Five Burning Questions

Seahawks.NET's Scott Eklund and Ryan Rigmaiden take a look at some questions that have come up as the NFL Draft approaches. Here are their answers and some thoughts on the players the Hawks will be targeting late in the first round and throughout the first and second day of the Draft.

1. Now that the first wave of Free Agency has past, what are Seattle's biggest positions of need heading into the Draft?

Ryan Rigmaiden: Corner has to be at the top of the list. The release of Andre Dyson leaves a void in the secondary and has to be addressed. When Dyson was hurt last year (way too often), Kelly Herndon filled in admirably, but he just doesn't have the speed to run with elite receivers and is much better suited as a nickel-back. The Seahawks must get a starting caliber corner to pair with Marcus Trufant if they're going to make another Super Bowl run. Charles Woodson and Ty Law are two names that have been tossed around, but both have battled injuries and can't be counted on to play a full season. Neither will be cheap, either, but with around $12 million in cap room at this point, the front office may choose to give one of them a front-loaded contract in hopes of making another Super Bowl run. Even if Seattle signs one of the three, it'd be very wise to draft a cornerback in the first or second round to give the unit more depth and prepare for the future in the event that Marcus Trufant doesn't come back after his contract is up.

Round one targets include Ohio State's Ashton Youboty, Florida State's Antonio Cromartie, South Carolina's Jonathan Joseph, Miami's Kelly Jennings and Virginia Tech's Jimmy Williams. Round two could feature Florida's Dee Web, Fresno State's Richard Marshall and Texas' Cedric Griffin.

While corneback is definitely the biggest need at this point, depth at Safety, TE and DE are priorities. Texas' Michael Huff should be gone by the 10th overall pick, leaving only Ohio State's Donte Whitner as the only safety worthy of a first round selection, but it's doubtful that the team would pull the trigger in the first frame, anyway. Other targets include Nebraska's Daniel Bullocks, Syracuse's Anthony Smith, Florida State's Pat Watkins and Alabama's Roman Harper.

Possible TE's that the ‘Hawks may look to for blocking help are Purdue's Charles Davis, Oregon's Tim Day and Virginia Tech's King. All are day two options that could be blockers in double tight end sets.

Pass rushing DE's that may interest the Hawks are Alabama's Mark Anderson,Auburn's Stanley McClover, Syracuse's James Wyche, Louisville's Elvis Dumervil and Indiana's Victor Adeyanju. Anderson and McClover should be gone by the third round, so selecting them would have to come in the second round for the Hawks because they draft so late in the round. Wyche, Dumervil and Adeyanju are earning third and fourth round grades from most teams.

Scott Eklund: Ryan summed things up pretty well. The secondary and defensive end spots are probably the biggest areas of need – no shocker there.

After watching the Super Bowl, I immediately started looking for safeties available in the draft. As soon as Dyson was cut I knew that the Hawks needed at least one more corner to get back to where we all want to see them in early February next year.

2. Steve Hutchinson's ‘poison-pill' departure was a surprise to most fans and he'll definitely be missed next year. What steps do you see the Hawks taking in order to soften the blow of his absence?

RR: I think they've already done it. Signing Tom Ashworth away from New England gives the Hawks great flexibility along the offensive line. He's played every position except center and is a solid player. Veteran Floyd Womack, another player who's played guard and tackle, also figures to be in the mix. Last year's starting right tackle Sean Locklear has also been mentioned as a possible replacement for Hutchinson, but I firmly believe that moving a young, solid player like Locklear would be taking a step backwards. Although nobody can replace Hutchinson's talent level, both Ashworth and Womack have the talent to start and be productive.

As of right now, I don't think the Hawks will be drafting an interior lineman.

SE: Ryan and I differ here. I think the Hawks will look at a guard or a tackle who can move inside sometime during the draft. I doubt it will be in the first round, but I could see the Hawks taking Charles Spencer from Pitt late in the second round or trading down and getting a third rounder and taking him there.

I like the versatility the Hawks have along their offensive line with guys like Womack, Locklear, Ashworth, Spencer and Hunter. Spencer can play all three interior spots while the other four can play anywhere except center. Nowadays, versatility is really the key along the line. Because you are so limited in the number of players you can keep on a roster, having linemen who can play multiple positions really makes things easier on the GM's and scouts.

Spencer, Will Allen from Texas Rob Meadow and Joe Toledo, both from Washington, Jahri Evans from Bloomsburg and Kevin Boothe from Cornell all fit what the Hawks are looking for in players as far as versatility is concerned.

3. Now that we know Shaun Alexander will be in Seattle for the duration of his career and that backup Maurice Morris will also be back, will Seattle draft a back this year to spell Alexander and bolster the unit?

RR: I fully expected the Hawks to take a running back last year and was definitely disappointed to see that they didn't. As good as last year's draft was for the Hawks, it would've been much better if they could have added someone like Darren Sproles or Ryan Moats to the mix, but what's done is done.

I could see the Hawks taking a back on day two, especially if they can be a factor on special teams. Not having our third round pick will hurt because that would've been an ideal spot to take a runner, but possible day two targets include Mississippi State's Jerious Norwood, South Florida's Andre Hall, Washington State's Jerome Harrison and Virginia's Wali Lundy. Norwood and Hall are two of my favorite and would also help the return game- something the Hawks desperately need to upgrade.

SE: If the Hawks are smart they will at least look at Maurice Drew if he lasts until the second day of the draft. His abilities as a return man, in addition to his abilities as a runner make him a primo candidate as a player who can really make a difference on teams that run an offense like Seattle's. Drew is also an excellent receiver out of the backfield.

The Seahawks will definitely look at a running back on day two, but I don't think they'll reach for one if they don't like him. Other guys to keep an eye on are Jerome Harrison from Washington State, Wali Lundy from Virginia, Terrence Whitehead from Oregon – who is an incredible receiver and a tough inside runner – and possibly Gerald Riggs from Tennessee who had some injury problems, but was a Heisman candidate at the start of his senior season.

4. Seattle led the league in sacks last year, but the depth behind starting DE's Bryce Fisher and Grant Wistrom isn't as strong as it could be. Who could the ‘Hawks be looking at to add depth at the position?

RR: Adding another pass rusher would be a great addition to the team and judging by the attempt to bring John Abraham to Seattle via a trade, the front office agrees with me. Round one targets include Boston College's Mathias Kiwanuka, N.C. State's Manny Lawson and Penn State's Tamba Hali. Round two could bring Alabama's Mark Anderson, Purdue's Ray Edwards or Auburn's Stanley McClover. Louisville's Elvis Dumervil and Syracuse's James Wyche are also options. All would be allowed to concentrate their efforts on rushing the passer in obvious passing situations and would give nice depth to the position.

SE: Fisher and Wistrom are both solid players, but the Hawks could really use a guy who offenses fear coming off the edge. Wistrom isn't that guy and Fisher's sacks usually come from relentless effort and coverage in the secondary, rather than beating his man off the snap. I'm intrigued with what Jeb Huckeba – on injured reserve all of last year – brings to the table and will be keeping an eye on him during August. He's more of a clone of Wistrom though, so I doubt he would be the player I described earlier.

There are several quality defensive ends in this year's draft, but the headliner is Mario Williams from N.C. State. After him there is a significant drop-off, but other guys who will probably go in the first round are Kamerion Wimbley – a player really shooting up draft boards – from Florida State, Mathias Kiwanuka from Boston College, Manny Lawson – Williams' teammate with the Wolfpack – and Penn State's Tamba Hali.

One player to keep an eye on is USC's Frostee Rucker in the fifth or sixth round. He is a lot like Fisher, but is faster and more of a pass-rushing threat. Concerns with Rucker are that he doesn't have a lot of bulk (he's only 240 pounds) and he isn't adept at stopping the run. He is a pass-rusher extraordinaire who would be a nice little change of pace to what the Hawks currently possess.

5. At this point in time, who are three players that you think the front office will pull the trigger on in the first round?

RR: Hard to tell at this point, but because value and need at cornerback might match up with the 31st pick, I'd have to go with Ashton Youboty, Kelly Jennings or Jonathan Joseph. It's likely one will be on the board with the 31st pick, otherwise Tim Ruskell will probably shift gears and take a defensive end.

SE: I've wanted this player to stay under the radar since I saw him as a sophomore and then in his one game as a junior before tore his knee up against Miami. Florida State's Antonio Cromartie is a player, that with his size and speed, would quickly become the best cover-guy on Seattle's roster. He's already running sub-4.4's and is only about four or five months removed from surgery.

It appears as though he isn't under the radar anymore though as teams are starting to realize how great he really can be. Will he last to number 31? I doubt it, but if he does, the Hawks should nab him.

No matter what, I can see the Hawks selecting a corner in the first if they stay there. Youboty, Joseph and Jennings are all guys who would be solid picks if they fall that far.

If one they like doesn't fall to them, I could see them trading down and picking up another second rounder and a third or fourth rounder. However, if they decide to stay there they will probably look for a defensive end (see above) or possibly a safety or linebacker that falls a little further than they were projected.


SeahawkFootball.com Top Stories