What are the Seahawks thinking?

February 15th, 2011 | Written by Rob Staton

This was a piece I wanted to write but had to fight with in a big way. On the plus side, it’s interesting to talk about the prospects who may or may not be in contention for the Seahawks in round one and everyone will have their opinions.

On the other hand, you just never know who is going to fall or what will happen on draft day. We can second guess a ton of different scenarios and never get close to the real thing. If a top prospect falls on the day – of course they will be considered, but it’s tough to project that now.

I’m going to use this as a status check on the #25 pick as we get closer to the combine and look to see how things change after that event. Who are the guys as of today that I think might be in contention to be drafted by Seattle? I’ve named five but feel free to add your own in the comments section. I’ve tried to stick with scheme fits and areas of need and there are no ‘left field’ suggestions.

I would recommend checking my latest published mock to get a feel for who I think is a likely option. I’m not going to include players on this list I don’t think have any chance of making it past #20, let alone to #25.

Brandon Harris (CB, Miami)

I don’t think we ever saw the full extent of his potential at Miami. Harris is very similar in size to Walter Thurmond (drafted in round four last year by the Seahawks) and for me he’s clearly the 4th best corner in this class. Patrick Peterson and Jimmy Smith are way out in front, followed by Prince Amukamara (who I’ve said for some time now I expect to end up at safety for the long haul). Then there’s Harris and Aaron Williams. I could see a situation where either goes a bit earlier than expected and clearly a good combine helps cornerbacks a lot.

At the same time, neither was a great playmaker at Miami or Texas respectively. I think Harris gets a bye there because he just wasn’t tested much at all in 2010. Even so when he was challenged in the bowl game against a determined Michael Floyd, he looked poor. That’s a concern.

 Harris is a physical player and a very good open field tackler. When you watch him on the field you instantly recognise he’s a fluid mover with sufficient closing and recovery speed. The potential is there to be an impact player in the league and he could easily be a top-15 pick. That game against Floyd sticks in the mind though and he could just as easily end up being a fringe first round pick. This is a tough one to call at the moment.

Jonathan Baldwin (WR, Pittsburgh)

The Seahawks invested a lot of time courting Brandon Marshall before his move to Miami. They also spent a fair amount of time pursuing Vincent Jackson (who was today given the franchise tag in San Diego). Despite the emergence of Mike Williams as a starter, I see receiver as a lasting need and the team still lacks a real consistent game changer on offense.

Baldwin has great size at nearly 6-5 and 224lbs yet he’s still a very capable deep threat who makes big plays. He suffered in 2010 like the rest of the Pitt Panthers due to inconsistent quarterback play, but it wouldn’t be unfair to suggest he mailed in a season knowing his future lay in the NFL. The potential with Baldwin is big like his size, but he’ll need to be dedicated to his craft to take the next step to stardom. Reports do say that he’s a hard worker off the field.

There is a real hit or miss tendency when it comes to drafting receivers early – although I never see that as a good enough reason to flat out avoid the position. The Seahawks may be wary considering the slow start Golden Tate has made to his career. If he runs poorly at the combine we might be talking about Baldwin as a possibility at #57. If he runs in the high 4.5 range (or better) then he should be a nailed on first rounder.

Phil Taylor (DT, Baylor)

The future of Brandon Mebane remains unclear, especially with no indication a new CBA will be agreed. If free agency does ever happen this year, the Seahawks may run the risk of losing Mebane. It could even be that the deal he gets from another team is too good for Seattle to match – we simply don’t know what the circumstances could be. Even if he remains a Seahawk – it’s an area of the team to watch on draft day.

When Mebane, Colin Cole and Red Bryant all went down with injuries during 2010, the Seahawks suffered. Getting better depth and perhaps upgrading the defensive line should be listed among the team’s priorities. It’s a deep draft at defensive tackle so this isn’t something that will necessarily need to be addressed in round one. However, the top prospects won’t last long.

Taylor has the size (337lbs) to play nose tackle and the surprising mobility to possibly work out in the Red Bryant 5-technique position. He carries the bulk tremendously well and despite some technique issues concerning leverage, he grades highly as an all round talent. It’s a logical pick for the Seahawks if he’s still on the board at #25.

Ryan Mallett (QB, Arkansas)

Do I think the Seahawks will draft Mallett? No I don’t. Do I think they should consider it? Absolutely. The reason I’ve added Mallett to this list is simply my desire to express how vital I think it is the team drafts a quarterback they can invest in for the long haul. I suspect Blaine Gabbert, Cam Newton and Jake Locker will be long gone by Seattle’s pick, but Mallett may remain on the board.

There’s a lot to like about the Arkansas QB, but I can’t get away from the fact he isn’t the mobile quarterback this team has stated it wants (and indeed it traded for in Charlie Whitehurst) and the ‘all in’ policy of Pete Carroll’s regime doesn’t scream ‘Ryan Mallett’ as it’s poster boy.

But because this team has such a need at quarterback the best one on the board surely has to be considered? The team will undoubtedly meet with Mallett during the combine and test his character and football IQ. He’s much more than a cannon arm and has some really enticing qualities to his game, but drafting a quarterback in round one is such a commitment that they’d have to be absolutely sold on his ability to lead this team.

Muhammed Wilkerson (DE, Temple)

At 6-5 and 305lbs, Wilkerson is a unique prospect. He’s had production at defensive end (ten sacks in 2010) despite topping 300lbs and he’s versatile enough to move inside and play some tackle. The 5-technique position in Seattle is a little different to the norm in that it’s essentially a bigger left end who can offer great run support. Being able to rush the passer is a bonus and something Red Bryant showed unexpected ability to do.

Wilkerson is 30lbs lighter than Bryant but could be just as effective setting the edge against the run, yet he’ll probably offer a greater pass rushing threat. At 305lbs the team may want to try him out in the three-technique position – an area that increases in importance if Brandon Mebane isn’t retained.

As with the Taylor option before hand, depth on the defensive line would be a good option in round considering the depth of talent available. Drafting players who can play multiple positions is also possibly wise for a team that did suffer lots of injuries up front.

No offensive lineman?

At this moment I find it hard to project the Seahawks going in that direction. Mike Pouncey (G/C, Florida) would almost certainly be considered but I don’t see how he makes it past Kansas City at #21 and likely goes before that as his brother did last year. A finesse tackle like Anthony Castonzo appears unlikely and unnecessary on the right side of the line and I maintain that Gabe Carimi is too limited as a pure RT to warrant first round consideration from this team.

Trading up or down?

All teams consider moving up or down every year, so it’s no major revelation to hint at the possibility Seattle will do this in April. The team doesn’t own a third round pick and may wish to re-coup that, but the way they’ve used picks in trades I don’t suspect they will concern themselves too much with collecting multiple mid round choices unless a bumper deal comes along. While the team needs quantity, it also needs quality early on.

I do think there’s a chance we’ll see a bold move up the board if a buyer is forthcoming. San Diego and Philadelphia both traded into the top-15 from inside the 20’s last year – but both team’s had plenty of draft capital at hand. The Seahawks don’t have that luxury, but could find ways to be creative if there’s a prospect they simply have to grab. I wouldn’t rule out a big move for a quarterback.

If anyone falls, who will it be and are they an option?

If I had to name one prospect who might suffer a big fall and be a logical option for Seattle, it’s North Carolina defensive end Robert Quinn. He’s a very talented player, but he didn’t play any football in 2010. Will he be able to perform well at the combine and will he satisfy GM’s and head coaches with answers on why he managed to destroy his final year at UNC? Teams won’t need many excuses to take him of their draft boards, even if the potential is big. Quinn is one of three players (alongside Missouri’s Aldon Smith and Georgia’s Justin Houston) who would fit very well at the LEO position and warrants a first round selection. If he suffers a Dez Bryant type fall in April, he has to be an option for Seattle.

What about Jake Locker?

I think projections that he’ll fall deep into round two or even round three are misguided. Yes – he has accuracy problems that we all know about. He also has a high enough ceiling for someone to fall for his potential. If he gets past Washington and Minnesota I’ll be very surprised. If he lasts until the #25 pick I think the Seahawks will probably draft him. While I personally gave Locker a grade in the round two region, I also believe that with quarterbacks you have to expect they’ll always go a round earlier than that – particularly when talking about natural athletes.

If the Seahawks want Locker bad enough (and I wouldn’t rule that out) I think they’d have to trade up. People might question that logic considering everyone else is down on his stock right now, but speaking even as a relative sceptic – I cannot see him lasting all that long in round one.

Good players not in consideration?

I can’t see the team drafting Mark Ingram (RB, Alabama) as good a player as he is. Part of me suspects that’ll be down to Marshawn Lynch’s arrival, but also because Pete Carroll has moved to install Alex Gibbs’ philosophy in Seattle which has always carried a ‘plug in’ mentality for running backs. Akeem Ayers (LB, UCLA) might be a luxury too far at linebacker considering the capital already invested in Lofa Tatupu and Aaron Curry. Ryan Kerrigan (DE, Purdue) is a relentless pass rusher with a great attitude, but his skill set doesn’t translate well to the LEO. It’s also difficult to place a role for Adrian Clayborn (DE, Iowa) in this scheme.

I’ll review this post after the combine and closer to the draft to see if there was any logic to this thinking.

33 Responses to “What are the Seahawks thinking?”

  1. What if Mallett’s ability to read a defense and make pre-snap adjustments could mitigate some worries about mobility? If Mallett can defeat pressure with his adjustments and drive an offense at a fast click, he can force defenses to stay honest and abandon all-out blitzes. This could give him the time he needs at the position to develop that mobility.

    If accuracy and read are the most important aspects of a signal-caller, as scouts say, then I’d hate to see Carroll and Bevell pass on this guy in favor of a narrow QB philosophy.

    • Ralphy says:

      Completely agree with Brandon. I’m really hoping we get a shot at him.

    • Rob says:

      I agree Brandon. As we’re still figuring out exactly what constitutes this scheme or a Pete Carroll pick, there’s still a lot of second guessing and projection. I’m not convinced Mallett fits what they’re looking for on or off the field, but you can’t rule it out for the reasons you give.

  2. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by BVM and 17power, Rob Staton. Rob Staton said: Trying to second guess what a team is thinking is hard – but I had a go anyway: http://seahawksdraftblog.com/?p=1356 […]

  3. Ben says:

    Rob, should we be worried that Brandon Harris would be a Jennings-esque CB? He seems to have a similar build, similar cover skills and a similar lack of ball skills.

  4. alex says:

    Just wanted to say that I really enjoy this site and think your doing a great job. I check the site regularly and agree with almost all your scouting thoughts. Keep it up!

  5. Jeff says:

    I agree that they need a quarterback, offensive tackle, Guard and wide receiver. What about Seattle looking at the #1 Safety on the board if he is available Lawyer Milloy is old and showed it in the playoffs. Just a thought.

  6. AKSeaHawk says:

    Of the five you mentioned I can see Mallett and Taylor as the two most likely to be on the radar and available at 25. If for some reason Locker slips to #25 it would have to be a shoe in. My hope is that Seattle picks the BPA and Carroll has as much skill at recruiting free agents as he did blue chip recruits at USC. There are a few players that if signed, would completely change the teams needs.

  7. Caleb says:

    great article rob…

    I think one of the greatest shames of this draft is that unfortunately due to our more pressing needs, I think that the seahawks will have to pass over potentially great athletes, particularly RB’s and WR’s, who would be steals at #25. I agree with Ben that Harris looks to shifty with the ball to warrant our 25th, which sould be, whatever the category we go for, someone we can guarantee an immediate impact. I think immy smith would be nice, but like you say, not probable.

    What makes this whole thing even more shisty/interesting/terrifying is that there is a good chance of a lockout, so where do we go assuming no FA, because I think picks like QB and WR are luxuries when considering that our more pressing but less flashy needs???

  8. Don says:

    The Seahawaks have so many needs in every position that they should draft BPA (other than kicker and punter). They should not draft either Locker or Mallett, but concentrate on other positions. Trade the veterns for draft picks who still have value but are on the downhill side of their careers, they don’t fit the timeline. Play the youth, and let the Seahawks lose to position themselves for a high draft pick and get Luck or the USC QB.

    • Rob says:

      Hi Don,

      Until there’s a new CBA no team can trade veterans, only draft picks. Also – the Seahawks would have to be positively awful next year to have a shot at Luck, likely 1-3 win bad which will be difficult in the NFC West even for a young team. It’s not really a good way to run a franchise, gambling on being the worst team in the NFL.

      • Meat says:

        I agree with Rob. Teams want to build through the draft and get young upcomming talent, but you don’t want to get high picks at the cost of the team, the players, and the franchise, and setting your team up for failure is not the way to go for any team for a variety of reasons. Plus as discussed in other sections of this blog, draft day is always a gamble. You cannot bank your entire team and its future on only draft picks, especially at the cost of losing games/season.
        BTW: The NFC West has a tough schedule in 2011-if there is a season. :(

    • Alex says:

      I wouldn’t advocate that.

      If you have a chance at Locker and Mallet, take them because QB risk financially is minimal. If he doesn’t work out in 2 years? Cut him. It’s IMO a low-middle risk/high reward scenario.

      If we somehow DO get the first 3 pick with a chance at Luck and get him, take him. Who said that you have to stick with one talented, but unproven QB?

      Further, you never lose on purpose. It’s unappealing to potential FA and it sets a culture of losing, which just breeds more losing.

      Alex

  9. Morgan says:

    One name that I think will rise dramatically after the combine is TCU T\G Marcus Cannon. I can see him moving inside and being an ideal Tom Cable prospect as he has all the agility of Rodney Hudson, but is about 40 lbs heavier.

    I’ve been a staunch advocate of drafting a QB for years now and was so frustrated when so many people would say “But next year’s class is so much better!” Now I think I’m becoming one of those people. I just don’t like this class of QBs, and the fact that Luck, Barkley (or an unforeseen breakout performer) could be available next year makes it seem like investing a lot in a QB this year would be a mistake. I agree that being in the NFC West makes it unlikely that our natural draft position would give us a shot at Luck, but if we can maneuver around the draft board this year and build capital for next year…maybe we can have the ammo to build a nice trade package for the 2012 draft.

    • Rob says:

      I suspect Barkley at USC won’t declare because if he stays until his senior year he’ll have a chance to play in a significant bowl game for the Trojans. Quite aside from that he’ll kow Andrew Luck is nailed on to go first overall in 2012, so if he waits until 2013 he will be the likely top QB taken.

      In that very possible scenario you’re really talking about planning around a potential move for Andrew Luck which really seems like a pipe dream at this stage. I maintain that the only way to get hold of him is going to be to own the #1 pick or end up paying multiple first rounders (maybe even more than two). Next year’s class of QB’s (Luck aside) will be weak, very weak. I’m not for wasting picks and taking people to fill holes for the sake of it – but you could be talking two years down the line before a logical chance to draft a QB early. That for me means you strongly consider the Mallett’s and Locker’s in this draft, knowing that the cost is limited if it doesn’t work out down the line.

      • Alex says:

        I agree with Rob here. IMO, next year’s QB class will be similar if not a bit weaker than the 2010 draft. You’ll have one clear top 5 QB in Luck (similar to Bradford), but then there is everyone else that warrants at best a 2nd round pick even with the inflated value of QB.

        Actually, I think this class isn’t as weak as people in the media say. It’s just that rather than a clear cut #top 3 pick like a Carson Palmer or Matt Ryan, you have greater depth in the 1st round. In that sense, this draft is similar to the 06 and 09 draft though I would rate the quality of the 09 draft (even at that time) better than this 11 draft.

        If there is a potential franchise QB in Locker or Mallet, take him (though I’m not as high on Mallet).

        Alex

  10. plyka says:

    Boy if the HAwks trade down to select Locker I will be beyond upset. Locker will be available at 25, and if he isn’t, he is not worth the gamble to trade up. In my opinion, trading up should be avoided at all costs unless an insane deal comes through. Trading up costs a lot, i think mid to lower round draft picks are undervalued while high draft picks are overvalued. You can build an enitre team with mid-round picks, if you have enough of them.

    If anything, the Hawks should really trade down from the 25th pick if they can pick up the 3rd they are missing.

    • Rob says:

      I wouldn’t advocate trading down unless it’s a great deal. The Seahawks need to keep adding quality and in a draft without great depth that means getting at least one of the top 30 prospects in my opinion. If the team is absolutely sold on one of these QB’s and makes the move up to get them, then so be it. It’s the one position for me that always warrants a move up the board if necessary. A few people were confused when Tampa Bay made a small jump to take Josh Freeman, but it worked out wonderfuly. Likewise you could argue the move New York made to get Sanchez.

    • Alex says:

      I would prefer to just stand where we are and go with a wait and see approach.

      We know that Locker and Mallet’s stock are falling so one of those 2 should fall to 25. If so, take a chance. If not, take the BPA or BPA relative to position of need.

      Alex

      • Meat says:

        I agree that Locker and Mallet in any other year probably wouldn’t be considered a first round pick, but soooooo many teams in desperate need for the most important position means the values are going to be inflated. There are vets that will be picked up, but only if the CBA is in place, and it doesn’t look good. So I would guess many teams like Arizona, Minn, Wash, San Fran, Cinci (palmer situation looks bad for them), Possibley Miami, Tenn, or wait.. buzz is Buffalo and Carolina is jumping on the hype train on Newton. So many unknowns these teams will have going in on draft day w/ no resolution with the CBA. So in a different year with a different situation I would think the number 3/4 QB’s (whomever that is-some say Locker/Mallet) would be available at 25 in the draft, I question if that is possible this year.. It should be, but Gabbert and Newton will be gone by pick 10 leaving the number 3 QB 10-24…..maybe.. Just speculating.

  11. Kelly says:

    Oh have I lost respect for Profootballnews.com. (Not that I had much anyway…) Not only does it seem that they report mostly “the dirt” stories on the NFL, but I just read a Mock Draft by one of their writers and they had the Hawks taking Kaepernick, while Mallett and Locker were still on the board. I can almost 99.9% say that this will not happen.

    Kelly

    • Matt says:

      Yeah that’s bad. Walter Football (who I normally respect) said that he would be more surprised if Ponder and Kaepernick were NOT taken ahead of Locker and that Locker is way more likely to go in round 3 than round 1. That is just crazy talk. Not to mention, they also said that Cam Newton is not worthy of a 1st round pick…quite possibly the highest upside of any QB to enter the draft with proven on field performance, and he’s not worthy of a 1st round pick? Yet, Kaepernick and Ponder are worthy of top 50 picks? Yikes.

      I mean Christian Ponder? Really? I honestly think his ceiling/upside is low level starter in the NFL. You don’t draft guys like that in the first 2 rounds.

  12. If Baldwin runs a sub-4.4 at the Combine like he’s rumored to be about to, would I be way off base to compare him to Calvin Johnson?

    http://bit.ly/gtEp7P

    • Rob says:

      The comparisons are not unfair due to the size and potential speed. There are flashes of brilliance from Baldwin, but they’ve been too few and far between. He’s played in a hopeless passing offense last year, you just wonder where his stock would be on a team with an actual quarterback. He coasted a lot though in 2010.

    • Alex says:

      He has the typical WR diva issue, which is a major red flag since he is already doing this at the college level. He has complained that the ball isn’t thrown to him enough and that this is hurting his draft stock.

      And again, I dislike WRs in the 1st round due to their high bust rate unless they’re a near perfect prospect like Calvin Johnson, Andre Johnson, or Larry Fitz (all top 5 picks). Players like Julio Jones or Jon Baldwin don’t excite me. Julio Jones for his hands and inconsistent concentration (probably the most important thing for a WR, which is to CATCH the ball) and Baldwin for his “me, me, me” personality.

      Alex

      • Rob says:

        I have some sympathy with him though, Alex. Really Pittsburgh were car crash bad at times in 2010 and it was a wasted year for Baldwin. Most reports I’ve read say he is a dedicated worker off the field and even on a hopeless team in the NFL he’s going to be given more chances to make plays than at Pittsburgh.

        As for Julio Jones, certainly in 2009 his hands and concentration were a concern. However, this previous season just gone he showed major overall improvements. He played like a top-ten pick for most of the year on a team that heavily favors the run.

  13. John says:

    I think there’s a good chance Locker will still be there in the 20s. That’s been the history in recent years for QBs with lots of upside but serious question marks who were trending downward to fall into the 20s only to have a team trade back into that range and snag him. Baltimore did that for Boller way back, they did it again years later for Flacco, Washington did it for Campbell and Tampa Bay did it for Freeman. I suppose Rodgers could be lumped into that group as well as a promising QB prospect who was still available in the 20s. There are just too many negatives attached to Locker for him to be even a mid-1st round selection. I think he’ll meet the same fate as those other quarterbacks.

    As for Locker, I’ve been seeing his games on ESPN3, and his accuracy on the run outside the pocket is impeccable. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a better passer on the move. Every one of his passes hit receivers right in stride on the hands. 20 yards, 30 yards downfield, it doesn’t matter. He’s phenomenal throwing on the run. Inside the pocket, it’s another story. He gets real jittery when he has to hold onto the ball for more than a few seconds. I don’t know whether it’s because he doesn’t want to get hit or because he wants to play smart and not hold onto the ball for too long and gets anxious. But for a fine athlete, his footwork breaks down and he rushes throws. He routinely overthrows his targets. His composure inside the pocket is really poor. I’m not sure that’s something that can be worked on either. Can someone really improve their nerves. I can’t remember a QB who was frazzled in the pocket early in their careers overcoming that.

    • Matt says:

      Completely agree with what you are saying John. That said, I do think he can work on his pocket presence. Not to sound like a Locker apologist, but he has had limited experience in a pro style offense on a team that didn’t have the talent to run a pro set in college. Now, this really isn’t meant to excuse bad throws and decisions, but is more reflective on why he seems jittery in the pocket.

      All that being accounted for, I truly think he is a guy that you keep off the field for 2 years, while you literally drill him to death, and give him countless repititions as a pocket passer. Now, some people can say that’s been going on for 2 years with him, but I’d argue, the biggest difference is the fact that despite what he did during monday – friday, he was expected to go out and win on saturday with the expectation that it was on “him” to carry the team.

      I am not saying that it’s guaranteed after 2 years that he breaks habits, but the gamble at 25 is so small and the payoff is so huge. Instead of thinking negatively, what happens if his work ethic and time to practice pays off in 2 years? What if it all clicks? You are talking about a guy with a very high ceiling. To me, it’s more than worth the gamble, as long as you are wise with how you treat that investment. And that’s, what I liken Locker to. An investment that requires a little time and patience, but can ultimately pay off huge if you go about it the right way.

    • Alex says:

      you’re pretty much on mark about his throwing ability. The interesting thing is that most players struggle throwing on the run. ESPN once calculated the completion % on the run for the top QB prospects and most were beneath 55% with Luck at 53%. Locker was the anomaly at over 65%. He would be absolutely devastating on team that runs play action 50% of the time with a solid running back that sells the play action.

      With Locker, instead of working on the things on the run, he needs to work with the pocket issues. Kind of backward, but there is something there to work with.

      Alex