It looks like the Seahawks will be the big players at the end of the draft, as they could have as many as five picks in the seventh round.
With a net loss of four players in free agency last year, they are looking at getting four compensatory picks when they are awarded at the league meetings March 22-25, according to comp-pick guru AdamJT13.
Unfortunately, the Seahawks will not be able to trade any of the compensatory picks, and they all come at the end of the seventh. But it basically gives the Hawks a jump on signing undrafted free agents -- it will be like the old 12-round drafts.
The Hawks have done well in the seventh round under Tim Ruskell. Last year, they drafted running back Justin Forsett and kicker Brandon Coutu (pictured) -- both of whom could loom large for Seattle in 2009.
In 2007, Seattle drafted Steve Vallos, who ended up as the starting center last season. In 2006, the Hawks picked punter Ryan Plackemeier (OK, so he didn't work out) and receiver Ben Obomanu. And in 2003, pre-Ruskell, they found kicker Josh Brown in the last round.
Other notable seventh-rounders in Seahawk history include tight end Carlester Crumpler (1994), defensive end Michael McCrary (1993), offensive tackle Ron Mattes (1985), linebacker Sam Merriman (1983), and, perhaps the best of all, safety John Harris (1978).
Considering it is the seventh round, all of the non-kickers tend to be projects. But with as many as five picks, the Hawks have shown it is possible to find a sleeper or two. It also means they can easily use their own seventh-rounder as ammunition to move up a bit in any of the preceding rounds.
If the Seahawks get the additional four picks, they will begin the draft with 10 selections -- one in every round but the fifth (surrendered to Denver for receiver Keary Colbert last season) and five in the seventh.
Former Seahawks continue to get cut all around the league.
Lucas was a second-round pick by the Seahawks in 2001. He was on the verge of becoming an elite corner in 2005, and the Seahawks let him sign a $36 million deal with the Panthers.
Jurevicius was with the Seahawks for only one year, but what a year it was as he helped them reach the Super Bowl in 2005.
The Hawks are unlikely to be interested in either player. Some team will pay Lucas more than the Hawks can and Jurevicius is too old (34) and coming off a major knee injury.
Other former Hawks still out there include Joey Galloway (1995-99), Pete Kendall (1996-2000), Marquand Manuel (starting safety in 2005), and D.J. Hackett (2004-07.)
Former Hawks who were let go and already have signed elsewhere include Shawn Springs (1997-2003) and Niko Koutouvides (2004-07).
Hawks about done spending
With only about $4 million left, the Seahawks are close to finished in free agency. The only positions they seem to actively be looking for are fullback and long snapper.
They might also re-sign a few of their own -- players like Bobby Engram, Floyd Womack, D.D. Lewis and Will Heller -- but they probably will wait until after the draft to see what they still need.
As for fullback, it's probably between Leonard Weaver and Justin Griffith. If Weaver gets a better deal from Philadelphia, the Hawks will probably ink Griffith.
At long snapper, the Seahawks lost one option when Mike Leach signed with Arizona. They also talked to Bryan Pittman, and their own Tyler Schmitt is said to be on his way back to health after a back injury sidelined him for his entire rookie year.
The Hawks carved their way down from over $22 million in salary-cap space by using the franchise tag on linebacker Leroy Hill ($8.3 million), signing defensive tackle Colin Cole ($3 million) and receiver T.J. Houshmandzadeh ($5.9 million), and re-signing versatile lineman Ray Willis ($2.5 million).
If they needed extra money, the Hawks could find it in the contracts of Patrick Kerney and Marcus Trufant.
Kerney will count a ridiculous $10.1 million in 2009 thanks to a $4 million salary and $3 million roster bonus. Even if the Seahawks don't need financial help, those numbers should come down.
Trufant is due a $7 million roster bonus as part of the contract he signed last year.
For more from former newspaper sportswriters Chris Cluff and Elliott Smith, visit http://outsidethepressbox.com/.