Before I get to my mock draft, I want to share a few random thoughts about the last few months here at the blog, and also a few special predictions for the weekend’s draft.
#1: Rob and I have spent a lot of time highlighting Courtney Upshaw on this blog. Rob has consistently held a very high opinion of him and thinks he’s an elite talent. I know that a lot of readers have accused us of having a man-crush on him. That might be true for Rob, but I’ve always maintained that I view Upshaw as a solid prospect with the potential to become great. As I said in my writeup the other day, if coaches can put him in better situations for bull rushing, he could be productive enough to justify the #12 pick. Otherwise, I think Upshaw is going to be an Adrian Clayborn (20th overall pick) or Robert Ayers (18th overall pick) level contributor, and therefore a small reach at #12.
So to be perfectly clear, I have no issues with taking Upshaw at #12, I’d even find it potentially exciting, but it’s not like he tops my draft board at the 12th pick either. If the pick was mine to make, I’d probably trade down, or draft one of Coples, Kuechly, DeCastro, Martin, or even Stephon Gilmore, who I’m starting to think could be a smaller Richard Sherman. There is a lot of parity at the #12 pick, and a lot of good picks that could be made. Rob may feel a certain way, but I’m definitely not on the “Upshaw or bust” bandwagon. So please stop saying so. It’s silly. We haven’t featured Upshaw as much as we have because we want to promote him, but because we have good reasons to think he’s going to be the pick and we wanted Seahawks fans to be prepared for it. It’s just that simple.
So why do we think Upshaw is likely? Because our source that has provided nothing but good and trustworthy information over the last three drafts gave us a list of names to watch for and Upshaw headlined it. We’ve also heard from one other person close to the situation that Pete really likes Upshaw. Then there’s that pickup basketball game rumor from a few months ago too. And while Pete and John have jovially talked about Melvin Ingram, Quinton Coples, Ryan Tannehill and other top 15 pick options, they’ve been as quiet as the grave concerning Upshaw. I successfully predicted that Seattle would draft Aaron Curry (to my great displeasure) two days before the 2009 draft when I realized that Curry was the one player Tim Ruskell hadn’t visited or talked about at all. If a GM is going out of his way to ignore a guy who is an obvious possibility, that’s often a telling sign.
#2: John Schneider is an incredibly open GM with draft information, almost to the point of recklessness, but I think it’s just a bi-product of his successful track record and that he feels he can “win” even when the board doesn’t fall perfectly. Yesterday, Schneider openly admitted to there being “little cut-offs and ledges” in the draft, and named the 12th or 13th pick as one of those ledges. He also said that there are two players that stood out as being “very attractive” as options. Couple this information with the reports that every team between picks 3 and 16 is contacting other teams about moving down, and you have a clear buyer’s market on the trade front. Long story short, don’t expect Seattle to trade down from the #12 pick unless both those unnamed players are gone. If they are who we think they are, then at least one of them will likely reach the pick. So for those of you hoping for a trade down (I’m among you), I wouldn’t get your hopes up.
#3: Pete Carroll released his annual draft hints on twitter. This year’s theme: clips from comedy films. Even with the insider information I’ve heard, I honestly have no clue if any of these hints mean a thing. That said, the first of those clips was a scene from the movie Step Brothers. As someone else already pointed out, Courtney Upshaw was raised by his Aunt and was, in a sense, a step-brother to the rest of the family. All of the clips seemed to share the theme of damage, pain, or destruction. That makes me lean towards Upshaw (and Richardson) even more, as they are the two most violent players in the draft.
#4: Okay, okay, now that I’ve given my reasons why I think Upshaw is very likely to be the pick, I need to be clear that Rob and I have not been explicitly told he’s the guy in absolute terms, and we have to acknowledge the chances that Seattle could go in another direction. I suspect that Schneider’s aforementioned “very attractive” options are Upshaw and Richardson. However, we were also told that Melvin Ingram and Quinton Coples were in play as well. We also heard that they really like Zach Brown. If it’s not one of those five players, it will be the first time our best source has been inaccurate.
Now that that’s out of the way, here’s a few quick hit predictions for this weekend’s draft:
- Seattle probably won’t trade down in the first round (see above).
- Seattle might trade up early in round two for Zach Brown, but otherwise I don’t expect the team to trade up for the most part.
- This is a deep draft, but the Seahawks only have six picks to work with. John Schneider is going to covet extra picks even more than usual. If there isn’t an obvious bargain available in rounds two, three, and four, look for Seattle to move down. It wouldn’t surprise me if the Seahawks had multiple trade downs in this draft, as picks in rounds three, four, and five are going to hold a lot of value this year. Seattle has gotten phenomenal returns from rounds four and five the last two years, but they currently only have one pick in that range this year.
- I expect Seattle to draft a pass rusher, a linebacker (or two), and a running back in the first four rounds.
- The #43 pick could be a wildcard pick. I expect Seattle to draft a linebacker or running back there, but if a legit first round talent like Kendall Wright or Coby Fleener is sitting there, it might be enough to push Seattle’s priorities down a round. Maybe.
- Seattle spent a lot its team invites on late round defensive backs, and in the Alabama pickup game rumor Carroll referred to “not drafting a corner that early”, which hints at the team drafting one later on. Personally, I’m rooting for Ron Brooks. George Iloka is a baller too.
- No inside info on these last few predictions, but I suspect Seattle might add an offensive lineman late and/or possibly a tight end. Both are small areas of need for Seattle but both are areas in which the team can afford to wait and develop the position with late round picks.
- It wouldn’t shock me if Seattle added a second pass rusher after the first. The middle rounds are relatively strong for pass rushers this year (Massaquoi, Irvin, etc.) and Seattle showed last year that they are willing to double down to address an area of need.
- As usual, expect Seattle to draft a lot of player’s we didn’t cover, and a lot of players that almost no one has heard of. It’s a little deflating whenever picks happen that make you say “who?!”, but that’s just because this front office is much more awesome at digging up talent than we are. I’ll have to remind myself not to flip out when two thirds of their draft haul will be guys I’ve never heard of. Pete and John have earned the benefit of the doubt.
With that out of the way, here’s my 2012 Draftsmas morning mock:
|#1 Andrew Luck (QB, Stanford)
The best quarterback prospect in some time.
|#2 Robert Griffin III (QB, Baylor)
Griffin is very risky, but his upside is intense. He’s also fun and easy to root for.
|#3 Matt Kalil (OT, USC)
Kalil is one of the best tackles to come out in a while, and the Vikings have a huge need at that position.
|#4 Trent Richardson (RB, Alabama)
The Browns might consider Blackmon, but Richardson wins hands down in terms of pure talent.
|#5 Morris Claiborne (CB, LSU)
This pick feels like it’s been a lock forever.
|#6 Justin Blackmon (WR, Oklahoma State)
This a dream scenario for the Rams. It will almost feel like they got those extra two first rounders and the extra high second rounder for free.
|#7 Chandler Jones (DE, Syracuse)
Two years ago the Jaguars made a stunning reach for Tyson Alualu in the top 10 picks. The Jaguars are looking for pass rush help, and could be swayed by another last minute fast riser.
|#8 Ryan Tannehill (QB, Texas A&M)
The Dolphins must be sick of hearing quarterbacks and coaches telling them “no.” On the bright side, Ryan Tannehill won’t have a say if Miami drafts him.
|#9 Fletcher Cox (DT, Mississippi State)
Cox’s stock is rising fast, and he also fits perfectly with Carolina’s needs on the defensive line. This is quickly becoming an obvious pick.
| #10 Jonathan Martin (OT, Stanford)
Buddy Nix went balls out in free agency for pass rushers because he preferred to address offensive tackle in round one. He could go with a few options here, but Martin is the best pick for a team that wants to ensure they are drafting a future tackle.
| #11 Riley Reiff (OT, Iowa)
The Chiefs need a run stopper, but with Poe’s stock taking a tumble, I think they’ll address offensive line instead. Reiff has the flexibility to play guard and tackle, which will have added appeal to the Chiefs.
|#12 Courtney Upshaw (DE, Alabama)
Unless today is your first trip to this blog, you’re probably already sick of hearing about this guy. That said, I’d put the odds of him being the pick very high, unless a team leapfrogs the Seahawks for him.
| #14 Mark Barron (S, Alabama)
Jerry Jones isn’t a subtle man, and he’s shown a lot of interest in Barron. It wouldn’t surprise me if Jones traded up a few spots just to be sure he gets Barron.
| #15 Luke Kuechly (LB, Boston College)
DeMeco Ryans probably won’t be enough to keep the Eagles away from Kuechly.
| #16 Melvin Ingram (DE, South Carolina)
The Jets need a pass rusher and will be thrilled if Ingram lasts this long.
| #17 Stephon Gilmore (CB, South Carolina)
I suspect the Bengals will spend one of their firsts on a corner. Gilmore deserves the hype and is the best corner available in my opinion.
|#18 Dontari Poe (DT, Memphis)
The Chargers need a nose tackle or a pass rusher. Poe feels like less of a reach here than Vinny Curry.
#19 Michael Floyd (WR, Notre Dame)
The Bears were known to add not one but two big time receivers this offseason. They got the ball rolling with Brandon Marshall, and here they add Floyd to solidify a potentially scary passing attack in 2012.
| #20 Dre Kirkpatrick (CB, Alabama)
Corner is a need for the Titans, and Kirkpatrick will be considered a steal at this point by some.
| #21 David DeCastro (OG, Stanford)
The Bengals need a guard and won’t think twice if DeCastro falls this far.
|#22 Kendall Wright (WR, Baylor)
The Browns will take a receiver here, the question is who. There are plenty of options, but Wright gets my vote.
|#23 Janoris Jenkins (OT, Stanford)
The Lions need help at corner, and Jenkins is supremely talented. His off the field concerns will keep him out of round one, but don’t be surprised if the Lions move back to take Jenkins a bit later.
|#24 Dont’a Hightower (LB, Alabama)
Hightower is the perfect example of a Pittsburgh Steeler type player. It’s only fitting he would be drafted by them.
|#25 Michael Brockers (DT, LSU)
Denver might go for a receiver here, but a deep class of receivers and Brockers high value will tilt this pick in his favor.
|#26 Quinton Coples (DE, North Carolina)
If Coples doesn’t go top 12, I think he’s in for a bit of a slide. The Texans are a logical destination, as Coples has upside on par with a certain defensive end the Texans just lost in free agency.
| #27 Whitney Mercilus (DE, Illinois)
Mercilus could make sense for the Patriots as a situational pass rusher.
|#28 Doug Martin (RB, Boise State)
Green Bay runs an offense not unlike Seattle’s, and as great as Rodgers is, their’s is still a relatively run heavy offense, but without a productive back to make things click. Martin could help take Green Bay’s offense to a new level.
|#29 Peter Konz (OG/C, Wisconsin)
Baltimore needs help in the interior of the line, and Konz is a fantastic value this late.
|#30 Rueben Randle (WR, LSU)
The 49ers will probably grab a receiver here. If not Randle, then Stephen Hill.
|#31 Devon Still (DT, Penn State)
The Patriots need a pass rushing defensive tackle and Still is the best tackle available at this point.
|#32 Cordy Glenn (OT, Georgia)
The Giants are in need of offensive tackle help once again, and Cordy Glenn is probably the best option here.
#33 St. Louis – Jerel Worthy (DT, Michigan State)
#34 Indianapolis – Coby Fleener (TE, Stanford)
#35 Minnesota – Stephen Hill (WR, Georgia Tech)
#36 Tampa Bay – Lamar Miller (RB, Miami)
#37 Cleveland – Zach Brown (LB, North Carolina)
#38 Jacksonville – Alshon Jeffery (WR, South Carolina)
#39 St. Louis – Mohamed Sanu (WR, Rutgers)
#40 Carolina – Josh Robinson (CB, UCF)
#41 Buffalo – Andre Branch (DE, Clemson)
#42 Miami – Vinny Curry (DE, Marshall)
#43 Seattle – Lavonte David (LB, Nebraska)
#44 Kansas City – Brock Osweiler (QB, Arizona State)
#45 Dallas – Nick Perry (DE, USC)
#46 Philadelphia – Jayron Hosley (CB, Virginia Tech)
#47 New York Jets – Harrison Smith (S, Notre Dame)
#48 New England – Shea McClellin (LB, Boise State)
#49 San Diego – Dwayne Allen (TE, Clemson)
#50 Chicago – Brandon Thompson (DT, Clemson)
#51 Philadelphia – Brandon Taylor (S, LSU)
#52 Tennessee – Kendall Reyes (DT, Connecticut)
#53 Cincinnati – David Wilson (RB, Virginia Tech)
#54 Detroit – Kevin Zeitler (OG, Wisconsin)
#55 Atlanta – Orson Charles (TE, Georgia)
#56 Pittsburgh – Kelechi Osemele (OG, Iowa State)
#57 Denver – Robert Turbin (RB, Utah State)
#58 Houston – Marvin Jones (WR, Cal)
#59 New Orleans – VOID
#60 Green Bay – Bruce Irvin, (DE, West Virginia)
#61 Baltimore – Bobby Wagner, (LB, Utah State)
#62 San Francisco – Amini Silatolu (OG, Midwestern State)
#63 New England – Juron Criner (WR, Arizona)
#64 New York Giants– LaMichael James (RB, Oregon)
My guesses for Seattle’s picks in rounds 3-7 (assuming no trades):
#75 Seattle – Chris Polk, (RB, Washington)
#106 Seattle –James Michael-Johnson, (LB, Nevada)
#181 Seattle – Chandler Harnish, (QB, Northern Illinois)
#225 Seattle –Ron Brooks, (CB, LSU)