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.