Friday, 4 December 2009

How Ruskell's exit affects the draft

Until we know the identity of the new Seahawks GM, we won't know the full extent of how this could affect Seattle's 2010 draft. Previously, we'd been looking at 'Ruskell guys' - big school, high character preferably seniors. Not only that, we were assuming certain scheme fits. If the new GM appoints his own coaching staff, we might be looking at completely different prospects for many different reasons.

Here's some examples. Ruskell would never go near a defensive end like Carlos Dunlap who was previously arrested for DUI. You could eliminate him from the discussion entirely. Now - who knows? During Ruskell's tenure, the team preferred to draft offensive lineman in later rounds with a preference for agile lineman who fit the zone blocking scheme. The new regime might change that completely, adjusting to a man blocking system and drafting an expensive lineman at the top end of the draft.

Ruskell was always risk averse picking early in his drafts. Last year, when presented with the opportunity to draft a dynamic playmaker (Michael Crabtree) a long term option at quarterback (Mark Sanchez) or a lineman who didn't fit the teams scheme (Eugene Monroe), Ruskell instead chose to draft a linebacker in Aaron Curry who was deemed to be very talented but ultimately the lesser risk. Seattle already had a lot of money invested in Lofa Tatupu and Leroy Hill and nobody can argue that right now, having the most expensive linebacker trio in the NFL isn't doing the team much good.

It was admirable that Ruskell put his faith into prospects with excellent character. Essentially, we all want a team full of guys like Aaron Curry who play like each game is their last and mirror than on field attitude in the community. However, there were perhaps times when too much emphasis was placed on character and 'risk' and not enough on what this team actually needs.

Ruskell also did focus on areas of need, but with mixed results. He was aggressive in adding to the defensive line, through cap space and picks. Brandon Mebane was an excellent pick and Patrick Kerney, when healthy, has consistently been Seattle's best pass rusher (albeit at a cost). But Darryl Tapp has been inconsistent, Lawrence Jackson has started both his two seasons in the NFL with promise but faded quickly. The investment in Colin Cole hasn't been justified to date.

So what does the future hold? Following on from my piece yesterday, I think the Seahawks will become a farcical franchise if they think simply replacing Ruskell man-for-man is the answer. An inside appointment or someone who will 'tow the party line' isn't enough. It just serves to make Ruskell a scape goat and retains the status quo. I hope this doesn't happen and whilst I feel for Jim Mora and his staff, I expect wholesale changes. You can't ask a GM to work with Ruskell's tools.

If there are changes amongst the coaching staff, that will signal the beginning of a new era. Under Ruskell I fully expected Seattle's focus to be on the defensive line. Who knows, that may still be the case. The class of defensive lineman in the 2010 draft is exceptional and warrants serious consideration. However, we've seen with many franchises in the past that when big changes are made you need a starting point. That usually means a new quarterback. Will the Seahawks search for a man to lead this team forward under the new regime? This has to be more likely, because it will surely buy time for the new regime. If there's no immediate success in the short term, they can point to the development of a young QB as a justification for fans needing to be patient.

Do they look for a long term replacement to Walter Jones? Remember, it was Tim Ruskell who'd put his faith (and cap space) into the Sean Locklear project as a blind side blocker. Do we now assume that plan will be terminated? Is Locklear 'on trial' through the remainder of the season? The 2010 class doesn't offer much hope for a stud left tackle. I'm not a fan of Russell Okung personally and I prefer Charles Brown. I'm not sure either warrant a top ten pick.

I'm certainly considering these two options a lot more than I did previously. What do you think? Let me know in the comments section or email


Patrick said...

If it is named to be Homlgren, I can't help but think we might be seeing a QB/RB combination. After all, Homlgren has said he likes Sam Bradford and I also know Homlgren was the one who gave us Alexander, so I'm sure he sees the perks of getting an elite back (Hopefully Spiller or Best). However, I wouldn't be surprised if we see some lineman being targeted as well.

If it's not Homlgren, I really have no idea who the drat picks may be. I still think we may see a QB/RB combination. After all, these two players are probably the core of the offense, and if you look at Atlanta, adding Matt Ryan and Michael Turner suddenly made that offense a stud. If we grabbed a QB/RB we would be planning for the future in two very important positions, and I really think whoever the new GM is would see that as. With that said, grabbing a future for Walter Jones may be just as important. I'd like to think an OL could be grabbed in the 2nd round, but I really can't tell for sure.

Nick Lauber said...

I hope that Leiweke's comments were to keep Mora from being a lame duck for the rest of the season rather than his honest opinion. If they do a full audit and decide to hire an outside guy, I would think that would be for the best. The team needs a fresh start not an inside replacement or to bring back Holmgren and desperately cling to the past. Holmgren would still be loyal to some of his guys who need to go. If it is an outside hire I would expect a new coach and to draft a quarterback and a left tackle to protect him even if the talent in the draft is at other positions.

Mongo said...

How about having passed up on Ray Rice ? Think what a dynamic , talented, young, versatile back could mean.

Rob Staton said...

There's a few names you could mention from that draft from an offensive point of view - DeSean Jackson and Matt Forte being a couple more. Lest we forget Chris Johnson went a handful of picks above Seattle - someone I have to imagine the Seahawks wouldn't have taken considering he didn't come from a big programme at East Carolina. I believe he's on pace to break the single season rushing yardage so far this year?

Of course this would all be a non-issue if Lawrence Jackson was performing a lot better and not just showing flashes at the start of the season. Jackson may go on to be a top performer, so it could become a non-issue.

Hingsight is a glorious thing in the NFL draft. Ruskell went with his heart and methodology in every draft and should be applauded for sticking to his guns. However, it's clear the Seahawks need a change of direction now. The franchise is heading for a new era and it was clearly not headed in the right direction.

However, as I've said a few times in the last couple of days, it cannot stop at simply a like-for-like replacement for Ruskell. Whoever takes control now needs to have the freedom to make the moves that they feel is necessary. If that means moving on at several coaching positions, so be it. There's no such thing as the perfect GM and nobody will ever have a faultless record when it comes to drafting. If the only change is the name of the guy announcing the picks, we'll soon find faults in him too. There's not a lot of good things about the Seahawks right now, so the blue print for the future has to be the right one - with no room for sentiment.

Anonymous said...

What good is drafting a QB from a very iffy class of QB's when you could get a quality D tackle or end?

What good is drafting for a LT when all the choices are sub par.

Seattle has lots of needs and should pick the BPA in round 1.

Rob Staton said...

Annonymous - I would agree entirely. However, we've often seen how a change in regime has led to the drafting of a QB. If Seattle wind up with 6-7 wins, they could well miss out on the top d-lineman anyway.

Anonymous said...

I'm also all for BPA in round 1. There will be plenty of very solid nfl players coming on day 2 (2nd + 3rd round) so I'm equally interested in those picks, although they aren't quite as critical from a monetary standpoint. Regardless of who the new GM will be, I'd be shocked if we didn't pull the trigger on a QB with one of the first 3 picks, especially if Bradford or Locker fall to us. I'm not sold on McCoy or Clausen. Great college players, but I just don't see either one translating to the NFL. All of that said, I'd prefer using early picks on BPA, not forcing a QB pick, and taking a flyer on a QB prospect like Canfield from Oregon State to compete with Teel. Canfield's completing about 70% with few int's. Pro-style offense. Stock rising.