Scott Eklund: Obviously, with the release of Jerramy Stevens, the Seahawks are going to be in desperate need for a play-making tight end. The problem is…not many are available in this year’s Draft.
Another huge position of need for Seattle are a run-stuffing defensive tackle to either go along with or substitute for Marcus Tubbs. Head coach Mike Holmgren mentioned that the fourth-year player from Texas is coming along pretty well in his rehab, but with the type of surgery he’s trying to come back from, it’s always a dicey situation.
Guard and cornerback are two other areas of need, although they aren’t as pressing as the other two spots. With Chris Gray coming back, that gives you, at the very least, a veteran player to backup both guard spots should Rob Sims and Floyd Womack not last health-wise.
Ryan Rigmaiden: In my eyes, the biggest need for the Seahawks is still at defensive tackle and guard. The recent re-signing of veteran RG Chris Gray brings back a player who’s familiar with the offense, but at 37 years of age the front office will have to address the issue via the Draft. The only question is when Seattle will select a player. Players such as Texas’ Justin Blalock, Tennessee’s Aaron Sears and Auburn’s Ben Grubbs should all be off the board by the 55th pick. However, Akron’s Andy Alleman could get consideration. Texas Tech’s Manny Ramirez could be an option in the 3rd Round or the Seahawks could turn to Boston College’s Josh Beekman or Iowa’s Marshall Yanda (OT) in the 4th.
Adding a defensive tackle will be a problem, though. After Okoye, Branch and Harrell are selected, there’s a considerable drop in talent. N.C. State’s DeMarcus Tyler could be an option in the 2nd Round, but it’s unlikely he’ll drop to #55. Cal’s Brandon Mebane could be an option at that spot, as could Ohio State’s Quinn Pitcock in Round 3. Second day targets include Utah’s Paul Soliai, Penn State’s Jay Alford and Oklahoma State’s Ryan McBean.
Tight End also remains a need and should be addressed. I’m not drinking the Marcus Pollard Kool Aid, but even if you are, you have to agree that a young TE needs to be added to the roster. Arizona State’s Zach Miller would be ideal in Round 2, but it’s unlikely he’ll be there. Delaware’s Ben Patrick would be a great pick in the 3rd Round and Day 2 targets include Kevin Boss (Western Oregon), Michael Allan (Whitworth) and Scott Chandler (Iowa).
2. GM Tim Ruskell is known for staying true to his board, regardless of needs to the roster. Do you think we will see a surprise pick with Seattle's 2nd or 3rd Round picks?
Scott Eklund: As Ryan has predicted twice in his four mock drafts, the Seahawks could opt for a defensive end if one they like falls in the second round. Tim Crowder or Victor Abiamiri are players who could be the top players available when Ruskell and Holmgren have to decide who to select.
Ryan Rigmaiden: Ruskell’s recent selections of LB Lofa Tatupu and and QB David Greene should’ve taught everyone two things. One, that he’s not afraid to take a player earlier than everyone else thinks he should be taken (Tatupu), and two, that he’ll take value over need (Greene), even if it’s the wrong decision. Tatupu was obviously a home run, but I still think the selection of Greene was one of his worst decisions he’s made while in the Emerald City.
While no pick would truly shock me, a first day selection of a receiver or quarterback would definitely surprise me. Trade rumors continue to swirl around WR Darrell Jackson, but the unit would still be strong without him. Hasselbeck can still be solid for more than a few years and I believe that backup Seneca Wallace showed he’s a worthy backup. Adding a veteran QB is always an option, but selecting one on the first day doesn’t make sense to me.
To answer this question in a word - No. I don’t think Seattle’s 2nd or 3rd round pick will surprise me.
3. With NFL Draft coverage increasing every year, it's harder for anyone to get the "sleeper" label. However, who's a prospect that's flying under the radar a bit that you've taken to and think the 'Hawks might take a chance on?
Scott Eklund: One small-college player I absolutely love is Cal-Poly CB Courtney Brown. He’s an excellent player with outstanding size (6-2, 200) and speed (4.35). He’s also got an incredible vertical (38). He’s a player that could match up well in man-to-man situations on the outside. It’ll take a year or two for him to push for a starting spot, but he has the talent and athleticism to be an outstanding pro corner.
Another sleeper I really like is Washburn DT Trey Lewis. He’s been projected as a late-rounder, but his size (6-3, 318) and quickness (5.18) could make him a huge value pick late on day two.
One more player that could be considered a “sleeper” would be Fresno State RB Dwayne Wright. He’s a tough runner and he’s probably going to be a better pro back than he was in college, which was still pretty good. He doesn’t have breakaway speed, but he’s a guy with excellent vision and he doesn’t shy away from contact. At the very least, he would be an outstanding candidate to be a backup to a featured back than can spell the starter for two or three series per game without losing much.
Ryan Rigmaiden: A few players I like that fit the sleeper model are Nebraska RB Brandon Jackson, Oregon State S Sabby Piscitelli, Alabama-Birmingham OT Julius Wilson and Florida State LB Buster Davis.
Jackson has size, speed and enough wiggle to be a starter in the NFL. He’s still raw, but I like what I’ve seen from him and would love him as a Day 2 selection. Piscitelli is big enough to be moved to OLB (6’2” 225), but he also runs legit 4.5s and shows great field awareness and anticipation. He seems very much like a Ruskell guy and should also be a great special teams player. I’ve been high on Wilson for awhile now. He’s got good size and feet, but could move inside at the next level. Coach Holmgren has always insisted that he’d prefer OT’s than Guards and Wilson is similar to Pork Chop Womack and Sean Locklear in the sense that they can play both positions. I don’t know if you can call Buster Davis a star, but he’s definitely not getting the attention he deserves. Davis was a star at FSU, but has recently been overshadowed by fellow LB Lawrence Timmons. He’s a bit small (5’9” 235), but is an experienced, productive player that could be a nice backup and special teams player in Seattle.
4. Looking back on Seattle's recent Draft picks (2005 & 2006), which ones are you most happy about and name a couple that you wish Seattle could take back?
Scott Eklund: From the 2005 class, how can you not be happy with Lofa Tatupu and Leroy Hill? The fact that Chris Spencer will be in our starting lineup for the next decade is also a very nice pick that should make many people happy.
QB David Greene was the throwaway of that draft. I don’t think he’s as bad as some think he is, but he seems like a wasted pick. I would have rather seen them try and pick up a defensive end early in the third. However, they didn’t and they ended up drafting Jeb Huckeba in the fifth round.
In 2006, I’m very happy with the Darryl Tapp selection. He’s going to be a solid player for the Seahawks. He won’t be flashy, but he never stops going and he’s got some pass-rush skills.
Honestly, I loved all the picks when they took the guys the selected – hard to “throw back” any of them.
Ryan Rigmaiden: Again, Tatupu was obviously a huge pick. I shredded that pick when it was made and I’m so glad I was wrong about him. LB LeRoy Hill is one of my favorite players and recent picks. Don’t be fooled by his lack of stats last year. It’s not Hill’s fault that Julian Peterson is Seattle’s primary pass rusher, especially from the LB position. If the coaching staff can find a way to bring both Hill and Peterson off the edge, the defense could become very unpredictable for offenses to anticipate. I’m also huge fans of CB Kelly Jennings and P Ryan Plackemeier. Jennings’ man-to-man skills are very solid and he should flourish next year. Plack’s booming punts were welcomed, especially after watching several young, solid punters leave the team recently.
As for picks I’d like back, I’ve made no secret that I think the selection of QB David Greene was absolutely horrible. I know he won a ton of games at Georgia, but he also had elite talent around him on both sides of the ball. He was almost laughable during the Senior Bowl and I cringed when we took him. I wanted to positions to be addressed in 2005, RB and DE, and didn’t get anything for either. Can you imagine RB Marion Barber instead of David Greene? I sure can.
5. As of right now, gun to your head, who are the 'Hawks taking in Rounds 2 and 3?
Scott Eklund: I think Tim Crowder from Texas is going to end up being a Seahawk. I don’t know why, but he fits a small need and he could end up being the best athlete available at the time.
Round three is tougher. I’ve heard that Kevin Boss is climbing a bit, but I think the third is a little high. Maybe Quinn Pitcock from Ohio State will be the selection, or even Cal’s Brandon Mebane.
Ryan Rigmaiden: My most recent Mock Draft had Seattle taking Ikaika Alama-Francis, DE Hawaii in Round 2 and Manny Ramirez, G Texas Tech in Round 3. But even though the Draft is right around the corner, there’s still so much work to be done, myself included.
Because productive guards can be found in later rounds (see Rob Sims), I think the Seahawks can wait until Round 3 or 4 to get one. If a highly rated guard (Grubbs, Sears, Alleman) is on the board in Round 2, that could certainly be the pick, but getting a productive player in the 3rd or 4th is also likely.
Getting value at defensive tackle will be hard in Round 2, but DE is a different story. Players like Tim Crowder (Texas), Victor Abiamiri (Notre Dame), Ray McDonale (Florida) and Alama-Francis (Hawaii) could be solid fits for Seattle in Round 2. Free Agent DE Patrick Kerney should provide more pass rush than Grant Wistrom did, but Bryce Fisher is moving to the other side and Daryl Tapp is still largely unproven. Adding another DE would be huge for depth, but even bigger down the road.