Heading into the 2013 season, the Seahawks have to realize that their success lies in how they address the defensive line. With 21 or 23 starters returning, this team can focus on addressing their main and secondary needs. However, no need is as important the defensive tackle position.
Fortunately, there’s good depth at DT throughout the early three rounds of the draft which most people know who they are, so I won’t bring em up much, but I wanted to give my 7-round mock draft and bring up a prospect who could be the top defensive tackle on the Hawks board come draft time.
My thought process with my mock was to address needs throughout the draft that I saw as good fits, both physically and mentally, along with drafting players that match the current system the Seahawks had last year. As much change on this team I may want to see, in terms of player personnel, philosophy and everything else, I wanted to share what I felt would be an ideal offseason plan that I think the Seahawks might fully do. Not every weakness will turn into the team’s strength, but it may potentially make us a team with NO weakness at all. If this team is able to address certain specific needs on the defensive line and other positions, they can take the next step as a super bowl caliber team.
First round #25
Enter Jesse Williams. 6’4” 320 pounds senior from Alabama, he’s mostly been talked about as a future 1-tech DT or possible 3-4 DE, and at first glance, he appears to be that. A Rugby player from Australia in his youth, Williams displays incredible upper body strength and can hold the LOS against 2-man blocks as well as any D linemen 20 pounds heavier than him (He’s expecting himself to beat the bench press record at the combine, for whatever that’s worth). But, after watching some tape on him, you start seeing he’s not just a brick in the middle. He has incredible straight-line mobility for a player his size and has a quick burst when given just a little space to maneuver. He has the tools to be what, I feel, might make him the best available 3-tech this team wants at the position if their defensive philosophy stays the same.
Take last year, for example. Alan Branch, a big body run-stuffing DT with decent mobility for his size. Nothing spectacular, be he was a key part to a mostly, high productive base defensive line. Williams is a player who you put into the lineup and know he’ll pick up right where Branch left off, all the while steadily improve throughout the year. And, you know what, drafting a DT who can at least provide what Branch does is not a bad pick.
The bonus with drafting Williams is a few things: He’ll be on a first-round contract as opposed to the 5-6 million a year Branch will look to get. He already plays the run as well, if not better than Branch (which out of this entire DT class includes only a 2 or 3 who can as a rookie), and I expect Williams to improve even better over time. He is also a slightly better pass rusher than Branch. Now, I know, “only slightly better”? Yes, his pass-rush is not one of his main strengths and there are a few DTs in the draft that are better pass rushers, but even when sack numbers don’t show up in the stat sheet, he has a positive effect throughout games by collapsing the pocket and and getting into the quarterbacks throwing lanes. Now if the Seahawks like the 3-big body defensive line under-front and want to stay with that system, it means as a fan, we have to widen our perspective on what kind of players may fit that role, even if it means sacrificing parts of a players game we want to see.
Williams would start as a 2-down player with the upside of playing periodically in games as a 5-tech or the 0-tech in 3-man, pass-rushing fronts. Base defense is his strength, though. He does a great job of winning almost all of his 1-on-1 battles in the run game, and even beats 2-man blocks to get to the QB or play down field, which not many players are capable of or even want to spend the energy on doing. In the passing game, Williams is not a guy who squeezes through the O line to get a sack. He is more of a pocket collapser. His main move is a bull-rush, but he’s shown he can almost entirely use that and still get pressure. If he can add one or possibly two secondary moves that plays off his bull-rush, he could develop into a player with yearly 4 to 7 sack a season guy.
Could they draft another defensive tackle if that player is on the board still, like Short, Sylvester Williams, Floyd, or Hankins. Absolutely, but I would prefer Jessie Williams over all of them. Williams is a pick which may feel like a consolation prize on draft day, but ends up being the best prize of them all.
For a good display of Williams against Tennessee game, watch plays @ 0:16, 1:18, 1:45, 3:20, 3:30, 4:00
His game against Tennessee, a highly passing team, was impressive. I’ve watched the game a few times, now and you start to notice that, throughout out the game, he almost never not loses a battle against the O line, and that he’s incredibly smart, sniffing out screens and motion plays while their happening and knowing when to stick his hand into the throwing lane, causing 1 INT and another that should have been intercepted.
Whether he’s going 1-on-1 in the run game, getting combo blocked, he’s making a positive play in his specific responsibility. Not once do I notice obvious negative play and only a few plays I would even call average. The rest, he dominated, and he did it in a number of ways through both the run game and passing game.
Link of gametape vs Texas A&M and LSU 2012
FREE AGENCY and OFFSEASON MOVES:
Trade/Cut Flynn: You save 5.25 million in cap space money.
Acquire a defensive end LEO: The Seahawks are smart finding soft spots in free agency and addressing needs. They should look for a LEO free agent at that 2 yr/8 million range who can start at the LEO spot, or at least provide an excellent pass-rush in nickel defense if they feel Irvin can handle the position. It would be an Alan Branch-type short-term move and provide depth in a long season with hopefully Clemons coming back before mid-season.
They may also look to trade for an underrated LEO candidate, possibly a player riding the bench (similar to Clemons trade). If it took a 5th rd pick to find a good, young player, you have to look at that equivalent to a draft pick.
Sign a capable FA receiver: I’m not that knowledgeable of other team’s free agents, so I won’t try suggesting a name, but someone who doesn’t demand anywhere near the top of the list of receivers. Maybe a 2-5 million a year, 2-3 yr contract.
Sign/Draft a #2 QB: Again, no names from me, but there should be a number of available backups that fit what the Seahawks want to do at the cost of 1-3m. If the price is too high in free agency, or if they want more depth, they may find one or two rookies who can compete for the backup role, but I imagine they look for a veteran.
Sign/Trade a 7th rd for Tim Tebow: Quit laughing lol, I’m actually serious. Are you done laughing, yet? Tebow as a purely 3rd string QB could be a perfect mix of leadership and play-making ability that Pete could find use of. Also, it’s not like the 3rd string which went unfilled last year is that important on this team. Tell him he can compete for the backup role, but he needs to drastically improve his passing game. Most likely, he never starts a game for us.
Round 2: Sio Moore, LB, UConn. Sr 6’ 1, 240
The best linebackers in this draft are already starting to make a push into the late first, early second round with other second-tier linebackers pushing up into the late second. Moore leads that next tier of OLBers who fit well in Pete Carroll’s 4-3. He’s great length and good speed, with the ability to do it all: Cover, rush the passer, maintain the edge at the LOS, blitz, weave his way through traffic to make a play. Though maybe considered a reach, outside of Greene and Brown, Moore might be the next best linebacker on the board for Carroll & Co.
Round 3: Bennie Logan, DT, LSU Jr. 6’4, 295
I chose a bigger defensive tackle instead of a Jason Jones-type dt because he offers the best long-term upside as a starting DT and is also very versatile. He moves very well for a guy his size (with talk of a 4.8 40 at the combine). He would a great development-type pick in the 3rd round, at the same time allowing him to play in situations, Day 1, replacing and improving on Clint McDonalds role in pass-rushing situations, with the ability to come into the game as a 5-tech DE or 3-tech DT in the base-defense. This move would be the final move in overhauling the defensive line in attempt of turning it from a weakness into a strength.
Round 4: Aaron Mellette, WR, Alon Sr. 6’ 3, 216
A big-body receiver with surprising speed. He’s a small-school kid who will need to develop, but signing a receiver in free-agency takes the pressure off him needing to develop too fast. He has the size to take over either the X or Z position, but would essentially take over the Obomanu role with the same ability to play special teams.
Round 5: Tyrann Mathieu, DB, LSU,
Didn’t play in 2012, but with only a 5th round pick, he’s worth the risk. Outside character concerns, he seems like Pete Carroll type who could overcome the odds to be a successful player. He’d compete at either the slot corner position, or play the role that they didn’t find in the draft with their 2011 Mark Legree 5th round pick.
Round 6: Zach Sudfeld, TE, Nevada Sr. 6’6 260
A guy who appears to be a solid Senior TE from the reports I’ve read and had good stats this year. I even saw a body-type player comparison to Tony Gonzalez from an opposing coach. I could throw out 4 other tight end names. Basically at this spot in the draft, a TE who can compete with McCoy as the #2 and at worse be an improved #3. I wish I could have drafted a better tight end, but you can't fix everything in one off-season.
Round 7: Tino Sunseri, QB, Pittsburgh Sr. 6’ 215 lbs
A pocket passer with some mobility and knows how to protect the ball: 3288 yards passing, 21 TDs/3 INTs
If you've made it this far, then thanks for sticking with me. If you got questions on any of the players above or any comments, short or long, please share.
Edit: Oops, misspelled his first name. Doh!