Draft day is here, and that also means that for one last time we are updating our rating of the Seahawks’ position groups by need, with a few thoughts on what might be available in the draft along the way.
1. Defensive line — This is our third position group rating — the first two coming before the Combine/free agency and then after free agency — and the DL has gone from one to three and now back to one. The reason for the return to being the neediest spot again is obvious — he trade earlier this week of Frank Clark. Seattle has now lost what were two starters last season — Clark and tackle Shamar Stephen — while adding free agents Jamie Meder, Cassius Marsh and Nate Orchard.
Meder’s is an easy signing to forget about, but if he is healthy and can play as he did in 2017 with Cleveland then he has a good shot to make the team as a run-down tackle. But if you consider Quinton Jefferson as an end, then Seattle has three DTs on its roster right now — Meder, Poona Ford and Jarran Reed. Now take out Clark and it’s hard to imagine the Seahawks won’t come up with at least one DL it is counting on to make an immediate impact, if not two.
The depth of the DL available in the draft has led to the idea that the Seahawks could trade down and get a good one in the second round. But who knows? Maybe given the needs and the players available maybe this is one year Seattle uses its first-round picks.
2. Wide receiver — This spot has gone from three to one to two in our ratings. It would still be at the top if not for the Clark trade due to the continued uncertainty over Doug Baldwin’s health. There are plenty of receivers who figure to be available in the late first/early second rounds, so the Seahawks could easily trade down with one of its firsts and still get a receiver — D.K. Metcalf? A.J Brown? N’Keal Harry? — as well as a DL up high, which from this vantage point seems a logical way to go.
3. Secondary — One of the biggest questions the draft will answer for me is just how confident the Seahawks really are in a lot of the young defensive backs they have on their roster. The Seahawks could think they are set at safety with the trio of Bradley McDougald/Delano Hill/Tedric Thompson. Or maybe they decide they need to add another high draft pick to that mix. And Pete Carroll insisted at the league meetings he thought the team could find a suitable replacement for the departed Justin Coleman at nickelback in what it has on the roster in the likes of Akeem King, Kalan Reed and Jeremy Boykins.
And as Seahawks followers know, the Seahawks have never used higher than a third-round pick on a cornerback and has seemed content to use answers in late-round picks such as Richard Sherman, Tre Flowers, Byron Maxwell and Jeremy Lane, all taken in the fifth round or later. Adding at least one body to the nickel corner competition somehow seems a given. One guy I think they might have trouble bypassing is Florida safety Chauncey Gardner-Johnson, who had a 4.48 40 at the Combine.
4. Offensive line — I’ve had the OL at number four throughout the offseason and it remains here entering the draft. Seattle seems to have a set starting five with four returners and Mike Iupati replacing J.R. Sweezy. And the thought here is that Seattle likes quite a few of its younger players, such as Jamarco Jones, Jordan Simmons and Elijah Nkansah. But a wildcard could be what Seattle thinks will happen with RT Germain Ifedi, who has yet to have his option for the 2020 season picked up. Seattle might be tempted if it finds a player it thinks could become an heir apparent there (though George Fant and/or Jones could be that guy, as well).
5. Linebacker — This isn’t an immediate need with the re-signings of K.J. Wright and Mychal Kendricks, though it remains unclear if Kendricks will be available for the 2019 season (or how much). But the Seahawks could use some young depth, depending on how much faith they have in Shaquem Griffin and Austin Calitro. The trade of Clark seems to assure Bobby Wagner will be re-signed, so no real need for an heir apparent there. But the long-term outlook on the WLB spot remains in question and a good, young player who could back up both spots might be enticing.
6. Tight end — Number six before, number six now. And as I’ve written in the previous two ratings, the final four spots in this list feel like a pretty big drop in need from the rest. The exact timeline of when Will Dissly will return from his knee injury remains unclear. But the fact that Seahawks have done nothing at the tight-end spot seems to indicate confidence he’ll be ready, or that they can make do with what they have on the roster. That said, this is regarded as a good draft class for tight ends and given the position’s importance in the way the Seahawks like to play, expect them to take a close look just in case especially with Ed Dickson’s contract such that he could be a cap casualty either of the next two years and Nick Vannett is entering the final season of his rookie deal.
7. Running back — This moves up a spot mostly because quarterback is moving down a spot. The Seahawks lost Mike Davis in free agency but have kept everyone else of note. And I guess you could make a case that almost every running back Seattle has is still a little of question mark — can Chris Carson stay healthy and consistent? Can Rashaad Penny get healthy in year two and progress? Will the Seahawks ever get anything out of C.J. Prosise? But after the investment in Penny last year it seems hard to imagine Seattle spending much, if any, draft capital on an RB this year, though they’ll need to add one or two in undrafted free agency.
8. Quarterback — This was only going to be a spot of need of any type if Russell Wilson’s future remained uncertain. But with Wilson re-signed all the Seahawks have to worry about for a while is a backup QB they hope never sees the field. Seattle signed Paxton Lynch as a potential backup in January but will undoubtedly add one or two more QBs somehow before training camp, be it a veteran FA or a UDFA. But a draft pick seems unnecessary.
9. Kicker/punter — No needs here with Michael Dickson at punter and Jason Myers at kicker.