2011 NFL Draft: Predicting the Seattle Seahawks' #25 Pick

We've been doing a lot of guesswork and debating about what the Seahawks will do with the 25th pick in the draft on April 28th. The consensus so far has been that quarterback, defensive line, cornerback, and offensive line are the greatest need positions for the Hawks. There are a number of players at each position that could fall that far and it's exceedingly difficult to determine who the Hawks might take. 

Jimmy Smith is a player that has been mocked to the Seahawks based on their need at the position and the fact that Smith is a tall, fast, and capable cornerback. I don't think he'll make it to #25. 

Ryan Mallett is another player that multiple outlets have been mocking to the Hawks for several months. His attitude problems have hurt his stock, but despite these I don't think he'll be available at #25 either. Too many teams have need at the Quarterback position to pass on a talent like Mallett, and it wouldn't be out of the realm of possibility to see a team trade up from their 2nd round spot and leapfrog the Seahawks to select the signal caller.

I feel that ultimately, Jake Locker will be gone as well. This leaves premier talent still available at two positions of need for the Hawks. The Hawks don't want to reach for a 2nd tier QB or corner so I believe they may go with a prospect for their Offensive or Defensive lines. 

Mike Pouncey is likely to be gone, and the interior linemen behind him aren't a value pick at #25. I don't see the Hawks using their 1st round pick on a right tackle, as it's a position that can be better addressed with value in the 2nd-5th rounds. Ultimately, I believe that the Hawks will take a defensive tackle, and I believe with the 25th pick in the 2011 draft, the Hawks will select Illinois DT Corey Liuget

Liuget is a highly rated defensive tackle, but other elite tackles Marcell Dareus, Nick Fairley, Phil Taylor, and maybe even Muhammad Wilkerson will be taken before him - leaving the player the Hawks wanted all along.

Why do they value Liuget so highly? It's simple - they do not have a starting 3-tech player on their roster right now. Brandon Mebane played there in 2010 but is a question mark in terms of whether he'll be back and was playing in an unnatural position in the first place (he only produced one sack in 2010). Mebane is a natural 1-tech - a brute, run stopping force on the line. Pete Carroll's defense requires the 3-tech to be an interior pass rushing genius. This is where Luiget comes in.

At 6'2, 298, he's a penetrating 3-tech that specializes in disrupting the QB. His senior season he had 63 tackles, 12.5 for a loss, 4.5 sacks and 10 QB hurries. He's got a good motor, is consistently in good position, has a knack at recognizing the screen pass, gets his hands up to disrupt the pass, and has quick hands that help him to get off blocks effectively. He's also good against the run. Carroll has stated that "the 3 technique player should be your premier interior pass rusher" and Liuget could come in and play one of the most important positions on the defense - and be that player. His presence immediately makes the defense better on all fronts by putting pressure on the QB and making him make bad decisions. 

Not only that, but he has the ability to move to the 5-tech position so he would provide the Seahawks with a lot of depth. 

Here is CBSSports scouting report on Liuget:

Pass rush: Tough for many college interior linemen to handle one-on-one in pass protection. Quick enough to beat lesser linemen off the snap at three-tech, uses his hands to free himself from block when there is enough space to do so. Gets his man on skates or pushes through a block (or double) to the quarterback to get pressure. Also strong and quick enough to play on the nose in obvious passing situations. Recovers from strong punch to run through a gap immediately. Does not have elite closing speed, but his hustle and ability to stay low make him difficult to escape within or outside the pocket.

Run defense: Stout defender who plays with a strong base. Penetrates into the backfield with quickness. Lines up at three and five-technique spots. Capable of stack-shed inside or outside. Gets past reach blocks on inside runs with quick feet and strength to keep blocker on his shoulder. Usually keeps his head up to find the ball. Lacks acceleration to keep outside containment as a five-technique. Not consistent defeating cut blocks with his hands.

Explosion: Not elite in his first step, but has enough to be a pass rush and penetrating run-stopper inside. Ballcarriers feel every bit of his strength when he tackles them, and blockers are bruised up with his punching and swiping throughout the game.

Strength: His ability to play multiple positions not only comes from his quick feet, but also his strength. Lands a big punch into the chest of his man, swipes with aggression to move the blocker aside. Uses his low center of gravity to his advantage, getting leverage to stack one-on-one and shed to either direction when playing two-gap at nose tackle. Senses zone block, uses blocker's inertia against him with a strong push to get into the backfield. Usually anchors well against single and double blocks, but can get moved by NFL-caliber linemen.

Tackling: Strong upper body, hustle, and good length make him an excellent tackler. Engulfs running backs in the backfield when able to penetrate. Built low to the ground, displays excellent change of direction ability to stay in front of backs cutting against the grain. Hustles 10-15 yards downfield to make or help on tackles. Adds himself to piles when able. Lacks elite closing speed to chase down backs from behind. Tends to run out of steam when playing a lot at the end of games.

Intangibles: Coaches say Liuget is a leader in the locker and meetings rooms. Chose Illinois over southern schools because of head coach Ron Zook. Wished to transfer after two years in Champaign due to home sickness; mother said he would not be welcome home if he transferred.

He could come in and start on day one and give the Seahawks great value for their pick at #25. Personally I would be ecstatic if Liuget were a Seahawk.

Aaron Aloysius of DraftBreakdown.com does awesome prospect videos, and here is what he put together on Liuget. Go check out his Youtube Page for more great videos he's put together on some of the top prospects for 2011.

 

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