Before we get into today’s piece, here’s a podcast I recorded with Brandan Schulze this week. We run through some of the players who’ve taken official visits with the Seahawks…
Thoughts on what the Seahawks might do
Sometimes the clues are staring you right in the face.
This is a fantastic defensive line class. The Seahawks needed to add to their D-line anyway. They’ve since lost Shamar Stephen and appear uninterested in keeping Dion Jordan. Their only additions so far are Cassius Marsh and Nate Orchard.
It’s abundantly clear they’re going to take a defensive tackle and a defensive end in this draft. It’s just a case of when.
That’s stating the obvious I suppose. Yet it’s easy to tie yourself in knots thinking about other positions when the truth is right there.
The Seahawks are meeting with plenty of veteran defensive linemen — from Corey Liuget to Al Woods and Allen Bailey. These are likely hedge moves based on a number of factors (targets not being available, a Frank Clark trade etc).
Anyone wanting to make a ‘safe’ projection for the Seahawks should pair them with a defensive lineman with their first pick.
1. They didn’t address it in free agency
2. It was a need before they lost guys on the D-line
3. It’s the strength of the draft
Of course the strength of the D-line class could allow the Seahawks to consider another need early. For example — the uncertain future of Doug Baldwin has increased the need at receiver. You’ll be able to land a decent wide out between picks #20-50 in this draft. After that the well runs dry. Yet the D-line depth stretches well into day three. In our conversation this week Tony Pauline suggested it could be an historic D-line draft.
Meanwhile one of Bob McGinn’s scouting sources had the following to say about the receiver class:
“This is a (expletive) year for early receivers… It’s just not a good class. I said last year it was a bad receiver draft. This is worse.”
The Seahawks will set out to complete their roster as much as they can with this draft. That means trying to add impact players at multiple positions — not simply addressing their top need first and then hoping for the best later on.
They badly needed a cornerback in 2017 but waited until the late third round to draft Shaquille Griffin. That draft class was considered ‘the year of the corner’. Seattle used that depth to wait on the position — drafting Malik McDowell and Ethan Pocic with their first two picks instead.
It’s possible they use a similar tactic this year (although hopefully with better results). If they can fill out their D-line between rounds 3-7, they might be inclined to look at the receivers and defensive backs with their top selection after trading down from #21 (possibly multiple times).
On the other hand, last years draft was ‘the year of the running back’. Seattle traded down nine spots and then took Rashaad Penny with their top pick. They could’ve waited until later on to grab a running back. However, they saw value in being the ones to launch a run on the position. They got what they believed was the #2 runner in the class after Saquon Barkley. They didn’t wait, despite having other needs (eg pass rusher).
So just as it’s possible they wait on the defensive line — they could also identify the guy they want from this tremendous D-line class and make sure they get them with their first pick.
Whoever they take with their first selection will probably seem obvious afterwards. This is the tenth draft for Carroll and Schneider together. We know what they look for at certain positions by now.
For example — if they take a defensive lineman with their first pick they’ll probably have good length. If it’s an EDGE they’ll be incredibly quick and athletic. If it’s an inside/out rusher or a defensive tackle they’ll likely excel in the short shuttle. We know they pay attention to pressure percentages, as discussed here.
There are so many players who fit the criteria this year it’ll be difficult to pin down ‘the guy’ who they ultimately take. Yet there’ll almost certainly be an ‘ah yes’ moment immediately after the pick.
If they don’t take a D-liner first up there could be a bit more mystery. The safety position has been harder to determine under Carroll and Schneider because they’ve added a wide variety of different profiles over the years. At receiver we know they like 4.4 speed or faster, quickness and the ability to get downfield and make plays. Terry McLaurin and Parris Campbell could be possible targets while N’Keal Harry’s 22% scoring rate on deep targets is appealing.
The biggest needs are clear — defensive line (both off the edge and at tackle), receiver and defensive back. The safe money might be on the D-line early but so much will depend on their ability to trade down, the future of Frank Clark and the best way to fill various needs to complete their roster.
Expect the unexpected
I think this will be an unpredictable round one. The top-15 or so players are fairly well established. Yet the next group of 40-50 players are all going to have similar grades. It could mean teams are more focused on need, scheme fit and personal preference than ever before. That could lead to a few shocks and surprises.
For example, there’s been talk recently of Chris Lindstrom being graded by some as a top-20 pick. In most years Lindstrom would be a fairly standard round two offensive lineman with some upside. Yet in this weaker draft in terms of top-level talent, he possibly gets bumped up — partly due to need and partly because he’ll be considered a safer projection than some of the other names being touted for round one.
I think we could see some ‘big’ names dropping into round two and a few shocks in the late first. It could be one of the more intriguing drafts in a long time for surprising round one picks. And as far as the Seahawks go — they’ll likely be very much part of that. They know what they like and they’re not afraid to go for it. Bruce Irvin in 2012, Rashaad Penny in 2018. Unpredictable picks at the time but in hindsight — understandable based on Seattle’s approach.
If there’s a prospect being rated in the 40’s, 50’s or 60’s this year — if they fit the Seahawks they could easily go in the 20’s or 30’s (whenever they pick). They draft for their roster, not everyone else’s. They know what they want.
Injuries and health will also play a part this year. As Tony Pauline told us yesterday, Montez Sweat is likely to last longer into round one than expected due to a minor heart condition. Jeffery Simmons would’ve been a top-10 lock but for his ACL injury. How early will he go? Michael Lombardi thinks he’ll be a first round pick — as do many others — but some think he’ll last into round two. There’s also been talk of injury concerns dropping Rashan Gary deeper into round one.
All three players fit the Seahawks. It’ll be interesting to see how willing they are to take a chance on health to potentially land a top player within this great D-line class.
Ian Rapoport is the latest reporter to say a Frank Clark trade is possible:
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) April 19, 2019
And if you missed it yesterday don’t forget to check out our conversation with Tony Pauline:
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