Right now the Seahawks own the 11th overall pick in the draft. That’s probably going to change by the end of the year, but it’s a far cry from the top-five pick many people were expecting before Sunday’s win over Baltimore. Can the Seahawks still draft a quarterback if they are picking outside of the top-ten?
Sure. It’s completely possible.
As things stand, Indianapolis, Miami, Washington and Cleveland are all due to pick before Seattle. It’s assumed all four teams picking above the Seahawks will draft a quarterback, but is that really such a foregone conclusion?
What if the Colts decide to avoid nearly $30m in guarantees by cutting Peyton Manning before next March prior to drafting Andrew Luck? Wouldn’t Dan Snyder fall over his own feet trying to bring Manning to Washington? Would the Miami Dolphins see Manning as a proven veteran fix to their Dan Marino hangover? The Colts drafting first overall brings Manning into play as a possible free-agent option for other teams and while he is approaching the back end of his career, there’s sure to be interest if he can prove he’s fully recovered from neck surgery.
How about if Manning does recover and Indianapolis stands by the man that’s played the biggest part in building that franchise? After all, Manning’s made a few reputations for many other people during his time with the Colts. If they decide to have one last run with Peyton over the next four years remaining on his contract, could they possibly trade the rights to Andrew Luck for a kings ransom? Cleveland has two first round choices in 2012 and could add a third first rounder in 2013 to tempt Indianapolis. Although a deal is still highly unlikely, it could potentially allow the Colts to re-load for a legitimate shot at further Super Bowl success over the next few years without enduring any growing pains with a rookie and a bad roster. This scenario could impact two of Seattle’s rivals for the other quarterbacks.
Last April most people expected Washington to draft Blaine Gabbert when he fell to the 10th pick. The Redskins were desperate for a quarterback and this was a perfect match, right? Wrong. Shanahan traded away Gabbert to Jacksonville and ended up drafting defensive end Ryan Kerrigan later in the first round. With such a refined criteria in what he looks for in a quarterback, Shanahan isn’t going to settle on whatever highly ranked player simply remains on the board. What if the answer doesn’t present itself next April? Will Shanahan draft a quarterback he doesn’t really want? It’s hard to believe.
And then there’s Mike Holmgren in Cleveland – a man who has always trusted the system he works with and made it the true MVP. Is it such a long shot that Holmgren decides to wait it out on a quarterback, or even make a trade for a lesser known player already in the NFL? It worked with Matt Hasselbeck in Seattle and the Browns’ only rookie investment in a quarterback so far was a third round pick on struggling Colt McCoy. The good money is on Cleveland spending a round one pick on a quarterback next April but nothing is certain.
What if teams buy into the Cincinnati way of doing things? Last April, the Bengals drafted AJ Green in the top five and took Andy Dalton in round two. Could a team like Miami realistically see Trent Richardson as a can’t miss prospect? Perhaps they’d draft Richardson in round one before looking at the second tier quarterback prospects at the top of round two? It’s not the way I’d go about building an offense, but the NFL is a copycat league and Cincinnati’s success hasn’t gone unnoticed.
We also have to consider the individuals involved and how they fit into this situation, because every team evaluates talent differently. Last year, some teams wouldn’t have drafted Jake Locker in round one at all – yet Tennessee (and I suspect Washington) would happily draft the guy in the top ten. The player or players Seattle are targeting might be very different from the group Cleveland or Washington are hoping for, presenting a similar dynamic to what we saw this year with Locker, Gabbert and Christian Ponder all going to teams we didn’t necessarily expect. Like Jacksonville last year, there’s nothing stopping the Seahawks making a small move up the board. That five-spot trade into the top ten cost the Jaguars a second rounder – hardly a small fortune if Gabbert works out in Florida.
It’s assumed by some that players like Matt Barkley will be sure-fire top-ten picks, yet there’s such a difference in opinion among scouts, pundits and fans – we just don’t know what will happen. Some view Barkley as an elite prospect, quoting his impressive technique, high football IQ and success this year with USC. Others are sceptical due to a lack of truly elite physical qualities and size. I asked Kevin Wiedl at Scouts Inc where he graded Barkley. “First round for sure, just don’t know how high” he replied, adding, “I think he’ll go anywhere between 10 and 20.” Even those who see Barkley as a fine prospect are not convinced he’ll be a top-ten choice.
There’s one guarantee in the 2012 draft and that’s Andrew Luck being taken first overall. After that, it’s anyone’s guess how the dice will fall. Perhaps we see another classic rush on quarterbacks comparable to this year’s event when four left the board after the first twelve picks? Maybe it’s less frenetic in 2012? Either way it’s far too soon to write off Seattle’s chance of drafting a long-term quarterback solution in next year’s draft, even if they continue winning.
Seattle hasn’t drafted a quarterback in round one for approaching 19 years. Picking as early as possible gives you a better shot at finding someone you like but picking later doesn’t eliminate the opportunity completely. The Seahawks can pick outside the top-ten and draft the right quarterback for this team’s future in round one.