.NET Q & A - Draft Expert Rob Rang!

Draft Day just heated up! Rob Rang, Owner and Editor of westcoastdraft.com, has graciously taken the time to answer the questions of the .NET Community. As one of the foremost draft experts in the country, Rob has the inside information, and you can find it right here.

BBlades89: Last year you correctly predicted that the Hawks would take Marcus Trufant, Ken Hamlin, and Seneca Wallace. Who do you see the Hawks taking this year?

Rob Rang: Thanks for noticing the accuracy last year, though I have to admit last year was much easier than this year because the Hawks picked so much earlier and their needs/talent available were so much more defined. The team, as always, will be looking for the best available player. That very easily could be at a position Seattle sees as a clear need – like outside linebacker (Karlos Dansby) defensive tackle (Marcus Tubbs, Junior Siavii) or even defensive back (Sean Jones, Keith Smith). It also might mean, however, that a pure athlete drops into their lap. Receiver Michael Clayton of LSU is a possibility if he drops, as would Washington’s Reggie Williams if his choice of agents, and prideful talk drop him as much as some are reporting. Don’t be shocked if the team selects a running back either – as the club has to prepare themselves for what appears to be the inevitable – Shaun Alexander moving on next year. If Steven Jackson, Kevin Jones, or potentially even Greg Jones fall into their lap at #23, Seattle will be tempted. Obviously this is a big list, and I know you are looking for one player. Based on his pure athletic upside then, I’m going with Karlos Dansby – OLB – Auburn in the 1st. Based on this pick, I’ll go with Keith Smith – CB – McNeese State in the 2nd round and Jordan Carstens – DT – Iowa State.

Jazzhawk: Rob, thanks for a great draft site and thanks for coming here to talk with us. What is your surprise pick for the Seahawks, regardless of which round?

Rob Rang: I really think it is going to come in the first round. The defensive tackle and linebacker group is solid, but not so good that it holds Seattle’s sure-fire first round choice even though this is clearly an area of need. Once the team has selected the best available athlete in the first round, it will be a lot easier to predict the rest of their selections. Even though I think their 1st round pick could easily be a surprise (WR, RB, S), I stated previously that I’m going with Dansby as the #1 pick. So, based on that, I’m going to go with wide receiver Devard Darling of Washington State as a potential 3rd round choice…

We hear a lot about drafting either BPA or for position/need. Which has been better historically for the Seahawks and which way do you see them going in this draft, first round and otherwise?

Rob Rang: Historically the Seahawks have been more successful selecting the Best Available Player. I really believe they’ll go BPA in the first round, then focus more on their particular needs in the next few rounds, before switching back to the BPA for the last remaining rounds. They will go BPA in the first round, and quite frankly, I’d be surprised if it isn’t a surprise pick, which I consider Dansby to be since “everyone” seems to think the team is focusing on the defensive line.

TalontedNoseRider: How much weight does character play in the draft, particularly when that player happens to be the BPA at #23 at a position of need. (Ex: Darnell Dockett)

Rob Rang: This really depends on the club and type of character concerns we’re talking about. I can tell you that teams have noticed that New England (and Carolina) has taken more of a high-road approach to character recently and it is pretty tough to argue with their recent success… The players on Seattle’s roster who have had character concerns have shown flashes of superstardom. That said, they’ve seen especially prone to periods of inconsistency, as well. Call me a sucker, but I looked Darnell Dockett in the eye at both the Senior Bowl and Combine. I’ll think his problems are behind him and he’ll enjoy success at the next level.

MysterMatt: Rob, now that all the workouts are done who are your favorite defensive sleepers in the draft? Offensive?

Rob Rang: It is pretty hard to call players I see as 2nd rounders sleepers, but I’m a huge fan of SS Bob Sanders, and CBs Keith Smith, Ricardo Colclough, and Joey Thomas. Some others for the later rounds I like are Jordan Carstens, Dave Ball, Alex Lewis, and Gibril Wilson… As far as the offensive players I really think Lee Evans is going to surprise at the next level though he is considered a potential 1st round pick. I’m also higher on QB Chris Lewis, RB Fred Russell and Adimchinobe Echemandu, WRs Andrae Thurman and Justin Jenkins, TE Chris Cooley, Tim Euhus, and Brett Pierce, and offensive linemen Mark Wilson and Drew Strojny.

SeahawksFan8: Hey Rob, have you heard anything about the Seahawks possibly moving up or down in the draft? Also I heard somewhere that the Hawks might make a draft day trade for Jerimiah Trotter, have you heard anything about this?

Rob Rang: There is always the possibility that Seattle will move up or down, but they have been noticeably absent from the talk I’ve heard behind the scenes. I think they have a group of 3-4 players they’re looking at and expecting to be available at #23. I do not see the club trading for Trotter, though they might be interested in him if he is released.

Treacheroushawk: Can Seattle afford to not draft for need at MLB, DT, and S? I'm afraid that passing on some of the offensive players on the first day will come back to haunt us -- especially at guard and center.

Rob Rang: I really think they can address their “need” positions on the 1st Day while still using the BPA philosophy. They might need to address one of their weaker “need” positions earlier – like OLB or S rather than DT, but I do think these positions will be addressed. You can find some very good OG and C prospects early on the 2nd day. One player I know Seattle is interested in is Stanford C and LS Drew Caylor. He obviously could be groomed as the long term replacement for Tobeck and contribute as a long snapper, as well.

Frozenropers1: What are the best (most outrageous) smoke screen reports you've heard in the press this week leaked from teams.

Rob Rang: One of the more interesting questions… Every year dozens of wild rumors and terrible smokescreens are conjured to confuse other teams, the media, and fans. That said, the most outrageous smoke screens I’ve heard all week long are coming from two unidentified teams who are questioning the health of Kenechi Udeze’s shoulder and labrum. Though he has been cleared by some of the top surgeons on the west coast and his medical reports have been circulated to each of the 32 teams, rumors still persist that he isn’t healthy. Expect the rumors to be proven as just that – rumors – and for Udeze to remain a top 15 pick.

Gammam: Rob in our draft chat last month you commented on the Shaun Alexander trade rumors indicating that you wouldn't be surprised if he was traded before or during the draft. Do you still feel Alexander is still on the trading block and what is likely hood of a draft day trade for a pick or two? If a move happens with him, how important is it for the Hawks to draft an RB early to fill in?

Rob Rang: I absolutely feel that there is still a possibility that he gets traded simply because the team is in a Seattle Mariner/Randy Johnson/Alex Rodriguez type situation. The Hawks can keep Alexander and see him walk away next season with nothing as compensation, or they can look to trade him now and get something for him. Alexander is saying all of the right things and it obviously would be a very risky move for a team seemingly on the verge of great things so the likelihood, at this point, seems diminished, but it is still an option. Even if the club traded Alexander, the Seahawks feel comfortable enough with Morris and Carter to not be forced into drafting a RB early. That said, both of these players have struggled with durability throughout their collegiate and NFL careers and the team would be wise to add talent if they, indeed, moved Alexander.

Gromit: With the Patriots recent trade for Corey Dillon, it becomes increasingly possible that either Steven Jackson or Kevin Jones might fall to us. Given the fact that Alexander is in the final year of his contract might we see the Seahawks draft one of those guys if they are there at 23?

Rob Rang: This is certainly a possibility, as I’ve mentioned before, though I wouldn’t necessarily throw the behemoth Greg Jones out of the list, either. The kid has spectacular upside.

Barthawk: What are the chances of the Hawks trading up to get Vince Wilfork or Jonathan Vilma?

Rob Rang: Very slim. Wilfork would fit, but it would take a substantial move up. Vilma, I almost want to apologize to say to all of you HUGE Vilma fans, simply doesn’t fit Seattle scheme at any position other than weakside linebacker and the team isn’t about to draft him and move Anthony Simmons.

Trufan23: Do you believe Vilma is too small to play MLB, and what are the realistic chances of him falling to the Seahawks?

Rob Rang: No, I believe he can be successful as a NFL middle linebacker, but he’d need to be protected by great size and experience at defensive tackle in front of him. Seattle has some size, but little experience and thus, even if he made it to Seattle, I strongly doubt he’d be the selection.

Sumqui: With the redskins making arrangements to replace Jeremiah Trotter (they have been talking to Michael Barrow, according to KFFL), and so much interest being voiced in Vilma by teams ahead of our 23rd pick, do you see the Seahawks drafting a MLB in rounds 2 or 3, moving up for Vilma, or waiting until June 1 for Trotter ?

Rob Rang: I see Seattle drafting a middle linebacker in the middle to late portions of the draft, potentially considering a veteran free agent (like Trotter), but basically walking into next season planning on either Huff or Bates being their starter.

Chris98251: With speculation being Vilma and D.J. Williams being gone what do you think of the Seahawks selecting John Garrett in a later round, he seems to have everything except luck with his health.

Rob Rang: Garrett will likely be available as a free agent. Health is certainly a concern, but his so is his struggles to find one position for Baylor. He was used both inside and outside here, but might lack the instincts for the middle and the change of direction skills for the outside. A kid who has some upside, but an undrafted free agent on every team’s board I’ve spoken to…

Wnecfb83: Why is Randy Starks’ draft stock dropping? I remember earlier in the year he was projected in the top two or three DTs, now I see him projected in the second round and hopefully to us?

Rob Rang: Quite simply, when you look at his statistics it seems like he makes a ton of plays, but he doesn’t make as many plays on the field as his stats seem to indicate. He plays high and is fairly raw because he has moved back and forth between DT and DE. Seattle is not very high on him, and I would be surprised to see them select him – even in the 2nd round.

Frozenropers1: Are you still hearing that the Hawks are very high on Marcus Tubbs, DT (Texas)?

Rob Rang: They are very high on Tubbs and he will certainly be a strong consideration at #23.

TheeChawker: Considering their “raw” talent, can Igor Olshansky or Isaac Sopoaga be a late first round selection given there size, speed and strength? Would a team like Seattle have these guys on their board in the first round considering the need for a DT?

Rob Rang: No. Despite all of the media attention these players have received, they are more 2nd round prospects. That said, teams do tend to get crazy at the end of the 1st round with big defensive linemen, but the DL I see as potential surprise 1st rounders include Junior Siavii, Tank Johnson, Donnell Washington, and Dwan Edwards.

NJSeahawksFan: With the wealth of top shelf WR talent in this draft and the seemingly endless parade of solid but unexceptional DT's, what do you think the odds of a first-round WR and second-round DT are?

Rob Rang: Good, but I think the odds of grabbing a player at a different position – DT, OLB, S is better early on and then adding a WR later. Remember, as nice as it would be to add a receiver from this draft to groom behind Engram (who will be slipping soon), Koren Robinson (who is going to want to be paid like a #1 receiver), and Jackson (who knows how hard he’ll play now that he has the big pay-day), it still isn’t the clear need other positions are. Only if a spectacular athlete drops into their laps should the Seahawks consider this position. That said, I consider both Clayton and Reggie Williams to be this type of athlete – and they could be available at #23.

Scttdawg: Rob, do you see the Hawks taking one of the many WR's that are in this draft sometime on the first day? And do you see Holmgren taking another QB in the draft's second day?

Rob Rang: Not necessarily on the 1st Day, but almost surely a receiver at some point in the draft, probably in the 3rd to 4th round area. QB doesn’t seem as likely a position now with Huard on the roster, but with Holmgren you never know. He no longer has the say over draft picks that he once had.

Gromit: If you are looking at taking the top defensive end in the draft, do you choose Kenechi Udezi or Will Smith?

Rob Rang: Depends on what you are looking for. Against both the run and pass? Udeze. Strictly a pass rusher? Smith. Looking for a guaranteed impact player as a rookie? Take the veteran, consistent, technique-driven Smith. Looking for more upside? Take Udeze…

seahawks.net: There are probably 7 or 8 WRs that warrant a first round grade. Obviously, not all will be first round picks. Which will fall to the 2nd round? More importantly, which of Fitzgerald, the 3 Williams (assuming Mike gets there somehow), Clayton and Evans are mostly likely to be the busts?

Rob Rang: The big name receivers that I see potentially falling to the 2nd round are Rashaun Woods, Lee Evans, and potentially Devery Henderson. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again here, I think the riskiest of the elite WR prospects remains Texas’ Roy Williams. He has very good size and is the most spectacular athlete of all the receivers with good size. That said, I didn’t seem him make the phenomenal plays athletes of his caliber should. The case could be made, of course, that Roy played in a terrible offense or with a terrible quarterback, but then again, so did Reggie Williams, Michael Clayton, and Lee Evans and they are simply three of the elite playmakers in this draft…

Adion03: Many analysts have the Seahawks taking a safety in the 2nd or 3rd round and many on this board think we need one. I personally like Terreal Bierria and was wondering what you know about his skills and his chance of earning the starting strong safety job this summer.

Rob Rang: I like Bierria and think he certainly has a shot to win the starting job even if the club adds a strong safety prospect early in the draft. I do expect them to add some competition to this position relatively early, in fact. Sean Jones would make a lot of sense on the first day, or the team could opt to take one of the OLB/SS prospects from this draft later and try to develop them (ala Rashad Washington, Kendyll Pope, or Bryce McGill in the mid to later rounds or even an athlete like Michael Boulware or Dansby earlier).

Frozenropers1: Rob, what have you heard about Notre Dame strong safety, Glenn Earl and how is his knee injury coming along? Do you expect his knee to be fully recovered by the time pre-season starts? Have teams been talking to him and where do you expect him to be drafted on the second day? Do you think he'd be a good fit for the Hawks as a mid to late second day pick to eventually pair with Hamlin.

Rob Rang: Earl is one of the better safety prospects in this draft when healthy, but a big question had always been his change of direction ability and pure speed and his knee injury will not help this situation. I do not see Seattle spending anything more than a late, late pick on him based on his potential. If Seattle drafts a safety prospect – and I think they will – it won’t likely be this late.

Frozenropers1: I'd say Holmgren tends to really like talented athletic tackle types along his offensive line. Given this, do you know if the Hawks have shown much interest in Jason Peters, TE/OT (Arkansas)? Any leaks getting to you regarding the Hawks interest in this kid?

Rob Rang: I have spoken to Seahawk scouts specifically about Peters and they – like everyone else are intrigued with his potential. That said, the team already has their OL project in Wayne Hunter and I’d be quite surprised to see them draft another player needing years of development.

AlexanderFan37: Rob, when I look at the way the draft board is falling into place, I have this strong feeling the Seahawks will go offense and not defense with their first round pick. The guys I am thinking we could pick are Shawn Andrews or Vernon Carey...both offensive linemen of course. Do you think the Seahawks would select Shawn Andrews if he fell past Miami at 20, to the Seahawks at 23...if for anything to send Walter Jones a very distinct message?

Rob Rang: I think the distinct message they sent to Walter Jones came when they drafted Wayne Hunter last season and have publicly announced his progress from last season to this one. I’d be quite surprised to see Seattle select an offensive lineman this early even if a talent like Andrews or Carey dropped into their laps. A later pick would make some sense, but not this early with so many other positions of more need and these two players in particular, not likely ranking among the highest rated players on the Seahawks’ board due to their run-first blocking ability.

Rob Rang, one of the foremost Draft Experts in the country, is the Owner and Editor of www.westcoastdraft.com. First recognized by SportsTALK.com (now a component of ESPN Insiders), Rob's work has been featured in quality print, radio, internet, and television networks across the country. USA Today, ESPN, The Sporting News, and CBS Sportsline have all featured elements of Rob's work in the past. NFL front office executives, scouts, and collegiate scouting directors agree that Rob's work is some of the best available, as well. Gil Brandt, recognized for his 29 years as the vice president of player personnel for the Dallas Cowboys and now the head draft analyst for NFL.com, frequently uses Rob's information as a supplement to his own for the NFL's base website. His work features not only the detailed player profiles for which he has become so well known, but also historically accurate mock drafts, position breakdown lists considered even more reliable than the scouting services NFL teams typically use, and breaking information such as underclassmen declarations and the Combine results before anyone else. Based in Gig Harbor, Washington, Rob has quickly become a fixture at the elite scouting events held all over the country each year - including the East-West Shrine Game, Senior Bowl, NFL Combine, and numerous Pro Day workouts.

It would be difficult, if not impossible, to convey our gratitude to Rob for taking time out of what is an insanely busy schedule right now to answer the questions of our community.

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