2011 NFL Draft: Seattle Seahawks' Board, Version 1.0
The 2011 NFL draft is less than a month away and the NFL combine results are now in the rear-view mirror. Teams are diving deeper into the resumes of prospects, making sure due diligence is not an issue as the pro-day circuit comes to an end and individual, private workouts ensue in April.
NFL draft boards are closer to finished, as teams have gone through the majority of the draft preparation, now focused on finding their guys.
This board is a list of prospects that fit for the Seattle Seahawks, put in order based on a plethora of factors: team need, the player's potential fit in the scheme and the overall depth at the position in relation to all other players.
Some top prospects may be way down or off the board, while lesser prospects could make a huge impact for the team; it’s the beauty of the draft evaluation process, the many perspectives from which to build a team.
Additionally, the board will grow as we close in on draft day. I hope to have at least 100 players as part of my final board, all players I believe in some way fit the Seahawks. We are currently at 76.
As the board grows, readers are welcome to leave comments below; are there any players that should, or should not, be on there? Any small-school prospects you think fit the ‘Hawks schemes? Any completely misplaced prospects, way too high or way too low?
In-depth analysis of players will be done in supplementary pieces, as the draft board is meant to be a simple tool.
Seattle's Draft Picks and an Old-School Approach
Seattle holds eight 2011 draft picks: (Round 1) No. 25, (Round 2) No. 57, (Round 4) No. 99, (Round 5) No. 156, (Round 5) No. 157, (Round 6) No. 173, (Round 7) No. 209, (Round 7) No. 242. But the Seahawks are in an interesting situation—they are a playoff team that only holds three of its seven original picks for the 2011 draft (in Rounds 1, 2 and 5). (One seventh-round compensatory pick was awarded for the loss of Nate Burleson, countered by the addition of Ben Hamilton.)
The Seahawks 2011 third-rounder was traded for Charlie Whitehurst. Additionally, they traded their fourth-, sixth- and seventh-round picks, while acquiring a fourth-rounder that was originally Denver’s, a sixth from Detroit and seventh from Cleveland—all teams with top-10 picks.
The Seahawks have technically “traded up” in three of the seven rounds by chance and are set up to possibly receive a little extra value in the draft, as their draft movement via playoff berth will be mostly forgotten when the draft enters the fourth round.
Do they trade down in Round 4 to acquire another pick, draft seven players after the 99th pick and build through the draft? As ESPN's John Clayton reported, Mike Shannahan alluded to the draft as the original way to build a football team, with free agency beginning in the late 1980s.
Carroll and Schneider are old-school.
One point to note—while the Seahawks are thought to be at a disadvantage with so many free agents, John Schneider was bred to build a team through the draft. His rapport with Carroll in the 2011 pre-draft process suggests nothing other than that Schneider is working beyond diligently to find Carroll as many options as possible.
ESPN’s Mike Sando points out Carroll is contractually the final decision maker, but he doesn’t flaunt it. Power is spread within the organization.
The Seahawks are focused on using that organizational balance to find as many prospects as they can to fit into the scheme via the draft. Free agency will be used to find the mentors and leaders for many 2011 draftees, hopefully filling whatever holes remain.
With expectations set by a 2010 NFC West Division championship, the Seahawks are under pressure to work the draft with the same magic they did last year.
Seahawks' Needs and Analysis
The Seahawks' needs are spread across the board, especially with the lockout leaving so many 2010 roster members unsigned. Here is a rundown of each position listed in order of need, not a projection of which pick the Seahawks will use to address each position, if they do.
In his postseason presser, Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll made it clear the main priority in the offseason was to upgrade at the line of scrimmage with five free agents on the offensive line.
Carroll recently called Stacy Andrews and his $5.75 million salary a “legitimate factor” at the right tackle position in 2011 after an unsuccessful year inside; that spells the end for Sean Locklear. Three seasons removed from upper-level play and a major knee injury at the tackle position, Andrews is no shoo-in to succeed.
A tackle opposite Russell Okung is the team’s most obvious need, as two strong tackles are crucial for a ball-control, play-action, pocket-moving offense. Using their first pick on a tackle two years in a row is a sound strategy, but Andrews will get a shot to earn his spot.
Do they push him with a first-round pick? Does Tyler Polumbus return?
There are starters available in the top 45 picks, but potential later in the draft.
Defensive End and Defensive Tackle
The Seahawks have six free agents on the defensive line. Brandon Mebane is signed to an original-round tender (if that designation holds under new rules).
The Seahawks can draft multiple types of defensive linemen and there is tremendous depth at the position in 2011. This isn’t a top need due to lack of talent for the Seahawks, but because nearly half the 2010 line may not return.
The Seahawks are in a unique position to target a defensive lineman that can play a variety of roles. They need to back up Red Bryant at the 5-technique—a player that could possibly rotate in at 1- or 3-techique, who has good size, nimble feet and active hands.
The Seahawks need a 3-technique that can rush the passer and disrupt the inside and is average at worst against the run. There is definitely a need at the LEO; Raheem Brock is an aging-but-valuable veteran free agent.
There is space to build around Red Bryant, Chris Clemons, Aaron Curry and a 2011 defensive line draftee as the core of the 2011 Seahawks front four.
Do the Seahawks find that player early in the 2011 draft?
The Seahawks have already invested their 2011 third-round pick in Charlie Whitehurst, a factor when determining where Seattle should take a quarterback in 2011. Trades for current NFL players cannot happen without a new collective bargaining agreement; Kevin Kolb, Carson Palmer, Vince Young, etc. are off the table until further notice.
Matt Hasselbeck has value on the eventual open market, while Whitehurst is no sure thing for wins in 2011, or beyond. If they are going to take a quarterback, are the Seahawks willing to run the risk of taking a project early with no sure, veteran starter in front of him?
Do they take an NFL-ready starter with upside to compete with Whitehurst, and draft a project late? Does the first round in 2012 bring brighter options?
The versatile spot at pick No. 25 makes quarterback less of a need only because there are options. Seattle can move up in Round 2 or down in the first round. The Seahawks are in no way compelled to draft a quarterback at No. 25, but maybe at picks No. 30–46.
Seahawks' Needs and Analysis, Continued
Center and Guard
Seahawks lineman Max Unger can play center and guard, creating uncertainty as to who will fill the three inside positions in 2011. Carroll acknowledged at the combine he was pleased with the depth in the program on the interior offensive line, including Mike Gibson and a group of unheralded players that can compete in 2011.
Regardless, the Seahawks need another player to compete at the position. The draft is not deep on the interior line and the Seahawks will need to invest an early-round pick to find a quality player that can likely start in 2011. The fourth–sixth rounds could hold value at these positions.
Cornerback and Safety
The secondary struggled mightily in 2010 and was possibly the weakest link of the 2010 defense. There may be light at the end of the tunnel with the up-and-coming players within the program—Josh Pinkard, Brandon Browner and Marcus Brown will all compete for playing time at safety and cornerback.
Marcus Trufant has not played at an elite level since 2008 and Walter Thurmond is finally healthy in his second year removed from ACL surgery. Earl Thomas seems to be the only sure thing in the secondary; the Seahawks need another playmaker to help him next season.
The Seahawks have many options throughout the draft, including tall corners and "tweeners" that would bring an aggressive presence to the defensive backfield.
With David Hawthorne capable of moving to middle linebacker in 2011, uncertainty lies ahead at two of the three linebacker positions. Aaron Curry will likely receive another year to grow in the system.
I expect the Seahawks to look for versatility and value, finding a player that can possibly play both the weak and the strong sides. Do they keep Hawthorne on the weak side and draft a replacement for Lofa Tatupu? That seems less reasonable given the lack of depth at middle linebacker.
I have a gut feeling the Seahawks may surprise some and take a linebacker earlier than expected. If they trade down in the first round, I think this scenario becomes a legitimate possibility.
Michael Robinson is a solid, all-around veteran who had a down year in 2010 headed into free agency. The Seahawks need to find a tenacious, special-teams-capable, coachable, soft-handed fullback to lead the way in 2011 and beyond.
Fullbacks are traditionally taken in the late rounds of the draft, with 2011 holding a few possibilities that can provide a presence in the Seahawks backfield.
Wide Receiver and Tight End
The Seahawks are in need of a big, downfield playmaker to compete with Deon Butler and possibly a nifty, sure-handed slot receiver to learn the role potentially vacated by Brandon Stokley.
They also need a strong, in-line-blocking tight end that can make plays in the red zone and short areas of the field. I don’t think the Seahawks will draft a player to fill this role unless they believe he can become one of the team’s primary tight ends, likely looking in the late rounds or undrafted pool.
The Seahawks took Golden Tate in the 2010 second round to groom into a Steve Smith-type playmaker. Values are across the board on this season’s wide receiver class and the Seahawks may cash in on a downfield or slot threat that slips through the cracks.
This is not technically a need for Seattle, but a north–south, one-cut back with good vision could be a great value pick at some point in the mid-to-later rounds. It’s unknown whether or not Seattle will try and add size, or continue to favor a smaller backfield.
Running backs are tough to judge; a physical, versatile, fourth-round talent that falls, and possibly fits for three–five touches a game, should be in consideration with a late-round pick.
Finally, do the Seahawks bring back kicker Olindo Mare? He's willing to take a hometown discount, and is a solid option for 2011.
Tier No. 1: The Cream of the Crop
Note: The players are ordered by their fit for the Seahawks. Grades by round are given to create tiers.
All grades in the parentheses, highlighting top-40 prospects and projected rounds for those higher than 40, are based on general draft-pundit and NFL personnel opinions of where that player is projected to be taken.
It’s there to give an indication of where each player is on this Seahawks board compared to general consensus.
1. Marcell Dareus, DT, Alabama (6'3”, 319 pounds, top five)
2. Patrick Peterson, DB, LSU (6'0”, 219 pounds, top seven)
3. J. J. Watt, DL, Wisconsin (6'5”, 290 pounds, top 20)
4. Gabe Carimi, OT, Wisconsin (6'7", 314 pounds, top 30)
5. Von Miller, OLB, Texas A&M (6'3”, 246 pounds, top 10)
6. Prince Amukamara, CB, Nebraska (6'0”, 206 pounds, top 15)
7. A.J.Green, WR, Georgia (6'4”, 211 pounds, top 20)
Tier No. 2: Round 1
8. Phil Taylor, NT/DT, Baylor (6'3”, 334 pounds, top 40)
9. Corey Liuget, DT, Illinois (6'2”, 298 pounds, top 30)
10. Da’Quan Bowers, DL, Clemson (6'3", 280 pounds, top seven)
11. Nick Fairley, DT, Auburn (6'4”, 291 pounds, top 10)
12. Robert Quinn, DE, UNC (6'4”, 265 pounds, top 30)
Top Talent Not on the Seahawks Board
This group of players is not on my board; they are supremely talented, but I believe they don’t fit for the Seahawks or do not fit a big enough team need to warrant consideration.
A trade is a possibility if any of these players is on the board at No. 25.
Tyron Smith, LT, USC (6'5”, 307 pounds, top 30)
Cam Newton, QB, Auburn (6'5”, 248 pounds, top 20)
Blaine Gabbert, QB, Missouri (6'4”, 234 pounds, top 20)
Mark Ingram, RB, Alabama (5'9”, 215 pounds, top 30)
Julio Jones, WR, Alabama (6'3”, 220 pounds, top 20)
Adrian Clayborn, DL, Iowa (6'3,” 281 pounds, top 20)
Nate Solder, LT, Colorado (6'8, 319 pounds, top 30)
Tier No. 3: Fringe First Round
13. Andy Dalton, QB, TCU (6'2", 215 pounds, second)
14. Danny Watkins, OG, Baylor (6'3”, 310 pounds, top 40)
15. Muhammad Wilkerson, DL, Temple (6'4”, 315 pounds, top 30)
16. Derrek Sherrod, OT, Mississippi State (6'5”, 321 pounds, top 40)
17. Cam Jordan, DE/DT, California (6'4”, 287 pounds, top 20)
18. Ryan Kerrigan, DE, Purdue (6'4”, 267 pounds, top 20)
19. Jimmy Smith, CB, Colorado (6'2”, 211 pounds, top 30)
20. Aldon Smith, DL, Missouri (6'4”, 263 pounds, top 20)
Tier No. 4: Round 2
21. Ras-I Dowling, CB/S, Virginia (6'1", 198 pounds, second–fourth)
22. Jabaal Sheard, DE, Pittsburgh (6'3”, 264 pounds, second)
23. Davon House, CB, New Mexico State (6'0”, 211 pounds, second–fourth)
24. Ryan Mallet, QB, Arkansas (6'7”, 253 pounds, first–second)
25. Marvin Austin, DT, UNC (6'2”, 309 pounds, first–third)
26. Allen Bailey, DL, Miami (6'3”, 285 pounds, second–third)
27. Jake Locker, QB, Washington (6'3”, 231 pounds, first–fourth)
28. Christian Ponder, QB, Florida State (6'2”, 229 pounds, first–third)
29. Brooks Reed, DE, Arizona (6'3”, 263 pounds, second)
30. Marcus Cannon, OG, TCU (6'5”, 358 pounds, second)
31. Kenrick Ellis, NT/DT, Hampton (6'5,” 346 pounds second–fourth)
32. Aaron Williams, CB, Texas (6'0”, 204 pounds, second)
33. Mike Pouncey, OG/C, Florida (6'5”, 303 pounds, first–second)
34. Justin Houston, DE/LB, Georgia (6'3”, 270 pounds, first–second)
Tier No. 5: Round 3
35. Sam Acho, DE/OLB, Texas (6'2”, 262 pounds, third)
36. Mason Foster, LB, Washington (6'1”, 245 pounds, second–fourth)
37. Greg Little, WR, UNC (6'3”, 220 pounds, second–fourth)
38. D.J. Williams, TE/FB, Arkansas (6'2”, 245 pounds, third–fourth)
Tier No. 6: Round 4
39. John Moffit, OG, Wisconsin (6'4”, 319 pounds, third–fifth)
40. Rahim Moore, FS, UCLA (6’0”, 202 pounds, second)
41. Jalil Brown, CB, Colorado (6'1”, 204 pounds, third–sixth)
42. Ricky Stanzi, QB, Iowa (6'4”, 223 pounds, third–sixth)
43. Leonard Hankerson, WR, Miami (6'2", 209 pounds, second–third)
44. Tandon Doss, WR, Indiana (6'2”, 201 pounds, second–fourth)
45. Mark Herzlich, OLB, Boston College (6'4”, 244 pounds, third–seventh)
Tier No. 7: Round 5
46. Shiloh Keo, S, Idaho (5'11”, 219 pounds, fourth–seventh)
47. Stephen Schilling, OG, Michigan (6'4”, 308 pounds, fourth–seventh)
48. Kris O’Dowd, C, USC (6'4”, 304 pounds, fourth–seventh)
49. Curtis Marsh, CB, Utah State (6'1”, 197 pounds, fourth–seventh)
50. Jah Reid, OT, UCF (6'7”, 327 pounds, fifth–seventh)
51. Daniel Ziemba, OT, Auburn (6'6”, 317 pounds, fourth–sixth)
52. Bruce Miller, DE/OLB, UCF (6'1”, 254 pounds, fourth–seventh)
53. Jerrard Tarrant, FS, GT (6'0”, 204 pounds, fifth–sixth)
54. Nathan Enderle, QB, Idaho (6'4”, 240 pounds, fifth–seventh)
55. Jeremy Kerley, WR, TCU (5'10”, 189 pounds, fourth)
56. Tori Gurley, WR, South Carolina (6'4”, 216 pounds, sixth–undrafted free agent [UDFA])
57. Martin Parker, DT, Richmond (6'2”, 303 pounds, sixth–UDFA)
58. Greg Romeus, DE, Pittsburgh (6'5”, 264 pounds, fourth–seventh)
Tier No. 8: Round 6
59. Jacquizz Rodgers, RB, Oregon State (5'6”, 196 pounds, third–fifth)
60. Niles Paul, WR, Nebraska (6'1”, 224 pounds, third–fifth)
61. Daniel Thomas, RB, Kansas State (6'0”, 230 pounds, third–fifth)
62. Owen Marecic, FB, Stanford (6'1”, 248 pounds, fourth–sixth)
63. Henry Hynoski, FB, Pittsburgh (6'0”, 257 pounds, fifth–seventh)
64. Shaun Chapas, FB, Georgia (6'2”, 247 pounds, fifth–seventh)
65. Lee Smith, TE, Marshall (6'6”, 266 pounds, fifth–seventh)
66. Cortez Allen, CB, Citadel (6'1”, 197 pounds, fifth–seventh)
67. Scott Lutrus, OLB, UConn (6'2”, 241 pounds, sixth–UDFA)
68. Brian Rolle, OLB, Ohio State (5'10", 229 pounds, fourth–sixth)
69. Brandon Fusco, C, Slippery Rock (6'4”, 316 pounds, fifth–seventh)
70. Demarcus Love, OT, Arkansas (6'4”, 315 pounds, third–sixth)
Tier No. 9: Round 7 and Undrafted Free Agents
71. Chris Prosinski, FS, Wyoming (6'1”, 205 pounds, sixth–UDFA)
72. Aldrick Robinson, WR, SMU (5'10”, 184 pounds, sixth)
73. Caleb Schlauderaff, OG, Utah (6'4”, 305 pounds, sixth–UDFA)
74. Alex Green, RB/FB, Hawaii (6'0”, 225 pounds, fifth–UDFA)
75. Anthony Gray, DT, Southern Miss (5'11”, 330 pounds, sixth–UDFA)
76. Adam Weber, QB, Minnesota (6'1”, 209 pounds, seventh–UDFA)