Try keeping focused on the left side of the picture...
With the NFL combine a little over a week away, I figured it would be the perfect opportunity to mention a few players the Seahawks should keep an eye on, especially as sleepers in the later rounds of the draft.
Head coach Pete Carroll and GM John Schneider have a short, yet solid track record finding players in the later rounds of the draft, as evidenced with the selections of current starters Kam Chancellor, Richard Sherman and K.J. Wright over the past two years.
Can Pete and John continue to find the missing pieces as the team continues to build?
Two weeks ago, I provided a full seven rounds worth of picks for the Seahawks, but today would like to focus on some sleepers the team should focus on between rounds 4-7 come April.
You never know, the players here could someday be starters; however, most will likely help provide depth in the early going next year.
Why not start at the top of the list?
Acho, Emmanuel...fourth round?
Beyond K.J. Wright, the Seahawks may not have too much to work with at linebacker next season. Even if both David Hawthorne and Leroy Hill come back, injecting a little bit of youth would be a welcomed addition to a unit that needs to be shook up a bit.
In my original mock draft, I had the 'Hawks taking Vontaze Burfict from Arizona State on the inside. Adding Acho on the outside might be fun in the event that Pete Carroll continues to clean house of veterans like Hill and Hawthorne and build with youth/speed.
While teammates Robert Griffin III and wide receiver Kendall Wright might be getting a lot more attention with their stellar play this past season during RG3's Heisman campaign, Ganaway may be the late-round steal the 'Hawks need whether Marshawn Lynch stays or not.
Let's face facts, the 'Hawks need help with their run game; otherwise, "Beast" will be run into the ground in a hurry.
My fifth-round mock draft pick made a strong impression with his performance against the University of Washington Huskies in the Alamo Bowl, and his size and speed make him a solid fit as either a change of pace to Lynch or a potential fill-in at fullback.
I've said it before and will say it again: This team can always use an extra body along the offensive line.
Watkins had a quality season of run blocking for South Carolina and running back Marcus Lattimore, before the standout running back went down with an injury. The Gamecocks had a strong interior rushing attack this year, and Watkins helped pave the way. He is a stronger run blocker than pass protector. Watkins should drop some weight and get quicker for the NFL. He could have some issues with interior speed rushers at the next level.
Not the most flattering of write-ups, but this is someone who could potentially be molded into a solid contributor under line coach Tom Cable if he makes a decent showing at the combine.
If Rokevious Watkins isn't available by the fifth or sixth round, the 'Hawks could consider Brandon Mosley.
Mosley, the Second Team All-SEC selection at offensive tackle out of Auburn, spent most of his time on the right side but could be called upon to play on the left if needed.
Granted, the team did just re-sign backup Breno Giacomini and already have 2011 first-round pick James Carpenter coming back from an injury, but having another big body for coach Tom Cable to work with can't hurt.
Walterfootball.com projects Mosley as a fourth or fifth-round pick who looks like, "a raw prospect. He was a high school tight end before playing some defensive end in junior college. After signing with Auburn, Mosley was asked to gain weight to play offensive line. His run blocking is further ahead than his pass protection, and he will need some grooming at the NFL level, but Mosley has some potential to work with."
If he's still available late, he might be someone worth taking with the hope he can develop over the next few years to fill any necessary gaps.
Is someone really a sleeper if they were once considered a first-round talent?
Cliff Harris...fiercely talented, yet perhaps a tad immature.
This here is a boom-or-bust pick for any team willing to take a chance on the former University of Oregon cornerback.
As far as I'm concerned, the 'Hawks have enough talent in the secondary to start next season to take Harris with a fifth or sixth-round pick.
With his head on straight and something to prove, Harris could make a name for himself before all is said and done.
If the 'Hawks miss out on drafting on one of the higher-rated defensive ends like Quinton Coples, Melvin Ingram or Vinny Curry in the first two rounds, they are going to find that there isn't too much to get excited about the rest of the way.
That said, Olivier Vernon might be worth a shot in the sixth or seventh-round range if he's still available.
Vernon, much like Cliff Harris, has had his fair share of troubles off the field while at the University of Miami, but with a little bit of coaching and good fortune, he too could turn things around in Seattle, initially filling some gaps as a sub in the early going.
For some reason, I find Fangupo fascinating, as I made him a conditional selection for the Seahawks in my earlier mock draft.
While I fully understand the BYU defensive tackle/nose tackle would seem a strange choice on a number of different levels, is it possible that Pete Carroll would find the former USC Trojan an interesting project to develop alongside Red Bryant?
If he makes any sort of impact at the combine, I'd be curious to see if we hear more about him in the weeks to follow. Otherwise, would there be any harm inviting him to camp this summer?