The opinions and analysis contained in this feature are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the thoughts and opinions of the Seahawks’ coaching staff and personnel department.
A look at the positions heading into the April 26-28 draft:
Best of the bunch
Player, school Ht. Wt. Projection
OT Matt Kalil, USC 6-7 306 Top 5 pick
OT Riley Reiff, Iowa 6-6 313 First round
OG David DeCastro, Stanford 6-5 316 First round
OT Cordy Glenn, Georgia 6-6 345 First round
OT Jonathan Martin, Stanford 6-5 312 First round
(Rankings and projections by Rob Rang, senior analyst for NFLDraftScout.com)
What it all means: Trent Baalke, the 49ers general manager, was asked to assess the linemen in this draft class at the NFL Scouting Combine. “I think the offensive line group is good. I think there’s depth at the high end. I think there’s depth through the middle of it, and there’s depth at the low end. I think it’s a good group, top to bottom.” And he could have been talking only about the linemen from the University of Wisconsin. The Badgers are adding to this quality and depth, what with center Peter Konz and guard Kevin Zeitler hoping to sneak into the first round and tackle Josh Oglesby into a much later round. But there is so much more, starting with Kalil and DeCastro – the top-rated players at their positions. How to decide which lineman is best for your team, and when? “We look at the film, and the eye in the sky and talent doesn’t lie,” Baalke said. “We like the group that is here in a lot of ways, not only how they play but the types of individuals that they are. It’s a quality group.” So much so, that Rang has seven linemen going in the first round in his latest mock draft – Kalil at No. 3 to the Vikings; Reiff at No. 13 to the Cardinals; DeCastro at No. 17 to the Bengals; Glenn at No. 22 to the Browns; Ohio State tackle Adams at No. 24 to the Steelers; Martin at No. 26 to the Texans; and Zeitler at No. 30 to the 49ers.
What about: DeCastro. In listing the Cardinal guard as the best run blocker at his position, NFLDraftScout.com says, “He knocks defenders back on their heels at the line of scrimmage and consistently gets to linebackers at the second level, making DeCastro a unique talent.” Sound familiar? DeCastro has been compared to Steve Hutchinson, the former first-round pick by the Seahawks who has been voted to seven Pro Bowls in his 11-season NFL career.
Don’t forget about: Konz. The Badgers center is, well, allow Russell Wilson to handle this one. “Just tremendous athletes,” the Wisconsin QB said, including Zeitler in the discussion. “Very, very intelligent. Love the game. Extremely hard-working guys. And they’re great character guys, as well. And that’s what makes them so much better than most of the guys across the country – their ability to have fun; but their ability to turn it on when the lights come on, and their ability to turn it on when practice starts, and their ability to turn it on during film sessions. When you’re playing the quarterback position, you want to have guys that you can trust every single play, and that’s why I truly believe that we were so successful last season.” For his part, the 6-5, 315-pound Konz draws praise for his physical run blocking, and comparisons to the Browns’ Alex Mack.
Seahawks situation: Asked about “primary-need” positions following the season-ending loss to the Cardinals, coach Pete Carroll eventually offered, “We’re most excited about our depth on the offensive line. Those guys emerging and playing as front-line starters really is a bonus for us.” He was talking about Breno Giacomini, Paul McQuistan and Lemuel Jeanpierre, who not only stepped in but played well after James Carpenter, Russell Okung and John Moffitt went down with season-ending injuries. Okung was a first-round draft choice in 2010, as was Carpenter last year – when Moffitt was added in the third round. And that was before Deuce Lutui and Frank Omiyale were added in free agency. “So the guy has got to be a really hot-shot kid to get our attention in the draft,” Carroll said. So that means the Seahawks are not in the market? “We’re still looking and we wouldn’t hesitate to do it if it was the right guy,” Carroll said. Because if the last four seasons have proved anything, it’s that you never can have enough quality linemen.