2014 Draft Sleepers Who'd Fit Perfectly with the Seattle Seahawks
The Seattle Seahawks will be one of many teams looking to thoroughly improve through the draft next month, and they'll have several opportunities to grab some great players. Aside from the obvious, headline-hogging prospects who are projected to go early in draft, there are a number of players who, while unheralded, could contribute and help this team.
Jordan Tripp is one prospect who has been making a lot of noise since his final snap as a college football player, and he is one of the prospects whom I believe Seattle should take a look at. He's an athletic backer with innate football instincts and could eventually become a pillar of its defense.
Besides Tripp, small-school prospect Walt Aikens is another player the Seahawks should do their homework on. He's a big-bodied corner (similar to the size the Legion of Boom boasts) and is also pretty quick.
Aikens, as well as Tripp, had a great Senior Bowl game and certainly made an impact in some of these teams' minds.
Did they make an impression on someone in the Seahawks organization? Possibly, we'll see. Regardless, Tripp, Aikens and the rest of the men on this list are all players Seattle should take a look at as they all offer something that could benefit the team.
Walt Aikens, CB, Liberty
The Seahawks boast one of the best secondaries in the NFL, but that doesn't mean that they couldn't use some depth behind their stars—specifically at cornerback. One of their potential targets in the later rounds could be (and frankly should be) small-school prospect Walt Aikens of Liberty.
He had a solid week at the Senior Bowl and topped it off with a great performance in the culminating game. Aikens did well in man coverage, was very fluid and proved that he can move pretty darn well for a man of his size.
Not only is Aikens a talented, potential-filled prospect, but he is also a bigger cornerback (6'0", 205 lbs) who could potentially replace Brandon Browner. Of course, the Seahawks can't expect him to come in and be an All-Pro right away, but he certainly has the size and ability to develop into a tremendous player on the back end of their defense.
Aikens would be a nice pickup for Seattle in the middle rounds of the draft and could likely play in a smaller role immediately.
Martavis Bryant, WR, Clemson
The Seahawks helped their offense out a bit when they re-signed Sidney Rice, but there is still uncertainty surrounding him as he has a healthy history of being, well, unhealthy.
Even if Rice can stay on the field, they could surely use some more talent in their receiving corps now that Golden Tate is no longer with the team. While his Clemson counterpart Sammy Watkins gets the lion's share of praise from scouts, Martavis Bryant is a very talented receiver in his own right and certainly deserves a look.
The 6'4", 211-pound Bryant has the size and ability of a first-round prospect but will likely fall to the second day of the draft due the depth of this draft's receiver pool. Because of this, he would be a textbook steal if Seattle can get its hands on him in the bottom of the second or in the third.
He lit up the combine with his 39-inch vertical leap and 4.42-second 40-yard dash—it was an athletic display of ability that teams will not forget as draft day approaches.
Bryant would provide another big target for Russell Wilson and could open big doors for the team's offense.
Dakota Dozier, OL, Furman
Seattle's offensive line needs some help on the interior as well as at the right tackle position, and it should look to the draft to address that need. There's a number of prospects who could fit the bill, but one guy who intrigues me is Dakota Dozier.
Dozier is another small-school guy who could greatly benefit the Seahawks. He's quite big and is a natural blocker—Dozier does a great job of utilizing leverage and keeping his posture against pass-rushers. What's also great is that he possesses a smooth kick-slide and is pretty quick for a guy of his stature.
Dozier's 5.42 40-yard dash time may look unimpressive on paper, but he had one of the fastest 10-yard splits of any offensive lineman at the combine (1.78), which denotes explosion, something that is very key in being a successful NFL lineman.
Dozier performed well in college and was a staple of Furman's run game. One could argue that his level of competition in college wasn't up to par with the vast majority of other linemen in this class—and he'd be right—but at the very least, Dozier showed he has potential.
He's displayed enough to warrant Seattle's interest and is definitely worth a shot in the later rounds.
Jordan Tripp, OLB, Montana
Jordan Tripp has steadily seen his draft stock rise over the past few months, and for good reason. When you look at his tape, it's easy to see why B/R's Matt Bowen believes he can be a starter in the NFL despite receiving a mid-round grade from most critics.
Bowen goes into depth about the specific aspects of Tripp's ability that will translate well in the NFL but specifically notes his rare combination of size and athletic ability. He went on:
Tripp should make an immediate impact on special teams as a rookie while he develops and learns the pro game at the linebacker position.
The Montana product has some real value as a mid-round prospect who could come off the board early in the third round. And if he lands in the right system that caters to his ability as an athletic linebacker, we could see Tripp progress into a starting role in the NFL.
While Tripp will likely start off as a leader on special teams as Bowen alluded to, he could finagle his way into Seattle's rotation at linebacker sooner than later. His athleticism is what will help him stand out right away, but his natural instincts as a linebacker will be what breaks him into the defensive lineup.
Tripp was very productive during his college years, but his best season came in 2013 when he recorded 100 tackles, three interceptions and two sacks. He also turned in very quality performances at both the Senior Bowl and combine, leaving a lasting impression in many NFL minds.
Tripp has a very high ceiling, and Seattle would be a great place for him to grow and develop as an NFL player.
Trai Turner, OL, LSU
As I mentioned earlier, Seattle's O-line needs work, and Trai Turner is someone who could possibly help fill a void. The former LSU guard proved himself as a dependable run-blocker and was a big reason why Jeremy Hill was as successful a runner as he was.
Turner's flaws mainly lie in his pass protection, but that's nothing that can't be coached up, and the Seahawks' Tom Cable (offensive line coach) is just the man to do it. He possesses solid size for an interior lineman at 6'3", 310 pounds, but he also has a more athletic side.
He put on a show at the combine with his quick time in the 40-yard dash (4.93, third among offensive linemen) and competence in the field drills.
Turner is an athletic guard who can prosper in "either a zone-blocking or a man-power scheme" as B/R's Alex Dunlap notes in his scouting report of Turner. Dunlap goes on to describe how he does lack in some areas, but mainly it's his glaring room for growth at the college level and his weak pass blocking that are his biggest issues.
It's obvious Turner may have fired the gun a bit early on his NFL career, but he is still an interesting prospect to consider. Cable has a reputation for constructing and developing stellar offensive lines and linemen, and he seems like the best candidate to be Turner's grindstone.
Drafting him would be more of an investment, but certainly a worthy one. Turner's potential is hard to ignore, and that alone will be a big help in where he gets drafted. Walter Football slots him as a third- or fourth-round pick, two rounds in which Seattle would be smart to consider Turner.
*All combine stats courtesy of NFL.com*