In the last two drafts the Seahawks spent several picks rebuilding their secondary. Earl Thomas and Kam Chancellor are permanent fixtures at safety, while Walter Thurmond will get his opportunity to nail down a starting cornerback position with Marcus Trufant on injured reserve. There’s certainly scope for further investment because you can never have too many good young corners. Both the wide out and cornerback positions stand to benefit from quality depth and it’s with some surprise that fans tend to under-sell the receiver position in particular. For me, it’s a premium position in the NFL and it’ll be a strong class of wideouts in 2012.
However, I’m less enthusiastic about the Seahawks spending a round one pick at either position next April. This team needs a quarterback, a point that has been made countless times but is completely valid. This front office cannot enter year three of an initial five-year contract for it’s VP of football operations without a big investment at quarterback. Pete Carroll cannot afford to spend too long shuffling around at the position putting his faith in re-treads like Tarvaris Jackson. This team needs it’s on-field identity, the guy who is going to lead this team to prolonged success in the NFC West. With respect, I doubt that man is currently on the team’s roster. Now that San Francisco has seemingly got it’s act together after years of wasting talent, the Seahawks need to provide a worthy challenge themselves. Rest assured that the Niners will not hang about in replacing Alex Smith – they’ve already drafted Colin Kaepernick with a high second rounder and it’d be naive to think they’ll just coast along even if a fast 5-1 start is maintained throughout 2011.
The secondary issue of most concern comes on the defensive line. Chris Clemons’ production so far has continued, but he’s playing in an exaggerated position which is unorthodox to the league and will put stats on the board. I don’t think anyone can claim Seattle is churning out constant pressure and making life difficult for opposing quarterbacks – you only have to look at how badly the Seahawks rank in pass defense. One excellent defensive lineman could change that, whether it’s a disruptive three technique or another defensive end that allows Seattle to run more basic 4-3 fronts and provide pressure from both sides.
Getting a quarterback is the priority, then there’s a long gap to the second most important issue of finding additional defensive lineman. Cornerback may be third on the list, but only once the first two options have been exhausted. I foresee a situation where the Seahawks can’t draft a quarterback – Andrew Luck could end up being the only round one level QB who actually declares this year and you can’t draft for a position of such importance when the quality simply isn’t there. It’s an unlikely scenario though and eventually the Seahawks are going to have to bite the bullet – they’ve looked at the last two classes and said a resounding ‘NO’ to the group of QB’s. They can’t expect Aaron Rodgers the sequel to fall into their laps and only consistent losing will ever secure a player of Luck’s quality.
In the unlikely event that all roads to a quarterback are closed, we have to address some of the other needs. I think this is a cornerback class with some quality, just nobody in the range of Patrick Peterson or Jimmy Smith last year (both had elite potential). We’ll go into more detail later this week, but here’s a selection of some of the players to monitor if you’re looking for 2012 cornerbacks.