Seahawks 2011 draft philosophy: How I see it

Would Kevin Kolb be a Seahawk minus the lockout?

Before moving on to the titled topic, I wanted to promote this interview I did for Jesse Bartolis at on the Seahawks and the draft. I also participated in an interactive mock with several other draft writers which will be published next week.  

We’re less than a month away from the 2011 draft and a week away from a crucial court meeting which could potentially end the lockout. If an injunction is upheld on April 6th (or in the following days) it’s not beyond the realms of possibility that free agency could begin shortly after. It’s unclear whether such a set of events is likely or not and I suspect that even if the players are able to stop the lockout, we’ll see free agency take place after the draft rather than attempt to shoe-horn it in a fortnight before.  

Losing free agency in March has made this a harder draft class to project than previous years – especially for the Seahawks. I think this is a front office that wants to be aggressive in the off season, at least until they strike a formula that will make this team consistently competitive. We saw evidence of that last year with multiple trades, players coming and going and some high profile moves that didn’t come off. If Seattle were picking 25th overall last year I think it’s very possible they would’ve spent that pick on Brandon Marshall, who Pete Carroll and John Schneider seriously coveted before his trade to Miami.  

Had free agency started as usual this year, the Seahawks may well have traded that #25 pick by now. We’ve all seen the rumors about Kevin Kolb and Carson Palmer. The chances are we’ll never truly know what would’ve happened in a traditional calendar NFL off-season, but we can speculate.  

A lack of free agency also prevented the Seahawks from adding any out-of-contract players. As an example – if the team had signed Nnamdi Asomugha to a huge contract while maintaining Marcus Trufant on the roster, it’d probably rule out the likelihood of a cornerback being drafted in round one. If they didn’t re-sign Brandon Mebane, you could argue it increases the need at defensive tackle. Instead we have no indication of their plans for Mebane so we’re not sure if that will have any impact on their draft decisions.  

It could be argued this will help the Seahawks to some extent. Come out of the draft without a viable replacement for Mebane and you may be prepared to make a bigger play at re-signing him. Feel that cornerback is a big need that hasn’t been able to be addressed? Become big players in the Asomugha stakes. Instead of filling holes in preperation for the draft, you can fill the holes afterwards. I’ve long felt it would make more sense to have the draft before free agency but I’m not sure the players or the currently decertified NFLPA would ever let that happen.  

S0 we head to Radio City with an increased element of mystery for pretty much every team. I presume a lot of decisions will be based on getting your priorities right. With that in mind, here is what I’d be considering as a team sitting at #25 with a 7-9 record.  

1. Try and find your quarterback  

We know the Seahawks will work out (and may already have done so) with Cam Newton, Ryan Mallett and Jake Locker. I suspect they’ll do the same with Blaine Gabbert. Part of this will be due diligence because of the team’s great need at the position, but part of it will also be to decipher how highly the team should rank these guys in terms of character and physical performance. Although many people project Mallett and Locker will fall – possibly out of the first round – I don’t see it that way. I still think Locker will be drafted by Mike Shanahan at Washington and someone will have to usurp the Redskins at #10 if they want the Huskies QB. Despite all the negative publicity surrounding Mallett I can’t see how someone with his physical qualities and football IQ can slip past quarterback-desperate teams like Minnesota, Miami and Jacksonville.  

The Seahawks have to judge two things: 1.) are any of these guys worth trading up for and if so, what are you willing to spend? 2.) If one of the top four does fall to #25 are we ready to pull the trigger?  

I don’t expect the team to pull a surprise by drafting a lower tier prospect like Christian Ponder or Andy Dalton – two players touted as possibilities but both hugely over rated in my opinion.  

This uncertainty in being able to find a quarterback at #25 for the long term future is one of the reasons why I believe we may have otherwise seen an ambitious trade involving Kevin Kolb or Carson Palmer. If that option is taken away this year by the lockout  (and the Seahawks should not be looking to invest unknown future first round picks on veterans) then the priority must be to consider the options in the first round of the draft. Seattle can really only afford to ignore this position if they simply don’t rate a prospect, the price is too high to move up or if none of the ‘big four’ have any chance of getting close to #25. If that proves to be the case – you move on.  

2. If someone starts to fall, be ready  

Be prepared that a player could have an unexpected fall. Even when big-name players have dropped in the past they often don’t make it to #25 so the same question has to be asked as above – do you look to move up?  

Right now I wouldn’t be surprised at all if Nick Fairley suffered a fall. I was one of the first to drop him down to #14 and St. Louis and in my next mock tomorrow I will have him falling to #18 and San Diego. He’s not a great fit in the 3-4 defense but I suspect someone will roll that dice eventually. He’d be a much better fit at three-technique in Seattle’s scheme so do you be aggressive if this scenario played out? Do you trust the character concerns and the fact he’s a one-year wonder to take a chance on big-time talent? He recently rejected an opportunity to meet with the Miami Dolphins at #15 because he thinks he’ll go earlier, which kind of sums up the concern with Fairley. It’d be a gamble, but I suspect Carroll and Schneider will be willing to roll the dice much more than Tim Ruskell ever was.  

Could Robert Quinn drop a bit? What if Cameron Jordan lasts into the mid teens or Jimmy Smith starts to fall closer to #25? The Seahawks need talent more than anything else right now. Seizing the opportunity to get talent could be worth the risk.  

3. BPA at a position of need and consider moving up  

As mentioned before, the Seahawks lack talent at a number of key areas. We’ve discussed quarterback but you can also include the lack of a truly dominating defensive lineman, an elite offensive playmaker or a great cornerback. In general the whole interior offensive line is also a big weakness, especially if Chris Spencer is not re-signed.  

From that list there isn’t one position that carries anywhere near the same weight as quarterback but all could do with investment. The Seahawks have only one secure ‘premium’ position and that is left tackle. If quarterback is off the menu and we don’t see any unexpected falls, it makes sense to invest in the best player available at a position of need. That is a standard draft philosophy any year, but this is a unique position for Seattle. In any other circumstance the Seahawks would be picking much earlier than #25. That need to keep getting better is stronger and while others picking in the 20’s can afford to be purely BPA in their methods – this 7-9 team may need to be more pro-active.  

Using my last mock draft as an example, a lot of logical talent leaves the board before #25. It starts at #17 with Corey Liuget (who I suspect will go earlier than that) and leads into Cameron Jordan at #18 (he could go top ten), Mark Ingram at #19, Jabaal Sheard at #20, Mike Pouncey at #21, Nate Solder at #22, Jimmy Smith at #23 and Ryan Kerrigan at #24. Of that list I think only three prospects don’t appear to be great fits – Ingram (can’t see the team spending a R1 pick on a running back), Solder (too tall, struggles with leverage) and Kerrigan (not a LEO prospect, suits an orthodox 4-3). Being pro-active can get you that cornerback with incredible potential (Smith), a left guard for the long haul (Pouncey), or a solid defensive lineman.  

Sitting tight may mean the BPA is a lesser talent or carries greater risk. Muhammad Wilkerson (#25 in my latest mock) has great size (305lbs) and still rushed the passer from the edge at Temple (10 sacks in 2010). However, is he a natural five-technique or do you look to fit him into the three position? He’d have to learn that role. He’s not an elite athlete or technician and there is some risk for me that any success he had in college will be severely diluted in the NFL. He could end up being ‘average’. Compare that to a Jimmy Smith who I truly believe could end up being ‘elite’.  

Staying put could make a Wilkerson-level prospect your BPA. That’s the difficulty with picking at #25. What I would say is that despite tentative suspicion with Wilkerson’s talents, he’s still vastly superior to some of the prospects available in round two. A lot of fans would like to consider the possibility of moving down the board and possibly acquiring a third round pick. Seattle may have to move down half a round to get that return. For the sake of getting one extra player in the middle rounds, I’d rather draft a Muhammard Wilkerson at #25 than settle for a Jarvis Jenkins in round two.


  1. Matt

    Per usual, excellent read Rob. I’m really enjoying all the different angles of this upcoming draft, and the fact that the Hawks have so many holes makes it even more of a guessing game. Keep up the great work.

    I think the one thing that most people will be surprised about is how much the QBs (outside of the big 4) fall come draft day. Perhaps Ponder will stick in round 2 (hopefully not to the Hawks), but I really can’t see anybody spending that high of a pick on Dalton or Kaepernick (who I do like, but a ton of work to do).

    I also believe that every OT not named Tyron Smith will fall considerably on draft day simply because none of them really strike me as that intriguing. Solder is so tall and so finesse. Costanzo just seems very underwhelming and finesse too. Carimi is so limited. I can actually see Derek Sherrod being taken before some of these guys which I think makes sense. All in all, I really have a tough time seeing a team taking Gabe Carimi over Liuget or Taylor or Wilkerson. Some of these “top” O-lineman seem to be getting the same publicity as the Ponders and Daltons as if they have no negatives.

    • kevin mullen

      So I guess you’re not in the Trent Dilfer camp of “Andy Dalton would be perfect for the Seahawks” talk?

      Trent Dilfer sometimes just needs to shut up… lol.

      • MeatWad

        LOL.. agreed.. he must have the same agent as Dalton.. as Dalton is not ‘perfect’ for the seahawks. That is just crazy talk.

  2. Charlie

    I’ve heard people saying that if we get a 3 tech that we’d be able to move mebane back to one tech, would that be an orthodox 4-3 or would that mean mebane is the noseguard?

    • kevin mullen

      I think that Mebane did most of his damage in the One Tech spot, I think he netted some 5sacks before moving to Three Tech. Chuck Darby was the Three Tech before he was out of Seattle and Mebane moved over.

      I honestly don’t see the ‘Hawks letting Mebane walk without a fight, he’s so underated and under radar that his subtraction would further hinder our DL depth and quality. It reminds me of Denver last year, trading Cutler and Marshall to draft… Tebow and Thomas??? It’s backwards thinking on McDaniels, and it sets back the progress of your unit as a whole.

    • Cliff

      Yes Mebane would be more of a NT as the 1 tech, replacing Colin Cole on some downs. I also wouldn’t say Mebane is underrated. I think a lot of teams see his potential and his run stuffing ability. If he left our DL would decline but not as much if we got a 3 tech like Luiget who has more pass rush potential. Mebane is better than Cole but would cost much more.

      • kevin mullen

        But if you could, who would you rather have: Cole or Mebane? Correct me if I’m wrong but Cole already making 5mil a year, Mebane shouldn’t top more than 7mil after a new contract, I’d rather cut Cole than lose Mebane. Mebane as good a run stuffer as Cole but a better pass rusher. If we target say Luiget, than I’d be stoked to have Mebane/Luiget combo. Cole was average at best and Mebane can command a double team, leaving Luiget one on one.

        • Cliff

          That is very true. 2 mill more for a better player at run stuffing and pass rush is worth it. Could maybe shop Cole for a player/pick too?

          • RobS

            Good idea Cliff! Get something for Cole while he still has value. I really hope that Mebane is signed and moved to the 1-tech position. He has proven in the past that he can be very successful for that spot. Not sure why he was moved.

  3. Cliff

    I like the idea of moving up to target someone who is high on our board that could potentially fall. Whether it be Luiget or Jimmy Smith in case a team like the Eagles were strongly considering him (J Smith). We need impact players, players we can build our team around and be the face of our franchise.

    I think if J Smith was brought in Trufant’s play would only increase and he’s been in the league long enough to show Smith the ropes. That leaves Thurmond to be a good backup in case of injury and in the future when Trufant’s contract expires his replacement.

    And i would definitely have a player like Wilkerson over a Jenkins and a 4th or 3rd round pick.
    Nice piece Rob.

  4. ChavaC

    So PC and co are working out Qbs they know won’t be there at 25 because?
    a. They are willing to move way up to get a guy they want
    b. They want to cover their bases for an Aaron Rodgers-esque slide
    c. It’s what he does
    d. All of the above
    e. Misdirection
    f. Andy Dalton is the next Aaron Rodgers

    • Cliff

      well maybe if they workout someone like Newton they’ll know some of his potential flaws so when we play whoever drafts him they’ll know what buttons to push to get him out of his comfort zone. that or if he flops they’ll know whether there is potential or not.

  5. Christon

    Speaking of Jimmy Smith…With today’s news of Aqib Talib’s new legal troubles does anyone think he might go to the Buc’s? Or are they still locked into a DE?
    Because of Smith’s previous legal issues you’d think the Buc’s have learned their lesson, right? When I first heard the news, it was the first thought that crossed my mind. I know Talib’s issues haven’t played out yet but just trying to think of all the angles.

    • Rob

      It’s a good shout.

  6. andy

    My 2cents….. If the top QBs are gone as well as Pouncey and J Smith i hope they trade down a bit for an extra pick to then use to move the 57th pick up a ways. With a pair of high 2nd round picks to grab a Colin Kapernick and a slightly lower ranked big dog like a Kenrick Ellis or Rodney Hudson or one of the slightly lesser ranked yet still very good corners like Brandon Burton or Davon House.

    • Matt

      That’s my fear. We get to 25 and nobody of value for our team is sitting there. Not sure what I’d do if I were the Hawks. As much as people don’t like this idea, I really would like us to be aggressive and get the guy we want. If it means sacrificing an extra pick, then so be it. What I don’t want to happen, is for us to be passive and we end up with 2 “nice” players but no true building block that the organization has total belief in.

      Heck, as bad as this sounds, I wouldn’t mind trading that 25th pick for a 2012 first rounder and a 3rd or 4th rounder on top of that. Yes, you hate to “wait til next year,” but it at least gives you more ammo to move up and get the QB you want. Not to mention, teams trading up to that 25 to grab someone will most likely be a middle of the road team with some volatility, meaning that 2012 could be relatively high. Not sure how realistic that is, but trading the #25 for a 2012 1st rounder doesn’t seem as far fetched as the Denver deal that netted us an extra first.

      We are still very much void of top level talent (and depth), but the depth part really doesn’t matter a whole lot if the first team you are fielding is substandard. A RT or LBer at 25 (if the only guys available) then that to me is yet another wasted 1st round pick by the Hawks. That doesn’t mean those guys can’t become good players, but you don’t build around guys like that. My biggest fear with the success last year is this notion that “maybe we are not totally rebuilding,” which is the furthest thing from the truth. In summation, I just want the Hawks to be aggressive and take a chance. As dumb as some of the 4th down calls were last year, or how aggressive some of our roster moves were, it was refreshing to lose by “going for it,” rather than dying a slow death.

      • Alex

        Even though that’s what I also fear, I have a feeling SOMEONE will be at 25. It could be a Locker, Mallet, Pouncey, Smith, Taylor, or even Wilkerson.

        This isn’t even counting the players that will definitely be drafted by the time 25 is around, which includes,
        Gabbert, Newton, Green, J Jones, Peterson, Fairley, Dareus, Prince Ak, Von Miller, Tyron Smith, Aldon Smith, Cameron Jordan, Ryan Kerrigan, JJ Watt, Corey Liuget (riser). That’s 15 players that I would safely bet 100,000 dollars would be gone before 25.

        That leaves around 10 players or so. Of the 10 players or so, chances are one of the 6 players I listed will fall to 25. Of course, it’s not like the 6 players we listed are the only players in the range we’re picking. It’s simply the 6 players that would fit key needs. Other teams may value a OT like Nate Solder or Derrek Sherrod. Others may value a RB like Mark Ingram.

  7. Matt

    Don Banks new mock draft has us taking Andy Dalton at #25…passing on both Jake Locker and Ryan Mallett and Jimmy Smith and I believe Pouncey. If this happened, the Seahawks would lose me as a fan. No joke.

    Has anyone figured out the infatuation with Dalton? He’s a lesser Colt McCoy. When will these national people realize that the “winner” tag is flat out ridiculous. How many Jason Whites, Ken Dorseys, Matt Leinarts must we see before we realize that “winning” in college is just a stupid thing to base a pick off. Because right now, that’s the only positive people have to say about Dalton.

    • MeatWad

      Don bnaks of SI? Really??? WOW> I thought Dilfer was really the only one inflating Dalton into the first round.. Sometimes I wonder how if some of the hype about athelets going into the draft is related to how many $’s are handed to them in an envelope by the agent?

      • Rob

        Dalton in round one is the product of media nonsense. It won’t happen.

  8. Matt

    Anybody else find it funny that Jake Locker’s pro day is being downplayed, but the likes of Andy Dalton and Christian Ponder is being played up like they were completing passes to people in wheel chairs vs. Revis and Asomugha?

    • ChavaC

      It was actually on ESPN front page all this morning and on ESPN3, but once he actually showed up and hit 95% I haven’t seen anything.

      • Matt

        I mean the actual performance. Toolbox Evan Silva and Charlie Casserly called it a high school workout. It’s amazing to me how much this kid gets hated on.

        • Card1

          It’s very odd. Correct me if I’m wrong, but before Luck announced he was going back to Stanford, he was the consensus #1 with Locker/Mallett being either 2 or 3 on almost every board. Then, right before the combine both those guys take an inexplicable tumble, and all of a sudden Gabbert’s the best thing since sliced bread. Kiper was ALWAYS high on JL until Jan/Feb, then suddenly something changed. It wasn’t football related. Mallett had the nebulous “character issues” that precipitated his fall, but what about Jake? “Bad decision-making” got harped on, but wait…didn’t people already know that before Feb? Did he throw any INTs in Jan/Feb that we’re not aware of, lol?

          Now, the guys who were #2 or 3 in ’10 are 2nd or 3rd rounders in ’11, and these guys nobody talked about are getting bumped into the first rd, or #1 (possibly) in Gabbert’s case??? Newton’s kind of an anomaly, I don’t really know what to think there, but somebody’s doing a number on Locker for sure.

    • Alex

      I saw the the whole drill.
      Some of the comments were that “he missed the two long throws,” “it was too easy,” “ball placement was average.”

      I don’t bloody know what Lombardi, Charles Davis, and Charlie Casserley were watching if they watched it at all (I know Lombardi was at least there), but ball placement was perfect for 38/42 throws. There were 2 balls high. The two long ball “misses” were universally said to be catchable if the WR had extended his hand further or dived.

      Some of these analysts are ridiculous. If you dislike him based on film, fine, but give credit where it’s due. I thought Brock Huard was very accurate in his assessment. Tight spirals, good velocity, good arm strength, impeccable ball placement hitting the receivers in stride, but high on 2 which some teams might label as a miss, and two long balls that were misses which could be labeled as “ok”.

      • Matt

        Well said. The problem is this whole process is so subjective. If you don’t like a player, you can nitpick even “accurate” throws.

        Some great comments above. Not sure how Dalton and Ponder were 5th rounders during the season, and now all of a sudden they are the next Peyton Manning and Aaron Rodgers. I think there is a lot of tom foolery going on because a GM really shouldn’t have his job if he thinks Andy Dalton is a first rounder. I mean that’s awful. He was horrible in the senior bowl.

  9. Kip

    I imagine the players would be just fine with moving free agency after the draft. The reason is because the draft currently acts as a safety net for a teams needs. If a team fails to sign Nnamdi, then its ok because you still have the draft to fall back on. If the draft happened first, then while you’d have fewer suitors, those suitors would be much more desperate.

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