We’re less than a month away from the draft and less than a week away from discovering the Seahawks new uniforms. Two titanic events (seriously) that will shape the design of the 2012 season in two very different ways. I want to draw attention to yesterday’s ‘State of the franchise’ feature by the NFL Network on the Seahawks. For the uniform enthusiasts (you know who you are) there appears to be a glimpse/leak of the team’s soon-to-be new logo in the intro, replacing the ‘Seahawks blue’ with what appears to be ‘Seahawks silver’. More importantly though, the piece features an interview with Pete Carroll:
“We’re excited about our defense, we really had a pretty consistent year finishing well, we really took the ball away from our opponents down the stretch that made a big difference. We’re excited – a very young group. We’re going to continue to build within, we’re trying to keep it together as much as possible and a couple of parts here as we go through the draft. I think it’s going to be a very formidable group. It’s one that’s excited and we’re looking to a big year for these guys.”
The defense is nearly there. There’s a lot of talent in the secondary and the defensive line is mostly set since the re-signing of Red Bryant. Two key areas remain unfilled – a further addition to the pass rush and at least one more linebacker. There are the two areas I suspect Carroll was referring to above, and the two key areas I expect to be addressed within the first three rounds of the draft.
I think they’re looking for a hybrid to fill one of the gaps – a pass rusher who reads well in space, can play at the LOS, take snaps at defensive end and provide solid run defense. Courtney Upshaw and Melvin Ingram personify that role and in my view, remain the two most likely targets for Seattle in round one. The second hole will be middle linebacker and I expect the Seahawks to follow the league’s trend by looking for speed at the position, mixed in with some attitude and coverage ability.It wouldn’t surprise me if the Seahawks even looked at slightly undersized MLB’s who can move well and play smart.
It’s not the orthodox type we’ve come to expect at the MIKE, but times are changing and tight end’s are getting harder to cover. Prospects such as Mychal Kendricks and Zach Brown could be on the radar in round two if available. Kendricks only switched to the middle as a senior and Brown hasn’t played MLB, but options remain with KJ Wright also capable of moving inside. Speed rather than size is quickly becoming the key factor at linebacker in the league.
Running back will almost certainly get some attention early because the Seahawks appreciate the importance of the ground game to their offense. Even with Marshawn Lynch re-signed, they’ll need an upgrade at the #2 spot to help carry the load and fill in if Lynch misses time. As with the linebacker position, there will be plenty of options at running back in rounds 2-3. These are the three key areas I envisage the Seahawks looking at, with potential exceptions based on day-two value.
The Seahawks currently have six picks in total. For a full run down of the confirmed draft order, click here.
Jacksonville provoked the biggest tweak in this week’s projection. Their decision to actively pursue Tim Tebow was an eye-opener – a decision seemingly motivated by owner Shahid Khan’s desire selling tickets rather than building around GM Gene Smith’s vision. Smith traded up for Blaine Gabbert and the fact is he remains part of the team’s future, so it’s time to try and make him the way to sell tickets. The Jaguars employed an offensive minded Head Coach in Mike Mularkey who made use of talented receiver options in Atlanta, and Mularkey is unlikely to be satisfied with just Laurent Robinson as the team’s sole investment at the position.
For many weeks I’ve expected the Jaguars to play it safe and draft a pass rusher, which is still a big need. However, the last few days make you wonder exactly who is making the decisions here. Khan may step in again to instruct his staff to draft someone who can be the dynamic go-to receiver they lack. That could mean making a small move up the board to draft Justin Blackmon – let’s not rule that out. But if Blackmon leaves the board before #6 and no deal materialises, could they look to the next best receiver on their board? After weeks of thinking otherwise, maybe it is possible after all?
Updated first round mock draft
|#1 Andrew Luck (QB, Stanford)
|#2 Robert Griffin III (QB, Baylor)
The inevitable part II.
|#3 Matt Kalil (OT, USC)
Minnesota won’t waste any time calling Kalil’s name. He has elite potential. The inevitable part III.
|#4 Trent Richardson (RB, Alabama)
The Browns have to find someone on offense to build around. Richardson would be the wise choice here.
|#5 Morris Claiborne (CB, LSU)
The biggest spenders in free agency, Tampa Bay could still use a stud cornerback.
|#6 Justin Blackmon (WR, Oklahoma State)
The Rams know this is now a three-draft plan so they need to take whoever is highest on their board with this pick.
|#7 Malcolm Floyd (WR, Notre Dame)
They want to sell tickets, which means putting an offense on the field that is more exciting than last year’s farce.
|#8 Ryan Tannehill (QB, Texas A&M)
Is this Plan C? Or are we further down the alphabet by now?
|#9 Quinton Coples (DE, North Carolina)
Carolina wants players that will fit into 3-4 and 4-3 looks and Coples fits the bill.
|#10 Riley Reiff (OT, Iowa)
The Bills are going to draft an offensive lineman here, the only question is which one will they choose?
|#11 Melvin Ingram (DE, South Carolina)
You can never have too many pass rushers, especially with Peyton Manning now in the division.
|#12 Courtney Upshaw (DE, Alabama)
Seattle needs to find a DE/OLB hybrid who reads well in space. Upshaw fits the bill perfectly.
|#13 Jonathan Martin (OT, Stanford)
Whoever is playing quarterback for Arizona next year, the Cardinals simply must draft an offensive tackle.
|#14 Cordy Glenn (OT, Georgia)
The moves made in free agency will allow the Cowboys to target Cordy Glenn or David DeCastro at this spot.
|#15 Fletcher Cox (DT, Mississippi State)
One team will fall for Cox’s athleticism and ensure he’s taken early in the first round.
|#16 Dontari Poe (DT, Memphis)
This is a fall of sorts given he blew up the combine. Rex Ryan will probably appreciate the potential on offer here.
|#17 David DeCastro (OG, Stanford)
Cincinnati will want to make sure one of their first round picks is a corner, but DeCastro is hard to pass here.
|#18 Vinny Curry (DE, Marshall)
With the top offensive lineman leaving the board before the #18 pick, San Diego may fill another big need here.
|#19 Michael Brockers (DT, LSU)
Trading for Brandon Marshall will allow Chicago to concentrate on the best lineman available at this spot.
|#20 Peter Konz (OC, Wisconsin)
There’s always a few shocks in round one. Konz is good enough to justify a pick this early and will play in the league for a decade.
|#21 Stephon Gilmore (CB, South Carolina)
Gilmore’s performance at the combine has seemingly done enough to cement his place in the top-25 picks.
|#22 Kendall Wright (WR, Baylor)
Cleveland needs to keep adding playmakers and could see Wright as a nice compliment to Greg Little.
|#23 Whitney Mercilus (DE, Illinois)
The Lions have built up their interior defensive line, but could look to add another edge rusher here.
|#24 Mike Adams (OT, Ohio State)
There are some legitimate concerns about Adams’ play, but Pittsburgh may take a chance.
|#25 Luke Kuechly (LB, Boston College)
This is now the Peyton Manning show and they could easily go offense here. However, the defense also needs a new leader.
|#26 Stephen Hill (WR, Georgia Tech)
Mind-blowing potential given his size, athleticism and hands. He stood out in limited targets during the 2011 season.
|#27 Doug Martin (RB, Boise State)
It’s not like New England to take a running back in round one, but Doug Martin is special.
|#28 Andre Branch (DE, Clemson)
The Packers are running out of options to improve their pass rush and could consider Branch in this situation.
|#29 Dont’a Hightower (LB, Alabama)
Dont’a Hightower looks like he was born to play defense for the Ravens.
|#30 Coby Fleener (TE, Stanford)
He could go a lot earlier than this. His pro-day raised a few eye-brows
|#31 Devon Still (DT, Penn State)
His ability to line up in multiple spots could attract the Patriots, who are looking for more pass rush.
|#32 Dre Kirkpatrick (CB, Alabama)
He might be forced to switch to safety. Coverage skills are weak, but he’s solid in run support.
#33 St. Louis – Jerel Worthy (DT, Michigan State)
#34 Indianapolis – Kevin Zeitler (OG, Wisconsin)
#35 Minnesota – Mohamed Sanu (WR, Rutgers)
#36 Tampa Bay – Bobby Wagner (LB, Utah State)
#37 Cleveland – Nick Perry (DE, USC)
#38 Jacksonville – Chandler Jones (DE, Syracuse)
#39 St. Louis – Kelechi Osemele (OG, Iowa State)
#40 Carolina – Jayron Hosley (CB, Virginia Tech)
#41 Buffalo – Ronnell Lewis (LB, Oklahoma)
#42 Miami – Mark Barron (S, Alabama)
#43 Seattle – Zach Brown (LB, North Carolina)
#44 Kansas City – Amini Silatolu (OG, Midwestern State)
#45 Dallas – Jared Crick (DE, Nebraska)
#46 Philadelphia – Mychal Kendricks (LB, California)
#47 New York Jets – Alshon Jeffery (WR, South Carolina)
#48 New England – Shea McClellin (DE, Boise State)
#49 San Diego – Brandon Brooks (OG, Miami OH)
#50 Chicago – Brandon Boykin (CB, Georgia)
#51 Philadelphia – Brock Osweiler (QB, Arizona State)
#52 Tennessee – Kendall Reyes (DT, Connecticut)
#53 Cincinnati – Lamar Miller (RB, Miami)
#54 Detroit – Dwight Bentley (CB, Louisiana-Lafayette)
#55 Atlanta – Josh Robinson (CB, UCF)
#56 Pittsburgh – Reuben Randle (WR, LSU)
#57 Denver – Brandon Thompson (DT, Clemson)
#58 Houston – Josh Chapman (DT, Alabama)
#59 New Orleans – VOID
#60 Green Bay – Brandon Weeden (QB, Oklahoma State)
#61 Baltimore – Harrison Smith (S, Notre Dame)
#62 San Francisco – Casey Hayward (CB, Vanderbilt)
#63 New York Giants – David Wilson (RB, Virginia Tech)
#64 New England – Lavonte David (LB, Nebraska)
Possible options for the Seahawks in rounds 3/4
(#75) – Chris Polk (RB, Washington), Kirk Cousins (QB, Michigan State), Sean Spence (LB, Miami), Dwayne Allen (TE, Clemson), Michael Egnew (TE, Missouri), Trumaine Johnson (CB, Montana), Jeff Allen (OG, Illinois)
(#106) Russell Wilson (QB, Wisconsin), Robert Turbin (RB, Utah State), Levy Adcock (OT, Oklahoma State), Jeff Allen (OG, Illinois)