Last week I wrote about how I think the Seahawks, if they decide to use the #25 selection to pick a cornerback, should pick University of Miami's Brandon Harris. Now Colorado's Jimmy Smith has shot up many draft boards over the past week and might be the better player. I would be happy with either selection.
Then I started thinking about another need for the Seahawks defense, the defensive end position. With Raheem Brock, who will be 33 this year, on the free agent market this might be a good time to find a younger replacement. Will it be easier to find talent at DE or CB toward the bottom half of the first round? Let's look at DE's and CB's selected 17-32 overall during the past ten years.
At the CB position, six of the 10 draft classes produce a Pro Bowler from picks 17-32. That's an astonishing 60% of the time!
By comparison, picks 1-16 during that same period produced five draft classes with Pro Bowler's at DE and five draft classes with Pro Bowler's at CB, a 50% conversion. It seems crazy but over the last 10 NFL Draft classes the bottom half of the first round was more likely to produce a Pro Bowl cornerback than the top half of the round on any given year, just barely.
Obviously it's difficult to draw many, if any, conclusions off of this limited data but one thing it tells me is that it is more likely to find a top CB at pick #25 than a DE. While obviously many other factors may contribute to those statistics, I think the conclusion rings true. Just look at the Hawks for example.
The Hawks picked Kelly Jennings from Miami #31 overall in the 2006 draft and, while I'm no fan of Jennings as evidenced by my belief we need to draft his replacement as our top priority, at least he has given us four solid years this far. By contrast, Seattle picked DE Lawrence Jackson from USC #28 overall in the 2008 draft and he currently plays for Detroit, the Hawks having traded him away for a sixth round pick. It's not good when a 1st round pick is traded away two years later for a 6th round pick.
As we look at the most recent projections from Scouts Inc, for the 2011 draft it appears there will unfortunately be many more DE's available to Seattle than CB's this year. All three CB's rated as 1st rounders are projected as top 10 athletes and are unlikely to be available at #25 (Patrick Peterson of LSU, Prince Amukamara of NEB, and Jimmy Smith of COL). Brandon Harris should still be on the board at #25.
There are an astounding nine DE's ranked in the top 32 athletes, including seven between 15 and 30 (Adrian Clayborn of IA, Aldon Smith of MIS, Cameron Jordan of CAL, Muhammad Wilkerson of TEMP, JJ Watt of WISC, Ryan Kerrigan of PUR, and Cameron Heyward of OHIO ST). With Seattle picking at #25 the reality is that it will be hard for the Hawks to avoid a DE.
I admit I probably have a bias towards the defensive side of the ball. I hope the Hawks use the #25 pick for defense, specifically the CB position. As I mentioned last week, in 2010 the Hawks pass defense was one of the worst in the league, #27 actually, despite having 11 of 16 games against teams ranked in the bottom half of the league in passing. I believe either Brandon Harris or Jimmy Smith could walk right into the starting eleven and have a big impact in 2011.
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