Why the Seahawks will draft a running back early

February 14th, 2012 | Written by Rob Staton

The Seahawks want more moments like this, even in the post-Lynch era

“We like the attitude that it brings, the mentality that it brings to run the football, to play run defense, and play tough on teams, and play it that way, so I don’t care which way the trends are going in the league. What’s best for us, is the way that we want to go at it.

“The way that we want to play, you need somebody on your team carrying the football. Without an attack guy it doesn’t feel the same. And he fits it just right, and he’s taken advantage of the emergence of these guys and the whole scheme, and he’s playing great football. We’re always going to continue to look for guys that add that to us.”

- Pete Carroll, 14th December 2011

Carroll has been pretty honest about the way he’s setting up his third (and probably final) tilt at the NFL. This is his vision. At a time when a lot of the NFL is turning to potent aerial attacks featuring big name quarterbacks, the Seahawks are using the run at the heart of their offense. His justification, noted on the same date as the quote above? “You don’t need to be like everyone else. I don’t want to be normal, you know?”

It took a little while to get going. Two high-profile coaching appointments, two offensive coordinators, three high draft picks, a big name splash in free agency and a calculated trade and Seattle has the semblance of a running game. The attack guy Carroll refers to above is Marshawn Lynch. He ended the 2011 season as possibly the league’s most effective running back, churning out yards and touchdowns and leading the offense to some degree of respectability. While offensive lineman fell to injury, Lynch continued to run with vigour. It’s fair to say that had his name been added to the list of casualties, the Seahawks offense would’ve been abominable. Again.

Lynch hits free agency this year but will almost certainly be retained. I understand Lynch isn’t too keen on the franchise tag, which isn’t unexpected. He’d rather agree a longer term deal for multiple seasons – just like virtually every other pending free agent who’s a candidate for the tag. DeAngelo Williams signed a $43m contract over five-years to stay in Carolina prior to the 2011 season, a likely starting point for Lynch in discussions. While I’m sure the Seahawks would love to strike a modest deal for more years, they won’t be making any heavy commitments to a position notorious for punishment. Shaun Alexander signed an 8-year, $62m contract extension to stay in Seattle six years ago. This regime will not be making a similar offer to Lynch.

The franchise tag for running back’s is expected to be around $7.7m in 2012, down from $9.6m in 2011 – a manageable figure for such a crucial part of Seattle’s offense. At this stage, the tag looks likely for Marshawn. It allows the team an opportunity to buy another year and re-access the situation in twelve months. Considering he’ll only turn 26 in April, agreeing a multi-year deal in 2013 isn’t out of the question if he continues to perform at a high level. However, the tag also gives the Seahawks insurance if Lynch disappoints.

Rotoworld’s Evan Silva had some interesting things to say on Twitter yesterday:

Free agency buyer beware: Marshawn Lynch. Avg’d 3.87 YPC in first 61 games. 4.45 YPC in last 11 (Contract yr). Already 1,137 career carries.

Lynch’s conditioning, especially in offseasons, has long been an issue. Ideal franchise tag candidate. Keep him hungry, in contract year.

It’s a fair point on Lynch’s carries and his physical running style could have an impact earlier in his career than other more elusive backs. The tag would indeed keep him hungry and if he can put back-to-back productive seasons on the negotiating table, the Seahawks may be duty bound to reward him or let him test free agency next year. This offense needs its attack guy and Lynch is the team’s MVP on offense right now. So why is the front office going to spend a high pick on a running back?

Commitment to the run

Pete Carroll has made it clear that the run game will make or break this offense, at least until they find ‘the one’ at quarterback. There’s no grey area here, the Seahawks want to run the ball. Most of their investment – be it in the draft, coaches or free agency – has been focused on setting up an effective running game. They can’t move forward knowing they’re an injury to Marshawn Lynch away from losing that identity again. Although many people believed the tepid 6-3 defeat in Cleveland was a review of Tarvaris Jackson’s effectiveness and Charlie Whitehurst’s ineptitude, it was mainly an insight into Seattle’s offense minus-Lynch. The Seahawks cannot risk being caught short and with a lot of talent available at running back in rounds 1-3, it will be a target area.

Insurance

One way to keep Lynch fresh is to limit his carries. When the Seahawks subbed in Leon Washington and Justin Forsett in 2011, there was a noticeable drop in effectiveness. If Seattle can find someone who can help the team manage Lynch a little more carefully, that will be a big boost for their star. I’m quite sure this team isn’t looking for a ‘change of pace’ back in this year’s draft, they’ll probably be going after another attack guy. A player who can work with Lynch as a duo, a partnership that constantly keeps team’s guessing and Seattle’s offense rolling. And if Lynch was to suffer an injury, they’ll need someone who can take up the slack.

Leverage

If the Seahawks can draft a running back who can lead the offense, it’ll eliminate the dependency on Marshawn Lynch. If they don’t want to commit multiple years in 2013 to a running back with even more miles on the clock, they’ll have the option to move on with a younger player. The best team’s in the league stay at the top by being a step ahead of the game. It’s not necessarily always about filling holes in the NFL, rather maintaining and enhancing your strengths to overcome weaker areas of the team. While some people may argue a high pick on a running back is a luxury, it may actually be one of the more intelligent moves they could make this year to maintain a strong running game.

Talent

This draft is top-heavy for running backs. Trent Richardson is a star in the making who could quickly become the best back in the league. The Seahawks will consider drafting him if he’s available at #11 or #12, creating possibly the most fearsome duo of running backs in the history of the league. In round two, the likes of Doug Martin, Lamar Miller, Chris Polk and David Wilson offer excellent value and could be deemed BPA with the team’s second choice. You can find effective runners without top-level investment, but this is a draft where a GM or coach can be forgiven for taking a running back early. The talent is there this year.

A lot of fans will complain if or when the Seahawks do select a running back within the first two days of the draft this year. Quarterback is the consensus gaping hole on the roster – and rightly so too. It’s also a situation that can’t be forced and while many would like to see a quarterback drafted almost for the sake of finally addressing the situation early, the facts are quite simple… There won’t be a quarterback worth the pick at #11 or #12, but Trent Richardson would be a steal in that range. There may not be a quarterback worth a high second round pick, but a player like Doug Martin or (if Richardson is the R1 pick) a defensive player like Vinny Curry could be deemed BPA at a position of need.

I’m sure the team will add viable competition and maybe even a new starting QB at some stage. That could happen via trade long before the draft takes place – we’ll see what happens in March. Yet the way this draft could unfold, it may just be that the Seahawks are left waiting another year before making the big draft splash at the position and appeasing the majority of the fanbase.

It’s going to be more of the same in 2012 in terms of a heavy run focused offense and the Seahawks have committed to a strong running game to succeed. The rookie pay scale has changed the complexion of the draft, making a high pick on a running back much more viable than it has been before. Richardson would be a bargain in round one, offering instant production and a means for Seattle to build on it’s run philosophy while preparing for the possibility of life without Lynch. Although most mock drafts at the moment lazily have the Seahawks drafting Ryan Tannehill (won’t happen), it’s time to concentrate on the front seven and the running back position.

51 Responses to “Why the Seahawks will draft a running back early”

  1. Swamp_fox says:

    Another great piece, Rob. I can’t help but agree with your supporting arguments here.

    Who are your Top 5 RB’s (Richardson and Martin I see..) and when do you expect them to go?

  2. jim J says:

    I like the way you laid it out.

    Richardson or Upshaw in the first, if they are not available another defensive player or a tight end.

    Second round switch to other side of the team with Curry or Branch; or Martin, Miller or Wilson. I am unsure of Polk.

    I like it, but we will still throw the ball 25-40% of the time, so we need to draft another wide receiver that has the speed to get free.

  3. Jeff M. says:

    My only concern is that, perhaps more than any other position, we’ve seen that RBs don’t need to be drafted high to succeed–league leaders and the top backs for the top teams routinely come from late rounds or were entirely undrafted.

    Simultaneously, the backs picked high in the draft don’t have a particularly high success rate. The 1st and 2nd rounders from last year, in order: Mark Ingram, Ryan Williams, Shane Vereen, Mikel Leshoure, and Daniel Thomas. From 2010: C.J. Spiller, Ryan Matthews, Jahvid Best, Toby Gerhart, Ben Tate, Monterrio Hardesty. From 2009: Knowshon Moreno, Donald Brown, Beanie Wells, LeSean McCoy. McCoy is the only star on the list, and he was a late 2nd taken after a bunch of guys that busted (in the same year that Arian Foster went undrafted).

    Spending a high 1st-rounder on a RB is only worth it if he’s an Adrian Peterson-level talent. And it’s hard to tell one in advance. Top-12 picks over the last decade have produced Spiller, Matthews, Moreno, Darren McFadden, Peterson, Lynch, Reggie Bush, Ronnie Brown, Cedric Benson, and Cadillac Williams. While McFadden and Lynch now look like top backs (after some years where they did not), only Peterson is a home-run value and many of the others are unambiguous busts given where they were drafted. It would be tempting to take Richardson if he falls, but are we sure he’s the next AP and not the next Moreno…?

    The same argument is going to apply to a 2nd-rounder on Martin or whoever. Running backs, when compared to other positions, have a uniquely low expected value for early-round picks–short career, injury risk, no fall-back position (unlike OL), etc.–and uniquely high expected value for late-round picks–short careers are expected of these guys, RBs can play early, etc. So unless the value is fantastic or your scouts are extremely confident they’ve identified a star, it almost never makes sense to spend an early pick on a RB.

  4. Chooch says:

    I think Jeff makes a great point. The dropoff in talent from a 2nd round RB to a 4th round RB seems very slight. Richardson seems to be in a class of his own, and would warrant a 1st round pick, but we could land a solid DE in the first (maybe even trading down to do it)

    My question for Rob- is there really that much of a dropoff from Polk to someone like Vick Ballard or Bernard Pierce? If even if there is, how well does that all translate to the pro game? Seems like some guys “get it” and some don’t- hence the high round busts and UDFA superstars.

  5. Turp says:

    Richardson would be hard to pass up, but a draft of Upshaw/Doug Martin in the first two rounds would make me pretty happy.

  6. Brian says:

    Yes, some first round RB’s fail, but that’s true for EVERY position. In fact I am pretty certain that RB is a safer pick than QB, WR and defensive linemen.

    http://www.vincentvalour.com/nfl-draft-history-1st-round-positional-boombust-rate-offense/html
    http://www.vincentvalour.com/nfl-draft-history-1st-round-positional-hitbust-rate-defense/html

    The fact that later round backs give almost as much value is a bigger concern, but for a legit hall of fame level prospect ala Adrian Peterson I think it’s worth drafting that guy in the first round. (Not top 5, though.)

  7. seattlesetters says:

    Jeff – Not trying to be a jerk here at all … but have you actually looked at Ryan Mathews’ number from last year?

    1,091 yards rushing with a 4.9 Y/A
    50 receptions for 455 yards with a 9.1 Y/R

    And he posted these while splitting time with Mike Tolbert.

  8. John says:

    There is no way Richardson will fall, he’s just a monster. He does it all. I think there’s comparisons to Adrian Peterson here, and I just don’t see the teams ahead of us passing on him. But man, if he does fall, Seattle would have one of the meanest running attacks ever. Its a nice dream, but I’m pretty sure its going to stay a dream.

  9. Smeghead says:

    I agree with you Turp… that would be a nice start to the draft…

  10. dave crockett says:

    Jeff M. —

    Interesting points, though I disagree with your conclusion. The notion that RBs are fungible (my words, not yours) is a fundamentally insightful point that starting to get stretched beyond usefulness. The distinctions in quality between good RBs (regardless of draft position) and just mediocre backs isn’t dramatic, but there is enough difference that people should rule out spending an early pick on a RB. And, the guy doesn’t have to be a star to justify the selection.

    To say only one RB drafted in the 1st or 2nd round “is a star” sets the bar higher than is useful. Many of the RBs that you mention have been worth their draft position, or at least they’re no more over-drafted than players at other positions.

    Let’s look at the backs you listed on 2011-12 by DYAR (as of 2 Jan):

    2011:
    Mark Ingram (#30, 70 DYAR) – drafted 28th; Ingram played well as part of a 3-headed monster before getting turf toe.

    Ryan Williams (IR) – drafted 38th

    Shane Vereen (?) – drafted 56th

    Mikel Leshoure (IR) – drafted 57th; the Lions raved about him in camp before he got hurt.

    Daniel Thomas (#51, -94) – drafted 62nd

    2010:
    Ryan Matthews (#5, 197 DYAR) – drafted 12th; his rookie struggles became notorious, and that’s really part of the problem. People seem to really overdo it in their criticism of backs. This past season he balled.

    Ben Tate (#10, 167) – drafted 58th; he averaged 5.4 ypc on 175 carries. Arian Foster is ranked #14 in DYAR with 141.

    C.J. Spiller (#25, 84) – drafted 9th; he averaged 5.2 ypc on 107 carries and caught another 39 balls. Spiller is good now and still has star potential. He might have had even more aggregate production but teammate Fred Jackson ranked #7 in DYAR.

    Toby Gerhart (#31, 67) – drafted 51st; playing behind AP we may never really get to see what he can do as a starter with a game plan built around him. He strikes me as a quality back, but nothing special.

    Jahvid Best (NR, 46) – drafted 30th; he didn’t have enough carries to qualify for the ranking prior to getting injured.

    Montario Hardesty (NR,?) – drafted 59th; Football Outsiders only ranks the top 51 backs in DYAR. He looks like a perfectly replacement level back to me. You’d like to get more out of the 59th pick but when a guard or corner is selected here, and is no better than replacement level scarcely anyone bats an eye.

    2009:
    LeSean McCoy (1, 324) – drafted 53rd; he’s emerged into a legitimate star.

    Donald Brown (16, 134) – drafted 27th; he is often unfairly labeled a bust. He’s clearly not a “star” but he was drafted at the end of the first and he’s a good back.

    Beanie Wells (17, 123) – drafted 31st; he’s “dinged up” quite a bit but he’s an effective back who also is somewhat unfairly labeled a bust.

    Knowshon Moreno (NR, -5) – drafted 12th; he looks like a classic bust but it’s worth saying that his selection was not widely praised. LOTS of people didn’t think very highly of him.

  11. dave crockett says:

    The distinctions in quality between good RBs (regardless of draft position) and just mediocre backs isn’t dramatic, but there is enough difference that people should **NOT** rule out spending an early pick on a RB.

    (oops.)

  12. Colin says:

    It’s really going to come down to what the Seahawks value from a need standpoint and a BPA standpoint. I still maintain the faith that they need to take a Kirk Cousins or Brock Osweiler in the 2nd. You just can’t go into the regular season with Tarvaris Jackson and Josh Portis as your two QB’s. Personally I’m hoping we snag Upshaw or Couples in the 1st. This team badly needs a complimentary back to Marshawn, but a complimentary back just doesn’t outweigh the potential for a starting QB in round 2 (even if the odds are low) in my book.

  13. jim J says:

    YOu can say there is no difference in quality between RBs, but when you have a great one the difference is notable and game changing.

  14. Norm M says:

    If Richardson were to fall into our laps at 11/12, I would not at all be disappointed if we drafted him, even if that meant passing on Upshaw if they were both available. In my mind, with the offence we run, it is mandatory to have two similarly styled of backs on the roster. With the likelihood of injury to a running back we do not want a “change of pace” guy filling in for an extended period of time. Two powerful and dynamic backs on the same roster would wear down many of today’s defenses who are gearing up for pass happy offenses.

    With this year’s draft, I’m just not sold on the top defensive prospects. Admittedly, I’m not a scout but I just do not see where Coples or Upshaw fit into our defensive scheme. With that said, it would be my guess that if Richardson were to drop to Seattle there would be plenty of opportunities to trade down and pick up value picks in the second and third rounds. There would be a number of teams that would sell out to pick up a back of his talent. With more 2nd-3rd round draft picks I think Seattle could still pick up a solid running back as well as find talent and value on the defensive side of the ball.

  15. Chris says:

    Lynch has run with passion and intensity since the day he got to Seattle. There isn’t a game he’s played in that he hasn’t left his everything on the field.

    Yet, his output had been HORRIBLE until the 2nd half of this season.

    What changed?

    The O-line. And that’s it. The very instant the o-line had both enough TALENT, and enough EXPERIENCE playing together, Lynch’s production went from that of a far below average NFL RB to a far above average RB.

    I love Lynch as a back, he might be my favorite Seahawk RB ever actually (well, except for Curt maybe …), but I’d much rather put a 1st or 2nd into another O-lineman than a RB (not that I see O-line as a massive need, just speaking theoretically). It’s the O-line, it’s always been the o-line, and will always be the o-line.

    We could use another nice bruiser backup, but these guys can be found in later rounds.

  16. Craig says:

    The people who are saying they would “not be disappointed” if Richardson fell to us and we took him are nuts. If it weren’t for the fact that the few teams in front of us don’t need an RB (KC, CAR, MIA, JAX), I would say that I would be disappointed if we did not to trade up to one of these spots if he was still there.

    To me, this is the situation we’re in: picking too late to get an elite QB prospect and the rest of the talent drops off significantly. I’m not knocking on Cousins, Osweiler, or Tannehill, but the fact is that short of RG3 or Luck, there isn’t a QB that I think a coach would really want to throw out there right away from day one. Based on this, I want the Seahawks to go after some average or above average QB in FA to compete with Tarvaris (unless of course, we get get Peyton Manning – extremely unlikely, although a man can dream).

    Therefore, I would be ecstatic with either a Richardson-Curry or Coples/Upshaw/Ingram-Martin combo in rounds 1 and 2. The Seahawks would still also have the option of trading up from the 3rd round back into the second to grab a QB.

    The fact is: if we lose Lynch, we lose our offense (I still have nightmares about that Cleveland game). Unless you think that one of QBs after Luck and RG3 are good enough to overcome a complete lack of run game (under the assumption they overcame Tarvaris before Lynch got injured), I don’t see how you can justify taking a 2nd or 3rd tier QB over a 1st or 2nd tier RB if you have the choice.

    The only other alternative I find acceptable in rounds 1-2 would be to go all out for the defensive line and go DE/DE (if the right players are available at the right times).. Thoughts anyone?

  17. Derek says:

    I have to agree with a lot of you, if Richardson is there at 11/12, I would be very disappointed in PC/JS for not drafting him. For a team that holds the running game to such importance, passing on a talent like Richardson doesn’t make sense. I understand some of your guys’ worries about finding value in this pick, but Richardson is a stud, putting up the best numbers in the country against the best defenses in the country, and if we get him, we have a franchise running back locked up long term, who only had one year in college as a full-time starter, so here is an elite talent who didn’t take much damage in college.

    Rob or Kip- I know you guys have some inside info so I was wondering if you guys could share any knowledge on what the front office thinks of any of the FA running backs? I was thinking Peyton Hillis and Lynch would be a pretty effective duo as well. Tolbert could be an option as well.

  18. James says:

    Buy low, sell high. The rule of exploiting markets.

    Yes the rules of the game have evolved to favor the quarterback and the passing game, but when the entire league is devaluing a position, potentially to its detriment, pounce.

    Richardson at 11 or 12? This is a no-brainer. So much so that I’d agree with John above and say that the chance is leaving town with Slim.

  19. Kip Earlywine says:

    “Rob or Kip- I know you guys have some inside info so I was wondering if you guys could share any knowledge on what the front office thinks of any of the FA running backs?”

    Nope. I don’t anyway.

  20. Don says:

    There are 3 basic areas of need: QB, RB, DE/LB rusher. A good GM and scouting team can find pro bowl calliber players for all three of these positions in the first three rounds with some keen insight and luck. The Seahawks need to pick the best player available at the time for each of the three positions.

    The Denver Broncos won two super bowls with Elway and a RB picked in the 6th round (Terrell Davis). The RB is only as good as the talent around him, like QB and the OL. With Elway, the defense had to pay attention to him as well as the run. Elway’s success was because of his talent, and the RB threat, and playing behind one of the best OL in the league. You need all three.

    If Richardson is a 10 on a scale of 1-10, there are probably RB’s you can get in the 3rd rd that are 8. When the RB is with a good QB and OL, he becomes a 10. Personally, I would like a change of pace RB, someone who is selusive, with speed, like LaMichael James. He might be available in the 3rd rd.

    Focus on the QB and Ol, DE, and the lower round RB will be great.

  21. David says:

    how does Jeff Risdon have a job? ok i cant say anything because i dont know much about scouting but he has his V-day Mock up and has the hawks trading our 11/12th pick, next years first and this years 4th to move up to the 8th spot to take Ryan Tannehill.

    with this years draft as much as id like one of the two ‘Elite’ QB’s i def wouldnt mind just building the D with either Coples,Upshaw in the 1st and in the 2nd getting another maybe Curry or Cam Johnson (i think thats him) then Pead in the 3rd.

    theres how many qbs that are going to be out there this offseason?(draft inlcuded)
    Manning
    Flynn
    Griffin
    Luck
    Tannehill
    Oswieller
    Ponder(maybe)

    now for the QB needy teams
    Colts
    Skins
    Browns
    Miami
    KC

    after FA pans out and Manning Flynn and maybe Matt Moore find new homes or stay at home, i wonder how many teams will be looking at QBs early, so was thinking what the chances of some of those 2nd or 3rd tier QBs sliding down in the draft.

    I like Oswieller and im hoping the Hawks target him and can get him sometime in the mid rounds, but like Rob has pointed out, he thinks Oswieller will climb, least i think i remember him saying that

    I also have a question Rob, is the senior bowl only an invite? because i didnt notice Frank Alexander there, and i really like him as a mid round pick.

  22. David says:

    sorry i meant to add the Vikings. depending what they decide to do.

  23. cmoney says:

    I think the key here is that we get Matt Flynn in free agency. The reason being, besides the QB (but Tavaris might surprise), assuming we sign our free agents, our starters are all solid. Seattle’s in a good position in that the draft will not be to fill holes in our starting lineup but to add depth. But in adding depth, what’s the priority? To add a pass rush that was lacking last year, or to improve on the run game (something that was working for us in the second half). I would think it would be the pass rush. I think a really good pass rush is the key to winning games when the other team has QBs like Brady, Brees and Rodgers. If you don’t have that pass rush, they’ll pick the defense apart. I like Coples or Upshaw with the first pick.

  24. Rob says:

    David – There’s 0% chance this team moves up for Tannehill. That’s a pretty lousy mock.

    cmoney – Seattle hasn’t any interest in Flynn, but they might stil upgrade the position. We’ll see what happens.

  25. Chavac says:

    I think Norm has the right idea here. If Richardson is there at 12 the first thought should be trading down… there’s so much RB depth this year I would much rather have a Polk/Martin in the second than a Richardson for a top 12 pick. If someone really values him that much take advantage of it.

  26. David says:

    I wonder if Richardson does slide down with Cincy being in a need for an Elite Talent at RB how much would they give up for that pick

    hmmm..

  27. Vandehawk says:

    I heard Mike Mayock say that he thinks Zac Brown will run a 4.35 40 at the combine, if he does will it increase the interest from the Seahawks? It would certainly increase the speed in the front 7. I am still hoping for Upshaw, Coples, Brockers or maybe Wright but I guess we will see. The site is awesome, look forward to seeing the new stuff daily!

  28. Michael (CLT) says:

    Athletic 300 pound men are much more rare than running backs. Go line… either of them.

    The fact that Richardson played behind the best line in college football is not a discussion point? The fact that he stops his feet often in the hole is not a discussion point. That he is big and can outrun the secondary is sweet. But seriously, does that make the Seahawks better 30 plays (max) a game?

    I’ve come round on perhaps a 2nd rounder. But I watched DeAngelo Williams be average prior to the Otah draft, Ronnie Brown wither, Cedric Benson sulk, Cadillac Williams get destroyed. All were flashing talents that burned for teams that wanted to contend… or thought they could. Is Seattle that team?

    What about Michael Turner, MJD, Fred Jackson, Arian Foster, Blount, Starks, Hillis, Gore, Bradshaw, Jacobs, Greene, Hightower, Green-Ellis (after two RB drafted), Bush, Pierre Thomas, Helu, Sproles, Kendall Hunter…

    Maybe Richardson has Ronnie Brown in him. Or even Jamal Lewis… that might work. But man, think about RB star power, and you do not list many 1st rounders.

    1st rounders need to be rare. I do not see RB… any RB in this era, as rare. Peterson with Tarvaris Jackson… great stats, really average team.

    I know I’m the minority here, but I do believe that JS sees value in rare athletes. Maybe Richardson is that. But put Pead or Polk behind that Alabama line… hmm…

    Perhaps we give up the 1st round pick for a Mike Wallace, and open it up for a back that hits the hole hard. Hitting the hole fast cannot be that big a cost, and may be something Richardson does not do well.

    I’m the negative nelly again. But I find big men like Martin, Coples, Still, and DeCastro much more intriguing.

  29. OZ says:

    I think Zac Brown is definantly on the Hawks radar. I also don’t think they would consider Coples in the least, no chance!!!!
    Tampa Bay, Washington and KC, if they get the 11th spot are the only team’s ahead of Seattle that need a RB. Much depend’s on the coin toss. Tampa has CB/LB issues, while the Skin’s have many. I could see KC trading up if they are stuck at 12 to get Richardson. Cincy is another trade up candidate. I don’t think Washington can afford the luxery of selecting a RB in the 1st. It’s not in Marty’s MO anyway.
    Fletcher Cox will start moving up draft board’s as will Mercilus, two players I like for the Hawk’s in a trade down. They won’t be able to trade back far though.

  30. Doug says:

    I guess I’m the broken record, but the Hawks will trade up for either Coples or Richardson, everything cept Upshaw past is not elite.
    Lynch and Richardson would make defensive knees shake. I have been all for this concept for a long time. It would make life for TJack so fun…

  31. MLT says:

    I can’t get behind the richardson train a whole lot myself! I would rather see a defensive starter or even a big play receiver! Now I know its not good 2 plan ahead but me myself would rather see lynch for a few more years be the feature back and if this team goes all in on a rb then let it be latimore of south carolina! Faces same defenses with way less talent on his line then richardson and still tears it up! Plus 1 year of expierence isn’t too proven for richardson if you ask me! Much rather see a late round back this year!

  32. Rob says:

    Vandehawk – A lot of teams think Brown’s stock will rise dramatically after the combine, possibly into the top 10. He holds sprinting records at UNC.

    Doug – Seahawks won’t move up even for those two players that they do like. Same situation as Earl Thomas – they really liked him, they knew there was a chance he would leave the board before the #14 pick. Philly moved ahead, they anticipated he would be gone. They didn’t force the issue and got lucky when the Eagles drafted Graham. Seattle will sit tight and let the board come to them. After all, they only have six picks in the draft right now.

  33. Karlos says:

    Until free agency is over with the picture is very cloudy these are some players we could sign that may slightly change the draft.
    – I could very much see Vince Young, Josh Johnson, or possibly Chad Henne being signed as cheap competition that isn’t far from Tavares’s skill level.

    – If the oppurtunity to draft Richardson arises we should see what teams are willing to deal. We need a compliment back not a superstar I highly doubt Lynch goes anywhere now that teams see an identity in our offense to gameplan for which allows for us to go “Picks For Player” in this spot.

    Jamaal Anderson & Derrick Harvey are free agents that are young, haven’t shown flash but can come cheap just as a look for the LEO position. If we sign Mario Williams how many double-teams could he cause..?

    – Amobi Okoye is one player I hope we really look at he hasn’t lived up to his draft position but he is a pass rushing DT.

    – Malcom Smith is 1 year ahead of any rookie & David Hawthorne should be re-signed (For continuity puposes, production, & instincts).

    Much like Carson our FO has a range of what they will give up to move on a QB Luck/RG3. Free agency makes an aggressive move easier to make depending on who exactly we get. My #1 free agent to sign (Not with team) is Mario Williams… Yes he comes with a price but if he’s physically cleared that would add another playmaker to the DL. Rookies come cheaper but are unknown commodities, have no respect, and may end up like the D-Linemen named above.

  34. Chris says:

    With Richardson and Lynch in the backfield I would not mind having T Jack for one more year. If defenses actually had to respect the run in our third down packages our offense would have been much more effective and we might have snuck into the playoffs again. If Richardson is gone I would be surprised to see a running back before round 3. Can’t wait for the draft.

  35. Tarry says:

    I think Seattle’s draft board has a line drawn through it which will dictate whether or not they trade back. I personally think that line is after the first 6 players and 3 of those will certainly not be there (Luck, Griffin and Claiborne), the other 3: Richardson, Upshaw and Ingram (in that order). This line is based on need. There are other good players but not that would hinder the Seahawks from trading back. I think Ingram is the most realistic possibility to be available.

    Other rounds are tougher to guess, but I’d be extremely happy with the following players rounding out our top 4 rounds:

    Sean Spence OLB – Miami
    Kirk Cousins QB – Michigan State
    Ronnie Hillman – RB – San Diego State

    There are many directions we can go, but this outcome to me, gives us the pass rush from DE we need, Spence gets us faster at LB (Carroll want), Cousins ran pro-style running system at Michigan State and plays into the system we are running. Hillman is in my opinion the most underrated back in this class… he can catch out of the backfield and runs with great vision, great compliment to Lynch.

  36. Phil says:

    Assuming that the Seahawks re-sign Marshawn, or put the tag on him, I don’t see the need for using one of our higher-round picks (#s 1, or 2) on a RB. My reasoning is that I’d rather use the picks to address weaknesses and I see our running game as a strength, not a weakness. Like lots of Seahawk fans, I think we are just a few steps away from being a really good team — especially because we are so young. So, what are our weaknesses? (1) The lack of a ferocious pass rush, and (2) poor/slow decision-making at the QB spot. So, I’d like to see us sign a free agent like Cliff Avril to help the pass rush while also using our first pick on Upshaw/Ingram/Coples. Then, I’d use our #2 on Cousins — I know it’s a reach, but I’m impressed with his intangibles (he’d be a real leader on the field and in the locker room) and his play-action faking would be a great complement to our running game. Then, if Martin was still available (or some other back who can turn simple swing passes into big plays like Ricky Watters used to) in Round 3, I’d jump on him. If Cousins doesn’t work out, we’ve got to think about mortgaging the farm next year to get Matt Barkley.

  37. creid says:

    “I’m sure the team will add viable competition and maybe even a new starting QB at some stage. That could happen via trade long before the draft takes place – we’ll see what happens in March.”

    Why do I have the feeling that this is a hint at some inside information and not just educated speculation?

  38. Phil says:

    Could the hinted at trade be with the Jets for a QB whose name starts with an S?

  39. Smeghead says:

    Phil – I agree for the most part with you and would love to see Upshaw then Cousins… However, even though RB is a strength of the Hawks it is also a major cog of our offense and I could see the argument for stengthening the position for both this year and the future if the right back is available at certain spots. I mean I love Leon but I don’t want him to carry the ball 20-30 times a game if Marshawn goes down for a big part of the season. We need another guy with a similar skillset. Giving someone a year to work his way into the system and get comfortable while Beast Mode is potentially on a franchise tag would be great. Remember Marshawn didn’t get clicking until he bought into Cable’s A, B, C speech/system. This gives the team flexibility should Marshawn be really disgruntled after a year on the tag or his production falls off or major injury occurs, etc, etc… just a thought…

  40. Smeghead says:

    I think the Jets just resigned Sanchez’s coordinator or was it QB coach?

  41. Sean says:

    Interesting article from fieldgulls about drafted RBs and their success…and the drop off in talent after round 2. Worth taking a look at. Does not include UDFA, but they are unique…much like saying a late round QB is likely to happen in my opinion

    http://www.fieldgulls.com/2012/2/15/2799451/where-do-nfl-teams-draft-franchise-running-backs

  42. Tarry says:

    our RB is a strength only when Lynch is there and healthy, as of right now, Washington is only viable option… he’s decent but I think all would agree not every down back. Depth is needed however you slice it, whether its Richardson, Wilson, Polk, Miller, James, Martin, Poole, Hillman, or another good back via trade, FA or draft.

  43. Tarry says:

    As for Sanchez… didn’t Carroll and Sanchez leave on bad terms?

  44. ryan says:

    i guess bottom line is what side of the ball needs more improvement, regardless of this seasons sack totals, pass defense overall was most vast improvement from 2010. we’d have to give up way to much for the top two qb’s and any other is up to speculation as to how soon they could be our starting qb.we’re a run first based offense, so build upon that be drafting decastro or the next best offensive lineman possible. sure richardson would be amazing to grab but probably wont be there at 11 or 12, i think we finished 21 in the league in rushing offense, and 15 or so pass defense. so try to grab a de or rush lb in round 2, and maybe cousins in the 3rd or a fa qb. Are oline did well down the stretch considering the injuries, but another top tier olinemen would be the final piece of the puzzle, and if one of the injured arent ready to go we’d still be ok for next season. find a mid to late round rb to replace forsett. another year of tj not the best option but certainly not the worst either.

  45. Meatwad says:

    First off, I love that picture, and loved being at that game. I have that picture on my phone screensaver.

    Anyway, I would love to see Trent picked at 11, QB like Osweiler in the 2nd or 3rd and DE/LB inserted somewhere. That being said, I don’t see Trent hanging around for the Hawks at 11/12, so DL will be picked and maybe a RB in the 2nd, Osweiler in the 3rd. Osweiler is NOW talked about all over the radio, websites, Bleacher, etc. A month ago if Osweiler was brought up is was who?, and why?, and NO! Especially on Bleacher. I get desperate for football so head over to bleacher to find Osweiler discussed!?
    There isn’t many QB’s other than RGIII and Luck that excite me, Osweiler does.

  46. Jake says:

    Other than a second pass-rusher, what holes exist on this team? I know it’s a huge cost, but this is the time to go “all-in” and acquire the pick to get RGIII. We keep our mid-round picks and grab a gem of a defensive prospect (hopefully LB) with one of them and a complimentary big back to sub for Lynch with another. That’s a nice draft in my opinion. The offense goes from solid but unspectacular to solid and potentiallly spectacular. The defense stays about the same (with progress from the young secondary). No second pass rusher, but maybe there’s someone who can recapture what Brock was in 2010 that we find in FA.

    The more mocks I see the more I want to trade up. There aren’t exciting players that fit what we need at the top of this draft. Andrew Luck, RGIII and Richardson are the only players that both fit the Seahawks perfectly and are worth a top-15 pick. So, be bold – fill the biggest hole with the new face of the franchise – RGIII. Picks are only worth the player they are used to acquire, so if we used next year’s mid 20s pick (Carpenter, Spencer, Stevens, McIntosh, Lamar King) to trade up for RGIII – who’s going to complain?

  47. Misfit74 says:

    If Richardson is BPA we take him, while factoring in positional value and lastly: need. That said, the Tag for Lynch would be ok and then we can sign Jonathan Stewart who is due to become a UFA in 2013. :)

  48. Phil says:

    Regarding Jake’s suggestion that we go “all-in” for RGIII this year, I’d rather wait one year and if things don’t work out this year at QB by (1) signing a FA or making a trade, or (2) getting lucky by drafting someone like Cousins who then proves to be a winner, or (3) developing TJack’s decision-making skills, then going all-in for Barkley. If Barkley had decided to forego his senior year at USC, he’d be the one I’d go after (even though I’m a UCLA grad). Maybe it’s because I’ve seen more TV coverage of USC than Baylor, but Barkley just looks like a surer bet to me than RGIII (who looks to be the better athlete). As I’ve said: #1 Upshaw/Ingram/Coples, #2 Cousins, #3 Martin. FA Cliff Avril. Potential Trade: Mark Sanchez.

  49. Aredub says:

    You know after Rob’s post about Cousins I’ve been watching a LOT of game footage on him. There are a few times i’m like “what the hell was he thinking” but for the most part I’m honestly impressed! I say take him in the 2nd if he lasts that long. My fear is that teams who miss out on free agent QB’s and don’t get who they want in the 2nd will target him before us. Bring Cousins in to compete with Jackson this year and maybe another Vet QB. See what happens.

  50. Jarhead says:

    Unfortunately I don not see any semblance of a starting QB in Cousins. I would much rather sign Orton or Henne than draft Cousins, because they can be had for fewer years in a commitment, and that is Cousins ceiling AT BEST. He is mediocre and has never truly WON anything noteworthy. An Andy Dalton type player where there is no upside. What you see is what you get. As for Seattle, there is no real value at our draft spot beyond Richardson Upshaw or MAYBE Brockers, depending on his development (could maybe be Jon Randle?). Coples is lazy and does not fit a consistent place- will he replace Red? DO we really want to replace Clemons already when he led us in sacks and is our ONLY pass rusher? Do we waste a number 11 pick on a player who plays only on 3rd down? Aside from the laziness, I make the same argument about Ingram. Where will he play, and when? I do not want to waste a high pick on a situational player when a player of marginally less skill can be found later for less cost or a veteran acquired via FA. We are NOT that good yet to be wasting high picks on depth and situationl help. We don’t have 22 legit starters yet. I believe we MUST go O-D or D-O in our first two rounds. If Richardson is available at 11, we pounce, then go for Vinny Curry, Nick Perry, Chandler Jones or Vontaze Burfict in Round 2. If we go Upshaw in round one, then I say Osweiler. Upside all the way. He will improve leaps and bounds and really energize a team with his unorthodox style and competitiveness. Unlike Cousins who ceiling has already been reached and will never amount to more than a serviceable backup. If neither Richardson nor Upshaw are available then well maybe we can trade down. That would certainly be a disastrous scenario though…

  51. [...] league, but I still expect the Seahawks to spend one of their first three picks on the position. In February I wrote a piece detailing why I’d come to that conclusion, based on the team’s commitment to the run, needed insurance against Lynch missing time and [...]