Will Seahawks maintain agressive approach to rebuild?

Pete Carroll has been aggressive so far, will it continue?

Last time the Seahawks owned the #25 pick in 2008 they traded down. Will history repeat this year or could Pete Carroll and John Schneider consider moving up the board?

For the basis of this article I’m going to refer to my latest mock draft (updated yesterday) which you can view by clicking here.

Ever since the playoff defeat to Chicago, I’ve really thought there’s a strong possibility the Seahawks will attempt to trade up in the 2011 draft. This is a 7-9 team and by rights would be picking in the middle of round one in any other NFL season. This is the first team with a losing record to make the playoffs and one magical performance against the defending Super Bowl Champs doesn’t change the fact that this is a roster needing to add impact and quality.

It’s important to stress that I don’t think moving up is anything like a formality. Fans will always tout the possibility of moving down – it’s classic ‘rosterbation’ (to coin a Field Gulls phrase) to want as many selections as possible and to assume you can hit on any extra picks you collect. In reality, the quality market becomes thinner the lower you select. In winning the playoff game against New Orleans, it’s almost like Seattle already traded down. They swapped a pick in the teens for a memorable night of playoff football – and I doubt anyone regrets that trade.

But will the team be pro-active in moving back up the board?

I see no evidence to suggest Carroll and Schneider won’t strongly consider that possibility. They were certainly pro-active in the Charlie Whitehurst trade, taking a gamble on finding a quarterback solution. The various trades involving Leon Washington et al were all pro-active decisions. The continuos roster turn over? Pro-active. To some degree the players they chose in last year’s draft could be classified as ‘pro-active’ – especially players like Earl Thomas and Golden Tate who were viewed as playmakers although obviously enjoyed contrasting rookie years.

Courting Brandon Marshall was a pro-active move. Trading for Marshawn Lynch was pro-active. Whether you believe the talk or not, both Carson Palmer and Kevin Kolb have been heavily linked to the Seahawks in expensive deals. Would you rule out any truth to those rumors?

While Schneider has openly talked about the value of picks, this is a team that has left no stone unturned in improving the roster and they’ve been anything but conservative. Why wouldn’t they move up in the 2011 draft if the situation was right?

One stumbling block could be a lack of valuable stock. With no third round pick the Seahawks really only have the #25 and #57 to barter this year in order to make a big jump. They have the option to throw in future picks and as we saw with the Whitehurst trade, this is something they won’t shirk away from. As an example, Seattle’s #25, #57 and 2012 second round pick would be worth 1195 points in the draft trade chart. That could be enough to move up as high as the #12 or #13 pick.

It’d be a steep cost – making day two of this year’s draft a non-event in Seattle and leaving the team without their second round pick next year. You’d have to say that such a move would likely be made for a quarterback.

I wouldn’t rule out such a move (especially given Seattle’s great need at QB) but it’s impossible to project. Let’s not forget how cheaply and aggresively New York moved to acquire Mark Sanchez in 2009. How many people imagined Denver would trade one of their 2010 first round picks to the Seahawks to draft Phonso Smith only to cut him a year later? Trades are as much of an inexact science as the draft itself.

A smaller move up the board is surely a possibility? Trading #25, #98 (round four) and one of the team’s 5th round picks (#153) could get you into the #20-22 range. If my last mock draft proved true that could be enough to target a player suffering a surprise fall, the top offensive guard (Mike Pouncey) or a rough diamond like Jimmy Smith. Some could argue the logic in trading three picks to move up just a handful of spots, but the team essentially gained the 4th and extra 5th round pick in trading Deion Branch and Josh Wilson – two players who were unlikely to stay with the team beyond the 2010 season anyway.

It’d be an aggressive move to get a more preferable prospect than, for example, a Muhammad Wilkerson type player. This front office has been consistently aggressive and my own personal view is that if you can move up three spots to draft Jimmy Smith, you make that move.

The draft trade chart is sometimes thrown out of the window as I touched on earlier. Dallas’ trade with Seattle in 2008 involved moving up three places (#28 to #25) for a 5th and 7th round pick. In this scenario Seattle were happy to collect additional picks knowing Lawrence Jackson would still be available at #28. A team’s determination to move down (as witnessed by Cleveland’s significant move south in 2009) can dictate the value of a jump up.

I’m willing to be proven wrong here and really this is just an example of ‘thinking out loud’ but I cannot envisage the Seahawks going along quietly in the 2011 draft. The idea of this front office waiting until #25 and just taking whoever is left atop their board seems almost unrealistic. Can you imagine Pete Carroll pacing around that war room knowing ‘his guy’ is there at #20 or #21 and not getting something done? Perhaps that’s a great disservice to the HC’s restraint.

But I keep coming back to the pro-active nature of this front office. This is a rebuild that’s had a solid start and that needs to keep ticking along. There are so many key areas of need, least of all quarterback. I suspect if free agency was open for business, they may have already traded that #25 pick. Will the Seahawks be aggressive on April 28th? That remains to be seen but I wouldn’t bet against it.

Thursday draft links

Dan Kelly is the new lead writer at Field Gulls. I urge everyone to support Dan in this move and check out his articles. He’s a talented writer and I’m looking forward to seeing his reputation develop in front of a wider audience.

He has an interesting piece on the blog today quoting Michael Lombardi’s appearance on Brock & Salk, where the prospect of drafting a quarterback at #25 was discussed.

Brandon Adams has an interesting article at 17 Power discussing whether the Red Bryant position (five-technique) is being over rated by fans and pundits.

Dan Hyde has an incredibly detailed piece on Arkansas quarterback Ryan Mallett.

There were two key pro-days yesterday at Washington and USC. Jake Locker had a good work out watched by the majority of Seattle’s coaching staff. Tyron Smith was the star of the show in SoCal. Fellow Trojan and Seahawks Draft Blog follower Malcolm Smith also worked out and will visit with the Seahawks soon. For those not aware, he’s the brother of New York wide out Steve Smith.

Walter Cherepinsky’s updated mock continues to place Colorado’s Jimmy Smith at #25. That would be a steal for the Seahawks.

Mel Kiper and Todd McShay have their latest ‘First Draft’ podcast available courtesy of ESPN.

McShay also discusses Clemson’s pro-day (see video below) which will feature Da’Quan Bowers. He missed the combine through injury.


  1. Ben

    The new Field Gulls is looking good. Dan’s posting a lot of content, seems pretty active in the comments, is aware of other Seahawks writers/bloggers and isn’t afraid to ask questions instead of just making declarative statements.

    • Kip

      Yup. I wouldn’t go so far to say its better, but its very nice direction that site is moving in. In general, the Seahawks “blogosphere” is so much healthier and robust than it was just 6 months ago.

      Also Rob, the term “rosterbation” has been around a long time and didn’t originate at fieldgulls. The first time I heard it was about 4-5 years ago at USSM, and I’m guessing he didn’t coin it either. Whoever coined it, its spot on though. : )

  2. Ben H

    Agreed about the new Field Gulls. I was getting pretty worried for awhile. I think Dan will do great.

    Would 25, 98, and 153 be too cheap to move up to 18 for Fairley?

    • Kip

      Probably, but you never know.

  3. Kip

    Fittingly enough, it will probably be Jake Locker that could act as a catalyst should Seattle decide to trade up. I could of course be wrong, but I think the only two teams that would “likely” consider Locker in round one are Washington and Seattle. I think Tennessee is a possibility, because Locker is a breath of fresh air compared to Vince Young and has similar tools. Tennessee also has a new coach who has breathing room. But I don’t think Jacksonville or Miami would take Locker. Del Rio is on the hot seat and can’t afford a perceived “project” QB. And with Henne’s accuracy issues with Miami, I don’t think they’d draft a QB early who has a lot of the same shortcomings.

    Long story short, I strongly suspect that if Locker gets past Washington, he will reach #25. That would act as an insurance policy for the Seahawks if they decide to gamble and wait for Mallett.

    Would Washington pass on Locker? A few reasons it could happen- the first is if either Gabbert or Newton reaches #10, which I think is possible if somewhat unlikely. The second is if a stud reaches #10 and Shanahan can’t pass up. An AJ Green or Nick Fairly. Shanahan might like Locker, but might also have him graded in the 2nd round like most others do. That doesn’t mean he wouldn’t take a 2nd round QB at #10 if he believes its his only option, but that kind of move is much harder to make if it comes with the opportunity cost of a top 5 talent.

  4. kevin mullen

    I wouldn’t have an issue of packing our first two picks and a future pick to select that QB, (Jets of 2009) but we don’t have the supporting cast to make that rookie QB effective in his first year. That’s the major difference with the Jets move, they had all the pieces to make Sanchez “ok” in his first year. All they were missing was a competent QB.

    This would be (IMO) a bad move for the ‘Hawks to mortgage 2011 for a QB that probably won’t play or play terrible with the current cast around him. Realistically, with the 2011 schedule, we’re not any better than the 7-9 team last year. We’re playing the AFC North and the NFC East, that rookie QB is gonna get killed.

    • Rob

      I would disagree with that Kevin. For starters, while the team will be playing the NFC East and AFC North, there’s also six games against the NFC West. If you see a quarterback in the draft that can be that guy, you’re not second guessing any move based on 2011 opponents.

      Clearly the supporting cast needs improving with better playmakers and a better interior offensive line, but it shouldn’t prevent the team from making that initial investment at QB. Essentially it will be the most crucial investment they make. You’ll never create the perfect environment for a QB to walk into.

      • kevin mullen

        I would second guess the trade of 3 potential starters for 1 player that’s maybe the 4th best player in his position. If the media is right, that the top3 QBs should be gone in the top10, that means with the value of the proposed picks we offer is equivalent to the 12th pick, you would be ok with drafting Mallet with the 12th pick? (Of course assuming Cameron/Gabbert/Locker draft order.)

        Ryan Matthews was drafted last year for 5yrs/25mil max/15mil guaranteed. Mallet will command more since he plays a premium position. I’m not sure the ‘Hawks can afford to draft a player that might not play without improving his surroundings first. (Risk Injuries/Poor Play)

        If this was in play for Gabbert, I’m all in. But Gabbert isn’t escaping the top10 and we’d obviously have to sell the farm to get him. Stand pat and pick BPA, favoring OL & DL.

        *Side note, Whisenhunt was quoted that there isn’t a Sam Bradford in this draft, and he picks in the top5. If he’s not sold to pick a QB (and we know their supporting cast is better than ours) who are QB deprived, (they have a shot at top2 QBs) why should we give up so much for the 4th best QB?

  5. Mike


    KC Joyner, who admittedly seems to make a lot of shocking claims to get readers, published an ESPN Insider article comparing Ponder to Locker. His argument is that Ponder’s stats are superior to Locker’s and thus he is a better QB and Locker is more hype. Not really an original argument, and he fails to address Ponder’s health, but I’d still be interested in your take. I am slowly convincing myself that it might be better value/less risky to draft a BPA (like Taylor, Wilkerson, Sheard, or Smith) in the first and gamble on a qb in the 2nd, barring a trade-up.

    Here is the link to the article: http://insider.espn.go.com/nfl/draft2011/insider/columns/story?columnist=joyner_kc&id=6276519



    • Matt

      I read that article, and anytime a person basis future success off of college stats, I instantly downgrade that person’s credibility. Joyner does fine work, but the eye ball test is VERY important, especially with QBs.

      There is a hugely long list of college QBs with gaudy stats (‘winners’ as well) who did nothing in the NFL, while there have been quite a few top notch NFL QBs with college numbers that don’t stand out by any means. Brady, Cutler, Rodgers, Cassell (no stats) all didn’t put up gaudy stats in college. With the success of Philip Rivers and Sam Bradford (projected based off rookie season), you also cannot discount gaudy stats in a goofy offense. This further reinforces the notion that the eye ball test is TRULY important because guys with middling stats would be written off while those in goofy offenses with gaudy stats would share the same fate.

      I think the biggest problem people have is not accepting that scouting and developing a QB is not a science, it’s an art form. There is no mathematical, fool proof formula that can ensure success at QB. Which is why watching a QB and committing to the one you have faith in, and subsequently building to their strengths is the best way to succeed at “finding your guy.”

      I really respect Joyner’s work, but I have to say he is wrong here. Not about the Locker – Ponder debate, but the notion that comparing college stats of QBs is just a really poor, lazy way to evaluate a player.

    • Rob

      Hi Mike,

      I read the piece yesterday and agree with Matt. Here’s my stance on Locker/Ponder. Jake Locker has issues that understandably would put teams off drafting him in the first round. At least one team (and I suspect several more) are going to buy into the physical upside and the character. They may end up making excuses to draft the guy in war room discussions, but someone is going to buy in. Logically Tim Tebow should not have been a first round pick, but he was. The same will happen to Locker yet he doesn’t have anywhere near the mechanical restrictions TT had. Honestly – I’m not sure Locker will every be a consistent starter in the NFL and he may be out of the game in five years. At the same time I can’t rule out a Donovan McNabb type career. For that reason, someone will roll the dice and for that reason – I would accept the Seahawks taking a chance at #25 if he did fall.

      Ponder doesn’t have anywhere near the upside of Locker. He’s physically really limited. A lot of people talk about Locker’s accuracy – I have as much of an issue with it as I do Ponder’s decision making which has been awful at times. Ponder will consistently throw blind to a hot read without even considering coverage. He flutters the deep ball up for grabs, his medium-level accuracy is poor. He’s mobile but nowhere near the athlete of Locker. He threw for 200+ yards 3/11 times in 2010 and FSU didn’t miss him when we has absent. People use consistent injury problems as an excuse, I call it a red flag.

      Locker is a calculated gamble with risk. Ponder is a dumb decision.

      • Matt

        Completely agree Rob. And as big of a Locker fan as I am, I cannot deny how volatile he is as a propsect. So volatile in fact that I would not feel comfortable drafting him in the top 15 picks despite the upside and the flawless intangibles. That said, I am a huge advocate of taking him at #25 because the risk reward is skewed so heavily in the favor of reward that it only makes sense to take a shot. Especially considering the fact that we don’t have a QB.

        My biggest problem with this stigma of “1st round QBs,” not only extends towards this notion that “they are too risky, and if you miss, you ruin a franchise,” but also the notion that they MUST play right away. I think we need to start considering first rounders as investments rather than instant cures. If you are seeking an instant cure, then chances are the position you are drafting is not a premium position as the nature of a “premium” position implies that it is both harder to address and master, which ultimately takes time.

  6. Kamal

    Rob great site I check in daily if not twice or three time my question to both you and Kip and the rest is If at twenty five the choice is between pouncey, smith and locker which is the pick. Does the QB need override the higher rating of pouncey and smith. I think I would want to get pouncey or smith. Of course this all depends on if Mallet, is gone already. I know we have to get the qb situation sorted out but, even if Matt resigns or leavs why not play charlie the year and see what happens, I think this year we are going to be an actually 7-9 and place there, we play a first place schedule and the teams in the division have to get better I assume. Even If Arizona get bulger to throw for the cards that improves them and Bradford and the rams are bound to focus on receivers that actually catch the ball. It may leave us picking 8 or 9 sorry for the long winded post. just some thoughts

    • Rob

      Thanks Kamal, appreciate the kind words.

      That’s a tough question to answer. If you really believe in Locker as a potential starter then you have to take him as the quarterback. I’m a huge Jimmy Smith fan and he’d be a great option to have too. I suspect all three prospects will be gone by #25 but you can’t really go wrong with any of them. But it really comes down to the QB position as the team’s greatest need and if Locker’s even on your draft board at that stage, he has to be the pick.

  7. Chinatown

    This team has too many holes to only have 1 pick in the 1st 3 rounds. I dont judge drafts until a few years down the road, but that seems too risky.

    If anything, I’d trade down alot in this draft and try and stockpile picks for next year and maybe pick-up an extra 5th or two for this year, granted, that’s probably what I’d do every year. Gabbert is the only QB in this draft I think I’d use a 1st round pick on and if you dont get a QB this year (take a look at 2nd round QB’s over the past 10 years), re-sign Matt and trade up for one next year. I know, all easier said than done, and maybe next years crop outside of Luck will be as bad if not worse than this years class of QB’s.

    • Rob

      Define risk though? Is it really having only one pick in the first three rounds instead of two? By moving up the board you have a higher chance of hitting on the only guy you take because the quality and range of options is greater. By staying put you get a lower pick but also a second chance at #57 to hit on a starter. There’s not a great deal of difference to me in terms of pure risk.

      With regard to the QB class, I’d value the top four in round one. Certainly next year will not have four guys like that – you’ll potentially have one elite guy who tops them all but he will go first overall and Seattle will have to be a 0-2 win team to get him (nobody will trade away the chance to draft Luck). Barkley may declare but I have major doubts there. After that? You’re hoping for players to hit the radar. This is actually a good class of first round QB’s in pure evaluations. That doesn’t come with a guarantee for success, but the Seahawks won’t have this much depth at the position in 2012.

  8. plyka

    I’ve had this sneaking suspicion since the beginning, that the Hawks are going to make a major move for Cam Newton if he falls enough. I’m guessing he will need to fall to #9 at least, which may be unlikely.

    It’s tough to remember all of the weird things the Hawks have done to get me thinking this way, but i remember events which the Hawks have visited that makes no sense, unless they think they have a legite shot at Newton. We’ll see what happens.

    • Rob

      I think it’s coming close to a lock that Newton wil go first overall. It wouldn’t be a big shock – a lot of people projected it the day Luck declared including on this blog.

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