For the Seattle Seahawks, It's Aaron Curry or a Spicier Option—Trade Down

Chris CluffCorrespondent IIApril 24, 2009

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - FEBRUARY 23:  Linebacker Aaron Curry of Wake Forset runs during the NFL Scouting Combine presented by Under Armour at Lucas Oil Stadium on February 23, 2009 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Scott Boehm/Getty Images)

With the draft less than two days away, it’s starting to look like the Seattle Seahawks might have a good chance of trading down from the fourth pick overall.

Although multiple polls show receiver Michael Crabtree to be the fan favorite for the Seahawks’ pick at No. 4, Aaron Curry has to be the guy if he’s available. The Wake Forest linebacker is the safest, surest pick in this draft and would fill an immediate need for Seattle, which surprisingly traded Julian Peterson last month.

Many people have argued that the top five is too high to draft a linebacker. But it’s not too high if that linebacker is the best player in the draft. And it’s not too high if you’re a team that needs a stud linebacker to replace the stud linebacker you just traded—and perhaps to replace the stud linebacker you franchised and might not have a year from now. Curry is easily the best pick if he’s there.

If Curry is not there, it means USC quarterback Mark Sanchez becomes the hot commodity at No. 4. And it means the Seahawks have a good chance to move down and pick up extra picks.

Last week, Seattle president Tim Ruskell said he had yet to hear from teams wishing to move up. But with at least three teams reportedly coveting Sanchez, Ruskell’s phone is starting to ring now.

Denver, Washington and the New York Jets are the teams that reportedly have the most interest in Sanchez. If the Broncos really want to come up from No. 12 to get Sanchez, they have plenty of ammo to do it, with five picks in the first three rounds thanks to the Jay Cutler trade that precipitated their need for a new franchise quarterback. The Seahawks could probably get second- and third-round picks as they moved down to 12.

Once at 12, the Seahawks would probably be looking at choosing among Ohio State cornerback Malcolm Jenkins, Ohio State running back Chris Wells, Georgia running back Knowshon Moreno or perhaps Mississippi offensive tackle Michael Oher or Missouri receiver Jeremy Maclin, plus a bunch of pass rushers and linebackers.

Dealing with Washington, the Seahawks could drop down to 13th and also get the Redskins’ third-round pick and 2010 second-rounder—or Washington’s first-round pick in 2010, if the Redskins were willing to surrender it.

If the Seahawks dealt with the Jets, it would mean dropping down to 17. In that case, the Seahawks would be looking for the Jets to give them second- and third-round picks in this draft, plus a third-rounder in 2010. Or second-rounders this year and next year. Or the Jets’ first-rounder in 2010.

And at 17, the Hawks probably would be looking at a bunch of defensive players.

The real key to any trade down would be the extra picks Seattle could use to move around in the second and third rounds. Ideally, the Seahawks would end up with another second-round pick so they could draft a center—California’s Alex Mack or Oregon’s Max Unger—and another player.

If the Sanchez talk is just that, and no team wants to give up what it would take to move up to No. 4, Seattle would have to choose between Crabtree and Virginia tackle Eugene Monroe.

Crabtree would please many fans and potentially give Seattle a stellar receiving corps over the next couple of years.

Monroe would be the safe pick, a guy who could replace Walter Jones in a year or two and man the left side after the future Hall of Famer retired. The Hawks need to start building their future line, and this is a good draft to do it.



Why not Sanchez, you ask? Because the guy is inexperienced and wasn’t even considered a top-10 prospect until all of the offseason workouts and draft analysis began.

Even his college coach, Pete Carroll, said Sanchez is not ready for the pros. And Carroll should know; he spent 15 years in the NFL before becoming the best college coach in the land.

Drafting a quarterback in the first round is a total crapshoot under most circumstances, and this year is no exception. The Seahawks should know that better than anyone, if the current regime simply looks back at the franchise’s three first-round busts—Kelly Stouffer, Dan McGwire and Rick Mirer—from the early 1990s.

The Hawks know very well that it is quite possible to find a quarterback without spending a first-round pick. The three best passers in franchise history came out of nowhere: Jim Zorn was picked up off waivers in the franchise’s inaugural year, Dave Krieg was an undrafted free agent who led the team to the playoffs four times in the 1980s, and current starter Matt Hasselbeck was a former sixth-round pick acquired in a trade with Green Bay in 2001.

Hasselbeck is signed for two more years, and the Seahawks fully expect him to play like he did in 2005 and 2007 and take the team back to the playoffs.

Also forgotten in all of the Sanchez chatter is the fact that Seneca Wallace has turned into a very capable backup passer. He played extremely well last December, once he was completely healthy.

So the Seahawks are actually sitting in very good position at quarterback for at least the next two years. Meanwhile, they can keep their eyes open for a promising young veteran to groom as Hasselbeck’s replacement a few years from now.

Two former sports reporters freed from the constraints of traditional print media write about the hot topics on both the Seattle and national sports scene. No deadlines, no word count, no press box decorum — we're Outside The Press Box.


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