The Seattle Seahawks have received a good amount of flak from draft evaluators for taking a chance on Alabama lineman James Carpenter with their first-round pick.
Had the team made Dalton a Seahawk, Seattle would have a much different-looking team come this time.
The Seahawks have legitimate question marks at quarterback, and it is certainly presumable that Dalton would have alleviated all the concern.
Sure, Dalton doesn't have elite arm strength or great size, but the TCU product has great intangibles, nice accuracy and knows how to win.
Pete Carroll projects James Carpenter as an immediate starter at the position, and with the lockout, starters who were readily available in this draft became hot commodities.
Imagine, however, that the Seahawks had selected Dalton with the pick—Dalton may well have been a successful player for a number of years in Seattle.
Presumably, Carpenter would have fallen even further than that pick, and Dalton would have helped the Seahawks to put an end to the Matt Hasselbeck era.
The Seahawks may have dropped the ball by reaching for Carpenter, and even Carpenter's collegiate coach, Nick Saban, was surprised when the 'Hawks pulled the trigger on his offensive lineman.
Now, without a projectable future at quarterback other than a nice performance in Week 17 by Charlie Whitehurst, the team is in a bind.
Matt Hasselbeck, an impending free agent with the resolution of the labor situation, figures to command a good amount of money in a quarterback-needy market.
In a possible worst-case scenario, the Seahawks are sucked into paying exorbitant amounts of money for an over-the-hill Hasselbeck, who then may prove ineffective in years to come.
Had the team resolved to pick Dalton, the outlook for this team (and the NFC West) may have been much different.
On the flip side, the Seahawks improved their offensive line nicely with Carpenter and Wisconsin Badger John Moffitt as their first two picks.
With three young stars, including last year's first-round pick Russell Okung, the Seahawks are building from the inside out, acquiring talented linemen to control the trenches.
It is easy to surmise that Pete Carroll has a plan here, and with James Carpenter, maybe Carroll knows something that draft analysts don't.
On the other side of the ball, the Seahawks have a good defensive line anchored by Chris Clemons, so the team looks to be staying consistent in its pursuit of domination on the line of scrimmage.
With a rejuvenated Mike Williams leading the receiving corps into 2011 and an adequate backfield with Marshawn Lynch, the Seahawks figure to have, at the least, a workable offense in the coming year.
Seattle may have meandered its way into the postseason at 7-9, but look for the competition level to rise in the NFC West with teams like the Cardinals on the verge of acquiring Kevin Kolb and the 49ers under new leadership.
The Seahawks don't have the big difference-maker on offense and may be putting their city's hopes in the hands of Charlie Whitehurst or Matt Hasselbeck.
However it plays out, it is certainly interesting to look back and consider where the Seahawks would be if Dalton was the pick, not Carpenter.
Moreover, if James Carpenter is a truly above-average starter at right tackle for the team, all may be forgiven.
Furthermore, Dalton and Carpenter are not exactly interchangeable players—one is an NFL-ready quarterback, the other a project at tackle.
Pete Carroll knows something, and James Carpenter may well be the player to showcase Carroll's aptitude as a talent evaluator.