The Seahawks did exactly what they set out to do — improve the pass rush. Pete Carroll made it clear as soon as the 2012 season ended. That was the #1 priority. And while most of us assumed they’d find a solution in the draft, who would’ve guessed they’d find what they were looking for in free agency?
Here we are, days into the new league year, and there are high-profile players seemingly sat at home waiting to make even their first visit. The market is shot. And it’s worked to Seattle’s advantage. Cliff Avril and Michael Bennett were expected to get mega deals, but the offers never came in. So they signed modest contracts with a contender to enhance their earning potential in the future. It’s win-win.
Avril fills the prospective hole left by Chris Clemons while he recovers from an ACL. Bennett almost certainly replaces Jason Jones as a hybrid pass rusher. He’s like Jason Jones+ — he can play the nickel three technique position but he can pretty much line up anywhere. If the Seahawks have a two-score lead in the fourth quarter, why not switch to an orthodox four man front with Bennett and Avril playing the edge? I suspect we’ll see him all over the line. He’s more versatile than Jason Jones but essentially, he fills that void.
Imagine if Clemons makes a recovery and what kind of options will be open to Seattle then? Avril, Bennett, Clemons and Bruce Irvin. Scary.
Danny Kelly at Field Gulls has a great piece on how Dan Quinn might look to use all the weapons at his disposal. This could be a much more attack-minded defensive line going forward. Not so much because there’s going to be any great ideological changes — but with an explosive offense capable of building big leads, Quinn and Carroll will have more opportunities to attack.
The two key need areas remaining are defensive tackle and linebacker. I do think we’ll see further moves in free agency to address at least one of these needs (Alan Branch?). Releasing Ben Obomanu today brought some cap relief, so there’s room for a modest addition at least. I think we’ll see further moves on the way too. What it all means is the Seahawks can pretty much do whatever they want at #56 and I wanted to emphasise that in this week’s mock. I haven’t gone for a prospect who will fill one of the two key needs. I haven’t gone for a player I think they’ll definitely be monitoring. It’s a pick that kind of emphasises that anything could happen now. The roster is good enough to justify any move.
I went for Tennessee’s versatile lineman Dallas Thomas. He’s a player I’m very fond of — athletic, strong and he gave Jadeveon Clowney a run for his money in October (he’s one of the very few who did last season). He’s capable of playing guard or tackle. He has the kind of height Seattle has looked for on the offensive line (6-5) and he has good size (around 310lbs). At #56 I wondered who might be the pure best player available at a position we might not really consider. I came up with five names — Thomas, Tyler Wilson, Robert Woods, Markus Wheaton and Marcus Lattimore.
I’ve debated with several people on here the teams likely satisfaction with the depth and quality of their offensive line. So what better way to express that anything can happen than to pick a guard/tackle in this mock? Thomas is certainly good enough to warrant the choice. Is it likely? Maybe not. But the Seahawks can feel comfortable doing it if they wish.
I wouldn’t rule out any of the other names either. John Schneider worked on a Green Bay front office that drafted Brian Brohm in the late second round despite having Brett Favre and Aaron Rodgers on the roster. If Carroll feels drafting Woods or Wheaton to spell Percy Harvin on kick off’s is the best move, so be it. And if they want to bank Marcus Lattimore for a redshirt year knowing what he’s capable of when healthy, why not?
I’m at the stage now where any player at any position really is on the table. Seattle has the quality and depth to do whatever they want. So sit back and enjoy.
There are several trades in the first round again this week. We know we’ll see moves and given the way free agency has played out, I felt obliged to include some deals again. I will go back to a conventional mock next week. Unless people prefer seeing trades?
Buffalo trades from #8 to #2 with Jacksonville (estimated compensation — 2nd + 2014 second rounder)
The Bills just cut Ryan Fitzpatrick and Tarvaris Jackson is the next man up. Buddy Nix said it during the regular season — it’s time to go and get that quarterback. This front office has taken a first round prospect they’ve had come in for a visit for the last three years. It was revealed this week that Geno Smith will take a trip to Buffalo. The Jags are content to move down in this scenario.
San Diego trades from #11 to #6 with Cleveland (estimated compensation — 2nd round pick)
The Browns don’t have a second round pick so this makes some sense. The Chargers move up to get Eric Fisher. They have to come out of this draft with a left tackle.
Dallas trades from #18 to #14 with Carolina (estimated compensation — 3rd round pick)
Jerry Jones always seems to go after the guy he wants. He might see Jonathan Cooper as the answer to his problems at center. Cooper is good enough to make the switch. Trade up for a center? Again, Cooper is good enough.
Atlanta trades from #30 to #26 with Green Bay (estimated compensation — 4th round pick)
The Falcons, seeing Bjoern Werner fall, make a small move up the board to add a pass rusher that can start immediately.
San Francisco trades from #31 to #24 with Indianapolis (estimated compensation — 4th + 5th round pick)
The 49ers can afford to make a move like this, they have enough picks. They go after Datone Jones here. Indy is happy to move down and target Travis Frederick to play center or guard.
Tampa Bay trades from #43 to #29 with New England (estimated compensation — 3rd + 3rd round pick in 2014)
We saw discount moves at the end of round one in last years draft and we could see the same here. The Pats love a trade down and Tampa Bay moves up to guarantee they get a cornerback. They moved up to get Doug Martin last year and that worked out pretty well.
Arizona trades from #41 to #32 with Baltimore (estimated compensation — 3rd + 3rd round pick in 2014)
The Cardinals move back into the first round to draft a quarterback.
Note — picks involved in a trade can be identified by ** after the player’s name.
There are no trades in round two. This thing is convoluted enough as it is. And in this projection, the Seahawks re-sign Alan Branch.
|#1 Luke Joeckel (T, Texas A&M)
They can pretty much do whatever they want here, but Joeckel probably makes the most sense.
|#2 Geno Smith (QB, West Virginia) **
Jumping above Oakland and fending off interest from Cleveland, the Bills make sure they get their guy.
|#3 Dion Jordan (DE, Oregon)
The Raiders have to start building a core of talent, they have nothing right now. This is a long, painful rebuild.
|#4 Sharrif Floyd (DT, Florida)
He’d make a nice fit in Philly’s new 3-4 scheme as a five-technique.
|#5 Dee Milliner (CB, Alabama)
The complete cornerback prospect and a fine addition for Detroit if he goes here.
|#6 Eric Fisher (T, Central Michigan) **
I don’t think the Chargers will mess around hoping one of Fisher or Lane Johnson falls to #11.
|#7 Lane Johnson (T, Oklahoma)
They decide a tackle is best value here.
|#8 Matt Barkley (QB, USC) **
Gus Bradley spent the last three years with Pete Carroll. So he’ll know Barkley’s worth.
|#9 Chance Warmack (G, Alabama)
Rex Ryan’s future beyond 2013 is unclear, so go back to running the ball. A solid pick with no long term issues if there’s a coaching change.
|#10 Ziggy Ansah (DE, BYU)
Someone’s going to fall in love with his upside.
|#11 Sheldon Richardson (DT, Missouri) **
Ray Horton had Darnell Dockett in Arizona. Meet the second coming.
|#12 Tavon Austin (WR, West Virginia)
In a draft like this, Austin going in the top-12 wouldn’t shock me at all.
|#13 Star Lotulelei (DT, Utah)
Corner is a big need, but Lotulelei could be too good to pass here.
|#14 Jonathan Cooper (G/C, North Carolina) **
Jerry Jones seems to really go after guys he likes. He might consider moving up for Cooper, who could play center for Dallas.
|#15 Jarvis Jones (OLB, Georgia)
Some teams will still be cautious, but if Jones’ back injury really isn’t as serious as feared — he should be a top-15 pick.
|#16 Kenny Vaccaro (S, Texas)
A good fit for player and team.
|#17 Kevin Minter (LB, LSU)
He looks like a Steeler or a Raven in the making.
|#18 Cordarrelle Patterson (WR, Tennessee) **
The Panthers could use some cheap points on offense. This perhaps takes some of the pressure off Cam Newton.
|#19 Barkevious Mingo (DE, LSU)
The Giants appear to be starting again on defense. That could mean going after an athletic pass rusher.
|#20 D.J. Fluker (T, Alabama)
They’d probably like to keep building their offensive line. Fluker could play guard or tackle.
|#21 Alec Ogletree (LB, Georgia)
Someone will take a shot on this guy in round one I think.
|#22 Eddie Lacy (RB, Alabama)
Steven Jackson is off to Atlanta, so they’ll need another big, physical runner to win in the NFC West.
|#23 DeAndre Hopkins (WR, Minnesota)
He just seems like the kind of receiver Minnesota will go for. Consistent, reliable, driven. A nice partner for Greg Jennings.
|#24 Datone Jones (DT, UCLA) **
The 49ers surely don’t think Glenn Dorsey is the answer? They have enough picks to move up and do this.
|#25 Manti Te’o (LB, Notre Dame)
Rick Spielman has already hit on two other Notre Dame players. Will he try and make it a hat-trick?
|#26 Bjoern Werner (DE, Florida State) **
The Falcons move up to get an impact pass rusher.
|#27 Tyler Eifert (TE, Notre Dame)
This is probably a need-meets-value type pick.
|#28 Blidi Wreh-Wilson (CB, Connecticut)
This secondary needs more than just Dominic Rodgers-Cromartie.
|#29 Desmond Trufant (CB, Washington) **
The Buccs move up into the late first for the second year in a row.
|#30 Justin Hunter (WR, Tennessee) **
They move down and grab a pass-catcher. This is a need considering they’ve lost both Greg Jennings and Donald Driver.
|#31 Travis Frederick (G, Wisconsin) **
Maybe Indy’s biggest need?
|#32 E.J. Manuel (QB, Florida State) **
I think this would be ill-advised, but he’s done a lot to help his stock this off-season.
#33 Jacksonville – Corey Lemonier (DE, Auburn)
#34 San Francisco – Jonathan Cyprien (S, Florida International)
#35 Philadelphia – Xavier Rhodes (CB, Florida State)
#36 Detroit – Tank Carradine (DE, Florida State)
#37 Cincinnati – Matt Elam (S, Florida)
#38 Baltimore – Arthur Brown (LB, Kansas State)
#39 New York Jets – Zach Ertz (TE, Stanford)
#40 Tennessee – Johnthan Banks (CB, Mississippi State)
#41 Jacksonville – Jesse Williams (DT, Alabama)
#42 Miami – Larry Warford (G, Kentucky)
#43 New England – Khaseem Greene (LB, Rutgers)
#44 Carolina – Sylvester Williams (DT, North Carolina)
#45 Cleveland – Ryan Nassib (QB, Syracuse)
#46 St. Louis – Ryan Swope (WR, Texas A&M)
#47 Dallas – Kawann Short (DT, Purdue)
#48 Pittsburgh – Johnathan Hankins (DT, Ohio State)
#49 New York Giants – John Jenkins (DT, Georgia)
#50 Chicago – Keenan Allen (WR, California)
#51 Washington – D.J. Swearinger (S, South Carolina)
#52 Minnesota – Jamie Collins (LB, Southern Miss)
#53 Cincinnati – Jonathan Franklin (RB, UCLA)
#54 Miami – Jamar Taylor (CB, Boise State)
#55 Green Bay – Giovanni Bernard (RB, North Carolina)
#56 Seattle – Dallas Thomas (G, Tennessee)
#57 Houston – Robert Woods (WR, USC)
#58 Denver – Damontre Moore (DE, Texas A&M)
#59 New England – Menelik Watson (T, Florida State)
#60 Atlanta – Justin Pugh (G, Syracuse)
#61 San Francisco – Gavin Escobar (TE, San Diego State)
#62 Baltimore – Phillip Thomas (S, Fresno State)