Pick by Field Gulls
With the 85th pick in the first official SBN Mock Draft, the Seattle Seahawks take the big (and I mean big) Samoan from Utah: Paul Soliai.
My interest in Soliai piqued about a month ago when I wrote this write-up. Soliai is tremendously agile for a guy weighing 344 pounds, a sort of Gilbert Brown with wheels. With no further improvement he could make an impact in running situations, effectively collapsing rush lanes and tying up blockers.
This is a bit of a controversial pick, because Soliai is not without his detractors. He has questionable technique, experience and work-ethic. He's not the best fit for Seattle's one gap scheme and he isn't a big threat on the pass rush. His most natural position is probably nose tackle, a position the Hawks don't really employ. Instead Seattle looks for pass rush out of every down lineman, Soliai might develop into a decent pass rusher, but he's more of a complimentary player, occupying blockers while others shoot the gaps.
The biggest question for Soliai, though, is how much he wants it. Seattle's roster is replete with high-character guys, and in Lofa Tatupu, the Hawks have one of the best defensive leaders in the NFL. If Soliai could be pushed, motivated to stay the extra hours in the weight room, do the extra reps in practice and spend the hours needed to learn the technique and recognition skills of an elite lineman--there is no limit to where his talent can take him. He's a preternatural combination of size and quickness, a small school guy with incredible tools, but few skills. Wherever he really ends up on draft day, I'm excited to see how he turns out, because in a couple permutations of reality the future holds, he's an NFL legend.