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Will the Seahawks have a chance to draft elite talent at 18?

Miami Dolphins v Kansas City Chiefs Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images

The 2018 NFL draft is just days away, as fans of all teams get ready to plant the seeds of the dreams of success, and fans of the Seattle Seahawks want to know if the team will do things differently this draft compared to those of seasons past. In particular, since the Seahawks front office used a first round pick on Bruce Irvin in 2012 the team has only used one first round pick to select a player in the college draft, and that is on Germain Ifedi.

In contrast, in the other four drafts the team has either traded their first round draft pick for a proven playmaker such as Percy Harvin or Jimmy Graham or traded out of the first round while accumulating more draft capital. Many observers expect the Hawks to trade back yet again this offseason, and so the question becomes what Seattle would be able to get in return if it traded down out of 1.18.

The answer to that question, of course, rests upon which draft trade calculator one wishes to use and the underlying assumptions one makes about how long players will stay with their drafted team. It’s an entire can of worms to dig into, so let’s take a different angle in looking at this. Let’s look at the players drafted between 1.18 and 1.20 over the past decade, and from there we can discuss whether it might be better to select only one of those players versus selecting one player and getting a hedge out of the additional draft capital that would be picked up.

In any case, here is the list of all NFL players drafted with the 18th, 19th or 20th pick in the first round of the NFL draft since 2008.

Obviously we’re looking at this list with the benefit of hindsight, but which of those players would have been the most worthy of using a first round pick on them? And on the flip side, which of those players should have been passed over in order to pick up more picks in the mid to late rounds?

Coming back to where I started, however, the Seahawks are picking higher than they have at any time since 2012, so they would seem to have a shot at potentially picking up some elite talent with that 18th pick in the first round.

However, on Saturday the general manager of the Indianapolis Colts, Chris Ballard, was quoted by Evan Silva as there only being eight elite non-quarterback prospects in the entire draft.

If that’s the case, and if there are four to six potential elite quarterback prospects, then that would combine to make a total of no more than 14 elite prospects in the entire draft. That is not enough to even guarantee the Seahawks a shot at one of the elite players at 18, but trading down and adding day two and day three could set Seattle up for success in this draft. In particular, according to some analysts the meat of the 2018 draft will come at the end of Day 2 and early on Day 3. For example, in that tweet from Evan Silva he quotes Josh Norris, and this is what Josh Norris has to say on the subject.

If the meet of the draft really is between 75 and 150, that could be a really good thing for Seattle. The Hawks currently hold picks 4.120, 5.141 and 5.146 in that range, with two more picks, 5.156 and 5.168 falling just outside of that reported sweet spot.

These facts appear to then combine to put Seattle in position to trade back from 1.18 and add draft capital in rounds two and three, while not giving up elite potential that they might not even have the option to draft at 1.18. That would be my guess, anyway, but we’ll find out more on Thursday night.