Seattle Seahawks: 10 Players to Target in The 2011 NFL Draft

Chris Eggemeyer@@chriseggemeyerCorrespondent IDecember 31, 2010

Seattle Seahawks: 10 Players to Target in The 2011 NFL Draft

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    TAMPA, FL - DECEMBER 26: Quarterback Charlie Whitehurst #6 of the Seattle Seahawks throws a pass against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers during the game at Raymond James Stadium on December 26, 2010 in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by J. Meric/Getty Images)
    J. Meric/Getty Images

    The big news for the Seattle Seahawks this week is that, due to injury, Matt Hasselbeck is likely to sit in their climactic end to the regular season in favor of former San Diego Charger Charlie Whitehurst.

    While the Seahawks are still in the playoff hunt, it's never too early to look ahead, especially when a former third-string quarterback is at the helm of the offense.

    If Charlie Whitehurst can't do it, then who?

    Well, let's answer that question and more by taking a look at 10 guys who the Seahawks should be targeting during the 2011 NFL Draft.

First Round: Blaine Gabbert, QB, Missouri

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    TEMPE, AZ - DECEMBER 28:  Quarterback Blaine Gabbert #11 of the Missouri Tigers throws a pass during the Insight Bowl against the Iowa Hawkeyes at Sun Devil Stadium on December 28, 2010 in Tempe, Arizona.  The Hawkeyes defeated the Tigers 27-24. (Photo by
    Christian Petersen/Getty Images

    Sure, Gabbert blew it against Iowa in the Insight bowl, and sure, he's a spread-offense quarterback, but Gabbert still displays a lot of talent and is the kind of guy who could, with a year or two of work, turn into a good player.

    It should be clear to most in Seattle that the quarterback position is quite unsettled.

    With Matt Hasselbeck fighting injury on a regular basis as he gets older, the torch has been passed to Charlie Whitehurst, a player who seems to have a little confidence from the Seahawks organization, considering how much they gave up for him.

    I'm here to say, publicly, that Charlie Whitehurst isn't going to cut it. It's time for Seattle to consider using a high draft pick on a quarterback.

    With Andrew Luck, Jake Locker and Ryan Mallett likely all off the board by the time Seattle picks, they could go one of two ways: Cam Newton or Blaine Gabbert.

    Cam Newton has a lot of potential, but the Seahawks will probably want a proven passer from a pass-oriented offense, and that would be Blaine Gabbert.

First Round: Cam Newton, QB, Auburn

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    NEW YORK - DECEMBER 11:  Cam Newton, quarterback of the Auburn University Tigers, speaks after being awarded the 2010 Heisman Memorial Trophy Award on December 11, 2010 in New York City.  (Photo by Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images)
    Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images

    And you thought I was just going to leave it at "they'd choose Blaine Gabbert over Cam Newton," didn't you.

    In all honesty, Cam Newton has seen his draft stock rise so much that he may not be available for the Seahawks unless they trade up.

    In any case, Seattle really should take a look at him.

    Sure, he has made his reputation in a system that requires him to run a lot, but he has also shown great accuracy and power when it comes time to throw the football.

    When he comes to the NFL, any team that picks him up will undoubtedly try to break him of his running habit, so why not let it be Seattle? They'd be getting a tough quarterback who can extend plays with his feet and throw with power and accuracy.

First Round: Mark Ingram, RB, Alabama

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    TUSCALOOSA, AL - NOVEMBER 26:  Mark Ingram #22 of the Alabama Crimson Tide rushes for a touchdown against the Auburn Tigers at Bryant-Denny Stadium on November 26, 2010 in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
    Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    Let's all be honest with each other for a moment: Marshawn Lynch is not the answer and Justin Forsett and Leon Washington will never be able to carry full loads effectively.

    The 2011 draft is going to be loaded with running back talent, but it's difficult to argue against the idea of Seattle going after Mark Ingram in the first round.

    Ingram is a great running back who plays with power, surprising speed and good elusiveness. He is a proven winner, and the Heisman Trophy bit helps his candidacy a lot.

    On a more biased note, I've got Ingram pegged to be an underwhelming pick (not a bust, but not a superstar), but I've been wrong before.

    Ingram would be a quality pick for the Seahawks and he would likely be available for them a few picks below where they end up, so trading down is an option with this move.

First Round: Janoris Jenkins, CB, Florida

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    GAINESVILLE, FL - NOVEMBER 13: Janoris Jenkins #1 of the Florida Gators gets the crowd up during a game against the South Carolina Gamecocks at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium on November 13, 2010 in Gainesville, Florida.  (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
    Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

    The Seattle Seahawks could not stop the pass this year. While part of that has to do with their pass rush, some of it also has to do with their cornerback situation.

    Marcus Trufant will do, but the Seahawks could use a great player to line up opposite of him, and where better to look than Janoris Jenkins?

    The Seahawks could wait till later rounds to pick up a cornerback, considering the depth of this draft class, but when the need is this great, why wait?

Second Round: Jimmy Smith, CB, Colorado

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    LINCOLN, NE - NOVEMBER 26: Cody Green #17 of the Nebraska Cornhuskers slips past Jimmy Smith #3 of the Colorado Buffaloes during their game at Memorial Stadium on November 26, 2010 in Lincoln, Nebraska. Nebraska defeated Colorado 45-17 (Photo by Eric Fran
    Eric Francis/Getty Images

    Well, this is why they would wait.

    On an unimpressive defense, Jimmy Smith sticks out as a guy with a lot of NFL potential, and is easily worth a second-round draft pick right now.

    Smith could be a difference maker and the Seahawks would be remiss if they pass up on him in favor of taking a cornerback in the later rounds.

Second Round: Rahim Moore, S, UCLA

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    PASADENA, CA - SEPTEMBER 18:  Safety Rahim Moore #3 of the UCLA Bruins in the game with the Houston Cougars at the Rose Bowl on September 18, 2010 in Pasadena, California.  UCLA won 31-13.  (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
    Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

    The Seahawks would have to move up to snag the safety out of UCLA, but Rahim Moore would be a quality pick.

    With Lawyer Milloy getting closer and closer to retirement, they'll need a safety to replace him, and Moore could be that guy.

    Given a year to work behind the veteran, Rahim Moore could team-up with Earl Thomas to create a deadly safety combo.

Second Round: Daniel Thomas, RB, Kansas State

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    BOULDER, CO - NOVEMBER 20:  Daniel Thomas #8 of the Kansas State Wildcats rushes with the ball against the Colorado Buffaloes at Folsom Field on November 20, 2010 in Boulder, Colorado. Colorado defeated Kansas State 44-36.  (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty
    Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

    It's never going to be too late to pick-up a quality running back for the Seahawks.

    Daniel Thomas is a solid pick. To me, he seems like a Peyton Hillis-type guy—a player with the size of a power back but the ability to make people miss and good burst through holes.

    He is definitely an immediate impact type of guy.

Second Round: Orlando Franklin, OG, Miami (FL)

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    MIAMI - OCTOBER 25:  Offensive lineman Orlando Franklin #74 of the Miami Hurricanes drops back to block while taking on the Wake Forest Demon Decons at Dolphin Stadium on October 25, 2008 in Miami, Florida. Miami defeated Wake Forest 16-10.  (Photo by Dou
    Doug Benc/Getty Images

    Chester Pitts won't cut it forever.

    The Seahawks could use a right tackle, but I would look at interior linemen first, especially after spending a first round pick on Russell Okung last year.

    Orlando Franklin would be a solid option to shore up the inside of the offensive line for the Seahawks and would really be a boost for them in run blocking as well as pass blocking, which is key if they plan on moving the ball on the ground, ever.

Fourth Round: John Clay, RB, Wisconsin

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    IOWA CITY, IA - OCTOBER 23: Running back John Clay #32 of the Wisconsin Badgers is tackled by line backer Lance Tillison #50 of the  University of Iowa Hawkeyes as he drove the ball up the middle of the Wisconsin Badgers during the second half of play at
    David Purdy/Getty Images

    Remember when I said it would never be too late to take a running back?

    I'm going to stick with that.

    John Clay has watched his draft stock fall for most of the season, and it's killer, because he is a great running back. He has had his injury problems, but he is a force to be reckoned with on the field.

    By the time the fourth round rolls around, the likelihood of players making an impact becomes significantly smaller, so taking a chance on a guy like Clay wouldn't be bad.

    In fact, it could be a great choice. John Clay has sleeper potential, that much I can guarantee.

Fourth Round: Mason Foster, LB, Washington

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    SEATTLE - SEPTEMBER 11:  Linebacker Mason Foster #40 of the Washington Huskies follows the play during the game against the Syracuse Orange on September 11, 2010 at Husky Stadium in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)
    Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

    Guys like Mason Foster make me wonder: Just how hard exactly do you have to work in order to get noticed?

    Foster is a shining star on a middle-of-the-pack Washington defense and he excels both in pass coverage and in pass rush ability.

    At 6-1, 238 pounds, Foster is a good size for a 4-3 outside linebacker, and could challenge David Hawthorne for a spot in the starting lineup if given some time.