Lose and You're in (the Quarterback Sweepstakes)

We will spend the rest of the week giving this weekend's matchup its due. I look at the Seahawks hosting the Rams as kind of like a bowl game. It's not the two best teams, but it is two evenly matched teams playing for pride and validation of their season. Neither team really earned their way into this position, and a lot of politics and convention made this matchup possible, but at least the Seahawks are playing meaningful football for a weekend and against an opponent roughly of the same ability. It's not meaningless, it's not a sure loss, and it's not a sure win, and that elevates this weekend's game above 11 of the 15 games Seattle has played. Week two's blowout loss to the Broncos didn't seem like a sure loss until the second quarter, and so at least we had the anticipation.

If Seattle loses, well that's not so bad either. Unlike a bowl game, losing helps recruiting. How much, well, let's see how last weekend's slate of games has changed Seattle's draft outlook.

1. Panthers

Carolina has clinched the first overall selection. I do not think Andrew Luck declares, and though Jimmy Clausen is well on his way to busting out of the league, he's young, cheap and from a dispassionate strategic standpoint, whoever takes over for John Fox can ride Clausen/Pike/Moore for a season, and if doesn't work out, draft a quarterback in the 2012 draft and buy themselves some time. So I think it is unlikely the Panthers select a quarterback, especially with a lights out defensive end prospect like Da'Quan Bowers available. Bowers and Charles Johnson could bookend an elite defensive line.

2. Broncos

Tim Tebow.

3. Bengals

Carson Palmer.

4. Bills

Ryan Fitzpatrick fell to Earth last Sunday, finishing 18 of 37 for 251 yards and three interceptions. Add in two sacks for -7 yards and he finished with 2.85 ANY/A against a mediocre Patriots pass defense. Fitzpatrick is only completing 57.8% of his passes, 90% of league average. That's pretty damning. The Bills probably should draft a quarterback and I am starting to anticipate that Buffalo will draft a quarterback, so take whoever you think ranks highest off the board.

5. Cardinals

John Skelton had arguably the best game of his career last Saturday. He completed 44% of his passes for 183 yards. 74 of those 183 yards were gained with one completion. I certainly hope the Cardinals believe Skelton is the future, but it would be pretty damn surprising. I think Arizona drafts a quarterback.

That knocks out the top two, and it's from the top two Seattle would want to pick their quarterback of the future from if possible. After the top two quarterbacks, there is no meaningful difference between the third through fifth quarterback taken. That's a very broad forecast. Specifically, unless one of Ryan Mallett or Andrew Luck declares, Buffalo and Arizona selecting in front of Seattle probably means Cam Newton and Jake Locker are off the board.

Then we get:

6. 49ers

I think San Francisco signs a free agent. The 49ers start a lot of "in their prime" talent and have the very bad taste of Alex Smith fresh on their tongue.

7. Cowboys

Tony Romo.

8. Texans

Matt Schaub.

9. Lions

Matthew Stafford.

10. Browns

Colt McCoy (probably).

11. Vikings

Seattle can move ahead of the Vikings if the Vikings win tomorrow night.

That puts Seattle at 12 with an outside shot at 11. Based on strength of schedule, the Seahawks can still move ahead of the Vikings, Browns, Lions, Texans, Cowboys and 49ers if the Seahawks lose and any one of those five teams wins. The Vikings and Lions play each other, and so that cancels out. Though, thinking it through, if the Vikings win tomorrow, and the Lions win in week 17, the Seahawks could leapfrog the Vikings and Lions and move into the sixth spot.

Assuming a Vikings loss against the Eagles, which seems very probable, Seattle can move as high as seventh overall, which isn't quite early enough to overtake the Cardinals and Bills for a chance at one of the two top quarterbacks, but is early enough in the first round for Seattle to be able to trade down without spending the rest of their draft.

By the trade value chart, the difference between the sixth overall pick and the third overall pick is 700 points or equivalent to the 26th overall pick in the draft. Even if Carolina selects a quarterback first overall, the third overall pick is the target. It allows Seattle a shot at whichever one of Newton or Locker is still available. For Seattle to get there, they would probably have to trade a second, a fourth and maybe a fifth, which wipes out a sizable portion of their draft class. If Seattle can add young talent through free agency, and this should be a bountiful class, that just might be worth it.

The draft is a long ways away, but an important part of the Seahawks future will be decided this weekend. The Seahawks play the last game of the regular season. I wonder, if the Browns, Texans, Cowboys and 49ers lose, is it prudent to hope the Seahawks do too? 12 to 21 isn't the end of the world, especially since Seattle should have a shot at the third through fifth quarterback selected regardless, but 7 to 21 is a huge jump, both objectively and relatively. Seattle loses 14 AVR in the first round and another five in the second. 19 AVR is the equivalent of an early third round pick. Relatively, Seattle loses out on any realistic shot at drafting one of the top two quarterback prospects, and that puts Seattle in the running for one of Pat Devlin, Blaine Gabbert or Christian Ponder. Devlin, Gabbert and Ponder might all be available in the second round or later, because Devlin, Gabbert and Ponder each have a very small chance of ever becoming a franchise quarterback.

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