Assuming the lockout continues through the end of the month, the draft will be the first chance for the Seahawks to acquire a passer.
But don’t expect them to take one in the first round—not with this class of very flawed quarterbacks.
While many SeaDawgs (combo Seahawk and Husky fans) and mock drafts continue to unwisely call for the Seahawks to pick Washington quarterback Jake Locker with the 25th selection, it seems pretty obvious that the Hawks have other, better plans for the quarterback position and for the 25th pick.
In a recent interview with KIRO 710 radio, general manager John Schneider stated what should be obvious to everyone: “Offensive and defensive lines are priorities for us, no question. We’re looking for depth at every position, but I think it starts on both [lines].”
The Seahawks hosted Locker and Ryan Mallett, the heavily scrutinized Arkansas quarterback, last week. But don’t expect them to want to grab either guy in the first round.
Last month, we explained why Locker should not be an option at No. 25. And Mallett shouldn’t be either.
Of course, those guys figure to be long gone by the time the Seahawks pick at 57, but Christian Ponder, Andy Dalton and Colin Kaepernick might not be. And any of those three might be smart picks for the Hawks at that point.
In fact, those three guys have as much chance of succeeding in the NFL as Locker and Mallett.
It’s well established that quarterbacks who played a lot and were successful in college generally have a better chance of being successful in the NFL.
Among quarterbacks drafted in the first two rounds since 1998, the guys with the most starts (37 or more) and highest completion percentage (60-plus) in college (quadrant 2 of this chart) have easily been the most successful.
Locker started 38 games for the Huskies, but he also missed almost an entire season and spent most of his senior banged up.
He completed only 55.4 percent of his passes—the worst percentage among the five QBs in this discussion—and accuracy is still a major concern among draft evaluators.
Mallett had the fewest starts of the five, and his passing percentage (57.8) was worse than Ponder (62.1), Dalton (61.7) and Kaepernick (58.2).
Of the top seven QBs in this draft—Cam Newton, Blaine Gabbert, Locker, Mallett, Ponder, Dalton and Kaepernick—Dalton is the only one who fits into that top quadrant.
His college stats (49 starts, 61.7 percent for TCU) were most like those of Eli Manning, Peyton Manning, Donovan McNabb, Philip Rivers and Kolb. That’s pretty good company, and Mel Kiper thinks Dalton could even go in the first round.
“He’s a West Coast-offense quarterback who can move and throw on the run accurately,” Kiper told reporters last week. “He’s only 6'2" with a three-quarters delivery. He’s had some passes batted down. But he’s smart, he’s a winner, he’s accurate and he can throw on the run. To me that’s why he’s going to go late first, early second round and be the best of that next group [with Ponder and Kaepernick].”
Ponder (35 starts, 62.1 percent for Florida State) is probably the best schematic fit for the Seahawks, but he has had two elbow surgeries, so (like Locker) health is a concern.
Of course, Ponder has performed so well in all of his pre-draft evaluations (Senior Bowl, Combine, etc.) that he might have moved up to the top of the second round, out of the Seahawks’ range.
Kaepernick’s stats (45 starts, 58.2 percent for Nevada) match up with those of Carson Palmer, Jay Cutler and Eli Manning. But he is viewed as a work in progress.
Also, teams wonder whether Dalton and Kaepernick can make the transition from the shotgun spread offenses they ran in college.
There’s a chance Dalton and Ponder both might be drafted in the first round, but if any of those guys fall to No. 57, the Seahawks should consider taking one of them.
If they do draft a QB, the Seahawks probably will be less likely to give up 2012 draft picks for Kolb, instead hoping to re-sign Hasselbeck at a reasonable price to let him tutor the young guy.
The Seahawks tried to re-sign the 35 year-old veteran up until the CBA expired a month ago.
“We made a run at getting it done before the stoppage and just weren’t able to work anything out,” Carroll told reporters at the owners meetings in New Orleans last month. “As we go forward, Matt has been in our plans the whole time and now that it’s in [pending] free agency, we just have to see what happens.”
The Seahawks are thought to be offering around $6 million per year (about what Hasselbeck made in 2010), while Hasselbeck likely is looking for at least $8 million.
We’ve previously suggested a $6 million base, with various personal and team incentives that could end up paying Hasselbeck $15 million if he played like a top-five quarterback in a given season.
If free agency ever begins, Hasselbeck will get to see what teams like San Francisco, Arizona, Minnesota and Tennessee might offer him. And then the Seahawks will know what the market for him really is.
If the Hawks don’t draft a QB, or if the lockout is lifted beforehand so trading is possible, Seattle certainly will try to make a deal with the Philadelphia Eagles for Kolb.
The Seahawks are thought to have offered the No. 25 pick overall, if a deal could be made before that pick comes up on April 28. That seems increasingly unlikely, so the Seahawks instead would be looking at offering their 2012 first-rounder and perhaps another pick.
Eagles president Joe Banner told reporters that a number of teams have expressed interest, and he hinted that it will take more than a first-round pick.
“You can figure if there’s a quarterback that a number of teams are interested in,” he said, “you’re going to end up with some meaningful compensation.”
While not exactly admitting the Seahawks’ interest in Kolb, Carroll told reporters, “Every opportunity that’s available, we investigate...and that's one that's been out there. They've said he’s a guy they would possibly move.”
Carroll said a veteran quarterback coming from Andy Reid’s system is more valuable than a rookie. And that’s entirely true. If the Hawks had the choice of surrendering the No. 25 pick for Kolb or Locker, they would easily take Kolb.
The Seahawks have added reason to be interested because they are planning to run almost the same offense that Reid has taught Kolb.
Of course, there also is a financial consideration with Kolb, who is expected to demand $8 million a year. That is not really an unrealistic request; the average QB salary (including cap number) in 2009 was $8.6 million.
So offer a six-year deal worth $48 million, guaranteeing half of it and making it worth up to $90 million, based on the same benchmarks in our proposed Hasselbeck deal.
The Hawks might end up having to make a decision if they can sign Hasselbeck for less money than Kolb. Would they be willing to pay Kolb $8 million a year or more? Or would they rather have Hasselbeck for somewhere under $8 million, if possible?
The Seahawks have eight picks in the draft, including a seventh-round compensatory pick for 2010 free agency. It was a net-value pick because the loss of wide receiver Nate Burleson was bigger than the addition of guard Ben Hamilton.
We originally thought Cory Redding would offset Hamilton, meaning the Seahawks would get at least a fifth-rounder for Burleson.
However, Redding did not count in the comp-pick formula, apparently because a player is not eligible if the team was responsible for making him a free agent.
That’s what happened in this case as the Seahawks eliminated the remaining years on Redding’s contract after they got him from Detroit for Julian Peterson in 2009.
By extension, this rule also means the Seahawks would garner no comp picks next year for losing pending free agents Sean Locklear and Leroy Hill this year, as the Hawks wiped out the remainder of their deals last offseason to make them free agents.