The way the draft is lining up — with five picks in the first three rounds for Seattle — it appears the Seahawks are going to go heavy on defense.
There is a clear need to get younger and more cost effective in the secondary and while I don’t believe Richard Sherman is going to get traded, they still need to add another cornerback or two in the draft along with a safety, a pass rusher or two — both on the edge and inside at defensive tackle — with Michael Bennett and Cliff Avril both over 30 years old — and possibly a SAM linebacker with all their free-agent additions on one-year contracts.
Despite the clear needs, the lingering concerns up front on offence remain, even with the club bringing in Luke Joeckel and Oday Aboushi in free agency, so where will John Schneider go in Round 1?
See below in our second edition of the Hawkblogger mock draft, as the draft is just over two weeks away.
1) Cleveland Browns: Myles Garrett (DE, Texas A&M)– Hue Jackson made it clear that the Browns want to stay at No. 1, so they’ll go with the no-brainer pick of Garrett, unless he talks his away out of the No. 1 selection. The Browns badly need blue-chippers on defense.
2) San Francisco 49ers: Solomon Thomas (DE, Stanford) — The 49ers are doing a good job keeping their intentions quiet, after its previous regime became known league-wide for their leaks, but when all is said it’s done new GM John Lynch sticks to his Stanford roots and brings in the best interior pass rusher to pair with their last two first-rounders, DeForest Buckner and Arik Armstead, to form a nice trio on the defensive line.
3) Chicago Bears: Jamal Adams (S, LSU) — After releasing veteran corner Tracy Porter, Marshon Lattimore should be under serious consideration, but the Bears go with the more physical player to help turn around a defence that lacks an identity. The hard-hitting safety would fill the old Donte Whitner role in Vic Fangio’s defense.
4) Jacksonville Jaguars: Leonard Fournette (RB, LSU) — The Jags spent a ton of free agent capital to address their defense, bringing in Calais Campbell, and safety Barry Church, and with no surefire prospects in this draft class on the offensive line, the Jaguars protect quarterback Blake Bortles by boosting the running game with the addition of Fournette. He would be a Day 1 starter, ahead of Chris Ivory and TJ Yeldon.
5) Tennessee Titans: Mike Williams (WR, Clemson) — Given the quantity of defensive backs availabile, the Titans decide to give Marcus Mariota a true No. 1 receiver that can use his size to dominate on third down and in the red zone. They can address their need at defensive back later in the first round.
6) New York Jets: Marshon Lattimore (CB, Ohio State) — The Jets still need to address the quarterback position, but with so many question marks available, they go after another immediate need instead and bring in Lattimore to fill Darelle Revis’ old role as the team’s No. 1 defensive back. Expect the Jets to be heavy in the quarterback market in the 2018 draft.
7) Los Angeles Chargers: Malik Hooker (S, Ohio State) — The Chargers weren’t the same without Eric Weddle, a ballhawking presence in the defensive backfield, and with Gus Bradley taking over as defensive coordinator, Hooker is an ideal scheme fit to play the Earl Thomas role. Hooker is known for his speed, range, and ability to create turnovers.
8) Carolina Panthers: Christian McCaffrey (RB, Stanford) — The Panthers need more dynamic weapons and more speed on offense for Cam Newton. Although Fournette might be better from a pure talent perspective, McCaffery is a better fit in the Panthers scheme that uses plenty of shotgun formations. McCaffrey would be an explosive player behind Cam Newton and as a receiver out of the backfield.
9) Cincinnati Bengals: Jonathan Allen (DE, Alabama) — The Bengals need to get younger at defensive end and more physical up front, so Allen fills a big need from a talent and positional need perspective. The Alabama product is considered to be a top-five prospect by most evaluators, which usually appeals to the Bengals front office.
10) Buffalo Bills: O.J Howard (TE, Alabama) — You can’t count the Bills out of taking a quarterback here, but new coach Sean McDermott appears to be a believer in Tyrod Taylor so the team goes with one of the best prospects left on the board as Howard offers a legit size-speed combination that would fit well in new OC Rick Dennison’s offense. Dennison worked under Gary Kubiak in both Denver and Houston, and both those offenses performed at their best with a well-rounded receiving tight end.
11) New Orleans Saints: Rueben Foster (LB, Alabama) — The run on Alabama players continues. New Orleans’ biggest needs are at defensive end and cornerback, but the Saints can’t pass on Foster, who would provide the club with their best and most physical inside linebacker since Jonathan Vilma.
12) Cleveland Browns: Corey Davis (WR, Western Michigan)– We gave the Browns a quarterback here in our last mock draft, but that’s looking less and less likely as we get closer to the draft. The Browns could address the QB spot at pick No. 33 or move back into the first round (rumor is they like Davis Webb out of California) so instead they bring in the top route runner in the draft to compliment with last year’s first-round pick, Corey Coleman, who is known for his speed.
13) Arizona Cardinals: Deshaun Watson (QB, Clemson)– The Cardinals’ defense was ravaged in free agency, so despite some more immediate holes, the Cardinals look big picture and go with Watson as their long-term answer at quarterback. Watson has the college pedigree that could appeal to Bruce Arians and would spend a year learning behind Carson Palmer before he’s ready to play. It’s an ideal solution for Arizona.
14) Philadelphia Eagles: Kevin King (CB, Washington)– Sorry, Seahawks fans. King would be an ideal selection for Seattle, but the Eagles, who still have big needs in the secondary, should be intrigued with his size and athleticism. The Eagles’ current cornerback starters are Jalen Mills and Patrick Robinson.
15) Indianapolis Colts: Haason Reddick (LB, Temple)– New GM Chris Ballard did a good job hedging the draft by bringing in a bunch of mid-level linebackers so the team isn’t forced to stick to one major need. So they can rely on their board and take the best defensive player available, and that is definitely Reddick, who has the athletic testing and production to be a top-10 player. Many Seahawks fans liked Reddick early in the process, but falling to No. 26 looks extremely unlikely at this point.
16) Baltimore Ravens: Cam Robinson (T, Alabama)– The Ravens lost Ricky Wagner in free agency and are able to restock the position with Robinson, who’s production was hampered at Alabama due to lingering injuries. He has the size and potential to fit what GM Ozzie Newsome likes his first-round picks, and the team’s trade of C Jeremy Zuttah was a clear indication that Baltimore wants to get bigger up front.
17) Washington Redskins: John Ross (WR, Washington)– Ross’ 40 time was the talk of the Combine but his stock has dipped a bit due to some durability concerns. However, with Washington losing DeSean Jackson in free agency, there’s a clear need for the Redskins to add more speed on the outside to compliment Jamison Crowder (slot receiver) and free-agent signing Terrelle Pryor, so why not go with the player who closest resembles Jackson in the draft?
18) Tennessee Titans: Gareon Conley (CB, Ohio State)– Tennessee has been linked to cornerback Marshon Lattimore in plenty of mock drafts, so instead they go with his college teammate, Conley, who is considered to be a comparable prospect after nabbing receiver Mike Williams earlier at pick No. 5. Conley has quality size, length, and production and would fit it nicely with cornerback Logan Ryan, who the Titans gave a three-year deal to in free agency.
19) Tampa Bay Buccaneers: David Njoku (TE, Miami)– Cameron Brate performed nicely at tight end for the Bucs in 2016, finishing the season as the No. 2 receiving target behind Mike Evans. But the Bucs can find roles for both Brate and Njoku, who gives Jameis Winston a more dynamic weapon in the passing game. Miami has a had a long history of producing NFL tight ends.
20) Denver Broncos: Garrett Bolles (T, Utah)– There’s been rumblings that Bolles could shoot up in the top half of the draft, simply due to the shortage of quality starting tackles available (heck, look what Russell Okung got in free agency) but we just couldn’t find a home for Bolles in the ‘teens so he falls into an ideal situation in Denver, who have spent their free agent money on rebuilding the offensive line. Bolles should be a Day 1 starter at left tackle.
21) Detroit Lions: Derek Barnett (DE, Tennessee)– Just like Denver, Detroit put their free-agency emphasis on the right side of their offensive line, which left defensive end as a hole entering draft season. In this scenario, the Lions would be thrilled to have Barnett sitting around as he offers the kind of production and edge rush ability that the Lions currently lack on their roster. He’d pair nicely with Ziggy Ansah.
22) Miami Dolphins: Forrest Lamp (G, Western Kentucky)– Miami is kicking out Laremy Tunsil to left tackle to replace Branden Albert, so the Dolphins have a gaping hole at left guard, which is exactly where Lamp would slot in. Lamp performed well at left tackle in college but his arm length/size profiles better at a guard position. Tunsil and Lamp would give Miami a heck of a left side while Seahawk fans would be sad that the capable offensive lineman didn’t fall down a few more spots.
23) New York Giants: Ryan Ramczyk (T, Wisconsin)– Ereck Flowers hasn’t performed well for New York, so adding Ramcyzk could allow the Giants to try Flowers out a new position, which ultimately could upgrade two different spots. Eli Manning is in the back nine of his NFL career, so protecting him has to be a primary goal at this stage. He has taken too many hits over the past few seasons.
24) Oakland Raiders: Jarrad Davis (LB, Florida) — Cornerback is a clear need for Oakland and could be an option at this stage, but Davis helps the Raiders upgrade at linebacker, where there isn’t much promise on the roster outside of Bruce Irvin. Oakland DC Ken Norton Jr. helped Seattle draft and develop K.J. Wright and Bobby Wagner with the Seahawks so he begins his rebuilding of the Raiders linebacker corps with the well-rounded prospect out of Florida.
25) Houston Texans: Mitchell Trubisky (QB, North Carolina)– The Texans seemed like the obvious candidate for Tony Romo, but the former Dallas Cowboys decided to go into broadcasting and left the Texas with Tom Savage atop their depth chart. Unless the Texans see something in Jay Cutler or Colin Kaepernick, they need to address the quarterback position, and Trubisky is the best option for Bill O’Brien’s offense at this stage.
26) Seattle Seahawks: Taco Charlton (DL, Michigan)– Most expect the Seahawks to go with a cornerback or offensive lineman in the first round, but since when does John Schneider or Pete Carroll follow convention? Instead, they go after another need position that hasn’t drawn a ton of attention on their roster as they land a versatile defensive lineman that can rush the passer from the interior. The Seahawks, who did not add a defensive tackle in free agency, have relied too much on their outside pass rushers and are at their best when they can get push from the middle (remember Clinton McDonald in 2013 or the second half of Jordan Hill in 2014). Charlton is close with Seahawks DE Frank Clark, as the two were college teammates, and would form a nice long-term pair for the Seahawks to build their pass rush around.
27) Kansas City Chiefs: Patrick Mahomes (QB, Texas Tech)– No quarterback in this draft class closer resembles Brett Favre than Mahomes, who is at his best outside of the structure of the design of the play. Mahomes has great arm strength but needs some time to develop, so landing behind Alex Smith for a few years would be a perfect situation for the Chiefs. Plus, don’t forget it was KC head coach Andy Reid that played a large role in Favre’s development in Green Bay on Mike Holmgren’s offensive staff.
28) Dallas Cowboys: Adoree Jackson (CB, USC)– The Cowboys’ secondary was torn apart in free agency so Dallas will be on the lookout for secondary help early in the draft. Jackson isn’t as big as Morris Claiborne or Brandon Carr, the Cowboys’ previous starters at cornerback, but he’d fit in nicely here because of his natural playmaking ability, and ability to impact the return game.
29) Green Bay Packers: Chidobe Awuzie (CB, Colorado)– The Packers need to get better in the defensive backfield after they were picked apart by opposing offenses last season so risk-averse GM Ted Thompson goes with one of the safer prospects available, according to Daniel Jeremiah of NFL.com, and takes Awuzie, who could play in Don Capers’ defense on the outside or in the slot.
30) Pittsburgh Steelers: Takkarist McKinnley (DE/OLB, UCLA)– The Steelers need to get younger on the edge so they turn in the card for McKinnley, who is like a fastball coming off the edge. The UCLA product is a bit raw but his explosiveness and potential has drawn comparisons to Tamba Hali of the Kansas City Chiefs. The Steelers’ edge rushing issues were exposed in the team’s playoff loss to New England.
31) Atlanta Falcons: Charles Harris (DE, Missouri)– Dan Quinn is a defensive line coach at heart so he’d be happy to add another pass rusher with good athleticism. QUinn can help him improve his play against the run and his hand usage, which would really round out his game. With Dwight Freeney’s future up in the air, the defending NFC Champions need more depth and capable starters on the defensive line.
32) New Orleans Saints: Marlon Humphrey (CB, Alabama)– It doesn’t appear likely the Saints will be able to lure Malcom Butler out of New England without giving up a high pick, so New Orleans instead grabs Humphrey with this selection. Humphrey has the physical traits that Dennis Allen wants on defence, but needs to improve his skills with the ball in the air. He gave up too many big plays last season. However, the Saints would be happy to add him in this scenario.