The latest projection is now available and can be found by clicking here or selecting ‘Mock Draft’ in the title bar. Last year I used my weekly mock updates to look at different scenarios. Quite obviously, it’s impossible to predict how things are going to shape up this early. The mocks are really designed to encourage debate and look at how prospects are performing. Because I’m putting out mocks a lot earlier this year, I haven’t really had a chance to cover a lot of different possibilities. That will start from now on. I’m keeping it as a top-20 projection for now but will develop the mock into a full first round in November.
Talking point #1 – Buffalo aren’t taking a quarterback? Seriously?
In all honesty, I wasn’t surprised Buffalo took C.J. Spiller in round one last year. Not because I liked Spiller (which I did), but mainly because it was the kind of pick Buffalo have been making for a while now. They don’t do predictable.
They need a quarterback. They need a left tackle. They need more talent on defense. If I was them and had the first overall pick next year – I’d study Andrew Luck and Jake Locker, decide who is most capable of leading the recovery and make the choice. As I mentioned though – this isn’t an easy front office to work out. I still think a QB is very likely and should be the selection. However, we might as well consider the alternatives over the next 4-5 months until the 2011 draft.
If they do decide to pass on a quarterback, Da’Quan Bowers (DE, Clemson) could be the reason why. Buffalo switched to a 4-3 against Baltimore and appear to have given up on Aaron Maybin. Only three teams have less sacks than Buffalo. Bowers is on target for 17 sacks in 2010 and is starting to live up to expectations as a former #1 ranked recruit.
Since 1998 when Peyton Manning was drafted first overall, nine quarterbacks have been taken with the top pick. Only three non-quarterbacks have been taken first overall – two defensive ends (Courtney Brown, Mario Williams) and one offensive lineman (Jake Long). With no left tackle worthy of even top-five consideration, the Bills will almost certainly choose between one of the quarterbacks or a defensive end like Bowers.
Talking point #2 – Where’s Jake Locker?
Since I started my 2010 mock drafts, Jake Locker has been absent only once – following his poor performance against Nebraska. I had him as the #1 overall pick last week – suggesting Buffalo may be wowed by his athletic qualities. However, for every person who thinks Locker should go that high, there are people who aren’t so positive.
I’ve spoken to two scouts from established national draft sites in the last ten days. One felt that Locker’s stock was firmly in the 20-40 range. The other told me that he’d spoken to a NFL scout who said Locker wasn’t even the best senior on Washington’s roster. Could he fall on draft day? I can understand why that could happen. Opinion is mixed on Locker – some point out the lack of overall talent on the Washington team and praise the physical and athletic qualities on show. Others say he just hasn’t progressed from last year, rightly point out the number of times Locker has to get out of the pocket to make plays and point to erratic play and sometimes poor decision making.
Whether he falls or not will depend on the teams needing a QB who own early picks. Would a team like Arizona roll the dice on another QB after the Leinart experiment? Would they not look for perhaps a ‘quicker fix’ to make use of the talent they have now? Would a team like Jacksonville show interest in Locker when they’ve been determined to create a strong defense in recent years – with a big need in the secondary still prevalent?
What free agent quarterbacks will be available – and will we see any big trades (eg Donovan McNabb earlier this year)? Would teams look at a guy like Ryan Mallett who may be around in the second or even third round and fancy taking on that challenge? Will Blaine Gabbert declare? I wouldn’t draft Christian Ponder before round five - but will teams feel differently? It wouldn’t surprise me if Locker did end up falling into that 20-40 range and that’s represented in this latest mock.
Talking point #3 – So what about the Seahawks?
Seattle is 4-2 and leads the NFC West. If the Seahawks win the division they’ll pick no earlier than 21st overall. It’s the first time since 2008 that I haven’t been regularly mocking Seattle in the top-10.
In my opinion, the team’s biggest need is quarterback and it’s not even close. If Matt Hasselbeck makes the Pro-Bowl this year and gets a new contract, nothing changes. If Charlie Whitehurst is sensational in practise or gets an opportunity and does really well – again nothing changes. The simple matter is – whilst there’s no secure planning at the position it’ll always be the biggest need. Hasselbeck remains a short-term fix and Whitehurst is yet to prove he’s a legitimate franchise quarterback.
With all that taken into consideration, I think if you have a quarterback on your board with a first round grade when you’re on the clock – you take them. Let them compete and if they’re not ready to start immediately, you invest in the future. When you’re picking in the 20′s… a bust is a bust. If you like the guy enough to take him at all, you take the chance. In this scenario, obviously you’d have to consider Jake Locker who would be a natural fit for the Seahawks offense.
What about alternatives? Mike Williams is starting to look like a #1 receiver, but I think there’s still room to improve alongside him at the position. Julio Jones (WR, Alabama) is starting to get it. His occasional mental lapses might cost him the opportunity to go higher, but I think he’s a solid option in the 16-32 range as someone with the physical skills and the right attitude.
There would be a number of options on the defensive line. Drake Nevis (DT, LSU) and Nick Fairley (DT, Auburn) both grade in the 16-32 range as well and fit as potential three-techniques in a 4-3 defense. Cameron Heyward (DE, Ohio State) is a bit over rated for me, but is a solid option versus the run and could spell alongside Red Bryant as a more athletic five technique. Von Miller (DE, Texas A&M) and his lack of size worry me and he hasn’t had the same success this year (injuries have played a part). He could, however, be an option off the edge as a specialist pass rusher. Pernell McPhee (DE, Miss. State) and Cameron Jordan (DE, California) could play off the edge, although they might be too big for the specialist LEO role.
Some have spoken about potentially drafting a tackle to book end Russell Okung. I think that’s an area that can be addressed later or via free agency, but if it’s a BPA situation it may be considered if other needs like QB aren’t available. Derrek Sherrod (OT, Miss. State) and Nate Solder (OT, Colorado) are still available, but both would be better suited to the blind side. Gabe Carimi (OT, Wisconsin) would be a better fit on the right side, but I remain unconvinced he’s worthy of a late first round grade.
Let me know your thoughts in the comments section. Do you agree with the mock projection? Could Da’Quan Bowers go first overall? Will Jake Locker fall in round one? Who should the Seahawks target if they do win the NFC West and therefore make the playoffs?
To see the latest Seahawks Draft Blog mock draft click here.