Why I think linebacker could be an early priority

Malcolm Smith has been an organizational soldier. But is he a future starter?

Though a follower of the draft for over two decades, 2009 was the first year I started doing tape breakdowns and informing myself about prospects.  Not with Mel Kiper analysis or googled scouting reports, but by watching and evaluating the players myself, while taking cues from analysts I respected.  Before 2009… I wouldn’t claim to be any kind of authority on the draft before that.

With that caveat in place, I have no doubt that the 2013 NFL Draft is the deepest draft I have ever seen.  A few days ago, Mike Mayock made similar comments when he said the 2013 draft was the deepest he’s seen in at least ten years.

No area is deeper in this draft than the wide receiver position.  Approximately ten wide receivers have received a first or second round projection, and that list does not include some of my favorites.  As many as six tight ends have been talked about in that same range.   In the first round, we might be witnessing perhaps the best offensive line group ever.   Mayock has gone so far as to say that the 25th pick is going to feel a lot like the 5th overall pick this year.  That surplus of talent will push into the middle rounds as well, because you probably won’t see ten of the first sixty picks being receivers, six tight ends in the first sixty, and so on.

In a draft that is almost unbelievable in it’s reserves, one position stands out as the exception:  Linebacker.  Even at the top, this isn’t a great linebacker class.  I’d take Luke Kuechly, Bobby Wagner, Lavonte David, Dont’a Hightower and Mychal Kendricks over any linebacker this year.  What’s really striking to me is how few “fast” linebackers there are in this group that are quality prospects.  To be sure, there are some gems out there later on- I’ll cover them in a future post- but they’ll likely be snatched up quickly and it won’t be long until you’re sifting through ashes just hoping to find this year’s version of Korey Toomer or Malcolm Smith.

It’s something that rival head coach Jeff Fisher brought up at the combine during his media session yesterday, although his complaints centered around a lack of inside linebackers and linebackers with size.  I would agree with Fisher, except I am not lamenting a lack of big linebackers, but a lack of truly fast ones that fit Pete Carroll’s mold well enough.

John Schneider had his own presser of course, and he said something that I found interesting.  He talked about his process of upgrading over parts of the roster and specifically name checked Bobby Wagner and Malcolm Smith.

This name drop interested me because it implied that Malcolm Smith is a starter.  Malcolm Smith is fast, he’s smart, and he’s a more of a football player than an athlete- and he’s a good athlete.  But he’s never been a full time starter, in large part to his being 6’0″ and just 226 pounds.  Though a standout at USC, Smith was injured constantly, which shouldn’t be terribly surprising given his size.  The only comparably sized player to be a long term starter in recent years that I know of is Cato June (6’0″, 225 pounds), who had just five starting seasons in seven years before retiring.  Though a very good player, the scarcity of similar success stories and the brevity of his career suggests that he was an exception that proved the rule.

In a league where 240 pounds is considered preferable for 4-3 linebackers and 230 pounds is treated as a cutoff point, it strikes me as a tough sell to walk into next season banking on Malcolm Smith as your starter all season (and postseason) long. This is no slam on Smith, who I think is one of the teams very best backups.  But players of his size typically remain backups.

Maybe Seattle would start him anyway.  Maybe a weak linebacker class could scare them more than a 226 pound player with 3 NFL starts and an extensive injury history in college.  Maybe they bring Leroy Hill back for one final season.  Maybe.  But I doubt it.

I’m open minded, and I won’t tell anyone there is a right and wrong answer on this.  But I would guess that Seattle is hunting for another starter at linebacker this offseason.  A fast one.  If you want a starter caliber player in this draft, you will probably have to grab that player in the first four rounds.  If you want a difference maker, someone like Alec Ogletree, Khaseem Greene or Arthur Brown, and he’s there at #58, you almost have to take him.  I do not think Seattle will go so far as to draft a linebacker with their first pick, but if they did, I’d understand why: they might not get another chance.  Certainly, if a top option remains at #58, I expect they’d rush to the podium.

Fortunately for us, 4-3 weakside linebackers are rarely drafted in the first round.  It’s happened just once in the previous three drafts (Sean Witherspoon in 2010).  Some of these players, such as Alec Ogletree, might be considered as 3-4 inside linebackers and get taken early as a result, as was the case for Dont’a Hightower last year.  Tony Pauline’s big board lists Arthur Brown 40th overall and has Khaseem Greene (funny enough) 58th overall- the same spot as Seattle’s 2nd round pick.

Finally, there is one other factor to consider.  I can’t link a source or anything, but I’ve heard third-hand that John Schneider grades his entire roster with a numbering system and makes draft picks based not on the draft grade, but on the upgrade differential of his starters and that draft grade.  I can’t imagine that Malcolm Smith carries a very high starter grade- I’m not even sure he’s a starter at all.  It’s hard to envision Seattle ignoring that as they work through the very early rounds, especially if a great value presents itself in round two.


  1. Nolan

    Very thought provoking Kip. My question for you after reading this is if not a line backer at 25 then who is availble that really upgrades a starter… I don’t think any of the WR availble would be a huge upgrade over what the team currently has, and no tight end would be better then Zach Miller atleast not in the first year… as was talked about yesterday any of the availble DT at 25 probably wouldn’t be huge upgrades either. This team is set with starters at every position except for 3 tech and Weakside linebacker. I don’t think anyone at 25 is a termendous year one upgrade over any other player on the team so if your going by who presents the biggest upgrade over a current starter then weakside linebacker has to be the pick.

    • Aaron

      Good point. I don’t know if you saw this, but I found this article provided on field gulls to be pretty interesting about the possibility of either trading up, or more likely trading down to consolidate 2nd 3rd and 4th round picks:


    • rrrhawkout

      But plenty of tight ends could be an upgrade over Anthony McCoy. We could use two great ones.

    • Zach

      Slot corner to replace Trufant.

      • Rugby Lock

        His baby brother… 🙂

        • SunPathPaul

          If you look at the teams that are consistent and playoff bound, MOST have 2 talented TE’s that can catch.
          McCoy isn’t one of those. He can play, but he is NO Ertz/Eifert/Reed/McDonald…

          I think the BIGGest Upgrade could possibly be at TE, given how well RW and Zach Miller looked at the end of last year. We could run LOTS of 2 TE sets with RW to audible to make use of our WR/2TE/RB…

          I disagree that WR can’t be upgraded also. Hopkins looks like the best for that. Just imagine if Sidney Rice’s foot got injured for multiple games. If we didn’t draft someone this year, we would be hard pressed to succeed w/o him. Tate/Kearse/Baldwin?? No…

          I agree we do need a slot CB to replace Trufant. He has talent, but is older and when big plays occurred to change games, they usually came against him.

          I see this differently than most. We need DT, DE, WILL, slot CB… We could easily go after Starks and say Osi, and 2 of our needs immediately “become more flexible”. Then these Pros can teach the later round DT/DE draft picks the ropes.

          I personally would go WR in R1. Hopkins, Bailey or Austin… R2 TE – McDonald, Reed, Gragg, etc.

          Then R3 whichever is there and best, WILL or slot CB…Maybe Jordan Hill…

          I know I am the odd man out, but as certain coaches have been saying, “Russell Wilson is the BEST player on the field when he plays…” So my idea is to build around my best player with whomever has the mind and temperament to work closely with RW.

          All PC/JS interviews will reveal to them who those possible guys are…

          • Belgaron

            Wilson could throw for 4k this year and the 2nd TE and/or the 4th WR could play a big part of that but I think they will uncover every rock to find these players and the dropoff from a 1st round TE or WR may not be as big a difference over the next best alternative.

            My choice for role that could make the biggest difference would be LEO. With the strength of this defense what it is right now, adding another degree of heat to the pass rush would change games. I don’t know if they’ll be able to use 25 for that role (because the talent at that point may not warrant it) but it will be interesting to see how they mitigate the temp/perm loss of Clemons who may take a while to come back and may never be as effective. And even at his strength the past few years, they could have still used more help generating pressure.

        • Michael

          I don’t think taking a CB at #25 is quite as crazy as it sounds. Let’s look at the “need” positions and see what kind of arguments we can make against each of them.

          3-Tech DT

          The first and most obvious problem is that the best guys are gonna be gone long before #25. Free agency is an option, but even if they don’t make a move there they may simply be content to try for one more year to solve the problem in house. If Scruggs adds 10 lbs he could potentially man the spot full time soon. Dan Quinn may want to give it a go with Howard who he presumably gave his stamp of approval too last year. While they obviously know it’s a problem, the FO might not be as quick as us to say that the solution isn’t already on the roster.


          The top 3 spots on the depth chart are filled by Rice, Tate and Baldwin so presumably any receiver drafted this year would be mostly for depth. While I agree that they should take one in the first 2 rounds, I would really prefer that they get an undervalued guy in the 2nd round. Stedman Baily or Markus Wheaton would be huge pickups if they can be had at #57. With the depth of this WR class I could see the FO passing on the first wave of guys.


          While the article we just read logically argues to the contrary in this particular draft, there is still precedent that says WLB’s aren’t really 1st round guys. The fact that they have stuck with Leroy Hill for this long tells me less about Hill’s ability and more about how little value Pete and John assign to his position; for that reason I could see them going for another cheap veteran that can hold his own, preferably one who doesn’t imprison women… Even if they don’t bring anyone in, Malcolm Smith is pretty good, and maybe Toomer has a chance to rotate with him this year to help avoid fatigue/injury.

          Nickle CB

          Yes we have a tremendous secondary. Yes, Sherman is the best cornerback in the NFL. But as we saw time and time again last season, often times you are only as strong as your 3rd (or even 4th) corner. Teams are gonna continue throwing the football more and more, and with the influx of more and more college coaches into the NFL, I think it is safe to assume the spread elements we are seeing will not be going away any time soon. All of this simply reinforces the age old saying that, “you can never have enough good defensive backs.”

          So let’s pretend for a second that Trufant is still on the board at #25 and that this FO rates him very highly. Walter Thurmond is looking like the Franklin Gutierrez of football and can’t possibly be the “starter” that a draft pick would be measured against. The elder Trufant is one of my all time favorite Seahawks, but it’s pretty clear that he is done, at least as a starter. Jeremy Lane looked good filling in for Browner, but he might be better suited for playing outside than in the slot. It’s is entirely possible that a CB presents a very large “differential” when we are on clock in round 1. Throw in the familiarity with the family and the “inside knowledge” Pete could get from his buddy Sark and all of a sudden it’s not the biggest draft surprise ever if this happened.

          If nothing else I think this proves that if you really want to, you can talk yourself into pretty much any player at #25. Except of course Barkley… Those people really need to stop.

          • Rob Staton

            The issue I have with corner at #25 is the success rate this team has had drafting young guys later. It seems strange that they’d be able to find such tremendous quality and depth in rounds 4-6 at corner but would then draft a guy to play in the slot in round one.

            • A. Simmons

              Let Jeremy Lane have the slot position. He played well enough to show he can play the slot as a starter. Let him battle.

          • Colin

            This whole “slot corner” obsession is, plainly put, stupid. Slot corners are not a hot commidity in the NFL. You plug guys in, and as long as they are not just god awful, they’ll have a job for a long time. The PASS RUSH is the MAIN ISSUE. You upgrade the rush, and those issues with said slot corner will dissolve.

            I do believe Marcus Trufant could stand to be upgraded, but this idea obsession of SLOT CORNER SLOT CORNER SLOT CORNER is just ridiculous. We got burned on 3rd and long because teams HAD to go deep to convert, and we didn’t have the pass rush to deter them. This secondary is, bar none, the best in the NFL, but you can’t ask them to cover for 4- 4.5 seconds every 3rd down.

            The fact that they were the #1 scoring defense despite such a pass rush deficiency is astounding. You add a big time DT in the middle and, my God, this defense might be one of the best in the last 10 years.

          • bulldog91

            Good points. Something small to add: The 49ers will probably want a corner with the 31st pick and it would be nice to steal their guy!

    • williambryan

      I agree, from the outside looking in it seems obvious that WLB would have to be the most upgradeable position with 3 tech right there (but there may not be that much of an upgrade over Branch). I could see them looking at the Jason Jones role as upgradeable and that could mean Datone Jones could be a early target?

      • SunPathPaul

        It baffles me that we have the #1 rated scoring defense, the #4 overall D, yet everyone thinks they suck!
        Most everyone here believes it is our biggest need, but let me ask you—

        “If in either of our playoff games VS. the Redskins or Falcons, if our offense came out in the first half, and had ANY electricity and scored, would we not have DOMINATED those games? As both games progressed, our D stiffened, and our Offense CAN ALIVE! Thus why are we such haters of our D(Trust me I still feel the PAIN from the Atlanta “giveaway”), yet resist the common sense urge to want to upgrade our offense first?”

        Our D overall is better than our offense. That’s why I want 2 big weapons that fit with RW. TE & WR

        • williambryan

          Yeah but you can’t just wright off the second half performance, specifically against ATL, of the offense. As Rob has mentioned, the offense was pretty much operating at a elite level. The question is why didn’t it happen in the first half? The players are there on offense, the second half of that game proved it, depth is all that’s needed. Sure Hopkins or Ertz would help on offense. But remember falling behind early in games isn’t just becuase of the lack of offense early, the defense is giving up points in the first half (20 to ATL) AND giving up late points. Hypothetically, I would wager that keeping the entire 53 man roster as is (resigning Branch and Jones) and swapping out Leroy Hill for Khaseem Greene (keeping Smith as the back up) this team gets to contend for the Super Bowl.

        • Rob Staton

          Because there are still strong ways for the defense to improve, tangible issues that are greater than any of the problems on offense right now. Not to say you ignore offense, but the greater upgrades can be made on defense.

          • SunPathPaul

            “greater than any of the problems on offense right now”… So 20-0 at halftime is not a problem.

            Yes the D let 20 go up, but Zero…zero…0

            (If we use FA for DT/DE this draft would become a gold mine IMO. We really could take ‘our BPA’)

            • SunPathPaul

              …and then let them all COMPETE…

            • Rob Staton

              You are talking about one game. I could just as easily point to the Buffalo game where the offense lit it up and the defense couldn’t sack Ryan Fitzpatrick, struggled to get a finger on C.J. Spiller and let Steve Johnson have a huge day. And the reason we found ourselves in a 20-0 deficit against Atlanta was due to a bad call on 4th down… a Lynch fumble and poor clock management… none of which were consistent issues during the season.

              • AB

                It’s gonna be hard to find an answer for a Stevie Johnson as a CB or a slot corner. Time and again he abuses Revis, he gave Browner/Sherman a hard time. He gives anyone anyone a difficult time, especially out of the slot, and it’s surprising they don’t go to him more. I agree though Defense/Pass Rush needs help. We struggle to get to the QB on a consistent basis.

    • Aussie Rich

      I get the feeling that we will draft Jonathan Cooper (OG,UNC) if he is available,at 25 he’d probably represent the biggest upgrade over the starter, McQuiston.

      • Colin

        Can’t argue with that logic, Rich. But I doubt Cooper lasts to 25.

      • Rob Staton

        It’s very unlikely Cooper will make it to #25. Incredibly unlikely. Plus he’d also be replacing Carpenter at LG, a guy they drafted in round one just two years ago.

        • SunPathPaul

          Do we think Rob that Carpenter will be 100% ready to go this year? Durable? Skilled?

          • Rob Staton

            No idea. The team believes he will be ready. I’m not ready to write him off so I hope he can play.

            • A. Simmons

              I do think we need to see the guard position in a different light than most teams due to Russell Wilson’s height. We need guards that can keep a clean pocket and open passing lanes. That’s why if Warmack falls, I hope we get him.

              • Rob Staton

                It’s a nice thought but Warmack won’t fall past St. Louis twice, Chicago, Dallas, New York etc.

  2. Madmark

    Unless we trade up in the draft i just don’t see that DT that we want droping to us. A Will linebacker at pick 25 would give us one of the better ones. I remarked before that i just never saw Malcolm Smith as a starter who could last a whole season taking a pounding. I never he couldn’t play the position. I simply said he has endurance issues. After watching film and reading everything about Khaseem Green I truly think he would step right in and add to this ball hawking defense. With the way David Hawthorne was let go to FA I think people don’t believe that the linebacker spot is worth a 1st round pick and i don’t believe any position on a team is like that.
    What if Instead of getting the 5th DT of the draft we get the 2nd linebacker of the draft?

  3. Snoop Dogg

    Why would we get a linebacker if none of them are as good as last years crop? Shouldn’t we just wait another year? I really don’t think a linebacker upgrade over Malcolm smith will determine anything this season unless the replacement is at least as good as bobby Wagner.

    • AlaskaHawk

      I agree with you. LB fills a need but won’t improve the pass rush unless we intend to blitz more often. If we want better pass coverage maybe we should look at cornerbacks, we can get a good one in that spot and they may last longer than a LB.
      We have also been successful in finding LBs later, though that looks difficult this year.

      • williambryan

        But it has been widely speculated that Quinn will be a noticeably more aggressive (blitzing) coordinator. Thus allowing Grreene to potentially maximize his value by blitzing more

        • Michael

          If they want to start using the LB’s to blitz more often, I would love to get Steward (LB – Houston) sometime after R3.

          • williambryan

            Me too!

            • 12thCan

              Me three. He can cover, and can blitz. Good value.

              I like Starks in FA, then TE in first, WR (Wheaton?)in second, Nickel in third, Steward in 4th.

        • SunPathPaul

          From Pete Carroll’s mouth…Danny will be more aggressive…That might shift a tad bit what our/Seahawks focus might be…

        • Colin

          Coachspeak is all it is. When training camp opened up last year the talk was off all the new blitz packages they were installing.

          Didn’t amount to anything really.

          • SunPathPaul

            I disagree. They had had Gus for years, Dan is coming in fresh, and given how we crumbled last year- they will want to “protect the team” from letting that EVER happen again…

            Albeit, I think they are just saying a ‘tad bit’ more aggressive. Maybe some new stunts, etc…
            Why not? Look how conservative we were last year, and we DIDN’T win the SB. Sometimes ‘some’ change is progress!

            • Colin

              Um, Dan Quinn was here for a few years as well, so to say he is “fresh” is a tad misleading. I think they will be a bit more aggressive, but I would not expect anything major…. it’s going to be more 4 man rushes with coverage behind it.

    • Rob Staton

      It’s a matter of opinion on whether the current crop are better/worse than last year. I’d argue there are three guys on par with the Wagner and David’s of last year. And in a re-draft, those two players go in round one.

  4. Phil

    My biggest concern is finding a LEO who can step in for Clemons until he’s ready to go and who can compete with Irvin for playing time. The potential loss of Clemons for part or all of next season is a significant issue for a team that needed to increase their pass rush even when he was playing.

    • Ben

      Irvin will likely try to add some strength and muscle after that atlanta gama. He’ll also likely have help from Clemons as to how he uses his hands, I think Irvin Will be a good LEO, but I wouldn’t mind if we drafted the end from FSU not named Werner.

  5. Wes

    Very interesting. Normally LB seems like a lower value position in the draft, but you make the good point that supply and demand may really push the LBs up this year. I could definitely see it. Getting any of the top 3 or 4 guys at 58 would be great.

    Can you explain a bit further about the context in which JS said that Wagner and Smith were upgrades / needed to be upgraded? I didn’t quite understand it as written. Thank you.

    • rrrhawkout

      The full quote from the presser is:

      “We grade for our team; we don’t grade for the league. Our board basically represents that, if that makes sense to you. We grade a guy based on whether we think he can compete with Bruce Irvin, or Malcolm Smith, or Bobby Wagner, and that’s the way our board falls.”

      • Wes

        Ahhh thanks. Interesting system.

        • Ben

          better than most I’ve seen.

      • A. Simmons

        This is exactly why I’ve never bought in the BPA theory so many fans talk about. I doubt any FO does that. All the quality FOs pick players that are the BPA for their team at positions they are weak at. Drafting BPA would be like buying the same thing over and over and over again even when you have a stack of them.

  6. Cysco

    Using the “Schneider Method TM” I think the candidates are:

    TE#2 – McCoy could/should be upgraded, but there’s depth at the position in the draft. You can probably still upgrade with someone available in the 2nd or 3rd round

    Secondary – Someone needs to take over for Trufant. Not sure who could be available at #25 or if the FO trusts someone on the roster to step up and take over

    D-Line – probably the most obvious candidate, but will any major upgrade be available?

    LB – If Green is available, he seems like such an obvious PCJS pick.

    WR – Just don’t see an obvious upgrade in the early rounds.

    So, at the moment, my draft would probably look like:

    round 1 – DE/LB depending on who is available
    Round 2 – DE/LB depending on who was taking in round 1
    Round 3 – TE
    Round 4 – WR or Kicker (yes I said kicker. lol)

    • Ben

      for the CB thing, I think that Thurmond Will be healthy next year and will be a good Nickle corner, last season he was a victim of circumstance and I think that next year he won’t be.

      • Jake

        I like the guy who is aptly named: Nickell Roby. Or Tyrann Mathieu. Both would be an upgrade in the “quicks” category over Trufant. Roby might be the perfect nickel CB in all honesty… His shuttle times will be interesting as well as his 10- & 20-yd splits. Not too worried about overall 40 times withe these two guys. He’s got the chip firmly in place…

  7. Christon

    That’s cool information about how John puts a grade on his entire roster, then grades every player in the entire draft. It’s interesting that they don’t always draft the highest grade, but the biggest differential at the position. It makes sense though – It’s probably their system for selecting a player based on a combination of roster need vs. BPA. And obviously the highest graded players on their board would be more likely to get chosen over what is on their roster.

    Kip – I’m wondering do you know if you know if that score factors in other things like salary or replacement cost vs. grade, or years left on the contract, etc?

    Because if they don’t factor that stuff in – I don’t think TE would be an option for the Hawks in the 1st or 2nd round because I would imagine that Miller would be rated pretty high compared to what is on the board.

    The logic makes sense – and I’m starting to come around to the idea of the Hawks taking a WILL. I under this scenario. I could imagine them taking Jonathan Cooper (if he is there) to replace Paul Mcquistan.

    • JW

      wouldn’t they be looking at TE #2 rather than Miller?

    • Michael

      If you go on nothing but differential then they should certainly select a kicker on the third day. Knowing that you have to get past the 33 to even run Hauscha out there is getting frustrating…

      • SunPathPaul

        Amen Michael! Lets get the Florida guy in the late rounds!

  8. Colin

    There are a number of people who would be disappointed if we took Alec Ogletree or Khaseem Greene in round 1, and frankly, I don’t understand that sentiment. You’d have to be passing on a Deandre Hopkins, Sylvester Williams, Sheldon Richardson/Zach Ertz and/or Kawaan Short to justify it, and really the odds of any of those guys being available at 25 is right around 20%, or 1 of the 5 MIGHT be available.

    Also, if JS really does grade prospects on how they would upgrade a current starter, Ogletree and Greene/Brown would blow this grade up big time. IMO that would be a big value passing up unless someone else should drop.

    It’s possible that Datone Jones, Kawaan Short, Jordan Hill, maybe even Sylvester Williams, will be available in rd2. Of course, if the team should get their hands on a Randy Starks, the need at DT decreases. Although I’d like to see them draft one of these rushing DT’s to groom, if Jaye Howard and Scruggs don’t work out.

    • Chris

      Well, any 3tech would really blow it up since he’d basically be compared against air right now. Or at least Scruggs, followed closely by air.

      • Michael

        I like Scruggs a lot. At the very least I think he can fill the Jason Jones role full time next season, and by the look of the guy he could possibly add 10-15 more lbs and be our starting 3-tech by 2014.

      • Rob Staton

        And with the linebackers, it’s Malcolm Smith closely followed by air…

  9. rrrhawkout

    Free agency hasn’t started yet, and I’m imagining that like last year, there will be some cheap talent brought in to shore up some weak spots and raise different position grades before the draft, like with Barrett Ruud last year for a spell. So it might not be Malcolm Smith that the draft-day comparison will be made against.

    • Rob Staton

      Good point.

  10. Chavac

    My gut is they wait until the second round at least for a linebacker. Smith is OK and Hill is obviously very possibly gone. I think if you’re really going evaluate what this team is looking for at the weakside spot you have to keep in mind that they have kept Leroy Hill as the starter (the only other pre-Carroll starters being Bane/Bryant/Unger) for 3 years, despite his red flags. That says something to me about how important they viewed him. When you look at what Hill gives you, as opposed to someone like Smith, in my eyes it’s really the physical control of the sideline by rifling through blocks/setting the edge, while maintaing the speed and athleticism to get to the quarterback. Two guys that have popped out at me with physicality>size have been Arthur Brown and Sean Porter. Porter especially shows some really nice raw stuff against big time opponents in the SEC.

    When you look at the players that JS/PC have already taken at linebacker, you get the feeling that they ignore stats/accolades/school and really look for a guy on tape (Wright, Wagner, Toomer, Smith) that they think they can hand off to Ken Norton Jr and mold into a big time player. I think this one of the big reasons that a lot of the guys we’ve taken have been looked over by other teams, and left us scratching our heads on draft day. I could be wrong, but I think they go elsewhere in the first and bring in a guy with potential that can compete with Smith afterwards.

  11. AlaskaHawk

    I would like to see us go for a DT in free agency. It just looks like we won’t get an elite player unless we move up to #12 spot and that would require a lot of draft picks.

    My other concern is a lack of great backups to our receivers. We pay Rice and Miller 20 million next year. They both have injury concerns. Despite a huge number of practice squad guys we don’t have a replacement WR that is consistent. I do like McCoy as a backup or second TE.

    Anyway- I get that our team identity is based on tough defense and a run game. But we have only one high round receiver drafted in last three years. And we know it takes them a year of practice to get comfortable. So we need to draft one of the top ten receivers to train for when someone either is injured or their contract gets too expensive.

    Why not pick up A receiver in the second round this year. And double up with a TE in the third or fourth?

    • Michael

      I agree. I think one of the ‘Hawks first 2 picks needs to be a WR. If you think Bailey or Wheaton will be there in the second then I would wait until then. However, if you are worried about an early 2nd round run, or all of the other guys you want are off the board at #25, then I would have no problem grabbing Hopkins in the 1st.

    • SunPathPaul

      I agree with all of that, except that McCoy is a good #2. He drops the ball too often in clutch moments, and doesn’t seem fast at times. He would be great depth as a #3TE.

      DT through FA seems the smoothest and smartest path. We all ready know what they can do in the NFL, and then we can take more of a chance on a D-lineman with greater upside in the latter rounds. I believe Osi would be a good 2 year investment at DE possibly. If we get a FA DE and DT we SHOULD take a Hopkins or Patterson in R1 as a WR. Just like AJ Green (not comparing them), I bet they would have a pretty good rookie season DUE TO Russell being their QB.

      Then like you say get another TE/joker/H-back type to trouble the hell out of defenses.

      “Hey, you guys are scared of RW and the read zone option, how about this new awesome WR and our 2 TE!”

      Dominate! Go Hawks!

  12. Brett Favre

    You do know thier is something called the weight room right? Malcolm Smoth could put on 15 pounds of muscle easy in the weight room.

    • Madmark

      Malcolm Smiths been in the NFL for couple years now and I just don’t see him getting any bigger if he hasn’t done it by now.

      • Brett Favre

        Maybe he just needs to work harder in the weight room

        • Snoop Dogg

          Malcolm smith has a sever medical condition the doesn’t let him eat large amounts quickly. As such, he has Always struggled to gain enough weight. This will not change anytime soon but it doesn’t mean he can’t be a great will linebacker with his dominant speed and intelligence.

  13. Chris

    Interesting info about the draft grading system.

    I had suspected it from many comments he’s made and his picks certainly seem to fit the profile, but I had been brainwashed I guess into thinking teams at least in theory were using BPA systems, rather than a 100% Need based system, which is what that would be.

    • SunPathPaul

      Not exactly. It’s not a NEED based system from what I gather, it is COMBINING the grade of the draft able player WITH the grade of how much they would improve the team at that position. Like a high tide raises all boats.

      That way BPA meets “Best Player For Us”, according to our board…

  14. Jeremy

    Why don’t they look to trade for Mychal Kendricks. They could push the 2nd rounder and a later pick (5-7). Let Chip Kelly gather more assets so he could build the team he wants. Is this not reasonable?

    • Wes

      Kendricks would be amazing as a WLB. I think the Hawks may have even picked him over Wagner if he had not gone 1 pick earlier. But is there any reason to think the Eagles want to move him?

      • Ben

        they traded back so they could get Wagner, they knew that the Eagles were going to take Kendricks.

        • AlaskaHawk

          We my as well ask for Cox along with Kendricks. We can deal Flynn and Branch with bad boy Hill as a sweetner.

          • jeremy

            I think you’re mistaking trading in the NFL with playing Madden.

    • Colin

      Because Philly probably doesn’t want to trade him, and if they did, that isn’t a good sign.

      • Rob Staton

        Plus Kendricks is a pretty good fit for what Kelly will probably look to do on defense.

  15. Ron

    Last Freshfiles from Doug Baldwin with Malcolm looking bulked up?

    Steve Palazzolo‏@StevePalazzolo

    Datone has spoken to the Seahawks at both the Senior Bowl and at Combine. Says he’s been recruited by Ken Norton since soph yr of HS

    Any Scouting thoughts on a few prospects at LB/DE with good Ht/Wt-Length, no 40times yet

    OLB Lerentee Mccray – Florida 6-2 250 33.38

    DE/LEO Cornelius Washington Georgia 6-4 265 34.08

  16. Hawkeye206

    Datone Jones would be versatile to play LB too.

    • Rob Staton

      At 280lbs?

      • jake

        That would be a little difficult, though didn’t Mora have Jones playing at alot of different positions? It might account for why there have been questions about his motor during the regular season. Though knowing Coach Mora (ex-seahawk coach), I wouldn’t be surprised if he ran his players regularly into the ground during practice.

        • Rob Staton

          He played some LB when he was 260lbs I think but that was pre-Mora. He played every position on the defensive line in 2012 though.

  17. jake

    If there aren’t any quality D-line prospects, I hope the hawks don’t reach. They should get a Russell wilson level high quality “worker” WR that will push everyone else. Is there anyone like that in this draft??? I keep getting the vibe that Pete really likes Robert Woods…otherwise I have no idea what the hawks have in mind.

    • Rob Staton

      Do you mean in terms of a ‘hard worker’ WR? If so… Hopkins… Bailey… Wheaton… any of the Ertz, Escobar or Eifert tight ends. All honest players.

      • jake

        Not sure, pete carroll was interviewed earlier this morning John Clayton Show and he referred to his ideal WR to one that “has to be a worker” to keep pace with Russell Wilson work-ethic…so I’m not sure whether that was a blanket smoke screen statement or if he was implying his current WR corp wasn’t as “hard-working” as Russell Wilson or if he had a specific WR in mind.

        • SunPathPaul

          Totally jake!

          Why not, if you find ‘that guy’, use whatever pick on a WR or TE to ‘match up’ with Russell Wilson.

          Seattle got an EXTREME value with RW last year, and now as some say the best player on the field, not arm him with a Best friend forever. 2-3 to be exact.

          Hopkins seems VERY much a fit for that…albeit we only see the play not the interviews…
          I TRUST that PC/JS will “tune into” what will work best to empower their newfound QB Wilson!

          Excited to see the WR run mañana… I bet Austin is sub 4.4 – 40.

          and Marshall FAULK (a guy who knows some things directly)

          Marshall Faulk thinks University of West Virginia wide receiver Tavon Austin is Wes Welker and Percy Harvin rolled into one. Can the prospect make an immediate impact in the NFL?

          Let’s wait and see…

  18. Misfit74

    Excellent article. I loved it.

    I agree we’re in the hunt for Leroy Hill’s replacement and the prototype is long, fast, and competitive.

    I especially enjoyed the last part about the grading of JS. It makes perfect sense to evaluate that way, though I hadn’t read it in those exact terms before. Good stuff.

  19. Daring689

    I think we need a dt Finding a PC WR is tough , big and fast at the draft ositions we’ll probably have for several years

  20. Eran Ungar

    A very interesting concept indeed – grading the upgrade value over the current roster.

    However, after reading the comments – I learned that i am an idiot.

    My first instinct was that upgrading the 27th ranked passing offense would probably be easier then the 1st. ranked defense in points allowed. So, i was looking for offensive players that could be upgraded.

    It seemed a very simple rout until i read to comments. So many names a positions are mentioned and not even one said the first thing i had in mind –

    Let’s find a guy, that can play on the right side of the offensive line and actually provide pass protection to the QB. It would do wonders to that passing game if Wilson will be able to stand and pass the ball without scrambling for his life first. If you check the number of sacks allowed by Okung – you can do it on one hand while holding a cigarette, Sweezy gave up more sacks then that in a half and his name was not mentioned even once on the upgrade list.

    Slot this Slot that…DE DT D whatever…..FIX THE BLOODY PASS PROTECTION ON OFFENSE…cause if it weren’t for Wilson’s amazing scrambling skills we’d be leading the league in being sacked.

    See, i told you i’m an idiot….

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