Saturday, 28 February 2009

How free agency could shape the draft

Free agency is under way and the Seahawks have already met with Bengals receiver T.J. Houshmandzadeh. Seattle's ability to fill holes in free agency will ultimately shape their ability to be flexible in the draft, so what can we expect?

In 2008 the Seahawks met with Alge Crumpler (tight end, at the time recently released by the Falcons). After a lot of speculation suggesting he would be signing for Seattle, he eventually chose the Tennessee Titans on a moderate contract. Whether the Seahawks were totally sold on getting an ageing veteran to fill the vacancy at tight end remains to be seen, but it did influence the 2008 draft. They eventually made a significant jump in the second round, trading up to get John Carlson (Notre Dame).

Heading into free agency this year, the team's greatest needs appear to be at wide receiver and adding depth to both lines. As mentioned, Houshmandzadeh has already visited Seattle although reports suggest no deal is imminent. Chris Canty (DL, Dallas) is said to be visiting the team on Monday, whilst other reports suggested Jon Stinchcomb (OL, New Orleans) maybe a target.

To read the full article click here.

Would any of these signings affect the draft? Potentially. The Seahawks want to be in a position to draft the best player on their board with the fourth overall pick and not be handcuffed by a particular need. Getting a proven veteran like Houshmandzadeh may not necessarily rule out the Seahawks drafting someone like Michael Crabtree, but it doesn't force them to address receiver at any stage. Without Housmandzadeh or Crabtree, you feel the team would have to take a receiver in rounds 2-4. This could put them in a similar position as with John Carlson, and maybe needing to trade up to get a particular prospect.

The reported interest in Stinchcomb has since been played down by the player's agent. Such a signing would back up suggestions the Seahawks view Sean Locklear as a long term option at left tackle. Stinchcomb, predominantly a right tackle, would replace Ray Willis as a backup who can start. If Walter Jones was unable to start the season after recovering from surgery, or if he suffered a relapse, the Seahawks would have sufficient security on the offensive line. If Seattle does invest money at this position in free agency, it may suggest they don't plan to spend the fourth overall pick on the o-line.

Finally, should Seattle take Canty he would feature more as a DE/DT. He played at end in a 3-4 for Dallas but has size (over 300 lbs and 6'7") so could be valuable against the run opposite Patrick Kerney, whilst slipping inside to pass rushing DT on third down. He will come at a price if the Seahawks want to complete his signing. Tim Ruskell has found value drafting in the middle rounds at defensive tackle. Brandon Mebane has been a steal, whilst much is expected of Red Bryant if he can stay healthy. With prospects like Peria Jerry, Sen'Derrick Marks and Evander 'Ziggy' Hood likely to be available in rounds 2-3, Seattle may be able to also address the position in the draft. This might not be a bad thing, with Canty reported to be visiting New York and Tennessee before Seattle.

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