Tony Pauline is reporting that most team’s have given approximately fifteen players first round grades this year. It’s not a huge surprise. While it’s true that there’s a deep, wide ranging talent pool that stretches as far as the early third round, it’s a class that lacks sure-fire first round talent. Players going in the 40-55 range will compare favourably with those going in the 20’s. And that means anything could happen.
By acknowledging this we start to get an even better understanding as to why Seattle traded for Percy Harvin. Let’s say the Seahawks are one of those teams with about 15 ‘first round’ players on their board. What are you actually going to get at #25? The answer is, nobody even close to the level of Harvin’s talent. The fans in the PNW should appreciate that they have a front office with the kind of vision to see that and the cojones to make the move. Frankly, I couldn’t care less whether the Harvin trade works out. The odds are stacked in Seattle’s favour here and they were right to take a shot. So while Vikings fans get to contemplate the possibility of adding a guy like Manti Te’o with that extra pick, the Seahawks get one of the most dynamic players in the NFL. It was win-win for all concerned.
Hardly anybody is going to feel satisfied with their draft position this year. I suspect nearly every team in the first round will be looking to move up or down, targeting specific needs and hunting for value. That’s obviously the case every year, but it could be even more extreme in 2013. And that could lead to cheap trades galore.
I wouldn’t be surprised if, like last year, we get up towards 10-12 trades on day one. Little moves where a team is happy to drop for the price of an additional fourth or fifth rounder. The new CBA encourages movement in the draft, but a deep class lacking elite talent will make it even more entertaining. We might see several minor deals (eg — Cleveland and Minnesota flipping spots a year ago) as teams jostle around. The best chance of a blockbuster trade could be if Darrelle Revis gets moved. I suspect as the board unfolds he’ll start to look like a more attractive proposition. A team like Tampa Bay with a ton of cap room could essentially move from #13 into the 20’s, taking whatever deal they can get, then send the pick to New York for Revis.
We could also see a lot of ‘surprise’ picks, at least based on what the media has reported thus far. All those players who’ve been knocked since the end of the college football season could suddenly emerge as first rounders. Players we talked about during September to December (Matt Barkley, Arthur Brown, Zach Ertz, Robert Woods) could end up being first round picks. And everyone will act shocked. There’s basically a pool of around 50 players who could theoretically go in round one. Whether it’s scheme, a hunch, athletic dynamism or consistency — we’re going to see teams going beyond conventional wisdom and rankings to take guys they feel comfortable with.
The one position I think we’ll see a rush on is left tackle. That’s not such a bold statement, given it remains a premium position in the league. Really there are three tackles you’d feel comfortable starting on the blind-side in year one — Luke Joeckel, Eric Fisher and Lane Johnson. And then there’s a Grand Canyon of space between the next guy. With teams like Oakland, Arizona and Buffalo all adding ‘stop gap’ quarterbacks this week, they’ve positioned themselves to go after different needs early. They aren’t handcuffed. And that could help keep the left tackles in the top 6-8 picks.
This is the first area we could see genuine movement. San Diego and Miami are on the outside looking in and might feel obliged to make a move into the top five or six to get a left tackle. They’ll need to because suddenly Kansas City, Philadelphia, Detroit, and Arizona all look good bets to draft one of the top three. If Joeckel goes first overall as expected, Fisher and Johnson surely won’t get passed Detroit and Arizona?
The other player who could generate a bit of a spark is Geno Smith. He appears to have emerged as the most desirable quarterback in this class (personally, I still prefer Barkley). Despite the moves by Oakland, Arizona and Buffalo — Matt Flynn, Carson Palmer and Kevin Kolb are not going to answer any long term problems. All three teams need a quarterback for the future. Badly. The question is, have the three new additions this week given them the flexibility to wait?
For example, all three teams could now wait until the early second round. Barkley, Ryan Nassib, E.J. Manuel, Tyler Wilson, Mike Glennon, Tyler Bray, Matt Scott. There are plenty of options there. If nobody bites on Smith in the top ten, how far does he fall?
I’m guessing someone will take Smith in the top ten, but have the three most likely suitors called each others bluffs with their moves this week? Jacksonville probably cringed when they saw the Palmer/Flynn trades. Those two players are more likely to be given the chance to start than Kolb in Buffalo. If you’re the Bills and you want Smith, you might feel less inclined to get ahead of Oakland. I’m guessing the Jaguars were hoping for a bit of a bidding war. Now he might fall to #8 with the Cardinals addressing the offensive line and Oakland adding a much needed pass rusher. I think Buffalo is the most likely fit for Geno Smith.
I reckon Jacksonville is a potential option for Matt Barkley. Gus Bradley will know all about his qualities having spent the last three years with Pete Carroll. He’s a player you can build around, and I suspect Seattle would’ve been hoping to structure around the USC quarterback had they not struck gold on Russell Wilson. If he lasts until the first pick of day two, Barkley could be the pick for Jacksonville. And that would be outstanding value. It’s also the reason why I think someone would look to move into the 20’s to get Barkley if he remains on the board.
What happens at defensive tackle? While it’s a pretty deep class, there aren’t many ‘must have’ players. I think a lot of teams will like Sylvester Williams for example, but will any feel inclined to draft him in round one given he’ll be 25 this year? Is he a true difference maker? I’d argue he’s good, not great. Just like a lot of the DT’s. Really it wouldn’t be a surprise if he went in the top-25 or made it all the way to #56.
Sharrif Floyd, Sheldon Richardson and Star Lotulelei should all be early picks (and are likely to be among the 15 players given first round grades by most teams). After that there’s just a cloud of mystery. Can anyone honestly say they have a good idea where Sly Williams, John Jenkins, Kawann Short, Johnathan Hankins or Jesse Williams will land? They could go anywhere. First. Second. Maybe even third.
Defensive tackle remains a good shout for Seattle in round two, but none of these players are freakishly tall and long. Jenkins is massive, but they’ve looked at guys who are tall and 305-320lbs rather than tall and nearly 350lbs. Kawann Short is a natural three technique, but they don’t seem to be looking for that. In all honesty, despite the need, it wouldn’t shock me if Seattle passed on all of the names listed in the paragraph above and went after a Montori Hughes (6-4, 329lbs) later on. Major character red flags could keep Hughes on the board longer than most expect.
A lot of people don’t think the Seahawks to go linebacker early but I kind of disagree. I don’t think they are handcuffed to amazing speed, although there’s every chance they’ll identify an unknown speedster in the later rounds who just fits into the scheme and works immediately. But I also believe there’s every chance they’ll love what Khaseem Greene brings to the table if he’s there at #56. He’s an impact player. Take that 4.6/4.7 speed an offset it with his mass-production at Rutgers. Not to mention he could be Russell Wilson on defense with his character and heart. He’s a terrific player. His floor might be Tampa Bay at the top of round two (Greg Schiano, Rutgers).
It also wouldn’t shock me if others like Arthur Brown (unlikely to be available) and Sio Moore receive some interest from the Seahawks. I wouldn’t rule out a starting WILL in round two. Why would you rule anything out with this team?
Well, maybe you’d rule out quarterback. John Schneider was part of a front office that drafted Brian Brohm in round two despite having Brett Favre and Aaron Rodgers on their roster. It’s also worth noting at the time that Favre was doing his ‘will he or won’t he retire’ act every year and Rodgers had some convincing to do as the prospective heir apparent. Brohm was probably drafted to compete for a starting role. Any quarterback drafted by Seattle this year won’t be competing to usurp Russell Wilson.
Of course, if a certain player is too good to pass you make the pick and hope to turn it into value down the line. However, it’s very difficult to turn the #56 pick into a first rounder if the player is riding the bench. I think it’s more likely they look at the position from round three onwards. Arizona’s Matt Scott will be worked out by Seattle on Friday. That’s one to keep an eye on.
Johnthan Banks is the type of player that falls due to speed issues and then everyone wonders how that ever happened a few years later. I would love, love, love the opportunity to draft him in round two, even if starting outside corner isn’t the biggest need. This front office has been able to add talent at corner with later round picks, but I don’t think they’d be totally against picking the right guy early. Banks would be a hard pass.
I watched Jarvis Jones’ pro-day work out this weekend. I’m worried for the guy. I had him dropping deep into round two in last week’s mock. That could become a reality.
I’m fascinated by Eddie Lacy’s stock. Again, he’s another player who could go anywhere. Tony Pauline spells it out: “The frustration over Lacy and the fact he’s pushed his workout back to April 11th is beginning to boil over. Scouts are questioning whether Lacy is too injured to run or just too slow.” There’s just something about a Lynch-Lacy backfield that seems so ‘Seattle’. He could fall.
And then there’s the offensive line, which could use further depth although I’m not totally convinced that will be a round two target. There are swing tackles likely to be available in that range (Long? Williams? Armstead? Mills? Thomas?) but I do think it’s more of a later round option. Tom Cable will have identified his guy, just as we saw with J.R. Sweezy last year.
I guarantee after day one of the draft you’ll have about 10-20 players you’ll be excited about taking at #56. That’s the way this draft is. It’ll be unpredictable, exciting. And it won’t matter that round one will slide by without any major Seattle shocks this year.
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