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Seahawks 2018 mock draft: Mel Kiper Jr. still has Seattle taking safety Derwin James

Alabama v Florida State Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

ESPN’s longtime draft guru Mel Kiper Jr. released his second mock draft (paywall) — presumably his last one before next week’s NFL combine — and his prediction on which player the Seattle Seahawks will choose has not changed.

Kiper projects Florida State University safety Derwin James to be taken at #18 overall, the highest placement the Seahawks have had in the first-round since 2012. He cites the uncertain future of the aging Legion of Boom as the main reason Seattle would choose James.

The 21-year-old James had an outstanding freshman season, but missed almost all of 2016 after tearing his meniscus. He did return to play 12 of Florida State’s 13 games in 2017, making for 26 games played overall in his collegiate career. James is listed at 6’3” and 215 lbs in his profile, and the player comparison is Kansas City Chiefs star Eric Berry.

Seattle hasn’t drafted a secondary player in the 1st or 2nd round since they picked Earl Thomas at #14 overall in 2010. Obviously there’s been plenty of speculation about Thomas being traded, but it’s still a major departure from Seattle’s drafting tendencies under John Schneider and Pete Carroll.

Maybe it’s just me, but I think the whole “full rebuild of the secondary” push I’ve seen from certain NFL analysts is a bit overblown. It’s almost entirely based on assumed losses of Kam Chancellor, Richard Sherman, and Thomas, even though it’s distinctly possible all three of them will be wearing Seahawks jerseys next season. There’s also Shaquill Griffin, who had a very encouraging rookie season, plus the hope that Seattle re-signs free agent Bradley McDougald, who filled in more than competently in Chancellor’s absence. As Kenneth Arthur pointed out, the Seahawks already have Delano Hill and Tedric Thompson on the roster, which means Seattle would be taking three safeties in two drafts.

I’m not saying I’m not interested in James, who appears to be a great talent and at a minimum is cheaper and obviously younger than everyone else in Seattle’s secondary, but I’d be surprised if they went that route. Then again, mock drafts are the ultimate exercise in futility.