On the evening of April 25, in less than a month, the NFL Draft will begin at Radio City Music Hall in New York City.
But on opening night at Radio City, will the Seattle Seahawks get to the stage?
Based on recent events, that seems unlikely as the team traded their No. 1 pick to the Minnesota Vikings in exchange for receiver Percy Harvin.
At the same time, with 10 picks at their disposal, could the Seahawks and their front office, led by head coach Pete Carroll and general manager John Schneider, make a move and sneak back into Round 1?
It's possible, yet in many ways, the 'Hawks have addressed two of the team's biggest needs already through free agency by trading for Harvin and signing pass-rushers Cliff Avril and Michael Bennett.
So really, what's next on the agenda as the team makes a run at the Lombardi Trophy?
Outlined here is the perfect seven-round mock draft for the 'Hawks.
Of course, my idea of Seattle's perfect draft and your's may differ sharply. Nevertheless, since we never know what Pete and John will do next, I will offer my patented disclaimer...
Disclaimer: All picks guaranteed wrong come April ... or your money back!
I can hear some of you grinding your teeth right now, but let's look on the bright side.
Isn't that what the 'Hawks did in essence by trading their first- and seventh-round choices this year with Minnesota in exchange for Harvin?
At this stage of the game, this makes sense to me, especially after the NFL gave the team two more seventh-round selections as compensation for the losses of linebacker David Hawthorne, tight end John Carlson, safety Atari Bigby and quarterback Charlie Whitehurst via free agency.
The catch with those picks is that they can't be traded, but we will get to them later.
So who will the 'Hawks really draft?
By the time the Seahawks get to make their second-round pick at 56th overall, will there be anyone worth getting excited about left to choose?
Depends on who you believe. The more I read, the more players it seems are capable of "sneaking" into the first two rounds of the draft with players rising and falling like stocks and bonds.
While it's certainly possible that Pete Carroll and John Schneider grab the best athlete sliding down the draft board, I think they may actually go after a player going up the board like Rice tight end Vance McDonald.
Now the question many of you will ask is, "Do the Seahawks need a tight end?"
Not really, given how well Zach Miller played over the course of last season and how Anthony McCoy occasionally looked solid in working with Russell Wilson, but then again, why did the 'Hawks go out and sign basketball player Darren Fells off the street?
All of this leads me to believe that the 'Hawks may not need a tight end, but they certainly want one.
If McDonald is available at the end of round two, I could see braintrust changing whatever plans they had in place and grabbing one of the more intriguing athletic specimens available at this position.
Fact is McDonald was revelation at the Combine and at his Pro Day he may have helped boost his stock further according to veteran talent evaluator Gil Brandt at NFL.com (via NFLDraftscout.com):
Fast-rising prospect Vance McDonald doesn’t disappoint...A total of 40 representatives from 30 different NFL teams gathered at the pro day held at Rice on Monday, where seven players through a workout held outdoors on FieldTurf in 80-degree weather. All seven players who participated in the pro day were from coach David Bailiff‘s first recruiting class at Rice.
Vance McDonald, TE (6-foot-5 3/4, 268 pounds) - McDonald stood on his numbers from the NFL Scouting Combine. He did, however, participate in the positional workout, in which he started slowly. He had a couple of drops, but then caught everything. McDonald - who is explosive in the hips - also looked good in the blocking drills. It was a good show for the fast-rising tight end prospect, who has risen from virtual obscurity to likely being selected somewhere between picks No. 50-70 in the 2013 NFL Draft. This player could be very good in the NFL. It has been a long time since 30 teams were represented at Rice’s pro day.
Could the 'Hawks give Russell Wilson one more weapon to play with?
It's certainly tempting, so much so that I think they make it happen and maybe even toss in a seventh round pick to move up if necessary.
In addition to giving Russell Wilson another offensive weapon to work with, I think the 'Hawks need to help protect him better as well.
Last week, when reviewing the 'Hawks' potential starting lineup for 2013, I penciled in Breno Giacomini at right tackle while offering up the caveat that the team would need to draft someone to provide some depth behind him.
Whether you love or loathe Breno, you can't dispute the need to add depth on the offensive line, especially on the right side.
The problem though is that once you get past top prospects Luke Joeckel, Eric Fisher and Lane Johnson, your options start to thin out quickly.
Last week, fellow Seahawks FC Todd Pheifer had Kyle Long of Oregon sliding in during Round 4 in his latest mock draft, but I'm not sure they can wait that long.
Instead I have the 'Hawks pulling the trigger a little earlier in getting Menelik Watson, who NFL Network’s Mike Mayock (via NBCSports.com) considers a first-round talent:
As you might expect for a kid from England who hasn’t played much football . . . he’s very raw. What a great skill set he has. He’s got a first-round left tackle skill set. He’s got really good feet, long arms, he’s a natural pass protection guy.
If that's not enough to at least raise your awareness about the big guy, I suggest you take a few minutes to read Les Carpenter's fascinating story about Watson at Yahoo!Sports.
Say what you want about Watson being raw and arguably a little old, but what I see is someone who can hopefully push Breno this upcoming season and replace him hopefully sooner than later.
Pete and John love athletes and if this guy is still available, I can see him coming to Seattle to compete for a spot on the right side.
Similar to offensive tackle, linebacker is another positional need the 'Hawks will likely address at some point in the draft with a top-tier of players that will likely be long gone before they can make a move.
If you are hoping to see the likes of Dion Jordan, Jarvis Jones or Barkevious Mingo here, forget it.
Instead the Seahawks will need to look at the second and possibly third tier of linebackers that will be available in rounds 2-4. Names like Arthur Brown, Khaseem Greene, Chase Thomas, Zaviar Gooden, Trevardo Williams, and Sio Moore probably all sound familiar, but digging a little deeper, I was intrigued by Jamie Collins of Southern Miss.
According to Walterfootball.com Collins is fairly versatile prospect.
The fast and physical Collins was a consistent producer for Southern Miss. The senior totaled 92 tackles with 10 sacks, 20 tackles for a loss, five passes batted and four forced fumbles this season. He racked up 98 tackles with 19.5 tackles for a loss, 6.5 sacks, eight passes broken up, one forced fumble and one interception in 2011.
Collins put a serious athletic skill set on display at the Combine. He was fast, strong and fluid. Collins is an interesting prospect who could either be a 3-4 outside linebacker or as a 4-3 linebacker.
Could he fit alongside Bobby Wagner and opposite K.J. Wright?
If not him, certainly someone will need to step in next season, assuming Leroy Hill is gone.
What other issues do the Seahawks need to address?
Joey Rebbe at Fieldgulls.com actually believes that nickel cornerback is the biggest piece that's still missing for the 'Hawks and proposes LSU's Tyrann Mathieu as the solution.
In addition to the appeal of Mathieu, I can see the need here, given his play at LSU coupled with Pete Carroll's ability to take on players with troubled pasts. However, I'd prefer to add San Diego State's Leon McFadden to the mix instead.
When reviewing McFadden's strengths at NFL.com, it seems like he could help, not only in the nickel slot position, but special teams as well.
Possesses quick feet and good speed. Fluid hips help him transition from pedal to close, also to adjust to out routes after opening up. Good awareness as a zone defender, jumps underneath routes but also keeps an eye on the quarterback and can adjust to make plays on receivers running behind him. Contains well on his side of the field, has the closing speed to track down runners before they reach the sideline. Displays the hands to snatch interceptions over his head and away from his body and fluidly transition into the return. Competitive in 50-50 situations, active hands make it tough on receivers to complete the catch. Possesses some thickness and cuts down backs in space with authority and is willing to stick a shoulder into an unsuspecting receiver. Adept special teams player on coverage and block units and has the hands and quickness to get a shot on punt returns.
If McFadden is still available either late in Round 4 or early in Round 5 and Mathieu is gone, I think the 'Hawks would be well served in getting the former San Diego State corner.
Finding a defensive tackle was arguably the Seahawks' top offseason priority a few weeks ago, yet today I can see the team waiting until the middle rounds to draft someone after adding Michael Bennett through free agency.
While it's debatable whether or not Bennett will actually play at tackle, it couldn't hurt to add a little more depth along the defensive line regardless.
Enter Mississippi State defensive tackle Josh Boyd as someone who lost a good deal of momentum this past season with former teammate Fletcher Cox moving on to the NFL as a first-round pick by the Philadelphia Eagles.
Can he rebound while playing up front with the 'Hawks line?
With the current personnel in place, I'd be interested in finding out.
With the addition of Percy Harvin at wide receiver, do the Seahawks need to draft a receiver this year?
Yes. At some point in the later rounds, if the 6'3" and 233-pound Davis is available, the 'Hawks would be foolish to let him slip through their fingers.
For the better part of the past year, I've held out hope that the 'Hawks would find someone with the size and athleticism to score touchdowns in the red zone.
Basically though this is a boom-or-bust pick as Davis is a guy who passes the eye test, but needs work on the fine details.
If Pete Carroll and his staff can work with him, this could be one of the 'Hawks' patented late-round steals.
It seems no matter what the Seahawks do this winter, they keep ending up with a pile of picks in the seventh round.
In the Percy Harvin trade, they managed to send one to Minnesota, but then were rewarded two compensatory picks.
Whether they will use all of these picks remains to be seen, yet it seems reasonable to believe that GM John Schneider could use one (either this pick or the one from New Orleans) at some point to help jockey for position in an earlier round if necessary.
For now though, I figure we should simply have fun here and toss a couple of names up on the board with the hopes that something sticks.
By Round 7, I'd imagine that the 'Hawks will simply start looking for the best athlete available while trying to add some depth with each of their final few picks.
A few weeks ago, I figured the team would be looking for a safety to back up Earl Thomas and selected Syracuse's Shamarko Thomas in the sixth round, but the odds of him being available this late seem remote.
Earl Wolff though might still be sitting around, however, based on the fact he was overlooked in college at NC State, according to CBSSports.com's Dane Brugler who saw him at the East-West Shrine Game (via NFLDraftscout.com).
Playing in a secondary with David Amerson and Brandon Bishop at NC State, Wolff seemed to be overlooked by many, but for those who watched the East practice, it was tough to ignore the impact he made on the field. He showed good plant-and-drive quickness to diagnose the play and attack ballcarriers in front of him. Wolff also displayed the athleticism and footwork to hold up in man coverage, lining up in the slot and gaining proper body position to knock down passes.
Sounds good to me.
What exactly should the Seahawks do with the Barrett Ruud-pick from New Orleans?
Much like Washington, Stacy may be small, but rest assured, he's no pushover either.
Vanderbilt's all-time leading rusher is the kind of low-to-the-ground runner I can see the 'Hawks using as a change-of-pace back next season in addition to Marshawn Lynch, Robert Turbin and potentially, Percy Harvin.
So how exactly did the Seahawks end up with two more picks in Round 7?
According to Yahoo! Sports, it goes something like this:
The Seahawks received two seventh-round compensatory picks. Seattle lost quarterback Charlie Whitehurst, safety Atari Bigby, tight end John Carlson and linebacker David Hawthorne in free agency last year, and signed quarterback Matt Flynn and defensive lineman Jason Jones.
According to the league's collective bargaining agreement, a team losing more or better compensatory free agents than acquired in the previous year is eligible to receive compensatory draft picks. Compensatory free agents are determined by a formula based on salary, playing time and postseason honors.
Usually, the number of picks a team receives equals the net loss of compensatory free agents up to a maximum of four. Teams cannot trade compensatory picks.
It's nice of the league to award these picks, but unfortunate that neither of them can be traded.
In that case, let's keep going and add another pass-rusher.
Honestly, can you have too many?
Missouri Western's David Bass sounds like the sleepiest of all the sleepers out there according to his report at NFL.com:
Just like every year, a few small schoolers break onto the scene and perform very well on an equal playing field. Bass is one of these prospects, as he was the most consistent pass rusher at the East-West Shrine game. The senior broke two records during his final year at Missouri Western State breaking the school's career sack (39.5) and consecutive starts (50). When asked the one word to describe himself, Bass answered "beast".
Like most of the picks at this point, you're dealing with hit-or-miss talent that could easily become forgettable or potentially help earn you the NFL Executive of the Year award.
Because if drafting Russell Wilson with the No. 75 pick wasn't enough, what else can John Schneider possibly do?
Last but not least, I think the Seahawks should get a quarterback, regardless of whether they keep or trade Matt Flynn.
Does this quarterback need to basically be a clone of Russell Wilson who is capable of running the spread option?
It would be nice, but by this point in the draft, I'm not sure it's a deal breaker.
Like I said earlier, at this stage, I think you look for athletes.
K-State's Collin Klein might not be considered much of a prospect at quarterback, but he can certainly run the football as NFL.com explains.
Klein was a great college player, but is unlikely to have that same kind of success in the professional ranks. He will have to make serious changes to how he plays the quarterback position, or he will need to convert to running back or fullback. However, Klein is still a massive threat running the football, as he runs with great power and can break tackles. A creative offensive staff could potentially find a place for him.
This year I think it's safe to say that 'Hawks offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell is going to get creative, but what do you do with Klein?
Right now, Michael Robinson is the starter at fullback and for this season, should remain the starter, yet at some point, the team will need to find a replacement. Of anyone who could teach Klein the ropes, who could possibly be better than Robinson, who was once a quarterback at Penn State before becoming a Pro-Bowl fullback?
While I think it's fine to bring Klein into camp as a quarterback, if it becomes clear during training camp that he can't cut it as a signal caller, then it might be a perfect time to have him begin working with Robinson.
Will that or any of these other picks happen?
Of course not, the perfect draft is the one that GM John Schneider and head coach Pete Carroll will likely construct in a month's time after having addressed so many critical needs through free agency already.
What's great is that going in with 10 picks, the 'Hawks should have more than enough chances to find the right mix of players they want, even if that means taking some risks on players with issues or perhaps those they have never heard of before.
For if this is really going to be the Seattle Seahawks' year, then the performance by the front office during the draft will need to be nothing short of perfection.