The Seahawks have some needs.
They need to strengthen the pocket and protect the quarterback.
They need to add depth to the defense.
They need to inspire their ball carriers.
They need to start replacing some of their older players.
The Seahawks have two first round draft picks (six and 14) and should be able to address these needs effectively come April.
Big 10 Offensive Lineman of the Year, Brian Bulaga has been a force to be reckoned with at left tackle on Iowa’s careening squad. At 6‘6” and 312 pounds he is a viable option to replace Walter Jones (6’5”, 325 lbs) who announced his retirement via twitter Sunday.
Jones’ announcement cements an already obvious need for a new, able, sturdy left tackle. Bulaga’s natural size, talent, and track record with Iowa suggest that he is ready for the big leagues and can handle stepping into the shoes of a likely future Hall of Famer.
Call me a homer, but I truly think Idaho guard Mike Iupati would be a fantastic fit for the Seahawks. The most important thing for the Seahawks right now is getting their quarterback protected and Iupati allowed zero quarterback sacks in 2009.
He has been breaking new ground for the Vandals since he joined the team in 2006.
Iupati joined Ndamukong Suh and Russell Okung as finalists for the the 2009 Outland Trophy—an impressive feat for a player in the media-starved WAC. He is the first Idaho player to garner All-American honors since 1957 and the first from the WAC since 2007.
The WAC may not be the most competitive conference, but it’s likely Iupati would have had similar success in the SEC or any other conference. He works hard and plays harder. He knows his position and that can translate to the NFL.
Hailing from UMass, Vladimir Ducasse was starting left tackle on an offensive line that allowed only six sacks in 2008—the second fewest in the NCAA. That is enough to convince me that he’ll be able to protect Hasselbeck (and subsequent quarterbacks) effectively for a long time.
Not to mention, his freshman year he allowed only 15 sacks over the 12 games he started. In fact, UMass allowed only 39 sacks in the 35 consecutive games where Ducasse was a starter.
Like Bulaga, Ducasse would be able to step into the empty left tackle position and excel immediately, shoring up the pocket and giving the Seahawks the help they need.
Though I believe the Seahawks’ priority should be the offensive line, they could use some pass coverage help, too.
And, the Tennessee Vols’ Eric Berry would help.
Arguably the best defensive player to play the game, Berry is likely to be a hot commodity. He leads the NCAA in just about every interception-related stat there is. He has a laundry list of other achievements, but this alone suggests he could help increase the Seahawks’ total possession time per game.
Ability to keep possession of the ball is one of the Seahawks’ most glaring shortcomings. The difference a stronger offensive line and a defender like Berry would make could be what defines a win or a loss.
WIth star players like linebacker Lofa Tatupu and defensive end Patrick Kerney getting old and slowing down, it would be wise to add a player or two that can start filling in now before another left tackle fiasco.
South Carolina’s Eric Norwood is a two for one deal. While he currently plays linebacker, he started his college career tearing up the stat sheets as a defensive end. Indeed, his stats at both positions border on jaw-dropping (three blocked kicks—who does that?) and he is yet another school record breaker for this list (all-time sacks).
Drafting Norwood as a linebacker would not only provide in-case-of-emergency options on defense, it would help the Seahawks stop a significant amount of plays (and players) in their proverbial tracks.
Pete Carroll is a defensive-minded coach and I wouldn’t be surprised if he is spending a lot of time analyzing every aspect of his defense. Currently, the whole operation is a little weak. The Seahawks could use a strong tackle.
Brian Price posted 43 tackles (22.5 for loss) in 2009 and has been consistently improving since his freshman year. Being from a squalid UCLA team is likely to drop him down the draft list which will keep him available a little longer and let the Seahawks focus on more pertinent areas.
If the Seahawks decide to spend money on a glory boy this season a running back may be the way to go. Unlike a wide receiver, a star running back would be able to take some of the pressure off a quarterback who is aging, inconsistent, and/or injured.
Another superstar from a school that isn’t consistently competitive, Toby Gerhart could bring an interesting level of play to the Seahawks. He proved a passion for the game when he turned down a contract to play professional baseball in order to play football for his senior year. As the Saints proved yesterday, passion can be more of an equalizer than talent or skill alone.
Plus, there is his penchant for breaking Stanford school records—including most rushing yards in a single game—and the fact that he was a mere 28 points shy of beating out Mark Ingram for the Heisman.
Gerhart illustrates a drive that the Seahawks’ current scorers (save Justin Forsett) don’t possess. Maybe this young inspiration can get T.J. Houshmandzadeh and Julius Jones to start working for their contracts.
The Seahawks need a quarterback, but it doesn’t make a lot of sense to spend a lot of money on a quarterback who is likely to spend games getting pressured and sacked. Until the offensive line is put together, replacing the still capable, but aging Matt Hasselbeck should be low priority.
So, if they decide to go the quarterback route this draft it should be a late round pick and undoubtedly the Clausens and Canfields will be unavailable by then.
Dan LeFevour of Central Michigan could become a franchise quarterback on a passing team like the Seahawks. His total yardage exceeds SEC-star Tim Tebow’s by 3,000 and he has almost 20 more touchdown passes than Colt McCoy.
He has broken multiple NCAA records including most career touchdowns and is the only FBS Div. I player to amass over 3,000 passing yards and 1,000 rushing yards in a single season since Vince Young.
Though he is from a low profile school in a low profile conference he was invited to this year’s Senior Bowl where he received Most Outstanding Player for the North Team.
LeFevour could prove to be a sleeper pick and if the Seahawks decide to go the quarterback route he could be an ideal choice even as an early round pick.
Carroll’s success with the Seahawks will be defined by this draft. Every decision he makes will be calculated and will fit into a larger, well laid out scheme that, hopefully, will spell success—or at least improvement for the waning franchise.