Now it gets exciting. For some, this time of year sparks a little interest. Who's stock will rise, who's will fall? For others like myself, the combine is the start of it all.
Three hundred and twenty-nine of the nation's top NFL prospects battle it out at the Scouting Combine. Who will showcase their skills and soar up the draft boards? Who will disappoint?
This year's combine will be an interesting one, especially for Seahawks fans. With so many holes to fill at marquee positions, who will the Seahawks target with their first three picks?
Four of the top five quarterback prospects will be watching for the sidelines, so who should Hawks fans be looking at?
First, we have to identify our needs. They are obvious and in no particular order: DE, OL, DT, QB, RB, S. So let's take a look at whom to watch.
Let's start with the trenches. The Seahawks need to get pressure on opposing quarterbacks. These are the guys who give you that impact. Derrick Morgan highlights the group, but he certainly doesn't stand alone.
Derrick Morgan - Georgia Tech: 6' 4" 275 lbs.
Derrick had 12 sacks and 2 FF as a junior in 2009.
Carlos Dunlap - Florida: 6' 6" 290 lbs.
Carlos had 9 sacks as a junior in 2009.
Everson Griffen - USC: 6' 3" 280 lbs.
Everson is a Pete Carroll product. He had 7 sacks and 43 tackles as a junior last season.
Jason Pierre-Paul - South Florida: 6' 6" 265 lbs.
Jason had 6 sacks, 42 tackles and ran a pick back for a touchdown as a junior last year.
Brandon Graham - Michigan: 6' 2" 263 lbs.
Brandon had 10 sacks and 64 tackles as a senior last year.
The beasts in the middle. If the Seahawks have playoff aspirations, it wouldn't hurt to beef up in the middle.
There are some great defensive tackles in this year's draft. Led by Ndamukong Suh and Gerald McCoy, this year's class will have teams scrambling to move up the boards. Keep an eye on these guys:
Ndamukong Suh - Nebraska: 6' 4" 300 lbs.
Suh is a product straight out of the Northwest. (Portland, Ore.) Suh will probably be the first player taken in the draft and may be the best Defensive Tackle to come out of college since the great Reggie White.
Suh dominated his senior season with 12 sacks, an INT and 82 tackles.
Gerald McCoy - Oklahoma: 6' 4" 297 lbs.
McCoy really came to life his junior year with 6 sacks and 32 tackles. McCoy has the size that will attract NFL teams. Will he show the speed and strength to move up into the top 5?
Terrance Cody - Alabama: 6' 5" 354 lbs.
While Terrance isn't a sack master, he definitely can fill some gaps with his frame. His size makes him an intriguing player to watch.
Jared Odrick - Penn State: 6' 5" 306 lbs.
Jared had a great senior year with 7 sacks and 42 tackles. He has the size and ability to be great at the next level.
Dan Williams - Tennessee: 6' 3" 327 lbs.
Dan had 2 sacks and 62 tackles as a senior in 2009.
In order for Matt Hasselbeck to survive the 2010 season, the Seahawks must get help up front. This is a deep draft class and here are some guys who could come in and make an instant impact.
Trent Williams - Oklahoma: 6' 4" 305 lbs:
He has good speed and athletic ability. Projected: left tackle
Mike Lupati - Idaho: 6' 5" 325 lbs:
Strong and athletic, with long arms and good feet. Can you say Steve Hutchinson?
Anthony Davis - Rutgers: 6' 6" 325 lbs.
Has the size to be a great tackle in the NFL
Brian Bulaga - Iowa: 6' 5" 315 lbs.
Nimble feet, moves well laterally, and shows great control over defenders in pass protection.
Selvish Capers - West Virginia: 6' 4: 295 lbs.
Needs to get stronger, but has very good athletic ability for the position.
Adam Ulatoski - Texas: 6 ' 7" 305 lbs.
Smart, well-coached player with good strength. Projected: right tackle
Charles Brown - USC: 6' 5" 290 lbs.
Another Pete Carroll product. A very good athlete with good feet but needs to add weight and strength. Has tremendous upside. Projected: left tackle
Unfortunately for Seattle fans, there won't be many of the sexy names working out in this year's combine. Tebow, Clausen, Bradford, McCoy and now Dan Lefevour are all waiting to throw until their pro day. However, here are a few QBs who may be worth looking at:
Max Hall - BYU: 6' 1" 201 lbs.
Max threw for 3,560 yards, 33 touchdowns, and 14 picks his senior year.
Jevan Snead - Ole Miss: 6' 3" 215 lbs.
Snead threw for 2,632 yards and 20 touchdowns but also had 20 interceptions as a junior in 2009.
The Seahawks need a home run hitter. This draft class is packed with great talent at the running back position. Here are some players to watch for:
C.J. Spiller - Clemson: 5' 11" 195 lbs.
1,212 yards, 12 touchdowns, and 5.6 yard per carry as a senior
Ryan Matthews - Fresno State: 5' 11" 220 lbs.
1,808 yards, 19 touchdowns, 6.6 yards per carry as a junior
Jahvid Best - Cal: 5' 10" 195 lbs.
867 yards, 12 touchdowns and 6.1 yards per carry in a shortened season. Also caught 22 balls for 213 yards and 4 touchdowns
Jonathan Dwyer - Georgia Tech: 6' 1" 235 lbs.
1,395 yards, 14 touchdowns and 5.9 yards per carry as a junior in 2009.
LaGarrette Blount - Oregon: 6' 2" 240 lbs.
Missed most of senior year due to punching out a player after a game. Very physical back, ran for over 1,000 yards, 17 touchdowns and 7.3 yards per carry his junior year. Mora Jr. said it best, "We need dirt bags." Blount fits the bill and would be a great addition (IMO)
Joe McKnight - USC: 6' 0" 190 lbs.
Another one of Pete's boys. Had a shortened junior year due to an unfortunate weight lifting accident. Ran for 1,018 yards, 8 touchdowns and averaged 6.2 yards per carry.
There is a definite need at safety for the Seahawks. There are some good ones in this year's class. Eric Berry leads the group. Here's who to pay attention to:
Eric Berry - Tennessee - 5' 11" 203 lbs.
Eric had 83 tackles and 2 picks and a forced fumble as a junior.
Earl Thomas - Tennessee: 5' 10" 197 lbs.
Thomas had 63 tackles, a forced fumble and 8 picks as a sophomore last year. Two of his picks were returned for touchdowns. Earl is also a kick returner.
Taylor Mays - USC: 6' 3" 235 lbs.
One of Pete's boys and a Seattle native. Mays may be the hardest hitting safety in the draft. Mays had 88 tackles and 1 pick as a senior in 09.
Who is going to shine enough to capture the attention of Seattle's front office? There are a lot of new faces in the organization. The Seahawks have a great coaching staff and everyone is going to have players that they want.
So long as Seattle stays away from a first round quarterback, I'll be happy. With that being said, let's get this season started.