while. I'll pick up with a couple more unanswered questions later in the day Thursday, eyes permitting.
A heads up: The NFC West chat takes place Thursday at its regularly scheduled time (1 p.m. ET). From there, I'll relocate to Seattle Seahawks headquarters for the 2012 NFL draft.

This might be a good opportunity to field a comment/question from Facebook friend Evan.

"I find it hysterical that the last few days leading up to the draft a bunch a guys are rocketing up, or falling off the board when these guys haven't played a snap of football in over four months," he wrote. "Why does it seem that teams are valuing more what guys are doing off the field then on?"

Teams tweak their player rankings in the final days before the draft. They generally do not make dramatic changes. However, strong divergent opinions exist within organizations. Coaches, scouts and general managers sometimes share their opinions with reporters. In some cases, it's just a matter of reporters finding out things teams have known for some time -- that concerns about a certain player could compromise the player's draft stock, etc.

No single person knows how all the teams feel about all the players. We're left to sift through opinions that might reflect what a single individual or team thinks about a certain player. I'd recommend filing away the things we hear, while guarding against giving too much credence to them.

A pile of puzzle pieces doesn't make for a clear picture.
The final NFC West chat before the 2011 NFL draft came and went amid a flurry of NFL developments. I'll break out some highlights here and offer additional thoughts afterward.
Keith (Dallas, TX): If the 49ers draft Blaine Gabbert (aka less-intelligent Alex Smith) at #7, should I burn all my SF gear at the end of the first round tonight or wait until the final pick of the draft Saturday?

Mike Sando: You should hope that Jim Harbaugh's feel for quarterbacks and ability to work with them allows Gabbert to become a successful quarterback. And you should feel grateful the team finally appears to have some philosophical stability on the offensive side of the ball. There's no reason to compare Gabbert to Alex Smith, because the 49ers are in a much different situation now.

Jordan (STL): Mike, love the blog. I'm finding too much of the analysis by the 'experts' way too one-dimensional on Rams needs. This is a team that is still rebuilding and is more than a WR away from taking the next step. They need a replacement for Atogwe, a guard to move the chains on short yardage, two LBs and youth and depth on the DL. Personally, I'd like to see them move up to the 8-10 range to go get Robert Quinn, who I think will be a Pro Bowler and team up with Chris Long to make an awesome tandem. But my point is this: isn't Rams nation getting carried away with Julio Jones?

Mike Sando: It's hard to quantify what "Rams Nation" is thinking overall. The need for a receiver is obvious, but not overriding. Your knowledge of the team lets you see some of the other needs clearly. I'd love to know what Steve Spagnuolo thinks of Quinn's game against the run. As a pure pass-rusher, though, Quinn gets high marks. One consideration: Should a team move into the top 10 for a higher-risk player? Quinn missed the 2010 season. He has a benign brain tumor that may or may not become a problem in the future. He does not help the situation at defensive tackle. He does not give Sam Bradford another weapon. These are some of the issues the Rams would have to weigh.

Zona fan (Arizona): Hey how is in more of a need of a QB, the Seahawks or Cards? And who drafts one rather then gets one in FA?

Mike Sando: The Cardinals' need is greater, in my view, because Seattle could still re-sign Matt Hasselbeck and also because Pete Carroll is entering only his second season with Seattle. He has a little time. Ken Whisenhunt has job security and a deal through 2013, but after the whole Matt Leinart-Derek Anderson-rookie quarterback fiasco last season, I think the stakes are higher for Arizona -- particularly with Larry Fitzgerald on the verge of possible free agency. Seattle is more likely to draft one because the Cardinals do not seem to have a later-round need; John Skelton and Max Hall are already developmental prospects.

Derrick (Tacoma): Hey Mike, I've heard a lot about Ryan Mallett and his character issues, problems being a leader/getting along with guys in the locker room, and how his lack of mobility doesn't fit with what the Seahawks want in a QB. I've also been hearing about how amazing his arm is. It sounds like he could fall quite a bit so my question is, how far would he have to fall for the Seahawks to not be able to pass on him despite all the perceived negatives? Mid 2nd round? late 2nd round? Or would it HAVE to be 3rd round?

Mike Sando: First we would need to ask whether Mallett's limitations on the mobility front would disqualify him altogether. I suspect it would have to be late second round or third round, but I question whether they would have interest at all.
Coming soon: I'll be breaking out selections associated with six recently updated mock drafts, while adding my own NFC West projections. I've got the Cardinals taking a cornerback, the 49ers taking a pass-rusher, the Rams taking a defensive lineman and the Seahawks taking an offensive lineman. The goal is to entertain enough scenarios over a long enough period of time to enable linking back to the ones that wound up making sense. There are far too many possible scenarios to predict them with any certainty.

Chat wrap: Smith, Leinart and the draft

February, 25, 2010
INDIANAPOLIS -- Thanks to those who kept the latest NFC West chat moving. Transcript here. Highlights below:
Hayden (Logan, Utah): Let's talk about the Niners QB situation. Alex Smith? Really? Think a draftee can come in and give us a Sanchez-esqu performance? Who?

Mike Sando: Why would the 49ers want their quarterback to finish the season with 12 touchdown passes and 20 interceptions, a la Mark Sanchez? Seriously, though, I think the 49ers are excited to have their quarterback play in the same offense in back-to-back seasons. For that reason, I don't think the 49ers will shake up that position in 2010 unless they can land an obviously better option.

Matt (Tacoma, Wash.): Obviously there is a TON of mis-information coming out now, but what do you think of Spiller and Mays [to the Seahawks] in round one? Do teams care where a kid is from? I would think so, with Mays being from Seattle and seeing what the Mariners have gone through, being lambasted at every turn, for not drafting Tiny Tim Lincecum. We do need a safety.

Mike Sando: The scenario you laid out -- C.J. Spiller and Taylor Mays to the Seahawks -- doesn't add up for me. Seattle needs to strengthen its lines on both sides of the ball. Quarterback is another need position. I'm just not sure whether the Seahawks could justify taking a situational running back/return specialist and a safety with its first-round choices, unless those players were easily the best ones on the board.

Jerry (Folsom, Calif.): Hey Mike, love the blog, love your email responses, love your attitude. I'll be sad when you get promoted. Anyway, Rams. First pick Suh. Second round ... my thought is the QB out of Central Michigan (Dan LeFevour?). Pretty good risk/reward potential in the 2nd round, small school means he didn't have as much talent around him so his own talent is more visible. Other thoughts obviously include taking a flyer on a TE, one of the big WR's (the USC kid maybe?) or just focusing on that D line. Any thoughts personally or any indications from the Rams? Thanks

Mike Sando: Thanks, Jerry. I grew up down there in the Sacramento area and still go out to Folsom Lake every now and then when I visit. I'm sure a lot of people are grateful to know that. On the football front, I think the Rams either need to draft a franchise quarterback early or use their early picks for players who will get on the field right away and preferably find the end zone. This is considered a strong draft for receivers. The Rams should be able to find one in the third round or thereabouts unless someone with great ability is available earlier. Tight end is a need position, but not a premium position. Drafting one anywhere in the first few rounds would probably be a luxury the Rams shouldn't afford.

Lincoln (Missouri): Do you think the Cardinals truly believe that Leinart is their next starting quarterback to lead them to the playoffs or are they just buying time until they draft that next great quarterback?

Mike Sando: Matt Leinart represents their best option, so they'll go with him and hope he develops. I don't think Leinart has convinced anyone, including the Cardinals, that he is going to lead them to the playoffs. But that is OK. He'll get a chance to prove it this season. And if he does not, the Cardinals can move on. I think they need to give him a chance over a full season.

Looks like I forgot to answer Matt's question about whether a player's hometown might affect his appeal for an NFL team. That is probably not a significant factor in most cases. It could be a plus or a bonus, but not part of the decision-making process unless, perhaps, a team had two elite quarterbacks ranked the same otherwise.

You can't wait to chat about the Pro Bowl

January, 31, 2010
MIAMI -- Looks like a slick track for Sunday night's Pro Bowl.

A steady mist is falling on Sun Life Stadium. That could make footing difficult and the crowd even smaller than it was going to be.

A couple dozen NFL coaches are groaning over the possibility of a star player potentially tearing a groin muscle.

Conditions in Honolulu as of this posting? It's 81 degrees with zero percent chance of precipitation.

But in the comfy confines of the press box, you can join us for the Pro Bowl edition NFL Nation Live at 7 p.m.

Drop by to chat with senior writer John Clayton, NFC North blogger Kevin Seifert, NFC West blogger Mike Sando and I from the game. AFC South potentate Paul Kuharsky will provide his thoughts from his bunker in an undisclosed location, and moderator Emily Schaible will try keep all of us clowns in line.

Feel the warmth from San Diego

January, 17, 2010
SAN DIEGO -- Can't complain about the weather in Mission Valley. What a gorgeous day to be in Qualcomm Stadium's open-air press box for Sunday's playoff game between the New York Jets and San Diego Chargers.

Temperatures will be in the 60s with a light wind. The sun it shining and the sky is blue at the moment, but there's a 60 percent chance of evening showers in the forecast.

We can't recreate the climate online, but you figuratively can join the Williamson twins and me in the press box during our NFL Nation live chat at 4:30 p.m.

AFC West blogger Bill Williamson and Scouts Inc. analyst Matt Williamson will try to keep the energy flowing throughout the game. Drop by and heckle us.