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John Boyle | jboyle@heraldnet.com
Published: Thursday, May 8, 2014, 12:22 p.m.

Draft day links, and potential Seahawks targets

It’s a couple weeks later than usual, but the NFL draft is finally here, and the Seahawks are set to pick last in the first round tonight, though don’t be surprised if Seattle trades back—that’s been the Seahawks’ M.O. under John Schneider.

Before we dive into draft stuff, here’s my column on Richard Sherman’s big day yesterday.

Now, if you’re not completely burnt out on draft coverage, let’s take a wild swing at what could happen today. And by wild swing, I’m referring to my mock(able) draft in today’s Herald.

As you can see, I have the Seahawks going with a pass rusher, even if they might have more obvious needs. Neither I nor any other so-called draft expert knows for certain what the Seahawks are going to do—again, if they even use the 32nd pick—but just for fun, let’s look at some of the players being projected to land in Seattle.

Sports Illustrated’s mocks have the Seahawks taking three different players:

Xavier Su’a-Filo, G, UCLA
Jace Amaro, TE, Texas Tech
Zach Martin, G/T, Notre Dame

CBS Sports’ mocks have the following options for Seattle:

Trade back
Su’a-Filo
Joel Bitonio, G, Nevada
Amaro
Su’a-Filo

While NFL.com goes with the following:

Stanley Jean-Baptiste, CB, Nebraska
Stephon Tuitt, DE, Notre Dame
Amaro
Su’a-Filo

So Su’a-Filo looks to be the consensus, which if past history tells us anything, means there’s no way Seattle takes him. Conversely none of those mocks match my pick of Boise State DE Demarcus Lawrence, which in a way makes me feel better about the pick (though I’m sure I’m wrong). I was a little surprised to see none of those mocks sending a receiver to Seattle. Sidney Rice’s re-signing certainly takes away some of the need there, but the Seahawks could still use a bit more talent there.

Let’s take a quick look at those names above and why they would and wouldn’t make sense for Seattle at No. 32 (again, if they keep that pick).

Demarcus Lawrence, DE, Boise State
Why it makes sense: Pete Carroll likes to say that you can never have too many pass rushers, and the Seahawks did part ways with Chris Clemons this offseason. Cliff Avril is in the final year of his deal, and may not be affordable next year with the Seahawks set to give Russell Wilson a big raise, so adding a young pass rusher now could be a good move, even if it’s not a big need in 2014. On top of that, the biggest knock on Lawrence, who is 6-3, 251, is that he lacks the size of a traditional DE, but at 6-foot-3, 251 pounds, he’s about the perfect size to be a “leo” end in Seattle’s defense.

Why it doesn’t: As noted above, this doesn’t necessarily fit a huge need for Seattle. On top of that, defensive line is one of the few areas where Seattle has struggled in the draft, so perhaps Schneider and Carroll will look elsewhere.

Xavier Su’a-Filo, G, UCLA
Why it makes sense: Guard play has been one of the Seahawks’ few weaknesses, and now Paul McQuistan is gone having left in free agency, so they’re even thinner at a spot that was already an issues. J.R. Sweezy and James Carpenter could continue to develop and give the Seahawks an in-house upgrade in 2014, but adding competition, whether with this pick or another one, seems inevitable in this draft.

Why it doesn’t: The Seahawks have used early picks on linemen, most notably taking Russell Okung and Carpenter in the first round, but they’ve also had good success developing late-round picks. Last year, for example, their best two rookie linemen were Michael Bowie, a seventh-rounder, and Alvin Bailey, who was undrafted. Carroll and Schneider put a lot of faith in Tom Cable’s ability to develop linemen, so they may feel it’s better to wait until later to add to that position.

Jace Amaro, TE, Texas Tech
Why it makes sense: Zach Miller is back having restructured his deal, but he’s also 28 and not likely to be an affordable option going forward. Luke Willson had a promising rookie campaign, but adding another tight end, and more specifically one with a little more size for blocking, would be a good move looking to the future.

Why it doesn’t: Really it’d be hard to find fault with drafting a quality TE at this spot, but I suppose you could argue they Seahawks have more immediate needs, such as offensive line, or perhaps receiver.

Zach Martin, G/T, Notre Dame
Why it makes sense: As mentioned above, the Seahawks aren’t very strong at guard. On top of that, Martin’s versatility would be a big plus, as he could perhaps replace McQuistan as the versatile member of the line who can fill in at several positions.

Why it doesn’t: Again, maybe the Seahawks feel like they can find line talent later, but this is another pick that makes a lot of sense. If anything, the biggest reason this wouldn’t happen is that Martin probably won’t still be on the board when Seattle picks.

Joel Bitonio, G, Nevada
Why it makes sense: Like Martin, Bitonio can play guard and tackle, so his versatility is a plus.

Why it doesn’t: Bitonio could be around in the second round, so he might be a better target for the Seahawks if they trade back and pick early-to-mid second round.

Stanley Jean-Baptiste, CB, Nebraska
Why it makes sense: At 6-foot-3, 218 pounds, Jean-Baptiste certainly has the size for Seattle’s scheme. And while the Seahawks have two starting corners in place, they have to think long-term knowing that Byron Maxwell could be tough to re-sign given the money they already have tied up in the rest of their secondary.

Why it doesn’t: Why use a first-round pick at cornerback when you’ve had so much success in the later rounds? In four year, the earliest the Seahawks have drafted a corner is the fourth round (Walter Thurmond) yet they’ve built the league’s best secondary with players like Richard Sherman (fifth round), Maxwell (sixth), Jeremy Lane (sixth) and Brandon Browner (CFL).

Stephon Tuitt, DE, Notre Dame
Why it makes sense: Tuitt, who is 6-foot-5, 304 pounds, has the ideal size to be a five-technique end in Seattle’s defense, and that spot is unsettled with Red Bryant now in Jacksonville. Tuitt also showed versatility at Notre Dame, a big plus in Seattle’s defensive scheme (just look at Michael Bennett).

Why it doesn’t: Seattle may not be looking to find another Red Bryant-type five-tech, at least not one to play as often as Bryant did. With Bennett re-signing for big money, his role will likely increase, and the Seahawks may have more pass rushers on the field more often. And as mentioned above, the Seahawks haven’t had a lot of success drafting D-linemen—Schneider admitted that D-line is a position where teams tend to reach because talent is so rare.

Story tags » Seahawks

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