Posted by Kip Earlywine
On the eve of the draft, like Rob did earlier today, I’d like to get some thoughts out there about a few players I think will be or should be highly considered in days one and two of the draft. You can see the rest after the jump.
On the topic of moving up:
I have always been highly skeptical this would happen and Rob’s trusted source has confirmed as much. It makes a good deal of sense why the team would avoid moving up. First, because this is a front office that like Ted Thompson’s, really prides itself on talent evaluation. They have a belief system that says if you trust your own evaluation to be superior, you can always find great players without having to panic or pay extra regardless of where you are picking in the draft. Moving up would probably cost Seattle its 2nd rounder and possibly more, which would leave Seattle with only 1 pick in the first two days of the draft. If you believe talent evaluation to be your biggest strength, then it wouldn’t make much sense to minimize your ability to make use of it in the draft by trading away so many picks.
Secondly, I don’t think Seattle will move up because they know as well as we do that Seattle is still very much in rebuilding mode and needs to address a lot of areas, not just one. This also explains why John Schneider badly wants to move down if possible.
Could Seattle trade up? Its extremely unlikely but there are two scenarios I could see it happening. The first is if either Cam Newton or Blaine Gabbert suffer very surprising draft freefalls. If say either one reaches Dallas at #9, Seattle would have to seriously consider making a deal and Dallas has been known to be looking to move down the board. However, I’m seriously doubtful this happens, because Cam Newton has been the hot tip to go #1 for a while now, and we’ve now even heard talk that Washington could trade as high as #2 with Denver to draft Gabbert.
The other scenario is where Jake Locker reaches the early 20s and Seattle makes a Josh Freeman styled move to get him, giving up a 5th or a 6th to ensure that no one else leapfrogs them for Locker. Locker to Seattle is an incredibly obvious pairing and a secret to absolutely no one. Lets not forget that twice last year in the first two rounds, a team traded up directly in front of the Seahawks to draft players they believed Seattle was targeting: Brandon Graham at #13 and Montario Hardesty at #59. I would bet a lot of money that even if Jake Locker is there at #24, he won’t reach #25. Still, my hunch is that Seattle will take the risk and not trade up even for very little cost. Not taking action could end up being a massive mistake that will be talked about for years just like Tim Lincecum and the Mariners. I really hope that doesn’t happen. We shall see.
On who makes the most sense at #25:
I suspect that the very top of Seattle’s draft board at #25 probably looks like Mike Pouncey, Jimmy Smith, and Jake Locker, in some unknown order. Under normal circumstances, you’d assume Locker to top that list, however, I think his value is undercut somewhat by three factors. The first is that Seattle has Charlie Whitehurst under contract for 2011 and may feel that in the short term, they can afford not addressing quarterback if the pieces fall that way. The second is that, despite Bengal’s owner Mike Brown’s notorious stubborn nature, the Seahawks FO probably feels that they have a really good shot at landing Carson Palmer later this offseason which takes the heat off the quarterback situation for at least a couple years. Even if Palmer is never traded and just retires, Seattle knows they have a bevy of “bridge” veteran options to pursue. Vince Young, Donovan McNabb, possibly Kyle Orton or David Garrard, and of course, Matt Hasselbeck… just to name a few. The third factor is their strong like of Colin Kaepernick. If Seattle gets a generous offer to move down, they’ll probably do it knowing they have a decent shot at getting Kaepernick a little bit later.
Could Locker reach #25? I think the real wildcard for this is not Washington, but Minnesota and possibly Jacksonville. There have been multiple reports in the last 24 hours that Mike Shanahan is contacting a lot of different teams throughout the top 10 trying to make a deal should Blaine Gabbert reach that pick. One rumor had Shanahan dealing as much as a future 1st and future 3rd to move up 8 spots. Even if this deal doesn’t happen, I think it reveals the extent to which Shanahan values Jake Locker. If Shanahan was happy to take Locker 10th overall, then why would he offer to pay so much to upgrade to Gabbert? Simply put, he probably wouldn’t. These rumors paint Shanahan as desperate for Gabbert, and we know from past experience that Shanahan isn’t shy about trading up for a quarterback he loves. I’ve long suspected that Shanahan’s “love” for Jake Locker was a smokescreen, because if he really liked Locker that much, then he’d avoid talking about Locker as much as possible. Maybe Shanahan still drafts Locker at #10 if he can’t deal for Gabbert, but I’d put the odds against it at this point.
Minnesota on the other hand, is looking very seriously at quarterback and Bill Musgrave’s resume mostly features him working with quarterbacks who have at least average to above average mobility (Mark Brunell, Michael Vick, Matt Ryan). That’s enough to suggest that they might like Jake Locker over Ryan Mallett, but would they feel comfortable taking Jake Locker this early?
Jacksonville is in the zone for a new quarterback, and has a history of quarterbacks with good mobility. I haven’t seen any mocks sending Locker to Jacksonville, but I think by #16, the stigma of “reaching” for Jake Locker will start to feel faint. I think Tennessee could be a wildcard at #8. I really doubt they take Locker that high, and I’m not even sure they’d be interested considering his on-the-tape similarities to Vince Young. But they do need a quarterback, and have a new coach who’s tough to read. Who knows.
I think there is a pretty solid chance, maybe 50/50, that Locker falls into the 20s. But as said before, I think the odds of a team moving up in front of Seattle to draft him are very high should this happen.
So what happens if all three of those players are gone before #25? Who are some other names that might get called by Seattle? Well, I suspect that the top two names after those first three options would be Colin Kaepernick and Mark Ingram. I could easily see Seattle drafting Kaepernick at #25, but I strongly suspect they would prefer to trade down before taking him, even if they only trade down a couple spots. I do not think Seattle will draft Mark Ingram, which is a real shame. It doesn’t sound like that one coach banging the table for Ingram was able to make his enthusiasm infectious. I’ve compared Ingram the prospect to Shaun Alexander before, and even their draft situations are similar. Seattle didn’t need a running back when they selected Shaun. They already had Ricky Watters performing at a very high level and highly promising Ahman Green on the depth chart. And yet they took Alexander anyway because they were that confident in his qualities, and Shaun went on to become one of the better Seahawks draft picks of all time. If that one coach lobbying for Ingram is Tom Cable, then Seattle would do well to listen to what he says. Cable built an excellent rushing attack in Oakland and it was because of his good eye for running back talent, not lineman talent. If the top 3 options are gone- I’d personally take Mark Ingram in a heartbeat, and I’m praying that John Schneider does the same.
The reason being, I’m not terribly enamored with some of the other names at #25. Jabaal Sheard seems ok to me, but would feel like a big reach at #25. I love Colin Kaepernick, I really do, but a late 1st is extremely early for such a project at quarterback. That said, I think Kaepernick represents the “likeliest” first pick at this point and I’ve made peace with taking him in the first round. Muhammad Wilkerson is a very different player than Lawrence Jackson, but I’m reminded of him because like Jackson, watching Wilkerson play gives me the feeling he’s going to be long term but bland starter and not really a difference maker, and like Jackson, he’s being touted as having 3-tech ability but I just don’t buy it from what I’ve seen. Corey Liuget underwhelmed me in games I watched, but from what I understand he’s had some monster games and I probably need to see more of him. I’m a fan of Danny Watkins but not in the first round- still, he could be considered especially after a trade down. And then you have a bevy of tackle prospects with mid to late 1st round grades who all fit Tom Cable’s criteria very well: Anthony Castonzo, Gabe Carimi, Derrick Sherrod, and Nate Solder.
A couple of wildcards at #25 could be Nick Fairley who’s situation reminds me a bit of Alan Branch a few years ago- a top 10 talent who slid all the way to the early 2nd round for character concerns. Its slightly possible Fairley could fall as far as #25 and if he does I’d be shocked if Seattle passed on him. Another player who could slip is Robert Quinn, who didn’t play last year and has a very limited pass rush repertoire. If he reaches #25, I think Seattle would be hard-pressed to pass. Last of all, don’t be shocked if Prince Amukamara has a draft day tumble. I’m not sure if Seattle would draft him and I’m not even sure if I’d want them to, but if he’s there at #25, he could receive consideration. Aldon Smith is a more realistic option at #25 than the previous 3, and would also be strongly considered should he make it there. Da’Quan Bowers stock appears to be falling fast. Could he reach the 25th pick? If he does, his limited pass rush skills but outstanding physical talent could make him the ultimate Leo end.
Players to watch for at #57:
Its impossible to give an exhaustive list here since the talent pool really widens this late in the draft. But here are a few guys I’ve got my eye on that I think could be considered. No inside source or anything, just some educated guesses.
Jurrell Casey, DT, USC. If you read some of Dave Razzano’s stuff in the Locker/Favre article, you might have seen that he’s a huge fan of Casey. Casey had a very productive season in 2009 but fell off in 2010. Close observers attribute this decline to an increase in double teams (Casey is a 6’1″, 300 lbs. 3-tech DT). Obviously, there is the Carroll connection and Casey’s best season was Carroll’s last season at USC.
Drake Nevis, DT, LSU. Very similar in size, build, and production to Casey.
Colin Kaepernick, QB, Nevada. If Seattle does not take a quarterback with its first pick, then they will be closely monitoring Kaepernick’s status. Personally, I don’t think there is a snowball’s chance in hell that Kaepernick lasts this long, but if he does, you can expect that John Schneider will race his card to the podium (assuming he didn’t draft a quarterback at #25).
Andy Dalton, QB, TCU. The Andy Dalton hype is out of control, but I have to admit I have a skulking suspicion that unlike last year with Colt McCoy there could be some fire to Dalton’s smoke. I haven’t fully scouted Dalton yet, but here is what I think: he’s remarkably similar to Charlie Whitehurst, with lesser tools and competition but has more of a “winner” and “leader” label. Just like Whitehurst, Dalton locks on to WR with alarming frequency, which he won’t get away with in an NFL offense against NFL defenses. For that alone, I wouldn’t draft Dalton until the final rounds, but as Whitehurst can attest, locking on to WR doesn’t seem to concern this front office too much, unfortunately. On the plus side, Dalton has sub-elite mobility, a decently strong arm, NFL caliber release/mechanics, and decent enough size, not to mention good intangibles and intelligence. We know that Dalton is Seattle’s #3 QB, but we don’t know if that means they grade him in the 1st, 2nd, or even 4th round. My guess is they see him as a 2nd round guy, and since the total package given up for Whitehurst was very close to the same value as the #57 pick, this could certainly happen.
Jarvis Jenkins, DE/DT, Clemson. A lower cost alternative to Wilkerson or Liuget. He played defensive tackle in college but might be moved to a 5-tech role in the NFL. Quick off the snap and decent at penetrating, but seems to get washed out a little too often. He’s 90% as good as Liuget in my eyes.
Kendrick Ellis, NT, Hampton. A small school player with great bulk and power. Seattle badly needs to upgrade over Colin Cole and unfortunately it seems Phil Taylor is not on their board for some undisclosed reason.
Justin Houston, DE/LB, Georgia. Just a couple months ago, Houston was talked about as a likely first round pick. But his stock has steadily been slipping, and now that he’s one of two players to fail a combine drug test, his stock is in serious trouble. Its completely possible that Houston could reach Seattle’s mid round picks. Still, Houston is a solid talent for the Leo spot and isn’t bad value at #57.
Brooks Reed, DE/LB, Arizona. Its hard to watch Reed play and not be reminded at least a little of Clay Matthews. He probably won’t fall this far, but I’m sure he’d be on the radar if he did.
Jabaal Sheard, DE/LB, Pitt. Like Reed, I think Sheard has an outside shot of reaching #57, and could make some sense for the Seahawks.
Jonathan Baldwin, WR, Pitt. Baldwin is a guy with incredible tools (6’4″, 228, 4.45 forty time, 42″ vert, 10″ hands) but has character concerns and isn’t terribly polished. If there is a Brandon Marshall type prospect in this draft, its Baldwin. A very risky pick but the appeal to this front office is pretty obvious. Also, they could be kicking themselves for passing on (the other) Mike Williams last year who had a very similar profile.
Torrey Smith, WR, Maryland. Smith has very small hands (8.6″), and that could scare off teams for quite some time. That said, he’s 6’1″, and runs a 4.37 forty.
Leonard Hankerson, WR, Miami. Another size/speed guy with massive hands (6’2″, 209, 4.45, 10.6″) who was pretty raw in college. Hankerson has helped his stock with a strong senior bowl.
Greg Little, WR, North Carolina. Identical to size and speed to Jake Locker (6’2.5″, 231, 4.53). He missed last season after accepting gifts and lying about it. He has excellent hands and yard after catch ability, but isn’t that experienced and doesn’t run good routes consistently. A very appealing option as a slot WR with high #2 potential. When I watched him play, I immediately got the feeling that he looks the part of an NFL WR.
Orlando Franklin, G, Miami. Franklin seems like a very solid guard prospect and is likely to be the best guard available at #57. This feels like a reach to me, but its possible it could happen and he probably passes the Tom Cable test for measurables.
Ras-I Dowling, CB, Virginia. Could Dowling last this long? He’s got the size and speed Seattle is looking for (6’1″, 4.40 forty) and would be an excellent pick.
Brandon Harris, CB, Miami. We already know that Seattle has their eye on a different Miami corner later in the draft, which makes me wonder what they think of Harris, who’s the superior prospect. Harris is undersized (5’10, 194 lbs.) by this front office’s standards, but is instinctive and makes plays.
Curtis Brown, CB, Texas. Seattle just drafted Brown’s teammate, Earl Thomas, last year, so I’d expect them to be intimately familiar with Brown. Brown is a bit like Harris in that he doesn’t have elite measurables but has outstanding tape. He’s one of 3 players Mike Mayock “banged the table” for in a recent NFL segment, which is significant because Mayock was very high on many of the same players Seattle was last year. Brown is 6’0″, 185 lbs. and runs a slightly “slow” 4.51 forty. Seattle might also consider Brown’s teammate, Aaron Williams, should they trade down from #25.