I'm mostly silent this time of year on the Seahawks. Lots of sites are recycling the same rumors and questions over and over again, but now that we are days away from a franchise-defining draft, I am ready to weigh in.
The Hawks need franchise players. They need them at any position they can find them, even linebacker. All this talk of "should we draft a safety at #6 because they really aren't as important as lineman," is wasted breath. If we have the choice between two players, and the front office is more sure one will be a Pro Bowl player than the other, you pick him.
Now, having said that, I'd love to have a lineman (offense or defense) be so good that we think he is the certain Pro Bowl fixture. Both lines *are* more important than any other position except QB. One could argue an offensive line is more important than QB since you can win with an average QB behind a great line, but can't win with a great QB behind a bad line.
The two lineman that appear to fit into that extremely high shelf category are Russell Okung and Trent Williams. The talk about both players reminds me very much of the 1997 draft class where Orlando Pace was the more certain Pro Bowler, but Walter Jones was considered more athletic with more upside. Given the way Alex Gibbs runs his lines, Okung is not likely to be a good fit, but will not likely be available either. Williams is the wild card. Some have him going as high as #2, others have him slipping past Seattle. If he is available, I think he is the guy you can't pass up.
After him, I think it's Eric Berry, and beyond that...who knows?
Rob Rang has been eerily accurate in predicting Seahawks drafts in the past. I don't know if the change in front office will make them less predictable, but I trust Rang's analysis more than any other. Check out his stuff here: http://www.cbssports.com/nfl/draft/mock
Rang has us taking Bulaga (passing on Berry) and getting DE Derrick Morgan at #14. Rang believes we'll pass on Berry because taking him at #6 will slot his salary as much as $2M *higher* than a franchise tagged safety would today. That's right, we'd be paying him more than Ed Reed if Reed was franchised today. I can see where that would factor into the decision. I tend to see that as overthinking though. If Eric Berry ends up being Ed Reed, and Brian Bulaga becomes Sean Locklear, we will be better off with Eric Berry, period.
I don't know much about Morgan, but I haven't read anything that makes me all that excited. Nobody writes that he is the next great pass rusher. He is considered the best DE in the draft. Maybe I'm just scarred by our past 75 defensive end draft choices, but if we take him at #14, he better be an upgrade over what we have. That's a low bar.
We need to exit this draft with:
1 starting caliber offensive tackle
1 offensive playmaker (this could WR or RB)
1 starting caliber defensive lineman
1 starting caliber safety
1 starting caliber running back
1 QB to challenge Mike Teel at #3
When I say starting caliber, that is relative to the Seahawks team. They would have to be ready to start for our team. Again, not a high bar.
Beyond those things, it would be great to add:
1 starting caliber offensive guard or center (unger can play either)
1 WR with upside
A 2nd defensive lineman (we need a tackle and an end)
I think the possibility still exists that Matt Hasselbeck could be traded for more picks. I think I could be at peace with that move if we get at least a 2nd or 3rd round pick for him. Let's face it, it's unlikely Matt will play here beyond next season. I'd rather see what we have in Whitehurst if he's the inevitable successor. Wow, that's painful to say. Matt's my guy.
This draft needs to be about quality. I would be okay with depth or breadth (or obviously both). Depth would mean we drafted multiple at certain positions like offensive line to make sure we turn a weakness into a strength. Breadth would mean we filled in holes across a larger set of positions. I can't wait to see where we end up. If nothing else, we can be sure Tim Ruskell won't be making the picks, so hope springs eternal.