The NFL draft is set to begin with the first round on April 25.
But a Seahawks fan can hardly be blamed for responding “no, it’ll really start for us on April 26.’’
We all know the drill by now — the Seahawks like to trade down to accumulate more picks. They haven’t used their original first-round pick since 2011, when they selected James Carpenter at 25th overall.
That history makes trying to figure out what the Seahawks might do in any draft especially challenging, if not an exercise in futility.
But with the draft now just a little over three weeks away — and now that we are through the major part of free agency — it’s as good of a time as any to take our annual shot in the dark at guessing what the Seahawks might do.
As another reminder, at the moment the Seahawks have just four picks, which also only further fuels the idea that Seattle will trade down to get more.
But for now, four is what they have, so four is what we will give them here, while also reviewing Seattle’s history, and the overall NFL history, at each spot.
Round 1: No. 21 overall
Seahawks history: The Seahawks have made the 21st pick just once, selecting guard Pete Kendall in 1996. Kendall went on to have a solid career, becoming a full-time starter for the Seahawks in his first season and starting every game from 1997-2000 and then playing through 2008 with the Cardinals, Jets and Washington. But Seahawks fans will always wonder what might have been had then-coach Dennis Erickson instead taken one of his former players at the University of Miami who went 26th to the Baltimore Ravens — linebacker Ray Lewis.
NFL history: Two Hall of Famers have been picked 21st, both receivers — Lynn Swann in 1974 and Randy Moss in 1998. So maybe that’s a good omen if Seattle wants to go the receiver route this year. But showing the difficulty of nailing even first-round picks, only seven of the 89 players taken with the 21st pick in either the NFL or AFL drafts have ever been named All-Pro. Twenty-five, though, at least made one Pro Bowl. And recent history isn’t bad — Chandler Jones, Ha Ha Clinton-Dix and Tyler Eifert, all drafted No. 21 since 2012, have all made at least one Pro Bowl.
My pick: Receiver N’Keal Harry, Arizona State.
Comment: There are a lot of ways Seattle could go here, and maybe the most likely — as mentioned above — is trading down (and after his slower-than-expected 40 time earlier this week, maybe the Seahawks could trade down and get Washington safety Taylor Rapp). But if they stay at 21, a receiver could seem a really tempting option, especially a bigger one such as Harry, who measured 6 feet, 2 inches and 228 pounds at the NFL combine, where he also posted a 38.5 vertical leap.
The Sports Info Solutions Football Rookie Handbook describes Harry as projecting “to be a No. 1 (receiver) by his second year in the NFL’’ and best suited for the outside. That’s exactly what Seattle could use now to complement the Tyler Lockett-Doug Baldwin duo, while also giving Seattle a premier receiver in a few years when Baldwin likely moves on.
Here’s another eye-catching sentence from the SIS book on Harry: “Harry is a very tough competitor and it shows in his run blocking. He is a willing and violent blocker.’’ That’s a necessity for a receiver in the offense Pete Carroll runs. Harry also is a good returner, and could be an immediate option as a kickoff returner for Seattle.
Round 3: No. 84 overall
Seahawks history: Seattle has used the 84th pick just once, on tackle Sean Locklear in 2004. Locklear started 78 games for Seattle from 2005-10, including 15 games at right tackle in the 2005 season, when the Seahawks advanced to the Super Bowl.
NFL history: So yeah, it gets tough quickly to find real impact players in draft. Just two of 49 players taken 84th overall since the AFL-NFL merger in 1970 have been named All-Pro (linebacker Tim Harris, cornerback Audray McMillian, each once) and just four have made a Pro Bowl (led by defensive end Charles Mann, a standout with Washington in the Joe Gibbs era and probably the best player picked at this spot in the post-merger era, who made the Pro Bowl four times). But there have been some decent players taken here in recent years, including receiver Chris Godwin in 2017 (93 receptions and eight TDs the last two years with Tampa Bay), linebacker Jordan Hicks (Eagles, but now with the Cardinals) and former UW standout Mason Foster (taken by Tampa Bay in 2011 and with 92 starts in eight seasons).
My pick: Safety Juan Thornhill, Virginia.
Comment: Seattle, at the moment, has no second-round pick thanks to the Duane Brown trade, so the Seahawks could have to wait a while to pick again if they stay at 21. If they do, Thornhill — who has a pre-draft visit scheduled with Seattle — could make a ton of sense here. He’s 6 feet, 205 pounds and played all over in Virginia’s defense, and could be used at cornerback, either safety spot — he played some single-high safety at Virginia — and maybe even nickel. That’s what Seattle could use — another young player who could emerge to help at any number of spots in the secondary.
Round 4: No. 124 overall
Seahawks history: The only time the Seahawks have picked here came in 2007, guard Mansfield Wrotto out of Georgia Tech. Wrotto was out of the NFL by 2011.
NFL history: The best player taken here since the merger is tight end Ben Coates in 1991 by the Patriots. Coates made five straight Pro Bowls, two while playing for Carroll. The best recent pick is linebacker Kwon Alexander by Tampa Bay in 2015 — he is one of only three players taken at this spot since the merger to make a Pro Bowl. Alexander, though, is the only player taken here since 2009 to emerge as a consistent starter.
My pick: End/linebacker Maxx Crosby, Eastern Michigan.
Comment: Crosby projects as an edge rusher, something the Seahawks could definitely use more of, having had 18.5 sacks his final two seasons at EMU. Listed at 247 out of college, he was 255 at the combine, where he also had the second-best three-cone time for all defensive linemen (6.89). “One of the more interesting developmental prospects in the draft,’’ wrote Athlon Sports in its NFL draft guide. That may be about the best you can hope for at this spot.
Round 5: No. 159 overall
Seahawks history: Seattle’s only pick here is linebacker Jeb Huckeba in 2005. Huckeba never played a down in the NFL.
NFL history: The best player taken here is safety Jake Scott by Miami in 1970. Scott was MVP of Super Bowl VII and was named All-Pro twice — twice as many as everyone else ever taken here. The only other All-Pro pick at 159 is linebacker Bryce Paup (1990, Green Bay). Only four players taken since 1996 have become full-time starters for as much as one season, via Pro Football Reference, the most recent being defensive back Micah Hyde (Green Bay, 2013).
My pick: DL Greg Gaines, Washington.
Comment: The Seahawks could use some depth inside after losing Shamar Stephen in free agency — Poona Ford could well step into a starting role as the other tackle alongside Jarran Reed but you always need more. Gaines won the Morris Trophy as the best defensive lineman in the Pac-12 last year as voted on by the conference’s offensive linemen, which says quite a bit. And almost every analysis of Gaines comes with the phrase “high motor’’ included somewhere. Carroll loves having as many of those kinds of guys around as possible. Seattle needs to improve its run defenses in 2019 and Gaines seems like a player who could provide some immediate help.