Archive for March, 2011

Will Seahawks maintain agressive approach to rebuild?

Thursday, March 31st, 2011

Pete Carroll has been aggressive so far, will it continue?

Last time the Seahawks owned the #25 pick in 2008 they traded down. Will history repeat this year or could Pete Carroll and John Schneider consider moving up the board?

For the basis of this article I’m going to refer to my latest mock draft (updated yesterday) which you can view by clicking here.

Ever since the playoff defeat to Chicago, I’ve really thought there’s a strong possibility the Seahawks will attempt to trade up in the 2011 draft. This is a 7-9 team and by rights would be picking in the middle of round one in any other NFL season. This is the first team with a losing record to make the playoffs and one magical performance against the defending Super Bowl Champs doesn’t change the fact that this is a roster needing to add impact and quality.

It’s important to stress that I don’t think moving up is anything like a formality. Fans will always tout the possibility of moving down – it’s classic ‘rosterbation’ (to coin a Field Gulls phrase) to want as many selections as possible and to assume you can hit on any extra picks you collect. In reality, the quality market becomes thinner the lower you select. In winning the playoff game against New Orleans, it’s almost like Seattle already traded down. They swapped a pick in the teens for a memorable night of playoff football – and I doubt anyone regrets that trade.

But will the team be pro-active in moving back up the board?

I see no evidence to suggest Carroll and Schneider won’t strongly consider that possibility. They were certainly pro-active in the Charlie Whitehurst trade, taking a gamble on finding a quarterback solution. The various trades involving Leon Washington et al were all pro-active decisions. The continuos roster turn over? Pro-active. To some degree the players they chose in last year’s draft could be classified as ‘pro-active’ – especially players like Earl Thomas and Golden Tate who were viewed as playmakers although obviously enjoyed contrasting rookie years.

Courting Brandon Marshall was a pro-active move. Trading for Marshawn Lynch was pro-active. Whether you believe the talk or not, both Carson Palmer and Kevin Kolb have been heavily linked to the Seahawks in expensive deals. Would you rule out any truth to those rumors?

While Schneider has openly talked about the value of picks, this is a team that has left no stone unturned in improving the roster and they’ve been anything but conservative. Why wouldn’t they move up in the 2011 draft if the situation was right?

One stumbling block could be a lack of valuable stock. With no third round pick the Seahawks really only have the #25 and #57 to barter this year in order to make a big jump. They have the option to throw in future picks and as we saw with the Whitehurst trade, this is something they won’t shirk away from. As an example, Seattle’s #25, #57 and 2012 second round pick would be worth 1195 points in the draft trade chart. That could be enough to move up as high as the #12 or #13 pick.

It’d be a steep cost – making day two of this year’s draft a non-event in Seattle and leaving the team without their second round pick next year. You’d have to say that such a move would likely be made for a quarterback.

I wouldn’t rule out such a move (especially given Seattle’s great need at QB) but it’s impossible to project. Let’s not forget how cheaply and aggresively New York moved to acquire Mark Sanchez in 2009. How many people imagined Denver would trade one of their 2010 first round picks to the Seahawks to draft Phonso Smith only to cut him a year later? Trades are as much of an inexact science as the draft itself.

A smaller move up the board is surely a possibility? Trading #25, #98 (round four) and one of the team’s 5th round picks (#153) could get you into the #20-22 range. If my last mock draft proved true that could be enough to target a player suffering a surprise fall, the top offensive guard (Mike Pouncey) or a rough diamond like Jimmy Smith. Some could argue the logic in trading three picks to move up just a handful of spots, but the team essentially gained the 4th and extra 5th round pick in trading Deion Branch and Josh Wilson – two players who were unlikely to stay with the team beyond the 2010 season anyway.

It’d be an aggressive move to get a more preferable prospect than, for example, a Muhammad Wilkerson type player. This front office has been consistently aggressive and my own personal view is that if you can move up three spots to draft Jimmy Smith, you make that move.

The draft trade chart is sometimes thrown out of the window as I touched on earlier. Dallas’ trade with Seattle in 2008 involved moving up three places (#28 to #25) for a 5th and 7th round pick. In this scenario Seattle were happy to collect additional picks knowing Lawrence Jackson would still be available at #28. A team’s determination to move down (as witnessed by Cleveland’s significant move south in 2009) can dictate the value of a jump up.

I’m willing to be proven wrong here and really this is just an example of ‘thinking out loud’ but I cannot envisage the Seahawks going along quietly in the 2011 draft. The idea of this front office waiting until #25 and just taking whoever is left atop their board seems almost unrealistic. Can you imagine Pete Carroll pacing around that war room knowing ‘his guy’ is there at #20 or #21 and not getting something done? Perhaps that’s a great disservice to the HC’s restraint.

But I keep coming back to the pro-active nature of this front office. This is a rebuild that’s had a solid start and that needs to keep ticking along. There are so many key areas of need, least of all quarterback. I suspect if free agency was open for business, they may have already traded that #25 pick. Will the Seahawks be aggressive on April 28th? That remains to be seen but I wouldn’t bet against it.

Thursday draft links

Dan Kelly is the new lead writer at Field Gulls. I urge everyone to support Dan in this move and check out his articles. He’s a talented writer and I’m looking forward to seeing his reputation develop in front of a wider audience.

He has an interesting piece on the blog today quoting Michael Lombardi’s appearance on Brock & Salk, where the prospect of drafting a quarterback at #25 was discussed.

Brandon Adams has an interesting article at 17 Power discussing whether the Red Bryant position (five-technique) is being over rated by fans and pundits.

Dan Hyde has an incredibly detailed piece on Arkansas quarterback Ryan Mallett.

There were two key pro-days yesterday at Washington and USC. Jake Locker had a good work out watched by the majority of Seattle’s coaching staff. Tyron Smith was the star of the show in SoCal. Fellow Trojan and Seahawks Draft Blog follower Malcolm Smith also worked out and will visit with the Seahawks soon. For those not aware, he’s the brother of New York wide out Steve Smith.

Walter Cherepinsky’s updated mock continues to place Colorado’s Jimmy Smith at #25. That would be a steal for the Seahawks.

Mel Kiper and Todd McShay have their latest ‘First Draft’ podcast available courtesy of ESPN.

McShay also discusses Clemson’s pro-day (see video below) which will feature Da’Quan Bowers. He missed the combine through injury.

Updated mock draft: 30th March

Wednesday, March 30th, 2011

Will Nick Fairley still be smiling on April 28th?

 

To see the updated projection click here or select ‘MOCK DRAFT’ from the title bar 

There aren’t a cluster of changes this week but there’s one significant fall and one other issue I want to discuss. First let’s talk about Nick Fairley dropping to San Diego at #18. 

Without doubt Fairley was one of the most impressive performers during the 2010 college season. He consistently got to the passer, he’s electric off the snap and he’s got perfect size for the three-technique position. Fairley’s production was unmatched (13 sacks) and thanks to Oregon’s offensive line scheme he was too often left unblocked and able to dominate the BCS Championship game. 

It was around that time that many people considered Fairley an option to go first overall. He could still be a very high pick because the talent is there yet if one of the big names is going to fall, I’m putting my money on either Fairley or Von Miller. 

A lot of people have started to voice concerns. Mike Mayock has often stated his view that you either buy into Fairley or he’s not even on your draft board. There’s the one-year-wonder aspect, considering he was a complete non-factor in 2009. At the same time that one year of production was admittedly sensational. His attitude has been questioned and perhaps highlighted by his decision to reject the opportunity to work out for the Miami Dolphins (who own the #15 pick). 

ESPN’s Todd McShay has highlighted the high bust rate at the defensive tackle position which could be a factor, stating: “The more you watch Fairley on tape, the more worried you get he’ll be a bust.” 

Maybe this is just the latest edition of scaremongering? There’s nothing quite like a nice dose of negativity when discussing a big name prospect. Coincidentally, prospects like Andy Dalton and Christian Ponder have been elevated to star status with seemingly little justification. That is the way the draft rolls this time of year. 

Even so I wouldn’t rule out a drop for Auburn’s defensive compliment to Heisman winner and probable #1 pick Cam Newton. 

I first projected a drop for Fairley a month ago, pinning him at #14 to St. Louis. There are teams in the top-ten that could easily consider drafting a three technique (Denver, Cincinnati, Cleveland or Tennessee) but all four will be given extremely viable alternatives. A lot of people have Tennessee taking Fairley, yet this is a team with giant holes at quarterback (Locker or Mallett?) and cornerback (Amukamara or Smith?) and could still make a surprise pick (I have them taking Julio Jones). 

Once Fairleydrops past #8 you’re either banking on a 3-4 team making the choice and using him as a five technique or you’re preparing for a fall. Minnesota and St. Louis are logical homes, yet like the teams picking in the top ten will be presented with alternatives. In the Rams’ case that could be another defensive tackle – Corey Liuget is another talented player but has none of the character issues that come with Fairley. 

Eventually someone is going to take that chance. I’m happy to admit that it could be a top-ten team rather than someone in the #12-18 range. If he keeps falling, it increases the likelihood that a 3-4 team will take a punt on his ability to work as a five-technique. It wouldn’t surprise me if San Diego moved down in such a scenario, potentially trading with a team like New Orleans that has a big need on the defensive line. Perhaps we should discuss the possibility of Seattle trading up from that position? Would you surrender the #25 and the #57 for a shot at Nick Fairley? 

The second issue I wanted to address was the number of quarterbacks I have going in the top #15 picks. I hear the argument about how long it’s been since that number were taken early. This isn’t a normal year though, is it? Teams haven’t had the opportunity to make veteran additions due to the lack of free agency. If the court case on April 6th fails to prevent the lockout from continuing, we could be facing the prospect of a shoe-horned free-agency a fortnight before the season begins. 

Will that increase the possibility of quarterbacks going early in the draft? I think for the top four prospects that will prove true and we may also see other quarterbacks over drafted. 

I don’t think it’s optimistic to suggest the top-four will all be gone by Miami at #15. There are so many teams in the first half of round one that need a quarterback. Not all will go in that direction, for example I think given the option of Patrick Peterson or Locker/Mallett, Arizona will go with the cornerback. In my latest mock I also have Tennessee and Minnesota going in different directions. But I actually think it’s more unrealistic to expect only Gabbert and Newton to go early and then have this long drop off into the late first round or early second round. 

I understand the issues with Locker and Mallett but I still think two teams will roll the dice. I can’t see Locker getting past Washington and Mike Shanahan at #10. If we do see three quarterbacks go in the top ten, that is only going to increase the value of Ryan Mallett. His issues are well publicised but Miami are a team that has added Joey Porter and Brandon Marshall to their roster in recent years. They have a huge hole at quarterback, yet many people presume they will draft another running back in Mark Ingram. Why? 

If Mallett did go early, the question would then become – will we see the next tier of quarterbacks over drafted? After Locker and Mallett the next QB I have on the board is Ricky Stanzi with a R3/4 grade. I have Kaepernick in 3/4, Ponder in R4/5 and Dalton in 5/6. I suspect at least one of these guys is going to be a second round pick.

Seahawks 2011 draft philosophy: How I see it

Tuesday, March 29th, 2011

Would Kevin Kolb be a Seahawk minus the lockout?

Before moving on to the titled topic, I wanted to promote this interview I did for Jesse Bartolis at NFLMocks.com on the Seahawks and the draft. I also participated in an interactive mock with several other draft writers which will be published next week.  

We’re less than a month away from the 2011 draft and a week away from a crucial court meeting which could potentially end the lockout. If an injunction is upheld on April 6th (or in the following days) it’s not beyond the realms of possibility that free agency could begin shortly after. It’s unclear whether such a set of events is likely or not and I suspect that even if the players are able to stop the lockout, we’ll see free agency take place after the draft rather than attempt to shoe-horn it in a fortnight before.  

Losing free agency in March has made this a harder draft class to project than previous years – especially for the Seahawks. I think this is a front office that wants to be aggressive in the off season, at least until they strike a formula that will make this team consistently competitive. We saw evidence of that last year with multiple trades, players coming and going and some high profile moves that didn’t come off. If Seattle were picking 25th overall last year I think it’s very possible they would’ve spent that pick on Brandon Marshall, who Pete Carroll and John Schneider seriously coveted before his trade to Miami.  

Had free agency started as usual this year, the Seahawks may well have traded that #25 pick by now. We’ve all seen the rumors about Kevin Kolb and Carson Palmer. The chances are we’ll never truly know what would’ve happened in a traditional calendar NFL off-season, but we can speculate.  

A lack of free agency also prevented the Seahawks from adding any out-of-contract players. As an example – if the team had signed Nnamdi Asomugha to a huge contract while maintaining Marcus Trufant on the roster, it’d probably rule out the likelihood of a cornerback being drafted in round one. If they didn’t re-sign Brandon Mebane, you could argue it increases the need at defensive tackle. Instead we have no indication of their plans for Mebane so we’re not sure if that will have any impact on their draft decisions.  

It could be argued this will help the Seahawks to some extent. Come out of the draft without a viable replacement for Mebane and you may be prepared to make a bigger play at re-signing him. Feel that cornerback is a big need that hasn’t been able to be addressed? Become big players in the Asomugha stakes. Instead of filling holes in preperation for the draft, you can fill the holes afterwards. I’ve long felt it would make more sense to have the draft before free agency but I’m not sure the players or the currently decertified NFLPA would ever let that happen.  

S0 we head to Radio City with an increased element of mystery for pretty much every team. I presume a lot of decisions will be based on getting your priorities right. With that in mind, here is what I’d be considering as a team sitting at #25 with a 7-9 record.  

1. Try and find your quarterback  

We know the Seahawks will work out (and may already have done so) with Cam Newton, Ryan Mallett and Jake Locker. I suspect they’ll do the same with Blaine Gabbert. Part of this will be due diligence because of the team’s great need at the position, but part of it will also be to decipher how highly the team should rank these guys in terms of character and physical performance. Although many people project Mallett and Locker will fall – possibly out of the first round – I don’t see it that way. I still think Locker will be drafted by Mike Shanahan at Washington and someone will have to usurp the Redskins at #10 if they want the Huskies QB. Despite all the negative publicity surrounding Mallett I can’t see how someone with his physical qualities and football IQ can slip past quarterback-desperate teams like Minnesota, Miami and Jacksonville.  

The Seahawks have to judge two things: 1.) are any of these guys worth trading up for and if so, what are you willing to spend? 2.) If one of the top four does fall to #25 are we ready to pull the trigger?  

I don’t expect the team to pull a surprise by drafting a lower tier prospect like Christian Ponder or Andy Dalton – two players touted as possibilities but both hugely over rated in my opinion.  

This uncertainty in being able to find a quarterback at #25 for the long term future is one of the reasons why I believe we may have otherwise seen an ambitious trade involving Kevin Kolb or Carson Palmer. If that option is taken away this year by the lockout  (and the Seahawks should not be looking to invest unknown future first round picks on veterans) then the priority must be to consider the options in the first round of the draft. Seattle can really only afford to ignore this position if they simply don’t rate a prospect, the price is too high to move up or if none of the ‘big four’ have any chance of getting close to #25. If that proves to be the case – you move on.  

2. If someone starts to fall, be ready  

Be prepared that a player could have an unexpected fall. Even when big-name players have dropped in the past they often don’t make it to #25 so the same question has to be asked as above – do you look to move up?  

Right now I wouldn’t be surprised at all if Nick Fairley suffered a fall. I was one of the first to drop him down to #14 and St. Louis and in my next mock tomorrow I will have him falling to #18 and San Diego. He’s not a great fit in the 3-4 defense but I suspect someone will roll that dice eventually. He’d be a much better fit at three-technique in Seattle’s scheme so do you be aggressive if this scenario played out? Do you trust the character concerns and the fact he’s a one-year wonder to take a chance on big-time talent? He recently rejected an opportunity to meet with the Miami Dolphins at #15 because he thinks he’ll go earlier, which kind of sums up the concern with Fairley. It’d be a gamble, but I suspect Carroll and Schneider will be willing to roll the dice much more than Tim Ruskell ever was.  

Could Robert Quinn drop a bit? What if Cameron Jordan lasts into the mid teens or Jimmy Smith starts to fall closer to #25? The Seahawks need talent more than anything else right now. Seizing the opportunity to get talent could be worth the risk.  

3. BPA at a position of need and consider moving up  

As mentioned before, the Seahawks lack talent at a number of key areas. We’ve discussed quarterback but you can also include the lack of a truly dominating defensive lineman, an elite offensive playmaker or a great cornerback. In general the whole interior offensive line is also a big weakness, especially if Chris Spencer is not re-signed.  

From that list there isn’t one position that carries anywhere near the same weight as quarterback but all could do with investment. The Seahawks have only one secure ‘premium’ position and that is left tackle. If quarterback is off the menu and we don’t see any unexpected falls, it makes sense to invest in the best player available at a position of need. That is a standard draft philosophy any year, but this is a unique position for Seattle. In any other circumstance the Seahawks would be picking much earlier than #25. That need to keep getting better is stronger and while others picking in the 20′s can afford to be purely BPA in their methods – this 7-9 team may need to be more pro-active.  

Using my last mock draft as an example, a lot of logical talent leaves the board before #25. It starts at #17 with Corey Liuget (who I suspect will go earlier than that) and leads into Cameron Jordan at #18 (he could go top ten), Mark Ingram at #19, Jabaal Sheard at #20, Mike Pouncey at #21, Nate Solder at #22, Jimmy Smith at #23 and Ryan Kerrigan at #24. Of that list I think only three prospects don’t appear to be great fits – Ingram (can’t see the team spending a R1 pick on a running back), Solder (too tall, struggles with leverage) and Kerrigan (not a LEO prospect, suits an orthodox 4-3). Being pro-active can get you that cornerback with incredible potential (Smith), a left guard for the long haul (Pouncey), or a solid defensive lineman.  

Sitting tight may mean the BPA is a lesser talent or carries greater risk. Muhammad Wilkerson (#25 in my latest mock) has great size (305lbs) and still rushed the passer from the edge at Temple (10 sacks in 2010). However, is he a natural five-technique or do you look to fit him into the three position? He’d have to learn that role. He’s not an elite athlete or technician and there is some risk for me that any success he had in college will be severely diluted in the NFL. He could end up being ‘average’. Compare that to a Jimmy Smith who I truly believe could end up being ‘elite’.  

Staying put could make a Wilkerson-level prospect your BPA. That’s the difficulty with picking at #25. What I would say is that despite tentative suspicion with Wilkerson’s talents, he’s still vastly superior to some of the prospects available in round two. A lot of fans would like to consider the possibility of moving down the board and possibly acquiring a third round pick. Seattle may have to move down half a round to get that return. For the sake of getting one extra player in the middle rounds, I’d rather draft a Muhammard Wilkerson at #25 than settle for a Jarvis Jenkins in round two.

A pair of mocks: Gabe Carimi would be a scary pick

Monday, March 28th, 2011

Wisconsin's Gabe Carimi? I'll pass

We’re a month away from the NFL draft which means I’ll conduct about five more mock drafts before the event. I’m going to try and refine the first round projection from here on in, starting on Wednesday. That doesn’t mean I won’t prefer possibilities over predictions, but certainly there’s going to be fewer dramatic changes from now on.  

We’re also at the stage of the year when you can read a new mock draft every day. Today Chad Reuter and Rob Rang from NFL Draft Scout updated their projections. Both have the Seahawks drafting an offensive lineman, so I thought I’d offer a few thoughts on that.  

Reuter’s pick Mike Pouncey (OG, Florida): “Pouncey could play guard if Max Unger steps in at center, or vice versa.”  

Rang’s pick Gabe Carimi (OT, Wisconsin): “Pete Carroll preached a ball-control, run-heavy offense when he was hired in Seattle. Unfortunately for the Seahawks, age, injury and inexperience up front grounded their running game. They averaged only 89 rushing yards a game last season, which was 31st in the NFL. Carimi, a four-year starter at left tackle, lacks the elite athleticism to remain there in the NFL, which could push him into the second portion of the round. The 2010 Outland Trophy winner has the bulk, strength and physicality in the running game to star on the right side.”  

I can get on board with Reuter’s pick. For starters, the Seahawks take Ryan Mallett at #57 which at least offers some hope at the gaping hole called Seattle’s future at quarterback. At the same time, I think there’s little chance Mallett will drop that low (I have him as a top-16 pick with Miami a possible destination). Ignoring the second round for the basis of this piece, let’s concentrate on Pouncey. He’s not Maurkice, but he’s still very good. It’s a solid pick if (as I suspect) the top quarterbacks are gone and you’re left looking for a BPA situation at #25.  

Seattle’s interior line has been a mess for a while – specifically the day Steve Hutchinson departed. The Seahawks should be trying to keep Chris Spencer although that remains an unclear situation. A line involving Okung, Pouncey and Spencer would start to look like a strength. Extra veteran or draft stock at right guard and tackle would complete an improving unit. I don’t view guard as a key position but the Seahawks interior has been a problem area. Not the pick to get you out of your chair on April 28th, but understandable. Pouncey deserves to go in that 20-32 range.  

On the other hand, the prospect of taking Carimi makes me shiver with fear.  

Straight off the bat, I don’t rate the guy. I also don’t think it’ll happen. Yes the Seahawks want to run the ball and yes the play of Sean Locklear hasn’t been good enough. It seems likely he will leave the team whenever free agency begins and we’ll see a new starter at the position. That could be Stacey Andrews, who only this week Pete Carroll talked up as a candidate to compete at RT if they keep hold of his giant salary. It may be someone else.  

That someone else should not be Gabe Carimi.  

For starters he’s such a limited athlete. Watch his performance against a speed rush specialist like Fresno State’s Chris Carter. It’s not pretty. Clearly he’s well coached and he has some value as a run blocker. Yet if Russell Okung suffered another ankle injury – would you move him to the blind side? I’d have major reservations about that. His kick step doesn’t have the necessary width and his lateral agility is average.  

If you’re the Philadelphia Eagles with your army of playmaking talent, you consider Carimi. If you’re the Seattle Seahawks with major holes at every key position on the roster, you don’t draft a first round prospect who gets tight end support, blocks the quarterbacks strong side and simply is not a premium NFL position.  

James Carpenter, Will Rackley, Joseph Barksdale, Ben Ijalana. Why would you draft Carimi in round one and address much greater needs later on? That’s backwards thinking to me.  

If the team did settle on the right tackle position, I’d much prefer to see a Derek Sherrod type prospect. At least in a crisis you could expect the guy to do at least an adequate job on the blind side.  

As I mentioned earlier, I don’t think Pete Carroll believes he needs two first round tackles – at least not enough to avoid a Jabaal Sheard, Brooks Reed, Jimmy Smith or a Ryan Mallett. John Schneider has come from a Green Bay side that never had high end elite talent on the offensive line, but certainly had big time playmakers on both sides of the ball. Green Bay’s drafting of Bryan Bulaga was as much a signal of their comfort at QB, WR, DL and CB rather than an indication of policy. When you have so many other key positions sorted you can draft the BPA in any scenario - even if that is a right tackle.  

Carimi won’t be the top player at #25 in my opinion, at least not in this proposal. His statement about being the top offensive lineman this year was about as convincing as a Nate Burleson guarantee. Even in a generally weak OT class in terms of top end talent, he’s substantially below Tyron Smith. I graded him as a late second round/early third round pick during the 2010 season.  

Bringing him in at #25 doesn’t really help the running game either – because you’re still looking at a soft interior. Maybe people may disagree with me here but I think guard and center are much greater needs on that line than a RT who will get tight end support. You can fill that position without spending top dollar.  

I’m not completely opposed to the Seahawks drafting an offensive lineman at #25 and admittedly I envisage scenarios where Pouncey is ‘the guy’. I struggle to see Carimi being an option though, especially at the expense of talented players at corner, defensive end and quarterback. Rest assured, Carroll means business. Plodding on at several other positions and adding a right tackle doesn’t seem like his style.

Mel Kiper: How a rookie wage cap could affect the draft

Sunday, March 27th, 2011

Seahawks’ work out several prospects & Saturday links

Saturday, March 26th, 2011

Further information is coming through on the prospects Seattle will be meeting with in the weeks leading up to the draft. I’d recommend following Aaron Wilson on twitter, he regularly updates which teams are meeting with which players. Tony Pauline is another must follow for similar information.

California safety Chris Conte, Arkansas quarterback Ryan Mallett, Michigan State offensive tackle DJ Young and Boise State quarterback Mike Coughlin will work out for the Seahawks. Connecticut linebacker Lawrence Wilson recently met with the team although it’s unclear if he participated in a work out. Kenrick Ellis (DT, Hampton) has already performed for Seattle’s coaches and scouts. The Seahawks also recently attended the Montana State pro-day to watch offensive lineman Michael Person.

Elsewhere…

Pete Prisco says quarterback should be a target for Seattle: “They need to address this position early in the draft. A first-round pick on a quarterback is a possibility.”

Brandon Adams justifies why Seattle received a 7th round compensatory pick, rather than a higher selection: “My logical response is to heave a sigh and grudgingly admit that it makes sense.”

Wes Bunting has his latest batch of rumors: “One name who seems to be building a lot of traction is Illinois DT Corey Liuget. He’s said to be making his way up into the first half of round one and is a guy who the Rams are said to have a lot of interest in.”

Mike Mayock says Eastern Washington running back Taiwan Jones is a potential sleeper pick: “He’s a home-run hitter who can impact the return game and I think that you try to get him another 10 touches per game as a change-of-pace back.”

Todd McShay runs through his top defensive prospects:

Compensatory picks and more Mallett

Friday, March 25th, 2011

The NFL will announce compensatory picks today (a concept I struggle to completely understand or justify). Many people wondered if losing Nate Burleson and Cory Redding would lead to an additional fourth round selection. I understand the way in which Seattle re-negotiated Redding’s contract following his trade from Detroit essentially took him out of the equation (don’t ask). Mike Sando is reporting the loss/retirement of Ben Hamilton will offset the departure of Burleson, giving Seattle only a seventh round pick. Quite how they worked that one out is beyond me. Hamilton was almost lip-service to Alex Gibbs and came in after a look-see on a modest deal. Burleson was the first player to sign a deal when free agency began last year, landing a size-able contract in Detroit.

Getting an extra fourth round pick would’ve given the Seahawks some wiggle room to move up. They own the second pick in round four courtesy of the Deion Branch trade. Having another late fourth rounder would’ve allowed them to treat that Branch-bounty as almost identical in value to the third round pick they traded for Charlie Whitehurst.

Meanwhile Aaron Wilson at the NFP is reporting that Ryan Mallett (QB, Arkansas) will visit Seattle. This is no surprise and the Seahawks have already scheduled a meeting with Cam Newton. It’s hard to read too much into it considering quarterbacks like Chad Henne, Brian Brohm and Josh Freeman have all travelled to the north west in the past, only for Seattle to pass on all three.

Thursday draft links

Thursday, March 24th, 2011

Compensatory picks will be announced by the NFL tomorrow. Brandon Adams quotes ESPN’s John Clayton who believes Seattle could receive an extra fourth round pick.

Walter Cherepinsky has an updated 2012 mock draft. Unsurprisingly, Andrew Luck is going first overall.

Mel Kiper’s updated big board has Patrick Peterson at #1.

Mike Mayock discusses the qualities of Blaine Gabbert and Cameron Newton.

KC Joyner continues to praise Ryan Mallett: “Got him rated as the best on-field QB talent in this draft. If his off-field issues aren’t as bad as advertised (and it is likely too much attention is being given to that), he’s a pro-ready prospect pretty much from day one.”

Todd McShay runs through the top ten of his mock draft:

Don’t forget to check the latest Seahawks Draft Blog mock draft (which now features round two) or vote in our poll

Updated mock draft: 23rd March (includes round two)

Wednesday, March 23rd, 2011

To see the latest projection click here.

We’re just over a month away from the draft and still there’s so many questions to be answered.

Who’s going first overall? Will a new CBA be agreed before the draft, opening up free agency? What are the Seahawks going to do at #25?

We’ve all seen rumours linking Seattle with Carson Palmer and Kevin Kolb. ESPN’s Chris Mortensen this week said he’d be ‘shocked’ if the Seahawks didn’t draft a quarterback early.

With Matt Hasselbeck unsigned and possibly moving on, the position has taken on an even greater importance. Something needs to be done one way or another.

Yet when I sit down to compile a mock draft, I just cannot see how any of the top four prospects fall into the 20′s. Cam Newton and Blaine Gabbert will be top five picks. I still think Jake Locker is a shoe-in for Washington and Mike Shanahan. Even with character concerns Ryan Mallett has too much talent to get past teams like Miami and Jacksonville.

The idea of an unclear situation beyond the draft somehow appears unfathomable when in fact it’s probably a much greater reality than you’d hope. Not finding a QB in round one won’t necessarily mean the team spends the #57 pick on a QB. Christian Ponder and Andy Dalton are not the answer. Colin Kaepernick? That’s a big project. Ricky Stanzi? Perhaps, but not in round two and Seattle will need to get some playmakers. Do they trade up in round one?

April 6th is a huge day for the NFL but perhaps more so for Seattle than most other teams. That is the day the players and owners head to court to discover whether an injuction will be placed on the lockout, allowing free agency to begin. Having that opportunity to bring some one in possibly using the #25 pick can shape the team for years to come. Whether you agree with a potential Kevin Kolb trade or not (I have mixed feelings) if the Seahawks cannot get at the top QB prospects this year something needs to happen.

People will say wait – but this is a QB driven league and you have to be proactive not reactive.

So while I have the Seahawks taking a defensive lineman in round one this week, it somehow feels like this story will have a few more chapters before we get to the twist.

A loose second round projection:

#33 New England – Leonard Hankerson (WR, Miami)
#34 Buffalo – Phil Taylor (DT, Baylor)
#35 Cincinnati – Justin Houston (DE, Georgia)
#36 Denver – Akeem Ayers (LB, UCLA)
#37 Cleveland – Christian Ponder (QB, Florida State)
#38 Arizona – Kyle Rudolph (TE, Notre Dame)
#39 Tennessee – Curtis Brown (CB, Texas)
#40 Dallas – Brandon Harris (CB, Miami)
#41 Washington – Jonathan Baldwin (WR, Pittsburgh)
#42 Houston – Rodney Hudson (OG/C, Florida State)
#43 Minnesota – Edmund Gates (WR, Abilene Christian)
#44 Detroit – Martez Wilson (LB, Illinois)
#45 San Francisco – Ryan Williams (RB, Virginia Tech)
#46 Denver – Marvin Austin (DT, North Carolina)
#47 St. Louis – Danny Watkins (OG, Baylor)
#48 Oakland – Chimdi Chekwa (CB, Ohio State)
#49 Jacksonville – Mikel Leshoure (RB, Illinois)
#50 San Diego – Quinton Carter (S, Oklahoma)
#51 Tampa Bay – Cameron Heyward (DE, Ohio State)
#52 New York Giants – Terrell McClain (DT, USF)
#53 Indianapolis – Drake Nevis (DT, LSU)
#54 Philadelphia – Ben Ijalana (OT, Villanova)
#55 Kansas City – Tandon Doss (WR, Indiana)
#56 New Orleans – Jarvis Jenkins (DT, Clemson)
#57 Seattle – Orlando Franklin (OG, Miami)
#58 Baltimore – Lance Kendricks (TE, Wisconsin)
#59 Atlanta – Torrey Smith (WR, Maryland)
#60 New England – Jordan Todman (RB, Connecticut)
#61 San Diego – Marcus Cannon (OG, TCU)
#62 Chicago – James Carpenter (OT, Alabama)
#63 Pittsburgh – Randall Cobb (WR, Kentucky)
#64 Green Bay – Aaron Williams (FS, Texas)

Notes: I don’t like Christian Ponder that high but Cleveland stopped Colt McCoy falling into round four and may make another gaffe by drafting Ponder this early. If Denver draft Bowers, Ayers and Austin in rounds 1&2, John Fox can be satisfied the league’s worst defense will be improved. I suspect out of the group Jordan Todman may be the one that sticks in the mind long term.

Seattle takes the best available interior lineman. There wasn’t a multitude of options here. People will ask about the quarterbacks but the two realistic options were Colin Kaepernick and Ricky Stanzi – both significant reaches for me. Seattle has the second pick in round four courtesy of the Deion Branch trade and can easily move up using their two 5th round picks to target this pair in round three if they wished. While I rate both quarterbacks ahead of Andy Dalton, I still wouldn’t invest the team’s future in either. This, to me, stresses the difficult situation the Seahawks find themselves in. Upgrading and sorting the quarterback position long term must be the priority.

Tuesday’s draft links

Tuesday, March 22nd, 2011

Mike Mayock was at the Georgia pro-day and has this report for the NFL Network. Chaos reigned supreme as the lockout continues to hamper prospects working out for scouts. Mayock wasn’t impressed with Justin Houston, “He’s not a first round prospect.”

Walter Cherepinsky has a six-round mock draft available. The Seahawks go defense with their first two picks, selecting Jimmy Smith and Marvin Austin.

Rich Cirminiello from collegefootballnews.com has a top-ten video mock. He has Blaine Gabbert going first overall.

Ryan McCrystal at Draft Ace also has an updated mock draft. The Seahawks take Ryan Mallett at #25 and Demarco Murray at #57.

Brandon Adams at 17 Power is forecasting an early run on quarterbacks next month. This blog is a daily feature for me, this is a great article and kudos for a graphic tagging which teams will be thinking QB ahead of Seattle.

Former Seahawks scout Bucky Brooks has a piece on the risk/reward nature of Ryan Mallett and Jimmy Smith.

The latest ESPN ‘First Draft’ podcast is available, with Todd McShay and Mel Kiper discussing picks 6-12 and other draft matters.

Merril Hoge breaks down the tape on Blaine Gabbert for ESPN:

Don’t forget to vote in the Seahawks Draft Blog poll asking ‘what is Seattle’s greatest need?’ (click here to vote). I’ll have an updated mock draft on the blog tomorrow including (for the first time this year) a second round projection.