I published my first 2010 mock draft yesterday and it sparked some debate in the comments section. The blog was alive yesterday so thanks to all for taking part and please always feel free to contribute on anything to do with the Seahawks and the draft. Today I want to look a little bit further into the two first round picks I gave Seattle - Charles Brown (OT, USC) and Rodney Hudson (OG, Florida State).
For starters I want to point out that I'm not the kind of person to preach about heavy investment in the offensive line. I don't share the belief that first round picks are tantamount towards a successful line and that any long term recovery will always depend on top picks being spent at tackle or guard. I also don't agree with those who think lineman are less likely to bust - I think you have to take each prospect on his own merits and not look at how people in the past have fared.
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Even so, I gave the Seahawks two lineman in the mock. The first pick (Charles Brown) is someone who could fly up the draft boards over the next few months, similar to what happened to Jason Smith last year. If you recall, most were touting Smith as a raw, mid-first round pick during most of the college football season. He was considered a little light, playing at around the 290lbs mark and he featured in a spread offense.
However, he turned up at the combine a picture perfect 307lbs and the extra weight gained didn't have an adverse affect on his athleticism in work outs. That is the same challenge that faces Charles Brown. He's listed at 285lbs right now which is clearly just not enough. As a converted tight end (like Smith) he needs to add a few pounds whilst maintain that sharp agility. If he manages that, it's not a stretch to believe Brown could go even higher than the #11 overall pick I currently have him at. Remember - this is a weak draft for lineman. It's crying out for a top O-liner to make a move up the boards considering the premium value on the left tackle position these days and this Trojan could be the man.
Let me explain why I think that could be the case. I broke down the tape of Oregon vs USC from the weekend. There were two plays that really struck me that I wanted to mention. The first - Brown gets his hands on one of the Ducks defensive lineman and with little effort, brandishes a forceful punch to the chest visibly knocking the guy backwards to the extent his head jolts around. This was the first real evidence I've seen that Brown possesses that kind of strength in the upper body and it's something we rarely see from young offensive tackles. It also shows that despite his low weight, he's still very powerful.
The second play flashed his intelligence and ability to diagnose - crucial when working in a zone blocking scheme. Matt Barkley takes the snap behind center and is looking for his tight end on a crossing route. Brown initially combats the right defensive end, but instantly recognises the threat of an outside linebacker. He jolts the DE backwards before blocking off - doing enough to allow the guard to come across and cover. He then quickly repositions himself using superb footwork to take on the linebacker face on and it's lights out. Barkley completes the pass thanks to some beautiful pass protection.
As a prospect he fits the Tim Ruskell mantra. He's from USC - a school Ruskell has drafted from previously (Lawrence Jackson, Lofa Tatupu). There's no character red flags and he's a senior prospect - something that seems to count in the first round with Seattle's GM. Sean Locklear is signed to what could be described as a 'left tackles' contract and certainly was touted by the team to fill that role with Walter Jones absent. The injuries to Locklear may have forced them to consider other options - they simply cannot afford to have a revolving door at left tackle for much longer.
If I was a betting man I'd suggest Tim Ruskell would like to tap into what constitutes an amazingly talented defensive line class this year. At #11, Seattle has just missed out on the top prospects. They also miss out on the top four quarterbacks. We've seen this team trade up or down when needs be in the past, so I wouldn't rule it out on the day if that's how the board actually fell. However, in this very premature suggestion - if they stayed put the Seahawks would surely have to consider the talented Brown.
The second pick however, has caused much debate. Would Ruskell draft two lineman in round one, let alone an interior lineman? Will Rodney Hudson even declare as a junior prospect? Is he good enough to justify the first round grade?
I have to admit, I've not seen a single mock draft out there that has Hudson in round one. Compare this to last year when nearly every mock had Duke Robinson going in the first - a prospect who to me at least always looked like the late 5th rounder he actually became. Part of the justification for putting the Seminoles lineman in there is to try and see if his stock will ever get that high. I think it could do and I want to see if I'm right later in the year.
Admittedly, some will be put off Hudson's lack of size - he's 295lbs and 6'2". Some won't be put off - like Seattle - who favor smaller, agile lineman and that's why I paired him with the Seahawks in the mock. He's a perfect scheme fit, just like Charles Brown. The thing about Hudson is, sure he's a bit small and he's more athletic than powerful. However - he's surprisingly strong. Watch some Florida State tape, particularly run plays, and watch Hudson drive his man back 5-6 yards to create a hole... it's a thing of beauty.
The situation at left guard has been a cause célèbre ever since Steve Hutchinson left for Minnesota. Rob Sims has suffered injuries and inconsistency, whilst the Mike Wahle project didn't last very long before his retirement. That for me, is a critical area of the team that needs tying up. Now, like most people I'd express some surprise at any guard going in round one who is essentially flying under the radar. But I truly believe Hudson is good enough to justify the praise and isn't the first round all about getting guys who can be cornerstones of your team? I genuinely believe Hudson could be plugged in from day one and left there for 10 years, barring any poison pills of course.
When I next compile a mock draft, things could change. Undoubtedly some prospects are going to move up the board as we close out the college season and some more will appear after the senior bowl and combine. The mock yesterday was more to get a feel for things and the kind of situation the Seahawks could be faced with. Yes - two lineman is perhaps unlikely. But in the right circumstances, if the board falls a certain way, it isn't impossible.