by Rob Staton
Can the Seahawks afford to take a risk? Should the question be - can they afford not to take one? With Tim Ruskell as GM, the franchise was the very definition of risk averse. Four year starters, unblemished character records, big school prospects - any hints of a gamble or potential to bust and the prospect was almost certainly eliminated from consideration. Rather than guard against potential risk, the Seahawks became predictable and a team that has won nine games in two seasons.
Pete Carroll and John Schneider will not use those same restraints. It's not a case of being reckless or throwing caution to the wind - but you can absolutely guarantee it'll be talent, potential and scheme that determines whether a prospect is worthy - not necessarily background. Sure, there will always be red flags. But if the Seahawks were too restrictive in their selection under Ruskell, I get the impression the new regime will at the very least broaden their horizons.
That is represented in this mock draft. There aren't enough difference makers on the roster right now. Whether that's a pass rusher who can get to the quarterback, a running back capable of hitting the home run or a receiver capable of making the game changing play. Sometimes, you have to go with your instinct and draft a raw prospect with massive potential. With the Head Coach having final say on personnel, you can absolutely trust that Pete Carroll will back himself to coach a guy who has huge upside, but comes into the league a rough diamond. Here's my latest first round mock draft:
#1 St. Louis: Ndamukong Suh (DT, Nebraska)
Quarterback remains an option as long as Keith Null is the most likely starter on the roster. However, if St. Louis address that situation elsewhere - Suh becomes a near certainty to go first overall.
#2 Detroit: Gerald McCoy (DT, Oklahoma)
Jim Schwartz had a lot of success as a defensive coordinator in Tennessee thanks to an elite defensive tackle. This is an obvious choice as best player available that also fills a big need.
#3 Tampa Bay: Dez Bryant (WR, Oklahoma State)
Everything the Buccs say points to making life easier for Josh Freeman. He was a big play quarterback in college, time to get a big play receiver. With the top two defensive tackles off the board, Bryant could be a surprise pick here.
#4 Washington: Sam Bradford (QB, Oklahoma)
If Bradford can work out and convince scouts about his durability, he's a candidate to go first overall. Washington could maintain Jason Campbell's place on the roster until Bradford is ready to start.
#5 Kansas City: Rolando McClain (LB, Alabama)
The Chiefs are committed to creating a strong 3-4 defense but lack that presence at inside linebacker. McClain can be an impact player for Kansas City.
#6 Seattle: Jason Pierre-Paul (DE, USF)
Huge potential that needs the right coach to develop into an elite talent. Project:JPP is a huge challenge and one which Pete Carroll could thrive upon. Explosive off the edge, supreme athleticism - there's a buzz around Pierre-Paul that could take off at the combine.
#7 Cleveland: C.J. Spiller (RB, Clemson)
In a draft with only a handful of pure offensive playmakers, Spiller's name could get called early. The Browns needs someone like this.
#8 Oakland: Bruce Campbell (OT, Maryland)
We know how Al Davis' drafts by now. Campbell will bench a ton and run a great forty time at the combine - he's been described by one coach as the offensive tackle version of Vernon Davis.
#9 Buffalo: Anthony Davis (OT, Rutgers)
Call this a hunch, but I don't expect Chan Gailey to fall for Jimmy Clausen. Offensive tackle is a huge hole in Buffalo and Davis would certainly fill it.
#10 Jacksonville: Joe Haden (CB, Florida)
If the Jags really are sold on Tebow-for-tickets, they could trade down here dramatically. I can't see another team who would usurp them until round two - so why not aid that secondary rebuild with another Gator?
#11 Denver: Carlos Dunlap (DE, Florida)
Dunalp's size makes him a perfect option at five technique end in the Broncos 3-4.
#12 Miami: Eric Berry (S, Tennessee)
The Dolphins invested two high picks in their secondary last year, but Berry would further compliment Miami's defense.
#13 San Francisco: Dan Williams (DT, Tennessee)
Williams has performed well in Mobile. Expect a run on the top defensive lineman early in round one - Williams is the best nose tackle prospect for 3-4 teams.
#14 Seattle: Brian Price (DT, UCLA)
Jimmy Clausen is still on the board. Would the Seahawks invest their future in him here? I'm still not convinced Clausen warrants a pick anywhere near the top twenty, even if finding a long term quarterback remains a huge need in Seattle. The run on top defensive lineman continues with Price adding a nice compliment to Brandon Mebane in a rebuilt defensive line.
#15 New York Giants: Derrick Morgan (DE, Georgia Tech)
Morgan has great potential, but amongst the cluster of 3-4 teams and alternative picks - he might suffer a slight fall on draft day. This would be a perfect fit for both prospect and team.
#16 San Francisco: Bryan Bulaga (OT, Iowa)
With Joe Staley entrenched at left tackle, the 49ers could use one of their first round picks on a bookend. Bulaga could be an All-pro on the right side.
#17 Tennessee: Lamarr Houston (DT, Texas)
Another team with a need on the defensive line who might take advantage of a deep class. Houston's stock is soaring - he was great in the BCS Championship - and he could be a first round pick.
#18 Pittsburgh: Taylor Mays (S, USC)
This is one of the few places Mays could go and have a real impact. Playing behind a good pass rushing defense, Mays and fellow Trojan Troy Polamalu could create the most intimidating secondary combo in the NFL.
#19 Atlanta: Kareem Jackson (CB, Alabama)
What price a trade with Jacksonville to take Joe Haden? Jackson's stock will rise after the combine and he could go higher than this.
#20 Houston: Trent Williams (OT, Oklahoma)
The Texans' biggest need is improving their offensive line and Williams provides a nice right side option.
#21 Cincinnati: Arrelious Benn (WR, Illinois)
Bad quarterback play and inconsistent hands has hurt Benn's stock, but this is still a guy touted as a top 15 pick at the start of the year. A tight end like Jermaine Gresham is also a possibility.
#22 New England: Jared Odrick (DT, Penn State)
The Patriots are in the process of major changes on their defensive line. Drafting the versatile Odrick gives New England some options long term.
#23 Green Bay: Russell Okung (OT, Oklahoma State)
Kyle Rota's scouting report on Okung is an absolute must read and highlights some of the reasons why Okung might not be a top ten lock. He would've been a late first round pick as an underclassmen, nothing this year has proved otherwise in my opinion.
#24 Philadelphia: Everson Griffen (DE, USC)
The Eagles need a better pass rush, that was evident in their playoff defeat at Dallas. Griffen's stock is difficult to project, he could rise up the boards with an impressive combine.
#25 Baltimore: Jermaine Gresham (TE, Oklahoma)
The Ravens always find value in the draft. Gresham, as a quality pass-catching tight end, offers greater value than the receivers on offer this late in round one.
#26 Arizona: Ricky Sapp (LB, Clemson)
Arizona are still piecing together their 3-4 scheme and Sapp could be a stand out OLB.
#27 Dallas: Mike Iupati (OG, Idaho)
Dallas like bigger lineman and at 330lbs and room for more, Iupati is as big as they come. An immediate starter in the interior, Iupati proved he's worth a first round pick in Mobile this week.
#28 San Diego: Brandon Graham (DE, Michigan)
Graham is flexible enough to play in either the 4-3 or the 3-4. San Diego could use another pass rusher off the edge and Graham is par value here.
#29 New York Jets: Earl Thomas (S, Texas)
Thomas had a great year (eight interceptions) but he could drop into the late first round in this scenario.
#30 Minnesota: Jimmy Clausen (QB, Notre Dame)
Clausen polarises opinion more than anyone else in this draft. If Washington, Seattle and Buffalo aren't convinced - what stops this kind of fall? A trade? I've voiced my reasons why I think Clausen might drop this low.
#31 New Orleans: Sergio Kindle (OLB, Texas)
The Saints could use Kindle creatively, as a linebacker most of the time but an edge rush on passing third downs.
#32 Kyle Wilson (CB, Boise State)
I'm not sure about that 'advert on wheels' that turned up in Mobile - how will teams feel about that? It got people talking about Wilson though and his performance didn't disappoint.