The Seahawks made a very solid pick last night that absolutely warranted the #25 overall selection. The only problem is, the Seattle Seahawks themselves didn’t warrant picking that deep in round one.
When I mocked James Carpenter to Philadelphia at #23 it was with an absolute appreciation for his talents. I spent a whole draft season arguing that you didn’t need to draft a Gabe Carimi in round one because a more talented player like Carpenter would be available later on. He was a potential sleeper that caught the eye for Alabama – raw, but with potential to be a starting tackle in the NFL.
His stock seemingly improved during the Senior Bowl when many others started touting a rise as high as round two. It was enough in the end for me to feel confident putting him in the first round – he is better than Carimi and Anthony Castonzo, he’s been blocking for a structured run offense in the SEC that created plenty of opportunities for Mark Ingram and Trent Richardson. He kept Greg McElroy clean at left tackle. This is the kind of player you expect to go 25th overall. A player you plug in at right tackle on a team already with the key components, and a guy you will have no issues filling in on the left if needs be.
Yet the team picking at #25 is supposed to be a contender, a franchise fresh off a 10-win season looking to add to their core – and that is not the Seattle Seahawks. I can’t criticise the pick as a strong admirer of the player, but I do believe they just need more to keep up the momentum of this rebuild.
The Detroit Lions took a succession of poor seasons, including a 0-16 record, and are rebuilding with an identity for the long haul. On offense they have Matt Stafford throwing to Calvin Johnson, with Jahvid Best and Brandon Pettigrew offering first round talent at positions of production. Now they are building their defense around the major interior force of Ndamukong Suh and Nick Fairley.
St. Louis equally are going through a lasting rebuild with high picks, which has carried a strong element of pain along the way. The reward is a much improved defense and pass rush from last year and the further addition of a potential top-1o talent at defensive end. They have an improving offensive line to support their franchise quarterback.
Maybe the Seahawks need a taste of that misery? Maybe it’s time to accept the situation - that to get great, it’s not going to happen winning divisions at 7-9.
Of course it doesn’t necessarily have to take years of losing to improve, it’s also about capitalising on opportunities. Atlanta made the right move when they picked #3 overall in 2008 by finding their franchise quarterback. They’ve built around the player and created an environment where they’re comfortable spending two first round picks on a receiver. Baltimore turned a significant slump into Joe Flacco and Tampa Bay’s resurgence came after taking the plunge on Josh Freeman.
The common factor is the investment at the quarterback position. The Seahawks, of course, continue now with just Charlie Whitehurst as the only contracted quarterback on their roster. They continue to lack a really excellent pass rusher or cornerback. There isn’t an x-factor type talent on the offense. With all those things taken into consideration and despite my approval of Carpenter’s abilities, I can’t help but think this rebuild will stall until they’re able to address those areas.
The Seahawks needed to invest in a quarterback in 2009 when they were picking in the top five. Now, two years later, that need remains and faces the prospect of dragging into 2012. That is too long. Pete Carroll and John Schneider have talked about adding to the ‘core’ but let’s be honest, it’s not all that substantial.
There’s a very strong possibility the Seahawks will trade for Carson Palmer. If teams are allowed to trade players today and tomorrow, it could even happen this weekend. Let’s just assume that doesn’t happen for a moment, almost certainly meaning the team re-signs Matt Hasselbeck.
What do you make of the situation?
In terms of continued improvement and progression, how much can Carpenter really provide the 2010 version of this franchise? If free agency takes on the 2010 rules, it’ll be incredibly difficult to add talent due to the elite-8 rule which prevents the divisional playoff teams from adding players without losing their own.
Last year the Seahawks were able to add top-15 talents at two key positions. Is right tackle a key position when you don’t have the quarterback, the pass rusher or the big time playmaker? They were able to make numerous free agent moves and adjustments twelve months ago. That may not be possible in 2011.
I think the Seahawks need more top-15 picks. They need to be in position to add the Patrick Peterson or the Robert Quinn, to have their shot at the quarterback like Tennessee and Jacksonville. The only problem is, you have to be largely unsuccessful to achieve that ‘status’ for want of a better word.
Picking James Carpenter at #25 is the right kind of value late in round one, it may just not be the right kind of value for a 7-9 Seattle. Saying they’re a victim of their own success (such as it is) may be a little strong, but that’s the lasting impression I have from yesterday’s pick. Good value, good player and doing the right thing at #25 to make the best of the situation. Ideally they would’ve been picking earlier because the 7-9 record represents the quality of this roster. They may need to pick earlier again in the future to become a regular contender, add key individuals and accept the pain that comes with it.
The Seahawks were unable to trade down in the first round, meaning they will own one pick today during rounds two and three – the #57 overall selection. So what are the options?
Having very much stuck to their board at #25 and resisted falling talents such as Da’Quan Bowers and Jimmy Smith, I expect a very similar situation in round two. They like Colin Kaepernick, but clearly felt there were better options in round one. Will he be available at #57? It remains to be seen in a draft that has created major shocks at quarterback. Minnesota reached for Christian Ponder, Tennessee denied Washington the opportunity to draft Jake Locker and Ryan Mallett fell out of round one completely as my source predicted yesterday.
Cincinnati have to be in play at the position, I’d go as far to say it’s a certainty that the #35 pick will be spent on a quarterback. Washington at #41 and Oakland at #48 are the other teams to watch and I understand that the Raiders pick may be the area where Ryan Mallett is salvaged. If you are hoping the Seahawks take a quarterback, keep an eye on Kaepernick in these spots.
There is depth on the defensive line still available. I think the Seahawks would consider Stephen Paea if he fell in round two and possibly Marvin Austin as well. Jarvis Jenkins is a possibility, as is Terrell McClain. How far will Justin Houston and Christian Ballard fall after failed drug tests? Having dropped out of round one completely, what now for Da’Quan Bowers? Jabaal Sheard and Brooks Reed remain as LEO options. Pete Carroll knows all about Jurrell Casey.
I struggle to look past the defensive line and quarterback positions, because that appears to have been the thought process all along. Seattle’s plan, as mentioned yesterday, was offensive line, defensive line and quarterback in that order if they couldn’t move down in round one. I’m not convinced too much changes approaching the #57 pick.