Biggest Questions Seattle Seahawks Must Answer over Draft Week
Things are heating up on the football front with just three days remaining until the 2014 NFL draft, and there are burning questions remaining for every team. The Seattle Seahawks are in a more favorable position than most as draft day approaches, but they do have some questions that need answering and decisions that need verdicts.
It all starts with their first-round pick and who they'll use it to draft; many pundits believe the selected player will be either a wide receiver or an offensive lineman, but the mystery remains. There'll be an abundance of talented blockers and pass-catchers when Seattle is on the clock, and it will be interesting to see which position Seattle deems to hold the most priority.
Aside from who they'll be drafting at 32nd overall, the Seahawks will also need to decide on whether or not they'll be looking to trade up or down in the draft.
On one hand, they could trade up and grab the dependable, game-changing wide receiver or stalwart lineman they need. On the other hand, it may be smarter in the long run to trade back and grab multiple picks in order to bring in some more late-round talent.
There's positives and negatives to both sides, but either way, Seattle will benefit. There's a lot of important decisions to be made in these next few days, and it will be exciting to see how everything shakes out.
Who's on Their Short List for the 32nd Overall Pick?
As I mentioned on the first slide, Seattle has many viable options on which to use its 32nd overall pick. After narrowing down those options into a smaller group of prospects, the Seahawks likely have a solid mix of positions on their list.
While there's no way to know who's on it and where they're ranked, we can easily determine which prospects are most likely to be included on their short list and available at 32nd overall.
Zack Martin (pictured above) is one prospect who fits exactly what they need on their offensive line—he's a talented tackle who does well in both pass protection and run support. Martin can play either guard or tackle, which are both positions of major need. No matter which position he ends up at, Martin is an upgrade for Seattle.
If they don't decide to add someone to the offensive line, they will likely opt to target a wide receiver to help out Russell Wilson, and Kelvin Benjamin seems like a tremendous (and plausible) possibility. He's a big, strong receiver with athleticism to match.
He's a bit raw in terms of running routes, but that can easily be corrected by the coaching staff. Benjamin has all the physical tools needed to be successful in the NFL and would be a very big addition to the Seahawks offense.
Which Position Holds the Most Priority: Right Tackle or Wide Receiver?
If you couldn't tell from the past two slides, offensive line and wide receiver are the biggest positions of need for Seattle. The Seahawks will have a talented pool of both available with the 32nd overall selection, but which one should they go for?
If you break down the positives and negatives of adding an offensive lineman versus wide receiver—let's use Martin and Benjamin for example—then it's clear that a wide receiver is what they should set their sights on.
While they could definitely draft a lineman instead and feel perfectly content with the selection, drafting an impact wideout like Benjamin would help the team in a bigger and more immediate way. Remember: The talent on the right side of their offensive line last season was pretty lackluster, yet they still won a championship behind a top-ranked running game.
Improvements definitely must be made, but they could use their second-round pick for that. They'll be able to get better talent in the second round from a lineman than a wide receiver, further bolstering the argument of drafting Benjamin or another receiver like him.
Should They Be Looking to Trade Up, Down or Not at All?
The Seahawks hold six picks as we head into the 2014 draft, but that is subject to change. They've yet to have under nine draft selections a year during the Pete Carroll regime and may be looking to trade out of some spots they're currently in.
They'd be wise to try and use the 32nd overall pick to move back and gain some selections, and it's very likely that they'll find a willing trade partner. There's a lot of talent that will be available at the bottom of the first round, and Seattle may decide it's better off trading its first-rounder and moving down a few spots into the first part of the second round.
The Seahawks have had a boatload of luck with drafting players in the later rounds (i.e. Richard Sherman, K.J. Wright, Kam Chancellor, etc.), which says a lot about their eye for talent. With later-round players comes less risk and more chance for reward, which is a trend they may try to continue in this year's event.
While the team may not decide to budge at all, testing the waters and seeing what's out there is always important.
Do They Need to Look at Tight Ends in the Draft?
The Seahawks are faced with an interesting situation at the tight end position. Their incumbent starter, Zach Miller, was solid for them last year, but they have looked at other players in free agency. They might opt to target a tight end in the draft, but then it becomes a matter of "where"?
Their first two picks will be rightfully spent on addressing their top two needs (wide receiver and offensive line), leaving them with—at the earliest—a third-round pick to target a tight end with.
This draft has been heralded for its depth, but it doesn't look like there'll be too much talent for them in the third round at that position. This essentially eliminates the chance of them drafting a tight end, but that's not necessarily a bad thing.
Seattle's interest in free-agent tight end Jermichael Finley has been well-documented (via Journal Sentinel Online), but there was no signing because he failed a team physical (via SB fNation's Acme Packing Company). You can't entirely rule signing him out, but it is a long shot for them to sign him at this point given his health issues.
For now, the only talent they have at tight end is Miller, who was effective when called upon last season. While Miller wasn't a huge part of their game plan for most games, he did reel in 33 catches for 387 yards and five touchdowns.
At this point, it'd be best for them to let Miller man the tight end position for another season if all else fails.
While a healthy Finley would definitely be an improvement (and one they should make), there's no guarantee he'll be ready in time for the season, and time isn't slowing down anytime soon.
Is It Worth Looking at a Cornerback in the Second Round?
The Seahawks boast one of the best secondaries in the league, but they lost an integral piece when Brandon Browner signed with the New England Patriots; they may be looking for his replacement in this coming draft.
Byron Maxwell played pretty good football for the team down the stretch last season when Browner was on suspension, and the front office may consider him to be the answer at the cornerback position.
Even if he is, they'd be wise to invest in a young defensive back in this weekend's draft. Earlier I wrote that I believe Seattle's first two draft picks will go toward addressing the offensive line and wide receiver in some order, but who knows which players will be left for them to choose from at the bottom of the second round? Seattle certainly doesn't.
If at that point there isn't quality there for them at either of those positions, they should take a look at some of the corners that will be around.
Stanley Jean-Baptiste fits the bill when it comes to the big-bodied defensive backs the Seahawks love, and he would be a tremendous addition with the 64th pick. He's a versatile guy who has the athleticism to play either cornerback or safety and is also a solid hitter. Jean-Baptiste could be used in a number of different ways and would undoubtedly find his niche in Seattle.
Addressing the cornerback position earlier than later may prove to be a prudent move by the Seahawks.