Identifying and securing a franchise quarterback is and should be the No. 1 priority for the Seattle Seahawks this offseason.
Tarvaris Jackson and Charlie Whitehurst can get by for a season or two, but Seattle won't need to schedule any championship victory parades if they don't acquire their future at the game's most important position.
However, the Seahawks are in a tricky draft slot. A coin flip will decide whether Seattle drafts at No. 11 or 12, and let's be honest: No quarterback worth the value is likely to be available when the Seahawks' pick comes up. Andrew Luck will go No. 1, then Robert Griffin III is likely to go No. 2 (via trade with Rams) or shortly thereafter.
That puts general manager John Schneider in a tough spot.
Do you take a quarterback with the potential to be a franchise guy, while also reaching considerably?
Or, do you continue to build on a defense that has slowly become one of the NFL's most overlooked units?
I'd argue that the decision won't be a difficult one come April.
The Seahawks came alive on the defensive side in 2011, holding nine of their last 10 opponents under 23 points and ranking in the top-15 in both pass and run defense.
The nucleus, which includes Chris Clemons, Earl Thomas, Kam Chancellor, K.J. Wright and Brandon Browner, can match anyone's unit if the younger players in the group continue on their current career progressions.
There's a chance that if the Seahawks add another piece or two, Seattle's defense could be among the NFL's very best in 2012. And sitting pretty at No. 11 or 12 should be an impact defender at a needed position of linebacker or defensive end.
South Carolina's Melvin Ingram could be high on the list, as could Quinton Coples (UNC), Whitney Mercilus (Illinois), Michael Brockers (LSU), Nick Perry (USC), Devon Still (Penn State) and Zach Brown (UNC).
Most would consider drafting any of the names above at the No. 11 or 12 spot as better values than reaching for a quarterback such as Ryan Tannehill (Texas A&M) or Brandon Weeden (Oklahoma State).
Eventually, the Seahawks will have to address that position. But the 49ers proved in 2011 that a shutdown defense and safe quarterback play can win a division.
The way the Seahawks are built right now, drafting a couple of defensive players to get closer to their division rivals makes a lot of sense.
2012 NFL Mock Draft
1. Indianapolis Colts – Andrew Luck, QB, Stanford
2. St. Louis Rams – Justin Blackmon, WR, Oklahoma State
3. Minnesota Vikings – Matt Kalil, OT, USC
4. Cleveland Browns – Robert Griffin III, QB, Baylor
5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Morris Claiborne, CB, LSU
6. Washington Redskins – Jonathan Martin, OT, Stanford
7. Jacksonville Jaguars – Alshon Jeffery, WR, South Carolina
8. Carolina Panthers – Quinton Coples, DE, North Carolina
9. Miami Dolphins – Riley Reiff, OT, Iowa
10. Buffalo Bills – Courtney Upshaw, OLB, Alabama
11. Kansas City Chiefs – Trent Richardson, RB, Alabama
12. Seattle Seahawks – Michael Brockers, DT, LSU
13. Arizona Cardinals – Melvin Ingram, DE/OLB, South Carolina
14. Dallas Cowboys – Dre Kirkpatrick, CB, Alabama
15. Philadelphia Eagles – Luke Kuechly, LB, Boston College
16. New York Jets – Nick Perry, LB, USC
17. Cincinnati Bengals – Janoris Jenkins, CB, North Alabama
18. San Diego Chargers – David DeCastro, OG, Stanford
19. Chicago Bears – Michael Floyd, WR, Notre Dame
20. Tennessee Titans – Zach Brown, OLB, UNC
21. Cincinnati Bengals – Lamar Miller, RB, Miami
22. Cleveland Browns – Kendall Wright, WR, Baylor
23. Detroit Lions – Alfonzo Dennard, CB, Nebraska
24. Pittsburgh Steelers – Cordy Glenn, OL, Georgia
25. Denver Broncos – Devon Still, DL, Penn State
26. Houston Texans – Dontari Poe, NT, Memphis
27. New England Patriots – Mark Barron, S, Alabama
28. Green Bay Packers – Whitney Mercilus, DE/OLB, Illinois
29. Baltimore Ravens – Vontaze Burfict, LB, Arizona State
30. San Francisco 49ers – Mohamed Sanu, WR, Rutgers
31. New England Patriots – Peter Konz, C, Wisconsin
32. New York Giants – Dont'a Hightower, LB, Alabama