This draft apparently is so deep on the defensive line that not even the Seahawks could screw it up.
You might think that to be a harsh and unwarranted comment coming against a two-time Super Bowl club, but the simple fact is the Seahawks have been terrible at drafting and developing defensive linemen.
John Schneider & Co. have selected 11 in six drafts, and they are still looking for their first sustained success story: Frank Clark (2015), Jordan Hill (2013) and Cassius Marsh (2014) are the last men standing.
The Seahawks have had great defensive lines because they have relied almost exclusively on veterans — Michael Bennett, Cliff Avril, Chris Clemons, Alan Branch, Jason Jones, Tony McDaniel and Ahtyba Rubin — to step in alongside longtime Seahawk Brandon Mebane.
Mebane and Rubin — the heart of the NFL’s No. 1 run defense in 2015 — are pending free agents, which explains why most mock drafts have the Hawks taking a defensive tackle at No. 26. But their history says they won’t do that.
In fact, the glut of rookie defensive linemen should make it even easier to keep Mebane and Rubin at reasonable rates — the vets know how many cheap, quality D-tackles are about to enter the league.
The Hawks have not used more than a second-round pick on a D-lineman (Clark) — which partly explains their draft failure at that position — and they seem unlikely to do so this year. It’s just an easy match to make right now because the strength of the draft appears to match up with one of the Seahawks’ perceived weaknesses. But, by the time the draft comes around at the end of April, the Seahawks will have re-signed Mebane and/or Rubin and/or another vet, and D-line will no longer look like such a need.
So, while the Hawks obviously will scout this great class of D-linemen this week in Indianapolis, don’t expect them to use a first-round pick on the likes of Sheldon Rankins, Robert Nkemdiche, Andrew Billings or A’Shawn Robinson.
Don’t expect them to take an offensive lineman in the first round, either. Yeah, O-line is their top need (as it always seems to be) and will remain so no matter what they do in free agency. But tackles are always overdrafted, and Seattle probably won’t have a shot at any of the top six or so in the first round.
So, whether they draft at 26 or move down into the second round, the Hawks probably will be left looking at their favorite draft option with their first pick: speed.
The Hawks love speed in the first two rounds. Of Schneider’s 10 picks in those rounds, six ran the 40-yard dash in 4.5 seconds or less. Even Clark ran it in 4.64. (The three other picks were offensive tackles.)
The Seahawks will see plenty of speed this week in Indianapolis, especially from linebackers and pass rushers such as Darron Lee, Kyler Fackrell, Deion Jones and Leonard Floyd.
With Bruce Irvin heading out, the Seahawks could use one of those guys. And they are more likely to use their top pick on guys like that than on linemen.