When I speak to Seahawks fans one position most are keen to upgrade via the draft is safety. There was a lot of clamour for Seattle to take USC's Taylor Mays until he decided at the last minute to stay with the Trojans and with his absence, it isn't the strongest class in 2009. With Mays and Tennessee's playmaking phenomena Eric Berry likely to feature next year, the team might not be expecting to find an instant fix to a much maligned position on the Seahawks roster.
Deon Grant and Brian Russell were both big free agent captures in 2007. After a solid start in their first year with the team, both struggled for consistency the following year with Russell in particular baring the brunt of criticism. I believe Tim Ruskell is a little higher on his safety pairing than some fans may wish and chances are they'll be starting for a third consecutive season in 2009. However, that's not to say the team won't draft a safety whether it's a long term replacement (Grant is 30, Russell 31) or a question of greater depth.
So what are the options? Many seem to be hoping the team will select strong safety Patrick Chung (Oregon) who has been given a second round grading. I like Chung, but have my doubts as to whether he'll end up in Seattle - it could be argued he isn't a great match for their defensive scheme.
"He is not really big and not exceptionally fast. He can be asked to drop back in deep coverage sometimes, but is a poor fit to do so all the time. He covers well in the short field, blitzes well, and is very intelligent. I feel if placed in the right situation (not a Cover-2 like Seattle has run recently) Chung could be a very good starting safety." - Kyle Rota, College Talent Scout
Missouri's William Moore actually played more like an outside linebacker at times in college and due to issues in deep coverage, is unlikely to be drafted by the Seahawks to play safety. His coverage skills are sufficient mind to potentially provide an option as a nickle linebacker, which may keep him on Seattle's radar.
Free safety Louis Delmas could be in Seattle's thinking, if Tim Ruskell is prepared to temporarily abandon his big school preference (Delmas played for Western Michigan). In some quarters he's ranked as the number one safety in this class and may need to be drafted at the top of round two - if he makes it that far. He would fit well into Seattle's cover 2, as emphasised by Frank Cooney from NFL Draft Scout, "Delmas is a natural playmaker in coverage and a physical player despite his smallish frame."
Darcel McBath has seen his stock rise in recent weeks. He's even been touted as a potential third round pick for the Seahawks by Chad Reuter, who describes the Texas Tech defensive back as an "underrated playmaker who brings youth to the Seahawks' secondary."
John Morgan from Field Gulls has reported interest from the Seahawks in Clemson's Michael Hamlin. Twenty-five teams were present to watch Hamlin at his pro-day on March 26th, however the 6'2" free safety pulled a hamstring in warm-up and didn't work out.
"It's a no brainer, really. Strictly from a production and playing standpoint, Hamlin is the best safety in the draft. Clemson has back to back top twenty pass defenses despite a pass rush ranked 54 and 108. Hamlin is the secondary's best player and their undisputed leader. He's a polished strong safety that can start this season." - John Morgan, Field Gulls
But perhaps the most interesting prospect is Alabama's Rashad Johnson. He could be available in round three or four, allowing the Seahawks to concentrate on BPA in the early rounds. He also has the kind of leadership, production and character that Tim Ruskell likes in his draftees. Rick Gosselin from the Dallas Morning News recently compiled this report on Johnson.
"When Rashad Johnson arrived at Alabama, he practiced every day like it was his last. As a walk-on, the coaches could tell him to leave at any time. So Johnson wasn't going to give them that opportunity. He treated every practice as if it was a game. Johnson became only the eighth player in the school's illustrious history to become a two-time captain. He also was voted All-SEC in each of his two seasons as a starter." - Rick Gosselin, Dallas Morning News
So will the Seahawks draft a safety in 2009, be it for depth or an instant upgrade? Let me know what you think. Have your say by clicking the comments section below, or email: firstname.lastname@example.org