Be pro-active Seattle… go get your quarterback

April 16th, 2011 | Written by Rob Staton

Face of a franchise?

 

Pete Carroll and John Schneider say they aren’t locked into a position this year like they were with the left tackles in 2010. That’s just common sense really, given that the Seahawks are picking 25th overall and not 6th. It’s easier to target a specific position or player when you know that only five will be off the board before your choice. Then again, would you admit to the world if you were planning a big splash? 

In his end of season press conference, Carroll contradicted himself slightly. Initially he said improving both lines was crucial during the off season and through the draft, yet at the end he also said re-signing Matt Hasselbeck was the priority. That hasn’t happened, obviously, so does quarterback automatically become the biggest need? Personally I’ve always felt it was by far the biggest need because Hasselbeck will be 36 this September – almost certainly making him the oldest starting quarterback in the league. The team can look at stopgaps and hope solutions appear once a CBA is finally agreed (or the injunction forces free agency) but it’s high time this team invested in a quarterback for the long haul. 

I have no idea what the Seahawks are planning for April 28th. I suspect if they are leaning towards one position – such as the quarterback – they could be aggressive in acquiring the guy they want. I don’t think any of the top four quarterbacks will make it past the middle of round one, so I’d at least look to see how far up the board I could get using the team’s second round pick (#57 overall). When all is said and done, one second round pick to try and secure the quarterback position long term is small change. Yes the team has major needs across the board, but you need to be aggressive sometimes – particularly with quarterbacks. 

It doesn’t always have to be a big move either. Tampa Bay moved up two spots in 2009 – from #19 to #17 – in order to guarantee they’d draft Josh Freeman. It only cost the Buccs a 6th round pick, which in hindsight was an absolute bargain. Teams will take a chance moving down, so it makes sense to see what is out there. Let me ask you this… if the Buccs had spent a second round pick instead to get further up the board and draft Freeman, would you say that was a bad move now? 

That’s not to say any of the 2011 quarterbacks will have the impact Freeman has had in Tampa Bay and obviously if you don’t believe in Jake Locker or Ryan Mallett (the two quarterbacks I believe the team could logically target via trade) it’s not a move you’re considering at all. If you do look at these guys and see franchise quarterback potential – I would argue you should do what it takes to get them. The Seahawks can’t fully rebuild until they have their long term quarterback on the roster. Build to their strengths, limit the weaknesses. This is the time to make the investment, don’t set out a scheme today with the new offensive coordinator which may need to be modified in 12 months time. 

How easy is it to trade up these days? Let me refer you to my recent article on the subject

We can also look at last year’s draft – the best starting point for considering big trades up the board. San Diego went from #28 all the way up to #12, trading with the Dolphins. The deal included Miami receiving a second round pick (#40). The two teams also swapped fourth round picks (to the benefit of San Diego) and the Chargers also received a sixth round selection. 

Obviously Seattle’s second round pick is 17-picks lower than the one San Diego traded to Miami, but then the Chargers also received compensation in later round stock for sacrificing the #40. 

The very next pick, Philadelphia traded #24 to Denver for the #13 selection. It cost the Eagles two third round picks (#70 and #87) worth approximately 415 points according to NFL Draft 101’s updated trade value chart. The chart says Philly over paid slightly, but Seattle’s #57 pick is worth around 350 points. It’s not beyond the realms of possibility that teams in the 10-16 range will be willing to move down to acquire another second round pick. 

I know a lot people do not rate Locker and Mallett as highly as me (I have Mallett ranked very highly on my big board). I’m not the only one who believes Ryan Mallett can have a Philip Rivers-style impact on the league and manage an offense similar to the one we see in San Diego. ESPN’s Adam Schefter tweeted this today

Phil Simms with Tim Ryan and Pat Kirwan on QB Ryan Mallett: “If he’s not a top 10 player (in this draft), then I quit.”

NFL Films guru Greg Cosell also chipped in on the debate

Studied more Mallet. Best NFL skill set in draft. Physical pocket presence. Delivered in muddied pocket. Willing to make stick throws. Know nothing about off-field. On film, possesses more NFL traits than Gabbert or Newton, plus NFL pass concepts in college. Mallet pocket mobility a concern. But after 400 snaps saw a number of plays in which he moved, re-set and delivered accurately.

Like I said, I know people will disagree completely with the suggestion of moving up and the guys I’m touting as the motive. If I can trade up and take a shot on Ryan Mallett based purely on the tape, I’m doing it. We hear all about the character problems, yet nobody has ever gone into details and shown hard evidence. I’ve never met the guy, I can’t judge him. Maybe my opinion changes after several meetings, work outs and dinner’s? Watching the tape I’m seeing the physical tools, the pro-concepts, the ability to diagnose a defense, progress through his reads and be accurate enough to make the big arm effective. He’s not flawless, I know every argument that is critical of his game. Even so, if I can secure Mallett using the #25 and the #57 I’m doing it. 

For people wondering about scheme – I say adapt it. Mimic Norv Turner’s offense in San Diego. Task Tom Cable to create a clean pocket – why else do you make the big splash on an offensive line coach? Of course you need players too, so go get a Gallery or a Joseph to play guard, consider re-signing Chris Spencer and find the way to upgrade the right tackle position without needing to spend the top picks (it is possible, believe it or not). Kansas City turned their offensive line from a major negative into a great positive in a short space of time, it isn’t impossible if you have the right plan. 

Is this realistic? I have my doubts, not only because you’ll need to find a willing trade partner – but I also remain unconvinced Pete Carroll and John Schneider feel the way I do about Mallett. That’s just a hunch. 

When EA Sports were looking for a Seahawks star to put in the cover competition for Madden 12, they chose the fans. Such is the dearth of playmakers and star quality on the Seahawks roster. That can change very quickly with the right investment at quarterback – just ask Atlanta, Tampa Bay, St. Louis and Baltimore. Sure they all have better supporting casts than the Seahawks right now (borderline re: St.Louis) but they were all bad enough at one point to draft a quarterback early. Tampa Bay are the exception, but they were 3-13 before Freeman took over as the full-time starter. Atlanta and Baltimore had four and five wins respectively before drafting Matt Ryan and Joe Flacco in 2008. St. Louis were a one-win team. 

To win in this league, you need a quarterback. If the Seahawks see a franchise quarterback available in round one, they need to be pro-active. 

***Note*** 

I’d like to draw attention to some design changes for the blog which will be in place shortly after the draft. I’m going to incorporate a new ‘home page’ which will largely be used to highlight articles that have moved off the front page and are not time sensitive. It’s also a chance to incorporate an on-going poll and some YouTube tape. It’ll also mean modifications to the menu bar. Obviously this will mean needing to click a link to get to the actual blog, so I want your feedback on that. You can see a teaser for the new look by clicking here. 

I also want to test the water for perhaps running a live chat programme on the blog during the first two days of the draft. Is this something you’d be interested in?

25 Responses to “Be pro-active Seattle… go get your quarterback”

  1. Matt says:

    Awesome Read and completely agree. I think you could build a juggernaut with Mallett at the helm. Make it happen. We won’t win with guys like Ponder or Dalton. We need a difference maker at QB not a game manager.

  2. Jim Kelly says:

    I like some of the second tier quarter backs. But I want the Hawks to be more than a second tier team. If we need to take a chance in order to succeed, then by all means, take that chance.

    As always, a good read.

    Checked out the new home page. It was okay. I don’t mind links to the articles, as long as they’re not too hard to find. If you want to put more work into the blog, go for it. The only reason that I wouldn’t like it would be if the content suffers. I might not always agree with what you say, but I can understand your point of view. If making the blog look flashier means that you have to shorten your articles, I think that might affect your arguments adversely. Even if you shorten your articles by a third, I feel that you wouldn’t be able to get your point across as well as you do now. Just remember, this blog is your baby, and you can do with it what you want. All we can hope for is that the content remains as good as it is now.

    A live chat would be cool, during the draft. I wouldn’t participate, but I know a lot of people that would enjoy something like that.

    • Kip Earlywine says:

      I think I speak for Rob when I say that feedback like this is always appreciated. Thanks.

      • Rob says:

        Absolutely agree Kip, thanks Jim.

        The new homepage won’t impact the articles at all. What it means is when you type http://www.seahawksdraftblog.com into the address bar, instead of being taken directly to the articles, you’ll get a starter page. This will hihglight a key ‘article of the week’, it’ll show you what’s on the blog at the moment and a few other things. Then it’s just a case of clicking ‘blog’ in the menu bar to be transported to the site as it is now. It’s really just a way of highlighting things like a latest mock draft that’s disappeared down the blog list, or a key article. But I want to test how people will feel about having to navigate that page to get to the blog.

  3. Vin says:

    Couldnt agree more. The hawks need QB in the worst way, and not just any QB. Like Matt said, we dont need a game manager. And as much as Im a homer for the local guy, I really hope Carrol & Co have the stones to go and get Mallett. Assuming we got Mallett, Im not sure Id start him right away or run with CBJ, but as a Hawks fan, I could stomach one or two steps back in order to move forward and be consistent for the next 5-10 years. Im even more open to trading up to get Mallett than I am about trading for Palmer or Kolb. If we dont get Mallett, then my pipe dream would be to tank the next season so we’d have a shot @ Luck.

  4. Blake says:

    Live chat would be pretty cool. Easy way to make fun of stupid GMs. You thinkin a forum style chat or more like instant messaging? I think you can get a few of those rollchats on here. The teaser image looked pretty solid. If people are so turned off by clicking one more link to get to the blog, they can put the blog page on their favorites instead of the home page. Problem solved.

  5. akki says:

    Agree with the gist of aggressively going after the desired qb. Even though we don’t have any consensus of who that qb should be, the team must have some better idea of who they can build a system around. And while earlier I was thinking more along the lines of a mid-round game manager was acceptable, I’m more in the the shoot for the stars camp now. Yes you can win with a decent but not really good QB, but it’s less common. And more importantly if you want to go that route, I agree you need to have better talent across the board in order to do it. Some teams might be able to think that way – and those are the teams that will be bidding top dollar for Hasselbeck – but the Seahawks don’t have enough talent to go that way this year.

    Reminds me of how a couple years ago, the Colts were starting two rookie CBs – Powers and Lacey (a UDFA). I can’t remember which one they asked, but the question was along the lines of why they thought they were getting up to speed so quickly. The rookie answered that it was easy to play defense when they have a QB in Manning that could throw 3 TDs in any game if needed. I’ve taken from this that the threat of a top offense can make the entire defense look better.* And if there is very little threat, then the rest of the team is worse. Is Lacey any better than Kelly Jennings all else held equal? I’d argue probably not. The most direct way to improve an offense a lot is through somehow getting a top QB, and improving there will benefit the defense too.

    *yeah, I know that the 2010 Cowboys and Texans kind of blow a hole in this, but I think it works as a general rule.

  6. Kip Earlywine says:

    I really like this post Rob. And if it happened that way, I’d be happy. As you said, if Tampa had traded a 2nd instead of a 6th, do you think they’d be complaining? Of course not. Finding a franchise QB is so valuable that you almost can’t put a price on it- so if Seattle believes a certain QB in this draft to be that guy- even if its Cam Newton at #1, then pulling the trigger is completely defensible even at a steep price.

    Of course, trading up for Mallett probably wouldn’t come at a high price all. Dallas has made no secret they’d prefer to trade down, and Washington might want to move down if they just don’t feel comfortable taking Locker so early. Or if they do take Locker early, what about a team like the Dolphins themselves who might believe they can get Ingram at #25? If our first two picks come up short, its not by much, and throwing in an extra 4th or 5th would probably get it done.

    There is another benefit to trading up which you forgot to mention. Last year, the Eagles believed that Seattle was interested in Graham so they moved up specifically to nab Graham right in front of us. Its almost to be expected that New Orleans, who doesn’t have a ton of pressing needs and would love to move back, could get a very nice offer from a team like Washington or Buffalo in round 2 to leapfrog us for a QB in the event that Mallett/Locker slide. If Locker or Mallett makes it past #16, they aren’t home free by any means.

    All that being said, I must insist that I don’t expect this to happen. We are still learning about how this front office operates, but I think we know at least enough to say with confidence that in a very broad and encompassing sense, this FO is not well known for holding the cards close to its chest (as evidenced by the predictability of their 1st round picks last year, their pursuit of Marshall, Lynch, Palmer, Kolb, etc). If they liked Mallett to the extent you do, then we’d probably have seen a lot of evidence pointing that way by now.

    My take on this, and I could of course be completely wrong as this is just a gut feeling, is that our FO is undecided and perhaps even disinterested in this QB class. The high number of alleged inquiries for Palmer/Kolb could just be the usual due diligence or a sign that this front office still isn’t quite sure who they want yet.

    I have a hunch they’d love to get a guy like Cam Newton, who I’m sure Pete Carroll will promptly draft for his fantasy team if nothing else, but Locker I’m not so sure, and Mallett even moreso. Carroll recruited Locker as a safety, and when I talk to people who thought Locker “wasn’t a QB” coming out of high school, they unfailingly still hold the same opinion even today. With Mallett, you really have to wonder how much his inability to run will be a turd in the punchbowl. You’d hope Carroll could get over it, but he just fired a promising OC for not running the ball enough, so we’ll see.*

    This coupled with the fact that there is still free agency and trade potential down the road. I suspect that they’ll wait and see til #25, and if Locker/Mallett is still there, they’ll discuss it for a few minutes, and go from there. It wouldn’t shock me if they PASS on Mallett if given the chance, its unlikely but not unthinkable. And why would they do that?

    I won’t repeat the rumors, but if they are to be believed, then things are looking very lively on the Carson Palmer front, and if Seattle believes that they will at least “probably” acquire Palmer later, that makes pulling off a deal like this harder to swallow and changes the priorities of the draft.

    Overall, I have to admit that I just have no idea what Seattle is going to do or even what they think of these QBs.

    I also strongly suspect this front office likes Ponder and Kaepernick. Just like me, they have a pretty strong bias towards mobile QBs and we already know that some NFL franchises have Ponder/Kaepernick surprisingly high on their boards. Seattle is possibly one of those teams, so be prepared for that.

    • PatrickH says:

      There are some evidence that Carroll/Schneider are interested in Mallett. One of the recent draft rumors collected by Wes Bunting of NationalFootballPost had the Seahawks and the Dolphins making a lot of effort investigating Mallett’s background, and Schneider attended Mallett’s pro day instead of going to Cam Newton’s.

      If you have to guess, how raw is Kaepernick’s QB skills compared to Locker? If Locker is ready to be starter in X years, will Kaepernick be ready in X+1 year? X+2? X+3? If it’s too costly to trade up for Mallett and Locker, perhaps the alternative is to trade down to early second round and draft Kaepernick there. This way, the other holes on the roster can be filled, and the team still has a developmental QB with huge upside.

      BTW, Pete Carroll visited TCU recently and said the following about Andy Dalton: “We’ve seen him and visited with him. No question [he has what it takes]. He’s a terrific player. He’s demonstrated it over a long period of time [with] consistency, staying power, resiliency and championship-level performances. He’s a big-time prospect in this draft.” Here is the link to the article, with the quote at the end of the article: http://www.star-telegram.com/2011/04/08/2986943/pete-carroll-shares-his-win-forever.html

      • Matt says:

        That almost is a relief what PC said about Dalton. Not sure he’d say that about a guy they really wanted, especially now that he’s talked about in late round 1 for some unknown, irrational reason. I’m just praying that the laws of logic and reason play out and we pass on this clown. Otherwise PC will be back in the college ranks and we can ensure 4 win seasons from here on out, unless Dalton’s “will to win” is a supernatural trait rather than a by product of playing on a loaded college team in a horrible conference.

  7. seasalt says:

    very good insight Kip, I think Seattle will trade down and acquire more pick’s, unless there is a player that fall’s to them that they can’t pass on. Which makes the pick that much more valuable for trade. Considering their need’s, ( other than QB ) I think they can afford to trade down. In fact I think they will trade down a couple of times. I’m thinking they will address they QB position at a later date or in next year’s draft. Next year’s class will be more NFL ready.

    • Rob says:

      I disagree strongly, Seasalt.

      For starters, why is the grass always greener next year when it comes to quarterbacks? Next year there may be one quarterback taken in round one – Andrew Luck. Seriously – that’s a distinct possibility unless others come forward from nowhere or Matt Barkley continues to develop and then declares. I guarantee this team is not thinking they can ignore the quarterback position on the basis next year will be better.

      Secondly, the Seahawks need to be picking the best possible talent. They won’t get better by just filling as many holes as possible with ‘names’. They need quality. Good teams can afford to keep trading down, the Seahawks are not in that position. For the sake of acquiring one third round pick, it wouldn’t be worth dropping out of round one. I’m not ruling out a move down, but I very much doubt they more down more than once and I think a move up is almost necessary at this stage.

  8. TJ says:

    I fully agree that QB is the top priority this year. The question is, will Carroll/Schneider view Locker or Mallett as legit NFL QBs? If they do, the trade up scenario makes perfect sense, stands a high likelihood of happening, and gets my approval. If they don’t, the whole discussion is irrelevant.

    My question is what will they do if they DON”T view Locker/Mallett as being their guy and worthy of a trade up? Then what? Let’s say that through their scouting process they find things that we as outsiders can’t see. If through their due diligence, they decide to not take either of them at #25 (in which case they certainly wouldn’t trade up for them), I think that a trade down could actually be a better strategy than best available player regardless of position – unless of course a top-15 prospect falls.

    If they don’t view Locker/Mallett as highly as many of us, I think that trading down makes sense if the right deal were to present itself.
    – What if we could move down into the top of round 2 and pick up a 3rd round pick in exchange for #25? We could still address OL/DL and build a better foundation of talent. That way, when we do eventually get that QB-of-the-future, he will have better talent around him. History is full of top QB prospects who have been destroyed by playing for bad teams.
    – What if we could somehow swing a trade with a team like Denver, Washington, Carolina, or Buffalo to acquire their #1 next year? I agree with Rob that planning to address any position in next year’s draft is a poor strategy, but if all we have to choose from this year are the lower tiered leftovers, it might be worth it just in terms of future draft capital.

    I agree that we shouldn’t wait any longer to find our QB, and I personally like Locker (I’m not a homer, I don’t live in Washington, didn’t attend UW) and am intrigued by his potential. He is at the top of my wish list at #25. I’m not advocating trading down, just trying to play devil’s advocate to the “must draft a QB in round 1″ argument, even though deep down, I think we should. If the right QB isn’t available, he isn’t available. Reaching for a player because of need is a dangerous strategy and one that should avoided, in my opinion.

    • Rob says:

      Hey TJ,

      Obviously if you don’t believe in the quarterbacks I’m talking about it’s not going to happen. I did say that in the piece, and I certainly don’t expect the team to hold the same opinions as me. They will do all the homework they need to in order to make what they perceive to be the correct decision. I wouldn’t advocate a reach, but I think this group of quarterbacks are as good as any you’ll find in round one. There isn’t the consensus #1 pick (I think Newton is as good as any QB that will go #1 any year, but many won’t agree), but there’s four guys with a realistic chance of going top-15. That’s rare.

      I wouldn’t rule out trading down. There will be scenarios where moves up or down the board become attractive if the trading partner is there. Really this piece is about one side of the story – being pro-active. If you’re at #25 and you have three guys on your board of equal grading, maybe you consider moving down if the offer is there? But I think it’s idealistic to think you can significantly create a better environment for the quarterback. Seattle needs top end talent, the kind of which tends to go early. And recently there’s a lot of evidence where good, young QB play has been the shot in the arm a team has needed.

      I think it’ll be very difficult to trade for a #1 next year and not necessarily a great deal. Deals like the Denver one in 2009 are like gold dust. I also don’t know why teams would target Seattle specifically – they pick before Baltimore (not a QB threat).

    • ChavaC says:

      “But I just think he’s one of the really, really fine complete athletes. I don’t know why I’m blowing him up all the time, but I just really like the guy.”

      “I think this guy is the best quarterback we’ve played against,”

      Pop quiz, who said this and who did they say it about?

  9. Ben says:

    I’d be hesitant to cite Phil Simms as an expert on anything football-related. Just a few days ago he pretty much crapped on the whole idea of advanced statistical analysis.

  10. seasalt says:

    I have been watching Jake Locker since High School. I love Jake, he is not an NFL franchise QB… He can’t find open receivers and has happy feet. One good smack to a helmet with that thumb and he is done.
    and I strongly disagree with you ROB. Did you think I was talking about trading out of the first into the 3rd round for crying out loud. The drop in talent from the end of the 1st to the end of the second round isn’t that extreme, with good talent to be acquired in the third. We need too many quality pieces that can be had early. I would trust in a proven product via free agency concerning a QB. Or next years draft if things don’t mesh.
    The Hawks will be doing their homework, and believe me, they will be baiting and moving around. Next years class will be better, do your homework Rob. Way too many question marks in this year’s class from top to bottom.
    I LOVE DRAFT BLOG Rob, keep up the good work son….

    • Matt says:

      I doubt next years QB class has more options. Barkley will stay in school leaving Luck as the only “safe”QB prospect. And even if Barkley came out, we’d have to be picking in the top 4.

  11. seasalt says:

    MIKE MAYOCK said it…

  12. Derek says:

    Next year’s draft always seems better until you get there, and then the next year’s draft looks even better. When it comes draft time, so much scouting and digging is done, questions will certainly arise. So right now while some people say next year’s draft seems safer, wait till this time next year and there will again be plenty of questions, just like there is every year.

    I would never enter a draft depending on the next year’s draft. You should look at what you have in front of you and make a decision. If you need a QB and you like Ryan Mallet, go get him. I wouldn’t hesitate a second to draft Mallet at #25 or even trade up.

    We can make a decision and get a QB in this draft or wait for the even more questionable free agency where we would be backed into a corner, forced to sign a QB and have little leverage in any negations.

    I personally would like to see either Mallet or Locker drafted at #25 or earlier if need be, and bring in either Vince Young to compete with Whitehurst for the starting spot next year. I think a change of scenery will do him well.

  13. seasalt says:

    LUCK,JONES,BARKLEY.WEEDEN, THOMAS,COUSINS,FOLES and LINDLY are some of the Q-B’s that will be available next year. A pretty good class. Depending on Barkley and Jones,there’s a good chance both will come out. Throw in Pryor and you’ve got a pretty deep class.

    • Rob says:

      There’s no guarantee Barkley or Jones will declare. Barkley may wish to stay at USC until his senior year when sanctions will be lifted on USC and he can play in a bowl game. Also, he may feel he’ll have a legitimate shot at going first overall in 2013, something he’ll have no chance of doing with Luck available in 2012. Landy Jones is the classic ‘grass is greener’ quarterback. Why do people think he’s better than Mallett, Locker, Gabbert etc?

      Foles is a mid/late rounder, I don’t rate him. Weeden will be a 28 or 29 year old rookie. Cousins is one to watch, but there’s no guarantee he’s going to be looked at as a first or second round pick.

      Pryor is a complete lost cause.

      Unless some QB’s come from nowhere (like Newton and Gabbert) I think next year’s class of QB’s will actually be quite weak with one elite talent (Luck) and not a great deal of depth. This is a unique year with four logical round one quarterbacks.

  14. Kamal says:

    Thanks for the article is was great, If pete and john believe that jake or ryan are franchise qbs and beter that the second teir of dalton ponder kap thene go get their player, but if not see how the draft falls at 25 if there are no higher rated players they like they could try and move back into the second for a team that wants there guy just because there are four or five second teir guys does not mean every time rates them the same. As for the the new design I think it is a good idea.