Updated mock draft: 8th February

The Seahawks are looking for more of this

Drafting first round pass rushers has been more miss than hit over the years. Between 2005-2010, 24 first round picks were spent on 3-4 outside linebackers, orthodox 4-3 ends and specialists. This number doesn’t include interior defensive lineman or five-techniques. Of those 24 players, only seven could be deemed a success: DeMarcus Ware (11th overall, Dallas), Mario Williams (1st overall, Houston), Tamba Hali (20th overall, Kansas City), Chris Long (2nd overall, St. Louis), Brian Orakpo (13th overall, Washington), Clay Matthews (26th overall, Green Bay) and Jason Pierre-Paul (15th overall, New York). 

During those six drafts, a lot of the NFL’s sack production was found outside of the top round. In 2005, Trent Cole was a 5th round pick for Philadelphia and has since recorded 68 sacks for the Eagles. Elvis Dumervil was a steal for the Broncos in 2006 in round four and has 52.5 sacks in five active seasons (he missed 2010 through injury). Lamarr Woodley was taken with the 46th pick in 2007 and has 48 career sacks. The same pick in 2009 brought Connor Barwin to Houston (11.5 sacks for Wade Phillips in 2011) and Carlos Dunlap has so far lived up to some of his potential after dropping to the #54 pick in 2010 with 13.5 sacks for the Bengals. 

It’s not surprising that more players have been busts because that’s the way the draft works. However, a 29% success rate is a bit more surprising given the mass production teams have found in the mid-rounds. I would argue projecting defensive ends to the next level is one of the most difficult things to do. Sometimes you’ll see a guy dominate college lineman but struggle to have the same impact against the NFL’s best. It takes a combination of skills to be a productive pass rusher in the pro’s – in college sometimes it’s just requires speed. But as the Seahawks set about trying to upgrade their pass rush, it could be one of the riskiest picks they make in the Carroll/Schneider regime. 

There’s no rhyme or reason for successful defensive ends. Many expected Brandon Graham to have a big impact after a productive off-season that included a dominating Senior Bowl. So far, he’s been irrelevant for the Eagles – suffering with injuries and failing to make an impact despite Philadelphia’s bold move up the board to draft him. Carolina wasted a future first round pick in 2009 after trading back into the draft to grab Everette Brown. He had the edge speed and performance at Florida State, but was a bust in the NFL and San Francisco remain ever grateful for the first rounder. Derrick Harvey, Vernon Gholston, Jamaal Anderson, Jarvis Moss, Aaron Maybin, Larry English, Robert Ayers, Jerry Hughes – all players expected to have an impact, but became busts. You’re looking for strength, edge speed, a repertoire of moves or at least one move they’ve mastered, technique, leverage and hand use. Essentially, you’re asking for a lot. It still surprises me that a player who ticked all of those boxes – Jabaal Sheard – dropped to round two last April. 

Overall the 2011 group bucked the trend by producing a cluster of impact rookies. Von Miller won defensive rookie of the year for an impressive first season in Denver. Aldon Smith made numerous big plays for the Niners, while Washington’s Ryan Kerrigan also made the Pro-Bowl. JJ Watt and Adrian Clayborn both flashed at times for Houston and Tampa Bay respectively, with only Robert Quinn struggling to make an impression. Of the group, only Quinn relied mostly on speed in college. Perhaps there’s something to learn there? This week I’ve decided to drop Whitney Mercilus into round two for the first time in a while. He’s a player I’m still trying to work out, but could easily become part of either list – first round busts, or players who deserved greater faith after they dropped into day two. Expect further analysis on Mercilus before April 26th. 

The three pass-rushers likely to be on Seattle’s radar are Courtney Upshaw, Melvin Ingram and Quinton Coples. I suspect Upshaw would be the preferred option, but with all three likely to go in a similar range it could be a decision taken out of their hands. This week I have the Seahawks taking a chance on Coples – a player who divides opinion perhaps more than any other prospect this year. Some are intrigued by his potential and we saw at the Senior Bowl just what he’s capable of – he dominated throughout and was easily the best player on show. Others are suspicious of a senior campaign that was decidedly mediocre. 

Yet faced with a situation where both Upshaw and Ingram are off the board – plus a potential ‘wild card’ alternative like Trent Richardson – they may just roll the dice on adding to the small list of success stories at defensive end. Pete Carroll is a coach who believes he can motivate any player to produce results. This would be one of the greatest challenges of his career – and a lot of other GM’s and coaches are likely to be happy to give him the opportunity to take on this test. Upshaw is a complete football player in my view and while he may not have a ceiling to match other pass rushers, I expect he will have an extremely solid career with multiple 8-12 sack seasons. Ingram I’m less crazy about overall, but he’s also a unique prospect in many ways given his size and athleticism. Coples doesn’t just have the highest ceiling among the defensive players in this class – he also has a much greater floor if things go wrong. 

For the most part I’ve argued against Coples due to the scheme fit – an argument I’ve also made against Upshaw and Ingram too at times. However, it appears the Seahawks might be more willing to adapt their scheme than I first thought. That doesn’t mean completely abandoning their hybrid 4-3 system, but still incorporating new looks and being flexible with Red Bryant (if he re-signs) in order to create more of a pass rush. The Seahawks can’t keep relying on just Chris Clemons for pressure – and without a dominating three-technique, they may be forced to use a more balanced 4-3 front or consider more 3-4 concepts with two outside rushers. 

Coples would be a gamble, Seattle’s biggest risk/reward project in the Carroll/Schneider era. They’ve built a defense that plays with a brooding intensity – a young determined core of players who get under your skin. Coples at his best would add a touch of class to the team’s pass rush and could take the defense to another level. Yet Coples at his worst could undermine everything they’ve built so far. Carroll’s rebuild can’t afford to stall, the margins for error are huge. While this team may one day have to gamble on a quarterback, they could initially gamble on a defensive end. They have to hit on both. 

Updated first round mock draft

#1 Andrew Luck (QB, Stanford)
The Colts are cleaning house to make room for the Andrew Luck era. They might as well start talking about a contract now.
#2 Matt Kalil (OT, USC)
Take this to the bank – the Rams have to take Kalil. He’s too good to pass up. There’s enough depth at receiver to wait until round two.
#3 Robert Griffin III (QB, Baylor)
If Minnesota would’ve contemplated taking Andrew Luck at #1, why wouldn’t they consider taking RGIII here?
#4 Trent Richardson (RB, Alabama)
Elite playmaking talent who will have an instant impact. Cleveland may draft Richardson here even if Griffin’s still on the board.
#5 Morris Claiborne (CB, LSU)
You have to believe Greg Schiano would love to draft Trent Richardson. Cornerback is also a need.
#6 Ryan Tannehill (QB, Texas A&M)
This would be a foolish reach but Shanahan wants his guy. If Tannehill really is going to go in the top-15 as speculated, Washington is the obvious choice.
#7 Riley Reiff (OT, Iowa)
Assuming the Jaguars attack the market for receivers in free agency, Gene Smith could look for further protection for Blaine Gabbert.
#8 Devon Still (DT, Penn State)
Carolina wants to use a lot of different defensive looks and Still is scheme versatile. This is a big need for the Panthers.
#9 Courtney Upshaw (DE, Alabama)
Miami needs to improve their pass rush and if they aren’t tempted by Justin Blackmon, Upshaw could be the pick.
#10 Melvin Ingram (DE, South Carolina)
The Bills could be a wildcard and another potential destination for Blackmon. More than anything though, they need a pass rusher.
#11 Quinton Coples (DE, North Carolina)
Some teams will be suspicious of Coples, but Seattle has a Head Coach who believes he’s capable of motivating any player.
#12 Jonathan Martin (OT, Stanford)
The Chiefs could do with boosting their offensive line. They’d have the option to play Martin at left or right tackle.
#13 Mike Adams (OT, Ohio State)
Expect the Cardinals to pursue Peyton Manning. Whoever starts at quarterback, they’ll need better protection in 2012.
#14 Michael Brockers (DT, LSU)
Most people expect Dallas to draft for their secondary in round one, but the options aren’t great – unlike Brockers.
#15 Zach Brown (LB, North Carolina)
Andy Reid doesn’t like drafting linebackers, but Zach Brown will start to rise up the boards very soon.
#16 Justin Blackmon (WR, Oklahoma State)
This isn’t the first time I’ve had Blackmon falling a bit. New York could move up to make sure they get this guy.
#17 David DeCastro (OG, Stanford)
Slightly over rated, a technician who looks great on the move but lacks elite power at the point of attack.
#18 Cordy Glenn (OT, Georgia)
He could play right tackle or guard in San Diego. The Chargers will surely invest in their offensive line this off-season and could trade up.
#19 Kendall Wright (WR, Baylor)
Electric receiver who would quickly become Jay Cutler’s BFF. Capable of having a big impact quickly.
#20 Dwight Jones (WR, North Carolina)
Kenny Britt’s problems off the field and with injuries could push the Titans towards finding a replacement.
#21 Mark Barron (S, Alabama)
Safety’s with Barron’s range are difficult to find and his 2011 performance warrants top-25 consideration.
#22 Dre Kirkpatrick (CB, Alabama)
He provides a lot of positives in run support, but he struggles in coverage. Could drop lower than this.
#23 Dont’a Hightower (LB, Alabama)
I think he can play outside linebacker – and while Detroit maybe have bigger needs, this guy can help take the defense to another level.
#24 Kelechi Osemele (OG, Iowa State)
Played left tackle at Iowa State but will kick inside to guard at the next level. I really like this guy.
#25 Luke Kuelchy (LB, Boston College)
He’s under sized but what a tackler – he’ll get close to 100 tackles in year one. Has some limitations and he’s no pass rusher.
#26 Michael Floyd (WR, Notre Dame)
The Texans saw life without Andre Johnson and might add another receiver as insurance.
#27 Peter Konz (C, Wisconsin)
Top-end interior lineman who could be the best in this class. Stuck out on a talented Badgers line and no surprise he turned pro.
#28 Doug Martin (RB, Boise State)
They’ve played for two years now without a running game. Maybe it’s time to go all-in on a running back? Martin is seriously underrated.
#29 Mohamed Sanu (WR, Rutgers)
Sanu can line up anywhere and make plays. San Francisco use a lot of gimmicks and needs a sure-handed catcher.
#30 Fletcher Cox (DT, Mississippi State)
Cox looks like a pure five-technique to me and would be worth a chance here by the Ravens.
  #31 Janoris Jenkins (CB, North Alabama)
A top-ten talent on the field, but an UDFA off it. New England are willing to take on projects like this (see: Ryan Mallett).
#32 Sean Spence (LB, Miami)
Underrated linebacker who makes up for great size with speed, instinct, tackling and elite recognition skills.


  1. Michael (CLT)

    I’m in. Risk with huge upside. My kind of draft. I would be a terrible GM.

    Sidenote: Nice to see Janoris sliding. I thought he looked incredibly stiff in the Senior Bowl. Small and stiff, not a good combo at CB.

  2. Ed

    If that’s how the draft fell to us, I would be happy with Coples. With that, 2nd rd for me would be burfict/miller/perry then 3rd cousins/osweiler

  3. Your Mom

    I would be happy with Couples, Ingram, Upshaw or Still. I think one of these guys will be the pick.

  4. Kyle

    If the top of the draft falls this way I could see Schneider/Carroll dropping back in the first, maybe even multiple times into the second. There are a lot of OL prospects after 11 they simply won’t go for this year, and the team is short a few picks with previous trades. If they keep up their mid-round successes, I won’t complain.

  5. woofu

    Saw a mock today that had Wash trade with the Vikings to get RG3, Vikes then went OT and Tanny fell to Seattle. Hmmmmm.

    Also some words on Tam’u in the first even top 10 after the Sen. Bowl are surfacing.

  6. Rob

    Kyle – I think a bit like Earl Thomas in 2010, they’ll see too much value in R1 to move down. They know this is a good opportunity to add another key player and the options get worse the further you go down the first round board.

    woofu – Seattle won’t take Tannehill, it won’t happen even though it seems to be a popular pick among mock drafters. Keep focussing on the defensive guys in round one, although Trent Richardson could the be the wildcard. I like Ta’amu I think he’ll be better in the NFL than at Washington… but top ten I can’t see.

  7. Turp

    Walter Football’s QB predictions are fairly interesting.


    Some good ideas in there I hadn’t thought of (Josh Johnson to Jax, etc). Most of the predictions, though, are just based on coach associations. Not the most reliable source of predictions, but it was an interesting read. Similar to Rob, WF thinks we will draft a QB on day 2; Manning to the Skins (33 mil under the cap, slam dunk!).

  8. MisterHawk

    Hi Rob,

    Great stuff on your site here. I appreciate all the time it takes to make these mocks. I visit daily and am always looking forward to your next piece. I’ve been interested in the draft more than ever this year. It’s wildly fun reading about possible college players who could be playing for the Seahawks next year. So thanks for your hard work! I’ve been wanting to ask you a few questions. I hope you don’t mind.

    How long have you been scouting and how did you get into it? Was it a passion that started from watching the seahawks or just an interest in the college level? I was also curious what your background was in football. Did you play in High School or College? I played a little in high school myself but no higher than that. If you did play, what positions? Have you played any other sports, too? I was curious if you’re a soccer player/fan since you live across the pond. I hear the soccer passion there in Europe is amazing.

    Thanks ahead of time. And oh yea, I’m a huge fan of Richardson. I hope he falls to our pick. Make it happen Mr. Carroll!

  9. OverDraft

    Hey Rob,
    Great stuff as usual. I’m curious in this scenario if Seattle would look at Blackmon with number 11/12? With Rice having surgery on both shoulders recently, Baldwin not a number 1, Mike Williams possibly on the slide, and Obo maxed out on his potential, I think Blackmon gives us that #1 threat we’ve not had in a long time and Carroll always had at USC.
    I’ve also notices you don’t have Lamar Miller rated very high in any of your mocks. Is there something you see in him you don’t think will translate well to the NFL?

  10. Jon

    First of all, I am a huge fan of Red, and Clemons. And I think that Red should be resigned this year. I know that this is a stretch, but it is a thought.
    I would be very interested in signing Mario Williams in Free Agency and then picking up Coples in the Draft in round 1.
    I think that Williams and Coples (If he works out) would be a massive road block for teams in the run game and both of them could rush the passer. Also it may give Coples a person to look up to and learn from. He seems to play as well as he needs to in order to be the best on his teams line.
    That being said, what is the likelihood that Williams even ends up on the open market.

  11. AK Seahawk

    Great mock draft with plenty of logic. DE and LB are the Seahawks area of dire need (on defense anyways). I’m going go out on a limb with this prediction though, with Carpenter going down with an ACL tear, and although playing better towards the end of the season, the Hawks realize they will need to solidify that OL once and for all. If Jonathan Martin is available at 11/12, the Seahawks swoop him up. Let’s face it Okung’s ankles are a liability. Martin can play both LT and RT. I also predict, Carl Nicks will be courted by the Seahawks and will anchor down that LG position better than anyone they’ve have since Hutchinson. I know a lot of people say Schnieder doesn’t fork out big contracts for FA’s, but trust me, when you have the cap room and a possiblity to grab the best inside lineman in a long time, you don’t sleep on the opportunity. DE, LB, and CB will be addressed in rounds 2-5. As far as QB goes, anyone’s guess is WAY better than mine. I don’t have a damn clue. TJ will be their starter in 2012 though.

    Thanks for the time and effort with you mock.

  12. MeatWad

    Intersting. I wish the draft had more quality pass rushers in this draft that equal a first round grade. If there was the Hawks could trade down, pick up a quality starting pass rusher and pick up an additional pick. The more I read and watch the more I agree that trading down will probably not happen for the Hawks and pick 11/12 will be used on DE. The hawks will trade down in at least one round however, but not the first.

    Regarding some mocks and fans believeing the Hawks need to use the first round pick on yet another OL, just doesn’t make sense to me. I don’t see the Hawks investing yet another first round pick in OL for three years in a row. The backup talent did very very well and adding some depth in later rounds or FA makes more sense with defense/pass rush being a much much higher need. There is not a need to invest another first in the oline and way too much draft capital invested in the line when other positions are severely lacking talent and depth.

  13. JROCK419

    Interesting picks, I’m still not sold on Tannenhill, he seems like a really high ceiling guy, and possibly more talented than ponder, but I don’t know if he’ll even be picked in the first.

    Good write up, ROB!

  14. gohawks

    Hey Rob,

    What is your take on Brockers from LSU? I have heard he played 5-tech, 3-tech, and NT for the Tigers. With a potentially high upside and the versatility he has, do you think he would be a good fit for the Seahawks? We all know how the Seahawks covet versatility.

  15. Rob

    MisterHawk – I’m a journalist by trade and moved to live in the PNW a few years ago (back in Europe now). My interest in this game spurned from my time in North America. I’ve no background in terms of playing the game but did some scouting (soccer) for the professional clubs over here (albeit at a modest level) and it triggered an interest. My interest in the NFL/draft was turned into an obsession which ultimately turned into this blog and I just hope people get as much out of visiting it as I do working on it.

    OverDraft – Blackmon is unlikely, although I think they’ll sign a receiver at some stage (free agency or draft). Richardson is the one to watch if he falls, but even then it’ll depend on the defensive talent available. On Miller – I’ve had him as high as a mid first and I really like the guy, I just think we’re talking about someone who will largely work as part of a tandem. He will be effective, but I thinK Richardson and Martin are primed for a greater work load and both are also very talented. But Miller could be a late first/early second type.

    JROCK419 – I wouldn’t take Tannehill in the first. I just think Mike Shanahan will make a risky move here – he needs ‘his’ quarterback.

    gohawks – I’m mixed on Brockers. My first impression was immense potential, but my second impression was a bit underwhelmed. He looks like an interior lineman who is going to be better vs the run and not be that unique pass rusher. I’m not sure he’d be such a big upgrade for Seattle or offer anything new. I think teams will consider him at 5-tech and he could end up there long term. Seattle more likely to look at edge rushers I think.

  16. Lenny253


    Can we get a round 2?

  17. Rob

    Hi Lenny,

    I did a round two last week but that was mainly to test how things have changed when we’ve run through the combine. I’m not going to do another round two until the end of the month when Indy is out of the way. From March onwards, round two projectins will be part of the weekly updates.

  18. jim J

    Cruising through some other mock drafts, there is no consensus over Seahawks picks. It just depends on who gets picked before us. Coples would be great, I’ve seen UPshaw and Hightower mocked to us. And even see Dontari Poe going high in the draft (but not to us). I hope there is a run on Offensive tackles so we can scoop up the defensive player we want. If Trent Richardson falls to us then that would be a real scoop, but at the cost of not adding to the defense. This should be an interesting decision.

    I do think we will have to add to the offensive line, but maybe that can be done during free agency. Same with QB, lets give a few FAs a try out.

  19. FWBrodie

    Rob, does a Coples pick mean bye bye Red to you?

    Yes, you could swing Coples inside to the 3, but I’d also like to see him out on the edge and you’d have Branch there to sort of platoon the two spots based on matchups and scenarios. Red’s a great player, but how much can you afford to spend on your D-line?

    Q2, would the Hawks be setting themselves up to have a giant hole at the Leo spot after next season if they don’t address it with this pick (assuming Coples isn’t that guy)?

  20. Rob

    Hey FWBrodie,

    I think the Seahawks will re-sign Bryany. I’m almost certain of it. I think what we’re looking at here is Seattle’s version of Aldon Smith – a guy who can generate a pass rush in certain looks, a guy who maybe doesn’t play every down or maybe moves around. Bryant was really a two-down player last year, so I think he’ll be re-signed to the same role. If they draft Ingram or Coples, I think that’s the direction they go. Upshaw is a more likely every down type who they’d find a way to keep on the field at all costs.

    I disagree on the LEO question. Clemons doesn’t have much tred on the tires and we have to remember the situation that landed him in Seattle. I’m not convinced the Seahawks have to go big at the LEO to solve that position, or in this case ‘plan for the future’. If they’re drafting any position for the future it should be QB. I expect Clemons to get another 8-12 sacks in 2012 and be re-signed for a couple more years.

  21. jim J

    Rob – It seems like everyone is trying to stick a potential player into a position, like LEO. Is that really what happens? When I watch the best defenses they are rotating different players in and out, and they are moving their best rushers around to different spots. They do everything they can to confuse the offensive line and hopefully create an unblocked rusher.

    With that in mind, isn’t it better to pick versatile players? We already have our big DTs. People like Branch and Red Bryant can play extra years by moving inside. Ideally we would have speed and power at all positions on the defensive line. And they should be able to rush from either side or up the middle. Any thoughts on who would fit that ideal?

    The other question I have for you Rob – if the Coples, Ingram and Upshaw are off the board, what would you think about choosing Hightower? I know you’ve mocked Zach Brown, but I just love Hightowers size and power in that position. Are we going to have to look for 2 LBs in the draft?

  22. PatrickH

    I would prefer Michael Brockers over Coples if both were available at 11/12 spot. Brockers seems to be more versatile and capable of playing the 5 tech, 3 tech, and maybe even the 1 tech positions, while Coples seems to be just a 5 tech player.

    BTW, other than Mike Williams (and maybe Marshawn Lynch to some extent), has Pete Carroll successfully motivated any under-motivated player as the Seahawks HC? It seems like what Pete has actually done is to find players who fit his schemes but were otherwise overlooked (like Clemons) or put in a wrong position (like Red Bryant).

  23. jim J

    Pete Caroll looked at every available player those first two years. I hope what he learned is that there is a limited pool of talent out there. His greatest success has been rehabbing injured players. At the same time his greatest failure is first round draft picks that suffer injuries.

    I think I would count Mike Williams as a short term motivational success. He did well his first year back , but not this year. I would like to see more of a fight for the ball attitude from him.

    PC motivated a second string offensive line to play better than any of us would have guessed. I didn’t think those guys would play well together, but they finished the season strong. PC motivated a couple CBs to step in and take over. Seems like he motivated the defense better than the offense – or was that the hard hitting safeties that motivated them? Marshawn Lynch motivated that offense with his hard running style. I loved seeing those linemen blocking 10 yards downfield, and pushing the pile. That was great.

    So maybe the coach can supply motivation, but it seems like the team has to catch the spirit, and they can get motivated by a leader like Earl Thomas.

  24. Mike J

    As a Tampa fan, I love Claiborne, but doubt he will last to 5-–he is that good. I believe the club will look very hard at a complementary HB like Martin or Pead, later.

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