Thursday, 4 December 2008

How will Seattle approach the first round? Part 1

With a record of 2-10 going into a week 13 face off with the Patriots, the Seahawks appear destined to be selecting in the top five.

Today, we look at how Seattle might approach the first round and what scenarios to look for as the end of the season approaches and free agency nears.

Discussing the draft with fellow Hawks fans over the past few weeks, the big debate has been solely based around this question - do we take the top rated tackle or the highly rated receiver Michael Crabtree?

It's dominated most people's thinking. The current SDB poll backs that up, with a large majority saying we should select an OT or a WR with our first rounder.

Some say take a tackle such as Alabama's Andre Smith or Michael Oher from Ole Miss to replace the ageing, yet still classy Walter Jones. A tackle has long been presumed a 'value pick' at the top of the first round - a player who can contribute almost immediately and provide a solid contribution for years.

You only have to look at the 2007 class for evidence of this. Ryan Clady has been an absolute stud for the Broncos, Jake Long has been a focal point in the Dolphins recovery and lower first round picks Sam Baker and Jeff Otah have flashed potential. If the Bears can get anything from the injury plagued Chris Williams, it could end up being one of the best years for the position in a long time.

A guy like Andre Smith looks ideal to slot in at guard from day one, waiting patiently for his crack at the left tackle slot when Walter eventually bows out. Michael Oher might not necessarily have the same skills to switch to guard, but he comes highly rated as a potential super star at the tackle position - something that warrants serious consideration regardless whether you have future hall of famer's currently in your roster playing his roll.

Plus boosting the O-Line will help create better protection for Matt Hasselbeck, provide bigger holes for the running backs to exploit and generally improve Seattle's ability to dominate from the front. The Seahawks' run to the Super Bowl would never have happened without the elite front line. Now they have a chance to bring in a stud who can help the team find that winning formula.

Others say take the play making, super talented receiver Michael Crabtree. A strong case can be made for suggesting the Seahawks WR group is amongst the worst in the NFL. Well... when they are actually out on the field and not sat in the medical room.

Crabtree would offer the team a big play option on offense. A lot of Seattle's offensive struggles this year have been due to a lack of quality targets for the three quarterbacks used, allowing opposition teams to 'dare' the Hawks to pass the ball by stacking the box. The result has affected the running game and allowed teams to blitz at will - as seen in the Thanksgiving Day spanking in Dallas.

With nobody to throw to, a stagnated running game and a heavy dose of pass rush... Seattle's offense has sunk faster than an rudderless boat.

Aside from Crabtree's raw talent and ability to make plays in double coverage, the attention he draws could effectively open up other receivers and release some of the pressure on the running game.

Either way, the methodology within these picks is simple - improve the offensive production, relieve the pressure on defense and the team can be successful again.

Not a big make over or a rebuild. Purely a suggestion that the mishaps of 2008 can be rectified with a some impact players on offense and some fresh ideas from a coaching staff switch.

Of course, this assumes that Matt Hasselbeck will be healthy enough to continue his career as the Seahawks franchise QB. It also assumes that the new regime led by Jim Mora will be able to bring their ideas to a successful conclusion using mostly the men that were orchestrating Holmgren's West Coast Offense.

Will a nip and a tuck be enough to get the Seahawks back in shape?

There's one reason why it may not be that simple...

Tim Ruskell.

In the past when Seattle has had problems at a key position, GM Ruskell has been extremely aggressive in rectifying the problem. In 2007, he completely revamped the secondary by signing Deon Grant and Brian Russell, drafting Josh Wilson and appointing Mora as secondary coach.

In 2008 he set to work on Seattle's failing running game. Out went former MVP Shaun Alexander, in came Mike Wahle to play guard and Mike Solari joined as offensive line coach. To support Mo Morris, Julius Jones and TJ Duckett were signed.

If Ruskell feels the general offense needs a similar overhaul to regain it's status as one of the NFL's best, he may be just as ruthless in 2009. There could be big name casualties amongst the playing staff, as the GM and his new Head Coach set about turning round Seattle's fortunes.

In part 2 of this look at how Seattle will approach the first round, we'll see what surprises may be in store for the 12th man. What might Ruskell be planning for this off season?

Find out tomorrow, on Seahawks Draft Blog.

1 comment:

JoeMcK said...

My best guess is that Russkel will again try to fill most voids via free agency to try to go into the draft with no "needs" at any position.

Another best guess leads me to think the Cardinals will franchise Karlos Darby and let A. Boldin go due to the expense. If the Hawks can get Boldin, the choice could more likely be between OT (I like Oher best) and defensive line - either a DT or another DE