Musings on NFL Draft Season 2012 and the Seahawks

Senior Bowl Week! The Draft Season is in full swing. I wanted to share some thoughts I have been swirling and some texts that have gone back and forth between myself, Danny @fieldgulls, and Scott @scottenyeart. This isn't meant to be comprehensive research but more like a discussion starter or draft primer. If you are on Twitter and you follow me you probably have a good idea of how I operate, but just as a precursor you shouldn't take any of the following as 'player scouting', it's exactly what the title states - musing. I like to write stream-of-consciousness at times and that's how this piece turned out.

First off, Seahawks fans should go listen to the season ending presser with Pete Carroll. He touches on the areas of the roster he wants to improve, and provides part of the basis for the following thoughts.

Shooting from the Hip: Right now the Seahawks hold six picks, I believe. They gained a pick from trading Aaron Curry and are missing two picks from the Marshawn Lynch trade and the Tyler Polumbus trade. This may be incorrect, but I am working under that thought. Schneider has drafted nine times in 2010 and nine times in 2011. I believe Pete and John will draft eight times in 2012, which means they will likely trade down twice.

The final draft may look something like this:

1, 2, 3, 4, 4, 5, 5, 7

or

2, 2, 3, 4, 4, 5, 6, 7

Who knows right? Many things could happen, but you catch my drift. Here is how I think the draft will play out, position-wise: DE, QB, LB, WR, DT, CB/S, RB, LB

I believe Scott thinks it will look more like: DE, QB, LB, DT, RB, S, WR, LB

Again, who knows (?!), but one thing we agree on is that we both (independently) think the Seahawks will draft five defensive players and three offensive players. The value of those players is skewed even more to the defensive side of the ball in terms of pick value in Scott's scenario. Will the Seahawks draft in this order in late April? Well, probably not! But, this is still a fun exercise and is meant to be a discussion starter. It's still early, obviously. Let's go down the list:

Defensive End - I think the Seahawks will re-sign Red Bryant, so this player can be an Aldon Smith rookie year role type player. Aldon was a situational pass rusher for most of the year. If Red takes 30 snaps, this player may only take 30 snaps on the left side on obvious passing downs, and perhaps spell Chris Clemons on the right side for 10-15 snaps a game. Or perhaps, this is a bigger DE (280-290 lb) that can also rush inside, but I think it is likely more a speed edge rusher. Maybe it's Quinton Coples, but I think more likely a "Nick Perry" type. I also think this player may not be taken at 11/12, but that the Seahawks may slide down and take this pick at 19-20 in round 1 (or maybe perhaps in round 2).

Quarterback - With the top "Grade A" quarterbacks gone by the 2nd round, we are now firmly in the "Grade B" land. I am not going to predict who it is - but I am going to throw out the obvious names: Brock Osweiler, Nick Foles, Kirk Cousins, Brandon Weeden. It may even be a Kellen Moore or a Russell Wilson. The Seahawks were chatting with Cousins, Moore and Wilson on Day 1 of Senior Bowl Week for what it's worth (probably not much).

Linebacker - When you study contract size and length - the Seahawks were very lukewarm to David Hawthorne in that they gave him a one year extension for a shade under $2M. They wanted him to prove himself and perhaps see what turns up in the 2011 and 2012 draft. Now, by the time the 2012 draft rolls around, we should know what the Seahawks plan to do with Hawthorne. Personally, I think they sign him to a modest contract. I would not be shocked if they did not. Leroy Hill played beyond expectations in my opinion and the Seahawks gave him about $1M on a one year deal. I do not think they re-sign him to a major contract.

Pete Carroll talked about improving the speed at linebacker. Now, Hill still looked faster than Hawthorne (I know he had a bum knee) in 2011 to my untrained eye, but Leroy is an older player (by Seahawks standards) that the Seahawks did not value as highly in 2010 when they slashed his giant contract.

The Seahawks have been amassing/signing a large number of linebackers - many will not make the 2012 53 man roster - but perhaps one or two can build depth. I have a hard time believing any of these can be a starter in 2012. I am talking about: Tressor Baptiste, Adrian Moten, Allen Bradford, and Mike Morgan. You also have to take into account Malcolm Smith, who is signed for the next three years, as well as free agents like Matt McCoy, David Vobora and Heath Farwell.

Who will this "starter caliber/third draft pick" linebacker be? Pete wants speed, but another thing that he wants, from studying his moves, is length. I think the linebacker will be able to play two positions and be about 6-2 or 6-3. He has to do a little of everything - be strong in coverage, strong against the run, and blitz occasionally. Maybe it's some lightning fast 6'0, undersized playmaker, but in the end I lean toward bigger. Think - "A Poor Man's Brian Cushing" (h/t to Scott Enyeart for that).

The Rest-

I will lump the rest of the draft together, as the board is probably less predictable to a certain extent as you charge into Round 4 territory. Perhaps you are moving more toward the "Best player available" side of the spectrum.

On a Wide Receiver - Pete Carroll talked about finding a "touchdown maker" if possible. I think if there is a Wide Receiver that can play outside (likely 6 foot and taller) you have to think about it.

Defensive Tackle? This is the Anthony Hargrove role - not a starting role. Think nickel interior pass rush - a player that weighs more in the 280-295 pound range.

You can never have enough corners and Atari Bigby may be gone, so as we delve into Round 5 I can see a defensive back added to the mix.

Running back? I believe the Seahawks re-sign Lynch, but Forsett will be free to walk - and they need someone to share the load. I think the RB will be 215-220 pounds, and I think this will be a deep running back draft.

In Round 7, another linebacker? Maybe. At this point, to project what the Seahawks draft in the 7th round is almost comical - throw a dart - but ya know, I'm just having fun here.

Lastly, free agency will tip a bit of the Seahawks hand. I can see the Seahawks making a play on the defensive line in free agency as they do have a chunk of money "reserved" on the defensive side of the ball if you believe in the 50-50 theory (spending equal parts of your salary cap on offense and defense).

What do you think?

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