The NFL Draft is still months away, but draft boards are beginning to fall into place for front offices all around the league. The Seattle Seahawks are no different, even though their focus is now on the Super Bowl this Sunday.
The only significant draft-related event remaining on the calendar this year is the NFL Scouting Combine, which takes place at the end of the month. While the combine is a useful tool for teams to evaluate players, it doesn't have the significance that you might expect. Draft boards will change very little between now and the draft in May.
The Seahawks have drafted and signed players in recent years with the desire to be bigger, stronger and faster than their opponent at every position. They won't settle for size deficiencies very often.
This is helpful for identifying potential targets for the Seahawks. General Manager John Schneider has a tendency to surprise everyone with his selections during the draft, but his tendencies are starting to become more apparent. Schneider appears to only be looking at only the biggest, strongest and fastest players available every time he makes a selection.
With that in mind, here is an initial round-by-round big board for the Seahawks for the 2014 Draft:
The Seahawks won't have a selection until the the very bottom of the first round, and there is a very good chance that they won't use it. Schneider loves to trade down, especially in the first round, and get extra draft picks.
If the Seahawks pick at either the end of the first round or early in the second round, they are likely to have a small group of players that they've targeted. Size deficiencies will have removed many of the players available in this range.
This is the most likely spot for the Seahawks to try and find the tall wide receiver they need. NFL draft history tells us that tall receivers taken after this point have a very low rate of working out. This means the Seahawks will need to select one here if they are hoping to get a player who can have an impact next season.
If the Seahawks decide not to take a wide receiver, then an offensive tackle or a defensive lineman would seem like the most likely choice. The Seahawks will need to replace right tackle Breno Giacomini who is going to be a free agent, and they also need to find lower-cost options along their defensive line.
- Cyrus Kouandjio, OT, Alabama
- Ra'Shede Hageman, DT, Minnesota
- Morgan Moses, OT Virginia
- Jordan Matthews, WR, Vanderbilt
- Kelvin Benjamin, WR, Florida State
- Allen Robinson, WR, Penn State
In the second round, Arizona State's Will Sutton offers Seattle a potential replacement for defensive lineman Michael Bennett, should the team lose him in free agency prior to the draft.
Other than Sutton, this portion of the draft appears to be loaded with offensive talent. If the Seahawks didn't take a wide receiver or offensive tackle in Round 1, this would be a likely place to fill one of holes in the draft.
The Seahawks currently do not have a third-round pick. They traded it away to the Minnesota Vikings as a part of the deal to acquire wide receiver Percy Harvin last year.
However, that doesn't mean that Seattle won't make a selection here. John Schneider has a history of trading down to acquire more draft picks, and picking up a third-round selection would certainly be a priority.
This is the range where selecting an offensive guard would make the most sense. The Seahawks need someone who can challenge for a starting spot, but their current depth at the position suggests that an earlier pick would be unlikely.
- C.J. Fiedorowicz,TE, Iowa
- Anthony Steen, OG/OC, Alabama
- Dakota Dozier, OG, Furman
- Daniel McCullers, DT, Tennessee
- Stanley Jean-Baptiste, CB, Nebraska
- Ja'Wuan James, OT, Tennessee
Once the third day of the draft begins, finding talent that is capable of contributing right away becomes rather difficult. Players taken here tend to have some serious questions to answer in order to prove they can be successful NFL players. Many are able to do so, but the success rate gets lower each round.
The Seahawks have had little success in the fourth round under John Schneider. Four of the seven players drafted in this round by Schneider are no longer with the team. This includes wide receiver Chris Harper, the 2013 selection, who couldn't even make the team out of training camp.
- Justin Ellis, DT, Louisiana Tech
- Cassius Marsh, DE, UCLA
- Brandon Thomas, OG, Clemson
- Arthur Lynch, TE, Georgia
- Kenny Ladler, S, Vanderbilt
Schneider's typical selections for this round have been high-ceiling projects, especially on the defensive side of the ball. Past examples include players like cornerback Richard Sherman and safety Kam Chancellor, both current Pro Bowlers.
- George Uko, DT/DE, USC
- Aaron Lynch, DE, South Florida
- Antone Exum, CB, Virginia Tech
- Jon Halapio, OG, Florida
- Cody Latimer, CB, Indiana
- Ryan Carrethers, DT, Louisiana State
Schneider's sixth-round picks have been very similar to his fifth-round selections. Highly athletic projects that will take time to develop are what Schneider tends to look for.
He has some considerable success in finding these types of players for Seattle. Cornerbacks Jeremy Lane and Byron Maxwell were both sixth-round picks by Schneider, as was tight end Anthony McCoy.
- Hakeem Smith, S, Louisville
- Walt Aikens, CB, Liberty
- Cornelius Lucas, OT, Kansas State
- L'Damian Washington, WR, Missouri
- Richard Rodgers, TE, California
Many seventh-round selections made by Schneider have been from schools that don't typically generate NFL talent. An example would be offensive lineman Michael Bowie, who spent his final season in college at Northeastern State.
In each of the last two seasons, the Seahawks have also used a seventh-round pick to select a defensive tackle with the idea of moving them to the offensive line. J.R. Sweezy made the transition to become a starter at right guard, while Jared Smith ended up on the practice squad. None of the names listed below fall into that category, but it is something to keep in mind when trying to predict what the Seahawks will do in May.
- Larry Webster, DE, Bloomsburg
- Daniel Sorenson, S, BYU
- Philip Gaines, CB, Rice
- Matt Hazel, WR, Coastal Carolina
- Ryan Groy, OG, Wisconsin
- Max Bullough, LB, Michigan State
- A.C. Leonard, TE, Tennessee State
- Colt Lyerla, TE, Oregon