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.