Rumors continue to swirl this evening about Pete Carroll being courted for the now vacant head coaching job in Seattle. While nothing is definite (yet), let's take a moment and speculate on just what that could mean for the Seahawks in the upcoming draft.
The Seahawks are coming off a forgettable 5-11 campaign, one that saw the eventual termination of Jim Mora Jr. While the roster needs for the Seahawks may seem plenty, really filling the void at just a few spots would go a long way.
The most staggering stat that you see when running down the rankings of 2009 is that Seattle was 30th in pass defense, 22nd in interceptions. If you ever wanted to hire a guy to help with that, Carroll's your man. He's held defensive coordinator positions and defensive backs coaching gigs at various collegiate and NFL stops in his career. He's got an impressive pedigree of defensive players from USC in the NFL now (Troy Polamalu, Lofa Tatupu, Clay Matthews, Brian Cushing, etc), so picking the right players to fit a team should be no problem.
Seattle has two first round selections in the 2010 draft, the sixth spot and 14th spot. If Carroll is gunning for a defensive back with either spot, he can probably count out Tennessee's Eric Berry, who is a virtual lock to be a top five pick.
That leaves Carroll's own All-American project, safety Taylor Mays. Mays was built up to be the west coast Eric Berry, but his senior season was not overly impressive. He ended with only one interception, and his size (6-3, 236) leaves many wondering if he may eventually project as a linebacker. Though he does bring tremendous speed to the table.
So then what about Florida's shut down CB Joe Haden? He's only a junior, but has declared for the draft and is ranked by many to be the top corner in the draft.
Carroll would have his choice between Mays and Haden, but Haden may be the safer pick for a true DB.
The other need for Seattle is on offensive line, with a group that was in the bottom third of the league in sacks allowed. Many think Oklahoma State OT Russell Okung will be a top 5 pick, just out of the Seahawks' reach. Should he fall to the sixth spot, there's no reason Seattle shouldn't snatch him up. By far the best tackle in this year's class.
Should Okung be gone, there are numerous other tackles to choose from. The best though is Anthony Davis from Rutgers. At 6-6 325 he's a massive size perfect for run blocking in the NFL, something the Seahawks must improve upon (they finished 25th in run yards per game). Other potential OL picks would be Bruce Campbell from Maryland, Bryan Bulaga from Iowa, or USC's own Charles Brown.
Filling the defensive back and offensive line with first round talent would be a great start for Carroll. But we know the Trojans are more than grinders and smash mouth defenders. He's got a vast array of offensive weapons, and perhaps he'd be looking for that in the first round.
Many have suggested the Seahawks should target a quarterback. With a QB class that's pretty deep, there's no need to get on in the first round. You'll have Bradford and McCoy and Clausen go off in the first round likely, but there will be talent behind them with guys like Jevan Snead from Ole Miss and Dan LeFevour from Central Michigan. Carroll can afford to be patient with a QB, since Hasselback still has some good years left.
But perhaps a speedy tailback that's versatile in the passing game would help? Look no further than Clemson's CJ Spiller, a dynamic playmaker from the running back position and as a wideout. Spiller excels best, however, in the return game. Seattle had 109 receptions from the running back position in 2009, proving the guys in the backfield do more than just run with the ball.
Seattle does have a decent pair of backs in Julius Jones and Justin Forsett, so it would be hard to see exactly where Spiller would fit in right away beyond special teams. Do you use a first round pick on a special teams guy? It may not hurt to help Seattle's aging receiving corps and get a wideout. There's plenty in this draft, and either Illinois' Arrelious Benn or Cincinnati's Mardy Gilyard should be lingering in the second round for Carroll to pounce on.
Look for an interesting draft from Seattle regardless of who their coach is. With so many potential roster spots to fill and two first-round picks, big decisions await the new head man at Qwest Field.