Rob Staton is a draft expert that runs the Seahawks Draft Blog - a respected and invaluable resource for anyone interested in the draft, but especially for Seahawks fans as he concentrates on the Hawks quite a bit. He's agreed to provide some draft coverage for Field Gulls, and in what will become a weekly segment, I'll ask him five questions that may be on the forefront of your (read: my) minds. Let's kick off the inaugural question and answer session.
DK: First off, let me start with a really broad and hard to answer question: within the realm of reality (i.e., there's a good chance this player will still be there) who is the best player the Seahawks could take at #25, and why?
RS: If we're talking about on-field ability, without doubt the two best players that could logically reach #25 are Jimmy Smith (CB, Colorado) and Ryan Mallett (QB, Arkansas). Obviously both players carry character question marks and that's the only reason they'd last that deep into round one.
There's a paper's width between Patrick Peterson and Jimmy Smith as the #1 cornerback in this draft class, that's how highly I rate Smith. He has everything you look for in an elite cornerback.
Mallett is the quaterback in this class best equiped to start as a rookie. The negative points of his game has been discussed in great detail, but too often the positives are ignored. This is a guy who has experience running an offense that includes making changes at the line of scrimmage, diagnosing a defensive look and making a judgement call under pressure. I haven't scouted a quarterback (including Andrew Luck) who has matched Mallett's ability to progress through several reads and still show equal ability to check down or throw a game changing deep ball for six points. The mobility issue is less of a problem than the occasional head scratching decision, but you can live with that given his ability to consistently make plays.
Even considering the character problems, I wouldn't project either to necessarily remain on the board at #25. If we're talking about possibilities though they are the best players capable of falling into that range. Some other names I'd put into the mix are: Mike Pouncey (OG/C, Florida), Jabaal Sheard (DE, Pittsburgh) and Mark Ingram (RB, Alabama)
DK: A lot of people have been mocking Mike Pouncey to the Hawks at #25 - some don't think he'll make it there, but if he does:
a. Do you think it would be a good pick for the Hawks?
b. Are there any other interior linemen in the 1st round worth of that pick? explain...
RS: a) Drafting Pouncey would be a very positive decision in many scenarios. If the top four quarterbacks are off the board and nobody has suffered an unexpected fall then it'd be a wise choice. Although he's not the same complete interior line prospect that his twin brother Maurkice was, you're still talking about a guy who starts in week one, year one and locks down a position for ten years.
b) I graded Rodney Hudson (OG/C, Florida State) as a late first round pick when I watched several Florida State games in 2009 and I stand by that. People love to talk about his lack of size but Hudson is much stronger than people give him credit for. You won't see a better technician coming out of college. Is he worthy of the #25 overall pick? No - but only because he'll be around ten picks later. If he really was the man Seattle wanted they should try to trade down. I suspect if Pouncey's off the board before #25 they'll consider other positions.
DK: Do you have any "sleeper" picks in your mind right now at Offensive Line that Hawks fans should keep an eye on in the mid to late rounds?
RS: The one player that really caught my eye in 2010 who I thought would be a great sleeper was James Carpenter (OT, Alabama). He's a former JUCO prospect who started at left tackle for the Crimson Tide in 2010 and really had no attention during the season. I projected him as a mid-round project with major potential who could go later on, but it appears he's impressed enough people this off-season to possibly find a home in round two or three. I'd have no issues targetting him at #57.
Elsewhere, Joseph Barksdale (OT, LSU) should provide some value as a potential starter at right tackle.
DK: Corner is a high-need position for the Hawks - if Colorado's Jimmy Smith is not taken by the Hawks in the first round, are there any prospects you'd consider in the 2nd, 4th, or 5th rounds?
RS: There's some depth at cornerback this year. In round two we should see the likes of Curtis Brown (Texas) and Brandon Harris (Miami) come off the board. I suspect Aaron Williams (Texas) will be a late second or early third round pick. Johnny Patrick (Louisville) is a riser who should go in R2/3 and Davon House (New Mexico State) and Chimdi Chekwa (Ohio State) have a chance to go early.
Brandon Burton (Utah) is a player I like a lot and thought could move into the first round talk after work outs but it's not happened. He'd be a great value pick at the top of round four. I graded Ras-I Dowling as a R2/3 prospect before injuries destroyed his senior year. He could fall like Walter Thurmond and offer some great value.
Later on Demarcus Van Dyke (Miami), Buster Skrine (Chattanooga) and Jalil Brown (Colorado) have a shot at sticking in the league.
DK: What was your grade for the Seahawks 2010 draft, and why?
RS: Overall I think it was mainly positive. Tim Ruskell didn't hit on first round picks and it's something Pete Carroll and John Schneider need to improve upon if the Seahawks are to contend on a consistent basis. Russell Okung and Earl Thomas showed enough in year one to suggest they can play a part in the team's long term plans. I was never a big Golden Tate fan but understand why they took a shot there, although that pick may never work out as they'd hoped. There are potential starters for the future in Thurmond, Chancellor and McCoy which is all you can ask for from picks in that 4-7 range. The trade for Leon Washington has to be included as a positive from the 2010 draft. A good start, but we need to be saying the same things about 2011 in 12 months time.
So there you have it. Thanks again to Rob for taking the time to answer some draft questions - great stuff and I'm already looking forward to putting together the questions for next week. Make sure you check out Rob's Seahawks Draft Blog, it really is a good resource and his writing style makes for a good read.