Seattle’s five most logical first round picks

Beast Mode part II? A lot would need to happen for Richardson to fall

Although the Seahawks probably won’t narrow their options to merely five players, this quintet will almost certainly be on their radar on April 26th. Pete Carroll says he wants to improve the team’s pass rush and front seven – and that’s what he’s going to do this year. While many are still pinning their hopes on a big splash up the board to target the top two quarterbacks, there’s every chance a deal just won’t be possible even if the team wanted to make that move. More on that in tomorrow’s updated mock draft, but for now – let’s look at these five realistic options for the Seahawks, including one ‘non-defensive’ wild card. Regular visitors will know my own personal opinion on each of these prospects already, I’m just trying to offer a broader look in today’s piece. 

Courtney Upshaw (DE, Alabama)       

Perhaps Seattle’s preferred option? We’ve talked a lot about Upshaw in the last week and I maintain he will be extremely high on Seattle’s board. Upshaw shows elite recognition skills and he does a better job than most people think working in space. Despite lacking ideal length, he has a tremendous grasp of leverage and really attacks lineman with great pad level. He can beat you with a violent bull rush, but he’s also capable of keeping blocks away from his frame to dip around the edge and get to the quarterback. Although he gives up some speed and mobility to Melvin Ingram, his all round game is superior and worthy of genuine consideration in the top-12 picks. The Seahawks will be fortunate if he’s available for selection with their pick.       


Melvin Ingram (DE, South Carolina)       

A better speed rusher than Upshaw, but not quite as technically gifted or as polished against the run. Ingram owns a superb spin-move which he used to great effect at South Carolina and it should help him make plays early in his NFL career. He played running back in High School and it shows – he’s one of the best athletes on the Gamecock’s roster and flashed that potential on a stunning fake punt touchdown run during the season. There are legitimate concerns he’s a bit of a tweener, but with only limited pass-rushing options for the Seahawks this year, expect Ingram to be high on their board. His ability to move inside on passing downs or be used in a three-man front to get extra coverage will be a big bonus. I’m not a huge fan, but he appears to be a viable option.       


Quinton Coples (DE, North Carolina)       

Melvin Ingram’s new best friend and a complete enigma so far in his career. Coples looked a class above at the Senior Bowl and completely dominated every opponent he came up against. Questions linger about his mediocre senior campaign that threatened to completely derail his draft stock, but the Seahawks have a Head Coach confident enough to take on a challenge like this. A motivated Coples could be one of the best pass rushers in the NFL, without doubt. There are some question marks about his run defense especially given Seattle’s defensive identity and he’d have to replace Red Bryant at end, so it’s a legitimate dilemma. While some teams will strike Coples off their board, it seems that won’t be the case in Seattle.       


Zach Brown (LB, North Carolina)       

Opinions are mixed on Brown, with some believing he has elite range and can make a quick impact in the NFL while others question his ability to provide any kind of pass rush and ask whether he’s big enough to warrant a top-pick. Aaron Curry proved size and speed are nothing without instinct or range – Brown has both in abundance. Although he’s never likely to be a productive sack artist, he will be a steady sideline-to-sideline tackler who makes enough plays during a season to warrant a first round pick. Although signing a pass rusher will be Seattle’s priority, Brown could come into play depending on how the board falls early. He’s certainly draftable for the Seahawks and could be set for a boost after the combine.       


Trent Richardson (RB, Alabama)       

Considering Tampa Bay’s recent appointment of Greg Schiano as Head Coach, there seems little chance Richardson will make it past the Buccaneer’s at #5 overall. He may not even get past the Browns at #4 and there’s a couple more teams picking before the Seahawks that would/should show interest in one of the draft’s elite talents. Richardson will be a star at the next level, particularly if he joins a team with an established ground attack like Seattle’s. Marshawn Lynch is likely to be retained – either via a multi-year deal or via the franchise tage – but running backs are always susceptible to short careers. The Seahawks offense is being built around a strong ground game, so getting an elite runner like Richardson could be too good to pass up.       


Tomorrow I will be updating my mock draft. I’ll be using the February 1st projection as a basis for comparison post-combine and pre-draft. On Thursday, we’ll break down tape of Kirk Cousins’ performance against Georgia in the Outback Bowl.


  1. Colin

    The only pick I can’t get excited about would be Trent Richardson. Yes, he’d be a great addition to this team, and him and Lynch pounding the ball 30 times a game would be awesome to watch, but it’s just not what we need. We need someone who can upgrade a position where lesser value is currently at (DE, LB, DT). Courtney Upshaw would bring some pass rush and better speed at linebacker. Devon Still or Michael Brockers upgrades the rush inside instantly. Justin Blackmon or Quintin Couples can be that dynamic player Seattle has so desperately needed for so long.

    Minnesota built around AP. St. Louis built around Steven Jackson. The 49ers are reliant on Frank Gore to keep churning out yards. I don’t want our team to be cut from that same mold. I want a dominant running game to compliment a capable QB and efficient offense. Not be a one trick pony.

  2. dave crockett

    Great stuff as always Rob.

    If Seattle stays at 11/12 I suspect the pick will come down to Coples and Upshaw, whichever is left on the board.

    Funny, I thought your offensive wildcard would be Osweiler. He could work his way into the first round discussion easily.

  3. RJD

    Rob, have you done any scouting on Alabamas D’tonte Hightower? He would seem to have the speed and length that Carrol and Schneider are looking for LB.

  4. Matthew Baldwin

    As much as we need an impact DE/DT, I wouldn’t pass on Trent Richardson at 11/12. MIN drafted ADP with Chester Taylor coming off a 1,200 yard season. Hardly a need at the time, but the right call. Seems similar to our situation with Lynch.

    That said, I’d really like to swing for the fences with DT Michael Brockers at 11/12 and a situational pass rusher like Andre Branch or maybe Vinny Curry in the 2nd to take Raheem Brock’s 3rd down snaps.

    Our young secondary would be lights out with an actual pass rush.

    I really could see PC/JS double dipping DL early like they did OL last year.

  5. Micah

    Zach Brown is greased lightning for a linebacker. I’d be happy with that pick. If he can add ten pounds and keep his speed, even better.

    I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, we need another running back, whether Marshawn is around or not. Trent Richardson would be a fantastic get.

  6. seattlesetters

    I’m buying into Coples more and more. His Senior Bowl week was monstrous, which shows he cares and will put in the work. As for his sometime lack of effort during the regular season, I think our defense has enough leaders and enough of the “tough-guy” swagger and attitude to keep a guy like Coples pumped up for a whloe season.

    Great defenses feed off each other. One player makes a big hit or a big play, and others follow. With guys like ET, Kam, Clemons and Red leading the way, I think Seattle’s defense is exactly what Coples needs to excel at the NFL level.

  7. jim J

    Coples will perform in the NFL or he will sit on the bench and then the practice squad. I forsee a whole new level of effort once he turns pro.

    I’m not sure if Richardson or Coples will slide down to our draft spot, but if they did, which would you pick? I am going to say Coples becasue we got to work on the defense, but we could try for Peed in the second round and add a second punt returner.

    I would be happy with Upshaw as a combo defensive end/linebacker. Why Brown though? There are other LBs out there that will perform perfectly well.

    Osweiler is a third rounder at best, but someone will reach for him.

  8. williambryan

    I havent watched trent richardson much but I watched the the national championship game and he didn’t impress me, and the tape you posted vs. Auburn also did not impress me. I guess I don’t see what the big deal is. I wouldn’t be surprised if he “suffers” a fall like his former teammate Ingram did last year to the end of round 1.

  9. JROCK419

    If Richardson were to be drafted, it would for sure be an upgrade for the whole offense. There would be no Browns game where Lynch goes down and it’s the mini back show with J-Force And Washington.

    Richardson is a beast in the weight room, has surprising agility and reads cutback lanes like nobody’s business.

    You also have to figure about the defenses that he played against WilliamB, I mean LSU and Auburn weren’t slouches in the Run Defense department.

    The way Richardson played against them was admirable, and a statement in itself. LSU held 7 of their last 8 opponents to single digits. If Richardson is not in that game to keep LSU honest, that game would have come out much differently than it did.

  10. Patrick

    I’d be happy with any of these. I like Upshaw the most, but it will be interesting to see how far he slips. Pete Carroll can’t be the only guy who thinks Upshaw is better than Von Miller and Miller didn’t make it past #2.

    As for Richardson, well, I have an alternative. Darren McFadden for our 2nd round choice. What do you think? Am I crazy? I think it makes sense. Oakland doesn’t pick until the 5th round. There new GM and head coach have nothing to do with McFadden and he keeps getting hurt. Send him to Seattle where he reunites with Cable and provides a tremendous change of pace back for Lynch!

  11. Doug

    I can actually see the hawks trading up to get either Trent or Coples. After the top 7-8 picks, there is a pretty large drop in talent, that can be equaled in the later rounds. Either of these guys will be big impact guys. Maybe Upshaw, but I just don’t see him in the elite group. He might be the tweener between elite, and pretty good.

    So, that is my prediction, Hawks trade UP to grab Trent or Coples. You read it here first…

  12. Derek

    If Richardson is there he should absolutely be the pick. I believe if we had him last year, he could have provided us 3 more wins, and that’s what we really need is wins. I think with his explosiveness he would give us the edge in those close games.

  13. YDB

    I’m disappointed that Brockers didn’t make your list. I would love to see the ‘Hawks take a high potential 3 tech like him. Hopefully the small amount of game tape on him turns teams off of him and he is available for us. I think there should still be specialize pass rushers available at better value in the second round.

  14. dave crockett

    On Richardson — I think the impending deal with Lynch will determine how open Seattle is to drafting Richardson at 11/12. If Seattle franchises Lynch because they can’t work out a deal Richardson becomes much more likely if he is available.

    On Coples — We know that his ceiling is consistent all-Pro, but two things:

    (1) Was he merely disgruntled or is he another Albert Haynesworth?

    THAT is the question, and to me the answer is not clear cut. He clearly dogged it this year but he surprisingly chose to forego first round money and come back in the first place. That really makes me wonder if what we saw was a less-than-admirable response to a bad situation at UNC. I just wonder if he came back with designs on an ACC title, and outside shot at a NC, and then the coach got fired. I wonder if he just pouted after he gave up first round money and his dreams got crushed. Again, that’s not an admirable response but it’s not necessarily a character flaw. OR, maybe he really is an Albert Haynesworth clone who merely passed the time in order to get to the draft. Maybe he’ll be prone to shut it down as soon as he gets a check or the coach yells at him. I don’t envy the staff on this one.

    (2) Is any part-time player worth it?

    Rob and I may disagree on this but I’d be perfectly okay with an Aldon Smith-type part-time addition. (As long as the player projects as starter worthy.) Even if Seattle re-signs Big Red, a Coples addition makes sense in my mind because of the skill set he brings. I wouldn’t necessarily want to take a player with a lower ceiling just because he doesn’t project as an immediate starter. To me, the new CBA keeps the premium paid to first rounders pretty low.

  15. Don

    I see the draft looking like what Brugler predicts on CBS Sports

    Upshaw will be gone by #11. Cleveland will get RGIII. Washington with Shannahan as coach will see a young Elway and take Tennehill. Richardson will be gone as well.

    The impact players that will make a difference in Seattle will be taken by the time Seattle picks, the result of being average and not getting a high enough pick.

    I would really like to see Tennehill in Seattle, but that is unlikely. He looks like a young Elway who has a good arm and can scramble. He can throw on the run like Elway to. Seattle needs to trade up to get him.

    It will be Couples that will fall to #11. Lets hope he has the motivation and attitude to deserve such a high pick.

    Cousins will be picked in the 2nd as a consolation prize (yawn).

    3rd pick LaMichael James or Pead. A need for speed to compliment Lynch.

  16. Rob

    Colin – I think taking Richardson is unlikely because if he gets past Cleveland, Tampa Bay and Miami it’ll be a minor miracle. But if he does fall to #11 or #12, the Seahawks have to weigh a few things up. First, they’re building an offense based around a strong running game. The position dictates that players get worn down, and that could happen quickly to a physical back like Lynch. He’s also a free agent and they aren’t going to agree on a huge deal for multiple years, so it could even be a case of franchise tag and then consider moving on. Finally, sometimes it’s just really hard to pass on an elite talent – and Richardson is right up there with any player drafted in recent years.

    Dave – I really like Osweiler and think he could work into round one very easily. At this stage, I’m thinking more early second round. But he has the talent for round one.

    RJD – I have a lot of notes on Hightower and I like him, but I think #11 or #12 is limited given he’s not the quickest and is best defending the run. If he’s there in round two he should be on the radar for sure.

    Michah – It wouldn’t surprise me at all if Seattle drafts a running back early.

    seattlesetters – I think more than anything Seattle has a coach that believes he can keep a player like Coples ‘pumped’ for a season. I have my concerns, mainly if (for example) the team has injuries elsewhere and has a rough patch, whether he’ll start to mail in games. The difference between Demarcus Ware and other players – he brings it every snap, every game regardless. Coples will be superb if he finds that same killer instinct.

    Jim j – If I could buy into Coples (hard to decide without speaking to the guy, and the team will have that opportunity) then he’s the pick. But Richardson is elite and will be a star – no question marks with him. That counts for a lot. There’s enough decent pass rush options in R2 like a Vinny Curry to warrant the pick. Brown’s stock will start to rise soon.

    williambryan – You must be a hard to please, he had 200+ yards against Auburn. I think he’s better than Ingram and doesn’t carry some of the same health risks. I expect rather than fall like Ingram, he’ll be a top-ten lock like Adrian Peterson.

    Patrick – It’s actually not a bad shout as long as you don’t feel the R2 pick is extortionate. I could see a move like that. Injuries are a concern, but limit his role and he’d be a great acquisition. The only issue I guess is – a round two pick for a RB2 probably is extortionate.

    Doug – I’d be stunned if they trade up. If anything, I think they’ll look at options to move down.

    YDB – I’m still working on Brockers and I suspect a lot of teams will be too. His declaration was a surprise.

    Don – I’d question Shanny’s sanity if he sees Elway in Ryan Tannehill, but I agree that he could easily be the ‘Skins pick at #6. I can get on board with a lot of what Brugler has projected in his mock, although from what I’m hearing there’s a pretty good chance RG3 won’t get out of the top three picks – even without a trade up.

  17. AussieSeahawk

    Hey Rob
    I’m another a little disappointed Brockers didn’t make your list. If it came down to Brockers or Brown I’d like to see us roll with Brockers. He may have been tagged a one year wonder but the guy seems to have a huge upside, a non-stop motor and doesn’t pick the games he comes out to play.
    Could you also add to your list of “please give us your thoughts on” a piece on a trade down option where players like Mercilus, Perry and Cox are regularly tagged as late round picks. Cox in particular intrigues me as a beast of a player who plays with an attitude, goes all day and could provide a huge upgrade in the pass rush department. The added pick/picks we would receive could add depth to the D line and an extra dip at 2nd round running back options.

  18. Doug

    The reason I believe they will trade up, just a few spots, is to obtain an elite player from this draft. I think after the first 8 players, you can get equl value from 9-20+. Since we are so close, it wouldn’t be super expensive to get a real difference maker. Everybody else is just another player. Of course there will be a lot of good players at 11/12, just no more elite players of our need. RB and DE are positions of need for us, and to snag up one of those positions would be huge.

  19. Mr Fish

    This is pertinent, in my opinion:

  20. Rugby Lock

    Nice article Mr Fish

  21. Doug

    Maybe I am too wrapped up with Mr. Coples measurables.
    My problem is that I was a manager before I retired, and one of my jobs was to motivate staff into performing. I was usually able to reach most people to get them to hold themselves accountable, and I think that everyone is reachable to some degree, Mr. Coples included. Pete is good with people, and real. He can do it if anyone can.

    …But, remember a guy named Lendale White?

  22. Derian Johnston

    Courtney Upshaw is a beast, and could easily not last till 11/12 pick. Seattle would be very lucky to get him. DT is not needed as bad as OLB/DE as we have pretty good reasonably young DT’s on the team. I/OLB and replacement for Leo position or Red Bryant(fa) is much more pressing. Hate to use ‘can’t miss’ after Aaron Curry, but Upshaw has loads of potential!

  23. bdeviled11

    “I’d look at character, I’d look at intangibles and I would look at work ethic,” Evans said. “Prime example: Quinton Coples, this big, awesome (defensive) end from UNC. I doubt Bill would touch him with a 10-foot pole. All the talent in the world but had this nonchalant attitude all week during the Senior Bowl.

    Very pertinent Mr. Fish.

  24. LouieLouie

    Hey Rob:
    I agree with you about the Hawks moving up in the draft. I think its more likely that they will move down. They could still pick an impact player in round one, and gain more opportunities to get guys like Sherman, Chancellor, Wright, and Thurman in the later rounds. Those later rounds are where Carroll and Schneider seem to have the Midas Touch.

  25. tompage

    Interesting list Rob. It will be interesting how perceptions will change after the combine. I expect Richardson to run poorly, maybe 4.6+ and many will question whether he is an elite talent. Zach Brown holds the school record in the 60 yard dash so I expect his stock will rise after the combine. I watched Brown at the Senior Bowl and I didn’t think he looked that fast on the field. I wouldn’t be surprised if Kendall Wright ran well and started to climb draft boards.

  26. Tarry

    I have Ingram mocked to Seattle with 11/12 (Richardson, Coples and Upshaw were off the board)… (Brown to Eagles).

    Question: Do you think the combine and prodays are overrated? Isn’t game tape and how one reacts in game situations more realistic… sure a QB can hit all of his throws with no pressure. A wide receiver may be able to sprint down the field quickly, but if knocked off his route can he recover? I just don’t see why a guy would move up drastically due to a combine result. I can see it for smaller school guys where you might not have game tape, but that’s it.

  27. Rob

    Tarry – I think it differs from team to team. Some teams are really swayed by work outs and others rely more on the tape. It also differs from prospect to prospect. The combine can sometimes confirm suspicions or leave an impression so you go back and look at tape again.

  28. Tarry

    Rob… good points, and that makes a lot of sense… thank you.

  29. Colin

    I think Seattle has to use that 2nd round pick on Osweiler if he is there. We’ll find a back in the 3rd or 4th rounds of the draft. My dream is Upshaw in the 1st and Osweiler in the 2nd.

  30. Attyla the Hawk

    Given the current depth of positions, I would see Seattle opting to take defense or QB with the first pick, and waiting until the second or third for a RB (Polk/Martin possibly).

    Richardson would definitely be a great talent no question. But taking him essentially puts you in a bind to upgrade DL/LB this season. And while having a quality tandem for Lynch has value — does a part time RB have #11 overall value? For the defensive front seven the crop isn’t that deep, and passing at 11/12 likely means you are really picking the crumbs even high in the 2nd round.

    Although PCJS have been nothing short of masterful in identifying talent deep in the draft that they can develop into something more than their draft day stock would indicate. I really see DL/QB as the position of choice. And only QB if they both really like a prospect and suspect he may not linger when they pick in round 2.

  31. Jim Kelly

    Hey, Rob. Nice job, as always. Do you think that Pete Carroll and John Schnieder have been talking to James Carpenter, about Courtney Upshaw, for the last few months? I could see any of these guys being snatched up by the Hawks.

    Last year I was hit by a car, and suffered a moderate back injury. Six weeks later I was helping test some of my instructors students, and I dislocated/fractured my left ring finger. Another six weeks after that I had a back spasm, from my injury, while on top of a 25 foot retaining wall. From that fall, the only injury was a partial avulsion fracture in my left foot. As far as the injuries were concerned, I would just ignore them as much as I could, and continue to work. The other things, the mental things, that happened over that time were actually more draining. My friends, family, and even acquaintances noticed that while I appeared better, I also appeared unmotivated and not as energetic. It seemed that no matter what I did, I couldn’t get through that tough time. Then, one positive thing happened, and everyone noticed how much better I was doing. Not only was I acting better, but my performance at all I did, including work, greatly improved. It’s all been great since then. Do you think that Quinton Coples might have experienced something similar to what I did? I mean, here’s a guy that has a chance to earn a few million, he turns it down, after forgoing what he’s good at, to become good at another aspect of his job, to be told he can return to his previous role, only to finally have things go south on him. On top of that, does he need to well at his old job, but he must attend classes, do well at those or not be able to do his job, and have millions of people critique him. Looking back on last year, it was tough for me, and I only had dozens, or maybe even hundreds of people watching me. How might he have reacted with so much more pressure? The Senior Bowl could be the one thing that turns it around for him.

    I won’t make up a reason for his lackadaisical showing, but if he can prove to the front office that last year was an aberration, then I would be happy to have him play for the Seahawks.

  32. Elias

    Hello Rob – I might be late in responding but I agree with most of your list. However, I’d still keep Sean Spence on it. Your title suggests the “most logical” pick. With that being said, we should consider PCs history and use of LBs. Not to mention, the way he worked on Curry to then determine he can’t fit the system. I think PC is looking to get his guy(s). Looking at the past LBs at USC (and scheme), which players in this draft fit the mold? I think you nailed it with Sean Spence but based on your draft, he might not be there in the 2nd for us. Thank.

    I’m In!

  33. Rob

    Hey Jim,

    I think you could be right on both cases. It makes sense to consult Carpenter given he will have come up against Upshaw in practise. On Coples, it’s difficult to judge the guy too much without actually sitting down and speaking to the guy. The teams will be able to do that, to find out what led to his poor season. Was it a selfish ‘me first’ attitude towards not getting injured? If so, why not declare as a junior? Was it the situation at UNC? Something else? Teams will do their homework. I’m very suspicious and while I’m as much a ‘raw talent’ fan as anyone else, I want to know a player I’m drafting isn’t always going to be relying on a teammate or coach to stay motivated.

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