I'm officially back to square one. As the Mark Sanchez hype-machine has now officially gone into overdrive, I'm of the same opinion I was at months ago- Texas Tech WR Michael Crabtree is Seattle's best option with the 4th overall Draft pick this year. It's not that I don't like Sanchez. As a matter of fact, he's the #1 QB on my board. I also think Wake Forest LB Aaron Curry is a solid prospect. Virginia's LT Eugene Monroe wouldn't be a bad choice, either. Any of the four would certainly help the Seahawks, but Crabtree would be my pick. Here's why:
1. He's the best player. He has the size (6'2" 215), hands, and athleticism of a true #1 WR in the NFL. Much has been made of the fact that no one has a stop-watch 40 time for him, but I don't believe that's a big factor. Crabtree's game has never been about speed. What makes Crabtree special is that at his size he's able to get in and out of his breaks very quickly and consistently separate from defensive backs. He's physical, catches the ball in traffic and can go up and get the jump ball.
2. He'd be a legitimate #1 WR. Seattle's current receivers are what I like to call "but/if" players. Take Deion Branch. He's a good player, BUT he's only 5'9". Houshmandzadeh is a Pro Bowl receiver, BUT he'll be 32 years old this year. Nate Burleson has ability, IF he can come back from knee surgery. Bottom line is that despite upgrading the receivers QB Matt Hasselbeck has to work with, the Seahawks still have issues there.
The only attribute Crabtree lacks is blazing speed. But that never stopped former Seattle WR Darrell Jackson from putting up solid numbers or Arizona's tandem of Larry Fitzgerald and Anquan Boldin from getting to the Pro Bowl. The moment Crabtree steps on the field, he'd be the most talented receiver Seattle has.
3. He won't have to be "the guy" right away. Because Seattle has veteran options at WR, Crabtree wouldn't have to be forced into action immediately. That doesn't mean he wouldn't be on the field. He's certainly capable of getting on the field in 3 and 4 WR sets, packaged formations and contributing in a rotation. But he wouldn't be the focal point of an offense right away like so many high Draft picks are. He'd also have WRs with good character to teach him. Crabtree could learn from Branch, Houshmandzadeh and Burleson, making him a much better player in the future.
4. Age and injuries. That's what I think about when Seattle's current WRs enter my mind. The thought of Deion Branch making it through a 16 game season is unrealistic, as is the thought of Burleson playing at 100% only a year removed from ACL surgery. That leaves the soon-to-be 32 year old Houshmandzadeh as the lone option until we start seeing street free agents being signed to the team. That's unacceptable. Crabtree's presence would give the Seahawks the kind of flexibility and depth few teams have at the position.
5. The other prospects each have their own issues.
USC QB Mark Sanchez: Won't get on the field because Hasselbeck is firmly entrenched as Seattle's starter. The only way he plays is if Hasselbeck gets hurt, traded, retires, etc. He's a nice QB prospect for the future, but do the Seahawks want to pay 4th overall QB money for a player who might not play for a 2-3 years?
Wake Forest OLB Aaron Curry: Solid player with solid character. Problem is that Seattle already has tons of money invested in MLB Lofa Tatupu and OLB Leroy Hill. Adding Curry would give the Seahawks 3 very good LBs, but that's a lot of money tied up in one position. History has also proven that you can find solid LB help much later in the Draft. Tatupu went in the 2nd Round and Hill the 3rd. If Seattle can trade down and then take Curry, I'm all for it. But not with the 4th pick.
Virginia OT Eugene Monroe: Monroe is a very good player who could be the replacement for LT Walter Jones. Problem is that Jones still has a couple good years left in him, RT Sean Locklear can also play on the left side and RT Ray Willis came on strong last season. Willis will probably compete at RG this year in an effort to keep the best players on the field at the same time. That leaves only LG, where veteran Mike Wahle was just signed. Unless the front office is willing to cut Wahle, Monroe would probably be on the bench to start the year. There's also solid OL depth in this Draft and history has shown time and time again that you can get very productive lineman much later in the Draft. If the Seahawks want to get an offensive lineman, get one later.
History has also shown that
the elite WRs go early. Seattle hasn't had a receiver defenses have had to game
plan for since Joey Galloway. The opportunity to get another player of that
caliber is now within reach of the franchise. I don't think he'll be the pick
tomorrow, but I hope I see Michael Crabtree go across the ticker when Seattle
makes their pick.