A couple of caveats here:
1. I’m sticking with defense. I’m well aware of the Seahawks’ “Best Player Available” philosophy, but I think they’ll once again modify said philosophy to read “Best Defensive Player Available”. There are simply too many holes the Seahawks still have on defense, and my sense is that Holmgren will want to eliminate the variables that new offensive starters could bring. I think he’s going to drill another year of his West Coast Offense into his "Set Eleven", wind them up, and let them go. The defense is still a work in progress and I believe the draft will reflect that for the second year in a row.
2. This article assumes that the team will not trade up or down on Draft Day…players selected for this prediction thread are based on their perceived availability at #23.
Name: Jonathan Vilma, OLB, Miami
Height/Weight: 6-feet-0½, 233 pounds.
Why The Seahawks Should Take Him: If Vilma is even available at #23 (and the way some say his stock has been rising of late, that’s a BIG if), he has a very good chance of being the BDPA. Ray Rhodes generally has no issue with gameplanning around smaller, faster linebackers (see his tenure in Denver), and Vilma fits the bill. Rhodes also likes to have OLBs who excel in coverage in the flats, and Vilma’s at his best in space. In addition, Vilma has the “take the angle to the man with the ball” idea down pat, which would make him a favorite in Rhodes 101. Whip-smart with a non-stop motor, Vilma will very likely make fools of the subset of “draft experts” who point to his size as a huge deficit. Could be too undersized to play MLB (and you never know what will become of a player’s assets if you try to bulk him up in a “square peg/round hole” scenario), but the team does have issues on the outside as well. Chad Brown has been the Compleat Warrior, but age and injury have to have the Seahawks casting at least one eye on a replacement. He’s better with zone than Dansby and more fluid than Williams. If the Seahawks needed an OLB above all else (and had a slightly higher pick), this article probably wouldn’t even be worth writing.
Doing The Math: Combine/Pro Day numbers - 4.56 in the 40, and 23 reps on the bench press. Ran the short shuttle in 4.20 and the three-cone drill in 6.67. Scored 23 on the Wonderlic. A two-time Butkus Award nominee who led the Hurricanes in tackles each of his last three seasons. Appeared in 46 games with 35 starts and had 371 tackles, 30 stops for losses, three sacks, four forced fumbles and seven recoveries, and 12 passes defensed. Member of the All-Big East team final two seasons.
The Odds Say…that he probably won’t be there at #23. Vilma’s been named in the plans of the Bucs, Jets and Pats, among others. But if he is available…well, this kid’s going to be a star and a natural leader somewhere. Why not here? The very thought of an Anthony Simmons-Jonathan Vilma OLB Combo leaves the mind reeling…
Name: D.J. Williams, OLB/MLB, Miami
Height/Weight: 6-feet-0¾, 250 pounds.
Why The Seahawks Should Take Him: D.J. Williams could be “The Vilma That Fits”, given the team’s real need for a standout linebacker who can play the middle…NOW. He doesn’t really have Vilma’s explosiveness off the ball, but his size will serve him well as he learns the pro game. Could spot with Orlando Huff and Solomon Bates (who Rhodes is apparently very high on) for the Hawks, although if Williams is the team’s #1 pick, someone on that list may not make the cut. Basically a prototype MLB in that he’s better against the run than the pass, although reports indicate that he must improve his play recognition and gain an edge when it comes to shedding blocks in traffic. He can be taken out of position because of his intense desire for the “SportsCenter Tackle”, but he’s a great sideline-to-sideline runstopper. In a recent interview, Seahawk VP of Football Operations Ted Thompson underlined the team’s need at MLB, and I believe that Williams could be #1 on the Seahawks’ board in that regard. Very impressive speed for his size.
Doing The Math: Combine/Pro Day numbers - 4.54 in the 40, and 22 reps on the bench press. Ran a 4.05 in the short shuttle and a 7.00 in the three-cone drill. Scored 21 on the Wonderlic. Three-year starter at linebacker, played in 47 games and started 34 of them, finishing career with 241 tackles, 28 tackles for losses, 10 sacks and 11 passes defensed. Had one fumble recovery and returned it 78 yards for a touchdown.
The Odds Say: I could definitely see this pick happening. Although I personally prefer Vilma because of his innate intelligence and explosiveness off the ball, Williams is nobody to sneeze at, and the Seahawks would be well-served by picking him at #23.
Name: Karlos Dansby, OLB, Auburn
Height/Weight: 6 feet-3 3/8, 251 pounds
Why The Seahawks Should Take Him: Dansby, despite his size, has been more of a pass rusher and defender than a runstopper as a strong-side linebacker at Auburn. Great speed for his size allows him to do this. To play the run effectively at the NFL level, he’ll have to increase his strength and improve at getting through traffic and shedding blockers. Not known as a great tackler, needs more intensity at times, and it’s been said that he “disappears” for long stretches. Great edge rusher, but with his size, he really should be better at the “dirt work”. His height would be an asset to a team that just signed Bobby Taylor to put an end to the “jump-ball bonanza”. Dansby has a lot of potential, but he hasn’t really put it all together yet. A risk/reward pick that may very well pay high dividends for the team that takes him. He is a high-character guy and will work hard to improve.
Doing The Math: Combine/Pro Day numbers - 4.60 in the 40, and 15 reps on the bench press. Ran a 4.49 in the short shuttle and a 7.53 in the three-cone drill. Scored 15 on the Wonderlic.. Two-time Butkus Award semifinalist. Three-year starter who played in 36 games, posted 218 tackles, 31 tackles for losses, 10 sacks, eight interceptions, 15 passes defensed, two forced fumbles and seven recoveries.
The Odds Say: Dansby has been mentioned by some as a possibility in the Seahawks’ plans, but if they were to pick him, they’d better know exactly what they want to do with him. This is not a guy who’s going to define his own role…”tweeners” like Dansby are often like that. He could be the pick at #23, but there will be some work involved along the way…
Name: Randy Starks, DT, Maryland
Height/Weight: 6 feet-3 3/8, 313 pounds
Why The Seahawks Should Take Him: Although he seems to be dropping faster than Monty Python’s Dead Parrot in some mock drafts (Kiper’s mock has the Seahawks taking him in the second round…), Starks does have the potential to make a difference in the NFL. Some say he could have been a top-ten pick had he stayed at Maryland for his senior year. He’s very young (he’ll be 21 in December), has had some minor weight issues, and has a bit of a rep for losing leverage against blockers at times. Do these factors make him a “project” and explain his plummet in the mocks? Well, maybe. The upside (and it is considerable) is that Starks is brutally strong, very quick off the ball, can bat down passes and play the run extremely well. He’s coming from a 3-4 in his final year at Maryland, although he has played 4-3 and is familiar with the one-gap, straight-ahead, penetrating style that he’d frequently be asked to play were he to become a Seahawk.
Doing The Math: Combine/Pro Day numbers – 5.15 in the 40, He also ran the short shuttle in 4.64 and the three-cone drill in 7.39. 27 reps on the bench press. Scored 20 on the Wonderlic. As a junior defensive tackle in a 3-4 scheme, Starks had 73 tackles (14.5 for negative yardage) and 7.5 sacks. That, my friends, is production.
The Odds Say…that if the Seahawks were looking hard at DT in the first round (and they could be), and a few of the “marquee” DTs were gone at 23, Starks might have a decent shot at the pick. He wouldn’t be coming to a team with a DC who stunts a lot, so the learning curve would likely be less. He’s worth mentioning at #23, but I’d say he’s a very remote option there. If he’s available in the second round, the Seahawks would be tripping all over themselves to get up to the podium.
Name: Darnell Dockett, DT, Florida State
Height/Weight: 6 feet-3 5/8, 295 pounds
Why The Seahawks Should Take Him: Well…they probably shouldn’t. Dockett’s been up and down on most mocks, although he appears to be solidifying his position as very strong late first-round or early second-round pick. Due to some questions about his character and work ethic, and an incident in his junior year (receiving $1000 in apparel for $100) that led to a petty theft charge, many NFL execs are concerned with his ability to channel his considerable talent. He had a great senior year but was out of shape in his junior year. A rep as a player who will not always work hard and who carries a “me-first” attitude will complicate things for him. However, if he can be channeled, someone’s going to have a beast on their hands. Dockett can penetrate extremely well, is very quick off the ball, and is a stellar tackler. He will likely have to put on some weight if he wants to be an every-down DT in the NFL. As a part of a team with a very commanding group of defensive peers and a group of coaches who will take absolutely no crap from anyone (and may have a weakness for “reclamation projects”), Dockett could very well be a Pro Bowler. It’s up to him to maintain the momentum he started with his great senior year.
Doing The Math: Combine/Pro Day numbers – 5.00 in the 40, 4.66 on the short shuttles. Did not run the three-cone drill. 26 reps on the bench press. Scored 17 on the Wonderlic.
The Odds Say: Although he’s been named by some as a potential first-round choice of the Seahawks (which is why he’s included in this article), I really don’t see this happening. The Seahawks desperately need a big run-stopper up the middle, and I fail to see why they’d take Dockett when he’d need to both bulk up and grow up to be an effective part of the machine. I’ve seen stranger things, but a first-round Seahawk pick of Darnell Dockett would border on the unreal.
Name: Marcus Tubbs, DT, Texas
Height/Weight: 6 feet-4, 321…2…3…4…5…6…7…8…9…pounds
Why The Seahawks Should Take Him: Yeah, there are weight issues here. Tubbs would, however, be a good fit for the Seahawks because he is a classic pocket-collapser who will wreak havoc while defenders flow behind him and do the damage. This is what the Seahawks desperately need. Not a notable tackler, but he can blow out a line with the best of them. It’s said that Tubbs really didn’t put it all together until his senior season in 2003, but he really did put it together. Not a pass rusher of any merit…really a runstopper above all. That’s not a bad thing, especially when your team needs a big man at the line. His stamina (related to his weight) has been called into question, but his quickness and agility are excellent. Very strong. Would be a big plus to a team with a DC and line coach who will keep him motivated, in shape, tough and fresh. By the way, these things were all said about Rashad Moore…that “experiment” turned out alright, and so could Tubbs.
Doing The Math: Combine/Pro Day numbers – 5.0 in the 40, 4.66 on the short shuttles, 7.77 on the three-cone drill. 29 reps on the bench press. Scored 21 on the Wonderlic.
The Odds Say:
Tubbs is a possiblity for the Seahawks. They’re desperately light at DT
depth, and Tubbs would provide the prototypical “wide-body” the
team got a brief taste of with Norman Hand before Hand’s injury. Tubbs
will need some work, but the Seahawks could do a lot worse.
Conclusion: If it were up to me, Mike Holmgren would be running up to the podium this Saturday wearing a Fred Flintstone outfit and shouting, “VILMA! VILMA!”, even if the Seahawks had to trade up to do it. Of course, there’s a real question as to Vilma’s availability at #23. Williams will be an outstanding inside linebacker, and the more I think about it, would be my prediction for the Seahawks. Dansby needs work, but he could very well be an outstanding outside linebacker. Unfortunately, the ‘Hawks need an inside presence more.
Tubbs would be a good pick…it would be nice to see the Seahawks winning those battles on the inside of the line. Starks is another project to a degree, but he’s got a great deal of potential. Dockett has issues both on and off the field, and unless the Seahawks really see something in him, he’ll go somewhere else.
My Prediction: With the 23rd pick in the first round, the Seattle Seahawks select Linebacker D.J. Williams.
(Good luck, Mr. Vilma…we can only wonder what might have been…)
Doug Farrar writes a column every Monday for SeahawksInsider.com. Please send any feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org.