Here’s my best guess at where the Seahawks will target certain positions, what their priorities will be and which players they might covet.
The situation at #63
Trade up for a receiver, stay put and take a wide out or simply draft the best offensive lineman available. The three biggest needs are all on offense and should be in play with Seattle’s first pick in the draft.
You don’t rule out a defensive pick here — and the lack of depth in the middle rounds compared to receiver and the O-line makes it a possibility. Seattle’s meeting with Florida State’s Mario Edwards Jr. makes things interesting. However — the Seahawks retain the vast majority of a league-leading #1 defense. Their biggest loss — Byron Maxwell — has been replaced by their biggest free-agent acquisition (Cary Williams). They added depth to the defensive line with Ahtyba Rubin. The only hole left to fill is a replacement for two-sack O’Brien Schofield.
Jimmy Graham provides a much needed X-factor to the offense but there are still gaping holes at left guard and center. Graham’s arrival also shouldn’t prevent the Seahawks adding more talent at receiver. Jermaine Kearse is a free agent next year and Doug Baldwin’s contract expires after the 2016 season. Will Paul Richardson make a full recovery from his latest knee injury? There’s no saying Chris Matthews or Kevin Norwood will amount to anything. There aren’t currently any long-term pieces here.
A defensive pick probably only happens if a very highly coveted player drops into range for a move up. The Seahawks have been pretty consistent though in addressing needs first, taking ‘their’ guys and not responding to the unexpected.
Could LSU corner Jalen Collins fall? He has a broken foot and some other off-the-field issues. I think it’s unlikely he drops to #63 considering Janoris Jenkins only fell to #39 in 2012. The likes of Clemson’s Grady Jarrett and Edwards Jr. are likely to be gone too. This feels like it’s going to be a pick for the offense in round two, unless of course that highly coveted player falls.
It’s as if the Seahawks have been planning to trade up for some time. Having lost out on an early fourth rounder when the Jets cut Percy Harvin, they quickly acquired another from New Orleans. There is a drop-off in talent at around pick #48-52. That extra fourth round pick gets you into range.
There are two realistic trade-up scenarios.
The Seahawks can move up 10-12 spots by trading their earliest fourth round pick (the one acquired in the Jimmy Graham trade). Philadelphia made a similar move last year to draft Jordan Matthews. Detroit at #54 seems like a viable trade-partner — they have picks in rounds 1-3 and then nothing until round six.
If they want to move up even further — possibly into the 40’s — they could consider trading the same fourth round pick and also their 2016 third rounder. It’d be a bold move — but they will receive a third round compensatory pick next year for Byron Maxwell. That would soften the blow somewhat.
Forget smokescreens and all of that — by now we have a pretty good idea the Seahawks have interest in Dorial Green-Beckham. Tony Pauline’s recent report validates that and there’s no need to second guess it. He’d be an ideal outside receiver with the potential to be that true #1 Russell Wilson hasn’t really had as a pro. Imagine putting DGB and Jimmy Graham on the field to compliment the running game. That’s why we can’t rule out a slightly more ambitious trade.
You might balk at the price. There aren’t many moves Seattle can make in this draft that’ll have a dramatic impact in 2015. This is one of them. They’d have a legitimate chance to field an offense as potent as the defense. And they’d still have nine more picks in the draft to fill other needs.
If Green-Beckham goes too early (late first, very early second) there’s not much you can do. I highly doubt they’d be willing to trade a future first or second rounder. In that scenario, you accept defeat and move on.
There aren’t many alternatives at receiver for the #63 pick. Devin Funchess provides similar size and mismatch value but he lacks DGB’s speed and upside. Tyler Lockett is a fiery, gritty receiver with major production and great bloodlines. Do they want to add another smaller receiver with an early pick? Or will they target someone like Ty Montgomery later on?
Could they make a bit of a surprise pick like Tre McBride or Chris Conley? You can’t rule it out. Why would you? Look at Justin Britt a year ago. They’ll take their guys instead of risking missing out altogether.
That’s likely to be their position on the offensive line too. If they can’t find a receiver at #63 they should be able to find an offensive lineman they like.
Mitch Morse is a better tackle than people recognise. He doesn’t get beat. He’ll move inside to center — but part of the reason he’s rising so much is the way he performed at tackle at Missouri. Seattle will likely have one chance and one chance only to draft him — and that’s at #63 (unless they move down a few spots — but only a few).
Ty Sambrailo gives them the best shot at a guard for today who could be a tackle tomorrow. Russell Okung’s contract ends after the 2015 season. Sambrailo is a better fit inside but he has the quick feet and the mobility to give it a go.
Seattle has to consider possible Okung replacements. For that reason Donovan Smith is an option. He has the length and size to play tackle. The problem is he has the game to be a guard-only. His tape, for example, doesn’t even get close to James Carpenter’s at Alabama (where he played left tackle). He’s had difficulty with conditioning too, which is surely a turn-off after all the issues with Carpenter, Michael Bowie and now Alvin Bailey.
They could also plug in a pure guard like A.J. Cann, Tre Jackson or Laken Tomlinson.
What about round three?
If they don’t take a receiver in round two, this could be the range where they go for it. Is one of McBride or Conely still on the board? Part of me feels if they don’t get a big wide out in round two they might just pass altogether. Seattle has enough developmental receivers and really needs an injection of pure class. An impact player. Not a raw-with-upside type who spends most of the year inactive ala Kevin Norwood.
Georgia Tech’s Darren Waller compares physically to Vincent Jackson. They had almost identical combine performances. It took Jackson four years to have an impact in the NFL — and Waller looks like a late developer. He doesn’t play with Jackson’s intensity either. Can you afford to sit and wait for a player like this? Seattle’s is bang in the middle of a Championship window.
Dezmin Lewis receives some attention — but he ran a 4.58 at 214lbs at the combine and jumped only a 33.5 inch vertical. He improved both tallies at his pro-day (as is the norm). How athletic is he? And coming from Central Arkansas, how long is he going to need to get up to NFL speed?
If they don’t go O-line at #63 it’s an option here too. Yes — there are nice options throughout rounds 4-5 (more on that later). However, this late third round pick gives the Seahawks a chance to ‘jump the queue’. That’s especially important if they traded up in round two using the early fourth rounder. We’ll run through some of the names in a bit — but if there’s an O-liner you have to have, this could be a valuable pick.
Don’t rule out a running back — either here or in round four. Marshawn Lynch could retire after this season. Robert Turbin is a free agent. Christine Michael has underwhelmed. A team that runs the ball as its core identity isn’t going to sleepwalk into 2016 thin at running back. This is a good class of runners. If they’ve identified one they like and the value fits — they might do it. People have scoffed at this suggestion in the past but it makes a ton of sense. Even if the pick ultimately only replaces Turbin next year, you’re making a significant cost saving. If the worst happens and you lose Lynch and Turbin, at least then you have Michael and a sophomore RB to compete. You’re not handcuffed into making an early pick at the position. Let’s not forget they drafted Michael as a ‘running back of the future’ in 2013, so they’re open to it.
Mike Davis visited with the Seahawks. He’s not everyone’s cup of tea — but he catches the ball well, has a somewhat physical style and he’s a classic one-cut-and-go type. He’s a scheme fit. He’s graded anywhere from round three to the later rounds. He could be one of the players they make sure they don’t leave the draft without.
Then there’s the defensive line option. This probably comes down to who’s left. Is Frank Clark still on the board? If so, he may be your O’Brien Schofield replacement. The options on the D-line only get thinner from here. Cassius Marsh returns from injury though and Schofield’s impact in 2014 was minimal. They’re unlikely to force anything and might be happy to add an athletic upside D-end later on (or even in UDFA).
Round four looking good
Whether the Seahawks pick two or three times in this round, they’re going to get at least a couple of role players. That’s all you can ask for on day three. There’s a host of offensive lineman they could target. I’ll probably miss out on some possible targets — there are that many.
During Tom Cable’s time in Seattle they’ve always had size at left guard. I can see why people are projecting SPARQ’d out athletic linemen for the Seahawks — but I still think their left guard next year is going to be big. Not 300lbs big — probably more like 320lbs big.
Oklahoma’s Daryl Williams could go in this range — a pumped-up team player with the size and length Seattle loves. Aside from Williams they might look at West Virginia’s Quinton Spain or Louisville’s Jamon Brown.
One other name to keep an eye on — Florida State’s Josue Matias. He’s 6-5 and 309lbs (but he can play bigger) with the all important tackle experience. Tom Cable attended FSU’s pro-day. Was he looking at Matias, Tre Jackson or both? Matias could be their guy. There’s a ton of upside there.
What about center? If this remains unaddressed, there are plenty of options. Shaq Mason looks like a very realistic possibility. Accomplished run blocker, very stout at the point. It’s hard to judge his pass-blocking skills in the triple-option but he has a lot of upside. Florida’s Max Garcia had an extremely impressive Senior Bowl and could go in this range. Kansas State’s B.J. Finney is a no-thrills, meat-and-potatoes type of blocker but he could be an early starter. Auburn’s Reese Dismukes is a good fit for a zone blocking team and could be available in the late fourth. San Diego State’s Terry Poole is a tackle convert who could work at guard or center.
If drafting a possible replacement for Okung is a priority, they could even look at tackles in round four. Green Bay found their starting LT (David Bakhtiari) in round four. NC State’s Rob Crisp is long, athletic and severely underrated. Vic Beasley’s probably going to go in the top ten this week. Nobody in college football handled him like Crisp. Virginia Tech’s Laurence Gibson has similar length and athleticism. He only has one years experience as a starter — but he flashed enough to warrant consideration as a developmental left tackle.
Whether it’s in round four or five — I expect Stanford’s Ty Montgomery to be a target. He’s visited with the Seahawks. He fits them like a glove. Incredibly competitive and smart. A driven character who lives for football. He can forge a role on the offense but more importantly — he’s a fantastic kick returner. He’ll have an impact in week one returning kicks, replacing fair-catch specialist Bryan Walters. Montgomery in Seattle seems like a perfect day-three match.
Round five and beyond
We could start to see more of a defensive focus here. This is where they’re likely to pluck a tall, rangy corner to put on the production line. Stanford’s Alex Carter might be off the board, but Texas Southern’s Tray Walker passes the size/speed/length test. Oklahoma’s Julian Wilson has ugly tape (really ugly at times) but he too fits Seattle’s corner criteria. Penn State’s Adrian Amos will be projected by many to play safety. The Seahawks could consider him a flex option. There are likely to be one or two obscure targets too.
When Frank Clark leaves the board they’re going to struggle to find explosive, physical pass rushers or ideal LEO’s. The closest thing might be Shaq Riddick — a victim of the bizarre three-man front at West Virginia that dogged Bruce Irvin’s final season with the Mountaineers. He’s tall and quick. He’d need some work. Watch Southern Miss defensive tackle Rakeem Nunez-Roches give Alabama fits and you can see why he might be a target. Tenn-Chat’s Derrick Lott is another to keep an eye on.
At safety USC’s Josh Shaw and Michigan State’s Kurtis Drummond are possibilities — although it’s unclear how much of a need they have at the position. How highly do they rate Dion Bailey? Can they find another UDFA to replace Jeron Johnson?
Georgia cornerback Damian Swann just finds a way to make plays. He’s a turnover machine who’s a good coach away from being a nice little project for someone. He only has 31-inch arms. Is it a deal breaker? Possibly.
There’s at least a chance they’ll draft a quarterback at some point. Plucking an UDFA like Blake Sims possibly makes more sense than blowing a pick on a camp body. He could be a seventh round option.
I could run through a list of athletic VMAC visits here as possible later round options. We all know they’ll focus on the SPARQ’d up remains of this draft later on and in UDFA. There’s no great skill in pointing at a list of names just because they’re athletic. You know what to expect. I’ll just link to this Chawk Talk piece that notes all the pre-draft visits. They’ll take a selection from that group.
Possible draft plan (without trading up)
Round 2 — WR
Round 3 — OL
Round 4 — RB, OL, KR/WR
Round 5 — CB, DL, OL
Round 6 — DL or CB, S
Round 7 — QB
Tomorrow is podcast day. Wednesday the final mock draft. Thursday — you know what happens Thursday.