Don’t look now, but the NFL draft is just four weeks away. That’s why this edition of the mailbag is stuffed with questions about – and opinions on – what the Seahawks might/should do with their two picks in the first round, and beyond.
So, let’s get started …
Q: With the draft just a month away, why not post the Seahawks’ draft order on-line? Are things still too fluid to make a stab at it? Everybody has the schedule for round one, but this is a draft where rounds two through four are very interesting. Please help us out by at least showing which picks the ‘Hawks have. – Doug, Redmond
A: Great point, and starting point, Doug. The league just released the revised draft order after 32 compensatory picks were awarded to 19 teams this week.
As you stated, the first round remains unchanged – with the Seahawks holding their own pick (No. 6) and one obtained from Denver Broncos (No. 14) in a draft day trade last year. The second round isn’t affected by the compensatory picks, either, but the Seahawks moved from 40th overall to 60th in the trade last week to acquire quarterback Charlie Whitehurst.
The Seahawks currently do not have a pick in the third round because they traded it (No. 70 overall) to the Philadelphia Eagles last year. They now have two picks in the fourth round – their own (104th) and one acquired from the Eagles (127th) in the Darryl Tapp-for-Chris Clemons trade. Each was bumped back three spots because of compensatory picks at the end of the third round. The Seahawks, and other teams, were bumped even more in the fifth, sixth and seventh rounds because of the compensatory picks at the ends of rounds 4-5-6 – one in the fourth round, six in the fifth and six in the sixth. The Seahawks did get a compensatory pick in the seventh round (No. 245 overall) to go with the pick they already had in the round (213th).
With all that said, here’s a look at the Seahawks’ picks:
First round: No. 6 and No. 14
Second round: No. 60
Third round: no pick
Fourth round: No. 104 and No. 127
Fifth round: No. 139
Sixth round: No. 176
Seventh round: No. 213 and No. 245
Q: It is apparent that the Seahawks need an offensive lineman (even if Walter Jones returns). So my question is, if Russell Okung is available at the sixth spot in the draft, is he truly good enough to be a Top 10 draft pick, and is he the best option for Seahawks’ zone-blocking scheme? – Cooper, Jonesville, Va.
A: Okung is good enough to be a Top 10 pick, Cooper, and generally is projected to go in the first five picks. But some teams don’t even have him rated as the best tackle in this year’s draft class. As with the Seahawks, it depends on your style of play and how a lineman fits into it. The other tackles who are “challenging” Okung on some boards are Iowa’s Bryan Bulaga and Oklahoma’s Trent Williams.
Of the top-rated tackles, only Rutger’s Anthony Davis played primarily in a zone-blocking scheme. Charles Brown did some zone blocking at USC for new Seahawks coach Pete Carroll. Bulaga played at Iowa, a school that has a history of producing pro-ready blockers.
But that’s the challenge facing new O-line coach Alex Gibbs and his role in determine who the Seahawks might select in the first round: Which of these blockers best fit his scheme, and are any worth the sixth pick overall?
Don’t forget, Gibbs has built his successful career constructing lines that do not feature first-round draft choices. His first line in Atlanta included a fourth-round pick, a trio of seventh-rounders and a free agent pick up – and the Falcons led the league in rushing for three consecutive seasons (2004-06).
Todd Weiner, a former second-round pick by the Seahawks and the free-agent addition on that Falcons’ line, put it this way, “I don’t think Alex needs a first-round pick, but he does need a specific player. He has a knack for developing players. He’s done a great job with some guys who exceed their expectations.”
Q: Do you think the Seahawks could trade down in the first round (14th pick) to possibly get a third-round pick or move back up in the second round? A player like Taylor Mays might be there late in the first round, so if you can pick up more picks and still get a quality player that fills a hole, why not? – Tarry, Barrie, Ontario, Canada
A: Yes, Tarry, the Seahawks could trade down from that 14th spot. They could even trade down from the sixth spot if another team’s “targeted” player is there and that team is willing to deal. This is considered the deepest draft in years, so the more picks the better – especially for a team with as many needs as the Seahawks.
First-year GM John Schneider is a build-through-the-draft guy – because it just makes sense, but also because it’s how he was “raised” under the tutelage of Ron Wolf and Ted Thompson in Green Bay, Mike Holmgren in Seattle and Marty Schottenheimer in Kansas City and Washington.
Q: What is happening at the running back position this year? This team could be so much better with a running threat. – Ron, California
A: Well, Ron, Pete Carroll is on record as wanting to add to a pile that already includes incumbents Julius Jones and Justin Forsett and just-signed Quinton Ganther. Carroll says he likes Jones, who was the team’s leading rusher the past two seasons, and is impressed by Forsett, who averaged 5.4 yards on limited carries last season. He also says he’d like a runner with a more physical style to complement what’s already here.
But then there’s C.J. Spiller, the runner/receiver/returner from Clemson who reminds so many of Reggie Bush – the former Heisman Trophy winner for Carroll at USC and current multiple threat for the defending Super Bowl champion New Orleans Saints. The Seahawks could have the opportunity to select Spiller at No. 6 or No. 14, if that’s the direction they decide to go.
Q: So, as the Pete Carroll era begins, during the draft shouldn’t we concentrate on the O-line? I see using the first two picks on offensive linemen to help playmakers Justin Forsett and Quinton Ganther. What are your thoughts? – Cory, Germany
A: This is a good summation question, Cory, because we’ve already touched on the O-line and the running backs. I just don’t see the Seahawks going O-line with both first-round picks. There are too many other needs, and will be too many other options. One thing Schneider and Carroll will not do is reach to fill a need – no matter how glaring. They’ve learned from past experiences that it is the quickest way to waste a pick and impede the team’s development.
It won’t be a surprise if the Seahawks address some of the needs on the O-line in free agency. The left tackle spot is special, and the Seahawks had an extra-special player there from 1997-2008 in Walter Jones. While they won’t find another Big Walt in free agency or through a trade, this draft class provides options at a spot where the Seahawks used four starters at left tackle last season.