Matt Hasselbeck is a free agent, Charlie Whitehurst has just two career starts under his belt and there are no other quarterbacks under contract on Seattle’s roster.
No wonder the Seahawks seem to be linked in one way or another with nearly all the top quarterbacks in next week’s NFL draft.
“I think it’s a good year, I think it’s a really unique year,” Seattle general manager John Schneider said. “You go through seven guys and they are all completely different guys.”
Now, whether Seattle uses its first-round pick – the 25th overall – or any of its top selections on a quarterback is the big question.
Seattle’s roster is full of holes and lacks depth in key areas, especially along the offensive and defensive lines where injuries to starters caused problems all season.
But all anyone wants to focus on is the quarterback situation, where Whitehurst remains the only under-contract option for the Seahawks right now.
Schneider says Seattle is fine giving Whitehurst, who has just two career starts, a chance to compete for the starting job. One of his two starts includes the regular season finale when Seattle beat St. Louis to win the NFC West title at 7-9. But he’s also quick to point out that his philosophy – built over years of drafts with Green Bay – is to look at taking a quarterback in every draft.
Hence, the speculation that Seattle will make a run at one of the likely quarterbacks to be available near the end of the first-round or early in the second round should Seattle make a trade.
“We will be looking for a quarterback every single year,” Schneider said. “I have been blessed to be around some very talented people and it’s just a philosophy that you can never have enough of those guys.”
But is taking a quarterback at No. 25 the right move for a team that needs depth in all areas, except perhaps running back and linebacker?
Schneider all but put the 25th pick up to the highest bidder earlier this week, saying he would like to move back and in the process acquire some more middle round picks. The Seahawks are without a third-round selection, a fact that bothers the second-year general manager to no end. Seattle lost that pick when they acquired Whitehurst from San Diego before the beginning of last season.
Seattle has picks in the second (57th overall), fourth (99th) and sixth (173), along with two picks each in the fifth (156 and 157) and seventh (209, 242) rounds.
Thanks to Whitehurst and a stingy defensive effort leading Seattle to a 16-6 win over St. Louis in the regular season finale, the Seahawks earned a dubious division title and playoff berth, but lost at least a dozen spots in the draft.
That one victory likely doubled the amount of research needed on a much deeper draft pool, especially compared to a year ago when Seattle had picks Nos. 6 and 14 and as Schneider said, “my sons could have got a pretty good grade at six.”
If Seattle does stay at No. 25 and goes the route of quarterback, the likely options will be Florida State’s Christian Ponder, Nevada’s Colin Kaepernick, TCU’s Andy Dalton and possibly local favorite Jake Locker out of Washington.
But Schneider is quick to point out that panicking is the wrong approach for quarterback or any position.
“I think you have to go through your evaluation process and have a feel for what you think of the guy and just move forward,” he said. “Some of the worst drafts we’ve had are where you get nervous like you got to have a guy and maybe you give up something to go get a guy, or you push a guy based purely on need and that’s where you can get in a lot of trouble.”
Along with quarterback, the Seahawks would like to come away with at least one offensive lineman and one defensive lineman. The Seahawks will be going strictly zone blocking on the offensive line this season under new assistant head coach Tom Cable and could use another interior lineman or a right tackle.
On the defensive line, no injury last season was more problematic for the Seahawks than Red Bryant’s torn up knee in Week 8. Seattle’s run defense went on a continual slide as they struggled to replace the big body asked to play the “5” technique as a hybrid defensive end/tackle.
Seattle could also use a shutdown cornerback that fits the mold Schneider learned in his years with Green Bay of big, physical cornerbacks. The Seahawks wouldn’t mind grabbing a wide receiver with deep speed in the later rounds.
Schneider succeeded in his first draft by grabbing his left tackle (Russell Okung) and free safety (Earl Thomas) for years to come. Now comes building on that first time in charge, and this draft with more time to prepare.
“Hopefully you have a couple guys who are impact players, that you kept the cohesion of the locker room intact; that you have added quality people and guys who are going to be quality competitive guys,” Schneider said. “Every year you know they are going to show up and be good pros and be competing with other guys and setting standard at their position on your team.”