The NFL draft begins to take center stage next week as teams gather in Indianapolis for the annual scouting combine.
The Seahawks head there holding the 27th choice in the first round and 59 and 64 in the second. The NFL is expected to soon announce compensatory picks for free agents lost, with Seattle generally expected to get three (for losing Earl Thomas and Justin Coleman, explained here). Once the comp picks are announced, the entire seven-round (256-pick) draft order will be set.
Yes, there’s probably a really good chance Seattle will trade, impacting where it drafts and how many choices it will have.
But for now, the 27th pick is what they have.
As the combine nears, here’s a look at what some mock drafts project for Seattle, as well as my comments.
The pick: Defensive end Yetur Gross-Matos, Penn State.
What he said: “Jadeveon Clowney was dominant at times but he was mostly going it alone. Both he and Ziggy Ansah are headed for free agency and the Seahawks desperately need to bolster their pass rush. Gross-Matos is a physical freak who has yet to scratch the surface on just how good he can be.”
Condotta’s comment: What Seattle — and every other team — does in free agency will, of course, heavily influence how it will approach the draft. But even if Clowney returns, Seattle can use help on the defensive line and Gross-Matos makes some sense. NFL.com’s scouting report sees him as a good fit in a 4-3. As described in this NFL.com story, he also has overcome some significant family tragedy to get to where he is today.
The pick: Defensive lineman Raekwon Davis, Alabama.
What he said: “Free agency could end up gutting Seattle’s defensive front, so don’t be surprised if that’s where they decide to go with this pick. They love versatility up front, which could make Davis an ideal target thanks to his massive frame and ability to line up anywhere on the defensive line. If he reaches his full potential, he’ll look like a huge steal this late.”
Condotta’s comment: Easterling also made three other choices for the Seahawks: Kentucky OL Logan Stenberg at 59; Virginia CB Bryce Hall at 64; and Florida edge rusher Jabari Zuniga at 123. That’s a haul that, in terms of positional needs, makes a ton of sense.
The pick: Cornerback Jeff Gladney, Texas Christian.
What he said: “Finishing bottom six, allowing 263.9 pass yards per game, Seattle needs help in its secondary. Although Tre Flowers, Shaquill Griffin, and Ugo Amadi are under contract — they are all a work in progress. After four seasons at TCU, playing in the pass-happy Big 12 Conference, Jeff Gladney is a versatile cornerback and appears NFL ready. Physical and fast, Gladney is a disrupter at the catch point as he was credited with 26 pass breakups during his final two seasons. Reliable and adept in man coverage, Gladney projects as a three down player.
Condotta’s comment: Gladney seems a player for whom the measurements at the combine will be key. I’ve seen him listed anywhere from 5 foot 10 to six feet (and generally at 183 pounds). And Seattle famously prefers its corners to have an arm length of 32 inches or greater, so that could be a key for Gladney, too. Also, as avid Seattle draft followers know, the Seahawks haven’t taken a corner earlier than the third round in the Pete Carroll/John Schneider era (Griffin in 2017). Gladney also is said by many to project best as a nickel corner. Seattle could use one of those, but would it use a pick this early to get one?
The pick: Cornerback Kristian Fulton, Louisiana State.
What he said: “Fulton has size and is good in press coverage. His best attribute is the fact that he doesn’t shy away from contact.”
Condotta’s comment: As noted above, a corner in the first round would break Carroll/Schneider tendencies. And this note in his NFL.com seems a little ominous: “Fulton showed improvement throughout the year, but his confidence has been an issue at times. When the pros and cons are balanced, he appears to be a good backup with a chance to work up the ladder.”
The pick: Gross-Matos, Penn State.
What he said: “I wanted to give the Seahawks a running back just to troll Seahawks Twitter, but the reality is they have to get better at rushing the passer and at stopping the run. Adding YGM would do that for them.”
Condotta’s comment: As we’ll see, a lot of people are thinking Gross-Matos would be a good fit for Seattle.
The pick: Gross-Matos, Penn State.
What he said: “The ex-Penn State standout has the length, athleticism and burst Seattle covets in an edge rusher.”
Condotta’s comment: Another vote for Gross-Matos.
The pick: Defensive lineman Marlon Davidson, Auburn.
What he said:” It’s never easy to predict what the Seattle Seahawks will do in a mock draft this far out, but it’s easy to look at free agents and weak points and connect some dots. That’s what we’re doing here.
“Jarran Reed has been good in spurts, but he’s a free agent and is coming off a season shortened by suspension. Poona Ford is rock solid and will be back, but the team needs a pass-rushing presence on the defensive line that Reed and 2019 first-rounder L.J. Collier haven’t generated. Even if Jadeveon Clowney is back from free agency, interior pass rush is needed.
“Auburn’s Marlon Davidson is scheme friendly and can play anywhere from a 5-technique to an inside shade. He’s versatile, powerful and very quick off the ball. At 6’3″ and almost 300 pounds, he’s a full meal deal for offensive guards and centers to handle with his combination of quickness and power. In Seattle, paired with Ford and Clowney, he could be special as a rookie.”
Condotta’s comment: Miller produced a full seven-round draft and also had these picks for Seattle (with many including what are his projections for what Seattle could get in comp picks, which as noted have not yet been officially awarded).
Here are those picks:
59. SEAHAWKS: WR Michael Pittman Jr., USC
63. SEAHAWKS (SF): CB Cameron Dantzler, Mississippi State
100 SEAHAWKS: IOL Ben Bredeson, Michigan
130. SEAHAWKS: S Jared Mayden, Alabama
143. SEAHAWKS: EDGE Alton Robinson, Syracuse
155. SEAHAWKS (JAX): EDGE James Smith-Williams, North Carolina State
215. SEAHAWKS: WR Aaron Fuller, Washington
242. SEAHAWKS: S Levonta Taylor, Florida State
Miller gives Seattle two receivers, which makes sense given Seattle’s need to find a reliable third threat behind Tyler Lockett and DK Metcalf. Otherwise, it’s mostly beefing up the defensive line and secondary, which are also obvious areas of needed improvement for the Seahawks.
The pick: Cornerback Trevon Diggs, Alabama.
What he said: “The Seahawks love long corners as much as any team in the league, and Diggs is one of the longest to come out in recent memory. Length is one thing, but knowing how to use it is another. And Diggs proved he could do that this past season, as he allowed a 44.5 passer rating against.”
Condotta’s comment: Diggs is the younger brother of receiver Stefon Diggs of the Vikings. His NFL.com profile also states this: “He’s a future starting press-man corner with the hands and ball tracking to take it away and should benefit from more help over the top as a pro. Future consideration at free safety is possible considering his size and skill set.” Renner also has Seattle taking offensive tackle Ben Bartch of St. John’s and defensive tackle Justin Madubuike of Texas A&M in the second round. Renner wrote: “Bartch very much looked like he belonged at the Senior Bowl, as he won 58% of his reps in the one-on-ones throughout the week. He was easily one of the most powerful dudes in attendance and could be starting in the league sooner rather than later.” And of Madubuike: “Madubuike has plus quickness for the position but saw his grade stagnate a bit in 2019. After putting up 44 pressures in 2018, Madubuike only managed 41 this past season.”