As the Seahawks struggled with their zone-running offense during the 2009 season, fans searched feverishly for a solution in the upcoming draft. With electrifying speed and triple-threat capabilities as a rusher, receiver, and returner, Clemson RB C.J. Spiller became a popular choice on Internet message boards.
Spiller, however, is not available, as the 49ers selected the Tigers runner with the 13th overall pick in the Featured Columnist mock draft. In the long run, though, the Seahawks may wind up with a better fit by drafting fellow ACC back Jonathan Dwyer of Georgia Tech. They might even choose Dwyer over Spiller if both are on the board.
At 6'1", 235 lbs., Dwyer has two inches and 40 pounds on Spiller. While Spiller has better speed and can be a game changer on special teams, Seattle already has a lightning-quick back that lacks size in Justin Forsett. Dwyer could be the perfect complement for Forsett with his ability to shred tacklers.
Despite the acclaim for Spiller, Dwyer’s numbers last year are slightly better. The Yellow Jackets’ junior had more rushing yards (1,395 to 1,212), more yards per carry (5.9 to 5.6), and more rushing touchdowns (14 to 12). Dwyer also had to share carries with two other backs in Georgia Tech’s spread offense. Spiller did have five touchdowns on returns and close to 600 more yards on kickoffs than Dwyer.
A number of scouts have compared Spiller favorably to Panthers’ running back Jonathan Stewart. The former Oregon back is also listed at 235 pounds and eclipsed the century mark last year, despite splitting carries with DeAngelo Williams. In college, Stewart also ran in a zone-blocking scheme similar to the one new Seahawks offensive line coach Alex Gibbs will install in 2010.
The selection is contingent on the release of Seattle’s starting running back Julius Jones. Though Jones led the team in rushing yards last season, he finished with just 663 on the ground and averaged just 3.7 yards per carry. Jones had trouble hitting the hole quickly, though he received little help from a beleaguered offensive line.
There are a number of other options for the Seahawks with this pick. New general manager John Schneider may target a left tackle with the likely retirement of Walter Jones. Few options remain at this point, as three protectors of the blind side—Russell Okung, Bryan Bulaga, and Anthony Davis—have already been taken. Coach Pete Carroll may opt for former USC tackle Charles Brown in a later round and consider Trojan safety Taylor Mays with the 14th overall selection. The Seahawks have also been rumored to make a trade for Broncos WR Brandon Marshall but may be able to do so without surrendering a first round pick.
The Giants are on the clock with the 15th pick.