It’s still way too early to get an angle on draft needs, but every week we’ll consider the teams performance and how it could relate to needs in the off-season.
Perhaps the biggest plus point of last night was the pass rush. It was enough of a concern last year for the team to go out and invest in Cliff Avril and Michael Bennett. Both players stepped up to the plate in a big way against the 49ers.
We’ll see in upcoming games at Houston and Indianapolis whether the success of last night can be emulated on the road. Seattle’s defense has occasionally been accused of being a ‘home’ unit. While nobody can dispute the talent of the secondary, creating pressure on the road has been an issue.
But Avril and Bennett’s display, coupled with the upcoming return of Chris Clemons and Bruce Irvin, offers cause for optimism. I still believe a classic interior pass rusher is required. We’ll see what happens there. Clinton McDonald showed again last night why he’s pretty underrated and we’re yet to see anything from Jordan Hill. When you see a run/pass combo performance like last night, this becomes less of an issue.
It is worth noting, though, that Bennett is playing on a one year contract with major incentives. If he performs well in 2013 it’s going to be mightily difficult to keep him. We’ve talked about Florida defensive lineman Dominique Easley. For me he fits the role of that hybrid pass rusher.
What about the offense?
In pre-season Stephen Williams made big plays downfield and appeared set for a role in Seattle’s game plan to start the year. In two games so far he has the grand total (I think) of one target. A downfield shot against Carolina that he dropped.
That’s not to say he can’t be more productive down the line. I’m not writing him off. But his absence so far has been a little surprising.
When discussing Williams over the summer, Pete Carroll talked about how much he likes bigger receivers who can make plays. Until Williams proves he can be that man, it’s something Seattle lacks. They don’t have a possession receiver who can high point the ball and stretch the field for big gains.
It’s unclear how long the likes of Sidney Rice will be with the team. His cap hit next year is $9.7m and it’s $10.2m in 2015. The Seahawks were ruthless in cutting Michael Robinson and might repeat the act in twelve months. Earl Thomas and Richard Sherman will likely receive contract extensions in the off-season. They need to save money somewhere.
Rice is the nearest thing Seattle has to a possession receiver — and he is talented. But is he worth $10m? That’s the sticking point.
Take him out of the equation and it leaves a big hole. Add in the fact Golden Tate is a free agent in 2014 and suddenly the receiver group could be down to Percy Harvin, Doug Baldwin, Jermaine Kearse and Stephen Williams.
Evidently, there’s room for another guy.
This for me could be Seattle’s biggest need going into the draft, particularly if they want to keep developing the offense.
One of the other things to remember is the time it takes for most receivers to adapt to the NFL. The likes of A.J. Green and Julio Jones are not common. And there’s nobody like that eligible for 2014, let alone in the latter part of the first round.
So while it could develop into a big need come draft time, it could also be the kind of position where Seattle continues to look for the diamond in the rough away from the pressures of first round expectation.
The way Brandon Coleman has started the year for Rutgers, he might make a nice project in rounds 2-3. He’s not looking like a first round pick at the moment. The one guy who has really stood out to me so far is Texas A&M’s Mike Evans.
Another tight end is also vital. Luke Willson, like Stephen Williams, has struggled to build on pre-season momentum. Zach Miller is a reliable veteran but isn’t an explosive player. He too is a possible cap casualty.
One prospect we’ve focused on so far is Oregon’s Colt Lyerla. However, I’m starting to wonder what’s going on with him. This article from ESPN is bizarre, with Lyerla calling out his coach after missing the recent victory over Tennessee.
Something isn’t right here, and it’s not the first time Lyerla has courted controversy.
Not only is he not taking on a more productive role within Oregon’s superb offense, he’s making more headlines for the wrong reasons.
Once again it might be a slow draft at the top end for tight ends. Austin Seferian-Jenkins looks to be the best prospect for now, but he too carries questions over his speed and character. Would he be enough of a difference making athlete for a team like Seattle? I’m not sure.
Tony Pauline says Texas Tech’s Jace Amaro is the talk of scouting circles. You can see his tape vs TCU at the top of this article.
Many fans will focus on the offensive line. For me, this is a unit that needs to be kept together. I can live without big names at every position. I think we saw last night how tight they are as a group — they managed without Russell Okung and Seattle ran all over San Francisco’s much vaunted line.
Breno Giacomini and Paul McQuistan are free agents but the emergence of Alvin Bailey and Michael Bowie is encouraging, as is Tom Cable’s ability to coach up UDFA’s and late round picks.
It is set up to be another monster year for offensive tackles. The top 10-15 picks could be dominated by left tackles if they all declare.
Jake Matthews, Taylor Lewan, Cyrus Kouandjio and Zack Martin are all first round prospects. Antonio Richardson and James Hurst — plus one or two others — could also come into contention.
The sheer depth of Seattle’s team plus the need to cost cut in certain areas (Giacomini and McQuistan are both decent earners this year) makes tackle a possibility. If they’re picking in the final frame of round one, however, a lot of these guys will be long gone.