After selecting Bruce Irvin in the first round last year and James Carpenter the year before, it's hard to predict who the Seahawks will be looking to snag in the first round this year. However, that doesn't mean we can't make a few educated guesses based on team needs and wants.
Defensive-line projections seem to favor mock drafts, but it's not a foregone conclusion that Seattle will lean heavily on the defensive side of the ball with the 25th pick. Wide receiver and offensive tackle are also positions of perceived need.
With the draft less than two months away, let's take a look at five combine prospects that John Schneider should consider at the end of the first round.
As it stands today, the Seattle Seahawks have plenty of options at wide receiver. Sidney Rice, Golden Tate and Doug Baldwin are all more than capable of helping Russell Wilson take his game to the next level. However, after the top three, the talent seemingly drops off quite quickly.
Which is exactly why I wouldn't be surprised if John Schneider and Pete Carroll add another weapon to Wilson's arsenal in the first round. Players like Cordarrelle Patterson and Tavon Austin will most likely be off the board, so Seattle may have to settle on DeAndre Hopkins, the draft's third best wide receiver.
Although to the Seahawks' front office, he may be their No. 1 wide receiver. When it comes to the draft, the 'Hawks have shown that they don't think along the same lines as everyone else—they find players with unique skill sets than fit their mold perfectly. Bruce Irvin at No. 15 last season is a perfect example of that train of thought.
Hopkins is a polished route runner that catches the ball in stride. He also does a nice job of breaking tackles and picking up plenty of yards after contact. Look for the Clemson wide receiver to have an immediate impact if given the opportunity in the Pacific Northwest.
With Jason Jones and Alan Branch both scheduled for free agency, defensive tackle has to be viewed as a position of need for Seattle. Jones and Branch are both assets to the defensive line rotation, yet they may both end up being out of the Seahawks' price range when March 12 rolls around.
Good thing this year's crop of defensive line talent is good enough to ease any potential impact felt by key linemen leaving. And at No. 25, one of the draft's biggest risers could fall right into the laps of Schneider and Carroll.
Datone Jones, from UCLA, has scheme versatility as an interior pass-rusher in the 4-3, and a defensive end in the 3-4. Meaning the Seahawks hybrid scheme would allocate plenty of playing time Jones' way. At the University of California Los Angeles, he appeared in 51 games, tallied 13.5 sacks, 36.5 tackles for loss and four forced fumbles.
Not bad for a player who is viewed as a "tweener." His explosive burst off the snap and strong upper body helps him penetrate gaps with ease. Rob Rang of CBS Sports compares him to Robert Ayers of the Denver Broncos.
However, I feel like he doesn't translate to an every down 4-3 defensive end in the NFL. I see him as a situation pass-rushing defensive tackle that exploits interior offensive linemen in rush situations.
Moreover, let's not forget the fact that Coach Carroll likes players that reside from the Pac-12.
Before everyone burns me at the stake for this pick, let me just say this: D.J. Fluker to Seattle is a real possibility. I've been calling this my surprise Seahawks pick for the last two months because of the state of the offensive line in 2012.
At times Tom Cable's unit played awfully well and at other times they played awfully poor. The biggest reason as to why I like Fluker is his positional flexibility at both guard and tackle. We all know that he was a dominant tackle in college, yet many scouts and media members alike view him as a guard at the pro level.
Based on his size and the size of the tackles on Seattle's roster, I like him at right tackle as a protector for No. 3. Plus, I think we can all agree that Breno Giacomini has reached his ceiling as a player, and to be frank, that ceiling isn't very high. According to Pro Football Focus, he was the 12th worst tackle in the NFL last season.
Fluker is an outstanding run blocker that has consistently improved annually. Cable knows a good offensive lineman when he sees one, so don't be shocked if he's the Seahawks' pick in April.
If it wouldn't have been for a pesky ACL tear, Cornellius Carradine would be a potential top-10 pick right now. But more than anything, teams are worried about how that fresh tear from November is healing and if it's close to 100 percent.
Luckily for the Seahawks, Carradine's knee is healing up quite nicely. And after a strong performance at the combine on Monday, his draft stock is starting to settle towards the end of the first round. Which turns out to be even more good news for Seattle, who is in desperate need of pass-rush help at defensive end.
With Chris Clemons coming off of an ACL tear of his own, Travis Jones' defensive line needs all the help they can get. Against the Falcons, their lack of a consistent rush showed up all game long, ultimately costing them in the waning seconds.
Carradine would definitely bolster that department by being an every-down defensive end that provides extreme athleticism and incredible closing speed on the quarterback. Additionally, his physical stature is incredibly similar to that of Clemons, everything from his height and weight to his wingspan.
And lastly, Mr. Johnathan Hankins, the wide-framed defensive tackle from Ohio State. If the draft were today, I have a hard time feeling confident Hankins would be there at No. 25 because of his ability to play in even and odd-structured fronts.
However, there is always the possibility he may drop just like any other player, so the Seahawks should obviously have him on their radar. Hankins has incredible size and moves really well for a 320-pound man. Yet his strength and quick feet jump off the tape in almost every game.
I've seen him compared to Brandon Mebane more than once so far this offseason, so he seemingly becomes an instant starter next to the player he is compared too. His obvious specialty is as a run stuffer, but don't sleep on Hankins' pass-rushing ability.
As a sophomore in 2011, he registered three sacks and 11 tackles for loss. For the Seahawks he would most likely be a major player on first and second down, much like Branch has been for them the last couple of years.
Defensive-line options are aplenty, but there may not be a more complete defensive tackle than Hankins.