By Rob Staton
The mock I posted yesterday has triggered a great discussion in the comments section discussing the merits of selecting a quarterback early in this year's draft. Please feel free to check out the latest projection and leave some comments either in this article or the original mock. I wanted to offer some insight in to why I made the picks for Seattle, why I could be wrong and what I feel confident about at this stage with less than two months to go until the draft.
To read the rest of the article, click here or select read more.
For starters, a lot of people have shared an opinion on the selection of Jimmy Clausen (QB, Notre Dame) with the sixth overall pick. My justification for this selection would be that Matt Hasselbeck is approaching a contract year, he'll be 35 years old in September and has missed eleven games in the last two seasons through injury. Pete Carroll and his offensive coordinator Jeremy Bates have thrown their weight behind Hasselbeck, but that seems like a no brainer if you intend to start the veteran in 2010 whether you draft a potential replacement or not.
We've all heard the expression that new regimes usually mean new quarterbacks. If the Seahawks are going to implement a new offensive scheme - as Carroll indicated in his introductory press conference, it would make some sense to have your quarterback of the future grow, learn and develop that scheme as early as possible.
A lot of people have been quick to link Clausen and Carroll and just recently the Seahawks Head Coach admitted he'd followed the quarterback's career from school at an early age. He admitted to knowing the Clausen family and having attempted to recruit him for USC. Whilst coaching in SoCal, Carroll also had first hand experience of seeing Clausen in action - and game planning for him - when USC and Notre Dame squared off.
Now - this doesn't mean coach Carroll believes that Clausen is a great player who can be a franchise quarterback. It doesn't mean he will draft him for the Seahawks in this year's draft. But what it does mean is that not many people in the NFL know Clausen as well as Pete Carroll. Charlie Weis may be the only one. Therefore, it's fair to say that any decision on the Notre Dame signal caller won't be made without the greatest assessment.
I do believe Pete Carroll will be aware of the Seahawks situation at quarterback. Sure, Hasselbeck will be the unquestioned starter in 2010. If he has a good year, there's the potential for an extension to his contract and if drafted, Clausen, like Aaron Rodgers in Green Bay, will be forced to wait. Holding two expensive quarterbacks on the roster will be palatable in an uncapped season and after all - the stingy Arizona Cardinals were able to maintain a veteran and a highly chosen youngster on their roster. It's not unheard of in the NFL and won't be a stumbling block for Seattle.
But the Seahawks also know that another injury plagued season for Hasselbeck without a ready made blueprint for the future will put real pressure on the team to act next year. Having to find a rookie in the draft and possibly start him would be one undesirable scenario. Seattle may also have limited options in that teams will be aware of their need for a QB, making trades expensive whether it's moving up the draft or trying to sign a veteran. They might be able to bring in a short-term-measure veteran, but that's not something you can necessarily plan for and what if the options - as with this current off season - are limited?
That doesn't mean the team will be handcuffed into drafting Clausen, Sam Bradford or anyone else. But it does mean that you have to consider drafting a quarterback. In the mock projection, I have assumed Carroll's opinion of Clausen is a high one. Were that to be the case, I think - if available - Clausen will be the pick at #6. If I am wrong, then this mock draft will be categorically wrong and the Seahawks will go in a different direction. But the Seahawks will only pass on Clausen because they don't believe in him or they simply have to have someone else. If they do think he can be a franchise prospect and he's the best prospect available, they won't pass because they think they can recklessly just wait and see what happens over the next 12 months.
Seattle's success will not be solely based on their quarterback in the future. He'll need weapons. He'll need an offensive line. But creating the perfect storm could take years. Drafting and building your QB, offensive line and playmakers collectively and developing together under the new scheme would be a wise plan of action for this franchise.
In fact, the one thing that troubles me with my latest mock draft is that I wasn't able to give Seattle a 'points scorer' with the first three picks. I don't buy the old adage that 'building in the trenches' is the definitive way to make a winning team. I think you need a good line, sure. But you also need some playmakers. The two go hand in hand. I absolutely believe that you need guys who have to be game-planned. You need a receiver or a running back that the other team just hates having to face - a difference maker. Someone who gets the yards and puts six points on the board. If you don't have that, it just encourages the defense to attack your offensive line through no fear from being punished for that commitment. An offense needs to demand respect. Seattle's hasn't the past two years. Rest assured, an expensive rookie left tackle will struggle to block two guys off the edge just as much as Sean Locklear.
Getting a quarterback and a left tackle, however, remain such defining needs - that's why I slated Clausen at #6 and Charles Brown (OT, USC) at #14. Brown is the prototype blind side blocker for the zone blocking scheme and fits the mantra perfectly for size and agility that Alex Gibbs looks for. He's vastly under rated and isn't a reach this early in round one.
At #40 however, I gave the Seahawks Lamarr Houston (DT, Texas). I'm a big fan of Houston. He tore up the BCS Championship and quietly had a year just as good as the top defensive tackles - registering seven sacks and fifty-seven total tackles. He's a shade over 300lbs and very toned and ran in the 4.8s at the combine. He'd fit in brilliantly to Seattle's rotation on the defensive line, ideally working alongside Brandon Mebane as a three technique (with Mebane potentially moving back to the one).
However, there are some other directions Seattle could go if they just feel they need to find a playmaker for that offense. Golden Tate (WR, Notre Dame) would be an option especially if the team draft Clausen. Running in the 4.3's surprised everyone - including Tate himself I think - and despite my own personal reservations, Tate may sneak into round one. If he's there at #40, do you re-unite your long term option at QB with his former favorite target in college?
In my mock, Damian Williams (WR, USC) was available - an excellent route runner with YAC ability. He body catches too much though and lacks elite speed - although he is a shifty return man. He's another prospect who Pete Carroll will know all about. Other receivers like Mardy Gilyard (WR, Cincinnati), Jacoby Ford (WR, Clemson) and Mike Williams (WR, Syracuse) would be there.
Of course, there could be options later on in the draft. Seattle may also use free agency - which starts tomorrow - to add some pieces. But neglecting the skill positions at the top of the draft hasn't helped the Seahawks in recent years and it's why I firmly believe Dez Bryant (WR, Oklahoma State) remains a realistic option for the team in round one - especially if Nate Burleson leaves the team.