Seahawks trade down? Maybe not this year

Trading down could cost the Seahawks a shot at this, which seems unlikely

In 2011, the Seahawks talked a lot about moving down. John Schneider was pretty open about this desire to do so and was pretty open about the way they searched for a good deal last April. Twelve months earlier, Schneider admitted a trade was on the table to move down from the #14 spot. It was all set to be completed, until the Eagles surprisingly passed on Earl Thomas and instead took Brandon Graham. Seattle, who always intended to take a tackle and safety combo in 2010, decided Thomas was too good to pass.

It’s a bit early for Schneider or Pete Carroll to come out and talk about moving up or down the board in their third draft with the team, but I suspect there’s every chance the Seahawks will be rooted to the #11 or #12 pick. They only have six picks due to various trades and it seems likely they’ll try and accumulate more either before or during the event. However, there’s always a slight danger in valuing quantity over quality and I don’t expect any mistakes to be made this year. Carroll made his intentions known at the end of the season – to improve the front seven and the pass rush. On April 26th, the Seahawks will try to draft someone who can do that. There will be possible exceptions (such as an elite talent like Trent Richardson falling) but the likely focus will be on the Courtney Upshaw’s, Melvin Ingram’s and Quinton Coples’ of this class.

We all have different opinions on that trio. Personally, I have mixed feelings for Coples but he has the highest ceiling among any defensive player in the class of ’12. I’m not a big fan of Ingram, others have different impressions of his potential. I see Upshaw as one of the few elite talents in this class. By moving down the board, the Seahawks run the risk of missing out in a year without a great amount of top defensive lineman. In my latest mock draft, six front-seven prospects were off the board by the 15th pick. The only other defensive lineman I had going in round one beyond that was Fletcher Cox – a player expected to translate to a pure five-technique at the next level. Three linebackers remained on the board – Dont’a Hightower, Luke Kuechly and Sean Spence.

Of course, that’s just my interpretation of what could happen and maybe some of the players I have going early will fall, allowing the Seahawks to make a realistic drop and still get a player they really want. However, I think this front office wants to find a pass rusher who can provide the same impact as Aldon Smith in San Francisco – someone who can be used in different looks and make big plays on key passing downs. Upshaw, Coples and Ingram will not last very long if you believe the projectionists. I doubt all three leave the board before #11 or #12, but two might. Seattle isn’t going to gamble on losing that last player if they’re determined to add to their pass rush.

Some may point to the talent available at the top of round two. Whitney Mercilus continues to be something of a mystery (just how good is he?), Brandon Thompson likewise could be an underrated player due to his lack of production. Vinny Curry impressed at the Senior Bowl and Chandler Jones, Nick Perry, Cam Johnson and Jared Crick all have value. The Seahawks will still have a shot at one of these players in round two and being able to maybe reach for another in round one isn’t really a preferable situation when you miss out on a Courtney Upshaw (for example) for the sake of an extra third round pick (for another example).

There is some precedent for trading down multiple times, but I’ve always thought this appears to be smarter on the actual day than in hindsight. New England have drafted poorly in recent years despite accumulating more picks than several teams combined. Cleveland has moved down aggressively to acquire a couple of players I thought were top-20 talents (Alex Mack and Phil Taylor) but also gave away the chance to draft in the top ten and grab players who maybe could’ve lifted the Browns beyond mediocrity. For all of Denver’s dealing in 2010, they ended up with Tim Tebow as the end product. If you draft smart, you make the most of top-15 picks and build a good team. There will never be a substitute for pure quality and while more picks also means more opportunities to hit, you’re always picking from a smaller sample when you move down.

I think the Seahawks will see this as an opportunity to add another key defensive piece, just like they did with Earl Thomas. They may well get trade offers – some that are maybe quite tempting too – but ultimately this team knows what it wants. You can never rule anything out and if the three defensive lineman named above are off the board – and so is Trent Richardson – they could move down a little bit and consider a player like Zach Brown. But faced with the opportunity to draft Coples, Upshaw or Ingram – I think there’s a strong chance that is what will happen.

To consider a move down the board, you need a trade partner. We can at least consider which teams might wish to move up to tempt the Seahawks with a deal:

San Diego (Currently own #18 overall)
The Chargers need to rebuild their offensive line and might struggle to draft a left tackle at #18. The best lineman will leave the board quickly given the premium nature of the position and players like Matt Kalil, Riley Reiff and Jonathan Martin could go in the top ten. If any survive or if San Diego sees real value in Ohio State’s Mike Adams, they might need to jump Arizona at #13 or even Kansas City at #12 if Seattle wins the coin-toss. San Diego made a bold move up the board in 2010 to draft Ryan Mathews, so could it happen again?

Philadelphia (Currently own #15 overall)
A team that has also shown it’s willingness to move up, Philly could be active in round one. Andy Reid isn’t a predictable drafter although he’s avoided drafting linebackers early. He’s in prime position to draft Zach Brown if he wishes, but may decide he needs to get at the top receivers should the Eagles lose a player like DeSean Jackson. Although there’s no obvious reason to grab Seattle’s pick at #11 or #12, should a player such as Justin Blackmon suffer a bit of a fall, Philly might not waste any time if Buffalo passes.

New York Jets (Currently own #16 overall)
A third franchise with previous history in making a move – the Jets moved heaven and earth to draft Mark Sanchez in 2009. They could use help with the pass rush and at receiver and may entertain the idea of a trade to get an injection of quality. Although New York had a disappointing 2011, they’re still a team who made the AFC Championship game in the two previous seasons. One or two key additions could put the Jets back on the map and they may feel like they need to make a splash after watching their neighbours win the Super Bowl.


  1. Doug

    You are right, they are NOT trading down, they are trading UP!
    To get either Coples or Richardson, Probably Coples I would guess. He is the piece that defense is missing

  2. Kyle

    You make some good points. The Earl Thomas example is a good example to consider if the Hawks think they have a too-good-to-trade prospect.

    However, if we assume that there are 3 front-seven guys worthy of a top-12 pick, we also have to consider the possibility that the Seahawks exclude one of them from their board. You don’t like Ingram, but perhaps Pete or JS has completely eliminated him from consideration. I don’t like Coples; maybe the front office already dropped him from their list. This team’s scouting is unique.

    If, at #12, 2 of the 3 prospects gone happen to be the 2 that the Seahawks wanted (or even all 3 go), and there isn’t a top-10 guy (Richardson) who has fallen, a trade is almost certain. I’m basing this in part on the fact that the team re-signed a backup OL with a raise this week–further upgrades on the OL are highly unlikely, at least this early. However, there is a lot of prospective OL talent floating around the 10-15 range that other teams might want.

    The biggest factor for a possible trade-down for me, even if Coples is there (but not necessarily for Ingram or Upshaw, given their greater position flexibility), is the Green Bay philosophy that John Schneider has carried with him. At Field Gulls, Davis Hsu has clearly established the Packer model of building through the draft includes making sure that there is adequate quantity each year. That doesn’t mean trading down to get 20 seventh round picks, but both seasons under Schneider the Seahawks added picks (or player/pick combos) with trade downs both years. With only six picks, I’m sure they trade down somewhere. They may do it in the first round this year.

    Schneider has proven to be flexible and unique in his thinking, no slave to the Packer dogma, so it is not a sure thing. Certainly there’s nothing to prohibit the team from trading down in round 2 or 3 to add mid-round options. But I think this front office’s track record is mixed enough to make the question more open than you put it here.

  3. Jlkresse7

    I think there’s only three players worth taking at 11/12; upshaw, Richardson, and Ingram. If none of them are there we trade down for either vontaze burfict or donta Hightower then go for someone like mercilus, branch, or perry in the second. Thoughts?

  4. Rock

    Free agency is going to impact their draft strategy alot. We know they have cap space they must use. A free agent QB and DE seem like optimum targets. Should this occur we could see them go in a totally different direction in the draft.

  5. YDB

    Maybe I just see the world through Earl Thomas-tinted glases, but I am kinda surprised to not see Brockers listed as a potential draft pick for Seattle in R1. I would love to see another young phenom like #29 on the defensive squad with tons of upside and raw natural ability. With the 3 tech as one of the premier positions in this scheme, hitting a homerun on a young stud at that position would send the ‘Hawks defense to the next level.

    Also, I don’t know how possible it is, but I would love to see Andre Branch fall to us in R2. I think he would be a great backup to Clem and may prove to be his replacement down the road.

  6. PatrickH


    Chicago is another possible trading partner. They need quality WR and offensive lineman, and may not want to wait for one to fall to their spot.

  7. PatrickH

    Also, I am not sure that Upshaw and Ingram are the must-have prospects. Bruce Irvin, Shea McClellin, and others are available in 2nd and 3rd round that could fill the Leo or OLB roles. Coples, on the other hand, is kind of unique as a 5 tech player who could be a great pass rusher. If PC and JS are targeting him, then they may not want to trade down.

  8. OZ

    Free agency will play a big roll in what the Hawks do in this draft. I would like to see PC and JS target Calais campbell, who I think is an upgrade over Bryant. Help’s two-fold, (weaken’s a divison aponent). Kendall Langford, Cliff Avril are also options. It’s going to cost big time for super Mario.
    In the Draft I think we have to look no further than the 49ers, specificaly Vernon Davis. This bring’s Zack Brown to the for-front as a position of need. We need to win our division, period!!! Another interesting option is Mark Barron and a slight trade down. I like the Boise ST. safety George Iloka a lot ,he’s a little raw but has great length and good speed. He is projected in the 3rd round on most site’s at the present time.
    It look’s like Chris Polk is slippin to the 3rd round who would be a great get there. He doesn’t have the vision Martin does but run’s with the same athuarity and has good hands and speed. Isia Pead is going to be a hot commodity.
    Rob, Is the tender still in affect? Red Bryant maybe? enough for now… Great site,Rob!!!!

  9. Jarhead

    I see also Upshaw and Richardson as Carroll’s can’t miss guys. Regardless of speculation and hype, I don’t believe Coples is anywhere near the top of the Seahawks board. Have we seen even one player brought in by the Seahawks who was a slug and known for taking plays off? Regardless of upside? LenDale White was shown the door promptly and Mike Williams was also on thin ice early until he started producing. Carroll is going to look for high motor guys with character. I don’t see it as him believing he can motivate anyone so bring on a lazy, entitled athlete like Coples- I believe it’s more along the lines of having players who are perceived as very good but who already possess a lot of heart and determination and Pete can motivate them to be GREAT. So Coples being there at number 11 really only means that there will be some trade bait for another team on draft day. I would be aghast to see Seattle to draft him there. I, personally, see Coples as the biggest bust of the entire draft. Senoir Bowl performance aside. I don’t care what the internal situation or coaching dilemma was. Brock Osweiler went out every week and competed with a below average team in a tougher conference for 5 weeks after it was announced that the whole coaching regime was being changed AGAIN. Pete’s motto is ‘Earn Everything’, Coples has shown his motto is more akin to ‘I’m Owed Everything’. Just doesn’t mesh with the Seahawk philosophy in my opinion.

  10. Nate Low

    Jarhead, that’s a great point about Pete’s philosophy, and you’re right. He’s repeatedly said (and written, too) that his players need to believe in the philosophy for it to be successful- to buy in completely. We don’t know for sure whether Coples can or can not be that guy, and I’d imagine it’s something they’ll address in interviews at the combine.

    I’m in agreement with the article too. It seems this year there is a greater talent drop off from the top end to the middle of round 1. From your mock draft Rob, Coples, Ingram, Upshaw, Brockers, and Zach Brown are all gone before a run on OTs through picks 15-18. If the Hawks can trade back and still get Brockers (who I see as the end of the top defensive talent) then I say do it. But if it means giving up a player of Upshaw or Devon Still (who I’m a huge fan of) caliber, stay put and make the pick. Trade back in 2 or 3 where the talent level evens out.

    I’m still very interested in Vinny Curry as a round two option. He’s a pure pass rusher, so he’d only be a situational lineman. As it stands, Devon Still in the first as a penetrating 3-tech (I can’t see a team like Buffallo or Carolina passing on Upshaw) and Curry in the second as a 3rd down and prospective Leo rusher is my hope. Looking forward to the Combine and crunching the numbers! I’m also curious how Coples does in the team interviews.

  11. NEIL"J"

    JARHEAD I wish I could say it better but you pretty well nailed it on Coples and his future with the Seahawks.

  12. Colin

    If Quintin Couples, Courtney Upshaw or Trent Richardson are at 11/12, you must take one. I can’t see an adequate reason to pass over them. Trading down won’t do us much good without a solid return in draft capital (not likely to get that).

  13. JS

    Any word on when that coin flip for #11 takes place?

  14. Colin

    It will be at the combine JS.

  15. jim J

    I agree with you that trading down isn’t so easy. Everyone here only thinks about the Hawks. If the picks are that great down lower (and they aren’t) then why would any team give them up? If you do want picks, then PC needs to quit trading them away on other teams players.

    I see value in the #11/12 spot. We are right on the edge of it falling to a lower level of player, so why give it up? And if you do go lower, what makes you think the player you want will still be around? Just because someone is rated low doesn’t mean they won’t go higher.

    PC has shown that he will pick for need regardless of how that player is ranked on the boards (like Carpenter). There are several picks that could be made here, outside of the top defensive line. A wide receiver, a cornerback, a safety, linebacker, or even a QB. If they will be around later in round 1 then there is no reason for anyone to trade with us. But they probably won’t be around in round 2 for our extra pick.

    Nate – I like Vinny Curry or Andre Branch in round 2. Both are proven tacklers.

  16. Brandon Adams

    The funny thing is, NONE of this is going to matter that much if Pete keeps up his brilliant 4th/5th-round success rate.

  17. Lenny253

    I’d actually consider moving down a few spots to grab upshaw

  18. Colin

    For what it’s worth Lenny, Seattle will be fortunate if Upshaw is there for the taking. Even more so with Couples.

  19. ba_edwards24

    Anyone know what pick we gave up for Lynch? I remember it was conditional, and it seems it could have gone as high as a 4th. On a serious note, we’ll probably get a compensatory 1st rounder from Whitehurst leaving so that’s a nice boost; can they give us the #1 overall for letting him walk?

    I’m wondering if Upshaw, KJ, and Heater can coexist in a base package. Seems like an extreme lack of downfield coverage abilities. I’d like to hear your opinions specifically ROB and BRANDON. I’d also like to draft Lavonte David. Not sure if he’s a base package guy, but against 12 personnel he can be a dynamic coverage WLB as well as a key contributor on nickel and dime. Sounds like 600 valuable snaps + specials and that makes him worth a 2nd rounder to me. If he develops into a base guy then you’re getting 1100 snaps and a steal.

  20. Ryan

    Rob how did you grade Terell Suggs coming out of college? Is it just me or is there similarities between Upshaw and Suggs. I am well aware that Suggs has developed extensively in the NFL and his pass rush has improved every year. That aside what would be a comparable NFL player to what we could expect from Upshaw?

  21. Karlos

    @ba_edwards: I believe it’s a 5th round pick & compensatory picks don’t kick in until late in the 4th round (Someone correct me if im wrong). Losing Whitehurst won’t net us much of anything because their given for players lost the season before & based on their particular impact (Starter/Pro bowlers).

  22. Rob

    Hey Ryan,

    Unfortunately I don’t go back as far as the 2003 draft (started the blog in 2008 and really dedicated myself to grading from that year) so I can’t offer much of a comparison between Suggs and Upshaw in that sense. However, I do think that the two can have comparable careers. I expect multiple 8-12 sack seasons, I expect that similar impact. Upshaw is going to be that same kind of solid, core defensive player who nobody spends a lot of time talking about – he just does a great job every week.

  23. Jules

    Hi Rob and other Seahawks draft enthusiasts,

    I don’t believe this idea has been raised given our draft position (11 or 12) and the focus on trying to add to our pass rush but I wonder if there might be value in trading down a bit in the first if there’s an undeniable talent like Richardson or Upshaw still around in order to draft safety Barron while getting an additional second round pick.

    If one of our biggest team needs is finding someone quick enough and talented enough to cover a tight end is it not possible that we look at moving sledgehammer Chancellor as a WILL LB and then adding Barron as the new safety? Given the other LB options, and I think Chancellor may have played some LB in college, could this not maybe provide us with better overall coverage in the secondary and depth on the back end should one of our safeties gets hurt?

    I Know it sounds unorthodox but I’m hoping to see a defense that is stout against the run and the pass and feared by opposing offenses. I don’t see us getting a QB that can help immediately and with an additional second round pick there should still be some good change of pace RBs and a LB like Hightower who could add to our mean streak mentality on D.

    With Hightower, Barron, Chancellor, Wright and Thomas on D I think we could give the 49ers D a run for their money and maybe target a pure pass rusher (and outbid for him) in free agency.

    I think the offense until we find a QB that is better than average, will continue to be mediocre at best so it will be up to the D to shut things down in the meanwhile similar to the Baltimore model of competition. Also if a free agent QB worthy of signing becomes available and they see we have a top 10 defense in the fold with great youth, we would be very appealing to other free agents.

    Thanks for providing a forum to chat all things Seahawks!


  24. Michael (CLT)

    Really looking forward to the Seattle drafting OL in round 1 mock.

  25. Michael (CLT)

    Calais Campbell was viewed very much like Coples. Maybe football is all psychology. Maybe not.

  26. Colin

    Seattle isn’t drafting OL in the 1st. They will not go 3 years in a row doing that, there’s no need. Seattle will take Upshaw, Couples, Richardson or trade down. I don’t envision much outside of that, except maybe Still or Whitney.

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