Seattle Seahawks NFL Draft Big Board: Position-by-Position Rankings

Kristopher Knox@@kris_knoxFeatured ColumnistApril 29, 2015

Seattle Seahawks NFL Draft Big Board: Position-by-Position Rankings

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    Ted S. Warren/Associated Press

    The Seattle Seahawks enter the 2015 NFL draft knowing that they do not need a ton of help in order to bring home another Lombardi Trophy.

    The Seahawks won the NFL title just two seasons ago and nearly came away with a come-from-behind victory in last year's Super Bowl. 

    General manager John Schneider and head coach Pete Carroll know their roster is good enough to return to the big game for a third consecutive season, and they know they are only a few pieces away from being able to finish their run off strong.

    Obviously, this is a team that doesn't have a lot of holes. However, there is room for improvement at wide receiver and along the offensive line. The Seahawks could also use depth in the secondary and on the defensive line.

    The problem for Seattle is that the team traded away its first-round selection (No. 31 overall) in order to acquire New Orleans Saints star tight end Jimmy Graham. This means getting back into the first round would require a significant trade.

    With 11 overall picks in this year's draft, however, the Seahawks have the ammunition needed to trade up, so it's impossible to rule out the team making a move for a prospect it is in love with.

    With this in mind, let's take a look at what the Seahawks' big board might look like at positions of need heading into Round 1 of the 2015 NFL draft.

Wide Receiver

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    The Seahawks added Graham at the onset of free agency, which gives them at least one playmaking pass-catcher. However, the team still lacks at true No. 1 wideout.

    Of all the positions that could use an upgrade on Seattle's roster, this is the one probably most worthy of a trade back into the first round. Though it would probably require an impressive package of picks to get back into Round 1, adding a truly elite receiver prospect would instantly put the Seattle offense on another level.

    1. Amari Cooper, Alabama

    Former Alabama star Amari Cooper is the type of polished, NFL-ready receiver who could instantly transform the Seahawks offense into a more potent one.

    At 6'1" and 211 pounds, Cooper has the physical traits to be a future NFL star. Unlike some past "NFL-ready" receivers, however, there is a ton of upside with this guy. 

    Bleacher Report Lead NFL Draft Analyst Matt Miller wrote the following of Cooper:

    An explosive, polished receiver with instant-impact skills, Amari Cooper was college football’s best receiver in 2014. Cooper is a fluid, fast and smart player capable of lining up at any of the three wide receiver spots and giving you production. He’s the best route-runner in this draft class and has the confidence in his feet and hips to break off routes and accelerate away from defenders.

    His polish and ability to immediately contribute puts Cooper at the top of Seattle's draft board.

    2. Kevin White, West Virginia

    West Virginia's Kevin White is coming off a breakout season that saw him grab 109 receptions and 1,447 yards. If White had a longer history of this type of production, he would likely be the clear-cut No. 1 receiver prospect.

    However, White had just 35 receptions in 2013 and is currently being judged by his projected potential more than his past production.

    From a potential standpoint, White has a ton to offer. The 6'3", 215-pound receiver ran a 4.35-second 40-yard dash at the scouting combine while putting up an impressive 23 reps on the 225-pound bench press. White does have the stellar 2014 season as proof of his capabilities, so he is far from a workout warrior. 

    Still, White sits high atop this draft board because his best years are likely still to come.

    3. Jaelen Strong, Arizona State

    Arizona State's Jaelen Strong comes in third on this list because of his physicality, aggressiveness and ability to come down with almost any pass.

    The 6'2", 217-pouns pass-catcher plays a physical brand of football that suits the Seahawks perfectly. He definitely isn't the fastest guy (ran a 4.44-second 40 at the combine), but he is determined, relentless and attacks the football.

    Strong can make an immediate impact because of his ball skills, but he is still a little raw and may take some time to develop into a complete receiver. 

    4. Nelson Agholor, USC

    Southern California product Nelson Agholor is another guy with terrific hands and great ball skills. He may actually have the best hands in this draft class, which makes him an instant contributor and an immediate red-zone threat.

    At 6'0" and 198 pounds, Agholor isn't as big as the other guys on this list, but he is a fiery competitor and a polished route-runner. 

    He has return ability (344 return yards in 2014), which adds to his draft value.

    5. DeVante Parker, Louisville

    Louisville's DeVante Parker is another big (6'3", 209 pounds) wideout with the potential to be a top-10 selection. Though he is a step slower than Cooper and White (he ran a 4.45-second 40 at the combine), his size, fearlessness and ability to make the contested catch makes Parker a top-tier guy.

    The downside is that Parker missed seven games in 2014 with a foot injury and isn't an efficient run-blocker. 

    Parker probably ranks higher on most draft boards, but for a team that places an importance on physicality and support of the ground game, he has to be downgraded a couple of spots.

Offensive Guard

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    Charlie Neibergall/Associated Press

    As good as the Seahawks roster is, there is definite room for improvement on the interior of the offensive line. Last year's starting left guard, James Carpenter, signed with the New York Jets in free agency. Starting right guard J.R. Sweezy ranked just 51st overall among guards last season, according to Pro Football Focus.

    This is why it makes sense for the Seahawks to target a top guard prospect, even if it means surrendering picks to move up and get him.

    1. Brandon Scherff, Iowa

    Former Iowa standout Brandon Scherff may just be the most talented and versatile offensive lineman in the entire draft. The 6'5", 319-pounder played left tackle as a senior but can likely fit at any position along the line at the next level.

    He should hold exceptional value to the Seahawks because of his ability to support a rushing attack. Scherff is a physical mauler who can dominate opposing defenders. He has the physical traits required to play tackle in the NFL but is limited as a pass protector.

    Several teams may consider Scherff to be worthy of a high first-round pick, so grabbing him will likely require a trade.


    2. A.J. Cann, South Carolina

    South Carolina's A.J. Cann is another pro-ready guard prospect. At 6'3" and 313 pounds, he has the body and the build to be a long-term starter but has limited physical upside.

    "Nothing about him gets you really excited and nothing about him gets you really down. He's just a steady player and will probably be a 9 or 10 year starter. I'll take that." An anonymous NFL offensive line coach said of Cann, per NFL.com.

    Cann should be a second-round selection, though it wouldn't be entirely surprising to see a team reach for him at the bottom of Round 1.

    3. Laken Tomlinson, Duke

    Duke's Laken Tomlinson made a name for himself at the Senior Bowl, which jump-started his rise up draft boards. He projects as a possible rookie starter and can definitely fill in as a primary backup, at the very least.

    At 6'3" ans 323 pounds, Tomlinson is strong and holds a relatively low center of gravity. He doesn't possess the range some offensive line coaches will want, but he is stout interior run-blocker who can open holes up front.

    Tomlinson is probably a second- or third-round guy, with a high floor and a low ceiling. 

    4. Tre' Jackson, Florida State

    Florida State's Tre' Jackson looked like he could be a future NFL star back in 2013 but really didn't seem to improve this past season. However, he was named Senior Bowl MVP for the South Team, which helps drive home the fact that the talent is there.

    At 6'4" and 330 pounds, Jackson is a big-bodied interior lineman who relies on size and strength more than technique. He has room to grow in this regard, but Jackson should still immediately compete for a starting role.

    He is likely a second- or third-round pick and definitely worth a Day 2 selection.

    5. Ali Marpet, Hobart

    Hobart's Ali Marpet is one of those small-school prospects with big potential. He is an athletic, 6'4", 307-pound monster on the interior and has shown flashes of freakish ability.

    The downside for Marpet is that he is stiff for a guard who is supposed to rely on athleticism and rarely faced top-tier competition at the collegiate level. He was a collegiate center who may not have a true position initially.

    Still, he is probably good enough to compete for a role as a rookie and is worthy of a Day 2 pick. He has added value because he may be able to serve as a functional center at the pro level.

Offensive Tackle

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    Rick Scuteri/Associated Press

    Offensive tackle is a need for the Seahawks for two reasons.

    The first is that starting left tackle Russell Okung is entering the final year of his current contract and the team may not be able to afford both him and quarterback Russell Wilson.

    The second is that last year's starter at right tackle, Justin Britt, was ranked just 74th overall among tackles by Pro Football Focus for the 2014 season. There is definitely room for improvement here.

    1. D.J. Humphries, Florida

    Floria product D.J. Humphries is as NFL-ready as any offensive lineman in this draft class, which is why he will likely be the top tackle on most draft boards. The 6'5", 307-pounder is a physical and athletic prospect with the skills needed to start right away.

    However, Humphries is not especially technically sound and lacks the kind of upside you would like to see in a high draft pick. Still, the fact that he is ready to play immediately on the left side makes him the top prospect in a relatively weak offensive tackle group.

    Because Humphries is NFL-ready, he will likely be a high first-round selection. Grabbing him will most likely require a sizable trade.

    2. La’el Collins, LSU 

    Former LSU standout La'el Collins may actually sit higher on some draft boards than Humphries because of his ability to play well at both tackle and guard.

    Collins is a powerful and aggressive run-blocker who projects as an instant starter on the right side. He does, however, lack good hand placement and pass-blocking technique.

    "I love the guy on tape. Big-time finisher in the run game and we need that. What I don't like is that his hands are bad as a pass blocker right now and I'm not sure he gets that fixed right away. Other than that, he's pretty clean," an anonymous NFL offensive line coach said of Collins, per NFL.com.

    3. Andrus Peat, Stanford

    From a potential standpoint, Stanford's Andrus Peat is probably the most impressive tackle prospect in this draft. However, he is raw an projects as a boom-or-bust candidate.

    At 6'7" and 313 pounds, Peat is an absolute monster along the offensive line, and his athleticism is surprising for someone his size. He is a powerful run-blocker with some pass-protection ability. However, he will need to improve in the latter area to translate into an NFL left tackle.

    Peat will probably be a first-round pick because of his potential, though his immediate role will likely be as a starting right guard.

    4. Jake Fisher, Oregon

    Oregon's Jake Fisher ranks high on this board because of his ability to play either tackle position. The 6'6", 306-pound prospect is quick, athletic and long. These are all traits you want in a pass protector. 

    However, fisher isn't the most physical blocker in the draft class and could definitely stand to add both strength and bulk before stepping into a starting role. His ability to contribute right away is questionable.

    Realistically, Fisher should be a Day 2 selection, though it wouldn't be too surprising if someone did reach for him at the end of Round 1.

    5. Cedric Ogbuehi, Texas A&M

    Texas A&M product Cedric Ogbuehi is another guy who may find himself in the first round because of a relatively weak class.

    At 6'5" and 306 pounds, Ogbuehi is a long and lean physical specimen who looks like an NFL pass protector. The problem is that Ogbuehi is coming off of a torn ACL he suffered at the end of last season.

    Because of this, it is difficult to predict Ogbuehi's ability to make an immediate impact. For a team looking to make a deep playoff run this season, this hurts his value.

Cornerback

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    The Seahawks don't really have a major need at the cornerback position, especially after the team added Cary Williams and Will Blackmon to the mix.

    Still, the team did lose Byron Maxwell in free agency and may want to find a long-term running mate for superstar corner Richard Sherman. If Seattle can get the right guy at the right spot, expect the team to go ahead and pull the trigger.

    1. Kevin Johnson, Wake Forest

    Former Wake Forest standout Kevin Johnson is as NFL-ready as any cornerback in this year's draft class. Though he has been overshadowed by Michigan State's Trae Waynes during the draft process, he is a very experienced (three-year starter) and explosive pass defender. 

    At 6'0" and 188 pounds, Johnson has the height and range that NFL teams now covet in the secondary. Because of his starting experience and ability to react quickly, Johnson should have a fast pro transition.

    He is a natural man-to-man defender, which makes him a perfect fit for what the Seahawks like on defense.

    2. Trae Waynes Michigan State

    Waynes probably sits atop many draft boards because of a stellar combine performance (4.31-second 40-yard dash, 19 reps in the bench press), but he has always been a solid man-to-man defender.

    The issue with the 6'0", 186-pound Waynes is that he does not transition well out of breaks and frequently allows brief windows of separation. He tries to combat this by grabbing and holding receivers. Both are issues that will cause problems in the NFL.

    If Waynes can hone his instincts and learn to be less "hands on," though, he should emerge as a very capable starter.

    3. Jalen Collins LSU

    LSU product Jalen Collins is probably the most physically gifted cornerback in this draft. If he were more seasoned and polished, he would probably emerge as a top-10 selection.

    Collins, however, only has 10 career starts to his credit and is incredibly raw from a technical standpoint. He is very fluid and quick for a 6'1", 203-pound defender, but it will likely take time for him to develop into an NFL starter.

    For a team thinking long term, Collins is a very enticing option. The problem with raw prospects is that they have so much boom-or-bust potential. 

    4. Marcus Peters, Washington

    Washington's Marcus Peters is similar to Jalen Collins in the fact that he has the physical potential to be great. The 6'0", 197-pound defender looks like a future superstar on tape, but he comes with a host of off-field issues.

    Peters was suspended and eventually dismissed from the Washington team this past season for clashing with the coaching staff. He also tends to make mental mistakes on the field and can be an overly emotional player.

    Peters is worth the risk for a team that believes it can control his emotional issues, and he may prove to be one of the top products of this draft if he can straighten them out.

    5. Ronald Darby, Florida State

    Florida State's Ronald Darby is a very capable cover corner who is ready to step in and contribute immediately. 

    The problem with the 5'11", 193-pound pass defender is a lack of physicality. Though he possesses elite speed for the position (ran a 4.38-second 40 at the combine), he has trouble playing the press with bigger receivers.

    Darby is a complete liability in run support, which will likely be an issue at the next level. His lack of physicality drops him down Seattle's draft board.

Center

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    The Seahawks have a need at center because the team traded away two-time Pro Bowler Max Unger as part of the deal to acquire Graham.

    While the trade obviously adds firepower to the Seahawks offense, it leaves a substantial hole in the middle of the offensive line.

    1. Cameron Erving, Florida State

    As an athlete, Florida State's Cameron Erving is easily the best center prospect in this draft and may actually be the best offensive lineman.

    Peter King has the #Lions taking Cameron Erving at 23 in his mock draft. We talked about him last week. Some think he's best OL in draft

    — Dave Birkett (@davebirkett) April 28, 2015

    The 6'5", 313-pound Erving began his collegiate career as a defensive tackle before flipping sides and working as an offensive tackle and center. He is solid as both a run-blocker and in pass protection, though he is raw as a true center prospect.

    Erving has upside galore, but if the Seahawks decide to pounce, they will have to do so knowing that he may take some time to fully develop. Landing Erving would likely require a trade up from pick No. 63 in the second round.

    2. Hroniss Grasu, Oregon

    Unlike Erving, Oregon product Hroniss Grasu looks like a Day 1 starter at the center position. He is a 6'3", 297-pound force as a pass protector with enough athleticism to move around in the interior.

    There is still upside here, but Grasu is also a prospect with a high floor.

    The downside with Grasu is that he is only average as a run-blocker and functioned only in shotgun formations at Oregon. He may struggle to adapt to a power running game, which should be an obvious concern for Seattle.

    3. B.J. Finney, Kansas State 

    Kansas State's B.J. Finney is an attractive prospect because he has the size (6'4", 318 pounds) to serve in a power run-based offense. There isn't a ton of upside with Finney, but he has the potential to emerge as a rookie starter.

    "What you see is what you get. Plays hard and is reliable. I don't know if he's great at any one thing, but he's solid at most of them," an anonymous NFC offensive line coach said of Finney, per NFL.com.

    4. Ali Marpet, Hobart

    Hobart's Ali Marpet is one of those small-school prospects with big potential. He is an athletic, 6'4", 307-pound monster on the interior and has shown flashes of freakish ability. 

    The downside for Marpet is that he is stiff for a guard who is supposed to rely on athleticism, and he rarely faced top-tier competition at the collegiate level. He was a collegiate center who may not have a true position initially.

    Still, he is probably good enough to compete for a role as a rookie and is worthy of a Day 2 pick. He has added value because he may be able to serve as a functional guard at the pro level.

    5. Greg Mancz, Toledo

    Like with Grasu, Toledo's Greg Mancz brings concerns because he was a shotgun-only center in college. However, he is the type of small-school prospect who can really reward an NFL team willing to gamble.

    Mancz has the size needed to compete as a pro at 6'4" and 301 pounds. However, he lacks elite strength for the position and may need to spend some time developing in the weight room before he can think about starting.

    He is definitely a developmental prospect, but Mancz is a stellar technician who will rarely find himself out of position or outmatched.

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