Here’s what I considered for Seattle when putting this final mock draft together:
— I believe, first and foremost, they’d love to come away with a starting right tackle. As John Schneider often mentions, they grade for the team and not the league. When he looks at Seattle’s depth chart and sees Michael Bowie as the only realistic starter — I suspect he feels that’s an area they can make an upgrade. No disrespect to Bowie — but he is what he is. I’m not convinced they’d have faith in him to work the blindside if Russell Okung suffers another injury. They can’t have another situation where a player like Paul McQuistan plays multiple games at left tackle. The guy on the right side needs to be able to move across. I’m not sure Bowie is that man.
— Is there a situation where tackle isn’t the priority? Yes — if one of the top receivers drops to #32. And I include Cody Latimer as part of the top group. Again, it’s about grading for the existing roster. If you have a split end prospect graded very highly, that might provide a greater upgrade than going with the tackle. And if the Seahawks don’t find a right tackle early — you know Tom Cable has a list of later round guys ready and waiting. So while I think a starting RT will be the priority at least initially, it doesn’t mean they won’t go after a tall, athletic receiver who owns the red line. Or even an explosive defensive player depending on how round one falls.
— The Seahawks love size and length at tackle. They drafted hulking James Carpenter in the first round. Bowie has long arms. Okung has long arms. They’re all big guys. I don’t believe they’re philosophy has changed much. For that reason, I’m convinced they’d love the opportunity to draft Ja’Wuan James. He might be something akin to the ideal pick. Solid, immediate starter with 49 college starts to his name and a great attitude. Unfortunately he’s likely to be long gone by #32.
— I haven’t at any point in this process considered a first round pure guard. They rotated the left guard spot last year and started a converted defensive lineman on the right side. Clearly this is an area where the Seahawks don’t place too much value. Tom Cable is an Alex Gibbs disciple. You know, the same Alex Gibbs who used to say he could train a garbage man to play guard in the NFL. They’ll keep finding their guys and plugging them in without the need for big investment here.
— Joel Bitonio doesn’t have 35 inch arms. He has 33 and 7/8 inch arms. Which is the same as Taylor Lewan and better than Jake Matthews. James Carpenter was drafted to play right tackle with 34 inch arms. Breno Giacomini has 32 1/8 inch arms. Bitonio’s length shouldn’t be an issue — and what he lacks in massive size he makes up for with classic technique, grit and rare athleticism. He tested superbly at the combine. I think he’d be an excellent fit for Seattle but in this mock he goes to Carolina at #28.
— So James and Bitonio are off the board. Seven receivers have gone in the first round. Even Dominique Easley has been taken by the Patriots at #29. I think in this situation they would be hammering the phones trying to trade down. I’ve mentioned time and time again that I think it’s unlikely to happen unless the Seahawks are willing to take a cheap deal. In this scenario — I think they probably would take a token gesture trade. Potentially for as little as another 5th round pick or even flipping picks in a round (eg swapping a late 4th for an early 4th). I’ve not included trades in this mock.
— I had to make a pick and it really came down to (again) what I think they’ll consider as the best possible upgrade. And it’s still right tackle. There are two players left on the board who are big, long offensive linemen. Morgan Moses had a hit and miss final season at Virginia. Against Jeremiah Attaochu he dominated. Against Vic Beasley he looked exhausted and uncomfortable. Despite the size, I’m not convinced he’s what they’re looking for.
— I ended up wondering how they will feel about Cyrus Kouandjio’s knee situation. We’ve seen the reports about possible arthritis and the damage limitation campaign to counter it. He also had a lousy combine, but I’ve always felt quite positive about Kouandjio’s college performance. If the Seahawks’ medical staff are comfortable with his health he has the size and length to be considered at #32. It’s a huge ‘if’. Some teams won’t have him on their board. He needs coaching. The thing is — if he clears the medical, the Seahawks have the ideal coach to get him working that right side. He is capable of holding his own in pass protection, he can blow people up in the run game. He can also play left tackle. And he’ll cost no more than $1.25-2.5m until the end of the 2018 season. I like his attitude towards this difficult off-season.
— You might ask, why Kouandjio? Why now? We’ve spent the last few months talking up so many other players. It’s a risky pick that could smack me in the face if the knee problems are legit. I’ll tell you why. I don’t want to be safe. If I put Bitonio, Latimer or Easley at #32 and they’re the pick — does it make any difference? We as a community have talked about these guys. We know who they are. Why does one final mock draft defeat all the coverage we’ve done since August on this draft class? It doesn’t. It shouldn’t. I’d hate to think all the work comes down to this. We don’t need to nail this pick. We’ve covered this thing the best we could. So why not take a shot with a day to go?
We do these projections to start talking points, not to seriously try and predict what will actually happen. And you know what? It’s time for one final talking point. Cyrus Kouandjio. Let’s have it. You’ll find the mock draft below. There are some further notes underneath.
Why are the Cardinals taking Johnny Manziel?
Placing Johnny Football was the toughest part of this mock. I like the guy — I think he’d be a great pick for the Jags at #3 or even the Texans at #1. And yet I think we’re going to see a similar situation to last year where no quarterbacks go in the top ten. I’ve not included trades and it wouldn’t shock me if a team moved into the teens or the early 20’s to get Manziel. He’s nothing like a Bruce Arians prototype and I don’t think the Cardinals would take him. But this is the kind of area where I expect him to go. Arizona could move out of this spot and accumulate some extra picks. I had to include Manziel somewhere for the purpose of Huddle Report scoring.
Why a tackle for Cleveland at #4?
There’s a lot of buzz about Mike Evans to Cleveland but I just have this feeling the Browns want to create a dominant, run based attack. That’ll probably mean adding another running back in round two or three (Carlos Hyde?). Putting Jake Matthews at right tackle across from Joe Thomas (and with Alex Mack at center) will enable you to play ball control offense in the AFC North. They already have a top-tier receiver who can be a downfield threat off play action — and Derek Carr has the arm to exploit Josh Gordon’s playmaking ability.
Could more than seven receivers leave the board?
Sure. And there’s a lot of speculation about Allen Robinson, Martavis Bryant, Donte Moncrief, Jordan Matthews and even Bruce Ellington finding a home in round one. The thing is — I think there’s going to be a cutting off point where teams are prepared to wait until rounds two or three. The Seahawks are a good example here. I think there’s every chance they go wide out at #32. But the options at tackle will be limited at #64. Potentially you could have 3-4 enticing receivers available in the second frame. I doubt they’ll be the only team thinking this way.
Picks I’m most confident about…
Aaron Donald and Zack Martin in the top ten, Ryan Shazier going earlier than people think, Kelvin Benjamin going between #12-22, Ja’Wuan James landing in the top-20.
Picks I’m not that confident about…
Manziel falling this far, Eric Ebron going to the Giants at #12, Kyle Fuller going this early, Calvin Pryor sticking in round one, the lack of pass rushers given the depth is poor and teams will reach.
Options at #32 for Seattle at the three key areas
OT: Ja’Wuan James, Joel Bitonio, Cyrus Kouandjio, Morgan Moses
WR: Cody Latimer, Donte Moncrief, Martavis Bryant
DL: Dominique Easley, Marcus Smith, Demarcus Lawrence, Ra’Shede Hageman
Which position would they likely take in R2 if they draft a right tackle at #32?
I had a request from ‘hawkfaninMT’ to name some players I’d most like to leave the draft with. Here’s five players I’d bang the table for… not including likely top ten picks:
1. Ryan Shazier (LB, Ohio State) — incredible athlete, great character. In the right scheme could be a sensational playmaker.
2. Joel Bitonio (T, Nevada) — I like everything about the guy. Tough, gritty, athletic, gets under an opponents skin with great play. The second coming of Logan Mankins.
3. Brent Urban (DT, Virginia) — Won’t be as good as J.J. Watt, but that’s who he reminds you of.
4. Dominique Easley (DT, Florida) — Explosive interior force who would be a top-20 certainty without the injuries. Team captain.
5. Jarvis Landry (WR, LSU) — Not the biggest or the fastest. But he’ll make a play when you need one. The kind of guy you want to go to war with.
6. Cody Latimer (WR, Indiana) — In a few years we might wonder how this guy was (approximately) the seventh receiver off the board.
A reminder that tomorrow we’ll be hosting a Google Hang Out and I’ll be providing live analysis for the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. If you’re at home, watch the Hang Out. If you’re at work, read the analysis. All bases covered throughout the first round. I also want to take this chance to thank everyone who makes this community what it is. It’s not about my views, what we get wrong or right or any of that stuff. It’s about a bunch of Seahawks fans coming together to talk draft every year. And it’s freaking awesome.