Continuing where I left off, this mock draft will present what I feel is realistic scenario for our draft based on the information we currently have. It is not based on the picks I would make, but rather the kinds of picks I expect Seattle to be making. I am by no means urging anyone to change their mind about prospects, hell, I'll almost certainly mock players that I don't personally like that much but strike me as being on the radar. So keep that in mind, I am not necessarily offering an ideal draft, but rather a realistic one.
Since my previous mock (Dec. 15th), there have been several changes. Will Sutton went back to school, Keenan Allen was overhyped instead of underhyped, and Seattle's top need has changed. Here's how I see Seattle's most realistic mock as of January 23rd:
1st round: Ezekial Ansah, DE/DT, BYU
Underwhelmed? Be prepared. Seattle has a history of targeting their #1 need in the first round of every draft so far, whether the draft class deems that good value or not. It's part of this regime's MO: "build through the draft." When it comes to foundational pieces, Seattle has always shown a preference for the draft. I don't expect that to change this year, even though I really wish it would.
Ansah's draft stock is hard to judge. With his versatility and raw potential, it's not unthinkable that he could be a top 10 pick, but for now a #25 overall projection feels realistic.
There are a few reasons why I think Seattle will draft Ansah if he's available. First, he's somewhat unique in that he can play every spot on the line depending on the situation. He looks best to me as a 3-4 styled DE (5-tech), but some have intimated that his track star past might hint at a bright future as a LEO pass rusher. He can also play 3-tech and on pure pass rush downs he can sometimes even be found at the 1-tech. Gil Brandt recently made a (very generous) comparison between Ansah and JPP. Both were raw pass rushers with impressive athleticism/tools and questionable motors.
Pete Carroll is always looking for players who's best football is still ahead of them. He almost seems to prefer players with unremarkable college tape, or at the very least, it doesn't seem to scare him away. This is even more true now that confident defensive line whisperer Dan Quinn is back on board.
Seattle has made it no secret that they prefer players that can fill multiple roles. This is evident most plainly on the offensive and defensive lines. Roster flexibility means roster spots saved. And on a line that has a huge question mark in Chris Clemons, diversity and roster stretching is more important than ever. There might not be a DL in this draft as versatile as Ansah. He can play the 3-tech while spelling Bryant at the 5-tech in certain situations, and if Clemons hits the PUP, he could fill in at the LEO.
Ansah is not likely to explode out of the blocks in 2013. But by the time the 25th pick rolls around you aren't finding immediate impact pass rushers anyway. The upside on Ansah is pretty good, but he's still far from reaching it. Boom/Bust pick, and it's not a pick I'm in love with, but it just makes too much sense for Seattle to ignore.
Alternatives: GMs draft based on their own draft boards, not based on draftnik prospect rankings. That said, draftniks tend to project the first round pretty well, and Sheldon Richardson is slowly sliding down draft boards. This is something to keep an eye on. Earlier this week I saw Richardson #19 on one prospect ranking list and #22 on another. Suddenly the thought of making a small move up for Richardson doesn't seem so crazy. Maybe this is just a misread by a handful of evaluators, but it could be something to monitor. It sounds preposterous, but remember that there is a lot of parity in this year's first round and there are always surprises. Sylvester Williams and Sharrif Floyd are possibilities as versatile DL that are potentially capable of playing the 1-tech, 3-tech, and 5-tech roles. Zach Ertz stands far above this TE class and could be a surprise consideration given Wilson's propensity to target TEs. If Seattle likes DeAndre Hopkins as much as I do, he might be considered if they don't like the value at DL. Alec Ogletree and Arthur Brown could be considerations as well. Alex Okafor has some Chris Clemons type qualities and might be considered as a LEO option if the team isn't feeling great about Clemons' 2013 prospects.
If the pick was mine to make: DeAndre Hopkins, WR, Clemson. Hopkins is a big WR (6'1" 205) with long arms, outstanding technique and presence of mind. He's got that "clutch" gene and he's no stranger to production. It's not often a WR this good is this under-rated. Seattle's spread the ball offense makes a #1 WR label worthless, but Hopkins is a guy who could elevate this offense, without a doubt. While WRs tend to start slow, Hopkins has so much natural talent that I wonder if he could be an exception. If he led the team in receiving immediately I would not be surprised. That's how much I think of him.
2nd round: Khaseem Greene, LB, Rutgers
I am not a huge fan of Greene's tape, much like I wasn't for Bobby Wagner last year. While I wasn't enamored with Wagner, I could feel deep down that Wagner was a Pete Carroll type LB, and I made sure to mention that several times on Rob's blog before the draft. I called 3 picks successfully during the 2012 draft as those picks happened: Wagner being the first (it helped that Mychal Kendricks had just left the board).
Like Wagner, I am not enamored by Greene, but I can't escape the Pete Carroll vibes I get from Greene's traits. He has good instincts, but is very cautious as opposed to an "attacking" linebacker. Like Wagner at Utah State, Greene looks very athletic but never seems to run at full speed. To the nake eye he has the physique of a high draft pick, and seems to have long arms, which will score bonus points for John Schneider. Greene looks like a player playing with a lot of untapped potential, and like Wagner was considered one of the best defensive players his low profile football program had ever seen.
Greene isn't bad as a pass rusher, but his skill seems more towards the coverage aspect of his game. He's not terribly physical against blockers, but he can track down a runner well. He's pretty much exactly what Seattle is looking for at WLB, with a little less speed than they'd probably like. With Arthur Brown and Alec Ogletree likely off the board and Ansah's versatility pushing back Seattle's remaining DL needs a little down the list, I think Seattle won't risk waiting another round to pounce on this pick, especially in a draft that just isn't all that great or all that deep for fast linebackers.
Alternatives: In a crowded WR class, there could be serious value here. DeAndre Hopkins, Tavon Austin, Robert Woods, Cobi Hamilton, even Cordarrelle Patterson (among many others) are notable WRs that are currently graded in the 2nd round or later. Don't sleep on Denard Robinson either, he just seems like exactly the kind of player that would interest the Seahawks who value athleticism and quickness over polish. Gavin Escobar is a tall, excellent pure receiving tight end who catches the ball away from his body with long arms and strong hands. Kind of get that "future draft steal" vibe when I watch him. Jelani Jenkins and Sean Porter could be LB considerations (not necessarily in this round) if Greene, Ogletree, and Brown are not available. I'm a fan of Porter. Jenkins not so much. There is a bit of a backlog of 2nd round DTs in this draft- pretty likely that at least one could reach the 57th overall pick. Guys like Kawann Short could be worth monitoring.
If the pick was mine to make: Gavin Escobar, TE, San Diego State. I'll admit that I don't know as much about Escobar as I'd like to. But something about his effortless and excellent pass catching technique (the way he reaches up for the ball reminds me of Zach Miller) gives me that feeling that he's going to be a name to remember from this draft. Escobar is 6'6" with great hands- giving us what John Schneider thought he was getting with Evan Moore.
3rd round: Gavin Escobar, TE, San Diego State
With the team's two most urgent needs dealt with, this is where I expect Seattle to start looking at TE/WR options. Since TE is a bigger need and the draft pool less deep, I expect Seattle to strongly consider TE first, especially if a value like Escobar is still on the board. As much as I'd like to get creative here and project something else, Escobar seems to fit JS's profile very well and could be a very strong consideration here.
If the pick was mine to make: John Simon, DE, Ohio State. Simon is a dicey pick given his weakness against mobile QBs, but I'm a believer that his pass rush prowess will translate. Seattle will have to scheme their linebackers to compensate when facing mobile QBs, and Seattle has a long slate of them next year including two games against Colin Kaepernick. There isn't a DE in this draft that sheds a block better than Simon does, and he's relentless. With him on our roster, there will be far fewer plays where the QB will have all day to throw. While I expect Seattle to enter this draft with needs at DT, I would have addressed it in free agency to avoid being forced into a reach pick.
4th round: Jordan Hill, DT, Penn St.
Hill may not be productive, and he may not be large or stout against the run, but he tends to win leverage at his 6'1" height and is fast off the snap. He is relentless and smart, and has good hand use for good measure. Maybe it's nothing, but I really like watching him throw himself into the tackles he makes. I think it's pretty likely that Seattle will draft two defensive lineman in the first four rounds, and Hill is one of the few 3-techs in this draft that offers Seattle a true contrast from Alan Branch.
If the pick was mine to make: Sean Porter, LB, Texas A&M. Porter is one of the most well rounded of the fast linebackers in this draft. He also has long arms, and depending on how the draft board falls, could be in play for the Seahawks in rounds 3 or 4.
5th round: Marcus Davis, WR, Virginia Tech
(if you don't want to slog through that, he's a brief highlight to give you an idea of his ability)
I think Seattle is perfectly happy with their current starting trio at WR, but this draft is simply too good a class to ignore and you can expect to see some serious value at WR in rounds 3-7. The Seahawks need depth and they especially need depth for Sidney Rice, so getting a tall WR with ability is important. As much as I'd love to mock Cobi Hamilton here, I think that the 5th round is probably too big a stretch to be considered realistic.
Marcus Davis was Logan Thomas' #1 WR this past season and nearly totaled 1000 yards despite Thomas' struggles. He stands 6'3", weighs 230, yet runs an estimated 4.45 forty time and is light on his feet for a player of his size. Davis is an excellent deep threat and a strong WR to put on the outside of any offensive formation.
If the pick was mine to make: Ryan Swope, WR, Texas A&M. Swope has caught my eye ever since I scouted Ryan Tannehill last draft season. Swope isn't limited to playing the slot, but he's almost Wes Welker proficient at it. He'd definitely give Doug Baldwin a run for his money.
5th round: Sanders Commings, CB, Georgia
I don't really see a superstar when I see Sanders Commings play, but I do see a corner with size that has an NFL future.
If the pick was mine to make: Micah Hyde, CB, Iowa. Not sure where this guy's hype went in 2012. I'm oversimplifying, but he's basically a poor man's Dee Milliner. His situation kind of reminds me of Reshad Jones in 2010. Never got the hype he deserved and slipped to the 5th round. Now he's making pro-bowl snub lists.
6th round: Cooper Taylor, S, Richmond
I don't think Byron Maxwell is a great example of a Pete Carroll success story, but I do think Maxwell shows the kind of mentality Pete Carroll has when he looks for DBs. He wants freaks of nature. Having skills is often secondary. Taylor is a huge DB with athleticism that pops off the screen. He could have scary upside in the right coach's hands. At worst, he'd have a chance to be a special teams ace. At best, he could compete at almost any position in the secondary.
If the pick was mine to make: Cooper Taylor, S, Richmond. Why not.
7th round: Jordan Rodgers, QB, Vanderbilt
Jordan Rodgers may have NFL bloodlines working in his favor, but he's also playing in a Case Keenum sized body and that will likely scare away most teams from spending a draft pick on him. As we saw last year, there were no shortage of quality 6'1" QBs, yet only one of them got drafted, on the draft's final pick.
Rodgers is a mobile QB, and is probably faster on the field than his 4.7 forty estimates bear out. He can check through reads and shows a good base of QB skills. The way that he buys time to throw- the physical look of how he does it- it's reminiscent of his brother. His throwing motion could be improved and his arm is below average, and he really does look like a twig out there, but he has the more uncommon skills (footwork, improvisation, reads, etc) and is worth a look. Even if he doesn't improve, he could still be our version of Chase Daniel, a short QB without the tools to start long term but has the feel for the position that at least makes him a competent backup.
If the pick was mine to make: Matt Scott, QB, Arizona. One of my rules- never underestimate a cerebral QB, especially one that can move. Matt Scott was forced into a lot of quick throws by an offense (like Chip Kelly's) that stresses getting rid of the ball in under 2 seconds. Even under those constraints, Scott showed the ability to change reads and improvise. He has a good arm and is fluent in the read option, which has suddenly become a good thing. He's tough and a natural leader. He has areas for improvement. He lacks experience. He had a lot of minor injuries last year and isn't built to take hits. In all those ways, he is not ready to be a starter, but he could be a dynamic backup with starter upside down the road.
7th round: Quinton Patton, WR, Louisiana Tech
Rumors have Patton's forty time around 4.4 seconds, but to my eye I'd probably guess he's closer to 4.6. Even still, Patton is a polished receiver and would be a great candidate to compete for the #5 WR job. The Seahawks will know going in that many of their 2013 draft picks will not make the roster, so they won't be afraid to load up on any given area. The real goal is to find diamonds in the rough, not to stock up on shiny seashells.
I don't really see Patton as an obvious fit for Seattle's profile (not very fast, not very quick, not very big), but he's a very good prospect for 7th round standards, and I would think the Seahawks will want to stock up on WRs again like they did in UDFA last year.
If the pick was mine to make: Joe Vellano, DT, Maryland. Vellano was a pretty good DT in college, but he may go undrafted as a result of having less than ideal size and athleticism. I wouldn't mind taking a flier on him though and see if he can be an NFL overachiever. He sheds blocks well, has a nose for the ball and is relentless. He is quick at the snap despite lacking a good top gear. I would have already addressed DT in free agency so this is more of a roster competition move than hoping for a solution.
7th round: Kenny Stills, WR, Oklahoma
John Schneider and his Green Bay predecessor Ted Thompson have shown a tendency to target "quick" WRs in the draft: players that can be a threat to go deep or a threat to make yards after the catch on shorter passes. Stills has a bit of Golden Tate to his game. He's not polished, but he has that same "idiot savant" quality with the ball in his hands that Tate has. He also has the speed to be a deep threat.
If the pick was mine to make: Elvis Fisher, T, Missouri. Fisher got off to a nice start as Missouri's left tackle in 2010 before injuries destroyed his draft stock the last two seasons. Still, I'd bring Fisher in for a look. He fits the tall/light mold that Cable seems to look for. That said, I think if Seattle did draft a tackle in this draft, it would probably be someone healthier and more athletic, even if he was less polished.
The big difference between mock draft fun and what GMs actually do is resources. My draft knowledge, if charted, would look like a reverse-pyramid. Everyone can educate themselves on players slated to go in round 1. But as the draft progresses, the talent pool widens while the list of "names" shrinks. I would very much doubt if any of my late round picks actually end up Seahawks (although I did mention (barely) Lane and Toomer last year).
Unlike me, John Schneider's draft knowledge is like a right-side up pyramid, with more names coming into play with every round. I remember last year when he picked Jeremy Lane, and he had to agonize over the pick for the full five minutes while he figured out which six foot CB he was going to take. Point being, it doesn't really matter if our team is drafting players we've talked about. Of all the late round options, only a few have any material on youtube and many fail to even make the lists at sites like NFLdraftscout and Walterfootball. But, with the limited resources I have, those were some names I felt could fit Seattle's plan, and might at least be in play, even if they are unlikely to be actual picks.