Trading Julian Peterson is the latest move to shake up the Seahawks draft. Seattle has new needs and new positions that are essentially filled. I'm not willing to pencil in Aaron Curry at four. Not just yet, but those who think he'll be too expensive or defeat the purpose of trading Peterson should remember early picks start out relatively cheap. Once upon a time Seattle signed Peterson despite having two very promising linebackers, so Ruskell isn't opposed to concentrating talent in the position. I don't consider Seattle players in the Curry sweepstakes just yet. Mostly because I don't see how he slips past Kansas City.
I consciously put in new names in each mock draft, even when I think one player (Michael Hamlin) has a better chance of being drafted than another (Terrance Taylor). I do that to introduce as many players as possible that I think Seattle might target. Here's a whole new batch, updated for recent moves and with four additional seventh round picks.
1. Eugene Monroe OT
Monroe makes too much sense for too many reasons too ignore. He's probably the best offensive tackle in the draft, though some prefer Jason Smith's potential. He's athletic, with great feet; a great fit in a classic zone blocking scheme, and is an already polished, even dominant pass blocker. Sean Locklear stays at right tackle. Ray Willis sticks at right guard. Walter Jones, if he can play, sticks at left tackle and Monroe develops under one of the all time greats while playing left guard.
2. James Laurinaitis LB
Seattle's new coaching staff has shown a willingness to be flexible about positions, and so though Laurinaitis has played inside his entire college career, I don't think that will discourage Seattle from drafting him if he's available at 37. Understanding that, Laurinaitis is so Tim Ruskell he might have to check his underwear. A three year starter at a major football force; as decorated as a war veteran; an incredibly aware team leader that does nothing but produce, Laurinaitis is a more athletic Tatupu 2.0. He has the coverage skills to play the weakside, and the size and bulldog mentality to take over LeRoy Hill's lead-blocker-bashing, decoy blitzer duties. Laurinaitis isn't real straight-line fast, but he's a very good athlete, and, well straight-line fast is immaterial for an outside linebacker.
3. Nate Davis QB
Davis defies many of the rules we associate with Ruskell, but he makes a lot of sense for Greg Knapp. He has a big arm and is mobile. He's knows how to roll out and is good throwing on the run. And he's really not someone you have to build an offense around. Davis gives Seattle something of a developmental quarterback, without actually pressuring Matt Hasselbeck or stopping Seattle from selecting another quarterback next year. Both Davis and former Seahawks quarterback Charlie Frye played in the MAC.
4. Antoine Caldwell C
Whether Chris Spencer fully develops or not, the question for Seattle is how best to replace him. Spencer is a free agent in 2010, and should he show anything as a center in 2009, he will be paid too-damn-much in free agency and effectively price himself out of Seattle. Should he struggle in 2009, it's fair to say Seattle writes off the losses. Either way, Spencer's days in Seattle are numbered. Luckily, this is an excellent draft for centers, and a good talent like Caldwell could easily fall into the fourth. Caldwell is a powerful blocker that could play guard in a pinch. Caldwell is a punishing run blocker, but not the most agile in space. I'm interested in how Seattle will institute its zone blocking scheme. Caldwell isn't a classic zone blocking lineman, but neither is Ray Willis or Mansfield Wrotto. He is an excellent center for any team that plans on running a lot.
5. Chris Clemons FS
It's hard to get a good read on Clemons. He played deep cover at Clemson, but somehow recorded 150 solo tackles in three seasons starting. Yet his reputation for coverage is excellent. He was considered a late round flier, a second prize to teammate Michael Hamlin, until he went off at the combine: 4.38 40, 37 ½" vert, 19 reps at 225. He hasn't been tagged with the workout wonder label and his stock hasn't soared, plus, at 24 as of September 15, he's not much of a developmental prospect, but when a player has production and ability, has excelled at a major conference and seemingly slipped through the cracks for no apparent reason, that's a good risk to take in the fifth.
6. Graham Harrell QB
Don't be surprised if Ruskell drafts multiple quarterbacks with Seattle's eleven picks. Not only will one maybe stick, but the team isn't just replacing Hasselbeck, it soon will be replacing Seneca Wallace, too. Harrell is the sober yin to Davis's raging yang. The more studious and methodical of the two, that produced at an exceptionally high level at Texas Tech, but isn't much as a raw prospect. It's unfair and rather ridiculous how much of Harrell's faded stock is the result of a poor Senior Bowl. Scouts feared the worst and got a tiny sample of it, using that sample to confirm their every doubt. Plenty of quarterbacks play poorly in the Senior Bowl. The simplified offense and total lack of timing or trust between quarterback and receiver make it a cornerback's playground. Harrell attempted 2,010 passes in college. He was only sacked 41 times. He completed 69.8% of his passes. His numbers were sterling before Michael Crabtree. He didn't fall apart against good competition the way Colt Brennan did and he faced more of it than Brennan ever did. Where Brennan is a questionable character, Harrell is a three time Academic All-Big 12. That doesn't make him an elite quarterback prospect, but it does merit consideration. At some point, no matter the system or the surrounding talent, a quarterback can only be so good.
7. Jeremiah Johnson RB
I sometimes wonder if once a draft or so, a running back slips through the cracks because they're legitimately slow off the blocks. They're not slow, they just suck at track. A good example of that might be Steve Slaton. Slaton's overall 40 time was 4.45, disappointing for a speed back. Certainly unimpressive in a class including Chris Johnson (4.24) and Darren McFadden (4.33). But Slaton's top speed matched Johnson's. They both traveled the final 20 yards in 1.83 seconds. Maybe Johnson accelerated better, but their 10 to 20 times are very close. Slaton ran it in 1.05 to Johnson's 1.01. No, really what sank Slaton was his time to the first 10: 1.57. Johnson: 1.40. Now, that could be a lot of things. It could be more important than their respective 40 times. But that's very hard to know. What's academic is that Slaton had very little trouble busting long runs in college, and was certainly not slow.
That description fits J. Johnson. Slaton and C. Johnson's top speeds are 10.93 yards per second; J. Johnson's is 10.47. That's a little less than a mile per hour difference. J. Johnson had plenty of long runs in college, including three of 70 plus in his final two games. I'm not saying he's a great running back or a great prospect, but I am saying his 40 time might not be a good indication of his playing speed. He produced at a very high level in the Pac 10. If he's devalued because he lacks speed, he's devalued foolishly.
8. Brannan Southerland FB: Good fullback prospect out of the SEC that lost time in 2008 with a broken foot.
9. Robert Francois OLB: Toolsy linebacker out of Boston College. Only 14 starts. A standout special teams player.
10. Nick Reed DE: The 2008 Pac 10 sacks leader, Reed is a man without a position. Can you say WEST COAST DEFENSE?
11. TJ Conley P: Conley homed in a dome and away-ed in mostly warm weather. Scouts aren't crazy about his hang time or mechanics. Conley led NCAA football with a 47.43 yard punting average, almost two yards better than second place. Also noted for his athleticism and ability to tackle down field.