Now on the clock... The Seattle Seahawks. And with the 4th pick in the 2009 NFL draft, the Seahawks select...
I have NO IDEA. Honestly. I have been reading draft news daily from every possible source, following Seahawks blogs, reading up on every possible article and expert and pundit around. Most are dead wrong or guessing. I say pay close heed to Rob Rang over at CBS, we used to sit in the back of college English classes at Central Washington talking shop... now he's doing it for a paycheck. Lucky bastard.
It may be easier, instead of covering who the Hawks will draft, to look at who they will not select, and work out from there. Not under consideration? One guy who many teams have going to the Seahawks, Eugene Monroe. I'm not sure why, maybe it's the knee, maybe it is a new system being implemented wanting more aggressive run blockers, but Seattle was one of 2 teams NOT to go to Virginia's Pro Day. That's a pretty compelling sign.
Also not a prayer? Oft cited to the Hawks BJ Raji. GM Tim Ruskell loves overachievers and character guys, and he is not afraid to reach if he sees value, common rankings be damned. BJ is a pot-smoking character risk with motivational concerns, so expect the Hawks to pass.
I see the Seahawks as the most difficult team in the top of the draft to discern what they are going to do. Ruskell could go ANY direction. Much has been written in Seahawk corners about the Mark Sanchez interest being a smokescreen trying to drive up trade value. I think in an ideal world the team would like to trade down. They would like nothing better, I believe, than Denver's 2 first rounders for the rights to Sanchez. I believe if they do go QB, it is Sanchez, regardless of what Detroit does, I believe we have him ranked higher than Stafford. I could also see us drafting Sanchez and trading him to someone a few picks down the road for perhaps a 1st, 2nd and 3rd or some such, as opposed to the "two first" being equivalent to a top 5 pick. We all know the slotting draft chart is useless, so it is a matter of present value for the teams involved, who knows what that entails.
If they can manage to pull the trade for two firsts, I wouldn't be surprised if they then trade one of those down multiple additional times. I foresee the Hawks being incredibly aggressive in the trade front, if possible.
Another sexy trade idea I heard was with Washington; their first this year and next and Jason Cambell for the 4th. I believe if this is possible, the Hawks would prefer a QB like Cambell with professional experience to groom into Hass' successor above a rookie. The price may be too high on the Skins side, and that means it may involve some other variation of tradeable pieces to make happen.
Also, with a new staff coming in implementing new offensive and defensive strategies, don't be completely shocked to see a trade or two involving actual players for picks. It would be an interesting way to move talent that no longer fits philosophy, though that will likely involve day 2 picks not connecting to the top of the board selection.
In regard to needs, the Hawks need a LB but have had tremendous success in later rounds (Tatupu, Hill) and this is a deep LB draft. In theory that eliminates Curry, but he is a great talent AND character guy-- right up Ruskell's alley. Also, the talk is all of him being a rush-backer and can he do it? For Seattle it doesn't matter. With Peterson gone, Leroy Hill will slide back to his natural strong side position, and Curry would move to the weakside, where his coverage skills and lateral quickness would be utilized. This would be a great pickup, but I feel our needs are more on the offensive side of the ball and that is an awful lot of money to pay to a weakside LB and a LB corps in general.
Other D needs? There is some talk of a need to upgrade the secondary a little, but that might be more from fans than from the management. The team did a great job improving the DLine in the offseason through trade and signing (Cory Redding, Colin Cole), and has young talent on the outsides (Darryl Tapp age 24, Lawrence Jackson age 23, Baraka Atkins age 24) that it needs to give at least another year of development to see what they can do.
What needs are people talking of for the Hawks offense? O Line in general, particularly the interior, a QB of the future, a young elite level WR, and RB.
Walter Jones is aging and coming off the dangerous microfracture surgery, but RT Sean Locklear is the designated replacement in waiting. His money is somewhat between a RT and LT, so keeping him at RT while picking a top 5 LT is a questionable decision cap-wise. I know the Hawks like Jason Smith, and I believe he is the only of the "big four" they would consider, but most mocks have him going 2nd to the Rams, and personally I agree with that.
We probably need an elite interior linemen, but those players (Ungar/Mack/Robinson, etc) are all late 1st/early 2nd round guys. There is talk of an heir at QB, but I personally feel that is an awful lot of money to invest in a backup to your franchise's most successful QB ever, a QB who likely if healthy has 3 good years left. WR? What a mess last year. A talented but oft injured squad added Housh, but selective Crabtree would be very costly, putting a lot of money toward the WR position. There are also some character concerns with Crabtree, which is a negative in the Ruskell worldview. In addition, Ruskell has a shaky past history with 1st round WR's, he prefers not to draft them early and has seen little success when he has. Add to that the fact that the spread offense transition to the NFL could be a slow one, and you have the makings of a pass on Crabtree's talent.
So where does that leave us? Remember I said Ruskell creates his own board and doesn't care about the popular consensus. This has led us to trade up in the 2nd round for Lofa Tatupu and John Carlson, both times earning the ire of Mr. Big Hair Mel Kiper Jr, and both times getting an immediate starter. The team is in flux, playing for now while trying to build for the future at the same time. I expect a guy who will be able to come in and play as a near every-down player to be selected.
The most likely guys? It all depends on the trade possibilities. If Ruskell can slide down 5-10 spots, I believe he will. If not, here's what we have: 1) Jason Smith if he drops. 2) Aaron Curry, probably too great a talent to pass up. 3) Malcolm Jennings. A reach from slotting perspective, but a classic Ruskell guy. 4) Mark Sanchez. 5) Crabtree.
Also, I want to name drop a darkhorse as well. On more name to throw out there that would make people's jaws drop at the 4th spot. Beanie Wells. Perhaps too early, but a running game upgrade might just be what the Doc ordered.
Needless to say, I am excited and worried. I don't want a QB heir apparent, I want excitement and drama, and of course a guy to immediately help us reclaim our position as one of the elites in the NFC. A trade down would be thrilling, but regardless I think we are one of the movers and shakers this year, and I am excited to see what happens...