Tomorrow, Pete Carroll and John Schneider will embark on their first draft together as the new brain trust of the Seahawks, and they are fortunate enough to have two first-round picks to use (a parting gift from former general manager Tim Ruskell).
“It’s a huge opportunity for us,” Carroll told reporters recently. “That was an exciting aspect of coming here, that there was a big opportunity for us to get a couple big shots right off the bat. We really need to hit it. We need two guys to come help this football team win.”
In an ideal world, the Seahawks would come away from the draft with a starting left tackle, a starting defensive end and a starting safety.
How do they do it?
“The scenarios are numerous obviously,” Carroll said. “And we’re just going to keep working it from every angle to make sure we cover every scenario and option, and try to be as tuned into it as possible so that we can maximize it. It’s an exciting setting for us. We’ll be cranking in that first round. We’ll be rolling.”
One thing is clear: The Seahawks will be prepared to make moves. They already have made four trades in the last six weeks and would have made a fifth if the price for Brandon Marshall had been right.
“I’m always open to trading down. I really am,” Schneider told reporters. “We kind of took pride in it in Green Bay, and we will continue to do that.
“I don’t know if we’re going to pick at six and 14,” he said. “Everybody talks about six and 14, and that’s cool. We may pick at six because we just want to, or somebody may come to us with a deal we can’t refuse, and we may move back from six. And then when we get to 14, we may move back from 14 again. And then when we get to 60, someone might want somebody.”
Odds are pretty good the Hawks will end up making a pick at No. 6, but they probably have a good chance of moving out of 14.
So whom will they get at No. 6?
The first three picks are widely expected to be: (1) Oklahoma quarterback Sam Bradford to St. Louis, (2) Nebraska defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh to Detroit and (3) Oklahoma defensive tackle Gerald McCoy to Tampa Bay.
At No. 4, Washington is expected to take a tackle—either Oklahoma State’s Russell Okung or Oklahoma’s Trent Williams.
If Washington and Kansas City take the two tackles, the Seahawks likely will draft Berry—unless they can get a team to trade up.
Trades in the top 10 are fairly rare because the cost in picks and contract is prohibitive, but there have been three deals in the last two years. Last year, the Jets traded up from No. 17 to No. 5 to draft quarterback Mark Sanchez. In 2008, New Orleans moved up from No. 10 to No. 7 to draft defensive tackle Sedrick Ellis, and Jacksonville jumped from No. 26 to No. 8 to pick defensive end Derrick Harvey.
If Okung and Williams are both gone and the Hawks can get someone to come up and get Berry or Notre Dame quarterback Jimmy Clausen, they probably will do it. Their three-hour workout of Clausen last week surely was done in part to try to lure someone like Cleveland to trade over them or with them to pick the quarterback.
The Hawks’ draft board for the sixth pick should look something like this: Suh, McCoy, Okung, Williams, Berry. Bradford likely will be taken in the top four, even if he’s not No. 1, which means one of Seattle’s top five will be there.
The Hawks’ choice at No. 6 will basically be made for them unless someone takes Clausen in the top five or the Chiefs decide to draft Iowa tackle Bryan Bulaga. And Seattle has to hope Okung or Williams makes it through.
For those who think the Seahawks can skip the offensive tackle just because they now have line guru Alex Gibbs, think again. There’s simply no substitute for a good left tackle who can protect the quarterback and make way for the running back. Thankfully, Schneider recognizes that.
“Top-tier offensive linemen are top-tier offensive linemen,” Schneider said. “No matter what happens, you still need a guy to hunker down at left tackle and be able to play against big people.”
If the top two tackles are gone and no trade presents itself, the Seahawks figure to take Berry.
While Carroll has previously talked about safety as a position that can be secured lower in the draft, Schneider said Seattle wouldn’t shy from picking one at No. 6.
“If you're asking me if we would take a safety where we're picking, yeah, we would strongly consider taking a safety there,” Schneider said, “especially a guy that has a chance to be a Pro Bowl player.”
Berry is that kind of guy, and the Hawks certainly have a glaring need for him after having released Deon Grant and leaving themselves with only Jordan Babineaux and Jamar Adams at that position.
So what happens if the Hawks do draft Berry at No. 6? Can they still get a left tackle?
At No. 14, Anthony Davis of Rutgers could be there, but he probably doesn’t fit the Seahawks’ scheme as well as some other tackles might. He’s also considered one of the biggest gambles in the first round for various reasons (weight, discipline, etc.).
The Eagles would need to give up the 55th overall pick for that move from 24 to 14.
The Hawks and Eagles have already done a deal this offseason (Darryl Tapp for Chris Clemons), and it wouldn’t be surprising if they had already discussed a possible move here.
The Cowboys would have to give up their second and another pick (third or fourth) to move up from 27. They reportedly covet Oklahoma State receiver Dez Bryant, so this move seems possible.
If the Hawks drop into the late 20s, they could be in position to draft USC tackle Charles Brown, who already knows Seattle’s offense and is viewed as a player with a potentially high ceiling. They could probably still get Brown after making a couple of moves down toward the end of the first round, adding perhaps second- and third-round picks.
If the Hawks get a tackle at No. 6 and trade down from No. 14, they could take the best player available or perhaps trade down again to add another pick.
A lot of fans want the Seahawks to draft Clemson jitterbug back C.J. Spiller, who would add the kind of speed the Seahawks are lacking out of the backfield and in the return game. But the Hawks are not going to take him with the sixth pick, and he is unlikely to be there at No. 14 because Jacksonville and San Francisco both are rumored to be interested in him. Even if he is available at 14, the Hawks would probably hope someone wanted to trade up to get him.
Schneider seemed to prepare fans for not getting Spiller when he talked about the pluses and minuses of trading down.
“If you feel real good about your board, it's worth moving down,” he said. “Now, you are going to miss out on a guy here or there. And [fans will complain], ‘Hey, they passed on such and such.’ But you’ve got to look at it like maybe Player A was a better player than B and C, but B and C [are] two players for one.”
Of course, it takes two to trade, and Schneider said it’s easy for a deal set up ahead of time to fall apart at the last minute.
“From the outside, you think, yeah you have a ton of flexibility,” he said. “But … you never truly know until the 15 minutes leading up to it or the 15 minutes you’re on the clock. You can have things set up, in terms of moving up or moving back, but then some people can back out on you at the end. Or you may decide to back out in the end.”
If the Seahawks cannot trade down from No. 14 and Spiller is gone, their top options figure to include some of these guys: Georgia Tech defensive end Derrick Morgan, Texas safety Earl Thomas, Florida cornerback Joe Haden, Fresno State running back Ryan Mathews and Tennessee defensive tackle Dan Williams.
If the Hawks are able to trade down from No. 14 and get another second-round pick, they could use their two picks in the second round to address safety, running back or the lines.
If they don’t have Berry, they could look at safeties Nate Allen of South Florida or Morgan Burnett of Georgia Tech. At running back, they could get Georgia Tech’s Jonathan Dwyer or Stanford’s Toby Gerhart. They also could look at Illinois guard Jon Asamoah or East Carolina defensive tackle Linval Joseph.
In the end, the Seahawks ideally will get Okung or Williams at No. 6, trade down from No. 14 to pick up an extra pick or two in the second and/or third rounds and end up with guys who can start at safety, end and maybe running back.
The question is: Can they do it?
Can the Seahawks actually finish with a winning record next season? Find out in a breakdown of the team's schedule Outside The Press Box.