A Dark Horse Candidate

NFL/Recently there has been much speculation on what the Seahawks should do with the 4th overall pick and understandably so. From Baylor offensive tackle Jason Smith to Texas Tech wide receiver Michael Crabtree, everyone seems to have their own opinion. Most mockers seem content to give Seattle one of 4 players- the aforementioned Jason Smith and Michael Crabtree, USC quarterback Mark Sanchez or Virginia offensive tackle Eugene Monroe, but if there is one thing we know about Tim Ruskell it is that he doesn’t use his first round draft picks in a predictable manner.

Some of the other options that have been discussed for the number 4 pick have also included Georgia quarterback Matt Stafford, Texas defensive end Brian Orakpo and Boston College defensive tackle B.J. Raji. But there is another name out there, one we haven’t seen discussed as a potential player for that pick, that could be a perfect selection for the Seattle Seahawks. That selection? Missouri wide out Jeremy Maclin.

Before you tar and feather me for suggesting such a thing, lets think about the Seahawks draft needs. We know they need to improve along the offensive line, we know they would like a long term answer at QB, but what else is there? If we examine the roster, especially on offense, there is something else that stands out- a lack of versatility, a lack of explosiveness. I understand that the game itself is currently being dominated by specialists- the goal line back, the blocking tight end, the returner without a real position, the scat back, etc., but why ignore the ability to create mismatches simply via personnel? It has worked on many other teams, including Chris Johnson in Tennessee, Reggie Bush in New Orleans and Brian Westbrook in Philadelphia. A player like Maclin could come in and line up at WR, where he would be both a vertical threat and a threat in the WR screen game, but he could also take 5 to 10 carries a game from the RB spot. Anyone who knows Greg Knapp’s style knows the Hawks are going to be running the ball a lot, so having another, more explosive, option to team with the unspectacular Julius Jones, the 1- Dimensional T.J. Duckett and a back with limited upside like Justin Forsett is simply imperative.

If we look even further into the confines of the roster, we discover somewhere else where Maclin makes sense- the return game. Nate Burleson is coming off of a pretty major knee injury. He may be fully recovered, he may not, but it would be nice if he could step up a little more offensively, as we have come to find that we certainly cannot depend on Deion Branch to stay healthy. Limiting Burleson’s return reps could be exactly the boost the offense will need next year, as with several years of NFL experience, he has the ability to be more impactful than any rookie forced into immediate expansive action. Maclin also could spell CB Josh Wilson from his kick returning duties, as Wilson will likely earn the starting job over Kelly Jennings this season. Given the impact that a corner can have on a defense, limiting his potential exposure to injury is a must.

If I were Tim Ruskell, I would still be leaning towards an offensive tackle- either Jason Smith or Eugene Monroe (assuming you couldn’t trade down), but I certainly wouldn’t dismiss the thought of taking Jeremy Maclin as early as number 4. Call me crazy, but it just might work.