Earlier I release my most recent Mock Draft, and I have the Seahawks picking OLB/DE Courtney Upshaw out of Alabama.
Upshaw is an incredible playmaker on defense. He can play with his hand on the ground and rush the passer as a DE, and he can also play in space as an outside linebacker. He has great pass rush skills, and is also very solid against the run.
The idea behind this pick is that Upshaw will play the weak side linebacker spot, played by Leroy Hill this past season, in the base defense. When the Seahawks move to the Nickle package, Upshaw would move up to DE in Red Bryant’s spot and provide a pass rush from the opposite side as Chris Clemons. This is the same type of roll that Julian Peterson had with the Seahawks
This is the type of player that I’ve been suggesting that the Seahawks should be looking at for the past few months. The Seahawks obviously need to improve their pass rush, but drafting a pure DE means that they are drafting a part time player since Bryant and Clemons are entrenched as the starters in the base defense. Plus, despite his popularity, Hill was a major liability last season, so upgrading that spot should be a priority. Drafting a player like Upshaw fills 2 needs with one player.
Here is a few highlights from Alabama’s game vs LSU. You’ll see him do a number of things that aren’t exciting, but actually really important. Things like setting the edge in the running game and not letting the back to the outside, fighting off blocks to make a tackle, and trailing the back side of a play that is run away from him such that he protects against cutbacks or a reverse. Like I said, not all that exciting, but it shows that he has tremendous football smarts to go along with with great athletic ability.
In a previous mock, I had the Seahawks picking Nick Perry, a DE out of USC. I still like Perry, but he really isn’t value at the 12th pick in the draft. I expect Perry to go anywhere from #20 to the Titans (where I had him going in this draft) to #27 to New England. His talent level is a better fit in that range. #12 seems to high for him at this point.
I’ve also seen many mock drafts that have the Seahawks taking Quinton Coples, the DE out of North Carolina. He was available for Seattle to take in this draft, but I skipped him simply because he really doesn’t fit the Seahawk’s defensive scheme. He’s much more suited as a DE in a 3-4 defense than in Seattle defense. Here, he’d likely be moved inside to DT.