It's been a while, so let's update this sucker. As always, I have no inside source. This is my best guess based on what I know about Seattle and what I know about Tim Ruskell's drafting. It also reflects my own preferences and attitudes about the draft. We'll update this over the coming weeks.
- 1. Trevor Laws, DT, Notre Dame: Sure to send Hairdo yammerin'-a-stammerin' "R-R-Reach!" and perhaps rightfully. Laws added weight pre-combine, and may be stretching his frame already in the low 300s. Few see Laws as a first round pick, but Ruskell just might. The major knock on Laws is his size, especially his height (6'1"). Does Tim Ruskell give a damn about that? No. Laws has a 33 3/8" reach, was a combine standout posting 35 reps on the 225, was supremely productive in college, recording 112 tackles on an underrated D and possesses the self-discipline Ruskell prefers--no, demands. Laws is a wildly disruptive 3-technique tackle, could slot in behind Bernard as a rotation-mate from the start of the season and succeed Bernard next season. Or even this season should Bernard suffer the kind of collapse/injury collapse his persistent and chronic injuries seemingly portend. Laws could be healthy Tommie Harris good.
- 2. John Carlson, TE, Notre Dame: What seals Carlson as a Hawk for me is his blocking ability. Seattle isn't going to be able to employ as many spread-and-shred 3 and 4 wide receiver sets next season, and Carlson offers them a power rushing/play action alternative. Plus, should Seattle move towards a down-field passing attack, Carlson is well suited, able to throw a good block and then roll into the flat as an outlet on PA bombs. Carlson will be 24 before the season starts, might really be that slow and doesn't have a lot of upside, but his downside is equally small. He's a day one contributor that should fill Seattle's gaping tight end need for the next 5 seasons, do all the little things right, get the important first downs and otherwise be the kind of fan favorite, championship caliber player that never sniffs the Pro Bowl. Think Daniel Graham.
- 3. Darius Reynaud, WR, West Virginia: With Hackett gone, Branch injured and Engram soon to be, Seattle is very thin at wide receiver. People talk about a player being a "Ruskell Guy", but that definition isn't constant for all positions. When it comes to wide receiver, the constraints aren't so tight. We know he likes wide outs from major conferences (Ben Obomanu, Courtney Taylor, Auburn; Jordan Kent, Oregon), athletes (Nate Burleson, Kent) and isn't opposed to the height disadvantaged (Deion Branch, 5'9"). Reynaud is 5'9", a beast in the open field and played for Big East power West Virginia. Had West Virginia passed for more than 2,067 yards total, 114th in D-1, and had West Virginia not faced 5 top 25 defenses, Reynaud may have posted more impressive overall receiving numbers. But then, we'll never know. What we do know is that against those 5 top 25 defenses Reynaud converted 73% of his targets into completions for a modest 6.48 yards an attempt, but including 4 receiving and 1 rushing touchdowns. Seattle badly needs a red zone threat, Reynaud provides that, special teams depth and a lot of potential.
- 4. John David Booty, QB, USC: JD (that's for you Matthew) was a top pro prospect entering 2007. Despite posting a statistically similar season to 2006, his stock has tumbled. NFLDraftScout ranks him 7th, behind Joe Flacco's arm and Josh Johnson's 40. While Flacco was making all the throws against New Hampshire, Booty was posting a 62% completion percentage and a 15:2 touchdown-interception ratio against top 25 defenses (2006-2007). In a pro style offense. Booty gives Seattle a real developmental quarterback and someone to build the future around.
- 6. Ali Highsmith, OLB, LSU: Only the combine could make such a fine player from a marquee program fall so far. The 6th still might be a stretch, but if any chance exists that Highsmith is available at this pick, watch Ruskell draft him and never look back. Highsmith posted a 4.5/40 exiting high school, but laid the biggest of eggs at the combine, swampfooting his way to a 4.96/40. For a 226 pound linebacker best known for his speed and awareness, that "performance" stuck a fork in his only tool. I expect Ruskell to trust his scouts above a plainclothes exhibition. Highsmith will be a boon to special teams from day one and might replace Leroy Hill in 2009. I expect Highsmith to be an excellent Tampa-2 style linebacker, very strong in coverage, good tackler, all over the field, but sometimes lost in traffic.
- 7. King Dunlap, OT, Auburn: Ruskell's taste in offensive linemen tends towards the toolsy. The 6'9" Dunlap started 13 games his junior season at Auburn, but was benched in favor of true freshman Ryan Pugh his senior season. Dunlap won't be expected to do anything his first season, perhaps his first few seasons, and gets to attend left tackle school taught by headmaster Walter Jones. Jones is one of the greatest left tackles in the history of the NFL, though that doesn't mean he can teach another, it does mean Dunlap will learn from the best the kind of hard work and dedication it takes to succeed in the NFL. A practice squad player with incredible upside.