Today is all about Pete Carroll. He'll be introduced as the new Head Coach and Vice President of football operations for the Seattle Seahawks. One of the first tasks he'll be presented with is to help the organisation appoint a new GM and then together, they'll be given the task of making the best use of those two first round picks. Not many new regimes are afforded the luxury of two selections in the top fourteen and it'll be a superb opportunity to get this franchise moving in the right direction. Good luck, guys - and welcome to Seattle.
I wanted to look at a scenario today that I've not really discussed so far. For me, Ndamukong Suh (DT, Nebraska) is so easily the #1 prospect in the 2010 class I've had him pencilled in as the first overall pick in every mock draft I've published so far. It makes sense too - the St. Louis Rams (who own the #1 pick) have a defensive minded coach in Steve Spagnuolo who won a Championship for New York with a great defensive line. Considering the Rams are still in the midst of a huge rebuild - it would make sense to continue to draft for talent and build a foundation.
St. Louis have drafted a lineman (defensive or offensive) in the first round for the last three years consecutively. Dating back to 2001, they've spent seven of their eleven first rounders on a guy to fill the trenches. During that time frame, they've had two winning seasons. One was in 2001 when the Rams enjoyed a MVP year from Kurt Warner in the final year of the 'greatest show on turf'. The second came in 2003 - Marc Bulger's first full season as the team's starting quarterback.
Since that year the Rams own a record of 28-68. Bulger has only managed one 16 game season in his career - in 2006. His last three seasons have produced a touchdown/interception ratio of 27:34, not to mention a cluster of injuries. Of course, it's not all down to one man - the Rams have imploded and a handful of high draft picks have failed to bring about an instant recovery.
This is a quarterback league and whilst many would advocate the way St. Louis has drafted - stocking up both lines - the Rams haven't drafted a young franchise quarterback. In fact, they have drafted a quarterback in the first round of the NFL draft since 1964 when they took Bill Munson from Utah State. They drafted a talented left tackle last year (Jason Smith, 2nd overall) something usually not afforded a young rookie quarterback. Steve Jackson provides instant credibility in the running game. It might seem like a woeful situation for a young signal caller, but compared to most situations it isn't that bad at all.
As good as Ndamukong Suh is - what if the Rams did take a quarterback this year? Perhaps the question is, can they afford not to? Rumours suggest Marc Bulger could retire this offseason. The other QB's currently on the roster are Keith Null (a 6th round first year) and Mike Reilly (undrafted from Central Washington). Free agency is unlikely to offer much hope unless they make an ill advised swoop for Michael Vick or try to sign Jason Campbell (a restricted free agent) from Washington.
Of course, this somewhat collapses when you consider the genuine potential of Suh compared to the relative gamble that is associated with the top quarterback prospects - Sam Bradford and Jimmy Clausen. Can the Rams afford to invest in Bradford - shoulder/durability problems and all? He's coming from a prolific spread offense where he was taking reads from the sideline. Clausen comes from a pro-style offense and put up superb numbers in an otherwise disappointing year for Notre Dame. A lot of draft pundits have already anointed Clausen as a potential #1 pick - but I have lingering concerns about his low slingy release, his lack of range in the passing game and the fact he loses velocity in his throws going deep. He also won't be afforded two stand out receivers who are a class above the defensive backs they're facing (Michael Floyd and Golden Tate).
With a high second round pick, the Rams may also be willing to wait it out and draft a quarterback later on. Having said that, Spagnuolo and offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur haven't expressed any desire to turn into the NFC's version of the Miami Wildcat by taking a punt on Tim Tebow.
Indeed, the options aren't likely to be there later on. So maybe, just maybe, they will consider passing on Ndamukong Suh to put their faith in the hands of a rookie quarterback? After all, many didn't believe Matt Stafford was the best overall prospect last year, but he still went first overall. How would it potentially affect the rest of the draft if St. Louis did take a quarterback and more specifically, how would it impact the Seattle Seahawks?
You could probably assume Detroit wouldn't take long to hand in their selection for Suh. Head Coach Jim Schwartz enjoyed a productive time as Tennessee's defensive coordinator thanks to the brilliant Albert Haynesworth's presence through the middle. Tampa Bay would pick third and undoubtedly, they could also do with help on the defensive line. Both Gerald McCoy (DT, Oklahoma) and Derrick Morgan (DE, Georgia Tech) would be available. However, Raheem Morris has also said the team's greatest need is to help quarterback Josh Freeman. The Buccs could target one of the defensive lineman, or they could pull a surprise by taking a wide out like Dez Bryant.
Either way, at least one of Morgan or McCoy remains - two prototype 4-3 prospects. Washington are unlikely to invest in a defensive lineman having signed Haynesworth from the Titans last year and drafted Brian Orakpo. Finding a quarterback (whoever St. Louis didn't take between Bradford or Clausen) or an offensive tackle (Anthony Davis or Bruce Campbell) is a more pressing concern. Kansas City will draft for scheme - possibly targeting another addition to their new look defense by taking Rolando McClain (LB, Alabama) or Joe Haden (CB, Florida).
With Seattle up next, they would be afforded the opportunity to fill a huge need on the defensive line. Derrick Morgan or Gerald McCoy would remain - possibly both. Getting McCoy in particular would be an absolute steal - he'll likely be taken second overall if St. Louis do indeed draft Suh. Morgan likewise would offer a dynamic edge rush - something the Seahawks needed badly in 2009.
Of course it's still early days and we're still some weeks away from really getting a proper grasp of how the 2010 draft may work out. However, it goes to show how St. Louis selecting first overall could potentially impact the Seahawks picking at number six in a very positive way indeed. If they pass on Ndamukong Suh to draft a quarterback, it might not just be the Detroit Lions celebrating.