RP: It’s that time of year again: the National Football League draft. For football-obsessed fans, the draft is like Christmas in the spring. After going down to the Carolina Panthers in the divisional round, the Seattle Seahawks will be looking to strengthen its roster and attempt to make another run at the Super Bowl. Several key players, like Russell Okung, departed during the free agency. With that in mind, what position group or player would you like to see the Hawks target with the 26th pick?
HA: The Seahawks need a much stronger offensive line, especially after losing Okung and Max Unger the year before. Russell Wilson is strong out of the pocket, but needs more time. Wilson was hit 114 times, third most in the league, and was sacked seventh most in the league with 46. It’s clear Wilson has superstar potential, he just needs his o-line to give him more time. Stanford University guard Joshua Garnett could be a good addition to the interior line. Garnett was awarded the Outland Trophy as the nation’s top interior linemen and his speed could be an asset to Wilson’s tendency to scramble. Garnett attended Puyallup High School, so it would be cool to see a homegrown player join the Seahawks. University of Alabama center Ryan Kelly helped the Crimson Tide win the national title and could also be a powerful addition.
RP: I think the offensive line could very well be the pick. It is the Seahawks’ most glaring weakness. However, the team does have other needs General Manager John Schneider and Pete Carroll could address. The defensive line could use more depth, and the trades near the top of the draft could cause several members of a stacked class of defensive linemen to drop to the Seahawks. University of Florida lineman Jonathan Bullard is a name I like a lot, if he falls. During his time with the Gators, Bullard often shifted between defensive end and tackle, similar to what the Hawks do with All-Pro Michael Bennett. Brigham Young University end Bronson Kaufusi is another guy that just feels like a Seahawk to me. Kaufusi put up some freakishly athletic numbers at the combine and could give the Hawks another dynamic playmaker off the edge. How freakish, you ask? Kaufusi ran a 7.03 second three-cone-drill and a 4.25 second short shuttle drill. For some context, Ohio State University linebacker Darron Lee, a projected top-15 pick, ran the short shuttle .05 seconds slower that Kaufusi. Kaufusi weighs 285 pounds, 53 pounds heavier than Lee. Perhaps even more impressive was Kaufusi’s three cone time. If you compare it to University of Oklahoma’s Sterling Shepard, a 194-pound wide receiver who ran a 4.48 40-yard dash, finished his three cone time just .03 seconds faster than Kaufusi.
That said, the Seahawks have been prone to trading out of the first round in the Schneider era and could be in position to trade out again.
HA: Looking ahead into the middle rounds, there are still plenty of opportunities to strengthen the offense. Running back Thomas Rawls needs a reliable backup, and Louisiana Tech University running back Kenneth Dixon could provide that stability. Dixon scored 87 touchdowns in his college career and has a similar small school background like Rawls. Wilson could always use more weapons, and University of Oklahoma wide receiver Sterling Shepard seems to fit the Seahawks’ receiver mold. They should continue to look to bolster to the offensive line with University of Missouri lineman Connor McGovern, a versatile player who played multiple positions and set weight room records at the University of Missouri.
RP: I really like the McGovern pick. The Hawks need depth in most positions. O-line is obviously something they should continue to address throughout the draft. Besides McGovern, University of Notre Dame interior linemen Nick Martin could be another intriguing player. Nick’s brother Zack is an All-Pro for the Dallas Cowboys, and if Nick is half as good, the Seahawks could get a steal. After bringing back Jermaine Kearse, I don’t think wide out is as big of a need for the Hawks, but former Ohio State University quarterback-turned-receiver Braxton Miller could be too intriguing as an athlete to pass up. Miami University cornerback Artie burns, University of Alabama running back Kenyan Drake, University of Illinois Jihad Ward defensive lineman and Auburn University offensive lineman and leukemia survivor Shon Coleman are all middle round guys I could see the Hawks targeting.
HA: Finishing up the draft, the Legion of Boom could use a few additions in the pass defense. Northern Iowa University cornerback Deiondré’ Hall is praised by his coach for his versatility on the field. He ended the year with 82 tackles and a school record of four pick-sixes, so pairing him with Richard Sherman could be deadly for quarterbacks. Wilson could use a reliable backup as well, and University of Arkansas Brandon Allen might be a good player to develop. He had massive improvements in total yards and pass completion percentages over his college career, which could make him a solid replacement for Tarvaris Jackson as Wilson’s second fiddle.
RP: It isn’t impossible to find great players in the late rounds. Superstars like Tom Brady and Antonio Brown were both six-round picks for their team. The Seahawks have also had success, finding Richard Sherman in the fifth round as well as signing Bennett and Rawls as undrafted free agents. However, players going late in the draft are anything but safe bets. Teams typically draft players based off their physical traits at this point in the draft. I could see the Hawks taking Mississippi State University quarterback Dak Prescott or Ohio State University’s Cardale Jones as potential back-ups for Wilson. University of California’s Kenny Lawler could give Wilson another big body as receiver, and addressing depth on the defensive and offensive line should still be the focus. Texas Christian University tackle Hal Vaitai played both tackle positions for the Horned Frogs’ second-ranked offense and is as good of a gamble late in the draft as any. University of Washington linebacker Travis Feeney, Louisiana State University linebacker Deion Jones, Baylor University basketball convert Rico Gathers and Colorado State University cornerback DeAndre Elliot could all be good fits in the Hawks system as well.