The Seahawks will be extremely unlucky if it plays out like this.
But it isn’t impossible — and it might not even be that unlikely.
As everyone keeps saying this is a deep draft class (as you’d expect when 98 underclassmen decide to turn pro). Yet there isn’t an endless pool of talent. The depth on the defensive line is particularly weak. Anyone wanting an impact pass rusher better get in there quickly.
All of the talk at the moment is about the quarterbacks falling like they did last year. There’s only one tight end likely to go early while nobody expects a running back to be taken in the first frame.
We could see teams being quite aggressive to:
a.) fill needs
b.) tap into the top echelon of prospects
Here’s what I’d consider to be a ‘worst case scenario’ projection as far as the Seahawks are concerned:
There’s a lot of potential Seahawks gone by #32. A heck of a lot.
— Teams picking in the top ten haven’t gone after the quarterbacks. All of the media reports in the last two weeks have been about teams waiting to draft a QB. If this is more than a smokescreen (and only one QB was drafted in round one last year) this isn’t good news for any team that already has a franchise quarterback. Ideally you’d see the likes of Houston, Jacksonville, Cleveland and Minnesota grabbing QB’s early, pushing players at other positions down the board. The first QB taken in this projection is Blake Bortles at #20 — and even that assumes the Cardinals are prepared to draft Carson Palmer’s eventual replacement in round one.
— When projecting 7-8 receivers to be drafted in the first round, it’s not because of need. It’s all about quality. They are just better than players at other positions. I could be wrong, but I think teams will be falling over themselves to get a receiver from this class. Marqise Lee and Odell Beckham Jr could easily go in the top-12. The two teams taking them here — Tampa Bay and Tennessee — get impact players with a ton of upside. If we see four receivers going as early as this, don’t be shocked when Kelvin Benjamin, Cody Latimer and Brandin Cooks also go in the 12-23 range. These players are too good to fall into round two.
— It’s a really poor draft for pass rushers. I’m not seeing what a lot of people see in Timmy Jernigan, Dee Ford and Kony Ealy. I think there’s a really good chance all three players are available in rounds two or three. So who’s the next best edge rusher after Anthony Barr (who leaves the board at #10 here)? It could be Demarcus Lawrence or Marcus Smith. Dallas is in desperate need of further additions to its defensive line. They might have consider reaching to get another pass rusher. If they don’t take one at #16 they could miss out altogether. And a historically bad defense in 2013 could get even worse. If the likes of Barr, Lawrence and Smith are gone by #32 I think it makes it incredibly unlikely the Seahawks will draft an edge rusher in round one.
— Offensive tackle remains a premium position and every year teams go after the top prospects very early. In this projection there’s a consistent flow of tackles leaving the board. Three go in the top ten (Robinson, Matthews and Lewan), three more go between 11-20 (Martin, Moses and Kouandjio) and Joel Bitonio is taken by the Panthers at #28. All of the teams are filling needs.
How likely is this?
This is an extremely negative projection for the purpose of the article and it’d be a pretty remarkable hand to be dealt. I wouldn’t necessarily expect it to play out like this. Even if it does, there are still attractive alternative options.
I think it’s very possible that a high number of offensive tackles will be gone before #32. Last year nine offensive linemen were taken in round one — I’ve only named seven here. There are enough teams in the market for a tackle and the Seahawks could run out of first round options. Even clubs like Baltimore and Miami who made free agent splashes at left tackle will consider further investment on the right side.
I’ve felt for a while that Seattle’s best chance at drafting an offensive lineman in round one will be if teams undervalue Joel Bitonio.
The cause for a receiver will be aided if Marqise Lee and Odell Beckham Jr don’t go as early as the top-12. They’re both top prospects so it could happen. But I could also see both lasting into the teens.
I suspect a player like Cody Latimer will have a great deal of appeal to the Seahawks given his combination of explosive athleticism, strong hands, size, ability to compete for the ball in the air and run blocking. I actually think it’ll be a surprise if he lasts until the #32. In fact I’d say Kelvin Benjamin, Brandin Cooks and Donte Moncrief are more likely to be available later in round one.
It might be a stretch for all four of Benjamin, Cooks, Moncrief and Latimer to be gone by #32. And yet all four are good enough for it to happen.
One thing I’m not sure about is the likelihood of there being no attractive defensive options if the OT’s and WR’s go early. Whether it’s a Ryan Shazier or a Ra’Shede Hageman, I think there’s every chance an appealing prospect could be left at #32. Even a Demarcus Lawrence or Marcus Smith would carry some value.
Part of the motivation for this piece was Mel Kiper’s mock earlier in the week. Many good options for Seattle were off the board by #32 according to Kiper’s projection. Yet it’s worth noting his ESPN colleague Todd McShay had both Anthony Barr and Shazier available for Seattle.
If the first round falls like this, who do they take?
Several big names dropped. They just don’t really fit the Seahawks.
C.J. Mosley is a talented linebacker but he’s far from an explosive athlete. Lingering concerns about his health could see a fall into round two and he just doesn’t seem like the type of player Seattle would draft in round one.
Justin Gilbert is still on the board and he has the length, speed and production (interceptions) that screams ‘Seahawks’. And yet his tape doesn’t match up. He was nearly benched last year and with good reason. There are one or two attitude concerns. Given Seattle’s prolific ability to find cornerbacks later in the draft, I’m not sure they’d be willing to take a chance on Gilbert in round one. After all, they passed on Jimmy Smith in 2011 (a vastly superior player in my eyes).
Calvin Pryor is still there — a decent safety who’s perhaps not quite as good as the national pundits have suggested. He’s a hard hitter but doesn’t have great range. He ran a mediocre 4.58 at the combine at 5-11, 207lbs. I can’t see the Seahawks drafting a safety this early anyway.
There are still receivers who could make sense. Martavis Bryant and Brandon Coleman are wildcard options. Stephon Tuitt is there. As we’ve discussed this week — would they consider Dominique Easley? A legit top-25 pick (maybe even top-15) with injury history?
I don’t think they’ll take a pure guard in round one despite it being a trendy pick with the national pundits. J.R. Sweezy is locked in at right guard while I think they’re comfortable using a rotation on the left side and letting Tom Cable fit guys into his scheme.
And yes — several big name quarterbacks are still on the board. I wouldn’t rule anything out so I can’t say with any certainty that a trade down won’t happen. The odds are against it though.
For starters, since they made day one of the draft exclusively the first round — no Super Bowl winners have traded out of the first. I’m not convinced that’s a coincidence.
Most teams looking to trade back into the first round don’t wait until the final pick of the day. They’ll often make their move in the 20’s. New England at #29 are always willing to deal, while there are other potential candidates (San Diego at #25, New Orleans at #27).
The 5th year option on a contract for first round prospects is incredibly valuable — especially to a team like Seattle that is preparing to spend big on Earl Thomas, Russell Wilson and Richard Sherman. Any trade offer would have to be worth the deal. Moving down 5-6 spots for a 5th rounder just isn’t that appealing. I think the Seahawks are more likely to deal the final selection in round two to try and accumulate more picks.
Every year we talk about teams moving back into the first round for a quarterback and let’s be right — it rarely happens. It doesn’t mean it won’t happen this year, but haven’t we been here before?
Presuming the Seahawks keep the #32 pick, who would you take in this scenario?