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2017 NFL Mock Draft: Seahawks target secondary, 49ers take first QB off the board

In a loaded draft for defensive backs, Seattle could target a a corner with the #26 pick

NCAA Football: Arizona State at Washington Jennifer Buchanan-USA TODAY Sports

In his end of season press conference, Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll highlighted three key needs:

  1. Secondary help
  2. Linebacker depth
  3. Offensive line

Regaining an aura of intimidation on defense, re-establishing the running game and finding a greater level of offensive balance could be the off-season game plan.

Their $35m in estimated cap room means they can afford to make some moves in free agency. Can they bring in a veteran offensive tackle? Is a deal for Calais Campbell realistic?

Here’s a first round projection followed by some details on Seattle’s pick at #26 and some possible targets for the rest of the draft.

First round projection

#1 Cleveland Browns — Myles Garrett (EDGE, Texas A&M)

The Browns face a big decision. Take a quarterback at #1 or risk missing out. If they bring in someone like Tyrod Taylor (seemingly on his way out in Buffalo) they can draft Garrett here.

#2 San Francisco 49ersDeshaun Watson (QB, Clemson)

If you’re hiring Kyle Shanahan you need to give him a quarterback to build around. Watson isn’t a one-year wonder like Mitch Trubisky and has the mobility to fit Shanahan’s offense.

#3 Chicago Bears — Mitch Trubisky (QB, North Carolina)

The Bears need a quarterback. Unless they do something in free agency, they’ll be looking closely at this QB class. Trubisky is mobile, accurate and worth a shot.

#4 Jacksonville JaguarsMalik Hooker (S, Ohio State)

The closest thing to Earl Thomas in seven years. Hooker has the range and production (seven interceptions in 2016). The Jaguars need another playmaker in the secondary.

#5 Tennessee TitansSolomon Thomas (DE, Stanford)

Thomas will own the combine and could propel his stock comfortably into the top-five. His short area quickness is comparable to Joey Bosa and he’s explosive too (37-inch vertical at the 2013 Nike Combine).

#6 New York JetsLeonard Fournette (RB, LSU)

Arguably the best player in the draft. You won’t find a better combination of size, breakaway speed and tone-setting physicality. Fournette’s destined for greatness.

#7 Los Angeles ChargersJamal Adams (S, LSU)

He lacks Malik Hooker’s range and production but he’s athletic, plays with great instinct and can deliver a big hit. A good combine should secure Adams’ place in the top-10.

#8 Carolina Panthers — Dalvin Cook (RB, Florida State)

Running back isn’t the biggest need in Carolina — but how often are they going to be picking this early? This is an opportunity to draft a future star. Cook is dynamite.

#9 Cincinnati BengalsJonathan Allen (DE, Alabama)

Allen could go a lot earlier than this but he’s unlikely to have a brilliant combine and others will (eg Solomon Thomas). This would be a great value pick for the Bengals.

#10 Buffalo Bills -- Deshone Kizer (QB, Notre Dame)

If (when?) Tyrod Taylor departs, they’ll have a massive void at quarterback. Kizer has a lot of physical potential and ideal character to be a franchise quarterback.

#11 New Orleans SaintsReuben Foster (LB, Alabama)

If Foster was the second pick in the draft, nobody would complain. Positional value could keep him out of the top-10 but he could be another Luke Kuechly or Bobby Wagner.

#12 Cleveland Browns -- Jabrill Peppers (S, Michigan)

The Browns need to accumulate talent and despite a lot of naysaying recently -- Peppers still has an incredible ceiling. Put him at strong safety and be creative.

#13 Arizona Cardinals -- Marlon Humphrey (CB, Alabama)

Great size (6-1, 196lbs), physicality and cover skills. Humphrey has a ton of upside and like a lot of the Alabama prospects, the character to match.

#14 Indianapolis Colts -- Sidney Jones (CB, Washington)

Teams only threw at him 48 times in 2016. No other cornerback in this class was avoided more than Jones. When he was challenged he punished opponents (see: Cal 2016).

#15 Philadelphia EaglesMike Williams (WR, Clemson)

Williams is good but is he special? At times you’d be tempted to say yes. He also had a lot of quiet games in 2016. He isn’t expected to have an amazing workout at the combine.

#16 Baltimore Ravens -- Garett Bolles (T, Utah)

The best offensive tackle in college football. Bolles is tenacious and physical, adept at getting to the second level and he has the loose hips and footwork to handle pass-pro. He could replace Ricky Wagner in Baltimore.

#17 Washington — Budda Baker (S, Washington)

Highly underrated, Baker has the short-area quickness to be effective in the slot and the closing speed to play single high. His best asset might be his ability to blitz and make plays in the backfield.

#18 Tennessee Titans -- Marshon Lattimore (CB, Ohio State)

The Titans have a really balanced, explosive offense. After taking Solomon Thomas at #5 they add a cornerback many consider to be the #1 in this class.

#19 Tampa Bay BuccaneersDavid Njoku (TE, Miami)

A 4.4 runner at 6-4 and 245lbs, Njoku is a physical freak and a star high-jumper. He’ll be a next-level mismatch over the seam and he can split out wide or play in the slot.

#20 Denver Broncos — Antonio Garcia (T, Troy)

Garcia combines great length and size (6-7, 305lbs) with quick feet and balance. He needs to be more physical in the running game but he really impressed in pass-pro against Clemson.

#21 Detroit LionsTaco Charlton (EDGE, Michigan)

Charlton saved his best for last with a standout performance against Florida State in the Orange Bowl. At times he looks like Aldon Smith with an almost identical body-type and get-off.

#22 Miami Dolphins -- Zach Cunningham (LB, Vanderbilt)

Cunningham has unnatural length for his size. He’s fierce against the run and racked up numerous TFL’s in 2016. He’s capable of a 4.4 or low 4.5’s at the combine and could go earlier than this.

#23 New York Giants -- O.J. Howard (TE, Alabama)

Forget the lack of production — Howard never complained about his role at Alabama. He’s a complete tight end with the athletic profile to be a mismatch.

#24 Oakland Raiders — Adoree’ Jackson (CB, USC)

A captain at USC, Jackson should excel in the forty and three-cone. Is he big enough to play outside? If not, he’ll be a dynamic slot defender. X-factor return man.

#25 Houston Texans -- Ryan Ramczyk (T, Wisconsin)

He’s having surgery and could be out for four months. If he fails to do any pre-draft testing that could hurt his stock. Eventually someone will take a shot.

#26 Seattle SeahawksKevin King (CB, Washington)

King is a highly underrated prospect. He ran a 6.40 three-cone at the 2016 Husky Combine. If he repeats that in Indianapolis, it’ll be the fastest three-cone ever.

#27 Kansas City Chiefs -- Takkarist McKinley (DE, UCLA)

He would go a lot earlier than this but concerns over a labrum injury could lead to a fall. McKinley plays with relentless effort. Expect a great 10-yard split if he works out.

#28 Dallas Cowboys -- Charles Harris (EDGE, Missouri)

Another prospect who could end up going a lot earlier. You have to watch Harris to appreciate how good he is. He’s so quick and a natural pass-rusher.

#29 Green Bay Packers -- Tre’Davious White (CB, LSU)

He defended 16 passes in 2016, tied with Adoree’ Jackson and one more than Kevin King and Cordrea Tankersley. White wore the coveted #18 jersey at LSU for the last two years.

#30 Pittsburgh Steelers -- John Ross (WR, Washington)

Pittsburgh has so much speed already on offense so imagine trying to cover Antonio Brown and John Ross. He’s capable of a 4.3 forty at the combine.

#31 Atlanta Falcons -- Derek Barnett (DE, Tennessee)

He won’t test brilliantly and that’ll hurt but there’s still so much to like. One play stands out. Cornerback Cam Sutton forced a fumble way downfield and as the ball bounced free, in comes Barnett sprinting from the LOS to scoop it up. Hustle defined.

#32 New England Patriots -- Gareon Conley (CB, Ohio State)

Conley isn’t a million miles behind Marshon Lattimore but in such a strong class for cornerbacks he could last into the latter part of round one.

Further thoughts on Seattle’s pick

Kevin King is one of the more underrated players in the draft class. There’s a reason he’s being touted as a top-45 pick by Tony Pauline and was listed in Daniel Jeremiah’s top-50.

He could be the freakiest athlete in this loaded cornerback class. With extreme length (6-3, 192lbs), King had the following workout at last years Husky Combine:

— 4.02 short shuttle

— 6.40 three-cone

— 39.5 inch vert

— 10-10 broad

He'll probably only run a similar forty time to Richard Sherman (4.56) but the numbers above are crazy. His 6.40 three-cone would be the fastest ever if repeated in Indianapolis in March (beating Jeff Maehl’s 6.42). His 10-10 broad jump would’ve matched Vernon Hargreaves’ effort a year ago for third best among CB’s. His 39.5 inch vertical would’ve also ranked third a year ago.

The Pete Carroll Seahawks haven’t drafted a cornerback earlier than the fourth round (Walter Thurmond, 2010). If they’re going to break that trend this year, it’s likely going to be for a special athlete. King fits the bill.

He’s not just an athlete either. In five games of tape I’ve not seen him beaten over the top once, he’s adept at covering crossing routes and can line up in the slot with ease. He broke up 15 passes in 2016 — as many as Clemson’s Cordrea Tankersley and one less than Tre’Davious White and Adoree’ Jackson.

If they’re looking at specific slot corner’s, they might look for a prospect with a similar profile to Chris Harris Jr. He’s 5-10 and 194lbs but had great length (33.5 inch arms) and ran a 4.48 at his combine.

Other possible first round targets (depending on availability)

Garett Bolles (T, Utah)

Budda Baker (S, Washington)

Zach Cunningham (LB, Vanderbilt)

Adoree’ Jackson (CB, USC)

Antonio Garcia (T, Troy)

Possible targets rounds 2-7

Haason Reddick (LB, Temple)

A Bruce Irvin clone — he’s a relentless, athletic linebacker with major production in 2016 (10.5 sacks, 22.5 TFL’s, three FF’s and a pick). Reddick (6-1, 235lbs) reportedly ran a 4.47 at his junior pro-day. He also supposedly had a 10-10 in the broad jump and a 36-inch vertical. He could be a SAM/LEO type.

Shalom Luani (S, Washington State)

A pure playmaker in the secondary, Luani had 8.5 TFL’s, four interceptions and a couple of sacks in 2016. His backstory is the definition of grit. Deone Bucannon is a fan -- the original deathbacker has suggested Luani could play a similar role. Whether he can run a 4.49 like Bucannon remains to be seen. If he does, get ready for a big rise.

Akhello Witherspoon (CB, Colorado)

Witherspoon needs to work on his tackling but he has the kind of frame (6-3, 190lbs) Seattle likes. He did a really good job in coverage against Washington's John Ross. Witherspoon also had 22 passes defended in 2016 -- second most among cornerbacks.

Jimmie Gilbert (LB, Colorado)

At the Shrine Game he was measured at 6-4 and 223lbs with +34 inch arms. That type of length will get Seattle’s attention, especially with the range Gilbert shows on tape. A possible SAM with the frame to add 10lbs, he had 10 sacks in 2016 and 14 TFL’s.

Adam Bisnowaty (T, Pittsburgh)

We know the Seahawks like explosive, big offensive linemen. It’s hard to judge who fits the criteria until we have the combine numbers. Bisnowaty started at left tackle for Pittsburgh and is a former four-star recruit with a wrestling background. We know Tom Cable likes that. He’s been compared to Ricky Wagner in Baltimore.

Elijah Hood (RB, North Carolina)

The Seahawks have consistently drafted a ‘type’ at running back. It’s usually a player in the 5-10-6-0 range, around 220lbs with an explosive physical profile. At the Nike SPARQ combine in 2013 Hood ran a 4.48 (same as C.J. Prosise) with a 4.20 short shuttle and a 36-inch vertical at 6-0 and 221lbs.

Cam Sutton (CB, Tennessee)

Length and size will be crucial here. He’s listed at 5-11 and 186lbs and he’ll probably need to pass the 32-inch arms test to be on Seattle’s radar. That said, Sutton is a terrific athlete and an even better character. You can imagine him fitting into Seattle’s locker room. At times he jumped off the screen when watching Tennessee.

Rasul Douglas (CB, West Virginia)

If the Seahawks are looking for players with a nose for the ball, Douglas could be a target. He had eight interceptions in 2016 and in one game against Iowa State he hustled to chase the ball carrier down from behind and punched the ball out for a fumble. He makes things happen. Douglas is 6-2 and 203lbs.

Treston Decoud (CB, Oregon State)

There’s a lot said about Decoud’s long speed but his overall physical profile is intriguing. He’s 6-2 and 203lbs with +33 inch arms (per the Shrine Game measurements). He’s the cousin of former Pro-Bowler Thomas Decoud.

The middle rounds could also provide some O-line options. Roderick Johnson, Chad Wheeler, Dion Dawkins, Julien Davenport and David Sharpe could be players to monitor at the combine. The Seahawks have seemingly focused on explosive athletes on the O-line, as explained in this article.

Rob Staton writes Seahawks Draft Blog — providing daily off-season coverage. You can also follow him on Twitter via @robstaton