While there are probably arguments to be made that the Seahawks could upgrade at a few positions in the 2011 NFL Draft, I personally think that Cornerback should be the top defensive position on the list.
The tricky thing about the draft is that teams ideally pick players who fit their biggest positional needs. At the same time however, they must look at who the most talented players available are, regardless of what position they play, when it's their turn to pick.
In 2010 the Seahawks finished with the 27th ranked pass defense in the league, allowing just under 250 yards a game in the air. This is especially concerning when you look at the teams the Hawks faced this year. You may be surprised to learn that 11 of the Hawks 16 games were against teams that finished in the bottom half of the league in passing. Furthermore, they played four games (25% of their season) against the three worst passing teams in the league (Panthers, Cardinals, Chiefs).
The blame of course doesn't actually fall 100% on the secondary by definition. Perhaps a week pass rush is giving opposing QB's too much time to throw the ball? Nope, the Hawks finished 13th in the league in sacks. Pressure on the QB is not the primary problem.
It's not all bad news for the Hawks. I think Earl Thomas is going to be a great safety and I think Marcus Trufant still has good years left in him. Beyond that I think we need outside help. I really like Lawyer Milloy and I have great memories of watching him play his college ball back when I was in high school.......when I was 17........and now I'm 32..........and he is still playing somehow. I think it's time for Lawyer Milloy to become Judge Milloy and consider coaching.
If the Seahawks decide to get defensive with the 25th pick I believe they should take University of Miami cornerback Brandon Harris. Harris is a first round talent, Scouts Inc lists him as the 29th best player on their "big board" and I think his stock will rise. That same list has LSU CB Patrick Peterson #2 and Nebraska CB Prince Amukamara #5 overall. With those two players projected to go very early in the draft it is clear that Harris, the third best defensive back in my opinion, is not someone the Hawks can ignore.
Scouts Inc describe Harris with phrases like "better than average speed for the position, will not back down versus top competition, has size, strength, and enough willingness to become an effective run-support cornerback in the NFL." These are all very encouraging statements to me.
Harris is 5'10", 195lbs, and runs between a 4.4 and 4.45 in the 40. He is fast, tough, and has a swagger about him that the Hawks defense has lost in recent years. ESPN's Mel Kiper has Harris going to the Ravens at #26, so the Hawks #25 pick could be perfect. What if Harris is selected before the Hawks pick? If not Harris then who?
Earlier this week ESPN analyst Todd McShay tweeted that Colorado CB Jimmy Smith "might be the second best CB behind LSU's Peterson". Smith's 6'2" frame makes him a very attractive option in the secondary, plus his 4.5 time in the 40 is not too shabby for a taller player. Many reports say that he seems to avoid the normal pitfalls of taller CB's in that he turns his hips surprisingly well. Some feel that uncertainty about his tackling might have lowered his ranking in early mock drafts. Smith was only rated a 3, average, for cover skills and run support by Scout's Inc, whereas Harris was rated 2's, above average, in every category (production, speed, durability, intangibles, instincts, cover skills, run skills, ball support).
Texas' Aaron Williams is the final of the three Top 5 CB's who may be an option for the Hawks. Williams has good size at 6'0" and 192lbs and runs the 40 in 4.5 seconds. His ball skills were rated the best of this trio, he times his jump well and has great hands for a DB, he can make a play on the ball and get possession back for the offense. The knock on Williams, like Smith, is his tackling ability. His tackling angles are inconsistent as is his open field tackling, according to Scouts Inc.
Perhaps I am being overly critical of the current Hawks CB's but I think both Jimmy Smith and Aaron Williams are good enough to start at CB for the Seattle Seahawks in 2011. The potential knocks on these players are no different than many of the current corners on the Hawks roster. However, I believe that if all three players are available at pick #25 that Brandon Harris is the best option. While all three players have very similar ratings in many categories it is Harris's ability to assist as a run stopper that makes him the best choice in my opinion. I think Harris is the most well-rounded of that group.
If the Hawks go defensive in round 1 is Cornerback the position to go for? If so, which of these three players do we take?
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