NFL Nation: chat wrap

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.
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.