Okay, like my "what I think will actually happen" draft, this version assumes that Seattle does not make it out of the wildcard round, not because I'm pessimistic, but simply because I'd give Seattle a less than 50/50 chance of winning ANY road game, much less to a team finishing the season on a hot streak to win their division. Although, having a potential 11-5 record will probably increase their seeding, so I'm guessing they pick 23rd (I think there will be at least one upset in the wildcard round so I won't project 24th).
This draft is the draft I'd do if John Schneider quit tomorrow and Pete Carroll hired me as his exuberant draft lackey. Very strong consideration is given to Pete's preferences, but in general these are picks that I either want personally or think that Pete could turn into gold. It should be noted that I fully expect none of these moves to actually happen, even if the draft were tomorrow. Please refer to the other mock for picks that stand a decent chance of actually happening.
As this is a dream draft scenario, every pick will require a player to slip in the draft about as much as they possibly can. Best case scenarios tend to not be very realistic, but this is about hoping for the best more than being strictly within the confines of realism.
1st round: DE Bjoern Werner, Florida State
Will Werner reach our pick? Probably not. Does Seattle need to take a DE this high? Not necessarily. However, of all the faintly plausible 1st round options, Werner is the player I covet the most.
Watching Werner fly around the edge, dip his shoulder, and show a relentless drive for the QB, it's hard to not be reminded of Bruce Irvin. I think Irvin was very slightly more gifted as an athlete, but Werner is more disciplined against the run and shows more anchor and upper body strength than Irvin did (Werner isn't good against the run, but I could see him being good enough). I see Irvin as best suited in a permanent Raheem Brock role. A few times this season Carroll tried leaving Irvin in for 3 downs, and he's just not the same player. If you want to get the most out of Irvin, keeping him as a 3rd down specialist would generate the most bang for the buck. If you accept this view, then Seattle still needs to find a true successor to Chris Clemons, who turns 32 years old next year.
Werner is not an ideal LEO candidate, but he doesn't look gassed from playing every down and his problems against the run mostly involve poor recognition and might be improved with good coaching.
Why this pick this early? Think about how critical Chris Clemons is on a defensive line that includes three other starters (Mebane, Branch, Bryant) over 320 pounds. Then remember that Pete Carroll prefers a base pass rush. Our pass rush goes as Chris Clemons goes. Then remember that Clemons is 32 years old next season and could fall off a career cliff at any time. There's also the fact that pass rushers are very hard to get, and this could be the earliest pick Seattle has in the draft for a long time. It's unlikely that Seattle will get a better pass rusher in 2014 or 2015 picking in the 29-32 range.
Werner has a lot of natural pass rushing talent and could easily be a 10-15 sack player in the NFL. His lack of size and issues against the run might turn off a lot of teams, just like Bruce Irvin did. Unfortunately, this pick will probably never happen because this is such a thin pass rusher class. Some team will take Werner higher than you might normally expect him to go. But if I'm wrong and Werner is next year's David DeCastro type slide story, I'd be all over it at pick #23.
(Jarvis Jones is a better player who probably has a better chance of reaching our pick, but I'm assuming that Pete Carroll would veto it given his stance on Jones' injury while both were at USC.)
2nd round: WR DeAndre Hopkins, Clemson
Hopkins is my top rated WR in this draft, but as of yet the hype has yet to catch on, and he's generally viewed as a round one or round two WR. This is a very crowded WR class at the top and just like last year you could see some surprise names get drafted earlier than people expect (A.J. Jenkins, Brian Quick last year), meaning that some players with late 1st round grades could get pushed into the late 2nd or early 3rd round as was the case with Reuben Randle and Mohamed Sanu in the 2012 draft. I would gladly take Hopkins in round 1, but I also feel that at least one really nice WR will reach our 2nd round pick, and maybe that WR could be Hopkins. I doubt it, but this mock is a dream mock after all.
Hopkins pretty much has it all. Good hands, good route runner, good size, good instincts, he's tough, he's fast enough, and he's produced. He's just one of those players that consistently impresses me. He has good length and is adept at catching the ball away from his body with those long arms. I initially compared him to Julio Jones, but after watching him more I think a much better comparison would be Sidney Rice if Rice was a couple inches shorter. Both are outstanding all around players that make it all look easy and both use their long arms and strong hands to their advantage.
3rd round: DT Will Sutton, Arizona State
I think it's pretty unlikely that Sutton will last this long. I do expect him to go somewhere in the round 2-3 range. There are several other DTs with more hype and ASU is a bit of an under the radar place to play. Sutton is also a bit unconventional and unconventional players tend to drop. Despite his bulky appearance, he's actually undersized (6'1", 271) and has a bit of a problem against the run, and those kinds of players are usually avoided in the first two rounds. If you want a disruptive player who is decent enough against the run to be a 3 down player, Sutton is a great choice though. I'd take Sutton in the 2nd if I had to, but getting him in the 3rd would be a very nice pick to have.
4th round: CB Micah Hyde, Iowa
I included Hyde and Sutton in both mocks because I am very impressed with both and I think both fit Seattle's preferences and needs well.
Micah Hyde really has no business lasting this long. He's a similar type to Dee Milliner- the "do it all" type who is good in every aspect of his game. Hyde had a recent arrest and that could push him into the round 4-5 range.
In particular, I really love watching how Hyde reacts as a run stopper- he basically looks like a very fast linebacker. Hyde has good hands and is always looking for a ball to pick. He's over 6 foot tall and has the tools to be a fringe 1st round pick. Honestly the lack of hype baffles me a bit. Maybe this is a case like Doug Martin last year where the scouts have a fringe 1st round grade on him and the draftnik community doesn't find out about it until the week before the draft.
5th round: LB Jelani Jenkins, Florida (pick from Oakland)
I don't think Jenkins will last this long, but seemingly every year you have some talented LBs with a 2nd or 3rd round grade that reach 5th or 6th round territory. The 5th rounder from Oakland will be an early one- and basically be about the same caliber of talent pool as the 4th spent on Hyde.
Jenkins is a very fast linebacker who goes sideline to sideline as well as anyone in this draft. He's not very big, not very physical, and not very instinctive, but neither was Bobby Wagner coming out of college and Carroll has slowly but surely improved his game as a pro. As a WLB, Jenkins would not be tasked with run defense as much as he was at Florida and could focus more on using his great field speed.
Seattle will probably take a LB much sooner than this, but if you want a LB with speed late, you won't find a faster LB with fewer holes in his game than Jenkins. He's not a future superstar, but in the right role I think Pete could turn him into a useful player. At the very least he seems like a safe bet to make the roster and provide injury insurance for Malcolm Smith.
5th round: TE Mychal Rivera, Tennessee
Seattle will probably be looking for competition at TE, with an assumed preference for an H-back type. That said, nobody ever said that TE had to have blazing speed, and if you're fine with another John Carlson type, Mychal Rivera is your man. He'll never be Jimmy Graham or even Zach Miller, but he gets open on well run routes and has good hands with consistent focus and concentration during the catch process. Like Carlson, the thing that jumps off the screen when you watch Rivera is that he just looks very reliable and he passes the eyeball test in terms of size, despite being just 6'3".
6th round: CB Darius Slay, Mississippi St.
I won't pretend to be an expert, but he has a cool last name, he's 6'1" (and not a skinny 6'1") and he has a track star background and was a RB in high school. I wish I had more to go on, but physically he looks every bit the part of a Pete Carroll cornerback.
7th round: WR Marquess Wilson, Washington State (from Buffalo)
Something tells me this pick would never actually happen, but I'd do my due diligence and if I found Wilson to be repentant of how he handled the WSU situation or if I determinded that he was legitimately grieved, I think you'd have to take a chance on him this late in the draft. He has fringe first round ability and would give the Seahawks additional Sidney Rice insurance as a tall receiver with good deep ball skills. I admit that I know nothing on his situation, but given Leach's reputation I'd be willing to think that Wilson could play for a coach like Carroll, even if he couldn't play for a coach like Leach.
7th round: LB/S Michael Clay, Oregon (from New Orleans)
He's not undersized if you move him. At best, he's a late round steal. At worst, he's a Nick Reed type gamble.
7th round: QB Aaron Murray, Georgia
Aaron Murray has no business lasting to the end of the draft, but consider that last year's draft was loaded with intriguing 6'1" QBs (Chandler Harnish, Austin Davis, Case Keenum, GJ Kinne, Kellen Moore (6'0") and others), and just one of them was drafted... with the very last pick in the draft.
My guess is that Murray will return to Georgia next season, but he's still weighing his options and may decide to end his college career on a high note instead of risking a stock drop next season. And when you are a 6'1" QB, you can't really afford a stock drop, not unless you want to play in the CFL.
Russell Wilson is a shining beacon of hope within a desolate landscape that is the sub 6'2" NFL QB- at least in the minds of NFL evaluators. Could it be that Russell Wilson and Johnny Manziel have been so phenomenal this season that scouts and coaching staffs will begin to take notice that not all short QBs are hurt by their height? I believe Murray to be one such player, as I believed for Wilson last year. But will I be essentially alone in that assessment once again in 2013?
I prefer Matt Scott to Aaron Murray, but Murray is a safer pick and will be NFL ready sooner than Scott would. Murray is a cerebral QB that comes from the same pro-style offense that produced Matt Stafford. Murray has better footwork than most college QBs and good throwing mechanics. His arm is basically just average, but he can deliver an intermediate pass with plenty of zip. Murray can check through multiple reads and playing in the SEC he's used to dealing with defensive pressure from some NFL level athletes. Murray is not an elite QB, but he's an above average one with no serious flaws other than his size.
Murray interviews well and even has a bit of charm/humor to him. He's also very competitive and when asked he was emphatic about his listed height being accurate. That tells me that he'll probably measure a bit under 6'1", and also that Murray is a really passionate guy- exactly the kind that would hold it against the rest of the league for passing on him all the way to the 7th round. The chip on the shoulder type.
I think Murray could make a solid starter in the NFL, and could be ideal as a cheap long term backup. He'd go to an offense that already knows how to work around a QB's height. Murray might go earlier than this, or he might go back to school. In that scenario I'd try to get Matt Scott, or hope for fellow 6'1" QB Keith Price in the 7th round next year (though only if he has a bounce back season).
This is a dream scenario mock. Honestly, I'd be pretty surprised if half these players made it to these picks. Especially the really talented ones (Werner, Sutton, Hyde, Slay, Murray). Remember when everyone thought Doug Martin had a 4th round draft grade? Mocking some of these players where I do feels a bit like doing a mock this time last year and being hopeful to get Doug Martin in round 5. So yeah, this mock looks hopeful now and will probably look delusional by April. But these are some players I like, and who theoretically have a chance to be in play at each pick.