After winning games against Baltimore and St. Louis, Seahawks fans have been debating whether they’d need to trade up to draft a quarterback of the future. The consensus appears to be that the top quarterbacks will be off the board if Seattle is picking in the 10-15 range. Last April’s draft provides two key examples why that may or may not be true.
Jake Locker wasn’t guaranteed a place in the top ten picks. A lot of people gave him a round two grade and I suspect opinion differed wildly within NFL front offices around the league. However, I always believed Locker would be seen as an ideal fit for Mike Shanahan and the offensive system he wanted to implement in Washington. I assumed that Locker would be available when the Redskins picked at #10 and made that projection in pretty much every mock draft I compiled. Locker working for Shanahan seemed like the ideal match. Draft day came around and Tennessee claimed Locker at #8, right under Washington’s nose.
That was a big surprise. Not just because Locker was considered a reach by many, but also because Blaine Gabbert – who was expected to be taken early – was still on the board. Still, what a consolation for Washington right? Wrong. Despite a huge quarterback need, the Redskins traded out of the top ten with Jacksonville, quite the statement on how they graded Gabbert. The trade from #15 to #10 by the Jaguars wasn’t too expensive, mainly because Washington was actively searching to move down. Would Shanahan have drafted Locker? Almost certainly in my view.
The Seahawks may well end up owning the #15 pick next April, like Jacksonville. There are two points I’m trying to make here:
#1 – Just because a team has a quarterback need, it doesn’t mean they’ll necessarily draft the next best quarterback on the board. It could be a scheme issue, it could be a bad review or even a nagging injury doubt. It could be a personality clash. A player who fits at one team won’t necessarily fit at another, as we saw with Jacksonville, Washington and Blaine Gabbert.
#2 – If trading up is unavoidable, it won’t necessarily cost the earth to make a deal. The Gabbert deal cost Jacksonville a second round pick. While losing a relatively high second rounder isn’t ideal for a team continuing a long term rebuild, it’s also a worthwhile gamble to try and solve a need at quarterback. The New York Jets made a similar move to acquire Mark Sanchez, so if the Seahawks look to make a deal next April there’s every chance it won’t be a blockbuster trade.
In my updated mock to be published tomorrow, I’m going to look at this situation closely. Coaches view players differently – I understand the Seahawks had Gabbert ranked #1 on their board of quarterbacks this year, but Jake Locker was only at #6 behind players like Colin Kaepernick and Andy Dalton. Washington clearly had a different view on Gabbert, but probably felt more positive about Locker. If the two teams are competing for quarterbacks in the off-season, it’s quite possible they’ll be targeting completely different players. When you also factor in how refined Mike Holmgren’s gradings are for quarterbacks and the unknown future in Miami, it could be that the Seahawks face little competition for ‘their‘ guy.
Some would argue that’s wishful thinking, but it could be reality. The Seahawks might not actually have to do anything to draft the quarterback they want to lead this team, because the teams involved could be looking at different players, maybe even in different rounds. It’s not beyond the realms of possibility some teams will use Cincinnati as a role model, drafting an offensive playmaker or lineman in round one and looking at second tier quarterbacks later. Perhaps that’s the approach Seattle will take?