It's looking more and more like the Seahawks are positioning themselves to draft an offensive tackle with their first-round pick, although
it also looks like that pick might not be the fourth overall.
The Seahawks have given themselves a lot of flexibility over the past three days after signing defensive tackle Colin Cole and wide receiver T.J. Houshmandzadeh.
While the Seahawks surely could draft Texas Tech receiver Michael Crabtree, it looks a lot less likely to happen now that Seattle has added Houshmandzadeh—and guaranteed $15 million to do it.
Instead, Seattle appears poised to take advantage of what might be quickly becoming a seat of power in the No. 4 hole.
With Cole and Houshmandzadeh, the Hawks are not locked into any position and there figures to be plenty of interest in either Crabtree or Boston College defensive tackle B.J. Raji.
While Crabtree's stock might have fallen in some teams' eyes because he will have foot surgery this week, there are sure to be teams that are not dissuaded by his looming 10-week recovery time.
Meanwhile, Raji's stock has been skyrocketing as a great draft season has vaulted him into the top 10.
Almost every team in the top 10 could use a run stopper like the 334-pound Raji, so the Seahawks should have the opportunity to trade down and pick up an extra draft pick.
With offensive lineman Ray Willis potentially signing elsewhere and superstar left tackle Walter Jones, 33, recovering from microfracture surgery, the Seahawks definitely could use an offensive tackle and probably could still get one of the top guys—either Virginia's Eugene Monroe or Mississippi's Michael Oher—while saving themselves a lot of money.
A look at the 5-9 teams and what the Hawks could get by trading with each:
The Browns are switching to a base 3-4 under Eric Mangini, and they might prefer Raji to Shaun Rogers, who is already unhappy with Mangini.
The Browns also need an outside pass rusher in the worst way, but if they do want Raji, they could give the Seahawks a third-rounder and Seattle still could draft Monroe (or Crabtree) or trade down again.
The Bengals' coaches apparently fell in love with Raji at the Senior Bowl, and, with Houshmandzadeh leaving for Seattle, the Bengals could use Crabtree themselves.
Dropping two spots would yield the Hawks a third-round pick, but they'd still have their tackle.
Several mock drafts have Raji landing here because the Raiders need help for their interior defense.
The Raiders are run by some of the dumbest people in football (right behind Detroit), and Tim Ruskell could probably pull two extra draft picks out of the them if they really wanted Raji or Crabtree.
After trading DT Gerard Warren last offseason, the Jags' defense fell from seventh in 2007 to 17th in 2008. John Henderson could use some help. He could get it for a second-round pick.
9. Green Bay
Since the Packers lost Cole to the Seahawks, they surely would love to get Raji to anchor their new 3-4 defense. The going rate for a move from 9 to 4 is a second-rounder.
These asking prices are all starting points.
If there is great demand for Raji or Crabtree, the Seahawks could make out like bandits (which would certainly make that 4-12 season in 2008 a lot more palatable).
The Hawks wouldn't want to drop much further than No. 9 unless some team made it very worth their while.
By staying in the top 10, they still would have a shot at Monroe or Oher.
As for the savings, the financial difference between the fourth pick and the ninth is $10 million in guaranteed money.
Here's how the contracts for the top 10 picks broke down in 2008:
1. OT Jake Long, Miami, 5y, $57.5m ($30m guaranteed)
2. DE Chris Long, 6y, $56.m ($29m)
4. RB Darren McFadden, Oakland, 6y, $60m ($26m)
5. DT Glenn Dorsey, Kansas City, 5y, $51m ($23m)
6. DE Vernon Gholston, N.Y. Jets, 5y, $50m ($21m)
7. DT Sedrick Ellis, New Orleans, 5y, $49m ($19.5m)
8. DE Derrick Harvey, Jacksonville, 5y, $33.4m ($17.2m)
9. LB Keith Rivers, Cincinnati, 6y, $23m ($15.6m)
10. LB Jerod Mayo, New England, 5y, $18.9m ($13.8m)