In case you missed it yesterday, make sure to check out the Field Gulls' collaborative mock draft of picks from yesterday, in which twelve of your dauntless writers here worked together to make the first 24 selections, each with in-depth write-ups for our reasoning behind each pick. For a little background on how we got to where we are today, picking for the Seahawks at #25, make sure you head back and give it a little re-read to see who's off the board and why each player was chosen.
Of course, of most interest to you is which player the Seahawks may take at #25, under this scenario we've created. When we ran a poll after yesterday's post, opening up the forum, naturally, there was quite a disparity in opinion as to who might be the Seahawks' best option - and the player that got the most votes, Oregon's DE Dion Jordan, received a mere 18% of the popular vote (over 1000 people voted). It seems as though this pick for the Seahawks, at #25 this coming April, could be a tough choice. Certainly, an unanimously popular pick is not going to happen. Here were your preliminary results of our opinion poll:
18% DE/OLB Dion Jordan
13% DT Kawann Short
13% TE Zach Ertz
8% OT D.J. Fluker
7% LB Khaseem Greene
7% WR Tavon Austin
7% WR DeAndre Hopkins
5% OG Jonathan Cooper
4% DE Sam Montgomery
2% DE Datone Jones
2% CB Desmond Trufant
2% DE Margus Hunt
1% WR Justin Hunter
1% LB Arthur Brown
1% TE Travis Kelce
So, a wide breadth of opinions. Well, I've got good news. We've narrowed the choices down, and we twelve Field Gulls writers have each made a selection for the Seahawks, along with our reasoning and argument as to why our pick makes the most sense. Predictably, out of twelve writers, we came up with nine different names. It's now in your hands as to whom the Seahawks will take in this exercise, so make sure you vote below (this is the final vote). Once the results are tallied, we'll finish up the 1st round and move into the 2nd round, where we'll do this all again.
Read, watch and then choose carefully.
25: Seahawks | GM Mike Chan
The Pick: Datone Jones, DE, UCLA
Well, how do I start? With Ertz, Short, Hopkins, Greene, and many other top players in their positions to select from here, this is probably PC/JS dream scenario in trading down to get more picks.
I know that a lot of us would consider adding another top flight target for Russell, or want to solidify our LB corps, but you forget that we have a lot of depth in those positions. I have no problem with Malcolm Smith filling in for Hill, nor do I believe that a trio of Rice-Baldwin-Tate is lackluster. Can we improve these positions? Of course. But it's not a main priority.
What is a priority is pass rush and depth within the D-Line. Out of the rotation, two (Branch/Jones) are FA and probably won't be back together next season (barring somebody taking a pay cut), one is coming off ACL (Clemons), one has been gimpy throughout last year (Red) and the rest are underdeveloped. It would make a lot more sense to bring in another veteran FA to solidfy the group, but assuming the worst case scenario comes, DL suddenly becomes a weak point for our unit.
Here's where Jones comes in. He's a versatile player that has played the 3-4 and 4-3, subbing in at all the basic Seahawks D-Line techniques. He can play the Bryant position perfectly and at the same time as the Alan Branch DT with a more fluid rush. He's great against the run and my eyes have widened at the sight of him shedding OL quickly and effectivley.
At the risk of sounding like Mike Mayock, I love his get off from the snap and more often than not he beats the guy in front of him within the first three steps. He practically demanded a double team against the OL, and when you pair him up between Big Red and Mebane - well, something's gotta give. The question, of course, is where does he fit in the pass rush, and if you did your homework like all of us writers did (I hope?) then Jones would remind you of a Kawann Short.
Short and Jones are very comparable in terms of versatility and quickness. But what compelled me to go with Jones is this key difference: Short is a DT that can play outside, but Jones is a DE that can play inside. This is important because Jones has shown a more vaired rush from different angles of the LOS than Short has, and it will be interesting to see what kind of fronts Pete will designed specifcally to take advantage of his abilities.
Jones has also worked hard in the offseason to improve his hand techniques, which is espeically important in an interior pass rusher. To be more clear, Jones has natrual quickness with built up strength, which is very rare to find in a D-Lineman. He may very well play into the starting lineup if Clem or Red becomes a cap casualty.
Finally, this guy's intangibles and character just screams like a Pete Carroll guy. He explained his team's philosophy as this: "Our mentality is a race to the football. I know that if I don't run to the football I'm not working, and we all know that if you're not working hard you're not gonna eat. We're hunters and gatherers on this defense. We hunt and then we eat. That's how it is in real life." I think that he will certainly be the "Russell Wilson" of this year's class for Pete and John.
25: Seahawks | GM Jacob Stevens
The Picks: Justin Hunter, WR, Tennessee
Cordarrelle Patterson is Von Miller. Everyone saw his skills were through the roof. Justin Hunter is Aldon Smith. A stealthy viper that wastes little movement. Cordarrelle Patterson is Terrell Owens. Men his size shouldn't have the moves he has. Cordarrelle Patterson is Cadillac Williams. But Justin Hunter is Ronnie Brown.
Cord moves with the ball in his hands was eye candy for scouts, like Von Miller's pass rush. The very thing you think about when someone says "popped off the tape." You & I weren't the only ones; a very talented but very bad QB looked to Cord, would throw to Cord on a curl, covered, while Justin Hunter beat his man by two steps on a deep post with no safety help. Because Tyler Bray's eyes were already on Cord. Because Cord draws your eyes to him.
You can see Justin Hunter's success in Patterson's highlight tapes frequently. You can see Tyler Bray's scattershot accuracy make Hunter's receptions look too often underwhelming, a 6'4"" man taking small steps, desperately trying to keep a lofted *and* underthrown ball in play.
All three are graded down because they're just so inconsistent, you just don't know what to make of them. Well, I think it's the QB.
Hunter's just not been the same since his ACL surgery, when he had half again more foot-pounds of torque off the line. He's not as scrappy as, say, DeAndre Hopkins, and the return from surgery seems to have kept him a bit tentative this year. Without expecting an Adrian Peterson recovery, I don't believe his recovery was quite complete, this season, and it's fair to expect to see a bit more out of Hunter moving forward than 2012.
As is, Hunter had 73 receptions, over 1,000 yards receiving, and 9 TDs, off of what amounted to leftovers from flashy teammate Patterson. With a really bad QB. On an ACL that's not supposed to be as good as it used to be. Would I have picked Patterson, were both available? Probably -- Cord is a straight up playmaker. But Hunter may be a better all-around receiver, and his true value may be hidden by three factors. I was heavily leaning toward Dion Jordan, but Hunter could be a skinny Calvin Johnson available late in the first round.
25: Seahawks | GM Matt Erickson
The Pick: Dion Jordan, OLB/DE, Oregon
I would be doing pantsless cartwheels if this happened. Jordan is a long, versatile freak. If you watch his tape at Oregon, you'll see him rotate through 4-3 DE, 3-4 OLB, and nickel corner all in the same game. There's the possibility that he'd not be physical enough to man up on NFL tight ends, and he wouldn't have the quickness to consistently run with the best slot receivers, but he definitely wouldn't embarrass himself in either situation.
His speed, length, and flexibility bending the edge could make him a tremendous asset opposite Clemons or Irvin. Right now he's a little bit light and lets himself get pushed around playing the run, but if he added fifteen pounds he could be a real force off the edge, a la Michael Johnson. He's a big, fast, long freak who doesn't fit perfectly into any position, but has the versatility to adapt to a number of schemes. He's got Seahawk written all over him.
25: Seahawks | GM Jared Stanger
The Pick: Kawann Short, DT, Purdue
I'll be the first to admit, I missed on Kawann Short during the CFB season. Whatever tape I watched (most likely 2011 footage) didn't impress me. But Short was one of THE standouts at this year's Senior Bowl, and I had to go back and re-evaluate.
First of all, Short has great length. At 6'3", he's a few inches shorter than Alan Branch, but Short has the same 34" arms as Branch, and a total wingspan over 82". At 308 lbs, Short has a bit of a bad body but with a huge power-source. He uses that power-source to really fire impressively off of the snap, and then incorporates a pretty complete repertoire of interior pass-rush moves (spin, swim, rip, etc). I love his hand use. I love his lateral agility. I was pretty stunned at the push Short gets at the LOS and how often the dude is in the backfield. The 2012 game film (and some interview tape) was impressive. The combination of bad-body with big-man quicks and agility reminded me of Warren Sapp.
Kawann can play anywhere on the D-line: probably fits best for the Hawks at 3-tech, but wouldn't be out of place at the 1, and I even saw him slide outside as a 5-tech end for a couple snaps. Versatility is huge!
This year Kawann was 31st in the country in TFL (15.5), but 3rd if we isolate just the DT. He also added 7.0 sacks (50th overall, but top-5 for DT). Short had 4 passes batted at the line this year but I also noted that, in his sophomore season (2010), he broke up 8 passes. That is a significant number for a D-lineman (in 2010 JJ Watt had 7 "swats" for Wisconsin against the same BIG10 competition). Also significant, and a stat I'm very fascinated by for a few players, is blocked kicks. Short led the country this year in blocked kicks with 4 (Watt had 3 blocked kicks his final year in college). I thought it was a little surprising that Watt maxed out at 7 sacks in college, but that speaks to the possibility of "upside" in Short.
Something else I discovered on my second evaluation of Short was his consistency. Unlike many players in CFB these days, Kawann is not a JUCO transfer or a one-year wonder. He has played a significant role for the Boilermakers for all four years he's been there. Each year (freshman-senior) Kawann contributed at least 41 tackles (185 for college career), the last three years he's averaged 15 TFL (50 for career), an average of 6 sacks-per the last three seasons (18 career), and he finished college with 15 career PBU, 7 blocked kicks, a couple INT, and a couple FF.
Lastly, I took time after the Sr. Bowl to watch some of Kawann's press conferences and media interaction. I think his charisma is off the charts. I don't think that is to be overlooked.
I may have missed on Kawann Short initially, but I try to fail quickly. I hope the Hawks can learn from my mistake. I think Kawann's a star in-the-making.
25: Seahawks | GM Ben Harbaugh
The Pick: Zach Ertz, TE, Stanford
John Schneider mumbles "damn" as Jesse Williams leaves the board at 18 for Dallas. He immediately picks up the phone. As the screen reads "Seahawks are on the clock," he scans the list names at the top of the Hawk-board and salivates.
J-Schnei urgently tries to finalize a deal to trade down. Unfortunately it falls through. He frowns and consultes Pete as the countdown drops under 1:30. They settle on Zach Ertz, their highest rated player still available. Need points to defense while upside points to receiver.
But an important role lies wide open at tight end. Zach Ertz is too damn good and opens up too many options to pass on. He can act as both a Joker TE and also move inside as a solid blocker. If Zach Miller were to suffer injury or decline, Ertz could step in and the offense wouldn't miss a beat. Having both Miller and Ertz on the field would present considerable match-up problems for the defense. Marshawn gets another blocker and Russell gets another big target who can threaten down the field.
Schneider smiles and cracks his knuckles in anticipation for the middle rounds as Pete gives him a shoulder massage.
25: Seahawks | GM Jon Benne
The Pick: D.J. Fluker, OT, Alabama
The Seahawks have clear needs along the defensive line, but with Hankins snatched up just one pick before, I decided to go in a different direction. Fluker is a mountain of a man--he weighed in at 355 pounds at the Senior Bowl, but scouts raved about how well he carried his weight, and his wingspan is an absurd 87 inches.
Alabama fielded the best offensive line in recent college history, and Fluker was an anchor along the right side. He's an absolute mauler in the run game and would be a big improvement over Breno Giacomini (who actually improved over the second half of 2012, but I'm still not sold on him long-term).
If there's a knock on Fluker, it's that his poor footwork makes him a liability in pass protection. He's built to crush defenders, not set a pocket, which is why people are suggesting he moves to RG down the line. Good news, he'll also be an upgrade over JR Sweezy and John Moffitt.
Luxury pick? Sure, but it shores up an O-line with room to improve and is the kind of bold move Carroll and Schneider like to make (and don't think Tom Cable isn't whispering in their ears if Fluker becomes available at #25).
25: Seahawks | GM Rob Staton
The Pick: Khaseem Greene, LB, Rutgers
One of the most underrated players in the draft. The national media types aren't talking about him because he's a WILL and the position doesn't generate much hype. However, this guy is a Seahawks first round pick waiting to happen.
For the last two years he was the Big East defensive player of the year and the vocal and emotional leader of the Rutgers defense. He had 9.5 sacks, nine forced fumbles and two interceptions. Put it together with 13 additional quarterback hurries and 276 total tackles and you can see how much of an impact Greene can have for a defense.
He's a terrific athlete as a former converted safety, an ideal scheme fit and the tape simply backs up everything I'm highlighting here. Replacing Leroy Hill at the WILL isn't the teams biggest need, but there isn't a fantastic defensive tackle available here or a big, physical receiver (there are tight ends though...). Getting Greene would complete the back seven of the defense for a generation.
People will wonder if the pick is justified, but Hill played around 89% of the snaps in 2011. When you have a clear and healthy starter at the position, he'll be on the field for most of your defensive work. It was very tempting to go with Zach Ertz, Gavin Escobar or DeAndre Hopkins, who would all contribute, but I suspect the options at receiver will be superior to the options at defensive tackle or linebacker with the #56 pick.
Despite the presence of the superb Jonathan Cooper, I cannot see this team spending any high picks on the offensive line any time soon. They trust Tom Cable's judgement and his ability to coach guys up. They've already ploughed enough resources into this area. And let's be fair here -- the team already runs the ball incredibly well, shut out some of the league's best pass rushers in 2012 and has probably the most elusive quarterback in the NFL.
Ertz, Escobar and Hopkins would all be great picks but I just can't see this team passing on Greene unless they feel extremely confident he lasts until round two. And I'm definitely not confident about that.
25: Seahawks | GM Kenneth Arthur
The Pick: Jonathan Cooper, OG, North Carolina
Sometimes when you're doing something like this, you have to go back and make sure that your eyes doth not deceive you. "He must have been picked, right? Or maybe he was caught up in some spam or phishing prince of Persia e-mail fraud and his draft stock was slipping."
I searched Google though and looked over the draft and am delighted to see this player available. If the first 24 picks fell like that, then the Seattle Seahawks select Jonathan Cooper, G, North Carolina. The G stands for Gangster. I am a big fan of Zach Ertz, but I am not so sure that Seattle doesn't think they can't find a real "joker" or "wiseguy" tight end later in the draft. He also probably wouldn't be the blocker that Tom Cable will ask for at the position.
Tavon Austin is exciting, but I am always a fan of Tavon Austin-like players and I always want Seattle to draft my guys (McCluster, LaMichael, Spiller) and they never do. So I am aware of Pete's non-propensity to draft a player like that early that he believes he can get later. I also think that receiver just isn't as high on their priorities as it is mine or that any of the available ones here out-talent Cooper.
I don't think that "wricka wricka record scratch" DJ Fluker is higher on the big board. Dion Jordan would be an interesting if he cranked out some ridiculous 40 time at the combine but I wouldn't put him over Cooper right now. Neither are any of the available big man to get real beefy on the defensive line, any outside linebackers, any tight ends, any receivers.
There is only the versatile Cooper, the 2nd-rated OG in the draft behind only one of the highest-rated OG's of the decade. The last time the Seahawks drafted a guy like that in the 1st, he turned in a Hall of Fame career. Cooper seems like a good dude that will also make Pete real happy in the interview process, a guy that's going to work hard, take none of it for granted, and do what is best for the team.
For these reasons, Cooper would become another mainstay on the offensive line for years: Okung, Unger, Cooper, Carp/Moffitt/Sweezy, and Breno (for now) is a solid, solid line. Pete and John have all the confidence in the world that they can find Pro Bowl talent at ANY point in the draft so they subscribe to getting the player they want the most, not the player that fills the biggest need. They'd take Cooper here, and then search for those other positions later. Heck, if Cooper fell to 20 they might trade up.
25: Seahawks | GM David Crockett
The Pick: Zach Ertz, TE, Stanford
Need, meet prospect value. Prospect value, meet positional value. Positional value, need. We all acquainted now Wait, you already know each other? You say you all reside in the same person? Why, that's downright trinitarian of you.
Let's not overthink this thing PC/JS. The biggest mistake contending teams make in the draft is swinging for home runs rather than swinging for line drives (and letting home runs take care of themselves). Zach Ertz may not be a run to the podium selection. Ertz is more of a stride casually-yet-confidently to the podium pick.
He scratches a specific itch in this offense. It needs a guy who can play in the power run game, but who can also be moved around to create mismatches. No one on the roster brings the same skills and versatility. Assuming he can play in Seattle's power-run oriented offense (a safe assumption, as the transition to a zone blocking scheme might actually mask some of his deficiencies), Bevell practically has to design a package for him.
25: Seahawks | GM Danny Kelly
The Pick: Jonathan Cooper, OG, North Carolina
I had the unenviable job of studying the San Francisco 49ers very closely during the last several weeks of the season, as I wrote up previews on the NFC Championship game and then the Super Bowl. The one indelible mark that was left on my brain after this in-depth study was a desire to see Seahawks gain the ability to do what the Niners do up front. One of the main reasons the Niners are so damn good is that they're simply dominant on the offensive line, and nothing teams do to game-plan for their schemes can prepare them for simply getting beaten one-on-one, time after time after time.
The Niners' O-line protected their young and inexperienced quarterback superbly, giving him a clean pocket and time to throw, then plowed out lanes for Frank Gore and LaMichael James to run through, making their infuriatingly balanced offense nigh unstoppable. Credit is surely due to the Ravens for somehow holding on to their lead in the face of a furious comeback in New Orleans, but if it hadn't been for an untimely time-out call by Jim Harbaugh, right before Colin Kaepernick took a designed run behind three lead blockers into what looked like what would be a sure touchdown, we might be talking about the World Champion San Francisco 49ers right now.
Why? Obviously, San Francisco has a strong defense, but their core identity on offense is rooted in their offensive line. It's why a team with nary a #1 receiver, zero receiver depth (Randy Moss, really?), and an inexperienced and raw quarterback could average a postseason high (and seriously absurd) 473.3 yards of offense per game. In the Playoffs. I want this.
Imagine the total domination you could see from Seattle's offense with such an elite offensive line. Seattle's schemes are dependent on the offensive line -- Seattle runs more than any team in the NFL, and Russell Wilson, as with any quarterback, has limitations as a passer when protection fails. Sure, he's great at escaping pressure and moving out of the pocket to throw on the run, but long term, imagine Russell Wilson with time to throw from a clean, wide pocket, without the need to keep Zach Miller, Anthony McCoy, and Marshawn Lynch in to protect. Now imagine a Seattle offensive line composed of Russell Okung, James Carpenter, Max Unger, Jonathan Cooper, and Breno Giacomini, and imagine Marshawn Lynch running behind that line. Like a wild banshee. Like a berserker, hellbent on indiscriminate destruction.
I don't care what you do on defense -- blitz looks, nickel, exotic looks, stunts, twists -- an offensive line with that much elite talent is going to win the majority of the time, and Seattle is going to simply demoralize every team they encounter. I know that sounds hyperbolic, but teams will be faced with the impossible decision of whether to make Marshawn Lynch or Russell Wilson be the one to beat them.
Jonathan Cooper is an elite guard prospect. He's light on his feet, he's a mauler, he's absolutely amazing on the move, and he fits the zone-blocking scheme like a glove as a guy that can move around with ease but also maul second-level defenders (double digit knockdown blocks this year for North Carolina - in at least 9 of their 12 games he registered a pancake block). Not only this, but from what I've read, he's got a nasty demeanor, he's versatile, and he would even be athletic enough to kick out to tackle in a pinch (I would assume, though this is just projecting - but as Doug Farrar pointed out yesterday, Cooper often starts in a two-point stance, similar to what tackles do).
Imagine a suped up, faster, stronger, technically sound, fundamental and nastier version of J.R. Sweezy injected onto this line, and you've got Jonathan Cooper. If it wasn't for Chance Warmack, Cooper would be getting David DeCastro levels of love this year, but he's stayed under the radar and in Warmack's shadow, relatively.
Cooper is perfect for the Seahawks' right side - he's able to quickly get into the second level and cut block or reach a linebacker, and considering that the Seahawks run left more than any team in the NFL, his ability to cut off backside defenders in zone schemes means longer runs for Lynch, and more open field for him to work with. When the Hawks run right, his quickness and strength will discourage interior penetration, opening up cutback lanes for Lynch as teams look to deal with Cooper at the point of attack.
I'm not sure whether Jon Cooper will be around at 25 when late April rolls around, but I'd jump at the chance to add a talent like his on the Seahawks' offensive line if he's still available.
25: Seahawks | GM Derek Stephens
The Pick: Khaseem Greene, LB, Rutgers
The depth at DT in this draft may allow Seattle to wait a round or two before grabbing more pass-rush, and Greene not only fills an immediate need, but brings the top play-making linebacker in the draft to play alongside one of the leagues more impressive young tandems in Bobby Wagner and K.J. Wright. Greene is physical, tough, instinctive and explosive...sounds like a Seahawk.
25: Seahawks | GM Jacson Bevens
The Pick: Tavon Austin, WR, West Virginia
What can I say? I'm a huge fan of Seahawks touchdowns and I don't think any remaining people in the draft are gonna be as capable of scoring them at the next level as Austin.
You know those visions of Percy Harvin in a Seahawks uniform that you have dancing on the insides of your eyelids at night? All those jukes, all the different ways Russell Wilson could use him, the constant matchup advantages... Well, Tavon Austin can be that for a fraction of the price and, presumably headaches.
Consider this: after spending all season as one of the nation's leading receivers, Austin filled in for an injured starting running back, against a Top 10 team in Oklahoma, and rushed 21 times for 344 yards, adding 82 receiving yards and a couple of touchdowns. No one left on the board possesses more playmaking ability than Tavon.
This isn't just a pick intended for flash, either. As the read-option becomes more prevalent, teams will likely start playing more contain-based defenses, as Atlanta did in the playoffs, pockets of space in the middle of the field become wide open ( see: Zach Miller's performance against the Falcons). Now insert Austin, arguably the most elusive open field runner available, into that equation and it's no wonder you've drool forming at the corners of your mouth.
The Seahawks offense will continue to evolve; Tavon Austin could expedite that process faster than anyone else in the draft.
Ok, you've had time to think about it. You've had time to read our scouting reports and you may or may not have changed your mind since the last time we talked. Think long and hard, then make your choice below: