How the Seahawks could get back into the top ten

Firstly a heads up that I’m flying to Jamaica on Tuesday morning. I’m hoping to update the blog as usual every day but that may not be possible for the whole week.

Trading up or down in the draft is a popular discussion amongst fans. The majority hope or expect their team to move down and there’s usually less enthusiasm about moving up. I personally prefer a more proactive approach putting quality ahead of quantity when at all possible. It’s not that I oppose trading down, but it’s clearly easier for teams like New England with proven players at key positions. The Seahawks need to improve their talent pool before thinking about depth.

This is the first time a team with a losing record is picking in the mid-20’s without a trade. That just increases the unclear nature of what the front office in Seattle may be thinking. Do they need to keep the momentum of this rebuild going by trading up to get a top 15-20 talent? Do they intend to sit tight and simply allow the board to come to them, taking the best player available? Is trading down a possibility to accumulate extra stock considering the team doesn’t own a third round selection?

The best way to consider the possibility of a trade up is to use the draft value chart to project the cost. Even so, this doesn’t provide an exact science on what you can or can’t do to move up. NFL Draft 101 projected an update for the chart prior to last year’s event taking into consideration how the NFL had changed:

“An example of the disparity in the value of top 10 picks can be found in Jacksonville’s 2008 trade up from #26 to #8 overall with Baltimore.  According to the trade value chart the 8th overall selection should have been worth 1,400 points.   By trading picks 26, 71, 89 and 125 the Jaguars gave up only 1,127 points.  Even with the recommended adjustments in the chart the 8th pick is 1,350 points and the points given up have only closed the gap from 273 points to 178 points.  In other words from a chart standpoint the Jaguars still got the better end of the deal just not quite as good. This just goes to show how hard it is for a team to make a move from the 20s into the top 10.

“As the Ravens-Jaguars trade demonstrates economics and the draft pool have lowered the value of the players at the top of the draft.  In addition, with the need to add as many quality young players as possible to one’s roster the value of the later round picks has increased a little as well. In other words with the supply (i.e. teams wanting to trade) outweighing the demand (team’s wanting to move up) the trade value chart needs to be updated.”

Here is the proposed update from NFL Draft 101 (click on the image to enlarge):

We need to stress here that this is merely a projection and there’s nothing ‘official’ about the upated chart. There’s is however a universal consensus that the old chart is outdated.

It’s also unclear whether further changes to the chart need to be made for 2011. It’s almost certain we’ll see the introduction of a rookie cap when the CBA situation is finally sorted and surely that changes things and increases the value of the #1 overall pick? If you’re making less of a financial investment on the top overall player, it might not be a stretch to say it revolutionises the draft – making the #1 pick a huge bonus rather than a potentially crippling hindrance. That should filter through to the rest of round one.

If the overall value of the top picks increase it’ll make it much more expensive for Seattle to make a significant move up the board.

Even so, without a new CBA will teams still make plans for the 2011 draft under the previous guidelines expecting to fork out for the top players? If that was to be the case, what would it take for the Seahawks to jump into the top 15?

Using the NFL Draft 101 chart, Seattle’s first round pick (740), second round pick (350) and fourth round pick (107) totals 1197 points. That is just short of the equivalent value of the #10 overall pick (1200). In 2008 Baltimore were committed to trading out of the top ten after Matt Ryan was drafted 3rd overall by Atlanta. They knew they still had the opportunity to target Joe Flacco later on to address the quarterback position. We saw a similar thing with Cleveland in 2009 and Denver in 2010 as both teams made substantial moves down the board accumulating picks and targeting players (Alex Mack and Demaryius Thomas) that would be available later in the first round.

It’s hard to project which team may be open to repeating such a move this year, but it’s also not a complete stretch to think one franchise in the top 10-15 would be willing to move around. Seattle’s three picks in rounds 1-4 could potentially net them the #8 pick owned by Tennessee or the #9 pick owned by Dallas. Baltimore gave up 273 points using the standard chart to move down three years ago. Even with an updated chart as a reference, the determination to turn one pick into three could allow for the Seahawks to get a ‘bargain’.

Why would a team like Tennessee give up 153 points on the NFL Draft 101 chart to move down when they’re beginning a new era themselves? They need a quarterback but both Cam Newton and Blaine Gabbert are likely to be gone by the #8 pick. If they are one of the teams supposedly unconvinced by Jake Locker and Ryan Mallett, they may be targeting one of the ‘second tier’ prospects. Moving down would allow them to add a player at another position of need (cornerback is a huge need for the Titans) and really target their guy among the next crop of QB’s with a war chest of picks.

Of course that’s all speculation, supposition and it doesn’t mean it’s even a modest possibility. Yet if the Seahawks have got that determination to make a big move up the board that’s one potential way of doing so.

In my last mock draft I had Jake Locker off the board at #10 and Ryan Mallett at #15. Such a move would allow them to target either or one of the high end defensive prospects. The Seahawks would’ve owned the #8 overall pick had they lost to St. Louis in week 17.

Too much of a stretch for a rookie QB? Perhaps, but the move doesn’t include any 2012 stock and would allow the team to continue their long term plans for a rebuild with a strong investment at the most important position. Trading for either Kevin Kolb or Carson Palmer is likely to involve a first round pick and possibly second round compensation too. This would only be a similar move albeit for an untested younger player. The big difference is you may not get an instant return on your investment, which has to be taken into consideration. The Seahawks did show in 2010 though that they can be competitive in the NFC West, so perhaps that strengthens the argument slightly.

What about if the Seahawks were targeting a position in that 11-13 region with Mallett in mind? NFL Draft 101’s chart suggests it’d likely only cost the #25 and #57 (1090 points) to target the 12th overall pick owned by Minnesota (1100) or the 13th overall pick owned by Detroit (1050). That wouldn’t be too expensive to address the team’s biggest long term need. Compare this to the older chart when the two picks would be worth 1050 points – the exact same value of the #15 pick.

Not many of the national pundits are projecting the top four quarterbacks will go in the top 15 picks and I may be proven completely wrong in that sense. Obviously there’s a huge presumption in this piece that my own projection will prove true. If the Seahawks aren’t interested in trading up for a quarterback, they may still have some interest in moving up and it’s at least interesting to see what the options are.


  1. Jules

    I believe that if the Seahawks brass view a player in the 10 to 15 pick range that meets an immediate and long term need, a player who they believe can be a difference maker they need to trade up. Franchise players on either side of the ball are hard to come by and the truth is that the Seahawks lack franchise players. There are some good but not great starters with potential to be available in free agency when that day comes. If we are active in free agency then I believe a move up the boards is warranted.

    A point to remember is that Carroll is slightly removed from the college ranks and given his experience and knowledge of players coming out in the next few years trusting his assessment here is invaluable. His contacts in college likely give him some insights into the next few draft that other teams might not have. If Carroll thinks that by staying put he can find potential starters that other teams might miss then I say stay put and go to work. If his insight suggests that in reality there are few that he would choose for his team given his vision and philosophy then move up.

    Obviously by moving up Carroll would be risking his reputation and the player taken, unless its a QB, would need to pay immediate dividends for 2011.

    The way I see it is last year was a bit of a fluke and ripe with inconsistent performances. To produce greater stability I would be prepared to say “look we need a good two year plan to build this team.” But look at San Francisco and their players on offense and defense. Would it be fair to believe that under more effective coaching they would not have been better overall in the standings than the Seahawks? I think not. So hopefully Carroll and company have been honest with themselves and last year’s “perfect storm” to success and move forward accordingly. I’d take a 4-12 year if I knew we had acquired another franchise type player to add to Okung and Thomas.

    Assuming Okung stays healthy in year two and Thomas continues to progress then adding a Julio Jones, Ryan Mallet, or Nick Fairley to the fold by moving up makes sense to me. But the player has to be considered a “must have” for the team’s approach to offense or defense for the remainder of Carroll’s tenure. Alternatively you stay where you are, make some great depth picks and hope that if nothing else you develop these guys into future trade bait in a year when you believe the NFL draft depth is better over the next couple of years.

    Remember at 4-12 it would be easier to draft an impact player in 2012 while still seeing some key performances out of your current group. Imagine Julio Jones this year and then having a shot at drafting Matt Barkley in 2012 and being positionally higher in every round with better options. If the Seahawks lost a lot of close games, and given their strength of their opposition due to their late season success I don’t think this is a stretch, then that would still be a positive year for the team IMO

    Thanks for giving us a chance to chat about the draft as it approaches and the month can’t go fast enough for me! Go Hawks!!!

    Enjoy your well deserved vacation and safe travels.

    • Rob

      Excellent post Jules and thank you for the kind words.

  2. kevin mullen

    I think it falls to Washington at #10, if they pass on a QB, of the teams in that 10 to 15 range, only Minnesota and Dolphins (less emphasis on Miami since they have Chad Henne) would draft either Locker and Mallet.

    That means Houston should be the target team to trade with, I think they’d welcome a trade down to draft more defense for Wade Phillips. Houston should get a ton of calls…

    • Rob

      It’s a strong possibility and because they need to rebuild that defense they may welcome the extra picks. They can afford to really zone in on 3-4 defensive prospects because the offense is productive and has key talent at premium positions. At #25 Houston would be well placed to target Phil Taylor as a nose tackle or alternatively could consider 5-tech and OLB prospects considering the depth at those positions. There’s every chance they’d listen to offers, so good shout.

      • kevin mullen

        #11 is attainable with our 2011 draft stock and not have to sacrifice any 2012 picks, but the question goes to you Rob: is Mallet or Locker worth that #11 and who would you prefer?

        Drum roll please…

        • Rob

          I prefer Mallett, but you’d have to be 100% sure about the off the field stuff. My stance has always been that people have gone over the top and people haven’t discussed the positives with Mallett enough. But teams have the opportunity to meet the guy, do their homework and determine whether they want to invest their future in him. Coincidentally, Mallett is starting a two-day visit in Seattle today.

          I don’t think the Seahawks will trade up to target Mallett because I can’t see Carroll investing his return to the NFL on a rookie QB who he doesn’t love and I’m not sure he’ll love Mallett. I actually think they’ll probably like Jake Locker more and maybe that’s the direction they would go? I suspect Mallett will be a Miami Dolphin on April 28th and that would be a great fit for team and player. The Seahawks have to do something at QB and they won’t find an answer with the various second tier prospects (Ponder, Dalton etc).

  3. Cliff

    If we moved up it should be for a player like Aldon Smith. too much upside to him and will lock down and Leo. if he’s a “blue chip” prospect why not. Houston, Detroit, Miami could possibly trade down depending on how the board falls.

  4. Christon

    I could see them moving up to get a QB that they are really in love with, but I really don’t see them moving up for anyone else. QB’s are the wildcard in this years draft and it will be interesting to see how fast the first four come off the board. I really don’t see another player at any-other position that they need to move up for. DL is very, very deep this year so I don’t believe they would have to move up to get a quality player.
    Remember that Pete & Schneider waited patiently for Earl Thomas in last years draft and Pete said that they were in position to move down but didn’t because Thomas was still on the board. Schneider’s blue print in GB was pretty much to always move down so I’m not sure how many picks they would be willing to burn when they have so many wholes to fill and when FA hasn’t even hit yet.

  5. andy

    I agree with Christon. The ONLY reason to trade up is if they absolutely love Mallet and he slips past Minnesota. A trade up with Detroit would be the goal. Otherwise stand pat (or trade down) as a few worthy players will slip down to #25……. Hopefully Jimmy Smith!

  6. Grant


    With the NFL currently in a lock out, and no transactions can take place, does this also “squash” draft day trades?

    • Rob

      Hi Grant,

      Teams can trade draft picks but they can’t trade players.

  7. plyka

    As a guy who loves Mallet, I would be quite upset if the Hawks gave up 3 picks to move up in round 1 and get him. Mallet or Locker will most likely fall to 25. When was the last time 4 QBs were taken in the 1st round? It doesn’t happen very often at all. They need to take the risk that Mallet or Locker wont be there, because most likely 1 of them will be there. The removal of a small risk is not worth what they need to give up.

    On the other hand, if Newton or Gabbert falls to 8 or 9, which is possible despite the author of this blog claiming that it isn’t, then it may make sense to give it all up to trade up.

    Also, trading up or trading down, neither one of them is necessarily bad or necessarily good. Nothing that has the word TRADE in it is. It matters what the trade is. If you have a 25th pick, and another team has a 26th and 28th pick and is offering you those two picks for the 25th, then it’s probably a good trade to move back. If you have a 25th and 57th pick, and the 1st pick in the draft is willing to trade with you, then it’s probably a good trade to trade down. It depends on what you’re giving up and what you’re getting back, combined with what players you want and where they are available.

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