Rating the Seahawks' position of needs as the NFL draft kicks off Thursday.
With the NFL draft now just a day away —- the first round is Thursday with rounds two and three on Friday and rounds 4-7 on Saturday – it’s time to review the positions Seattle might target.
And what better way to do so than by rating the Seahawks’ positions of need? So here we go.
1. Offensive line: While Seattle coach Pete Carroll and general manager John Schneider are sounding a more confident tone than outsiders about the current state of the line — probably both because that’s their personality and also because they really think it given the second-half offensive turnaround — there’s no question the Seahawks have to add to the line in the draft. That doesn’t mean Seattle’s first pick will be an offensive lineman. But if a player such as Alabama center Ryan Kelly or maybe Texas A&M tackle Germain Ifedi is there, then it maybe/likely will be. And regardless of when Seattle picks its first offensive lineman, it’ll be an upset if Seattle doesn’t get at least two, with odds being probably better than even the Seahawks could pick three.
2. Defensive line: Seattle suffered two significant losses in free agency on defense — nose tackle Brandon Mebane (San Diego) and Bruce Irvin (Oakland), who was officially a linebacker but whose most vital contribution was often as a rush end in the nickel package. The Seahawks signed free agent Sealver Siliga to help replace Mebane but has been continuing to look for additional reinforcements up front. And given that defensive tackle may be the strongest position in the draft, the Seahawks seem likely to add a tackle, if not also an end who could help replace some of Irvin’s pass rushing.
3. Running back: Marshawn Lynch has retired, and while the team is confident Thomas Rawls will be ready for the start of the season, the Seahawks need some depth at tailback as well as a player who could maybe help spell Rawls and fill the third-down back role that Fred Jackson held last season and Robert Turbin in previous years. Plus, there are some intriguing names who could be available for Seattle, particularly in the three picks the Seahawks have from 90 to 124. The Seahawks also need some fullbacks, though they might wait until after the draft to sign some undrafted free agents at that spot.
4. Linebacker: Seattle has just six linebackers on its current roster and needs to not only replace Irvin but also simply add some young depth at a key spot. Linebackers also tend to be particularly valuable on special teams, another area where the Seahawks are always looking for more difference makers.
5. Defensive back: The Seahawks have taken at least one cornerback in every draft of the Pete Carroll/John Schneider era, and while it could be argued the position isn’t necessarily a huge need after the re-signing of Jeremy Lane and the return of Brandon Browner, the Seahawks may well want to add another body to what figures to be a stiff training camp competition among the likes of Tharold Simon, Tye Smith, Mohammed Seisay and Marcus Burley for the final couple spots on the 53-man roster. Seattle might also look for a player to add to the backup safety competition, though the team seems really high on Kelcie McCray at strong safety.
6. Receiver: The re-signing of Jermaine Kearse in free agency — something that appeared unlikely when the signing period began — helped solidify the receiving corps. And with a number of other intriguing young players on the roster (such as former UW standouts Kevin Smith and Kasen Williams) there doesn’t appear the urgency to add to this spot with an early pick that there was the last two years. Still, depending on how the draft unfolds it wouldn’t be a surprise if the Seahawks added one — Seattle has drafted at least one in all but one of the previous six Schneider/Carroll drafts.
7. Tight end: Seattle appears set for 2016 at tight end, assuming Jimmy Graham returns to health as well as the team has indicated he will. But it’s worth noting that Luke Willson will be a free agent after the 2016 season and Seattle could look to get a young player or two in the system — via the draft or undrafted free agency — as options down the road if needed.
8. Quarterback: The Seahawks obviously don’t need a starter. But Tarvaris Jackson is still deciding if he wants the backup role for another season. He also just turned 33 years old. Put those together and the Seahawks could decide to add a quarterback, particularly if an especially intriguing player lands in their lap in the late rounds.
9. Kickers/specialists: The Seahawks are set with kicker Steven Hauschka and punter Jon Ryan. There is a thought, though, that kickers will become a little more valuable due to the longer PAT and that is leading to a thought that there could be more kickers drafted in coming seasons. Seattle has drafted just four kickers and six punters in its history and none of either since 2008. Lockett also eliminates any real need to draft anyone specifically as a returner.