As the draft approaches the two-week warning, one of the rumors gaining steam is that the Seattle Seahawks are seriously contemplating drafting a quarterback fourth overall. Don’t bet on it.
Multiple sources have indicated the Seahawks are looking at the position. The team’s radio man, Steve Raible, claims the team is in love with Georgia’s Matthew Stafford, and others say USC’s Mark Sanchez is the favored pick after his stellar pro day last week.
Draft analyst Rob Rang’s latest mock draft has the Seahawks taking Sanchez instead of Wake Forest linebacker Aaron Curry because “Sanchez is skyrocketing up draft boards amid the belief that with more development he could also be a franchise passer.”
The Seahawks have done a good job of making people think they want a quarterback to groom as a replacement for 33-year-old starter Matt Hasselbeck. The question is: Do they really? Or are they trying to create a trade market by making QB-hungry teams think they will take a passer at No. 4?
After a rumored flirtation with Baylor tackle Jason Smith, the Detroit Lions are once again thought to be leaning toward taking Stafford first overall, which means Sanchez would be the quarterback available at No. 4.
Would the Denver Broncos want to trade their two first-round picks (12 and 18) to get him? Or would Cleveland want to move up one spot, perhaps sending Brady Quinn to Seattle? Or is Jacksonville so keen on Sanchez that the Jaguars would be willing to move up from No. 8?
The Seahawks’ best move in this draft would be to trade down. In order to do that, though, the Hawks need to bait someone — or more than one someone — to move up. And if that’s what they’re doing, they’re laying down a good smoke screen.
On the other hand, if team president Tim Ruskell truly is interested in drafting a quarterback that high, would he really want Sanchez, who started only one full season at USC and left after his junior year? Would Ruskell’s confidence in Pete Carroll’s pro-style system be enough to take a quarterback who had started only 16 games in college?
Rang told seattlepi.com that Sanchez is certainly worthy of being the fourth pick.
“Sanchez is a Hasselbeck clone in that he is a cerebral, gutty quarterback that inspires his teammates with his play,” Rang said. “He is mobile, has good accuracy to all levels and has the arm strength to make every throw. Sure, you wish he had more game experience, but his talent is undeniable, and if Seattle is going to take him, obviously they’d be doing so with the intention of him sitting for at least a year anyway.”
Ruskell might be willing to do it, knowing his coaches will have time to develop a young quarterback because Hasselbeck has two years left on his contract and is still in the prime of his career, barring further injuries like the back problem that sidelined him for nine games in 2008.
Hasselbeck, who turns 34 in September, made it quite clear this week that he is ready to go again and will remain the starter.
“They can do whatever they want to do there [in the draft], but I’m not going anywhere,” Hasselbeck told reporters at the team’s minicamp.
The question is: Will Hasselbeck be going anywhere after the 2010 season, when his contract is up?
If he plays the next two years like he has most of the past seven, the Seahawks will face a very tough decision. It will be made even tougher if they have a first-round quarterback waiting in the wings.
Why take a step back to let a young guy play his way into the offense when you already have a Pro Bowl player running the show well?
These are the things the Seahawks must consider if they are really contemplating drafting a quarterback fourth overall.
But are they really?
For more from former Seattle sportswriters Chris Cluff and Elliott Smith, visit Outside The Press Box.