Seahawks trade up? It’s hard to judge

After winning games against Baltimore and St. Louis, Seahawks fans have been debating whether they’d need to trade up to draft a quarterback of the future. The consensus appears to be that the top quarterbacks will be off the board if Seattle is picking in the 10-15 range. Last April’s draft provides two key examples why that may or may not be true.

Jake Locker wasn’t guaranteed a place in the top ten picks. A lot of people gave him a round two grade and I suspect opinion differed wildly within NFL front offices around the league. However, I always believed Locker would be seen as an ideal fit for Mike Shanahan and the offensive system he wanted to implement in Washington. I assumed that Locker would be available when the Redskins picked at #10 and made that projection in pretty much every mock draft I compiled. Locker working for Shanahan seemed like the ideal match. Draft day came around and Tennessee claimed Locker at #8, right under Washington’s nose.

That was a big surprise. Not just because Locker was considered a reach by many, but also because Blaine Gabbert – who was expected to be taken early – was still on the board. Still, what a consolation for Washington right? Wrong. Despite a huge quarterback need, the Redskins traded out of the top ten with Jacksonville, quite the statement on how they graded Gabbert. The trade from #15 to #10 by the Jaguars wasn’t too expensive, mainly because Washington was actively searching to move down. Would Shanahan have drafted Locker? Almost certainly in my view.

The Seahawks may well end up owning the #15 pick next April, like Jacksonville. There are two points I’m trying to make here:

#1 – Just because a team has a quarterback need, it doesn’t mean they’ll necessarily draft the next best quarterback on the board. It could be a scheme issue, it could be a bad review or even a nagging injury doubt. It could be a personality clash. A player who fits at one team won’t necessarily fit at another, as we saw with Jacksonville, Washington and Blaine Gabbert.

#2 – If trading up is unavoidable, it won’t necessarily cost the earth to make a deal. The Gabbert deal cost Jacksonville a second round pick. While losing a relatively high second rounder isn’t ideal for a team continuing a long term rebuild, it’s also a worthwhile gamble to try and solve a need at quarterback. The New York Jets made a similar move to acquire Mark Sanchez, so if the Seahawks look to make a deal next April there’s every chance it won’t be a blockbuster trade.

In my updated mock to be published tomorrow, I’m going to look at this situation closely. Coaches view players differently – I understand the Seahawks had Gabbert ranked #1 on their board of quarterbacks this year, but Jake Locker was only at #6 behind players like Colin Kaepernick and Andy Dalton. Washington clearly had a different view on Gabbert, but probably felt more positive about Locker. If the two teams are competing for quarterbacks in the off-season, it’s quite possible they’ll be targeting completely different players. When you also factor in how refined Mike Holmgren’s gradings are for quarterbacks and the unknown future in Miami, it could be that the Seahawks face little competition for ‘their‘ guy.

Some would argue that’s wishful thinking, but it could be reality. The Seahawks might not actually have to do anything to draft the quarterback they want to lead this team, because the teams involved could be looking at different players, maybe even in different rounds. It’s not beyond the realms of possibility some teams will use Cincinnati as a role model, drafting an offensive playmaker or lineman in round one and looking at second tier quarterbacks later. Perhaps that’s the approach Seattle will take?


  1. Dave

    With the shakeup going on in Jacksonville, it wouldn’t surprise me at all if the Jags went ahead and drafted Matt Barkley. In such a scenario would you advocate making a move for Gabbert?

  2. Ryan

    I just find it hard to believe any GM will look at Matt Barkley and think, “Yeah, I can’t win with that guy. I need Ryan Tannehill instead.”

    Rob, are you worried at all about the fact that we had Gabbert rated #1 on our board last year, after the coach-killing season he’s had? (Though, granted, much of Del Rio’s problem was his own doing, after getting rid of Garrard in the way they did).

  3. Matt

    Gabbert is doing pretty poorly. That scares me they had him rated so high. Nice tools, but the kid has no guts. Very skittish in the pocket. No QB will succeed in the NFL with those happy feet and fearful mindset.

  4. Chris

    I personally don’t see Barkley falling to us if were picking in the 10-15 range under any scenario. I think a trade up will have to be made to get him specifically.

    Griffin is another story. There are some teams which might rate him highly and look to draft him in the top 10 but I am willing to bet that he will be available in the range we are picking. It may take a small move up the board to ensure we get him. Say 3 or 5 spots but it won’t cost nearly as much as a move we will have to make for Barkley.

    Anyways. Speculating on trades or predicting them is a crapshoot really. For all we know Indy will trade Luck to us for 3 first rounders. Really impossible to say but it’s fun to think about!

  5. Rob

    I doubt teams who need a quarterback will pass on Matt Barkley. Miami, Washington, Cleveland, Seattle, Kansas City – I can see all of these teams showing interest. As Chris says, Griffin III is a different story. Sure, he’s had a tremendous year. He’s also come from nowhere this season and I do suspect some teams will look at their options. At the same time, the Seahawks have actively been looking at quarterbacks with skill sets reminiscent of RG3. That doesn’t mean Seattle will be interested, but it’s all we have to work on right now.

    Dave – the key thing with Gabbert is the GM has been given an extended contract in Jacksonville, so that’s crucial. I can’t see the guy who traded up to spend a top-10 pick on Blaine Gabbert moving on after one rookie season.

    Ryan – Am I worried? I saw a lot of good in Gabbert myself and won’t write him off just yet. He has nothing in terms of receiver options. I’m more concerned they rated Cam Newton behind players like Dalton – whatever scheme or ideology you have, I just don’t get that ranking. I’ve never been a fan of Kolb, but supposedly Seattle’s FO were. At the same time, it’s hard to make a judgement until we see exactly who they bring in. If they leave this situation untouched for another year, then I’ll be concrned.

  6. Spencer

    I also think that it is important to note how much the lack of a normal training camp might have played an effect on guys like Gabbert or just a QB in general. I have to assume that GM’s and owners around the league are not going to bail on their highly drafted QB’s just because they played poorly in a shortened training camp. That is why I see it highly unlikely that a team like Jacksonville would go after another QB, especially with the perception that so many teams will be clamoring for a top pick to possibly trade for the opportunity to grab a guy like Luck or Barkley.

  7. Alex

    It feels like Jacksonville set themselves backwards with Gabbert. They are stuck trying to develop him. Very questionable whether he can improve by a lot. The second year of any high drafted/high expectation QB has be a significant improvement.

    Elite QBs rarely look awful in year 2. Or take steps backwards.

    That’s another reason why there’s doubt surrounding Sam Bradford. A great QB will elevate people around them. He isn’t doing that there in St. Louis.

    I know some people will bring up a late bloomer like Jim Plunkett. But, that is rare.

    Oh, and Rob – Agree about Kevin Kolb. That would have been a risk. Cardinals are now stuck in a tough situation.

  8. JC

    It’s kind of funny you brought up the Jake Locker/Mike Shanahan connection, Rob. I caught a segment the better part of a segment on the local talk radio station where Hugh Millen broke down, in a very inside football nerdy way, the naked bootleg and how important it was/is to Shanahan’s offense. That led him to Locker and why Shanahan was so enamored with him due to the top end athleticism.

    While I have no arguement with your assesment of Matt Barkley, I’m wondering if he has enough athleticism for that system. It might be that if they can’t bag a Robert Griffin then Washington might just settle on a Ryan Tannehill in the second round. Landry Jones would be a horrid pick, and might be regardless of the team. Then again Daniel Snyder does still own the team…..

  9. Rob

    Hugh Millen brings up a good point on the naked bootleg, but also the amount of movement Shanahan wants from his QB’s and the big arm to drive the ball downfield. He’s not handcuffed to mobility (Cutler) but I doubt he’ll take someone as immobile as Landry Jones. Thing to remember though – Blaine Gabbert ran as well as anyone at the combine, he’s also a very athletic guy. Shanahan passed, so it’s not just about being able to run bootlegs. I can see reasons why Shanahan would pass on Barkley, but I also see reasons why he’d be interested – very technically polished, can start quickly (needed), capable of making the throws Shanahan wants to see. Griffin can run faster, but as we saw with Gabbert last year it’s not just about athleticism.

    And agree again – I could very easily see them turning to Tannehill, which wouldn’t be a good move IMO because I don’t rate the guy that high – but I could see it. But the name I keep coming back to is Peyton Manning. Big time quarterback, big name, ticket seller. If the QB Shanahan doesn’t want isn’t there, Manning is the ultimate stop gap. Dan Snyder would love it. Shanahan I’m sure would adapt his scheme to accomodate Manning. Would Indy – sensing their big rebuild ahead – take a package including Washington’s 2nd rounder and a conditional first in 2013 based on the Skins having a deep playoff run? It’s hard to imagine Washington not thinking Trent Richardson + Peyton Manning would be a dream ticket. Indy may be willing to do the deal now that Luck is all but secured.

  10. Brandon Adams

    I can’t help but feel that Luck/Barkley/Griffin will be an even more quickly-drafted trio than Newton/Locker/Gabbert. The first two have enough talent to overcome the schematic worries of most teams, and that leaves Griffin prone to “It Only Takes One”.

  11. Jarhead

    It’s wild to see that so many people here share the same sentiment as me. Gabbert is awful. And I know, I know, he’s played in like 8 games, maybe not even that much. BUT, he has not even shown a glimmer of anything you can hang a hat on. Ponder isn’t winning that much either, but there are legitimate chunks where you see, ‘Yeah this guy is going to be alright’. And how much did we dodge a bullet by not being anywhere close to drafting him? I thought last year was a real missed opportunity, but now we have a definite shot at Griffin and a decent shot at Barkley. Maybe I’m being too quick to drop the blade of the guillotine, but Gabbert is going nowhere. There was a very insightful breakdown of his game on NFL live today, and Tim Hasselbeck is exactly right. You can’t coach courage, and Gabbert is a nervous wreck back there. At some point you have to say system be damned, give me some talent. That’s why I say Asante Samuel- he isn’t a 6’4″ corner, but he has talent and would be an asset. Gabbert may have fit our system best but certainly could not contribute as much as Cam Newton could. That’s why I hope we certainly don’t take the ‘our system guy will be available later’ approach and make the move to get the ‘most talent/can conform to the system’ guy.

  12. Ryan

    Agreed. If you have a shot at great talent, you take it. If he doesn’t fit your system, you change your system. Coaches are smart; they can do it.

  13. seanmatt

    good points, Rob. You’re giving me some hope. I’m still on the fence about whether I’m on the Barkley or RG3 bandwagon but you lay out a plausible scenario where we would be able to nab Barkley with out totally selling the future.

  14. erik

    Barkley is starting to get buzz as the top, unlikely but serves the point that he’s going very high no matter what. I think that given what we know now the starting bid to jump up to the 2nd or 3rd pick to get him is this years 1st and 2nd pick plus next years 1st pick. Atlanta gave up more than this to get Julio Jones but only had to get to the sixth pick from the low 20’s. I think this regime would make such a trade the only real issue in my mind is having a willing trade partner & how much competition will drive up the price.

    One other thing is that I’d like to point out is the recent post on Mike Sando’s espn nfcwest blog. He suggests that the season has nearly reached the point where the best effort must be made to evaluate talent. Particularly our 3rd string QB Portis which has the added upside of losing to help draft position. I couldn’t agree more.

  15. PatrickH


    Regarding your Manning-to-Redskins scenario, the problem is that the Colts have to pay him about $30 million in February BEFORE the trade period starts in March. Also, unlike baseball, NFL rules prohibit a team paying another team in order to facilitate a trade. So basically, the Colts will lose substantial amount of money if they trade Manning. To get their money’s worth they are better off keeping him for at least one more year.

    For what it’s worth, Bill Polian said on Monday that he is likely to keep Manning and draft Andrew Luck, and mentioned the precedent of Favre and Rodgers.

  16. Kip Earlywine

    I suspect that Seattle rated Newton low in part to diva concerns. Newton talked in the 3rd person, flashed a fake looking smile, and generally seemed to be self-absorbed. I think they wanted a “yes man” kind of quarterback. That could also explain why they showed zero interest in free agent Vince Young, despite the fact that Young was coming off a very intriguing performance in 2010 and had the physical attributes to run the offense very well.

    Its really a shame that Barkley absolutely tore it up in the 2nd half of the season, because I have a very hard time envisioning a scenario like Gabbert-Washington for Barkley now. He’s just been too good to ignore, and even idiotic talent evaluators are having a hard time ignoring his ability at this point.

    On the flip side, Griffin suffered a concussion to end the regular season. That’s a big deal for any QBs stock, but moreso for a QB who has an injury prone body type like Griffin does. Griffin is already very risky, and this highlights that even more. It gives one a reasonable hope that Griffin could fall all the way to the Seahawks pick. Not that I would enjoy the wait.

  17. seanmatt

    I keep on holding back from getting to into Barkley cause it seems like a stretch that we’ll get him. I don’t wanna get my heart broke, man. Convince me that Mike Holmgren and his two firsts this year won’t want Barkley. Show me how it will work out. Not being confrontational. I wanna believe, dude, I really do.

  18. Glen

    I think it’s a fair assessment to say that last years QB class was “suspect”, for lack of a better word, in terms of pro ready talent…I don’t recall the overwhelming sentiment for Newton being a lock to start day 1 for ANY franchise throughout the process like Luck/Barkley are discussed….

    I think it’s safe to sthese are likely to see our QBOTF (unless we land MB7) sit for a year to learn, TJax has one more cheap year left…last year say Gabbert fell the idea would have been to resign a vet (likely Hass to a 2 yr deal) and transition at some point after year 1…purely speculating but I don’t think it’s too far fetched…

    I also agree that Newton not being on their board was a reflection on character a la Jimmy Smith, & Ryan Mallett…

  19. Glen

    I think we are likely to see our QBOTF (unless we land MB7) sit for a year or half a season depending on how the season goes to learn…

    That makes more sense

  20. Ed

    Totally agree seanmatt. Holmgren could easily trade up for Barkley. I really think Luck (Indy) Barkley (wash/cleveland/kc) and RGIII (miami) are all gone by 6. If that is the case, I hope we draft (claiborne/richardson/de/olb) then maybe keenum in the 2nd.

  21. David

    Rob quick question

    lets say we play our way out of the probable top 3 QB’s in the draft (Luck,Barkley,Griffin) and we pick A. Davis in the 2nd, what do you think his chances of starting next year are? based on what you know of him and our present QBs? thanks Rob.

  22. Rob

    I’d say there’s little to no chance. Davis is a worker who will fight to be ready, but he’s going to be a system quarterback at the next level – it just so happens he fits a lot of what Seattle is looking for. I see very little chance of him becoming an early starter, rather someone you develop over time. For those reasons – and as much as I admire Austin Davis – I think he’ll end up somewhere else. The Seahawks need someone who can start quicker than he’ll be able to.

  23. Ross

    Rob, What are you thoughts on Russell Wilson? He looks very good to my untrained eye. His completion % is above 72%. Is he just too small to succeed in the NFL?

    Also, Montee Ball – this guy looks unstoppable. First rounder? Picked before or after Polk?

  24. Louis

    Hey Rob, haven’t checked this website in a while but it looks like its thriving!

    Anyways, what do you think are the chances that RG3 actually declares for the draft? From what I’ve read, it seems like he wants to stay one more season.

  25. Louis

    And building on my last comment

    If RG3 does stay for one more season and the Hawks are unable to trade up in the top 5 to get Barkley, do you see the Hawks trading some draft picks this year for draft picks next year in an attempt to trade up in the draft NEXT year?

  26. Jim J

    The trouble trading up is that we are competing with Cleveland, who already has two first round picks this year. Plus every other team with a need. Because we all know that if you don’t get one of the top three QBs, the rest are a step below them. They are the Gabberts of the world, okay but not going to get you to the Superbowl.

    The Seahawks have so many different needs at positions that it will take them three more years to fill the roster with quality players. This is accounting for a 1/3 of the players washing out do to injuries or just not making it in the pros. I’m not sure when the will recruit a QB – with all the injuries occuring it will continue to be a highly recruited position.

  27. Meatwad

    I am stuck on Barkley for the Hawks, and have been since the college season started this year. I have a feeling the hawks will win 6 games this year (St.L and Arizona at home) to end the season. Which is actually one more game than I initially predicted.

    That being said that will probably put Seattle in the middle of round one, and very far away from Barkely. RGIII is intriguing, but Seattle needs more of a sure thing and Barkely imo is more of that. I don’t see Seattle managers trading up for him. I would give up whatever it takes to draft the QB.

    Then in free agency get another weapon. Williams has a poor performance this year, Rice is always injured, and well Miller… Need I say more.

    What WR/RB will be in free agency this year? Because as much as we need a franchise QB, Seattle needs a BIG playmaker for a young QB. What they have is not enough.

  28. Jim J

    It’s possible that St Louis could draft another QB and trade Bradford. It would get them out of a big contract payment. And they might feel they were getting a better QB.

  29. Colin

    I think it’s highly unlikely Bradford gets traded because of that contract Jim. A QB needy team, in the right position, can get their man, pay less, and not have to give up draft stock.

    Another comment I have in general is about Cleveland trading up. Cleveland won’t get Andrew Luck. There is no way Luck plays for that miserable team, in those awful looking uniforms. I don’t think the Walrus will be so quick to give up on McCoy either. It may be different with Barkley, but again, I think Cleveland would be better off spending those 2 1st round picks on improving their football team and getting some weapons for Colt McCoy.

    Maybe Pete Carroll will want to stick it to Harbaugh, and he’ll make a play for Luck…

  30. seanmatt

    Have been thinking a little more about Cleveland. Holmgren’s history doesn’t scream out to me that he’s the type who would trade the house to get a top notch QB. He seems to like to find a QB who fits his system but who maybe is a bit under the rader. Someone that he can groom. Someone to run his offense. You know, someone like a 6 foot 2 QB out of Southern Miss. Maybe it makes too much sense.

  31. David

    I think Cleveland would try for Luck and if Indy doesnt like the Package then they’ll keep it.

    Like Seanmatt said i dont see holmgren trading a bunch of picks for one guy

    i think they will get some quality weapons for McCoy maybe richardson and D. Jones (i think thats him, WR out of N.C)

    Thats what i see Holmgren doing, He had Dilfer and jus groomed Matt till he was ready.

  32. Rob

    Putting two replies in one post here… let me know if I missed you…

    Ross – I think his ceiling is Seneca Wallace/back-up type role player with the ability to play a niche at receiver on certain plays. A fun player to watch, but he never pulled any trees up at NC State and while he’s fun to watch – just not a NFL prospect IMO at least as a starter.

    Louis – Glad that you’re back man and hope you’ll start to visit more regularly! I think Griffin will be swayed by mass exposure and success this season. He’s achieved more than he could’ve ever dreamed about at Baylor – his stock will never be higher. I think it’s a foregone conclusion now, but I’ve been wrong before. As for your other question, it’s hard to say right now. If Barkley and Griffin don’t declare I’ll be surprised, but I’ll also by campaigning for Seattle to pass on round one QB’s (unfortunately) in that instance. Alongside Luck they’re the only three I can grade in round one.

  33. David

    I am so excited for this years draft.

    Pete and John are going to turn us into contenders.

    Sucks Sidney is IR’d but i think pete realizes they’re out of the Playoff picture and maybe this is just for evaluating tate and butler.

  34. Jim J

    Rob – I agree with you that only Luck, Barkley, and Griffin are worthy of round one. But because there is a dire need for QBs, it is likely that at least one other team will reach. With only six teams in desperate need of a new QB, I am still of the opinion that if we don’t get one of the top three, the rest can be taken in later rounds. I would gusss there will be one QB chosen in round 2, and 3, etc.

    I’m not ruling Cleveland out for trading up to a 2 or 3rd pick. Even if a team likes their starter, with the number of injuries occuring you have to have a quality backup. Why not get barkley or griffin? It’s not like they are paying extra, they already have the two draft picks in their pocket.

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