Whatever happens during the rest of this season, the Seahawks have a lot of key positions tied up. Quarterback, running back, left tackle and cornerback – four of the most important positions where the Seahawks have some of the best young talent in the NFL.
There’s also enough depth across the board so that when injuries have occurred this year, the team hasn’t really missed a beat. Sure, there are positions where upgrades are desirable. There aren’t many glaring needs though. When it’s time to start concentrating on the draft, there’s every chance the Seahawks will be able to say they’re going for the ‘best player available’ – and actually mean it.
And the best player available could be a ‘depth’ pick.
The good teams make draft for depth all the time. Pittsburgh has regularly topped up their defense over the years with players who don’t necessarily start straight away. The Ravens likewise always seem to be hunting for value, rather than chasing needs. The New York Giants are another team that for a few years now have been accumulating solid depth.
Sure, you want to get instant production from those early picks. Sometimes it’s not always possible. The good teams always stay one step ahead of the curve.
So what are some of the positions where the Seahawks could be thinking longer term?
The Seahawks don’t have a lot of depth at wide receiver and an injury to Sidney Rice or Golden Tate would hit the team hard. I suspect most fans would rather avoid the position in round one due to the stigma attached to receivers drafted early. However, if the front office wants to make life as easy as possible for Russell Wilson, they’ll need to make sure he has enough legitimate targets to throw to. And if the value is strong at the end of round one – it should be considered a very realistic option. Even if the player in question acts more as a depth/complimentary pick in his first year or two in the league.
Possible depth options: Markus Wheaton (WR, Oregon State), DeAndre Hopkins (WR, Clemson), Zach Ertz (TE, Stanford), Robert Woods (WR, USC)
The old argument says you can never have enough good cornerbacks. That could be increasingly true for Seattle if Richard Sherman loses his PED appeal and has to miss four games at the start of next season. Brandon Browner won’t be an unrestricted free agent until 2015, but he will be 29 next August. Walter Thurmond has shown real promise during his pro-career, but he’s also shown an inability to stay healthy. If there’s real value to be found at cornerback in round one, it’s another area the Seahawks might consider next April. It’s also worth noting just how well Pete Carroll and John Schneider have done finding low-cost talent at corner. So far they haven’t needed to spend an early pick and they might feel confident enough to keep looking for those late-round gems.
Possible depth options: Dee Milliner (CB, Alabama), Jonathan Banks (CB, Mississippi State), Bradley Roby (CB, Ohio State), Xavier Rhodes (CB, Florida State)
Seattle’s offensive line gets a raw deal from a lot of fans, yet Football Outsiders ranks the line 3rd overall for run blocking and 16th overall for pass protection. The Seahawks have given up 24 sacks – and only six teams have fewer this season. Breno Giacomini has become a bit of a scapegoat due to an unacceptable number of penalties, but he’s also done a better job than most people give him credit for. Right tackle has become a thankless task in the NFL and it’s not a position easily filled. Even so, I wouldn’t completely rule out further investment in the offensive line. It might have to be a pretty special player who falls to make it happen, but good teams understand value and don’t look a gift-horse in the mouth.
Possible depth options: Eric Fisher (T, Central Michigan), Taylor Lewan (T, Michigan), Dallas Thomas (G/T, Tennessee), D.J. Fluker (G/T, Alabama)
I’ve listed three examples, I’m sure you could add more. The Seahawks have improved so much in the last three years – perhaps more so than any other team in the league. And they’ll find themselves in a position next April without any desperate needs. I believe upgrading at the three-technique is the greatest overall need. Yet I wouldn’t say an aggressive move is required to fill that hole, particularly if there’s better talent on the board in other areas. It’s an enviable position to be in – one enjoyed by the ‘usual suspects’ picking in the 20’s or 30’s virtually every year. And with Carroll and Schneider’s track record in the draft so far, that could put the Seahawks in an incredibly strong position.