It’s almost exactly three months until the start of the NFL draft in Las Vegas. The first round is April 23 with the draft continuing April 24-25.
A lot will happen between now and then — will Jadeveon Clowney re-sign with the Seahawks? Jarran Reed? Could there be a surprise move or two through free agency and/or trades that could vastly reshape the Seahawks?
The answers to those questions could change the Seahawks’ outlook heading into the draft.
But trying to decipher what the Seahawks may do with their first pick at No. 27 — even if we know the possibility is high that they may trade it based on their history of often doing so — is part of the fun of it all.
So, let’s take a look at what some of the most recent mock drafts project for the Seahawks.
The pick: Cornerback C.J. Henderson, Florida.
What he said: “It’s clear the Seahawks need to upgrade their defense and Henderson is a long, physical corner who fits Seattle’s physical style. He had a better 2018 than 2019 campaign, but he still flashed at times last season, especially in man coverage, and he’s only going to get better.”
Comment: Given the issues the Seahawks had defending the pass this season, but especially in the playoffs against the Packers, expect to see a lot of people project them to take a corner.
The pick: Defensive tackle Ross Blacklock, TCU.
Comment: Another defensive lineman from TCU may not excite the fan base. But Blacklock appears to be a fast-riser in this class, entering the year with little fanfare after missing 2018 due to injury but being named All-Big-12. The Seahawks need interior line help regardless of what happens with Reed.
The pick: Edge rusher Julian Okwara, Notre Dame.
What he said: “Only the Dolphins (23) recorded fewer sacks than the Seahawks (28) in 2019 and both Jadeveon Clowney and Ezekiel Ansah are potential free agents. Okwara’s season was cut short (fibula) and he has lacked consistency, but he’s a long and explosive athlete that has racked up 13.5 sacks and 19.5 TFL in 22 games over the past two seasons.”
Comment: The Seahawks need as many pass rushers as it can get this offseason regardless of who returns (and it’s hard to see Ansah coming back). Okwara, a native of London raised in Nigeria, is listed at 6-4, 248.
The pick: Edge rusher Curtis Weaver, Boise State.
What he said: “The Seahawks will have a hard time keeping pending free agent Jadeveon Clowney, who seems intent on breaking the bank with any contender. Weaver (6-3, 265 pounds) was an absolute beast on the blue turf with 13.5 sacks in 14 games in his final college season.”
Comment: Ditto what I said above. Weaver set the Mountain West Conference career record with 34 sacks in just three seasons.
The pick: Cornerback Bryce Hall, Virginia.
What he said: “Get used to seeing long, rangy corners mocked to Seattle after seeing Tre Flowers get torched by Davante Adams last weekend. The Seahawks simply cannot expect to seriously compete for a Super Bowl in the loaded NFC with the corners they have at the moment.”
Comment: At 6-1, 200 Hall has the requisite size to play outside corner and there are lots of comments about his length, which the Seahawks covet. Played just six games this year because of an ankle injury.
The pick: Okwara.
What he said: “Chances are the Seahawks won’t be picking here on draft weekend considering general manager John Schneider’s usual transactional gymnastics. If the Seahawks happen to stay at No. 27, they could target a pass rusher. Okwara should test off the charts with the analytics community, and good coaching will take advantage of his traits.”
Comment: Okwara was reported to have 93 QB pressures the last two years despite playing just nine games last season due to injury.
The pick: Cornerback Trevon Diggs, Alabama.
What he said: Actually, there was no comment on why the Seahawks would take Diggs.
Comment: Yep, another corner slotted for Seattle — that last game really left an impression. Diggs is the younger brother of receiver Stefon Diggs of the Vikings and at 6-2, 207 checks the size box. He also has experience with returns, primarily with punts.
The pick: Defensive end/OLB K’Lavon Chaisson, LSU.
What he said: “Even if Jadeveon Clowney re-signs — and that’s not a given — Seattle still looks to be lacking off the edge after mustering just 28 sacks in 2019. Chaisson has the bend and burst that NFL teams will make a bet on.”
Comment: Chaisson came up big at the end of the season with 4.5 sacks in LSU’s last three games including two against Oklahoma to earn defensive MVP honors of the College Football Playoff semifinal. Is listed at 6-4, 250 and was also named a team captain as a 20-year-old redshirt sophomore.
The pick: Guard Shane Lemieux, Oregon.
What he said: “Will this finally be the year the Seahawks fix their offensive line, so that Russell Wilson can be appropriately protected? Charlie Campbell has reported in the NFL Hot Press that Shane Lemieux has impressed evaluators enough that he could end up being chosen in the first round.”
Comment: Hey finally some offense! Lemieux played at West Valley High in Yakima, though he didn’t have an offer from UW, and started all 52 games in his Oregon career. Would the Seahawks take a guard this high? Well, Mike Iupati is a free agent and D.J. Fluker could be a salary-cap casualty as Seattle could save $3 million if he were released.
The pick: Safety Xavier McKinney, Alabama.
What they said: “If it feels like Russell Wilson is always scrambling for his life, it’s because he is. Pro Football Focus says he’s faced pressure on 42% of his drop backs since entering the NFL in 2012, and no other qualifier has a rate over 40%. There’s a big offensive-line need here, but after watching Davante Adams destroy the Seahawks secondary in the playoff loss, the move here was the talented McKinney.”
Comment: Safety doesn’t seem like Seattle’s biggest need with veterans Bradley McDougald and Quandre Diggs under contract for 2020 and last year’s second-round pick Marquise Blair waiting in the wings. But the 6-1, 200-pound McKinney has played some nickel in doing a bit of everything for the Crimson Tide. And McDougald has just one year left on his deal and the Seahawks could save roughly $4 million if he were released. They certainly need upgrades in the secondary, so you never know.