A running back? Another offensive lineman? Some help in the secondary? How will the Seahawks use their first-round pick — or will they use it at all?
It’s never really not mock draft season anymore. Just about any hour of any day of any year, someone somewhere is projecting which NFL team will take which college player in that year’s NFL draft.
But with the Super Bowl and the 2017 season now receding into rearview mirror, draft season kicks into an even higher gear (the draft will be held April 26-28 with the Combine starting two weeks from now).
Which makes it a good time to review what some of the more noteworthy mock drafts are predicting for the Seahawks.
Recall that Seattle has the 18th pick in the first round, the only pick the team currently has in the first three rounds with the second-rounder shipped to the Jets as part of the Sheldon Richardson trade and the third-rounder now the property of Houston as part of the Duane Brown trade.
Anyone reading this likely needs little reminding that the Seahawks rarely use their own first-round pick — Seattle hasn’t drafted in the first round in its original spot since taking offensive lineman James Carpenter at No. 25 in 2011.
So yes, the biggest reach of all may be projecting the Seahawks to actually pick at No. 18.
Still, for now it’s what we know the Seahawks have. So here’s a review of what some of the better-known mock drafters are picking for the Seahawks along with my own comment.
What he said: “This is an easy fit for James, whose game is too similar to Kam Chancellor’s to ignore his potential in the Seahawks’ defense.”
My analysis: While often compared to Chancellor — James is 6-3, 211 pounds — he also has said Earl Thomas is one of his idols. Which indeed would seem to make him an almost perfect fit for the Seahawks, who as this is written aren’t certain if either Chancellor or Thomas will ever play for them again. Of course, the statuses of both Chancellor and Thomas could be a lot clearer in two-and-a-half months — maybe somehow Seattle’s need for a safety won’t be as great then as it appears it could be now. Seattle also invested fairly heavily in safeties in last year’s draft (Delano Hill in the third round and Tedric Thompson in the fourth) and could re-sign Bradley McDougald. But if Seattle really has traded Thomas by the time the draft rolls around or has a better feeling by then that Chancellor is truly done, a safety could make a lot of sense.
What he said: “Seattle is another team that is hard to project because of the amount of question marks about the future of its current players. One of those players is safety Kam Chancellor. If he’s not back next season, a player like James is stylistically similar.”
My analysis: As noted above, what happens over the next few months with Chancellor’s health and contract negotiations with Thomas — or at least the team’s feel of how they will go — figures to play heavily into whether Seattle would really take a safety this early. Many Seahawks fans have noted that Seattle hasn’t drafted defensive backs higher than the third round since Thomas in 2010. But that’s also in part because Seattle hasn’t had a real need to for quite a while. That could change this year.
The Pick: Josh Jackson, CB, Iowa.
What he said: “How lucky are the Seattle Seahawks that a potential top-10 pick at cornerback falls to pick No. 18 thanks to the run on quarterbacks? Josh Jackson from Iowa fits the team’s biggest need given the uncertain future of Richard Sherman in Seattle and will pair perfectly with Shaquill Griffin to form the nucleus of a new secondary. Jackson (6’1″) has the height and length the Seahawks crave at cornerback and also has shown the ball skills and playmaking to warrant an early selection with his eight interceptions in 2017. Jackson isn’t just numbers, though, as his film shows pro technique at the line of scrimmage and the speed to turn and run with speed at receiver. Predicting Seahawks’ draft picks is always difficult given the sway Pete Carroll has over the selection process, but in a pre-free-agency mock, the cornerback position should be the No. 1 focus.”
My analysis: As is the case at a lot of spots, what Seattle views as its needs in the draft will be impacted greatly by the next few months. Sherman said last week he thinks he’ll be ready for the start of training camp and hopes to sign a new deal with the team. If the Seahawks feel those are each likely outcomes then maybe it won’t view cornerback as the need it could be perceived to be now, particularly if Seattle also re-signs unrestricted free agent Byron Maxwell and restricted free agent Justin Coleman. My view at the moment is that given what we know now, a safety would make more sense in the first round than a cornerback.
The pick: Derrius Guice, RB, LSU
What he said: “The Seahawks already spent their second- and third-round picks of the 2018 draft, landing veteran defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson (Jets) and Duane Brown (Texans) in trades, leaving general manager John Schneider with essentially two choices here — either trade back to recoup picks or address the club’s anemic running game directly. The 5-11, 218-pound Guice possesses the combination of burst, balance through contact and toughness Seattle has lacked since Marshawn Lynch left town.”
My analysis: Few reading this need — or would even want — a recitation of all that went wrong with Seattle’s running game this season. But while the offensive line got and deserved the brunt of the criticism, coaches also made clear that the running backs collectively shouldered their fair share of the blame. As Rang notes, Guice looks like he could be the closest thing to Lynch in Seattle since Lynch himself. One thing to consider is that the running back class is regarded as exceptionally deep this year and the Seahawks may feel they can move down and acquire more picks and still get an immediate impact tailback a little later.
What he said: “A lot of indications Seattle could be headed toward a defensive reboot. At 6-1, 190 pounds and owning excellent ball skills — Jackson picked off eight passes last season — he could be a reasonable facsimile of Richard Sherman.”
My analysis: Another pick for Jackson. Jackson interestingly was just a one-year starter in college and was briefly moved to receiver in 2015 before settling for good at cornerback. The Seahawks, and all teams, will have to assess if Jackson is truly as good as his stats showed last year — he returned two of his picks for touchdowns, both in one game, the only player in Big Ten history to accomplish that feat.
What he said: “I mocked Clelin Ferrell to the Seahawks recently, but he’s going back to school. Fortunately for Seattle, this mock has Mike McGlinchey available, and I’d have to believe he’d be the pick if he’s still on the board. Right tackle is a major problem, so the Seahawks could move Germain Ifedi inside and start McGlinchey at his spot. Then, once Duane Brown moves on, McGlinchey could shift to the blind side.”
My analysis: Offensive line is an obvious area of need for the Seahawks despite all the draft and trade investments of the last few years and McGlinchy could make a lot of sense, especially if new offensive line coach Mike Solari is on board with the idea that Ifedi may be better off inside (a conclusion it’s thought that Tom Cable had also reached with Cable also thought likely to move Ifedi back to guard in 2018 if he had stayed as OL coach). George Fant is also expected back in 2018 and could also be tried on the right side. But Fant remains unproven and will be a free agent after the 2018 season so his presence shouldn’t preclude the thought that Seattle could look to take an offensive tackle this time around.
What he said: “Offensive line is the trendy mock pick for the Seahawks. How about wide receiver? They rightfully love Doug Baldwin but have mostly utilized smaller, speedier wideouts for Russell Wilson. With Sutton they add gargantuan size (6-4, 218) to the receiver group and provide Wilson with a serious red-zone threat if Jimmy Graham isn’t re-signed.”
My analysis: I’d agree with Trapasso that receiver might make more sense than some think, especially if not just Graham but also Paul Richardson departs in free agency (and that’s probably the safest bet at the moment). The Seahawks have been trying for years to add an impact big receiver and Sutton has also been really productive the last three years (albeit, largely outside of a Power Five conference). Almost certainly, either through free agency or the draft, Seattle is going to have to add a receiver or two and big receivers make sense with Baldwin and Tyler Lockett under contract next year but a lot of uncertainty otherwise.
What he said: “The thing to know about the Seahawks’ first-round pick is that they currently don’t have any picks on Day 2, so it makes the most sense for them to look to trade down a bit and pick up a second- or third-round pick to help address potential needs on the offensive line, defensive line and secondary. If they do deal down, Davenport should be a prime target to address a need at defensive end if Michael Bennett isn’t brought back, which he seems to expect. That is, if someone earlier than here doesn’t fall in love with the big edge rusher first.”
My analysis: White’s assessment also makes sense — and it may not be a good thing that all of these cases of potential Seattle needs have some validity since it points out that the Seahawks have more room for improvement this year than in seasons past. My best guess remains that Cliff Avril will be gone but Bennett will be back in 2018. But regardless, even if Bennett is back in 2018 he’s unlikely to be around much longer so a young, inexpensive pass rusher could definitely be the way Seattle goes.