I'm so darn excited about this project. It's awesome to see such an out-there idea come together. I'm almost embarrassed by how easy it was. There was no epiphany. No 'House'-like diagnostic progression. Pretty much just a guy thinking there should be an NFL draft game for the average fan.
The number of fans thinking about the draft gives Mel Kiper's bobble head a job. The national pundits compile their mock drafts, covering each team in one fowl swoop. But most fans only care about their individual team. The problem with mock drafts is there are so many intricate details going on within an NFL organization that's it's nearly impossible to predict the actions of 32 teams.
Anyone who frequents Field Gulls and Seahawks Draft Blog probably have a better understanding of what the Hawks will do in the draft than most national pundits. I'm sure fans for every other NFL team feel similar. Although they don't know how good we have it. Danny, Rob, Charlie, Kenneth, Thomas, Kip, Davis, Derek... the list goes on. Then there are the many insights provided by all of you through fanposts, comments, and twitter.
More specifically, a special big thanks to the maestro, Danny Kelly. Including the rest of the NFL SBN Blogs and collaborating with Dan Kadar of Mocking the Draft for next year's mock draft wouldn't be happening without him. I came to him with the idea and he made it happen. If I'm the quarterback and Danny's the receiver then this was a bubble screen and he broke at least three tackles for the touchdown. Dan Kadar was also very generous, giving us the necessary arena for next year's mock draft (that we'll simulcast here as well).
Despite the enormous jump to incorporate the whole NFL, I'm most excited about seeing how Field Gulls can perform. For I will inevitably want to see how we perform against the rest of the league. I want our winner, whoever that may be, to predict more picks than any other champion. When I dust off my TI-83 and calculate the average score per pick (ASPP) for each team's winner, I want the Field Gulls champion to shine like Marshawn's new Seahawks grill.
After the jump you'll find a breakdown of my list. Some of it is player analysis. Some of it is strategy discussion to help massage your brain into creating an awesome list. From considering who to put on my list, I know I could remake it at least five times over with mostly different players. With this in mind I hope you'll all take some chances and make your list your own. You of course have to balance that with how you think the board will fall but don't be afraid to channel your inner Seal and get a little crazy.
The steam from my morning coffee briefly resembled the number 41. That is a clear sign from the football spirits that Courtney Upshaw will be the pick at 12. After considering this message and referring back to a more reliable source of Hawk knowledge, Rob Staton, he seemed like the right choice for the #1 ranking. I'm hoping to get at least one or two later round picks so apart from a trade down possibility later down the list, I'm going all out on Upshaw at 12.
I suspect Upshaw will be #1 on many lists. How strongly will Ingram, Coples, Tannehill, Kuechly, and maybe even Barron or Hightower be represented in with the #1 ranking? With the following picks, is it better to play safe and cover the major first round options? Or is it better to trust the predictability of the top 15 and save your ranking slots for mid/late round prospects? I'm going with the latter. But if nobody has ranked Quinton Coples in their top 5, then shoot, take a chance on him. We know he's an option and if you're right then you'll have a big lead over your fellow Hawk fans.
There will be other players on this list who I rank higher than Kendricks. My gut tells me he'll be at the top come the 43rd pick. Upshaw and Kendricks would take the physicality of our defense to another level. The #2 ranking is a tough call. Is it better to shoot for a top score by moving right onto the second round? Or is it better to hedge your bets for the first round?
3) Chris Polk
Danny's recent analysis of Polk really convinced me of his fit for this offense. Hands, tackle breaking, and vision could make him the ideal third round pick. He's also an option if we traded down in the second. How strongly will people consider the possibility of trading down? It has to be accounted for with this front office. Keeping Polk in Seattle would also be cool of course.
Regardless of Matt Flynn's future with the team, this front office wants a surplus of starting caliber quarterbacks. Flynn might actually make Osweiler a perfect pick. Osweiler isn't ready to start. Where Flynn is as ready as he'll ever get. Flynn will keep the spotlight (and hits) off Osweiler while he develops. Flynn should also set a high, yet achievable, bench mark Osweiler must surpass to become the starter.
5) Zach Brown
I'm a Zach Brown fan. Or rather, I'm a fan of the linebacker I think Brown will become. His movement skills go deeper than straight line speed. When he reads correctly, Brown can break down in space and weave through traffic for the tackle - Curry was adept at neither. Call me a sucker for the upside but I think Pete would keep him engaged and improving. I'm skeptical of his availability at 43, but I bet we'll snag him if he's there. My top five is pretty safe. You'll start seeing more gambles from here on.
It's no secret that I like this guy a lot. He's been productive rushing the passer and his explosiveness fits well for the Leo spot. He has that knack for anticipating the snap and beating the tackle right off the line. A quality that has helped make Chris Clemons so successful. The major knock on him is non-existent hand use and a lack of pass rush moves. He makes up for it though with his motor and pad level. I'm projecting him as our fourth round pick.
7) Doug Martin
Martin would be an exciting pick in the second round. He has the type of build and physicality to be an ideal back-up for Marshawn. Yet he still possesses enough scat-back qualities to be a nice change of pace. I'm committing a few more ranking slots to the second round because I'm a lot less certain what direction we're hoping to go.
If Polk is our ideal third round pick, I could see Turbin being our back-up plan for the third or fourth. He certainly has the power to be Marshawn's back-up. He also has some ability as a receiver and a surprising burst, but he's not the type of back who commands touches for the sake of getting him involved. Other smaller backs would be more active within the game plan on a week-to-week basis. The upside to Turbin is we can continue punishing defenses with Marshawn on the bench.
9) Josh Kaddu
The Hawks would be remiss to not draft two potential starting linebackers this year. If we go elsewhere early, we could again look for a starter in the middle rounds. Kaddu would add some much needed speed to the LB corps. He could be a solid option near the top of the fourth or if we traded down in the third.
10) Devon Still
This is a total shot in the dark. I was never convinced when Still was projected in the top 15. However, I'm a lot more intrigued now that he's projected in the early second. I think his long and powerful build will appeal to us. Many have lost interest in 3-techs since the signing of Jason Jones but I feel the position may still be on our radar. Jones will always be best in a rotation so adding another player of similar ilk could work nicely.
11) Josh Norman
I see an outside chance of Norman falling into the late third or early fourth. If that transpires and we've already addressed more pressing needs then I hope we snatch him up. He's a big, fluid, and quick CB with outstanding ball skills. Sounds like a Pete Carroll CB no? Give him a year of seasoning and he should be ready to replace Brandon Browner.
12) Janzen Jackson
There are questions about Jackson's character but there's no doubting his talent. This is a risk/reward trade off the Seahawks have previously been willing to make later in the draft. Jackson would add secondary depth with the ability to play corner and also back-up ET. How will people approach positions in need of depth? Will people pick one or two positions and cover several prospects or more positions with fewer prospects for each?
13) Brandon Lindsey
Lindsey has had a pretty disappointing off-season. He's seen his stock fall from a third rounder to a late rounder. Bad news for Lindsey. Good news for the Seahawks. Lindsey is a natural pass rusher who's undersized for DE and too slow in space to play LB. He's an ideal fit for the Leo spot though. He would give Dexter Davis a run for his roster spot.
14) Nigel Bradham
Bradham sort of falls into the same category as Josh Kaddu. He's very athletic and aggressive and could still be available near the top of the fourth round. I'm going with a heavy dose of DL, DB, LB, and RB on my list. WR, TE, and OL are other potential areas of interest but I'm hoping we hold off for a year. This is an example of how I'm making my list my own.
15) Keenan Robinson
Way back in my potential OLB Targets post, I said I thought Robinson might have some untapped pass rush potential. Those suspicions were affirmed during the Senior Bowl practice week where had a lot of success in 1v1 drills. I also appreciate Robinson's toughness between the tackles despite his narrow frame. He can run sideline to sideline and should be a capable in coverage. Robinson should be projected higher than the fourth round.
16) Coty Sensabaugh
Sensabaugh is a tall and lean corner with track star speed. He played a lot of press coverage at Clemson and proved very capable of sticking with his man. However, he's skinny and has only average ball skills. What's exciting about him is the improvement he showed over the course of his Senior season. He definitely has starter potential. It might take him a few years to develop but he should contribute as a special teamer until then.
17) Justin Bethel
Bethel is a small school prospect and all around solid DB. He can play both man and zone. He can play both CB and safety. He's also taller at 5-11. Now that the front office has infused some talent into the roster, they can stand to make a few late round picks for simple depth.
18) Michael Brockers
Brockers has length, strength, and quickness that doesn't come around every draft. He's young and raw but shows excellent diagnostic skills and gives high effort. Having committed to Red Bryant and the Leo scheme, we would do well to continue looking for a real impact 3-tech. If the Seahawks trade down in the first, Michael Brockers might well be on the menu. It's also worth noting that the Seahawks hosted Brockers for a visit.
19) Robert Blanton
Blanton would play the big nickel position for us. He's ideally built for the position and also plays with the necessary aggressiveness. I have no idea if our front office would use a draft pick on such a narrow need, but the need is there, assuming we still intend to use a big nickel. With five DBs in the second half of my list, I feel like I've given myself a fighting chance at hitting on one if Pete continues his trend of picking mid/late round DBs.
20) Adrian Robinson
I just had to find a spot for Robinson on my list. What a little spark plug. The Seahawks need pass rush and Robinson is a pass rusher. I can't say if he has enough athleticism to make an impact. He's worth a shot though. Everything I've read about Robinson indicates he just loves competing. That's the type of player Pete will want in training camp.