Projections have Seahawks taking DL or QB

The Seahawks now officially hold the 25th pick in April’s draft, and some experts are predicting that they’ll use it on either a defensive lineman or quarterback.

In his latest mock draft, ESPN’s Todd McShay has the Seahawks taking Wisconsin defensive end J.J. Watt. McShay writes:

Seattle has a lot of positions to upgrade but no truly glaring need, and Watt offers good value here. Some feel his best fit is as a 5-technique in a 3-4, but given the way he is always on the move I think he’s better off at left end in a 4-3 front like the one the Seahawks run.

Rob Rang of also has the Seahawks taking a defensive end, but thinks it will be Ohio State’s Cameron Heyward. Rang writes:

DL Red Bryant, starring as a five-technique defensive end, helped the Seahawks emerge as one of the better run-defending teams in the NFL. Once he was lost to injury, however, Seattle’s run defense slipped appreciably. Don’t expect Seattle to rely on Bryant’s recovery from an ACL tear. Heyward, at 6-5 and 295 pounds, fits perfectly as a five-technique defensive end and would provide the competition up front that Pete Carroll craves.

Chad Reuter, also of, predicts Seattle will draft Illinois defensive tackle Corey Liuget (pictured in AP photo). Reuter writes:

His Texas Bowl performance should convince scouts to bring his strength and quickness on board early in the draft.

Defensive line play was a main reason for the Seahawks’ 4-2 start, during which they had the league’s No. 2 rush defense. But that was before a slew of injuries, including a season-ending knee injury to Red Bryant that Rang eluded to.

Defensive end Raheem Brock, whose nine sacks ranked second on the team, is a free agent. So are defensive tackles Junior Siavii and Brandon Mebane.

While defensive line went from a strength to a potential question mark, Seattle’s quarterback remains the biggest uncertainty of the offseason. Matt Hasselbeck is a free agent, and while Pete Carroll said Wednesday that re-signing Hasselbeck is a priority, he also indicated that wouldn’t stop them from drafting a quarterback.

“There is a great need to get the quarterback position as good as it can get,” Carroll said. “Whatever that takes we’re going to do that. If the draft allows us an opportunity we’ll look at is just like you would want us to. If there’s a really good prospect right there we’re going to get the guy.”

Who might that prospect be?

Mel Kiper of ESPN predicts in his initial mock draft that it will be Arkansas’ Ryan Mallett. Kiper writes:

Everything about Mallett’s arm screams top 10, but he could fall a bit as a player who needs to develop footwork and the willingness to bite off only as much as he can chew. That said, Mallett’s game progressed in 2010. He showed improved accuracy and a willingness to move around and consider the dump-off passes he often passed up as a younger player. With a year of development, he could be a good value here and a long-term answer for the Seahawks. It’ll be asked, but my sources tell me the Seahawks prefer him to Washington’s Jake Locker — at least right now.

ESPN’s John Clayton repeated Wednesday on the Calabro show what he has said frequently this season – that he is convinced the Seahawks will take a quarterback in the first round provided the pickings aren’t too slim by the time it’s their turn to pick.

Here’s a recap of where each player is projected:

Ryan Mallett

Kiper: Seahawks, 25
McShay: Jaguars, 16
Rang: Redskins, 10
Reuter: Not in first round

J.J. Watt

Kiper: Patriots, 17
McShay: Seahawks, 25
Rang: Packers, 28
Reuter: Steelers, 32

Cameron Heyward

Kiper: Not in first round
McShay: Ravens, 26
Rang: Seahawks, 25
Reuter: Chargers, 18

Corey Liuget

Kiper: Not in first round
McShay: Giants, 19
Rang: Not in first round
Reuter: Seahawks, 25