We’re currently in the early stages of Senior Bowl week, with weigh-ins and a day of practice behind us. This week of practice, and the game on Saturday, allow coaches and scouts an opportunity to evaluate individual players, guys on their radars come draft day, guys trying to make a push up big boards and positional rankings for an opportunity to play in the NFL. It’s not the combine, where the strongest, fastest, most athletic prospects get all the attention. It’s a time for players to step up and show a team what they’ve got and why they deserve a paycheck. Most scouting is done during the practices, watching drills and 1-on-1’s, but it will be interesting to see these players adapt to game play with new teammates and different competition.
It’s a bit early (but never too early) to speculate on how the Seahawks will approach the draft, come April. It’s impossible to predict which players will fall or rise, which teams will reach or trade, etc., but what we can anticipate are team needs, and in turn, prospects who fit those needs.
I have no idea how the draft will play out (isn’t that the fun part?), and neither do you, and neither does Pete, and neither does John. Safety and Tight End are the only two positions that seem set, but even then, John Carlson could be lost in free agency, or Earl Thomas could pull a hammy in preseason, and where’d we be then?
Pete and Co. have had a knack for hitting on mid-round picks. They value high upside players and aren’t afraid to draft someone ahead of where is expected. This draft, in my opinion of course, will be about adding more talent and depth at every position. For this reason, I wouldn’t be surprised to see a “Best Player Available” approach, take advantage of superior prospects that fall, even. They could decide a quarterback like Robert Griffin is worth trading up for and stock late round depth, or trade back for more picks and still draft a player who fits a bigger need.
Enough conjecture. But the reason for that- or why I’m not editing it out- is to show that all we fans can really do is research and scout players who we expect the Hawks are researching and scouting as well.
So, who are those guys? Thanks for asking:
Pete and John, through recent interviews and press releases, have made it clear exactly what they want to get from free agency and the draft: Playmakers on offense and speed on defense (including a consistent pass rush). It’s important to understand the type of players the front office is looking for, and not just focus on specific names (which, of course, we’ll do as well). It’s why I’ve left Kellen Moore and Brandon Weeden off the quarterback list below; Moore has inconsistent accuracy and measurable issues (two traits Pete covets), and Weeden will be 28 with mobility issues.
If you’ve read or listened to anything Pete has ever written or said, you know how important consistency is to the Win Forever philosophy. Doug Baldwin was a huge surprise and guys like Golden Tate and Ricardo Lockette flashed playmaking at times. Sidney Rice is a legit #1WR, but has so far struggled with injuries. Mike Williams gets no separation, Leon Washington flashed at times but was a dud on others, Justin Forsett was nonexistent at the end of the year and will probably be gone, and though Marshawn Lynch scores touchdowns, he doesn’t have the speed or playmaking ability like other elite backs. Concisely put, there are no consistent playmakers on offense, meaning they’ll target either a WR or RB (or both) with playmaking ability (which, by the way, is why Golden Tate was drafted early).
The reasons to address the defense need less explanation. The run defense fell off at the end of the year because teams/ players realized they could run/ cut to the outside and our linebackers didn’t have the speed to contain them. Our pass rush was inconsistent because 1) there was no consistent threat opposite Chris Clemons, and 2) there was no consistent interior push to collapse the pocket.
So, the main positions I expect Pete and Co to be scouting this week and on Saturday are QB, WR, RB, LB (specifically OLB), and 3 and 5 technique D Linemen. I’ve focused mainly on players projected as first or second day picks.
Kirk Cousins- Michigan State (whom the Seahawks have reportedly met with)
Russell Wilson- Wisconsin
Nick Foles- Arizona
Ryan Lindley- San Diego State
Dwight Jones- North Carolina
Marvin McNutt- Iowa
T.J. Graham- N.C. State (whom the Seahawks have reportedly met with)
Marvin Jones- California
Terrance Ganaway- Baylor
Isaiah Pead- Cincinnati
Chris Polk- Washington
Zach Brown- North Carolina
Lavonte David- Nebraska
Quinton Coples- North Carolina
Vinny Curry- Marshall
Melvin Ingram- South Carolina
Courtney Upshaw- Alabama
Quite frankly, there’s very little first round talent in this list; Zach Brown, Dwight Jones, and Courtney Upshaw seem like the only locks. All three *could* be considered a reach at #12. Either way, these are the guys I’ll be following this week and watching Saturday. These are the guys I’ll be posting updates about, as I didn’t provide any scouting here. I’d like to wait until a few practices are over to evaluate consistency. So keep updated folks, these guys could be Seahawks in a few months.