The Seahawks traded Julian Peterson to Detroit in exchange for a fifth rounder and Cory Redding. This opened up a spot at linebacker, making the proposition of taking Aaron Curry more likely. All the things traditionally associated with Tim Ruskell's draft picks - character, school, four year starter - apply to the Wake Forest star. Many also believe Curry to be the best overall prospect making him a solid choice as 'best player available'.
He's a low risk safe pair of hands. The Seahawks will be able to plug him from week one as a rookie and expect the level of performance you'd get from a seasoned veteran. That's the benefit of taking Aaron Curry. His positional influence is unlikely to tip the Seahawks defense 'over the edge' into elite status, but he's the most NFL ready justifying the possible $60m contract he'll gain by going fourth overall.
The concerns? The Seahawks found between 2006 & 2008 that three quality linebackers doesn't necessarily translate to a quality defense. Curry's production could be hit playing alongside Lofa Tatupu and Leroy Hill, as there's only so many plays to go round. Hill in particular saw his production hit (7.5 sacks as a rookie, 6 sacks in thee years after) when the team signed Julian Peterson. They'll have to justify the big contract because either way, you're having a top five pick or a franchise tag playing weakside linebacker.
Matt Hasselbeck is 34 years old this year and coming off a season plagued with back problems. Seahawks GM Tim Ruskell has admitted the team are 'in the zone' for an eventual replacement and might see a rare top five pick as their chance to fill that void. The best teams in the NFL solve the problem before it arrives and a smooth transition at quarter back would be to Seattle's benefit in the long run.
Sanchez looks the part of a franchise quarter back. He has a good arm, he's a leader and he makes plays. It doesn't do the former Trojan any harm that he looks the part and talks a good game either. He appears well suited to a west-coast offense and his lack of starting experience in college (just sixteen games) means a couple of years holding a clip board will do him the world of good. Taking Sanchez may be the bigger gamble, but it could have the greater long term rewards.
The concerns? Going fourth overall, Sanchez would command a contract similar to Matt Ryan's $72m deal. The Seahawks would feel pressure to start Sanchez quickly with that kind of investment, potentially creating an unwanted quarterback controversy. His lack of starting experience makes it hard to get a read on just how special he could be and there are skeletons in the closet regarding his character. If the Seahawks are looking to hit back immediately from a dissapointing 4-12 season, they may look for a more immediate return on their investment.
The impact pick - Michael Crabtree
The Seahawks offense struggled badly last year, largely due to a laundry list of injuries but also due to a lack of game changing talent. The Seahawks solved part of the problem by signing T.J. Houshmandzadeh, but one of the team's biggest remaining needs is finding further play making ability on offense. Despite the learning curve attached to young receivers, Crabtree could have an immediate impact playing from a scaled down playbook as a rookie.
Balance is going to be the key to Greg Knapp's scheme. If the Seahawks want to run the ball better in 2009, they need teams to fear their passing game. Too often in 2008, opposition defenses stacked the box and played blitz/run defense knowing the impotency of Seattle's passing game. Adding Crabtree would turn a former positional weakness into an immediate strength whilst directly relieving pressure on the offensive line and running game.
The concerns? Crabtree has suffered a well documented metatarsal injury which has restricted his ability to work out. There's plenty of tape on the Texas Tech receiver (he caught 231 passes in two years) but the Seahawks would have liked to work him out. We've heard mixed reports on his character - some sources praising his work ethic and selfless attitude, with others arguing the opposite and claiming there are legitimate red flags attached to Crabtree.
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