It’s still early days but we’ll keep monitoring this list as the season continues. Some names I’ve left out due to Seattle’s current 4-2 record – hopefully the team isn’t going to be picking in the top 10-12 again in 2013. I’m going to do an updated mock draft tomorrow so keep an eye out for that.
Alec Ogletree (LB, Georgia)
Draft range: Physically he’s a top-15 talent but off-field concerns could seriously hamper his stock
Drafting another linebacker early would be considered a bit of a luxury. Yes, the Seahawks will eventually look to upgrade the position currently occupied by Leroy Hill. But this is a unit playing at a high level already without top-end first round investments. Pete Carroll and John Schneider have also managed to find starters in rounds two (Bobby Wagner) and four (K.J. Wright) so a first round pick to replace Hill doesn’t seem like an obvious necessity. It’s still hard to ignore a guy like Alec Ogletree. He’s a former safety who moved to linebacker and it shows on the field – he’s an incredible athlete. Whether it’s running sideline-to-sideline, working in coverage or acting as a pass rusher, it’s hard to find any faults within Ogletree’s game. And it’s that final point – as a pass rusher – that would interest Seattle the most. He has limitless potential in that area and could bring yet another dimension to Seattle’s defense. As good as Wagner and Wright are, Ogletree would add something different – that ability to bring an extra rusher without needing to take Red Bryant out of the game. There are some concerns in the form of multiple suspensions and cases off-field indiscipline. Even so, Seattle has been prepared to take on similar projects and nobody can deny that on the field, Ogletree is a hard-working leader.
Jonathan Banks (CB, Mississippi State)
Draft range: He’s a solid top-25 pick
Right off the bat, he’s an aggressive 6-2 corner who plays great in run support. That alone probably puts him on Seattle’s radar. But a play against Tennessee at the weekend kind of stood out – Banks tackled a running back on a pitch, stripped the ball and pounced on the fumble. It was an exact copy of Brandon Browner’s play against the Panthers in week five. Throw in the fact he has three interceptions this year and comes across as the vocal leader of the defense at Mississippi State, and you can see why he appears to fit the bill. Like Seattle’s two current starting corners, Banks doesn’t have lightning speed in coverage and relies on a physical approach to jab and stunt the receiver at the line. The Seahawks made fine starters out of Sherman and Browner with the same skill set and Banks could make for an exciting trio. The big question is whether he’s capable of playing nickel and bandit packages before eventually replacing Browner opposite Sherman. I’m not totally convinced he’s suited to that role at 6-2/185lbs and any corner drafted in round one in 2013 would probably need to upgrade the teams slot coverage.
Brandon Coleman (WR, Rutgers)
Draft range: He has the talent to be a top-10 selection but Demaryius Thomas – another physically imposing receiver – lasted into the 20’s
The sky’s the limit for this guy. He’s around 6-6 and 220lbs with an ideal frame, downfield speed and he’s a hands catcher. What more could you want from a receiver? Size, speed, hands, route running – no wide out has had this much upside since Calvin Johnson and Coleman could be a superstar in the making. He’s only a redshirt sophomore and may not choose to declare, but if he does he instantly becomes the #1 receiver in next years draft. The Seahawks will have to make a decision on the big contracts of Sidney Rice and Zach Miller in the off-season and it could create an opening for a big-bodied playmaker. Even if Rice sticks, the Seahawks cannot pass up the chance to add this kind of weapon to the offense. If Russell Wilson proves he’s worthy of the starting role for the long term, they have to try and make his life as easy as possible. What better way than drafting a 6-6 receiver that does it all? I’ve not been this excited about a prospect in a long time. Exciting player who could end up being a dominant force at the next level.
Sheldon Richardson (DT, Missouri)
Draft range: Definite top-15 potential
Jason Jones and Alan Branch are both free agents in the off-season and this could open up a need at defensive tackle. Working out exactly what the Seahawks would look for from the position is the hard part. Currently, 6-6/325lbs Branch is starting in what is considered to be the ‘3-technique’ position, but his value comes mainly in run support. Jones acts as a more orthodox 3-tech as a pass rush specialist. They may wish to continue utilising a bigger man at tackle on base defense and this would bring the likes of Jonathan Jenkins, Johnathan Hankins and Sylvester Williams into play. However, if you’re spending a first round pick on a DT who isn’t playing nose tackle, you really want them to add a serious pass rushing threat. Williams and Sheldon Richardson are the two best pass rushing DT’s not named Star Lotulelei. Richardson gave Alabama’s offensive line a work out on Saturday, despite little help from the rest of the Missouri defensive line. He has similar size to Jones but is more of a pure three technique with an exceptionally high motor. The most interesting part about Saturday’s game was the way Richardson had visibly developed a leadership role within the team. He was the heart and soul of everything.
Robert Woods (WR, USC)
Draft range: Second half of the first round – maybe later due to his size
It’s hard to get away from this guy, in the same way it’ll always be hard to get away from Matt Barkley (although if Wilson keeps playing like he did against New England, it’ll soon be ‘Matt who?’). Woods is a former Pete Carroll recruit and could interest his former coach if the Seahawks do end up targeting a receiver next April. The issue with Woods will always be size – he’s just over 6-0 and around 190lbs. Despite showing a lot of playmaking qualities at USC, he’s not going to be great against press-man and he’s not going to be much of a red-zone threat. What he might be, however, is a slightly more athletic version of Wes Welker. It’s clear the Seahawks have some admiration for the way Bill Belichick has set up New England’s offense and they may target a similar safety valve for Russell Wilson. Doug Baldwin could still prove to be that guy, but considering he’s a former UDFA there’s really nothing to stop the Seahawks having both players on the roster. After all – Pete likes competition. If the Seahawks pick later in round one and if Woods drops, this could be an easy decision. The one thing working against it – Carroll has been tough on his former USC guys in the past and so far has avoided them early in the draft. A.J. Jenkins – a receiver with similar size/skill set to Woods – was drafted 30th overall by San Francisco this year.
Jesse Williams (DT, Alabama)
Draft range: He probably won’t get out of round two and could sneak into the late first
Let’s consider the possibility that Seattle is picking quite late in the first. It’s not a totally ridiculous suggestion after a 4-2 start including victories over Dallas, Green Bay and New England. Most of the top positional players will be off the board and the Seahawks would be left looking for value within players that fit mentally and physically into Pete Carroll’s vision. Jesse Williams could force his way into the bottom end of the first round with the 2013 defensive tackle class being among the strongest we’ve seen in years. Star Lotulelei, Sylvester Williams, Sheldon Richardson, Jonathan Jenkins, Johnathan Hankins and Kawann Short are all prospective top-25 picks – and if they go early it’ll open the door for players like Williams depending on team needs later in the first. This is the second year Williams has anchored the Alabama defensive line with his forte being run defense. He’d fit into the Alan Branch role perfectly as a 6-3, 320lbs partner to Brandon Mebane. Williams is a disruptive player who frequently gets into the backfield even if the stats don’t show evidence of this. He plays like a former Australian rugby player (if you know rugby, you’ll understand) and fits into the character of this defense perfectly. Oh yeah, he also acts as a full back in the red zone.
Cordarrelle Patterson (WR, Tennessee)
Draft range: Anywhere from the top-15 to the second or third round
I’m struggling to picture Cordarrelle Patterson ever developing into a consistent #1 target in the NFL. He’s going to be a cheap-points scorer, a guy capable of making highlight-reel plays any time he has the ball. He’ll also make mental mistakes and have patches where he’s completely ineffective. Is he a true difference maker, can you rely on him? So far this year we’ve seen 100 yard kick off returns, big runs of 70-80 yards on reverse plays and downfield catching on deep throws from Tyler Bray. Nobody gets close to Patterson’s pure playmaking quality – he’s an X-Factor type player. The Seahawks might find use for a home-run hitter like this, they don’t have anyone like Patterson currently on the roster. If they want to run the ball a lot and strike with big plays in the passing game, having a guy like Patterson who can make it happen would be considered a major positive. But it would be a major gamble. How badly does he want to succeed? Is he willing to do what it takes to max out his potential, or is he happy to flirt with brilliance with the occasional big play? He has top-15 physical skills but he could just as easily go in round three. Former JUCO transfer who replaced Da’Rick Rogers in the Tennessee offense.
Dee Milliner (CB, Alabama)
Draft range: Legit top-10 pick
This is a little optimistic and part of me wants to add Chance Warmack to this list if we’re including Milliner. He’s a complete cornerback and deserves to go in the same range as Patrick Peterson and Morris Claiborne. Some people disagree with that and that’s why he’s part of this list. Scouts Inc only ranks Milliner as their 17th overall prospect at the moment. If Milliner does make it into the teens, then Seattle has to be an option. He’s terrific in run support, can cover as well as any cornerback in college football and flashes elite recovery speed. He’s also a ball hawking playmaker who will force his fair share of turnovers. The Seahawks have experienced some problems covering slot receivers like Danny Amendola and Wes Welker, a role Milliner would thrive on in the first year or two of his career. He also has the range and physical qualities to react to the run and almost act as a third safety. There are only two cornerbacks with obvious first round grades at the moment, and both fit into Seattle’s scheme pretty well. You have to ask though – if this front office can find starters in rounds four (Kam Chancellor), five (Richard Sherman) and in the Canadian Football League (Brandon Browner), will they really spend a first round pick on a third corner? They probably would for the right player and Milliner is a perennial Pro Bowler in the making.
Other possibilities: Matt Elam (S, Florida), Levine Toilolo (TE, Stanford), Zach Ertz (TE, Stanford), Kenny Vaccaro (S, Texas), Keenan Allen (WR, California), Dallas Thomas (T/G, Tennessee)