Monday, 23 March 2009

One month to go... and still no clues

By tomorrow, we'll be officially 32 days (one month) away from the 2009 NFL Draft. Much has been debated since the close of the Seahawks latest 4-12 season which gave them the fourth overall pick. But are we any closer to finding out who Tim Ruskell and the front office are likely to select? Convincingly, no.

I took a sample of twenty mock drafts using Walterfootball.com's database. I found the following results:

75% thought Matt Stafford would go first overall to Detroit
65% thought Jason Smith would go second overall to St Louis
90% thought Aaron Curry would go third to Kansas City

A consensus opinion has formed about the first three picks. So what about the Seahawks and the fourth choice?

To read the full article click here.

45% said the Seahawks will take Eugene Monroe.
20% thought Michael Crabtree and 15% Jason Smith.
B.J. Raji, Matt Stafford, Everette Brown and Brian Orakpo all received 5%.

It appears opinion is a little less confident on the direction the Seahawks will go. It's no surprise, Tim Ruskell has worked hard in free agency to fill obvious needs leaving the Seahawks in position to take the best player available. Before the signing of T.J. Houshmandzadeh a similar sample could easily have shown 90-100% in favour of Michael Crabtree. A lot has changed.

The fact 60% think Seattle will take an offensive tackle shows the shift in opinion. Without a high profile addition to the offensive line during free agency, many still consider a lineman in the first round a possibility. So can we assume this is how the team will draft?

I wouldn't make that assumption. For starters, there's no guarantee Jason Smith and Eugene Monroe will even be there with the fourth pick. On the other hand, the Seahawks invested heavily in Sean Locklear with incentives to play left tackle. With Ray Willis re-signed in free agency, the team may feel they have sufficient depth in case Walter Jones fails to recover sufficiently from microfracture surgery. It could certainly be enough to make them think twice about adding a $60m insurance policy.

So what do the experts and high profile pundits think?

Rob Rang, NFL Draft Scout & CBS Sportsline
Aaron Curry: Trading OLB Julian Peterson creates a gaping hole at the strong-side position in Seattle's defense. The Seahawks could plug Curry in immediately and, considering they'd be getting the player many believe is the draft's top talent at the fourth pick, the team would be getting optimum value.

Chad Reuter, NFL Draft Scout & CBS Sportsline
Jason Smith: Walter Jones' age and injury situation, as well as the loss of versatile Pork Chop Womack, makes left tackle a priority need for the Seahawks.

Steve Wyche, NFL.com
Michael Crabtree: The Seahawks supposedly are looking for a "playmaker" who can stretch the field. They can get that with Crabtree here or trade down and take a deep-ball threat, like Hakeem Nicks, between picks 20 and 32. They possess the ideal trade position. They also could go with Virginia offensive tackle Eugene Monroe.

Pat Kirwan, NFL.com
Matt Stafford: Players under consideration include Brian Orakpo and Aaron Curry. Seattle has needs beyond a future quarterback and it is always hard to pass up those needs to look down the road, but the Seahawks may have Stafford fall in their lap. If they pass, there's no guarantee they see a quarterback like him again in the next few years when they select. Trading for Cory Redding resolves the defensive line issue, but opened up an issue at linebacker.

Charles Davis, NFL.com
Eugene Monroe: Seattle might go DL here (B.J. Raji), but keeping Matt Hasselbeck upright is a priority.

Peter King, SI.com
Brian Orakpo: I think there's no consensus on the first round in the draft, with the draft 33 days away. But the lobby guesswork after a long Sunday of pigeonholing NFL people and agents leaves this top five: Detroit, Georgia quarterback Stafford; St. Louis, Baylor tackle Jason Smith; Kansas City, Virginia tackle Eugene Monroe; Seattle, Texas defensive end Brian Orakpo; Cleveland, Wake Forest linebacker Aaron Curry.

Six different opinions, all with Seattle taking a different prospect. What can we conclude from this? Probably that as far as the Seahawks are concerned, we're none the wiser as to which direction they'll go in the first round. All of the views above offer perfectly plausible justifications. I'd hazard a guess that on the eve of April 25th we'll still be guessing who goes fourth overall.

25 comments:

Wes said...

I think one aspect that has gotten ignored regarding seahawks possibly taking stafford is that as the appeal of Stafford has grown quite a bit in the last week or 2 for the Hawks, the same will obviously be true for the Lions. They need a starting QB far worse than the Hawks, and if Stafford can establish himself as a bona-fide franchise QB prospect, the Lions almost certainly have to take him, unless they have some other wild plan to get a different franchise QB. (Freeman maybe?) The higher the Hawk bosses / fans get on stafford, its just as likely the same is happening with the Lions' brass.

If teams really believe stafford is franchise QB material, the Lions have to take him in my opinion and all this talk about the Hawks taking him is moot.

Chris (Seattle) said...

Since Seattle isn't picking first, using that justification makes discussing any player we take as moot, since any combination of 3 could be gone when we select. I don't think Seattle is as interested in Stafford as others do. I think their heavy presence at the Georgia pro day had more to do with Moreno. I'm not sold on Stafford anyways. He has all the physical tools, but still struggles to read defenses properly and throws far too many balls into coverage. Reason why his stock has risen so high recently is it's the time of year where guys perform in shorts without defenders, optimum for Stafford (he even admitted something similar after his pro day). I believe we are reaching the point where we've exhausted every possibility for Seattle at 4 (from trading down, to taking the short list of players most see as "worth" the pick, and even "wild cards" like Moreno and Orakpo), so now comes time to just sit back and enjoy the next month, hoping we get some indication of what the 3 teams ahead of us are going to do, which would help reveal the hawks plans possibly. Until then, let the debate continue I guess.

Anonymous said...

Rob, assuming that the rumors of J Smith going to the Lions are true doesn’t that make Stafford a lock to be available at 4? Since “we are in that zone”, doesn’t the Stafford pick seem most likely at this point?

Yung Hawk

Louis said...

Please no...Stafford isnt gonna help us this year, Crabree will. We have got to be able to do well this year, as this might be the last year of a few of our best players: Walter Jones, Matt Hasselbeck, and Patrict Kerney

Anonymous said...

That is why Stafford and Monroe are viable options to replace our best players.

Louis said...

Good point, lol

But my point is, replacing players aint gonna get u anywhere. If we got Crabtree, I think we got a legit chance at going deep into the playoffs, maybe even the SB.

Anonymous said...

I know was just giving you a hard time. I agree with you that Crabtree would help us this year but is it worth sacrificing the future by not picking a player at one of the two most important positions.

Rob Staton said...

Yung Hawk,

I would be surprised if Detroit didn't take Matt Stafford. I think reports they've settled on Jason Smith are incredibly premature considering they will travel en masse to Georiga on March 31st to work Stafford out privately. The leaked reports may be a bargaining tool, but I would guess nothing more.

Michael said...

I find it interesting how so many Seattle fans cling to the cost of Willis, Locklear, and Jones as linemen, but completely disregard the expense of Deon Branch and Nate Burleson.

There is big money being spent at all positions, including LB, QB, DE, DT.

To make an argument on who Seattle is interested in based on what we plan to spend on a position in 2009 is, in my opinion, shortsighted.

Seattle will take the player they want, regardless of current salary expense.

Lastly, I am also surprised that there has been no depth of interest in the reports of Crabtree's immaturity and lack of discipline off the field. I guess cocain wielding roomates is common.

Give me someone who has a good head on their shoulders and will try hard.

Give me sanchez.

Michael said...

LOL... and I must say, I am a hypocrite... Sanchez is no better than Crabtree off the field from past experiences.

Oh well. Take Keyshawn Crabtree!

Rob Staton said...

Michael, there is no evidence that Crabtree knew of his room mates involvement with drugs. I know for certain that when I went to University, I was put on campus with five people I had never met and my closest friends were not amongst that group. I had very little interest in what they got up to, and there's no reason why Crabtree couldn't be in the same situation.

There is also no evidence that Crabtree has a lack of discipline off the field.

Let's stick to discussing what we know about prospects and not speculation.

Michael said...

Fair enough.

Your thoughts on why so much is made of the expense of a Tackle as opposed to a WR?

Rob Staton said...

I think it's mainly due to the suggestion that a wide receiver, such as Michael Crabtree, would offer a more immediate return on your investment. Even if it takes him a year or two to peak, you could put him on the field and watch teams struggle to cover Crabtree, Houshmandzadeh, Carlson and one of Branch or Burleson. That would provide Seattle with a dangerous passing game in 2009.

A left tackle would not start Walter Jones' health permitting. Sean Locklear has a big contract with incentives to play left tackle, so it's unlikely a rookie would replace him on the right, and the team have also 'tipped their cap' to suggest that Locklear could be a longer term replacement for Jones on the blind side.

If you draft a rookie LT, the best case scenario you hope for is that Jones retires or gets injured again in or after 2009 (no Seahawks fan wants that). The worst case scenario is Jones plays for another 2-3 years and your $60-70m investment never sees a snap at left tackle for the first half of that big contract. So the finances are a little more restrictive as opposed to a receiver who with all intents and purposes will be on the field even as a rookie.

If the Seahawks see Eugene Monroe or Jason Smith as 'can't miss' quality then they may feel obliged to ignore these concerns and draft an offensive tackle regardless. I'm not saying it won't happen, just trying to answer why I think more is made of the finances for a LT as a WR.

Michael said...

Thanks much for your quick reply.

I am hung up on the fact that our WR corps was not deep during the SB run, but the OL was very deep (see Spencer).

The argument of explosion versus one of line of scrimmage is an interesting one.

Perhaps, if one believes that games are one or lost with big plays, you root for Crabtree. However, if games are won or lost by winning the line of scrimmage, one might root for Smith/Monroe.

And, finally, if one realizes that the best defenense, WR corp in the world is worthless without a great QB, and that trying to grow one straight off the line is the highest risk in all, one might root for Stafford/Sanchez.

If it is true we have the OL now. And if it is true that we have explosive players to support Hasselbeck (as we did on '07), then we prepare a QB to mature with the young defense and Offensive line.

One must ask themselves what Brian Robiskie would have done in TT's system.

Your site is awesome. Thanks for your time.

Christopher R. Mattix said...

Okay this is crazy. It just dawned on me.
I have tried my hardest for a long time now to think like Ruskell.
He is checking out, seemingly strongly, Mr. Orakpo, Mr. Sanchez, and Mr. Moreno. All of those are extremely good players and two of them are "Ruskell" to a T. But none of them are 1rst rounders. We are desperately wanting to trade down, and I don't blame them!
Here is the thing tho. This may or may not happen.
1. We draft Mr. Eugene Monroe (not sure why I'm using "Mr.") or grab a possibly available J. Smith.
2. If W. Jones is unplayable this year, Locklear moves to LT.
3. I don't like Lock as an LT. He is great, but not dominating. But keep him there.
4. Draft Tim Tebow. Tim Tebow is left handed. Tebow is a dream come true for Ruskell, he is "Ruskell" to a T. Literally. And he has HOF written all over him if you are willing to take the chance.
5. He learns to be quick on his relealse under Matt and Mora makes sure to change his playbook to make it easier on Tim to have a lot of movement. He is a slower Vick with a rocket as an arm. And he is much more durable and would soon become the team leader, even as a rookie. He is that kind of player.
6. NOW. Your blindside tackle is Monroe or Smith, but on the right.
7. Nothing gets misused and we create all kinds of matchup problems with a massive LT and a dominating RT. And Knapp and Solari work together to make one of the best running offences in history. And for kicks, Tebow could probably still throw for 3,000 yards and few INTS. He is a very safe QB in that sense. He plays really tough too, and ask any lineman or linebacker how hard it is to bring Timmy down. Ask his teammate Spikes.
You can't.
8. Lastly, you are set for the future. Two bright stars, Monroe and Tebow. Two great teachers, W. Jones and Hass.
And you want Sanchez? Or Stafford? Please. Take the best and only the best.

Christopher R. Mattix said...

Sorry the "none of them are first rounders" is wrong. None of them are #4 picks.

Mr. Big Joe said...

Mr. Mattix, I like your thinking, but dont you think Tim Tebow will go in the first half of round one next year? I pray we will be picking in the high 20's or low thirties next year. If he is there when we pick I LOVE the idea.

Rob Staton said...

Michael, thanks for the kind comments. I think you make a good point about Robiskie, his stats certainly suffered playing in the less pass-friendly offense at OSU.

My own personal opinion is that there isn't a strict blue print for success in the NFL. Having a great offensive line is a great privelige to a team, as we saw in 2005. But we saw with Pittsburgh and Arizona this year, it's not a necessity. It's about finding a way to maximise what you have on the roster and not concentrate too much on what you don't.

Christopher R. Mattix said...

I honestly think he should go #1 next year. But there are so many doubters. He is not your typical QB and people want him to be a TE. I say that he is good enough to build a franchise around, coach FOR him, draft receivers FOR him, and bring in coaches that bring out his forte. Because he is a phenomenal athlete that is very smart and likely the best leader to ever exit college.
Will it translate to the NFL? Time will tell, but of all the players I have ever seen, this one screams out HOF. He is Ben Roth with better accuracy and better running. And a farther reaching gun. Plus he is a better leader than any QB in the league. He is a better short-yardage FB than any in the league currently. He is also tougher than most players to ever exit college.
And his character is unparalleled.
That is the #1 pick of the decade.
And I'm not even a Gator fan!
So you are right Mr. Joe. He shouldn't be available. But this year they told him he would go in the 3-4rth round. Because they thought he was a TE. But it just takes one team to believe he is a QB. I think Mora and Knapp would jump on him.
Here is a better prayer. Pray he is great this year but not the best. He will soon be forgotten because he will have been a great player with phenominal production over 4 years=not the "hot" prospect=Ruskell player. Much like J. Lauranitis. He could be on our radar if he makes it to the 2nd--he may be better in the long run than Curry.
I would vouch for Tebow being there at the 32nd spot next year. And then some. Because scouts forget instinct, and the love of the game.
Tim Tebow was born to play football.

Patrick said...

I am SO sold on Tebow. I never thought about it before but we HAVE to get him next year. I still prefer Crabtree this year, but now I can't stop thinking about the '10 draft. Of course, we might have to trade up because he might not be there at pick #32 ;-D

Christopher R. Mattix said...

Good Patrick! There are a lot of haters against Tebow, but I think once all the dust settles and he actually gets out on the field, he will find ways to dominate, just like in college. Because he rocked the socks off of the best players in College, why not in the NFL? There is risk, but isn't there always? I would throw my pick at Tebow before I would throw my pick at Stafford or Stanford or Sanchez. Or Palmer, or Rothlesburger, or Culter, or Hass. Or P. Manning? I lean towards yes.
Now Patrick, if we were to pick up Tebow, how would Crabtree help him out? His #1 target was a speedy receiver, Percy Harvin. We have two players of similar qualities already--Burly and Branch. He also threw a lot to possession receiver Murphy--TJ Housh. And Carlson is just an upgrade all around.
One more thing to note about Tebow. His line is mediocre. Georgia's is above-average and Texas has a mauler line. Compared to Florida, they are power houses. Tebow played behind an inferior line. Give Solari another couple years and there is reason to believe we will have a subperb line. Put a guy like Tim Tebow and a youth-veteran RB rotation back there and the place will rock.

Patrick said...

Chris, I get what you mean. However, I think by saying that, you are preparing too much for '10 and skimming over '09. Crabtree would help us immediatly in the 2009 season (and hopefully it would be the first of many seasons to come). I love Deion Branch, but I would rather see Crabtree as our big threat than Burleson. Not too mention, it certainly wouldn't hurt Tebow to have Crabtree available. I've never been exactly a Tebow fan (Going to the University of Central Florida kind of makes you hate UF) but I think he is a tremendous athelete and would be a phenomenal choice. I think he could definitely be our QB of the future.

Christopher R. Mattix said...

Maybe you are right. But I have always been skeptical of WR's taken this high. He is the type of player that will likely succeed in the NFL. But then again, how often can you draft a franchise LT? I say if it is between Monroe/Smith and Crabtree, the wiser move is to take the Tackle. Simply because of the years each are likely to contribute. Out of that group Monroe will likely have the longest career. He is a guy you plug in and forget about. Crabtree makes big plays. But there are no big plays to be had if your line is pourous. I also think Solari is drooling about the possibility of getting his next Brian Waters. But then again, Waters was undrafted. He may be drooling over the 4 7th round picks to find his future linemen at.
Crabtree may be the answer. Now here is another curve-ball. What if Curry is still there? Curry will produce, and big time.
Better yet, Hill can remain as the attacking part of our defence, the sack-master, and Curry can stay in coverage, something he excels at, even better than Tatupu.
I would look long and hard at a sturdy Curry over a questionable Crabtree (in health). As far as talent goes, those are the #2 players to look at. One side of the ball will improve dramatically with them in. Problem is that WR and LB are both solid positions on this team. LT is slim with only 3 players worthy of starting. 1 of them is almost gone in Jones and the other, Willis, may be a better interior lineman.

Patrick said...

I would absolutely be for drafting Curry. I think he would help us from day one and be very productive. I guess it shows my mentality towards the draft when my top two choices are Crabtree, Curry, or trading down for Moreno. These are the "big names" in some of the flashier positions. If you think Monroe or Smith would really be worth the money, I could accept either of them. Really the only choice I'd be against would be Stafford/Sanchez. And now that I've got Tebow on the brain, it seems like such an obvious decision to put off on our future QB for just one year.

Christopher R. Mattix said...

I agree with you Patrick. Those are the big names, and it seems as if Ruskell is being honest when he says he wants to get some firepower offensively in this draft. Moreno and Crabtree fit the bill. But I also think this draft is deep enough to get those kinds of players later. Robinski may be a better overall fit to our team than Crabtree would be. And I love the prospect of D. Brown. Both of them could be had in the 2nd, and runningbacks are especially great in the 3rd as well, almost sub-1rst-round picks.
On my bill is Monroe, Curry. Or trade down and take Moreno. I think at least one of them will be available. But honestly, the guy I would love to see in blue is M. Oher. If we traded down to 15, this guy would be great. He could become the next W. Roaf. He is spectacularly talented, all he needs is a good coach and some fire. How about W. Jones and Solari? Any takers? :)
How about this. Trade down to 15 or so and get a mid-round 2nd in return. Take Oher in 1rst. Robinski/Laurinitis in 1rst 2nd pick and D. Brown/P.Chung in 2nd 2nd. But choose only 1 offensive-playmaker. I lean towards Robinski and Chung. Though Laurinitis would be too good to pass on.