There will certainly be a lot of options available for the Seahawks at No. 4. In my estimation, there are eight elite prospects in this draft: Matt Stafford, Andre Smith, Michael Oher, Michael Crabtree, Aaron Curry, Brian Orakpo, Mark Sanchez, and Eugene Monroe.
Interestingly, the Seahawks could legitimately look at each as a possible selection at No. 4.
Wide Receiver: Michael Crabtree
I’ve read several mock draft sites which project Crabtree as a “lock” to the Seahawks at this pick. I tend to not only disagree, but assertively.
Part of the reason Mike Holmgren was relieved of his general manager duties was due to the handling of the Seahawks last top-10 pick, which they used to take Koren Robinson in 2001.
The saga of Robinson has been well documented, as he went from a promising prospect to the unemployment line in his short first stint with the Seahawks.
Crabtree’s been compared to Calvin Johnson, whom I firmly believe will be an elite receiver for years to come. Never has a more complete receiving prospect graced an NFL field, Randy Moss included.
While Johnson and Crabtree have shared the distinction of some, as being the best overall prospect in their respective drafts, I have a fundamental problem with the Seahawks drafting Crabtree.
Players taken in the top 10, especially the top five, should be franchise-changing players. I agree completely with the theory of taking the best player available, except for at two positions, wide receiver and cornerback.
Both positions have a very low success rate when taken this high, when compared to other positions.
The Seahawks have run, and will continue to run, the West Coast Offense. The brilliance of the offense is it works to hide weaknesses at every skill position. There is no need for rocket-armed quarterback, a bruiser at running back, or an elite receiver, they must simply fit the scheme.
Crabtree will be leaving a spread offense, which could hurt his learning curve, and my fundamental issue is that Crabtree, if taken fourth overall, will command a huge salary to essentially be a student for the first half of what could be a $50+ million contract.
When he’s mastered his role in the WCO, he’ll still need a good quarterback to throw him the ball. If the estimate I gave, approximately a three-year learning curve, Matt Hasselbeck will be 36 years old, having already shown some serious injury trends in 2008.
Offensive Line: Michael Oher, Andre Smith, Eugene Monroe
One thing taken for granted by Seahawks fans is the play of Walter Jones. Because you don’t see Jones doing much end zone dancing doesn’t mean he isn’t equally as responsible for every touchdown that Matt Hasselbeck throws, Bobby Engram catches, or Shaun Alexander once ran for.
If not taken for granted, I think the idea of having a hall-of-fame caliber left tackle has become something of a novelty for Seahawks fans, almost a cliché.
Even if I’m totally off-base, I’ll note that HOF tackles, unlike almost any other position, are nearly impossible to come by in later rounds, or even later in the first round.
The three best tackles of the last 10 years, in my opinion at least, are Jones, Orlando Pace, and Jonathan Ogden, in no particular order. None of the three were drafted outside of the top six.
There are very few notable total busts among tackles taken early, with perhaps Robert Gallery, Tony Mandarich, and Mike Williams as the poster boys. Those guys’ drafts span 15 years.
Andre Smith is considered by many to be the top tackle on the board. I tend to worry about his suspension at the end of the season and wonder if his heart is really set on competition or compensation.
Eugene Monroe reminds me a bit of Ryan Clady in last year’s draft. While he’s perhaps a better overall prospect, he’s touted for his athletic ability. Monroe may be an ideal fit to anchor the left side on a team that runs a heavy zone-blocking scheme. Also, practicing against Chris Long for three seasons could only make him better.
Michael Oher is my personal favorite tackle in the draft. I think he’s been able to ignore the hype of being considered a top pick for a few years. He’s versatile and could slide over to guard successfully if he doesn’t work out at tackle, and perhaps be an elite guard for years, a prescription I’ve shouted about for Robert Gallery.
Defensive End/Linebacker: Brian Orakpo, Aaron Curry
With Patrick Kerney spending a lot of 2008 injured, and the regression of Darryl Tapp, a defensive end could be appealing for the Seahawks in the first round. Orakpo is the best pure D-end prospect in this draft.
If Leroy Hill leaves in free agency, which I’ll put myself into the small camp that is indifferent to his departure, Curry could be an immediate upgrade. Learning from Julian Peterson could turn the athletic freak into an elite pass rusher early in his career.
However, the Seahawks have whiffed frequently on defensive line picks in the past decade. From Marcus Tubbs to Lamar King, they’ve struggled to find the continuity they had when Cortez Kennedy was prowling the trenches.
I don’t really feel that either prospect represents a good enough prospect to completely buck need, especially with elite prospects, arguably better prospects at need positions.
Quarterback: Matt Stafford, Mark Sanchez
Matt Hasselbeck is aging, and while many quarterbacks play into their late 30s, I have questions surrounding Hasselbeck’s health.
His leg and shoulder injuries don’t really concern me. Most of that stuff can be mended, especially considering his injured shoulder is his non-throwing shoulder. However, Hasselbeck’s back injuries concern me greatly.
Baseball players, Basketball players, hell, even golfers have seen their careers shortened considerably, or slowed by back injuries. A lot can be done to repair torn muscles and tendons, but the back remains somewhat of a medical mystery, and a more permanent ailment.
I don’t think that the new regime will be comfortable with Seneca Wallace as the team’s long-term option if Hasselbeck goes down.
Stafford is a unique talent in my opinion, he makes some throws that conjure images of Peyton Manning, and others that look like Tim Couch in a Browns uniform. Stafford will almost assuredly be gone when the Seahawks draft, but if he’s not, he’ll get a look.
Mark Sanchez, depending on who you listen to, could be a reach at No. 4. Sanchez is an ideal WCO quarterback. He’s got size, a strong enough arm, can move around, and has shown excellent accuracy through stretches of his brief career. The biggest drawback though, is that brevity.
Trading Down: Lions, 49’ers, Jets, Bucs, and Vikings as potential suitors
This theory probably revolves around a quarterback. If the Lions take Stafford with the first pick, any of these teams could look to trade up for Sanchez. However, if the first quarterback somehow falls to the Seahawks, this pick could become extremely valuable.
If the Lions take Stafford first overall, they could look to trade up to get a tackle to replace Jeff Backus.
The Lion’s 20th overall pick, along with their second and fourth round picks, would be likely compensation. That would give the Seahawks three picks in a span of 16 picks, perhaps allowing them to draft a combination of players like Jeremy Maclin, Duke Robinson, and William Moore, effectively filling their receiver, guard, and secondary needs, all at a reasonable price.
Another potential combination would include Mark Sanchez, if he fell to the Seahawks at the 20th pick, though that scenario is less likely than the first.
If the 49’ers traded up with the Seahawks, by acquiring the 49’ers 10th overall pick, they could still be in position to take one of the three elite tackles, or take a look at a corner/safety like Malcolm Jenkins.
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