It’s a subject we touched on in this weeks mock draft and also the conversation I had with the guys at Field Gulls. Are you more likely to take the ninth or tenth defensive lineman with the #25 pick? Or are you more likely to try and fill a different need?
There’s a lot of other teams needing to improve their pass rush. It’s a deep class for defensive tackles. There’s some quality at end and outside linebacker. If you’re a Seahawks fan hoping the team gets a first round pass rusher, you could be sat there mid-way through the first round having watched most of your preferred options leave the board.
If the plan is to go defensive line early, there will be a tipping point for the Seahawks in round one. Well, unless they’ve identified another guy nobody else is focusing on. You can never rule that out. It may even be probable. But there’s at least a chance there’s going to be better options at other positions by the #25 pick. Assuming that’s the case for the purpose of this article — what would you do?
You might disagree but for me the two other greatest needs are a big, athletic target at receiver/tight end a WILL linebacker to replace Leroy Hill. I’m not sure how many run-ins with the law Hill can afford before he starts getting lengthier suspensions. He’s 31 in September and while there’s still a chance he’ll return for another year in Seattle, his latest arrest could be a deal breaker. It also stands to reason that the Seahawks will try to get faster at the WILL — speed within the front seven remains a key feature for this team.
Inevitably Seattle’s group of receivers and tight ends looked a lot better as Russell Wilson grew into his rookie season. Sidney Rice, Golden Tate and Zach Miller were all productive, it just seems all three hit their peaks at different times. Doug Baldwin’s year was severely hampered by a lingering pre-season injury. Look for him to bounce back in 2013.
I think there’s room for at least another target. Why else were they looking at Terrell Owens in pre-season? Or trying to rekindle Braylon Edwards’ career? Why did they trade for Kellen Winslow? There’s a hole in that roster for a big, athletic target. Whether’s it’s a tight end who can play a little receiver, create mismatches and exploit coverage or a receiver who wins 1v1 battles, goes up to claim the ball and compliments Rice and Tate — it’s a need.
While the options at defensive tackle or end might be limited by #25, it could be a good range to look at pass catchers and linebackers. When the first receiver leaves the board, we could see a domino effect. The first might not go until the 20’s. By the time Seattle’s second round pick comes around, five or six could be gone. Getting the pick of a pretty good bunch in round one is enticing.
It’s unlikely prospective top-15 pick Alec Ogletree will be around (shame) but he might be the only 4-3 outside linebacker prospect off the board early. Arthur Brown and Khaseem Greene stand to be of interest to Seattle. Both are athletic, instinctive players who can get sideline to sideline. Greene is stockier and a better blitzer with safety speed, while Brown is smaller and more agile.
All of the tight ends could be on the board. While Anthony McCoy did a good job as the #2 tight end, the Seahawks could still look for a hybrid type who can line up in the slot, out wide and at the line of scrimmage. Zach Ertz featured all over the field as Stanford’s leading receiver but also worked within a run-heavy offense that utilised a lot of two tight end sets. I still think he’d be an ideal weapon for this team. He’s also the most likely tight end to go before the #25 pick.
Gavin Escobar has great size but didn’t do a great deal of blocking for San Diego State — he could develop into a real difference maker as a receiver. Tyler Eifert is more of an orthodox tight end in terms of frame but his blocking is seriously hit and miss. Jordan Reed is gaining momentum as a joker-style receiver and could be one of the stand-out performers at the combine.
Of the highlighted needs, the WILL could be the biggest ‘must fill’ need. If Hill isn’t re-signed they’ll have to do something. At the same time, is it possible Brown or Greene could be available in round two? It’s not unrealistic. Could you even consider trading down if that’s your target, given they’re unlikely to be snapped up by any of the teams picking right after Seattle? Carroll and Schneider have also done a good job filling linebacker needs later in the draft — Bobby Wagner was drafted in round two, K.J. Wright was a fourth round pick. Malcolm Smith may get the chance to replace Hill and he was a seventh round choice.
The receivers and tight ends might have the biggest impact early. Russell Wilson developed into a big-time playmaker as the 2012 season progressed. Keeping him stocked up with a strong arsenal is key. He deserves as much help as possible. Sidney Rice, Golden Tate and Doug Baldin have all suffered their fair share of injuries. There’s not a great deal of depth out there and a bit like the cornerback position — you can never have too many good pass catchers. Aaron Rodgers is a fantastic quarterback, but he also benefits greatly from a loaded receiving corps. The Packers know who their superstar is. Wilson will only get better the more targets he has to aim at.
On the other hand, none of Rodgers’ receivers or tight ends were drafted in round one. Green Bay has a history of success targeting those positions in round two. And the depth at receiver in this class means the Seahawks could get a good one at #55.
So what direction do you go if defensive line quickly becomes an unattractive option at #25? Maybe you have a different suggestion? Below you’ll find tape of the guys highlighted in this piece.