Seattle Seahawks Draft: Want a Pass Rusher? Trade Down
In 2010, the Seattle Seahawks had a chance to move down from the 14th pick, but they wanted a safety and Earl Thomas was there. A year later, he was voted to the Pro Bowl, so they apparently made the right decision.
Last year, the Hawks wanted to trade down from the 25th pick but "had some things fall apart," as general manager John Schneider said. And they ended up reaching to draft James Carpenter.
In less than four weeks, the Seahawks will be drafting at No. 12, and you can bet Schneider again will be strongly considering moving down.
There are two surefire players they could draft at 12: Stanford guard David DeCastro and Boston College linebacker Luke Kuechly. If the Hawks stay still, they have to take one of those two.
But their greater need is an outside pass rusher, and that might lead them to explore options for trading down and adding a pick or two.
There are six rush ends who might be worth taking in the first round: Quinton Coples, Courtney Upshaw, Melvin Ingram, Nick Perry, Whitney Mercilus and Andre Branch. Coples is expected to go in the top 10, and the rest have too many questions to be considered at No. 12 over sure things DeCastro and Kuechly.
But that's where the Hawks could look to move down, pick up an extra pick in the second or third round and still get a pass rusher.
There's usually decent trade action in the middle of the draft, where it is cheaper for teams to move up. Last year, Washington dropped from 10 to 16 as Jacksonville moved up for Blaine Gabbert. In 2010, Miami dropped from 12 to 28 when the Chargers desperately wanted Ryan Mathews. The Broncos dropped from 11 to 13 and then down to 24 when the Eagles wanted Brandon Graham; with those two moves, Denver added two picks in the third and one in the fourth.
The key, of course, is to be in a pivot position, sitting in a spot other teams are targeting to get a player.
You never know which player a team might be hot for, but DeCastro and Kuechly certainly would seem to be big lures for several teams. Some might want to come up for Ingram or one of the top defensive tackles, too.
The Jets (16) could jump up to get their No. 1 pass rusher or wide receiver Michael Floyd; the Bengals (17) may want to jump Dallas to draft a corner; or the Chargers (18), Bears (19) or Titans (20) could target a pass rusher or corner.
Dropping three or four spots with the Eagles or Jets probably would net Seattle a third-rounder. Dropping to 17 or lower could pull a second-round pick.
Schneider figures to be open to moving down, because the Hawks have just six picks -- they gave up their fifth for Marshawn Lynch in 2010 (they also gave up their seventh for Tyler Polumbus in 2010, but they got Oakland's seventh for Aaron Curry last season).
One thing is for sure: The Seahawks have to get better value in this draft than they did last year, when they made a major reach for second-round talent Carpenter after being unable to move down from No. 25, then vacated the second round (without getting enough) and reached for Kris Durham in the fourth with one of the picks they got in that trade.
Schneider needs to do much better than that this year. Now that the Hawks have put together a pretty strong foundation, they need to start doing the little things well. And that means learning how to become power players in the draft, like the Patriots have done for a decade.
Of course, it takes two to make a deal.
No Pass Rusher Is Worth the No. 12 Pick
Many people want the Hawks to draft a pass rusher at No. 12, no matter what. But all of the rushers are different, they all have flaws and none of them seem worth the No. 12 pick. The Hawks would have to have a specific plan for anyone they took.
Coples seems to be a lot like a guy the Hawks just signed, Jason Jones -- a versatile player who could back up Red Bryant at five-technique and also rush the passer from inside. Coples apparently has more outside rush ability, which is why the North Carolina star figures to go in the top 10. But if he slides to 12, it will just be another chance for the Hawks to trade down.
Ingram did a lot of things for South Carolina, and NFL Network draft analyst Mike Mayock calls him a "fun puzzle" that 3-4 teams should like for his versatility. If the Jaguars don’t take him at No. 7, he'll likely be there at No. 12. But he seems like too much of a project to take there. Of course, other teams might disagree, which could be to the Seahawks' advantage. Six of the seven clubs immediately following the Hawks could be interested.
Upshaw is a more experienced player than Ingram, with a high motor and excellent power, but he doesn't have great speed. Unless the Hawks have a great plan for the Alabama product, he does not seem to be worth the 12th pick.
Like Ingram, Illinois' Mercilus is not very experienced, but his 2011 season (16 sacks and nine forced fumbles) has plenty of teams interested. He figures to go anywhere from 18 to 27, which would be a better spot to draft a situational player who figures to be a bit of a project.
Perry played for Carroll at USC and has a high motor. He might be the purest 4-3 type end among the six first-round prospects, and he is being projected anywhere from 18 to 31. He might be the best guy to target in a trade down. Or the Hawks could wait and see if he slipped to the top of the second round, where they might be able to trade up to get him.
Branch, a raw rusher from Clemson who is very active and seemingly has a big upside, is probably more of a second-round pick.
If the Hawks do not get a rusher in the first round, they might actually get the best value with Marshall's Vinny Curry with their second-round pick.
Hawks Still Interested in Ryan Tannehill?
The Seahawks' brass showed up in force for Ryan Tannehill's workout Thursday, and you have to wonder what the motivation was. Although he should go late in the first round or early in the second, Tannehill probably will be gone by No. 8, where Miami picks. The Hawks certainly aren't going to move up to get a quarterback after signing Matt Flynn.
Even if they had not signed Flynn, the Hawks would have been silly to consider Tannehill at 12. So, if he slips through, they certainly shouldn’t now.
Of course, the Hawks might have just been making the rounds and checking out Texas A&M's other prospects, including running back Cyrus Gray, 6-foot-4 wide receiver Jeff Fuller and cornerback Coryell Judie.
The Kansas City Effect -- Again
For the third time in four years, the Kansas City Chiefs could have some say in whom the Seahawks draft.
In 2009, the Chiefs drafted third overall (defensive end Tyson Jackson) and the Hawks fourth (linebacker Aaron Curry).
In 2010, the Chiefs drafted fifth (safety Eric Berry) and the Hawks sixth (left tackle Russell Okung).
Both times, there was some concern the Chiefs would take Curry or Okung, leaving the Hawks with their second choice. But it turned out the way the Hawks wanted in both cases (even if Curry stunningly did not work out in Seattle).
This year, the Hawks should be open to a number of players or should be seeking a trade down, so it shouldn't matter whom the Chiefs take. That said, the Chiefs could cut the options if they draft DeCastro or Kuechly.
(This is actually the fourth straight year the Seahawks and Chiefs have drafted back to back. Last year, the Seahawks took Carpenter with the 25th pick and the Chiefs drafted receiver Jonathan Baldwin with the 26th.)
DeCastro Should Be Option 1A at No. 12
As much as some fans don't want the Seahawks to draft an offensive lineman in the first round for the third straight year, the simple fact is: If DeCastro is there at 12, he will be the best available player, and he could help the Seahawks immediately.
Many are calling him the best guard prospect since Steve Hutchinson in 2001. The key to the Hawks getting Hutch? He was just sitting there at No. 17 -- too good a value to pass up. DeCastro could be the same story.
Some have said DeCastro could step right in at left guard, but we think he should step right in at right guard, where he played at Stanford. Carpenter is probably better suited to start at left guard, and Paul McQuistan can start there until Carpenter is up to speed.
This line, once healthy, could be great for the next 4-5 years: Okung, Carpenter, Unger, DeCastro, Giacomini.
Just seven guards have been drafted in the first round since 2001:
Year Pick Player School Team
2011 23 Danny Watkins Baylor Philly
2010 17 Mike Iupati Idaho San Francisco
2007 29 Ben Grubbs Auburn Baltimore
2006 23 Davin Joseph Oklahoma Tampa Bay
2005 32 Logan Mankins Fresno St. New England
2004 2* Robert Gallery Iowa Oakland
2002 30 Kendall Simmons Auburn Pittsburgh
2001 2* Leonard Davis Texas Arizona
2001 17 Steve Hutchinson Michigan Seattle
*Drafted as a tackle
We're Not Going to Make a Trade, Are We?
Paul Allen is one of the more detached NFL owners around. While some of his confidants might be a little too involved (e.g., Bert Kolde, the man who allegedly nixed Mike Holmgren's return to Seattle), Allen lets his football people do their jobs.
But that doesn't mean he isn't very interested in the success of his team.
We've seen him on the sideline during games, especially playoff contests, but Steve Kelley told an interesting tale relating to draft day 2010 and that trade Schneider turned down before picking Thomas.
While Schneider was on the phone with the other team (still unidentified) and time was ticking on Seattle's pick at 14, Allen -- via a video feed from Portland -- asked, "What are we doing? What are we doing? Why are we taking up all of this time? Why are we talking to another club? We're not going to make a trade, are we?"
Kelley doesn't say whether the owner's opinion swayed Schneider at all, but obviously the Hawks did not make the trade. And Allen was right to want Thomas.
This year, though, Schneider might end up making a trade.