Draft boards for several teams have now changed because they've found players to fill voids on their respective rosters through Free Agency. Seattle is one of those teams. The acquisitions of WR T.J. Houshmandzadeh, and DT's Colin Cole and Cory Redding, have filled some pre-Draft holes for the Seahawks. So does that mean that they're no longer interested in adding a receiver or defensive tackle to the team? Maybe. Maybe not.
Seattle hasn't had a Top 10 pick since 2001, and is in a terrific position to select an impact player. But how will Seattle's new signees and recent departures affect their Draft strategy with the 4th overall pick? Let's take a look.
Why Offensive Line Should be the Pick:
I'm tired of always going back to Steve Hutchinson, but facts are facts. When Seattle went on its Super Bowl run, the offensive line was dominant. When Shaun Alexander was winning the MVP, the offensive line was dominant. If this team is ever going to get back into legitimate Super Bowl contention, the offensive line will have to be vastly upgraded.
LT Walter Jones is the best Seahawk to ever put on a uniform and a Hall of Fame lock, but he's 35 years old and can't play forever. Finding his eventual successor is a great move for both the immediate and long-term future of the franchise.
Two players are worthy of the 4th pick this year, Baylor's Jason Smith and Virginia's Eugene Monroe. Both have Pro Bowl potential and could either play RT until Jones retires or be moved inside to Guard and play alongside him. Whether at Guard or Tackle, either player would instantly upgrade the offensive line and give the Seahawks a better chance to win now and provide the team with an elite OT for the future.
Why Offensive Line
Should Not be the Pick:
With the 4th overall pick, the Seahawks should get an impact player. While elite OT's like Walter Jones, Jonathan Ogden and Joe Thomas are high 1st Round picks, you can get a capable player much, much later in the Draft. Teams like the Giants, Titans and Steelers have been winning without drafting OT's in Round 1 and Seattle can do the same.
GM Tim Ruskell believes that offensive lineman can be found later and we should trust him to do so. RT Sean Locklear is a player that can play on the left side. Maybe not like Jones can, but he's good enough to win with. T/G Ray Willis is an up-and-coming player who did well when called upon last season. Let's see what he can do and target some O-line help later in the Draft.
Why Wide Receiver Should be the Pick:
It's nice that Seattle signed T.J. Houshmandzadeh. He's a good player and he will upgrade the passing game immediately. But he's not a true #1 receiver and he's 31 years old. Deion Branch is 29 and can't stay healthy. Nate Burleson is coming off an ACL tear and QB Matt Hasselbeck's favorite 3rd down target, Bobby Engram, is now in Kansas City.
And there isn't a single young WR that's done anything to make me believe they'll ever be a starting caliber receiver. So while having Houshmandzadeh upgrades the team, there's still work to be done.
Texas Tech's Michael Crabtree has been drawing comparisons to Larry Fitzgerald. He has solid size, tremendous production and the talent to be a perennial Pro Bowl receiver. Adding him would give the Seahawks four legitimate weapons on the outside and give them the luxury of having solid depth when one of our vets goes down with an injury(as they surely will).
He'll also give Matt Hasselbeck something he hasn't had since Joe Jurevicius and D.J. Hackett- a WR with ball skills. Crabtree's size, leaping ability and knack for bringing in the jump ball separate him from any receiver we have on our roster. He is the #1 player on most teams' Draft boards and taking him should be a no-brainer.
Why Wide Receiver
Should Not be the Pick:
Crabtree's a nice player, but he has an injury, doesn't have a timed 40-yard dash and put up big numbers in a passing offense. Houshmandzadeh, Branch and Burleson are good enough to win with. Remember, Seattle didn't have elite options at WR when they went to the Super Bowl, either.
If Crabtree were healthy and ran a 4.3, he'd be a nice pick, but we simply don't need him. The Seahawks should get a player that fills a bigger hole and target a WR later.
Why Outside Linebacker Should be the Pick
The recent trade of Pro Bowl LB Julian Peterson has left a gaping hole in Seattle's defense. There isn't a player on the roster that can replace him and drafting his replacement is absolutely necessary.
Aaron Curry, from Wake Forest, is exactly the type of player the Seahawks need.
He's big, fast, can blitz, cover, etc. This kid can do it all. He's also a great person, possessing high character and should certainly be a favorite of GM Tim Ruskell's. Curry is the #1 player on many team's Draft boards and he should hear his name called when Seattle makes their pick if he's still on the board.
Why Outside Linebacker
Should Not be the Pick
Since 2000, only two OLBs were taken in the Top 5- Lavar Arrington (2nd overall) and A.J. Hawk (5th overall) and neither had the impact their teams thought they would. Unless you're running a 3-4 defense and you need a pass rushing OLB, drafting one in the Top 5 isn't a good idea. History has shown that you can get quality players later in the Draft. Seattle has proven that theory.
Look at MLB Lofa Tatupu (2nd Round) and OLB Leroy Hill (3rd Round). Both are solid players that fit the defensive scheme and they weren't Round 1 picks. The Seahawks definitely have to replace Julian Peterson, but they can do it with a later pick.
Why Quarterback Should be the Pick
Matt Hasselbeck has been a terrific player for Seattle, but the time to get his successor is now, especially given his recent back injuries. Seattle probably won't be drafting this high for quite some time and just having the opportunity to get a franchise QB is a big deal. Hasselbeck's first few years in the NFL were as a backup in Green Bay. There he learned how to be a pro and that's exactly what can happen in this situation.
Whoever Seattle selects would have the opportunity to learn the position behind Hasselbeck, rather than being thrown into the fire as a rookie QB.
Two QBs are grading out as franchise players this year, Georgia's Matthew Stafford and USC's Mark Sanchez. If the Seahawks believe that either of these players are legitimate franchise signal callers, passing them up would be crazy. Hasselbeck only has a few years left and since QB is the most important position on the field, they should take one of them and groom him for the future.
Why Quarterback Should
Not be the Pick
Like WR, the Seahawks just don't need a QB right now. Word from Seattle is that Hasselbeck's back injury is fine and that it's not a recurring problem. I don't think Seattle should spend a high pick and millions of dollars on a player that might not see the field for a year or two, especially when other good players are on the board that would help right away.
Having time to groom a QB is definitely nice, but you can do that with late-Round QBs as well. Look at Tom Brady, Jake Delhomme and Tony Romo. Those players learned on the sideline, too, but they weren't Round 1 picks. Seattle can groom a QB, they just don't need to do it with the 4th overall pick.