Although the Seahawks probably won’t narrow their options to merely five players, this quintet will almost certainly be on their radar on April 26th. Pete Carroll says he wants to improve the team’s pass rush and front seven – and that’s what he’s going to do this year. While many are still pinning their hopes on a big splash up the board to target the top two quarterbacks, there’s every chance a deal just won’t be possible even if the team wanted to make that move. More on that in tomorrow’s updated mock draft, but for now – let’s look at these five realistic options for the Seahawks, including one ‘non-defensive’ wild card. Regular visitors will know my own personal opinion on each of these prospects already, I’m just trying to offer a broader look in today’s piece.
Courtney Upshaw (DE, Alabama)
Perhaps Seattle’s preferred option? We’ve talked a lot about Upshaw in the last week and I maintain he will be extremely high on Seattle’s board. Upshaw shows elite recognition skills and he does a better job than most people think working in space. Despite lacking ideal length, he has a tremendous grasp of leverage and really attacks lineman with great pad level. He can beat you with a violent bull rush, but he’s also capable of keeping blocks away from his frame to dip around the edge and get to the quarterback. Although he gives up some speed and mobility to Melvin Ingram, his all round game is superior and worthy of genuine consideration in the top-12 picks. The Seahawks will be fortunate if he’s available for selection with their pick.
Melvin Ingram (DE, South Carolina)
A better speed rusher than Upshaw, but not quite as technically gifted or as polished against the run. Ingram owns a superb spin-move which he used to great effect at South Carolina and it should help him make plays early in his NFL career. He played running back in High School and it shows – he’s one of the best athletes on the Gamecock’s roster and flashed that potential on a stunning fake punt touchdown run during the season. There are legitimate concerns he’s a bit of a tweener, but with only limited pass-rushing options for the Seahawks this year, expect Ingram to be high on their board. His ability to move inside on passing downs or be used in a three-man front to get extra coverage will be a big bonus. I’m not a huge fan, but he appears to be a viable option.
Quinton Coples (DE, North Carolina)
Melvin Ingram’s new best friend and a complete enigma so far in his career. Coples looked a class above at the Senior Bowl and completely dominated every opponent he came up against. Questions linger about his mediocre senior campaign that threatened to completely derail his draft stock, but the Seahawks have a Head Coach confident enough to take on a challenge like this. A motivated Coples could be one of the best pass rushers in the NFL, without doubt. There are some question marks about his run defense especially given Seattle’s defensive identity and he’d have to replace Red Bryant at end, so it’s a legitimate dilemma. While some teams will strike Coples off their board, it seems that won’t be the case in Seattle.
Zach Brown (LB, North Carolina)
Opinions are mixed on Brown, with some believing he has elite range and can make a quick impact in the NFL while others question his ability to provide any kind of pass rush and ask whether he’s big enough to warrant a top-pick. Aaron Curry proved size and speed are nothing without instinct or range – Brown has both in abundance. Although he’s never likely to be a productive sack artist, he will be a steady sideline-to-sideline tackler who makes enough plays during a season to warrant a first round pick. Although signing a pass rusher will be Seattle’s priority, Brown could come into play depending on how the board falls early. He’s certainly draftable for the Seahawks and could be set for a boost after the combine.
Trent Richardson (RB, Alabama)
Considering Tampa Bay’s recent appointment of Greg Schiano as Head Coach, there seems little chance Richardson will make it past the Buccaneer’s at #5 overall. He may not even get past the Browns at #4 and there’s a couple more teams picking before the Seahawks that would/should show interest in one of the draft’s elite talents. Richardson will be a star at the next level, particularly if he joins a team with an established ground attack like Seattle’s. Marshawn Lynch is likely to be retained – either via a multi-year deal or via the franchise tage – but running backs are always susceptible to short careers. The Seahawks offense is being built around a strong ground game, so getting an elite runner like Richardson could be too good to pass up.
Tomorrow I will be updating my mock draft. I’ll be using the February 1st projection as a basis for comparison post-combine and pre-draft. On Thursday, we’ll break down tape of Kirk Cousins’ performance against Georgia in the Outback Bowl.