Thursday, 26 March 2009

Revisiting the wildcard picks

On February 7th I wrote an article called the wildcard picks where we discussed who could be a surprise choice for the Seahawks fourth overall. Nearly two months on, today I'll revisit the three prospects we talked about to see how their stock has changed since the combine and pro-day work outs. We'll also predict whether they are more or less likely to be taken in the first round by Seattle.

Jason Smith, OT Baylor

A lot has changed for Smith since we originally entertained the thought of him being Seattle's choice with the fourth pick. It seems strange today that he was ever considered a 'wildcard' choice. Back in February he was getting consideration as a top ten pick - I had him going eighth overall to Jacksonville in my first mock draft of 2009. His stock has risen dramatically since then with some people suggesting he could be Detroit's choice first overall and others suggesting he won't get passed St Louis with the second pick. It's been quite a few weeks for the Baylor left tackle. Question marks about his ability to play in a pro-styke offense (he played in a spread with the Bears) have all but rescinded and he impressed in work outs and interviews during the combine. Not so much a 'wildcard' these days as demanding consideration should he fall to the 'Hawks.

More or less likely to end up in Seattle?

It depends how you look at it. You argue 'less likely' because he seems an almost certain lock for the top three picks, taking the choice away from Tim Ruskell and his front office. If he does get passed Detroit, St Louis and Kansas City - he's almost certainly 'more' likely to end up in Seattle. He's a good fit in their soon-to-be implemented zone blocking scheme and would be a long term fixture on the offensive line.

Everette Brown, DE Florida State

Brown was my pick to set the combine alight and shoot up the draft board. It never really materialised though - he ran slower than an injured Brian Orakpo (Brown - 4.73, Orakpo - 4.70). The Texas prospect was also bigger, benched 225lbs five more times than Brown and posted a 39.5 vertical (compared to Browns 31.5). I still think Brown is the best pure pass rusher in this draft class, but he won't go before Brian Orakpo. Both prospects have been touted as potentially better fits at 3-4 outside linebacker and Brown could be drafted for that role (Green Bay and Denver are potential destinations). Florida State defensive ends haven't had the best success in the NFL previously and this could also make teams wary of the latest Seminoles DE.

More or less likely to end up in Seattle?

Less likely. Orakpo outperformed his rival at the combine despite carrying an injury and will be the first defensive end taken in the 2009 draft. Peter King from reported this week rumours that the Texas prospect could go to the Seahawks fourth overall. Other reports say the Browns are enamoured with his talents so he won't fall passed the 5th pick. The Seahawks have been active to improve their defensive line, signing Colin Cole and trading for Cory Redding. Taking a lineman with the fourth overall pick may be unlikely at all, let alone Brown being taken this high.

Knowshon Moreno, RB Georgia

Moreno has long been an intriguing prospect and difficult to judge. He's rated number seven on Mike Mayock's draft board and posted impressive numbers in two years at Georgia (3o TD's, 2736 yards). He hasn't caught the eye in work outs though, performing well in drills but only registering times of around 4.60 in the forty at the combine and Bulldog's pro-day. Some say his talent outweighs the times, others have him plummeting down the mocks. However, as we reported recently the Seahawks have been keeping a close eye on Moreno. Tim Ruskell values on the field production and talent over an impressive work out or physical statistics and is one general manager not afraid to pull the trigger on a prospect he rates highly. If reports are true that Seattle is looking for an offensive playmaker early in the draft, Moreno could be a greater possibility than some think.

More or less likely to end up in Seattle?

Moreno is the one remaining true 'wildcard' pick for the Seahawks out of the three prospects mentioned. I have no doubts that had Seattle been picking in the 10-20 range instead of fourth overall, they would have been all over this pick. So the question is - can they justify taking him fourth overall? Probably not. Adding a $60m running back to play as part of a three pronged attack involving Julius Jones and T.J. Duckett could be too expensive. If Seattle wants to draft Moreno, they may have to find a way to trade down even if it means giving up the fourth pick for a bargain price.

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