Of course, the further the draft goes along the more impossible it is to guess the players that Seattle might be honing in on. So in this mock I'm going to compromise a little- I'll give picks I think John Schneider would make in the first three rounds while making my best guesses in rounds 4-7 with players that I personally like who fit Seattle's philosophy.
For now, I am projecting Seattle to pick 22nd, simply because the odds of them being a wildcard are still much higher than winning the division, and the odds of them winning a road playoff game are fairly low, especially since that game would likely be against the Packers/49ers/Giants. If the season ended today Seattle would own the 22nd pick by seeding.
So with all that explaining out of the way, buckle down, this will be a long one. With the 1st round pick, the Seattle Seahawks select:
1st round: Arthur Brown, LB, Kansas State.
I should stress that this is not a pick I would endorse, but consider this quote posted from Rob's blog today:
Carroll apparently told a representative of the Brown family [while recruiting Brown in 2007] that he was the best linebacker “he’d seen in seven years.”
Carroll was a major driving force behind the Marshawn Lynch trade, a player he badly wanted that he had ties to in the Pac-12. He tried hard to recruit Bruce Irvin before heading to the NFL. He tried to recruit Richard Sherman (as a CB) only to get turned down in favor of a Stanford education. When Carroll has badly coveted a player and that player has been available to him in the draft, it seems like he almost always gets his man. That makes me think that there is an excellent chance that Arthur Brown could be very high on Seattle's draft board next April, whether I agree with it personally or not.
Barring a huge rise in the leadup to the draft, Brown is expected to go in the late 1st to late 2nd range. That gives Seattle an interesting choice to make. Do they trade down and take Brown in the late 1st or early second while picking up extra picks, or do they select another impact player and then spend some of their 9 or 10 draft selections by moving up in the second to get Brown the way Tim Ruskell once did for Lofa? I'd strongly prefer the latter option, but given John Schneider's history I'd expect the former. Either way, I'd almost guarantee you that Brown will be a Seahawk, unless Pete's dramatically changed his mind in the last 5 years. Given that Brown is in most 1st/2nd round discussions, I don't see much reason for Carroll to change his tune.
What do I think of Brown? He's a very gifted athlete and the brother of Philly RB Bryce Brown who is insanely athletic. Speed and athleticism are not in short supply for this young man. That said, I have a bias towards NFL ready players and that's the rub with Brown for me- he misses a lot of tackles and at times is slow to diagnose. He is very fast though and at his very playmaking best reminds me of Lavonte David, who I loved as a prospect last year and is having a great rookie season. Brown does not look as big as his listed size, like David he seems more like a Malcolm Smith type, but with more potential and durability.
I can easily see why Pete loves a player like Brown, because Pete has always gravitated towards players with a ton of untapped potential. If Brown is a standout with poor recognition and poor tackling then you could imagine how good he'd be after getting coached up by Pete Carroll, a guy who has almost never failed to get more out of his players. The absolute maximum upside for Brown is Derrick Brooks, but I really doubt he'd ever be that good because Brooks had instincts that Brown lacks, but if everything breaks right Brown could be a terrific player.
So far I'd tentatively give Brown a 3rd round grade. Last year I gave Bobby Wagner a 3rd round grade. However, I am not Pete Carroll, and Carroll drafted Wagner in the 2nd because he had confidence in his own coaching ability to maximize Wagner's potential. I could see a similar situation this year with Arthur Brown. John Schneider always does an outstanding job of gauging where a prospect is slotted to go. He took a big risk waiting to draft players like Sherman and Wilson, but the risk paid off. He took Irvin about as late as he realistically could have. If Schneider's pre-draft intel indicates that Brown could last well into the 2nd round, we might see Seattle move around to grab Brown somewhere in between their first two picks.
2nd round: Will Sutton, DT, Arizona State.
This is another player with Carroll/Pac-12 connections who I think fits Seattle's MO very well. Unlike the Brown pick, I'd be positively thrilled with this selection even though I like our current DT group. Sutton brings nice blend of nastiness, pass rush technique and raw power while anchoring decently well by pass rusher standards. He has the power, quickness, and size to succeed as a 1 tech, just not the run stopping results. He's also consistent play for play at a position where consistency is very rare. Pac-12 coaches and observers know exactly how fierce and imposing Sutton is. I'm sure Carroll will be no different.
3rd round: Keenan Allen, WR, Cal.
Yet again another player with Pac-12 connections, although in this case I think there is much more to it than that.
John Schneider has so far stayed true to his Green Bay roots at WR- meaning that he's been picky with the players he drafts while at the same time avoiding that kind of investment in round 1. The Packers best receivers in recent years: Greg Jennings, Jordy Nelson, and Randall Cobb, were all 2nd round picks, ranging from 36th overall to 64th overall. Jordy Nelson is the "big" WR of the bunch, as a tall/fast 6'3" WR. John Schneider himself has drafted just one WR in three years- Golden Tate- who as it happens was selected 60th overall in 2010. What do these players have in common? It's how they combine quickness (YAC) with some other plus attribute. As such, I suspect that Schneider will be more likely to target a quick WR than a "Megatron" type. Of those four receivers, only Nelson is listed as being six feet tall or more. So size should not be considered a definite necessity, assuming that Schneider is the one making the call.
Last year we had it on good information that RB was a high priority. Specifically a round 1-3 priority. That got bumped back a round when the team decided they could not afford to risk trying for Wilson in the 4th. I think the current dearth of options among our 4-6 WR group coupled with the injury histories of Rice and Baldwin make WR a high priority target in 2013. In fact, the ideal situation would be to draft a WR a little later on and start him on the bench until an injury gives him the chance to compete and earn a starting job.
Keenan Allen was once considered a first round prospect, but as things currently stand it is conceivable that he could slide all the way to the late 3rd round. Not because anything is wrong with Allen. He's really just the victim of a very deep WR group while coming off a down year.
Keenan Allen is basically a skinny 6'3" version of Golden Tate. Like Tate, Allen has good hands despite being a bit of a body catcher and has a similar fluidity and shake after the catch. I think Allen is probably smarter at maximizing yardage than Tate was as a rookie, and I think Allen is probably the faster, better athlete of the two. Allen's height and deep ball skills give Seattle some real depth on the "big" WR front too in case Rice gets hurt and misses time. If you are drafting a 4th WR, you could hardly do better than a guy who could sub in for any of the current starters roles. Allen can do that, and not many other options in this draft can say that.
Markus Wheaton is another guy who fits the "quick" criteria and could be available in this range, and who also comes from a Pac-12 school. Seattle might have to move up in the 3rd round to get one of these guys, but I'd feel pretty good that one or both of them could last into the 3rd, and that's something Seattle can take advantage of.
4th round: Micah Hyde, CB, Iowa
Hyde is a complete corner that stands at 6'1" with good speed and bulk. I think he's being overlooked and his recent off the field problems won't help raise his stock. Seattle is always looking for CB depth especially given Sherman's looming suspension and Thurmond's health problems. I think he's got a very real shot at reaching the late 4th round. Hyde could be the latest 4th round steal by the Seahawks.
5th round (Curry trade): Sanders Commings, CB, Georgia
Byron Maxwell and Jeremy Lane have basically looked like special teams lifers to this point. Both have value and shouldn't be cut on a whim, but I think the team must continue to churn out quality big corners with speed because given Seattle's track record to this point, they would be crazy not to.
Commings is a competent corner on a very good defense. He stands 6'2" with good size and good speed.
5th round: Jared Abbrederis, WR, Wisconsin
Abbrederis has been a very reliable and productive possession WR for Wisconsin, and was a favorite target for Russell Wilson in 2011. While Abbrederis does not fit the John Schneider WR mold, he fits the Darrell Bevell / Russell Wilson mold to a tee. He's not only a very reliable possession WR, but he's a dangerous deep option as well. At 6'2", he would bring another tall WR that can compete immediately for Ben Obomanu's job.
6th round: Brandon Ford, TE, Clemson
Given that both Miller and McCoy are well rounded TE types, it makes sense that Seattle will pursue an "H-back" TE option in this draft- meaning a receiver oriented TE. After all, he'd be replacing an H-back type and converted WR in Evan Moore, who replaced an H-back in Kellen Winslow, who replaced an H-back in John Carlson.
Brandon Ford hasn't had much experience, in fact his resume reads a lot like Cameron Morrah's did. He barely played before his final season, and in that final season he had 8 TD's on just 31 receptions. Morrah posted similar high TD numbers in a low number of receptions during his final college season. Both possess NFL level athleticism. Ford gives Seattle more competition for the 3rd TE spot.
7th round (Ruud trade*): Matt Scott, QB, Arizona.
With Matt Flynn being a possible trade chip and the Seahawks having only Josh Portis as a possible fallback plan, Seattle should and probably will take advantage of what looks to be another good mid-round QB class.
I've made it no secret that I think Matt Scott is an intriguing QB. But it really doesn't matter what I think, because Matt Scott also fits John Schneider's intangibles based QB criteria like few QBs to escape the first round in recent years. Matt Scott is one of the toughest competitors you will ever see, taking brutal hits yet insisting to stay in the game despite obvious signs of poor health. He has the best "feel" for the position that I've seen from any QB not named Russell Wilson in years (although it didn't really show itself much in the USC sample with all the respect throws he had to make in under 2 seconds). Yes, he did have some tough games but on the whole he had a record setting season for his school, and he did it as a 1st year starter.
There are some problems with Scott and those problems will make his draft stock very hard to predict. First, he's very under-weight (currently under two bills) and it's likely that his injuries this year are related to that. He'd need to add weight before playing in the NFL and there is a chance that could impact his mobility. The second is the fact that he plays in a spread offense with a lot of read option, although that is almost a good thing in today's NFL the way the league is changing. He's not a young QB but he only has one season of starting experience. He also needs to improve his footwork and his throwing motion isn't the prettiest thing I've ever seen, but still NFL adequate with only a few small improvements.
Still, I think Matt Scott could make an outstanding, low cost backup to Wilson for years to come that I truly believe could turn into a trade chip down the road. Scott's a natural QB with a very high IQ- like Wilson he's a quarterback that happens to be an athlete not an athlete playing QB. Scott has a great feel for the position, he's tough, he's a leader, he's a fast learner, he knows where to go with the ball, he's accurate, he's mobile and he can make all the throws. Any time you can get a QB with the holy trinity of feel/mobility/leadership I think it's a guy you almost have to take a chance on, especially given that he did all of this in his first year of starting.
No other QB in this draft screams "John Schneider QB" the way Scott does. If Seattle is willing to draft a QB this year in the mid to late rounds, I think Scott is a very strong possibility. It wouldn't shock me if Scott goes much, much earlier than this, but I have Seattle taking him in the 7th until we learn more about where teams grade him. With good preparation, Scott could be ready to be effective in our offense by the time Flynn's contract expires.
7th round (T-Jack trade*): Knile Davis, RB, Arkansas
Davis just declared for the draft despite having a year of eligibility left, making him a little bit like this year's Darron Thomas.
Davis was a beast in 2010 alongside Ryan Mallett and was primed for a huge 2011 season. Unfortunately an ankle injury ended his season before it began. He came back in 2012, and like the rest of that Arkansas team, he was a complete disaster. He averaged just 3.7 yards per carry and had just two outings all season with a yards per carry over 4.0.
Still, a healthy Knile Davis is a first round talent, and as a powerful interior runner with good vision, he'd be a potential home run pick in Tom Cable's power running scheme. This is a gamble with huge upside, and with so many picks on a roster that is so tough to crack, Seattle is in great position to take this chance. Here is a video from his much better 2010 season, for those who aren't familiar with him.
7th round: Michael Clay, LB/S, Oregon
Michael Clay is a playmaker, but unfortunately for him he lacks the necessary size to play linebacker at the next level, and he might lack the speed to play anything other than an in the box type safety. Fortunately, Seattle has two such roles (Chancellor, Johnson) that could fit that skillset. Clay is a similar player to Jeron Johnson and could immediately compete for the big nickle 3rd safety spot on the defense.
*5th rounder from Curry trade could be a 4th instead, 7th rounder from T-jack could be a 6th rounder instead, we may not get the Ruud pick at all depending on the terms of the deal.