Tony Pauline had an interesting blog post today at DraftInsider.net, discussing Seattle’s possible draft plans on April 26th:
“What will the Seattle Seahawks do? Separate sources told me today the team hopes to move out of the 12th slot and trade into the later portion of round one, where they will then draft linebacker Donta Hightower. If they can’t move the pick they are seriously considering Hightower’s teammate, safety Mark Barron, at that slot and Kam Chancellor would then move to outside linebacker.”
Pauline’s sources are worth noting, especially when it comes to teams in the NFC. His Dallas sources have proven impeccable in recent years. On this one however, I’m not so sure.
Pete Carroll loves safety’s, which is pretty understandable given he played the position in college at Pacific. Carroll made an upgrade at the position one of his top draft priorities in 2010, alongside a new left tackle. Initially, they’d hoped Eric Berry would be available at #6 and Trent Williams would be there at #14. As the process played out, it became clear neither would be available – Williams in particular enjoyed a late surge into the top-five picks. The desire to go OT/FS remained though, evident by the decision to draft Russell Okung and Earl Thomas.
Seattle’s defense puts a lot of emphasis on winning the battle at the LOS, while having a secondary capable of capitalising on turnover opportunities. The safety position has taken a prime role, so the team’s desire to go big on the position shouldn’t be a shock. An alleged interest in Barron equally shouldn’t be surprising.
However… here’s the thing. Kam Chancellor is a pro-bowl safety. He’s the player the Seahawks sent to model the team’s new uniform in New York. He’s one of the big success stories of the Carroll/Schneider era to date. So why would you move him to linebacker? Sure, in the process of the 2010 draft he was considered a possible linebacker project. It’s not a completely ridiculous suggestion. Even so, what if the switch doesn’t work? If he didn’t adapt to the linebacker position, fans and pundits alike would be right to ask, “what was the point?”
Filling a hole at linebacker and making a success of Kam Chancellor would become secondary factors behind the desire to draft Mark Barron. I like Barron, he had a tremendous 2011 season and made a lot of necessary improvements. He’s rangy, he’ll make plays and he’s easily the best safety in this class. But is he that good that you just can’t pass at #12?
It’d be a huge gamble, without much tangible gain. If Barron or Chancellor fail, the move would be ridiculed. Both would have to succeed – and noticeably – for it to be considered a success. Would it be a satisfactory way to address the needs at the linebacker position? And are two first round picks on the safety position really necessary? If the Seahawks did draft Barron, that would be two first round picks on offensive tackles and two on safety’s. When exactly would it be time to concentrate on other key areas like the pass rush, receiver or you know… maybe a quarterback?
For all of the reasons listed above, I just find this information too far fetched. And if you’re doubting the second part about Barron, can you truly believe the bit about trading down for Dont’a Hightower? It wouldn’t shock me if the Seahawks did like Hightower – he’s a tough, physical linebacker with a good field IQ and he’ll be a solid pick for someone in round one. If a deal can be manufactured which enables the Seahawks to move down and possibly acquire draft stock for 2013, I could see it. You’d be looking at a bold trade though, one similar to the deal that allowed Atlanta to move up twenty places last year to claim Julio Jones. Would a team in the 30-35 range make such an offer? It seems pretty unlikely.
And I keep coming back to one particular area of the defense – the pass rush. The number one priority for this draft. If you want to draft a linebacker this year, there are going to be (good) options beyond round one. If you want to draft a pass rusher, the options are far weaker beyond the first. There are situations where maybe the team’s preferred options leave the board before the #12 pick, forcing them to look elsewhere. But only in that scenario can I envisage a situation where they look beyond the pass rushers in this class.
I’ve included game tape videos below of Mark Barron and Dont’a Hightower: