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Monday cyber surfing: Countdown to the NFL Draft

Good morning. Here’s what’s “out there” about the Seahawks over the weekend as well as for today, April 23:

We’ve finally reached draft week, with the first round coming on Thursday night. Mike Sando at ESPN.com looks at some concerns for each of the teams in the NFC West, including the Seahawks: “The team has no fifth-round pick thanks to the Marshawn Lynch trade. But after signing quarterback Matt Flynn and helping the pass rush with Jason Jones’ addition, the Seahawks should face little pressure to draft for need in the first round. The Seahawks would ideally move back from the 12th overall slot, adding picks – perhaps a fifth-rounder to make up for the one Seattle sent to Buffalo. The team could use a starting middle linebacker. There’s good depth at that position in this draft, meaning the Seahawks can come out OK even if Luke Kuechly is not available. Seattle found starting linebacker K.J. Wright in the fourth round of the 2011 draft, which had less depth at the position.”

Speaking of the draft, former Colts and Bills GM Bill Polian rates the 32 NFL teams on their drafts the past three years. It’s an Insider feature at ESPN.com, so requires registration and a fee. But here’s what he has to say about the Seahawks: “Best value pick: DB Richard Sherman (2011: Rd. 5, 154). Cornerstone pick: DB Earl Thomas (2010: Rd. 1, 14). Seattle has done a good job of putting valuable pieces in place on all sides of the ball. If free-agent acquisition Matt Flynn solves the problem at QB, this is a team on the rise.”

Jerry Brewer at the Seattle Times says the Seahawks are preparing for the draft with an air of confidence: “A year later, it’s easy to see what time, maturation, player development and good decision-making has done for the franchise. The Seahawks went 7-9 again last season, but they grew up while doing so. A playoff nucleus is developing. In free agency, they signed quarterback Matt Flynn to go with Tarvaris Jackson. They’re not in infancy anymore. ‘We’re definitely at a different place,’ Schneider said. And how does stability translate to this NFL draft? It allows the Seahawks to be mysterious, of course, even though they have some clear needs.”

Also at the Times, Danny O’Neil looks at the decision the Seahawks must make at linebacker: “This year, there are a number of top-notch inside-linebacker prospects, starting with (Luke) Kuechly, Alabama’s Dont’a Hightower and California’s Mychal Kendricks, the Pac-12 defensive player of the year. Seattle has an opening in the middle of its defense after letting (David) Hawthorne walk away as a free agent, even though he led the Hawks in tackles the past three seasons. But he came up against the reality that this year’s draft includes some very appealing middle linebackers, from a top-shelf selection like Kuechly to the middle rounds and on through the end. ‘This is a year where, for us, there are a number of attractive linebackers,’ ” (GM John) Schneider said

Dave Boling at the News Tribune says cooler heads are prevailing in the Seahawks’ draft room: “Listen to the words. John Schneider is calm and in control. He has plans and contingencies. He’s a master of the variables; weights and measures, mass and velocity. And he’s ready for the varied ways this week’s NFL draft might unfold in front of him. For instance, the Seahawks’ general manager says that No. 12 is ‘a really cool place to pick.’ But if events warrant, ‘then we feel comfortable with the way we’ve prepared that we could go back, too.’ Stay there, move around, bob and weave. Sure. Schneider’s playing the cool hand. Just listen. But as he speaks, his legs are bouncing beneath the table fast enough to cause the room to vibrate. That’s how these guys are at draft time, all subsurface energy beneath the poker faces. There’s a whole lot more going on than any of them want you to see.”

Also at the News Tribune, Eric Williams says the Seahawks have few holes to fill entering the draft: “Now in the third year of the team’s rebuilding effort, Seahawks coach Pete Carroll and Schneider said the team’s roster has been overhauled enough that with the No. 12 overall pick, there’s less urgency to draft for need, allowing Seattle to take the best player available. ‘We’re definitely at a different place,’ Schneider said. ‘When you look at the draft in particular and some of the areas in free agency that we’ve addressed, I think it put us in a position to just let the draft kind of come to us and not feel like we need to move around or not do anything that would put the organization in jeopardy in any one position.’ ”

Also from Williams, a look at UW running back Chris Polk: “NFLDraftScout.com ranks Polk as the No. 5 running back in the draft. Only Alabama running back Trent Richardson is projected to go in the first round. Teams such as Denver, Cleveland, Cincinnati, Tampa Bay and the New York Giants could view Polk as a nice change-of-pace back who can also play on third down because of his natural catching ability. ‘Me, personally, I just sees passes as an extended carry,’ Polk said. ‘I’m not going to fumble the ball, and I’m not going to drop any passes. Just come my way and trust in me, and I’ll get the job done.’ ”

 
John Boyle at the Everett Herald wonders if, and when, the Seahawks might select a QB in this draft: “The Seahawks hope they found their quarterback of the future when they signed Matt Flynn last month. That does not, however, mean they won’t keep looking for players at the game’s most important position when the NFL draft begins Thursday. Since taking over as the Seahawks general manager two years ago, John Schneider has repeatedly said that he’d prefer to take a quarterback in every draft, regardless of need. That’s a philosophy he brings with him from Green Bay, where the Packers would routinely draft quarterbacks despite having Brett Favre.”

Warren Moon, the Hall of Fame QB and analyst for radio broadcasts of Seahawks games, likes Stanford’s Andrew Luck, and Mike Freeman at CBSSports.com tells us why: “Last year, Warren Moon predicted Cam Newton would shock the NFL, and prove to be one of the best quarterback prospects we’ve seen in a long time. Moon was right. In fact, whatever Moon has said to me about quarterbacks, it’s proven correct. Maybe that’s because he’s one of the best to ever play the position. He was right about Newton and what he says about Andrew Luck bodes well for Luck. Moon, like he did with Newton last year, has been tutoring Luck. Moon thinks the Colts are getting a player that ‘doesn’t have any weaknesses. None. Here’s the thing about Andrew that people need to realize. He does things better than almost any prospect I’ve ever seen. Does he do anything out of this world? No. But he does everything really well. Few quarterbacks actually can do that.”

The beat writers who cover the team took a field trip to the Nike campus last week and filed reports for Sunday on the Seahawks’ new-look uniforms.

O’Neil at the Seattle Times focuses on the design, as created by Todd Van Horne and his staff: “One of the first things you notice about the Seahawks’ new uniforms is one of the last things that Todd Van Horne brought up. He didn’t mention the feathers for a good 23 minutes. Nike’s global creative director for football and baseball talked about the stretch-woven fabric, the aluminum belt buckle and the fact the jersey numbers actually stretch before the conversation turned to the uniform’s appearance. This is significant because while Nike has a reputation for revolutionary designs, appearances aren’t the only innovation in Seattle’s new uniforms. You need to look deeper, turn the uniform inside-out, so to speak, to see how much effort and expertise went into it. ‘Everything we’re going through is to help them succeed within their athletic endeavors,’ Van Horne said. ‘We often say what’s next to the athlete’s skin is almost the most important thing.’ ”

Williams at the News Tribune offers a behind-the-scenes look at the tour: “Nike offered a rare, behind-the-scenes glimpse at the research and development aspects the company used in designing the team’s new uniform to Seattle-area reporters this week. That tour included an afternoon spent in Nike’s research and innovation arm – appropriately located in the Mia Hamm building on the picturesque campus located on 190 acres dedicated to building higher functioning athletic wear. ‘Seattle was the one team that wanted all the innovation that we had, and wanted to reinvent their uniform as an extension of their brand at the same time,’ Van Horne said. ‘I know as neighbors here in the Northwest, we were really proud of that, that they were the ones that raised their hands first.’ ”

Here at Seahawks.com, we continue our series of articles previewing the draft with a look at the defensive linemen: “When the Seahawks go shopping for defensive linemen, they hang in the aisles not necessarily frequented by other teams. That’s because they play fast and furious at the “Leo” end spot with 254-pound Chris Clemons, who has produced back-to-back 11-sack seasons during his first two years in Seattle; but big and bold at the five-technique spot with 332-pound Red Bryant, who returned one of his two interceptions last season for a touchdown in addition to daring teams to run his way. At tackle, they moved Brandon Mebane from the three-technique to the nose last season and all he did was lead the NFC interior linemen in tackles; with the length and leverage of 6-foot-6 Alan Branch taking over at the spot Mebane vacated. The efforts of this foursome are a big reason the Seahawks ranked ninth in total defense in 2011. But coach Pete Carroll wanted more heading into free agency, and wants still more entering next week’s NFL Draft.”

There’s also a closer look at the D-linemen in this draft class, as well as a Q&A with Whitney Mercilus.

We’ve also starting looking at the top draft choices by round in franchise history. You can check the selections for the late rounds, seventh round and sixth round.