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SBN Mock Draft: Pick No. 55

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No. 55

Pick by Field Gulls

Michael Bush
Running Back
Louisville

Blame me. With the 55th pick in the 2007 SB Mock Draft Seattle takes a dude with a busted leg that some experts are starting to whisper "second day" about. Blame me...but don't expect me to apologize.

When Seattle drafted current stud running back Shaun Alexander they already had a perennial thousand yard rusher on their roster: Ricky Watters. Watters had just turned 31. Watters went on to have one of the best seasons of his career in 2000, inspiring, no doubt, more than one booze-fueled screed on local sports radio, but by 2001 the torch had been passed. Alexander responded with 1,650 combined yards and 16 TDs. The rest, as they say, is the good kind of history.

Alexander is now 30 and every indication is that he's squarely in the teeth of a decline. He recorded a punishing 370 regular season carries in 2005 before losing much of 2006 to ineffectiveness and injury. His receiving numbers are comically bad.

Michael Bush has dropped down most boards because a freak injury he suffered against Kentucky has failed to heal fast enough. As foreboding as that sounds, a broken tibia is almost entirely irrelevant to a player's future. Bones, unlike tendons, ligaments or cartilage, heal. When Bush returns there is no good reason he shouldn't be able to reassume the impressive track to stardom that he was on prior to the injury.

Bush is a rare athlete: A dangerous inside rusher where his burst, vision and size make him a linebacker's nightmare. Surprisingly, he's equally dangerous outside. Despite a massive 240 pound frame, Bush is quick enough to consistently turn the corner but still possesses the strength to flatten DBs in the open field.

Unlike workout warriors like Chris Henry, Bush has excelled at the highest level. In 2005 he averaged 5.6 yards a carry and recorded an NCAA best 24 touchdowns. Entering 2006, he was touted as a potential Heisman winner. That's because Bush performs best with his pads on. Scouts rave about his footwork and vision, his intelligent route-running and ability to take advantage of cutback lanes. Bush may be a freaky athlete, but he's first and foremost a football player.

That's what the Hawks need, a football player. A running back. Bush is also a terrific receiver and is experienced lining up wide and in the slot. His presence immediately gives the Hawks a sorely needed threat out of the backfield and with time, a potentially devastating weapon in the passing attack.

With a mid-second round pick, the Hawks are forced to play the market. While guards, tight ends and defensive tackles can be had at almost any point in or after the draft, running back is squarely a first day need. The lure to find the next Willie Parker might be tempting, but don't be fooled, 88% of starting running backs were acquired on the first day of the NFL draft. Bush is a first round, perhaps top-ten, talent. A player whose upside is as high as anyone's in this draft. His injuries upon closer inspection are much less concerning than top pick Adrian Peterson's. Bush has suffered one major injury in his career, one freak injury that should neither hurt his future performance nor portend any future susceptibility to reinjury. Peterson has had consistent, nagging injuries that have plagued him throughout his college career. History is replete with running backs who slid because of one major injury, both recent (Willis McGahee, Frank Gore) and semi-distant (Thurman Thomas). Bush hasn't joined that group, yet, but he has the same pedigree and potential.

This pick gives the Seahawks a bright future at a marquee position for a terrific price. Needs at guard and tight end can be addressed later in the draft and with the top talents at each taken, with minimal drop-off in quality. After Bush is a sketchy list of low upside rushers who may compete for third down duties on an NFL team.

So blame me. Revile me. I've certainly made sport of your picks. But, frankly, I think I may have just taken the steal of the draft.