Yesterday I published my latest mock and I think it raised an interesting talking point.
I once again projected the Seahawks to take Phil Taylor (DT, Baylor) with the 25th overall pick. I look at Taylor and see a prospect that can come in and contribute quickly at either the five technique/Red Bryant position or nose tackle. He has some technique flaws with leverage that need to be addressed, but he’s 337lbs of potential quality.
Taylor helps Seattle get bigger up front with greater depth against injuries if the likes of Bryant, Colin Cole and Brandon Mebane miss time as they did in 2010. Eventually I suspect Taylor could develop into the integral part of the defense, given the relative importance of the five technique and nose tackle in this scheme (as discussed in more detail here).
It’d be a smart move and one that would be difficult to complain about. I graded Taylor highly and if he does last until the #25 pick he has to be a consideration.
But… the Seahawks need a quarterback.
I’ve maintained for some time now that the team’s greatest need is to invest in a young QB. There are other needs that need to be addressed – another cornerback would be beneficial as would further additions to both lines. There’s a lack of pure playmaking quality on offense and certainly that’s something that will need to change. However, it all comes back to the quarterback first.
It’s an area that really needed to be filled two or three years ago. Former GM Tim Ruskell admitted the team ‘were in the zone’ for a new signal caller before the 2009 draft. Amongst others, they worked out Josh Freeman in Seattle and the year before had a look at Chad Henne. The end product was merely a late round flier on now released Mike Teel.
Last year the options were severely limited. If Sam Bradford wasn’t going to fall to the #6 pick (and it never seemed likely) it appeared Seattle’s options were slim in terms of drafting someone in round one. That is of course, unless they were one of the teams prepared to consider Tim Tebow. That may have been more likely than some people expect had Philadelphia drafted Early Thomas instead of Brandon Graham.
The team spent big on Charlie Whitehurst but didn’t appear willing to ever seriously consider him as anything else than a back-up in 2010. There may have been some determination to keep him out of Arizona too, considering it was a straight race between the Cardinals and Seahawks for his signature. They now enter his ‘contract year’ with no real knowledge of what he’s capable of. If they re-sign Matt Hasselbeck then it’s tough to see a situation where he gets enough game time to prove he’s worth a new deal.
I actually look at the Whitehurst move as a nod that this franchise appreciates the need at quarterback. Whether Matt Hasselbeck remains in Seattle or not, he’s approaching the age of 36 and has been inconsistent at best. The team has to prepare for the post-Hasselbeck era, which could be as soon as 2011 or 2012 depending on how things play out. You’ll be fortunate to hit on the first guy to try at the position, so taking a chance on Whitehurst made sense considering the implications if he works out.
So all things considered – can they really afford to pass on Ryan Mallett (QB, Arkansas) to take Phil Taylor as I projected in my latest mock?
It’s a question I asked myself when I compiled the projection and still struggle to answer. I think a lot of what has been written about Mallett recently is hyperbole and unfair. At the same time – it’s hard to ignore what possible impact this negative press will have and some of the things that have been speculated (albeit from less than hardened sources) have been concerning.
From a pure Seahawks perspective he isn’t that mobile QB who will get out of the pocket and help the running game. That is something Pete Carroll reiterated he wants from the position in his end of season presser recently. The move for Whitehurst (big arm and mobility) backs up the type of QB they’re looking for. The mantra under Carroll is ‘all in’ and competition – so does Mallett fit that mentality?
At the same time, the cost is limited with Seattle likely only to lay out approximately $8-9m in guarantees owning the #25 pick. If he was cut after two years he’d only cost the team as much cash as Whitehurst and possibly only a little more pride.
Sometimes you have to adapt scheme to fit what’s available. Mallett isn’t the statue some want you to believe, but he is going to need to be predominantly a pocket passer. He’s adept at play action which is a positive considering Seattle’s keenness to run the ball and although he has played in a well drilled Bobby Petrino scheme at Arkansas, he has much more experience of controlling an offense and making reads compared to most rookies.
People like to point to the failures of Brian Brohm (another Petrino project) as a reason why Mallett will fail. I would counter by saying Brohm was a much more limited talent.
Essentially it sums up the difficulty in projecting what Seattle will do. Mallett to a large degree would make sense, yet I understand why the Seahawks could pass.
There may be an element of trial and error in finding the long term successor at quarterback. It could take a couple of failed shots to get there. The only way the Seahawks will get their chance at an uncut diamond like Andrew Luck is if they are bad enough to be the worst team in the NFL – something that will prove difficult to achieve in a poor quality NFC West.
When you’re selecting in the teens or the twenties, you have to look at the prospects big on talent but maybe with a few extra wrinkles. Taking numerous chances on quarterbacks in an attempt to find ‘the one’ might pay dividends in the end.
ESPN’s Mel Kiper on Cam Newton and Jake Locker:
I think Kiper makes some very valid points on both prospects. It took me 6-7 Auburn games during the season to appreciate Newton fully, but I came to realise he’s an under rated passer with immense potential. I also feel after watching Jake Locker several times that he deserves a second round grade at best.
I still think both will be high first round picks though.
The reasons are simple – this is a quarterback league. Both prospects have high ceilings. There are many teams in this league with needs at quarterback and little opportunity to fill those gaps with free agency unlikely to take place due to the CBA problems.
I suspect Newton will be admired by most teams as long as several off the field questions can be answered, while Locker will have some select favorites. We know Mike Shanahan liked Locker last year and it still looks like a perfect match based on scheme. Washington didn’t bench Donovan McNabb lightly and it seems almost certain they will draft a quarterback.
The Redskins cannot expect Locker to last until round two and like Tim Tebow last year I suspect the Huskies QB will reach a point in round one that is his lowest exit route (maybe Seattle at #25?).
Perhaps Washington makes a small move down from the #10 spot and still drafts Locker? Either way I think it will happen unless someone moves ahead of Washington – a scenario which still keeps Locker in the top half of round one. Even with no interest from the Redskins there are enough alternatives (Tennessee, Minnesota, Miami, Seattle) to suspect he won’t suffer the dramatic fall some are predicting.
I accept it’s quite contradictory given I have Mallett dropping out of round one, but that is not due to a lack of talent. Although I agree with Kiper’s assessment of Locker and those that have questioned his accuracy, technique and lack of production – I still think he finds a home in round one come April.