The Seattle Seahawks managed to salvage a mediocre year after getting off to a slow start. With the emergence of Marshawn Lynch as an All-Pro caliber type of talent and the furthered development of the young secondary, the pieces are there for a serious playoff push to become a reality.
However, there are hindrances that are limiting the team's full potential. This is where the NFL Draft comes in.
The Seahawks are in a favorable position draft-wise, so they can begin adding serviceable cogs to build their future dynasty.
If all goes well, a good draft could have them competing for Super Bowls sooner rather than later.
Opinions vary amongst the Seattle fanbase on what is a more pressing need: the quarterback play or the absence of a pass rush. In this case, the Seahawks should pursue the latter.
Quarterbacks Matt Barkley of USC and Landry Jones of Oklahoma both decided to stay at school for their senior years, leading to Andrew Luck of Stanford and Robert Griffin III of Baylor as the only surefire franchise quarterbacks worthy of being drafted in the upper half of the first round.
While quarterbacks will come at a premium in this draft, pass rushers are quite the opposite.
There is a whole slew of upper-end talent that could help revive Seattle's anemic pass rush. Chris Clemons is the only consistent pass rushing threat on the roster, and he's already past 30 years old. Furthermore, his counterpart Raheem Brock is too old, too slow and a free agent. The defensive end position must be improved.
Quinton Coples has the talent to be taken in the top five picks of this year's draft, but there is a likely scenario that he falls out of the top 10 due to more pressing needs of the other eleven teams ahead of Seattle in the draft order.
The Seahawks would be happy to select Coples.
He provides versatility as either a DE or DT, and fits in with the current defensive scheme. If Coples is not available, Nick Perry from USC or Devon Still from Penn State would both be adequate alternatives.
While in the previous slide I mentioned that there were few franchise quarterbacks, there are many who have the potential to develop into one with time. Nick Foles falls into this category.
Foles had a good season with a disappointing Arizona Wildcats squad, although his tendency to lock onto receivers as well as his increased turnover rate got exposed later on in the season. He currently projects as a Round 2 prospect that can become great with training. However, it is likely Foles would not be available at this spot and a team such as the Browns (if they don't draft Robert Griffin) could take him higher than expected.
If Foles is not available, there are other possible candidates to challenge Tarvaris Jackson that could be drafted here or in later rounds, such as Kellen Moore, Tyler Wilson or Russel Wilson.
Leroy Hill has been a staple of the Seattle Seahawks for years, but this is his contract year at the age of 29. While not bad in any area, he is somewhat of a reliability when it comes to pressuring the quarterback and falling into coverage. He can be replaced in the draft.
Emmanuel Acho is another developmental prospect whose upside is projected to exceed the current level at which Hill is currently performing. Acho turned in a quality season for a disappointing Texas squad that neither hurt nor helped his draft value. He is especially apt at getting into the backfield, a trait that the Hawks would love to have.
Acho would fit in and possibly become a Week 1 starter.
Marshawn Lynch and Justin Forsett are in their contract years. Leon Washington is on the wrong side of 30. Whether all three are retained or otherwise, the running back position needs some youthful depth that could spell whoever becomes the starter at the position next year.
Doug Martin had a terrific career being Kellen Moore's backfield mate at Boise State. He is a quality all-around running back that possesses good speed and strength. He also is a dynamic kick returner, so he would be a steady replacement for Washington when he decides to retire.
Martin has three-down potential, a valuable trait for a backup running back to possess. He would slide nicely into the Seahawks' running rotation.
This year's NFL draft might be one of the strongest ever when it comes to cornerback talent level. There could easily be 10 men chosen at that position in the first round alone, with many others not far behind.
This is great news for the Seahawks, who need an upgrade in their secondary.
The play of rookie Richard Sherman and first year NFL-er Brandon Browner was exceptional. Those two have the starting roles locked down for next year. However, behind them question marks begin to form in terms of depth. Marcus Trufant is the longest currently tenured Seahawk, but injuries and age have caught up to him, and it is likely that he will be let go in the offseason.
D'Anton Lynn could be his replacement.
Lynn had a productive season for the Nittany Lions. Nothing spectacular, but serviceable. It is that serviceability that the Seahawks are looking for. He would immediately become the starter at the nickelback position and be the final piece in what looks to be one of the best secondaries in the NFL of this decade.
Paul McQuistan and Breno Giacomini played well in relief of the injured rookies James Carpenter and John Moffitt, but both are free agents. It is unlikely that both will be retained this year, so the position needs to be addressed in the draft.
Adam Gettis is a slightly undersized guard that played well last season. He needs to bulk up to become an everyday starter, but as a backup that becomes less of a priority. He can feasibly play any of the three interior offensive line positions, so a quick insertion into the lineup after an injury should not pose too much of a problem.
The selection of Quinn Sharp depends solely on if the underrated Steven Hauschka will be resigned. If not, then Quinn Sharp would be an excellent fix.
Sharp played great as both a kicker and a punter last season, making 20 of 23 field goals and averaging approximately 47 yards per punt. He would be embraced in Seattle.