This week I`m going to review some prospects who match what the Seahawks look for in their draft picks. I`m concentrating on prospects they might take with their two first round picks - all the guys listed below could go in the top 32. In order to warrant consideration they have to be good scheme fits, for example an offensive lineman must be able to slot into the zone blocking scheme. In his time with the Seahawks, Tim Ruskell has favored senior prospects in round one with solid production from big schools. This will also be taken into consideration when compiling the list. Today we`ll concentrate on the offense - so who could be on Seattle`s radar?
Sam Bradford (Oklahoma)
Would Tim Ruskell buck a trend to draft an underclassmen at the most important position in football? It`d be a big shift in philosophy for Seattle`s GM, but with Matt Hasselbeck 35 next year and approaching a contract year it might be something he has to consider. None of the senior prospects seriously warrant first round grades, including Tim Tebow and Colt McCoy. Bradford has a grounded personality and leads by example. His injuries are a concern, particularly to a team that has been hampered with health issues the last two years. But his accuracy, poise and production (88 touchdowns in just over two years) should keep him in the top fifteen picks and a possible steal if he slides past the first handful of selections.
Jimmy Clausen ranks as the most pro-ready prospect and is perhaps alone amongst the potential 2010 class in terms of being a potential day one (or early) starter. But he has a tempestuous personality that could rub some people the wrong way and only one year`s solid production. Jake Locker is the local hero, but perhaps a little too much of a gamble for a risk averse GM. I expect the Washington QB to stay in college and enter the 2011 class.
To quote Tim Ruskell, the Seahawks ¨are in the zone¨ when it comes to finding a long term option at quarterback. It has to be considered next year, it`s as simple as that. But does that mean they`ll pull the trigger? I`m still not sure and I`d imagine Ruskell would prefer to draft a productive senior at a time when there aren`t so many question marks regarding the offensive line. Then again, he might not be afforded that luxury.
C.J. Spiller (Clemson)
Spiller (a productive senior) fits what the Seahawks want from their running backs. Simply put, they want someone who won`t sell their play calling. Spiller has shown he`s flexible (and good enough) to work as a runner, receiver and blocker. He`s a threat to score every time he has the ball in his hands whether he`s running a route, a draw play or returning a kick. There are some concerns - he hasn`t got ideal size (5`11¨, 195lbs) and he`s probably better suited in a two back system. That could restrict his ability to climb up the board too much, but his production - 2882 rushing yard, 1184 receiving yards, 2297 return yards and 39 total touchdowns - should secure a first round grade. Mel Kiper said today he`d give Spiller the Heisman. Seattle needs some spark and a young playmaker on offense.
Cal`s Jahvid Best has put up impressive numbers over the last two years, but struggled against top opposition this year. Still - he`s a home run hitter and the Seahawks need an upgrade at running back. USC`s Joe McKnight is a similar playmaker but there are some character concerns, whilst Georgia Tech`s Jonathan Dwyer has been a big disappointment.
It could come down to position on the draft board. If the Seahawks are picking in the top ten and the back end of round one, they might be (somewhat ironically) too early and too late to grab Spiller. I`m happy to give him a solid mid-first round grade and if the Seahawks own a pick in the late teens, I seriously expect them to consider drafting the Clemson running back.
Brandon LaFell (LSU)
Senior wide outs are almost as rare as their running back counter parts these days and admittedly I`d put underclassmen Damian Williams (USC) and Dez Bryant (Oklahoma State) ahead of LaFell in my own personal rankings. However, as we know Tim Ruskell prefers senior prospects and LaFell is still a potential first round pick in his own right. He`s not had the best 2009 season, only registering 100+ receiving yards once this year against lowly Mississippi State. He struggled to have an impact against Florida (44 yards) and Georgia (52 yards) when I`ve watched LSU this year. At the same time, he hasn`t been helped by inconsistency at the quarterback position. On a more productive offense, he could put up bigger numbers.
I`m a big fan of Damian Williams, who flashes big play potential every week for USC. He`s an excellent return man and has a similar gliding running style to Jeremy Maclin. He`s a bit raw when it comes to route running but he has deep speed and YAC ability with the ball in his hands. Dez Bryant is the most hyped receiver, but what effect does his suspension have? How does Tim Ruskell access that situation?
Given the chance to draft the most dynamic college receiver in years (when the position was a need) the Seahawks chose to draft a linebacker instead. Even with two first round picks, I have to believe it`s unlikely the Seahawks will spend a high pick on a wide out in 2010 given what`s on offer - a group without any elite prospects.
Charles Brown (USC)
The Seahawks like their lineman to be nimble, athletic and capable of fitting into their zone blocking scheme. This isn`t a good year for offensive tackles, but converted tight end Charles Brown is by far the best scheme fit for Seattle. He owns elite footwork and above average agility. He knows when to block off and progress to the second level and he has some value in the running game. I don`t like his tendency to perform poorly timed cut blocks and he`s occasionally caught a little flat footed. He could also stand to gain a further 15-25lbs of bulk, particularly upper body muscle to get a stronger punch and retain leverage. If he can do that, there`s no reason why he can`t shoot up the draft board, similar to Jason Smith last year.
Russell Okung is the most decorated senior lineman and many expect him to be the first off the board. I`m not convinced about his stock or ability to fit into Seattle`s scheme. He might have to feature at right tackle, but even then he probably has a better chance of success elsewhere. Trent Williams is another possibility but his weight gain, sloppy 2009 play and inability to work in a ZBS probably eliminates him from contention.
With Walter Jones being placed on IR and Sean Locklear`s continued absence through injury, offensive tackle is the trendy pick for the Seahawks right now. The fact is however, this isn`t a great class at the position. Even with the best intentions, they might not be able to fill this need early in 2010. With a lot of money invested already in Sean Locklear, his performance upon return this year could be crucial to any future decision. Having said that, Charles Brown is the most realistic option for the Seahawks in round one and is worth monitoring for the rest of the year.
Rodney Hudson (Florida State)
Not many interior lineman stand out in college football, but Hudson stuck out like a sore thumb against North Carolina last week. Not only is he a very exciting prospect, he also fits Seattle`s scheme perfectly. Athletic, intelligent and dominant - Hudson is a rare package. As a junior he isn`t guaranteed to enter the 2010 draft, but without doubt he`s the number one guard in the country. That could persuade him to declare and if he does, the Seahawks must consider drafting him. He`s a borderline first round pick - that`s how highly I rate him. If the Seahawks are picking right at the end of round one, I don`t think that would be too high to fill a massive need in the interior line.
There are none. It`s very rare that interior lineman are given first round grades and last year was a rare exception with both Alex Mack and Eric Wood going early. Mike Iupati is considered a potential first rounder in some quarters, but coming from Idaho he seems an unlikely fit for Tim Ruskell.
Hudson would have to declare for the draft first of all whilst also confirming a high grade with continued good form. His lack of size (285lbs) will put off most teams not running a ZBS and he might decide to stay with Florida State to add bulk and enter the 2011 draft. Even then, some will consider it a stretch for the Seahawks in their current rut to consider spending an expensive pick on a guard - particularly with Tim Ruskell previously using middle round picks to fill holes in the interior. He did take Max Unger early last year though and if he does intend to rebuild Seattle`s offensive line - drafting Hudson could be the best possible start.
Next time we`ll look at the defensive side of the ball. Let me know your thoughts in the comments section or email firstname.lastname@example.org