The NFL draft is just three-and-a-half weeks away, with the league reiterating last week that the event will go on as scheduled despite the coronavirus outbreak.
Not that it will go on as usual. The league announced last week that its extravaganza in Las Vegas has been canceled and that it is still working out details for how the draft will unfold from April 23-25, but that it “will be conducted and televised in a way that reflects current conditions.”
A wiseacre (who me?) might say the real indication that it’s a different kind of draft would come if the Seahawks actually use their original first-round pick.
That’s something the Seahawks haven’t done since 2011 (when they chose James Carpenter). Since then they have either traded the pick for a veteran (Percy Harvin, Jimmy Graham) or traded down to get more picks later, such as last year when the Seahawks moved down from 21 to 30 to get two extra fourth-round picks, and then took L.J. Collier.
And it’s not just the Seahawks’ history that makes one think they would trade again. They have just seven picks after trading a fifth-rounder last week to Washington for cornerback Quinton Dunbar.
Seven would be the fewest picks for Seattle since general manager John Schneider and coach Pete Carroll arrived in 2010.
But at this time a year ago we were writing the same thing when the Seahawks had just four picks, then Schneider made a flurry of trades before and during the draft to turn that into 11.
With the draft closing in, and free agency largely in the rear-view mirror, it’s time for our yearly attempt at guessing what the Seahawks will do with each pick. So here it is, our annual Seahawks seven-round mock draft.
First round (No. 27)
My pick: DE K’Lavon Chaisson, LSU.
Comment: No matter what happens with Jadeveon Clowney or Everson Griffen, the Seahawks need to stockpile some young pass rushers. Chaisson is an intriguing, if hardly risk-free, prospect who many draftniks might be quick to protest wouldn’t still be available at 27. True, he is often in the 17-21 range in mock drafts. But not in all —USA Today’s Doug Farrar has Chaisson at 29 in his latest mock, former Seahawk Michael Robinson pegged him going 28 to Baltimore as did the LA Times, and Pro Football Focus has him at 46 on its Big Board. And the perception that Chaisson may need some time to develop could make him drop. If he’s not here, then let’s go with the best available pass rusher here — Penn State’s Yetur Gross-Matos would be an obvious selection here. But if Chaisson were to fall, he could be a home run for Seattle. Any description of his play includes phrases such as “lightning-quick off the snap” and “great tools,” though some wonder why he had just 9.5 sacks in three years at LSU (one of which, 2018, he essentially missed due to a knee injury). Some also think he’s a better fit as an outside linebacker in a 3-4 scheme. But the Seahawks are all about maximizing a player’s best qualities, and we know they like diamonds in the rough. A player who seems like a young Bruce Irvin would be a perfect fit to join the return of the real Irvin to spice up Seattle’s pass rush.
Second round (No. 59)
My pick: WR Michael Pittman Jr., USC.
Comment: Yeah, the Seahawks signed Phillip Dorsett and tendered David Moore (though it’s worth remembering that salary is not guaranteed), but the Seahawks can use more playmakers, and a receiver in the second round makes a ton of sense given the depth of the receivers available this year. Pittman also seems like a really good fit to add to the 5-foot-10, 192-pound Dorsett, whose main forte is his speed. The 6-4, 223-pound Pittman, meanwhile, is known more for his physicality, hands (Sports Info Solutions lists him with just five drops on 260 targets at USC) and ability/willingness to block.
Second round (No. 64)
My pick: OT Isaiah Wilson, Georgia.
Comment: Seattle added two free-agent tackles in free agency — Brandon Shell and Cedrig Ogbuehi. But they are two- and one-year contracts, respectively, and with Duane Brown also now having just two years left on his deal, adding a young tackle to the mix would seem a priority, especially in a year the draft is regarded as especially good in offensive tackles. Wilson is huge, measuring 6-6 and 350 pounds at the combine, and regarded as better as a run blocker than in protection. All of which makes him sound like a good project to groom for a year or two behind the vets.
Third round (No. 101)
My pick: DE Bradlee Anae, Utah.
Comment: Another edge rusher? I’m not sure Seattle can add enough right now. And Anae — who was the Morris Trophy winner in the Pac-12, voted as the best defensive lineman by the conference’s offensive linemen — is a good counter to Chaisson. Where Chaisson is regarded as having exceptional physical gifts but with questions about his production, Anae is sort of the opposite — he had 29 sacks at Utah and 28 in the last three years, but some question his athleticism. His highlight tape, though, reveals a player with a really good motor, and we know the Seahawks like their Utes.
Fourth round (No. 133)
My pick: RB A.J. Dillon, Boston College.
Comment: Injury issues to Chris Carson and Rashaad Penny — and that Carson is entering the final year of his rookie deal — make adding a running back or two logical. Dillon is a really intriguing player, especially for the way Carroll likes to play. Dillon measured 6-0, 247 at the scouting combine, and any scouting report notes how difficult he was to tackle at BC. He’s not regarded as a good pass catcher, but all of Seattle’s running backs are, so adding a bruising mauler to handle some tough runs seems like a perfect complement.
Fourth round (No. 144)
My pick: TE Hunter Bryant, Washington.
Comment: Doesn’t Seattle have enough tight ends, you may ask? No doubt, Seattle seems full on the surface with the addition of veteran Greg Olsen, the return of Will Dissly and with Jacob Hollister and Luke Willson returning, and Ed Dickson remaining on the roster for now. But Olsen is on a one-year deal, Hollister was tendered as a restricted free agent (meaning he’s on a one-year deal) and Dissly has had two significant injuries in two seasons. So adding another to the mix isn’t out of the question. Some might also question if Bryant would last this long. But it’s a strong year for tight ends, and Bryant didn’t wow at the combine with his 40-yard-dash time. Some teams may be concerned about his injury history, so he could be available here, and worth a shot.
Sixth round (No. 214)
My pick: QB Steven Montez, Colorado.
Comment: The Seahawks have drafted only one QB since taking Russell Wilson in 2012 — Alex McGough in the seventh round in 2018. Maybe it’s time to take another to try to find a backup who can hang around for a while. Montez has some intriguing size (6-4, 231) and rushed for 960 yards in college. Wrote Athlon’s: “Play-action, deep-shot teams will be interested in Montez as a developmental prospect.” Sounds pretty much like what Seattle may be seeking.