Entering Friday evening and the 2018 NFL Draft’s second and third rounds, the Seattle Seahawks are set to pick just once, in the third round with the 76th overall selection. That pick was acquired from the Green Bay Packers during the first round, as the Packers moved back up to the 18th overall selection to select CB Jaire Alexander. However, it’s no secret the Seahawks desperately want to recoup selections lost in trades for Sheldon Richardson and Duane Brown. The most often discussed route of doing so is trading perennial All-Pro and defensive backbone Earl Thomas. Any potential trade involving Thomas is possible pretty much until the Dallas Cowboys make their second round pick, with the 50th overall selection.
With the potential for a big move and a return to the second round on the horizon, let’s take a look at three different scenarios for Seattle on day two, and players to watch in each of them:
Scenario 1 - Seahawks only draft once, with the Packers’ selection at 3.76:
If Seattle retains Thomas beyond the draft, it’s tough to envision them adding selections or moving up on day two without trading away even more selections, which they’d obviously be hesitant to do. Sticking at 3.76 could still provide them the opportunity to add a day one contributor.
The former Trojan defensive tackle is just 20 years old and was advised to remain at USC for another season. However, declaring for the draft was the right decision, as the Trojans did him no favors, lining him up consistently at defensive tackle. At 6-foot-4 and 275 pounds, Green has ideal size to be a base EDGE for the Seahawks before shifting inside in the team’s NASCAR package. While he doesn’t possess the strength to collapse the pocket from the interior, he does have excellent lateral agility and short-area quickness, enabling him to win on stunts as well as crossing the guard’s face and knifing through lanes. Green’s best is yet to come after being miscast in college and his ceiling as a pro is a three-down defender, capable of posting double-digit sacks.
Christian Kirk, WR, Texas A&M:
After losing both Paul Richardson and Jimmy Graham in free agency, the Seahawks have a need for pass catchers. Kirk worked out for Pete Carroll and John Schneider earlier in the pre-draft process and is the kind of personality they target. A shifty slot receiver with a solid build, Kirk is capable of winning underneath on option routes and would provide Seattle with the vertical threat they’re missing after Richardson’s departure. There’s a decent chance Kirk is gone before the 76th pick, but after just two wide receivers were selected on Thursday night, the entire receiver board shifts downwards. Expect at least Anthony Miller, Courtland Sutton and James Washington to be selected before Kirk as he becomes a real target with the 76th pick.
A dynamic, raw interior rusher who balanced as many flash plays with duds during his time at Virginia, Brown fits the mold of a 3-technique in the Seahawks’ defense. Brown actually tested out similarly to Malik McDowell and brings a similar skill set: Quickness inside and the ability to create pressure, albeit on an inconsistent basis in college. After playing primarily as a 3-4 DE in college, Brown’s best fit in the NFL is inside in a 4-3. He’s powerful and squatty enough to hold up against the run both inside and outside. If whichever coaching staff gets hold of him is able to unlock Brown’s potential on a play-by-play basis, he can be a three-down player capable of posting 5-8 sacks on a yearly basis.
Scenario 2: Seahawks trade Earl Thomas to the Buccaneers for 2.38:
After passing on Florida State safety Derwin James with their first selection, Tampa Bay remains in the safety market and have been talked about as a potential trade partner. Acquiring the sixth selection in the second round would give Seattle a chance to draft one of the premier talents who fell out of round one.
Jessie Bates, FS, Wake Forest
I have been adamant that trading Thomas away to acquire more picks would be treading water more than anything. As evidenced by Thomas’s absence at the end of the 2016 season, the Seahawks’ defense lives and dies by his presence. The role of the free safety in Pete Carroll’s defense is massive and they must be a true centerfielder for it to be successful. Bates is the only prospect with that type of range in this draft class and could immediately step into Thomas’s shoes while locking down the position for years to come.
After a heart condition was discovered at the Scouting Combine, Hurst’s draft stock was put into question. That question was answered last night, as the best defensive tackle in the entire class slipped out of round one completely, presumably due to concerns over his medical. Regardless, Hurst in round two is far too great of value to pass up, especially for a defensive line hungry team such as Seattle. The complete package of burst, strength, finish and technical ability, Hurst can play anywhere from 5-tech to 1-tech — but he’s best aligned at the 3-tech.
Harold Landry, EDGE, Boston College
Another inexplicable fall out of round one, Landry was my second rated EDGE prospect in the entire draft class behind Bradley Chubb, though over the last several weeks it started to sound as though the NFL liked Marcus Davenport more than Landry. A speed rusher who can turn the corner and bend like Von Miller, Landry’s ceiling is that of an All-Pro pushing for 20 sacks on a yearly basis. Whether it’s concerns over an injury plagued 2017 season or something else, Landry has fallen further than anyone expected and the 38th selection would be excellent value for the Seahawks.
Scenario 3: Seahawks trade Earl Thomas to the Cowboys for 2.50:
The most often talked about potential trade for Thomas could very well come down just under the buzzer on Friday evening. It would be incredibly Jerry Jones of Jerry Jones to blink first and make the trade with Seattle, making a splash with the draft in his home stadium.
Austin Corbett, G, Nevada
With so many other pressing needs, and D.J. Fluker and Ethan Pocic already on the roster, it would be fair for Seattle to punt on addressing the interior of the offensive line until next season. But with the 50th selection, Corbett would be great value and immediately slide in and help solidify the line on either side of Justin Britt. At 6-foot-4 and 306 pounds, Corbett is slightly less explosive than the offensive linemen the Seahawks have targeted in the past, but possesses the kind of movement skills Mike Solari looks for.
Josh Sweat, EDGE, Florida State
A physically dominant EDGE defender capable of winning against the run and pass, Sweat could slip into the middle of round two due to concerns over a catastrophic knee injury suffered in high school. Although he was too often aligned in the wrong place with the Seminoles - his best position is wide as a 7 or 5 technique - Sweat still flashed moments of brilliance. Having ditched a clunky knee brace to free up his movement, Sweat, like Green, will be a far more impactful pro than he was a college player, especially if the team he lands on aligns him correctly. At pick 50, Sweat could immediately step in as a starter on the EDGE as both Michael Bennett and potentially Cliff Avril move on.
It’s unlikely Bates falls to 2.50, but in a situation where Seattle has traded Thomas, safety still has to be a target. Reid isn’t a pure free safety, but can absolutely do a job as a single-high defender. An incredible athlete (in the 96th percentile), Reid makes flash plays around the line of scrimmage, sets the edge against the run, plays a robber role underneath in zones and can cover the slot with ease. Although they wouldn’t be replacing Thomas in a like-for-like sense, Reid and Bradley McDougald would give the Seahawks two interchangeable safeties capable of playing both positions and impacting the game at all three levels of the defense.