There are still 50 days until the pushed-back NFL draft this year, and that's going to leave plenty of time for mock drafts to go "this way and that way" and basically look like a focked-up game of Jenga when it's all said and done. In Mel Kiper's most recent mock draft, he had exactly three picks that were the same as in his first mock draft of the offseason.
Just three picks. And two of them were high picks.
As far as the Super Bowl champion Seattle Seahawks go, almost nobody agrees on who they will select. Not only is it technically the most difficult position in the first round to predict, it's also the fact of the matter that this front office rarely does what you expect. More often than not, we're sitting their scratching our heads (and our nether regions, am I right my fellow males?) when Seattle makes their moves in the NFL draft over the last four years.
Don't expect anything to be different this year.
There are definitely holes on the roster that need to be filled, but the "needs" are still murky depending on what you expect to get out of the "second and third string" players on this roster. The team can still draft the best player available, they can still take a guy that they think is just too valuable to ignore if he's still there when they're getting ready to hand their pick to Michael Chiklis.
Here are some of the more "out there" options in the 2014 draft and why they might make more sense than what you'd be assuming at first sight.
First, what are Seattle's biggest "needs" at this point?
The Seahawks have done a pretty good job of retaining some of their key unrestricted and restricted free agents, but there are actually plenty of 2013 "snaps" that are now gone and not yet replaced. Believe it or not, Seattle has just one new player from the free agency period as of this writing: Wide receiver Taylor Price.
And at this point, Price is a longshot to make the 53-man roster, with most people likely giving Chris Matthews a better chance to crack the receiving corps. We also know that they're likely looking to sign another receiver (including Kenny Britt, whom I advocated for in my Offseason Plan. (Let me get one right.)), a defensive tackle, and possibly a defensive end, offensive tackle, and guard.
They have not replaced: Clinton McDonald, Golden Tate, Breno Giacomini, Chris Clemons, Red Bryant, or Walter Thurmond III. To a lesser extent: Michael Robinson, Chris Maragos, Paul McQuistan, Kellen Davis.
However, there are some in-house players expected to take over certain roles vacated by those guys.
Robinson was initially just a replacement for Derrick Coleman/Spencer Ware, so really that just goes back to how it was at the start of 2013.
Percy Harvin will play a larger role in the offense than even Tate did in 2013, as long as his body parts stay stuck together.
Anthony McCoy was re-signed and has shown more potential than Davis ever has.
Michael Bowie could possibly play better over a full season than Giacomini did, and if not, Alvin Bailey is really still in the stages where he might become a great right tackle down the line.
Jordan Hill, Jesse Williams, Greg Scruggs, and Benson Mayowa have all been pegged as defensive-lineman-of-the-future in Seattle at one point or another, with Hill probably being the most likely to fill in a large number of those missing snaps next year.
Jeremy Lane and Tharold Simon could garner a larger role in the secondary, while the team clearly thinks very highly of Jeron Johnson.
So despite the fact that the Seahawks may look significantly different in 2014 than they did last year (at least, for those of us that know the roster as well as a three-year-old girl does) there is less reason to panic than there would be for other teams. As overly-confident and pompous as this may sound, Seattle is one of the few teams in the NFL that appears to run a successful minor league system.
They overcame a lot of injuries and off-field issues last season and still finished 13-3 in the best division in football, before eventually (I think) winning the Super Bowl. (Big, if true.)
Next season, players like Malcolm Smith, Byron Maxwell, Bowie, Bailey, Christine Michael, Jermaine Kearse, Luke Willson, McCoy, Hill, Bruce Irvin, and Lane are all setting up to prove they're a bigger piece of the puzzle than we give them credit for. And those are just the guys that we suspect.
Others, like Phil Bates, Arceto Clark, Ricardo Lockette, Matthews, Price, Michael Brooks, Kenneth Boatright, Korey Toomer, Simon, and more are all interesting in their own right. Nobody expected Smith to win Super Bowl MVP or for Maxwell to all of a sudden become another soon-to-be-free-agent that fans don't want to lose.
At this point, I think the biggest "need" is guard, depending on how you define a "need." Because we already knew that the Seahawks had below-average play at guard and along the offensive line and that didn't stop them from having a decent-sometimes-great offense, running game, and championship. Saying that you "need" a guard is sort of like saying that you "need" a kiss on the lips after a first date.
Yeah, sure, that would be nice, but it doesn't mean you can't close the deal. (What? Is this why I'm single???)
If we are talking about a position that looks sort of dire for 2014 right now, then guard would be the position to target. However, it does not appear that the Seahawks have targeted that position at all in free agency so far. We do know that a couple of years ago they drafted a right tackle (turned guard) and a guard (turned joke-maker/trouble-maker) with their first two picks, so we know that they aren't afraid to do that.
But if we are talking about a position that can't suffer next season, we wouldn't be talking about guard. We'd be talking about LEO, defensive end, pass-rusher on defense, and playmaker on offense. There has to be insurance for Harvin in the event of a 2013 repeat, as well as a complement, tall receiver just because that's what Pete Carroll clearly wants.
There have been a ton of different positions and players mocked to Seattle at 32 this year. Currently at CBS Sports, (this link will eventually be updated with information that possibly contradicts the following statement) they are projecting five different positions to the Seahawks from the five different mock drafters: OT, OG, TE, DT, and... okay, well Pat Kirwin projects that the Oakland Raiders will trade up to select Johnny Manziel, who he thinks is in for an "Aaron Rodgers-like" fall.
With Zach Miller restructuring his deal, it seems less likely that Seattle will draft a tight end early. They haven't shown a propensity for this like we had suspected in previous drafts, and the position looks at least three-deep at the moment.
Other than that, tackle, guard, and defensive tackle all seem reasonable. As does defensive end. At Walter Football right now, the pick is DE/OLB Dee Ford. These choices are pretty much what you're going to see all over the net for Seattle, but the Seahawks do not really have a tendency to do what is expected of them in the draft and they are just as confident in their seventh round selections as they appear to be in the first.
Carroll and Schneider didn't expect any less out of Russell Wilson at 75 as they would have if they selected him number one. He was the future starting quarterback, it was just a matter of the fact that you don't panic and bid a dollar amount twice or three times the expected value just because you're worried that someone else is going to panic and bid that much.
Would it surprise anyone if right now Carroll and Schneider see a defensive end currently projected to go in the fifth round that they are already plugging into the LEO position as a guy that racks up 12 sacks next year? One of the biggest mistakes made by mock drafters is that they believe you fill your biggest need at your earliest convenience. Good teams fill their needs with guys available at any position in the draft, based on value and fit.
Let's say that the Seahawks see a future starting guard, defensive tackle, defensive end, and wide receiver in this draft, but none in the first round. Instead, let's say that they're going to think outside the tackle box (pun) and take one of these guys.
02/20/2014 - 2014 NFL Draft Scout Pre-Combine Top 64 Prospects: 16. C.J. Mosley, ILB, Alabama, 6-2, 232, 4.65, 1...Leader of the Crimson Tide's suffocating defense, Mosley is highly regarded in the scouting community and could end up as a top 10 pick in May. Says NFLDraftScout.com senior analyst Rob Rang: "Tough and athletic, with the keenest instincts of any linebacker I've scouted since Lofa Tatupu, Mosley is constantly around the ball and is often making big plays as a result."
Brah, what are you even talking about?
The Seahawks already have Bobby Wagner, who is probably underrated around the league because he is one of the best young middle linebackers in the NFL. He's also set to be here for each of the next two seasons at under a million per year. Seattle doesn't run no 3-4 defense and has no need for another middle linebacker, so no matter how good Mosley is, how would he even get any reps next season?
What are you, Kenneth? Some kind of fockin' idiot?!
Mosley also has a history of injuries that has him slippin' on some draft boards, reportedly, and that's why he didn't run at the Scouting Combine. So you're just going to waste a pick on a player who plays a position for which this team has no need, who can't crack the starting lineup as a rookie, who will just be wasting away on the bench?!
Danny, fire this maroon!
Why it's just so damn crazy that it might just work:
Mosley was once regarded as a top 10 pick and is now reportedly seen as a possible draft-day-slide. Maybe even as late as round two. Despite being the leader of the Alabama defense and a general "beast" throughout his career, a possible future All-Pro might be available at or around the time that the Seahawks are set to pick.
If you were the GM and the Bucs offered you Lavonte David or the Panthers offered you Luke Kuechly at a cheap price, would you immediately hang up and block their number because you have Wagner already? Yes? No? It doesn't matter because that would never happen?
Over the next one, two, and three years, the Seahawks are going to have to make some tough decisions. Tougher decisions than even the ones made to release Clemons and Bryant and let Tate walk. What if you can't sign Wagner and Wright and Smith and Irvin? (You almost certainly can't.)
If Seattle happens to value Mosley as one of the top 10 players in this draft and he actually slid to the low 20s, would they be willing to take the risk of drafting him and then either having both on the roster or trading Wagner and thereby extending when you have to pay your star middle linebacker by two years?
02/20/2014 - 2014 NFL Draft Scout Pre-Combine Top 64 Prospects: 59. Kyle Fuller, CB, Virginia Tech, 6-0, 194, 4.45, 2...Fuller pulled out of the Senior Bowl after dealing with a sports hernia throughout his senior year. He had surgery in November. Although he lacks great speed, Fuller plays like a natural who has the athleticism to cover and the aggressiveness to play the run. - Frank Cooney, The Sports Xchange
Brah, can I see you in my office for a second?
Ever heard of All-Pro cornerback Richard Sherman? Chyeah brah, he's kind of a big deal. Some would argue that he's the best corner in the NFL, few would argue that he's not top five. And if they did, that's an argument that Sherman would like to engage them in.
Not very many defensive players have had the impact that Sherman has had on the game over the last two years, both on the field, and slightly off of it while being interviewed by Erin Andrews. "Who was talking about you?"
It was that brah Kenneth Arthur, suggesting we draft more corners to a secondary that's moniker will be repeated among NFL circles for decades to come. It's not just Sherman either, as fellow starting cornerback Byron Maxwell finished the season on a high note, with five interceptions after taking over for Brandon Browner. Pro Football Focus even had Maxwell matching Sherman step-by-step and day-by-day in QB rating when throwing at either of those two players.
The Seahawks don't just have the best starting cornerback duo in the NFL next year (possibly) but the depth with Simon and Lane alone is enough to make other teams super jelly and opposing NFC West teams about to enter the fifth level of Helly.
Kenneth, when it comes to evaluating CB talent... ya dumb!
Why it's just so damn crazy that it might just work:
Despite the three-prong factor of Seattle being super-talented at cornerback, super-deep, and super-intelligent in developing and fostering cornerbacks into becoming great players, there is one simple truth that can't be ignored:
Sherman isn't yet signed past 2014.
Maxwell isn't yet signed past 2014.
Earl Thomas isn't yet signed past 2014.
Let's just assume that Thomas is extended beyond 2014 and that Sherman is either re-signed or franchised in 2015, what then happens to Maxwell? If he plays as good as he did last year, then he's going to almost certainly be priced out of Seattle's capabilities. Another team can come in and give him a $30-$40 million deal with $15 million guaranteed, and Maxwell would deserve it if he balled as hard in 2014 as he did in 2013.
The team then has to examine whether they can pay Earl a salary of $10 million and Sherman a salary of $12 million and Chancellor a salary of $5 million, while also retaining a player like Maxwell. What if Lane or Simon or another player isn't capable of being a good starting cornerback?
Fuller is a 6' corner with speed that does his homework on future opponents -- all qualities that Carroll looks for in a corner. Though the team hasn't really spent a high pick on a cornerback under the current regime, it doesn't mean that they'd be opposed to it if they saw what they felt was an elite option available in the first round.
As hard as it is to imagine, they have to plan for a life without the original Legion of Boom. (Which they've already started to do with the replacement of Browner to Maxwell in the first place.)
32. Jimmie Ward, S, Northern Illinois
02/20/2014 - 2014 NFL Draft Scout Pre-Combine Top 64 Prospects: 62. Jimmie Ward, SS, Northern Illinois, 5-11, 191, 4.59, 2...Ward came off a 95-tackle, seven interception senior season at NIU and then further impressed scouts at the Senior Bowl. He is smart, heady and puts himself in position to succeed, using his speed and range to cover the deep half of the field. NFLDraftScout.com's Rob Rang said Ward was the Senior Bowl's most impressive pass defender this year. - Frank Cooney, The Sports Xchange
Brah, you don't deserve to even watch Seahawks games anymore!
Thomas and Chancellor are the best safety tandem in the league and soon enough, they'll be both be locked under team control through the 2017 season (and beyond, for Thomas) ya dumb dumb. Why on God's green, blue, and brown Earth would they waste their first round pick on a safety?!
Not just a safety, but a safety that literally wouldn't be under team control for longer than Chancellor or Thomas will be? He's never going to start at safety on this team, you stupid, idiot, dummy, garbage-writer, haghole!
I. Hope. You. Die.
Why it's just so damn crazy that it might just work:
Versatility, versatility, versatility.
The team likes talent over "position" and even Chancellor has been toyed with as a linebacker/deathbacker in the past. By adding Ward to the secondary, a player that was described above as "the most impressive pass defender" at the Senior bowl, you could basically say that it's the same as drafting Tim Duncan when you already have David Robinson.
Just go out there for the next four years and punish opposing passing attacks.
Ward has also been seen as a player that can go out there and defend slot receivers unlike anyone else in the draft. He can play the Walter Thurmond role but at a much higher level. He can be the Tyrann Mathieu of the 2014 Seattle Seahawks. Ward's versatility wouldn't just make him a luxury to Seattle, it would make him an asset.
32. Marcus Martin, C, USC
Still, he's coming off a very good season, and at 6-foot-3 and 310 pounds, Martin certainly has the size of an NFL lineman. However, interior lineman, particularly centers, aren't as attractive to NFL teams in the draft as offensive tackles are, so it's hard to know where Martin will go in the draft this season. - Tom Fornelli, CBSSports.com
Brah, you're reaching!
Ever heard of Max Unger, stupid? This is Chris Spencer all over again, except ten times as idiotic. And that's saying something.
It's saying that you're idiotic. BRAH!
Why it's just so damn crazy that it might just work:
Not even I could condone this craziness, but at some point the team will have to think about if they wanna pay the major duckets to a center with some recent injuries that's playing at an average level. Lemuel Jeanpierre is already here and Martin, the only underclassman center of this class, would have to be moved to guard (where he originally started) or kick Unger off the squad in order to realistically be taken by Seattle.
32. Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&M
02/21/2014 - 2014 NFL combine: Manziel falls just short of 6-foot mark...Before players run the 40-yard dash or participate in positional drills, they step on the scale and get measured for the "official" height, weight, hand size, arm length and wingspan. There usually aren't too many surprises among the seniors, but with the large number of underclassmen, we can finally get the exact numbers on the juniors and redshirt sophomores. And going into Friday, there were three main questions for the top quarterbacks in this group that were answered: Would Manziel get above 6-foot?
No, Johnny Manziel measured in at 5-11 3/4 and 207 pounds, but he also has the largest hands of any quarterback at the Combine (9 7/8 inches). Manziel has clearly worked his tail off in the locker room since arriving at Texas A&M, adding 35 pounds of muscle to his smaller frame. And with his big hands (and size 15 shoes), it wasn't the worst-case scenario weigh-in for Johnny Football, despite not reaching the 6-foot mark. - Dane Brugler, NFLDraftScout.com
Brah, when your heart stops pumping red blood through your veins and powering your vital organs, and your body finally pushes your soul out of it's vessel and into the great unknown, I will gladly dance "Gangnam Style" on your shitty, dirty, grave
Winning the Super Bowl wasn't enough attention for you that now you need to mock Johnny Manziel to the Seahawks just to drive page hits and views? Why don't you sign Tim Tebow while you're at it, you filthy piece of shit?
You see a 5'11 QB with an impeccable college record, large hands, excellent work ethic and leadership, and you think, "He's Russell Wilson minus the good nature!"? You're fockin' fired! Get out of my office.
Seattle has Wilson as their starter for the next 15 years and Tarvaris Jackson is locked into the backup position for at least another year. This isn't rompa room.. there are rules. Those rules have to be abided by and they can't be shucked for a guy just because his last name is "Football." Your brain is made of garbage and your heart is made of dogshit, Kenneth.
Die, die, die.
Why it's just so damn crazy that it might just work:
Beyond the obvious comparisons between Manziel and the first QB in Seahawks history to bring the team a fockin' championship, there are other reasons that you might not avoid drafting Johnny Manziel if you're Carroll and Schneider. And that really just comes down to whether or not you think picking 32nd is all that much different than picking 50th or 60th.
Perhaps the most polarizing prospect of the century, some teams may value Manziel as the best overall player available, while others may not see him as anything more than a lifelong backup. The real answer?
We have no fockin' clue. There are plenty of people that advocated that a player like Jimmy Clausen or Matt Barkley was being grossly underrated for reasons outside of their own control and that the Carolina Panthers and Philadelphia Eagles got the steals of those drafts. Meanwhile, others were saying that Wilson was a waste of a third round pick too.
We just don't know.
But what if Schneider sees "Wilson XP" when he looks at Manziel? What if he sees the next superstar? What would be a better usage of your 32nd overall pick: Taking a guard that you think could develop into a Pro Bowler that can start right away, or taking a quarterback that you think could be a Pro Bowler that's most likely going to sit on the bench?
The Seahawks already won a Super Bowl with shitty play at the guard position but what they couldn't do is win a Super Bowl with shitty play at the quarterback position. Should anything happen to Wilson, should anything happen to Tarvaris -- or possibly Tarvaris just is classic Tarvaris if asked to start for any period of time -- would you be sitting there looking at Xavier Su'a-Filo and saying, "Well thank God we have this fockin' guy" while you're scoring three points per game with Matt Cassel and you passed on Manziel who was picked up by a team in the second round pick and lookin' like the next Russell?
Or even a more important scenario:
What if Manziel is just killin' it times two in the preseason and spot duty and proves on the NFL level that he's going to be every bit as good in the pros as he was at A&M? Do that for two years and then what do you have? A solid backup that eventually turns into two first round picks in a trade.
And you passed that up for a right tackle? Or a guard? Or a situational defensive tackle? Because you had Tarvaris Jackson?
Most people will say that Manziel won't even be available at 32, and they're probably right, but Kirwin has a solid point too. If he gets past a certain point then it's Niagara Falls. The Patriots and Eagles have spent years drafting quarterbacks in the second and third rounds when they were already set with their starters, and then eventually turning them into draft picks or future (cheaper) stars. New England spent a pick on Brady when they had Drew Bledsoe, Philadelphia spent a pick on Nick Foles when they had Michael Vick. Is it really that big of a deal to spend #32 on a QB, if you think he might become the next big thing in the NFL?
I'll give it one thing: It's a hell of a lot more interesting and exciting than selecting the next James Carpenter.