Tomorrow night, 32 players will be drafted into the NFL, and most will start for their respective teams in 2012. In the span of 3 days, every team will select a number of players that may make an immediate impact. This is what makes the NFL draft so unique, so exciting. The NFL draft is a 3 day bonanza, and although similar drafts happen in all pro sports, none compares to the NFL. So, how might things shape up for the hometown Hawks, specifically with the 12th pick?
Seahawks Top Needs-DE, LB
A cliché you hear around draft time is “take the best player available.” In other words, when you are on the clock, take the guy with the highest grade on your big board. I think some of this is posturing by teams because it sounds good to pick the guy with the highest overall grade, but the reality is teams usually draft to fill needs. For the Seahawks, most agree the “pressing” need is finding a stud to pressure the QB. For this reason, most mockers have the Hawks taking a defensive end with the 12th pick. That may well be what we see happen tomorrow night, and I’d be excited. But let’s understand the many layers that play into a pick, particularly a 1st round selection.
First, everything depends on what happens in picks 1-11. At this point, I’d guess Schneider and Carroll have zoomed in on 2-3 players, depending on how things shake out. In addition to this uncertainty, every draft is different in terms of how deep it is at specific positions, how many elite players there are, and whether or not a trade partner might exist. It’s easy to say the Seahawks need a lineabacker after Hawthorne signed with the Saints, so naturally this could be addressed with the 12th pick. But what if Seattle has graded the top 3 LBs 91, 89, 88, and they are confident one will be there with the 43rd pick. Why use the 12th pick on the 91 grade, when you can get the 88 or 89 in the 2nd round?
Back to the 2-3 players JS/PC have in mind. Believe it or not, the Good Guys don’t actually have access to the Seahawks war room, so I’ve not yet seen their big board. This is, therefore, speculation on my part.
Plan A-Ryan Tannehill. Danny O’Neill and Peter King have both insisted that if Tannehill were available with the 12th pick, Seattle would take him in a flash. This is hard for some fans to understand, in light of the Matt Flynn signing, but I’m buying it. It’s probably 50/50 whether Flynn will turn into a franchise QB, so Tannehill provides insurance if Flynn sucks. He could sit for a couple years, then either take over, or be trade bait. He has a ton of upside, similar to Jake Locker in many ways. The problem is, Tannehill seems destined for Miami, who holds the 8th pick.
Plan B-Fletcher Cox. The top D-lineman in the draft would be a heck of a fit in Seattle. Cox is not a speed rusher, but he is a versatile, 3 technique that could would be an immediate upgrade. There is a chance Cox slides to 12, but in all likelihood, he, like Tannehill, will go in the top 10.
- Plan C-The pick…Quinton Coples.
This is plan C, so if a trade can be made here, it would make sense. Assuming the Hawks make a selection, Coples is a freak and a guy Carroll might be enamored with. It’s hard not to compare Coples to Julius Peppers. He’s 6-6, 285 lbs, and a Tarheel. For awhile, Coples was graded by many as the top defensive player in the draft. There are concerns about his motor, that he takes plays off. Pete may just see this as a challenge.
It could be that PC/JS like South Carolina’s Melvin Ingram, the fast rising Chandler Jones, Nick Perry, Courtney Upshaw, or some other d-end ahead of Coples. Or maybe PC/JS view linebacker as the greater need, and Luke Kuechly and Dont’a Hightower are guys they love. That would make sense too, but given the difficulty to find top defensive ends, and the success PC/JS had finding KJ Wright in the 4th round last year, finding a bookend pass rusher makes a ton of sense here. Or perhaps its the offense that Seattle is bound to improve at #12. Keep in mind, the Hawks defense ranked 5th in points per possession last year, while the offense ranked 27th in the same category. Awe, the intrigue of the NFL draft. Tomorrow, we finally get answers, not rumors and mockers.