So is there a chance Crabtree could still find his way to the Seattle?
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Tim Ruskell has shown in his time as general manager that he doesn’t like to leave things to chance. If a hole can be filled in free agency, he’ll fill it. Let’s consider this situation. The Seahawks needed to upgrade at receiver and Houshmandzadeh was the best free agent in a slim wide receiver market. Had the Seahawks not taken the former Bengal, they would almost certainly have to find a solution via the draft.
Crabtree would have been the obvious option. But what if he was taken before Seattle were on the clock? My latest mock draft suggests it’s not beyond the realms of possibility Kansas City draft Crabtree in order to provide a perfect platform for Matt Cassel to succeed. With Crabtree off the board, what would the Seahawks do? My mock also shows that as many as five receivers could go in the first round, leaving slim picking for the ‘Hawks at round two.
In 2008, the Seahawks opted not to sign veteran Alge Crumpler in preference of using the draft to find a much needed tight end. Seattle were forced into an aggressive trade up to secure John Carlson, costing them a third round pick. Tim Ruskell almost certainly wouldn’t have wanted to face that situation again.
By taking Houshmandzadeh, the Seahawks have a solution to their issue at receiver. It doesn’t handcuff them into taking Crabtree if available and also doesn’t force them into a difficult ‘crisis’ position if he isn’t. They can confidently go into the draft looking for the best player available fourth overall.
That could be Crabtree. Prior to all these injury concerns, he was the highest rated player on Mel Kiper and Rob Rang’s draft boards. He’s had surgery and is fully expected to make a full recovery after 8-10 weeks rest. He won’t be running, so teams don’t have a 40 yard dash time. He is also a little shorter than teams expected (6’1” instead of 6’3”). But the fact is: there’s film of Crabtree catching 231 balls and scoring 41 touchdowns. He’s still the first guy to win two Biletnikoff’s. He’s still the guy who became an All-American both seasons he played at Texas Tech. As long as teams are confident the injury will heal, he is still the same prospect he was a few weeks ago.
From a Seattle perspective, they need to rejuvenate their offense. It was regularly shut down last year, mainly due to injuries but also due to a lack of play makers. They couldn’t pass the ball, which allowed teams to really pressure the offensive line, blitzing freely and shutting down the running game. Houshmandzadeh will help. All he does is catch passes, he averages around the 100 mark per season. He’ll provide a great target for Matt Hasselbeck.
But is it enough to snub a talented potential star like Crabtree? Houshmandzadeh will be 32 when the season begins. Age won’t affect his ability to make plays immediately for Seattle, but he can’t be considered a long term option. He’s always been predominantly a number two receiver. He won’t stretch the field and has often thrived playing across from Chad Johnson/Ocho Cinco. If you want to really maximize Houshmandzadeh’s talents, you would be best served putting him alongside another talented receiver.
"Seattle paid a lot of money for a No. 2 receiver. Sorry, T.J. That's what you are. That's why I still think the Seahawks will take a close look at Texas Tech receiver Michael Crabtree with the fourth overall pick in the draft." - Pete Prisco, CBS Sportsline
Deion Branch has shown an inability to stay healthy and play a full 16 games. He will be 30 years old in July. He’s already served three seasons of the 6-year $39m deal he signed after joining via trade from the New England Patriots. Can you confidently rely on Branch to remain healthy in 2009? He was touted as a potential cut until a spell of form at the end of the 2008 season appeared to secure his roster spot. You could argue Branch is only another frustrating injury away from the chop. Either way, until he proves his health he cannot be classified as a long term option and doesn’t offer any security.
Nate Burleson had an under rated 2007, scoring nine receiving touchdowns and adding a great kick/punt return threat. He suffered a serious knee injury in week one of the 2008 season and is entering a contract year. Reports are good on Burleson so far, he is said to be well set on the road to recovery. However, this will be tested most during camp and when he’s on the field. He could potentially leave the team in 2010 whether he bounces back or not. If he does well in 2009, he could be a hot commodity on the free agent market. If he doesn’t, or gets injured again, the team would be hard pushed to re-sign him.
Taking all this into account, will the team rest on their laurels with this trio? Is this enough to ignore such a dynamic prospect as Crabtree?
Of course the team might not rate Crabtree as highly as I do. I believe they would have to seriously consider investing long term by drafting a replacement for ageing veterans Matt Hasselbeck and Walter Jones. But in the same sense, I don’t see this team completely striking the ex-Red Raider off the shortlist.
Taking Crabtree and pairing him with Houshmandzadeh would give the team two big threats at receiver and sufficient depth to suggest a big flaw in 2008 could become a great strength in 2009. Teams would struggle to cover a set of Crabtree, Houshmandzadeh, Branch and Carlson, potentially setting up the running game too. If the team are serious about finding an impact player and revolutionizing the offense – not to mention hitting back quickly from a 4-12 season – Crabtree could very much be an option.
Can we ‘assure’ he’ll make it passed the fourth pick? I wouldn’t make that claim.