Following up my article on Ryan Mallett yesterday, I wanted to draw attention to this piece written by the NFL Network’s Albert Breer:
“Is it possible the Seahawks could pay a heavy price for sneaking in the playoffs at 7-9? It certainly is. With Charlie Whitehurst difficult to count on as a “quarterback of the future,” and Matt Hasselbeck’s contract up, Seattle has planned for months to seriously consider pulling the trigger on a new signal-caller in the first round. And here’s where the issue is — Pete Carroll and Co. are now picking 25th. Had they lost in Week 17 to the Rams in the defacto NFC West title game, Seattle would’ve been picking eighth. That difference of 17 spots? Enormous. There are likely three quarterbacks going in the top half of the first round: Missouri’s Blaine Gabbert, Auburn’s Cam Newton and Washington’s Jake Locker. Now, to get any of those three would require a serious move up and a heavy cost to Seattle, and that means there would have to be serious conviction on the part of the staff. Maybe Carroll has that withthe hometown kid Locker, who the coach will be able to get all the insight he needs on, with his former OC Steve Sarkisian being the coach at UW.”
It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to realise that the Seahawks may have intended to draft a quarterback this year – and that still may be the case. Finding a long term starter at the position remains Seattle’s #1 need and that will stay true until the problem is solved.
Breer’s angle hints that the Seahawks should perhaps, in hindsight, rue winning the NFC West title and defeating the Saints in the playoffs because it has cost the team a legitimate chance to fill their biggest need.
I would have offered some sympathy to the view had Seattle lost to the Saints in the wildcard round, but I think defeating New Orleans gave the new regime in Seattle a key note victory to build on. You don’t often get the chance to eliminate the defending champs in the playoffs – doing so with a flair and swagger made any thoughts of the draft redundant for at least a few weeks.
The fact isSeattle has to deal withthe position it’s in and live with it. Winning playoff games never stops you drafting a quarterback, it simply narrows the field or makes it more expensive. If the Seahawks were zoned in on a quarterback in December when it looked like the team would pick in the top ten, nothing should change now it owns the #25 overall pick.
Make the move and solve that problem if the guy you want is part of this draft class.
Trading from the mid-20’s to the top ten isn’t unheard of as Jacksonville did just that in 2008 to select Derrick Harvey. The package sent to Baltimore included two third round picks and a fourth round choice. If Seattle can find a buyer there’s nothing to suggest they couldn’t package their second round choice (#57 overall) and the second pick in round four – acquired from the Patriots for Deion Branch.
Funnily enough, the move down the board didn’t stop the Ravens moving back up from #26 to #18 to grab Joe Flacco for a deal worth a third rounder and a sixth rounder. They made their move to get their quarterback, as did the New York Jets in (Mark Sanchez) and Tampa Bay (Josh Freeman). Both teams traded up and left nothing to chance and both teams have won games as a result.
I understand a lot of people cringe at the idea of giving up picks and I accept the Seahawks need depth as well as quality.
Yet we’re not talking about filling any old need here. This isn’t something that will be solved with a fourth round flier like when the team traded for Marshawn Lynch. You won’t stumble upon a starting quarterback the same way Seattle stumbled upon Chris Clemons or RaheemBrock. The Seahawks don’t have the time to train up a late round pick behind Matt Hasselbeck, who’s future remains undecided. If he starts the 2011 season (should it avoid a lockout) he will almost certainly be the oldest starting quarterback in the NFL aged 36.
To win in this league you need a quarterback who can make things happen and those guysgenerally are found in round one. Scouting is too good these days for quality quarterback prospects to drop into the later rounds. Publicity is huge around college QB’s.
Maybe I’ll be proven wrong here – I hope I am – but the Seahawks will not contend year in, year out until they draft a QB early and build around that prospect. If that means trading up – so be it. I’d rather give up two other picks, including this year’s late second round choice, to solve that problem. Seattle’s recent history picking in round two isn’t glorious anyway.
But what if they don’t move up? Breer chips in there as well:
“All this might mean the team would be left with the option of Ryan Mallett at the bottom of the first round, and the Seahawks already are well aware of the kind of risk he presents from a character perspective.”
It’s undetermined whether this quote is generally speaking or rather information relayed from a member of the Seahawks’ staff. As I discussed yesterday, the suspected character concerns with Mallett are there for all to see. This may be assumption rather than inside info. Quite asidefrom all that, he doesn’t fit the mobile quarterback this team appears to want for their offensive scheme. Mallett isn’t the statue some want you to think and he’s more than capable of executing a great play action. He won’t however be running boot legs, avoiding pressure and breaking off runs like Pete Carroll reiterated he wanted his QB’s to do in his post-season press conference.
There are also huge positives that aren’t often discussed amid all the negative publicity – such as Mallett’s ability to read a defense better than possibly any college quarterback I’ve scouted. He has unique arm strength and he made improvements across the board in his second year starting for Arkansas.
At #25 overall the cost is limited too – perhaps making any risks less of a factor. Tim Tebow signed a contract worth $8.7m in guarantees as last year’s #25 pick. The possibility of a rookie pay scale in the next CBA could lessen that further. It’s all a far cry from the $50m St. Louis has committed to Sam Bradford.
The last time the Seahawks picked in the 20’s, they ended up giving Lawrence Jackson a deal worth $6.1m in guarantees. It did not hamper their ability to trade him to Detroit when the pick didn’t work out.
Seattle would be committing to Mallett being a long term starter if they took him, but they wouldn’t be financially crippled if he failed. Would it be an embarrassing bust? Possibly. Yet if Oakland are able to cut Jamarcus Russell and his huge contract so easily as the #1 pick (and move on quickly in the process), there’s no reason why the Seahawks couldn’t similarly move on in a worse-case scenario.
The most positive outcome of drafting Mallett is you end up with a franchise playmaker with immense potential. For all the negativity surrounding Mallett, he’s going to have a step on Blaine Gabbert, Cam Newton and Jake Locker when he enters the league. He’s already used to progressing through reads and he’s come up against the best defenses in college football competing in the SEC. Protect him and give him weapons and that arm will score you points.
The team will no doubt do all it’s homework, do their background checks and put themselves in a position to decide whether the risk is worth it. But Seattle cannot wait for the faultless prospect, not unless they intend to endure a one or two win season in the near future.
Kyle Rota is a close friend of the blog and the guy I respect the most when it comes to player evaluation. He’s produced this scouting report on Florida offensive lineman Mike Pouncey for his new website ‘NFL Draft Reports’.
Regular visitors know my opinion of Colorado Jimmy Smith. For me, there’s nothing between Smithand Patrick Peterson and both are well ahead of Prince Amukamara and Brandon Harris. Russell Lande from the Sporting Press agrees. This follows Todd McShay’s admittance recently that Smith is ahead of Amukamara. There was never any doubt Smith’s stock would rise. He’s flown under the radar and people have merely ‘topped up’ their mocks by casually putting him in the late first round. Some mock drafts don’t even have him in the first round. Jimmy Smith is a top 10-15 talent.
Eric Galko from Optimum Scouting reports that neither Blaine Gabbert or Christian Ponder will throw at the combine. People always act surprised when prospects opt not to throw at the combine and after all these years I still don’t understand why. It never hurts the top prospects’ stock. Quarterbacks rightly don’t want to risk throwing to receivers they’ve never met before when they can just wait until their pro-day. The importance of the position dictates that team’s are unconcerned by not watching them throw balls in shorts and a t-shirt in unnatural conditions.
Nick Fairley catches up with ESPN for a status check: