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The 2011 NFL Draft is nearly upon us so I wanted to take this opportunity to outline some team needs and some potential targets in each round. The top 3 needs I've identified here are Quarterback, Defensive Tackle, and Cornerback. Offensive Line is a very big need for the Hawks as well but for now I just wanted to concentrate on the three positions I talked about above so this post doesn't turn into a dissertation. There's little doubt the Hawks will take at least one offensive lineman in the draft, and hopefully once the lockout is lifted the Hawks can address the O-Line through free agency as well. Really though, every position has some depth/age issue so for the sake of being complete, I'd rank the remaining positions in order of priority as defensive end, safety, wide receiver, linebacker, running back, fullback, and tight end. Keep in mind that order is relatively fluid and I wouldn't necessarily hold fast to it.
To me, the most obvious need on the Seahawks roster is the quarterback position. Right now, Charlie Barry Gibbs Whitehurst is holding it down and could prove to be a serviceable to downright good quarterback in the NFL. That, however, is a very big COULD and it behooves the Hawks to work out some depth at the position. If they decide to draft a QB this year, they'll have a few good options to choose from. I'll break it down by round (approximately).
1st - 2nd Rounds:
Ryan Mallett, Arkansas - Big arm, excellent diagnoser of defenses, not faster than any of his linemen, really tall. Might not even be on the Hawks board due to his immobility but could still be a very good QB in the NFL.
Jake Locker, UW - Strong Arm, very good runner, very tough, good leader. Many question marks about his playing ability have lead his stock to fall. I don't think it'll fall far though. He'll most likely go in top-15.
Colin Kaepernick, Nevada - Rocket for an arm, can throw a baseball 95 mph which is very good I've heard. Is tall and fast. Can read defenses with some success. Came from a gimicky pistol offense so will take some time to learn pro-style. Has a lot of upside but could be a project. I like him a lot though.
Christian Ponder, FSU - Good athleticism, accurate. Good in "West Coast Offense" predicated on short, precision passing game. Decent size but sub-par arm and has injury issues.
Andy Dalton, TCU - Red Hair. Was a 4th round prospect until recently and now has ascended into the top-10 discussion because teams are desperate for QBs apparently.
3rd - 5 rounds:
Ricky Stanzi, Iowa - Good athleticism, decent arm, good height and speed, overall a decent prospect. Many people are very high on Stanzi so he may not last till mid rounds but if he does, Hawks should scoop him up.
Pat Devlin, Delaware - Another guy with good height and a decent arm. Is riding the coattails of Joe Flacco in a way because on paper is a similar player. I don't know a ton about Devlin, but could be worth a look in mid-rounds.
Greg McElroy, Alabama - A "winner" with good accuracy but sub par ability to see over his linemen's heads.
Adam Froman, Louisville - Like this guy a lot. A poor man's Blaine Gabbert and a lower-middle class man's Ricky Stanzi. Should get a look by every team based on his tangibles and could be a solid flyer pick in the later rounds. Remember his name.
The next most obvious position of need is the defensive tackle spot. Specifically, the 3-tech. Brandon Mebane played that position last season and registered only one sack. He's not a bad player there but he's now a free agent and outwardly it doesn't seem like the Hawks want to keep him all that much. I hope we do, but if not, the position needs to be addressed. Possible targets include:
1st - 2nd Rounds:
Corey Liuget, Illinois - If he lasts to #25, the Hawks will have to think long and hard about taking him. He's a pretty disruptive force on the line and is good at rushing the passer. His last name is pronounce "Legit" and so that makes him cool in my book.
Marvin Austin, North Carolina - Suspended all of 2010 for taking gifts, he's arguably a top-10 talent. Would be a boon to the Hawks' d-line and if he keeps his head on straight will be a very good NFL player.
Drake Nevis, LSU - Another very disruptive force on the line. Good at putting pressure on the passer and a solid run stuffer.
Jurrell Casey, USC - An underrated prospect, could come in and be a very good 3-tech or 1-tech. Similar in stature to Brandon Mebane at 6'1 300. Could be a very good 2nd round choice for the Hawks.
3rd - 5th rounds:
Jarvis Jenkins, Clemson - a First-Team All-ACC selection his senior year, if Jenkins is still around in the 3rd round the Hawks have to think about taking him with their imaginary 3rd round pick.
Sione Fua, Stanford - not a typical 3-tech but would be a great 1-tech for the Hawks. Is a squatty, powerful player and was 2nd team All-Pac10. Could probably play 5-tech as well at 6'2, 310.
Lawrence Guy, Arizona State - a sleeper pick of mine for the Hawks, he's an underrated pass rushing specialist with a lot of upside. He's strong, quick, and has rare athleticism for a player of his size (6'5, 300). Could be on Hawks' radar.
6th - 7th rounds:
David Carter, UCLA - a late bloomer at UCLA, starting only one year, he has a lot of potential and is a good athlete. Keep him on your radars.
Thirdly, I wanted to talk about the cornerback position. It's arguable whether this is a big position of need or not. On one hand, they had a near league worst passing defense in 2010. However, they do have some young talent there in Walter Thurmond, Roy Lewis, and hopefully Brandon Browner that can work alongside a healthy Marcus Trufant to get things back in order. That's a big question mark though, so to me it's still a big need. I'll outline a few prospects at CB for you.
1st - 2nd rounds:
Jimmy Smith, Colorado - a shutdown corner, would come in and start on day one. Ideal size and speed. If his head stays screwed on straight could be a all-pro caliber player.
Aaron Williams, Texas - a very solid corner for Texas in 2010, may be better suited to the safety position in the NFL. Don't discount him all together though, he could be on the Hawks' radar. Would be a welcome addition by his former teammate Earl Thomas.
Brandon Harris, Miami - Too $hort.
3rd - 5th rounds:
Davon House, New Mexico State - Good size, good instincts. Good ball skills and tackling ability. If he lasts to the 3rd round I'll be surprised but if so the Hawks may make a move to get him.
Ras-I Dowling, Virginia Tech - Another good corner with ideal size and speed. Would be a steal in the 3rd or 4th rounds.
Curtis Brown, Texas - the "other" corner at Texas that might actually translate better to the NFL. Good size and ball skills and solid in run support. Is best in man coverage and would fit well in the Hawks' Tampa-2 scheme. Could be a very real possibility for the Hawks.
Brandon Burton, Utah - Another corner with great size and an ideal press-man type player. Would be a good fit for the Hawks and rumor has it that they are interested in him.
DeMarcus Van Dyke, Miami - Good height and elite speed but lacks bulk. Is a bit of a project but has good potential.
Richard Sherman, Stanford - another good prospect based on tangibles, he's got the size and decent speed to succeed. Is raw and inexperienced at corner (was a WR his first two seasons at Stanford) but could be a good flyer pick.
So there you have it. Let's see how it shakes out in the draft!
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