DRAFT COUNTDOWN: 4 weeks. Every Friday until the April 27-29 draft, we look at draft topics related to the Seahawks.
Thanks to two very good years of compensatory picks, the Seahawks are in the middle of some of the best draft positioning they have ever had.
It comes at the right time as John Schneider faces a key reload period over the next couple of years. With about a dozen core players due to become free agents in 2018-19, Schneider needs to fortify his roster.
As much as Schneider has been lauded for his Day 3 draft finds, Day 2 is where teams really are built. Schneider’s Seahawks are no different.
Most of their best players were found on Day 2. Of the team’s top 17 returning players, just two were first-rounders while eight were Day 2 picks (six by Seattle). That doesn’t include the three third-rounders from last year. And the Hawks are currently slated to add four more on Day 2 in this draft.
In Schneider’s first six drafts as GM, Seattle had a total of 10 Day 2 picks — he traded away a couple of thirds. Thanks to free-agent losses Byron Maxwell, Bruce Irvin and Russell Okung and a nice trade down in the first round in 2016, Seattle will have at least eight Day 2 picks over the 2016-17 drafts.
Day 2 is the best value day of the draft. Rounds 2 and 3 are where teams are made and where bargains can be found — e.g., last year, the Hawks moved up in the second round to get first-round talent Jarran Reed; in 2015, they moved up in the third round to snag Tyler Lockett; in 2012, they found Bobby Wagner and Russell Wilson in the second and third rounds.
Last year, thanks to a third-round comp pick and a trade down, they ended up with five of the top 97 picks, including four on Day 2. They picked Germain Ifedi on Day 1 and Reed, C.J. Prosise, Nick Vannett and Rees Odhiambo on Day 2 — trying to add talent to a depleted offensive line and backfield while fortifying the defensive line and planning ahead at tight end.
This year, they currently have five of the top 106 selections, including four on Day 2. If Schneider is able to pull the same move as last year, they could add another Day 2 pick. (It also is possible, though unlikely, that he uses a third-rounder to move up in the first or second round.)
The Seahawks have the same main need they have had throughout the Pete Carroll-Schneider era: offensive line. They also need to fortify a secondary that currently is without injured Earl Thomas and DeShawn Shead — and might need to replace them and Richard Sherman and Kam Chancellor in the next couple of years.
Other key players with expiring contracts in the next two years: Jimmy Graham, Justin Britt, Cliff Avril, K.J. Wright, Tyler Lockett, Ahtyba Rubin, Frank Clark and Luke Willson.
Schneider surely will extend a number of those players — Chancellor, Britt and perhaps Graham this year. Avril, Wright and Rubin will all be on the other side of 30 in 2018, so Schneider and Pete Carroll will weigh their play vs. their ages. But it wouldn’t hurt to draft a pass rusher, linebacker and maybe defensive tackle this year.
Fortunately, this is a great draft for defense. The cornerback class is so talented that a lot of people think the Hawks will end up using their first-round pick on a guy who could push to start right away.
Whatever Schneider does in the first round — a lineman, a linebacker or a corner — his moves on Day 2 will be even more significant.
Among the players posited recently as Day 2 options by Rob Staton of Seahawks Draft Blog:
Round 2 — LB T.J. Watt, LB Tyus Bowser, LB Jordan Willis, LB Zach Cunningham, CB Cordrea Tankersley, CB Ahkello Witherspoon, S Josh Jones, CB Quincy Wilson, OL Taylor Moton, WR Zay Jones, TE Evan Engram, TE Bucky Hodges.
Round 3 — LB Vince Biegel, LB Duke Riley, LB Anthony Walker Jr., LB Elijah Lee, LB Alex Anzalone, OG Isaac Asiata, OL Nico Siragusa, OL Adam Bisnowaty, TE George Kittle, TE Jonnu Smith, S Marcus Maye, DB Shaq Griffin, CB Rasul Douglas, S Shalom Luani, S Jadar Johnson, S Rayshawn Jenkins, S Delano Hill, WR Robert Davis, WR Jehu Chesson, WR Malachi Dupre, WR Josh Reynolds.
Among those players, the Seahawks already have shown specific interest in Asiata (Senior Bowl), Luani (Combine) and Tankersley (Combine). Safeties Budda Baker and Obi Melifonwu also have drawn close inspection, although they could go in the first round.
MORE COMPS IN 2019?
The Hawks won’t get any comp picks in 2018 — they didn’t lose any major players and they signed too many UFAs to have a net loss. But, Schneider set them up to get back in the comp game in 2019.
The Hawks did one-year deals with all of their new free agents, as well as with Willson and Shead. Schneider said the one-year deals work for all involved. If guys like Luke Joeckel, Eddie Lacy and Willson play well enough to create good markets for themselves in 2018, Schneider said, “Hopefully you can stay with us, or you’re going to be moving on somewhere else because we’re not going to be able to afford you.”
“And if that happens,” he said, “you have to look at the whole compensatory system.”
The Seahawks reportedly have done a lot of work on UConn’s Obi Melifonwu, from the Senior Bowl through the Combine. The 6-4 safety has been a big riser during draft season and could be selected before Seattle picks at 26.
Forrest Lamp, George Fant’s left tackle teammate at Western Kentucky, is the most athletic O-lineman in the draft and seems like a Day 1 starter somewhere along the line. The Seahawks “think highly of Lamp,” per Tony Pauline.
Pete Carroll and the Seahawks closely checked out Cam Robinson at Alabama’s Pro Day.
Houston CB/RB Brandon Wilson had a stellar Pro Day, hitting 41 inches in the vertical jump and 11-1 in the broad while running a 4.35 40. The Seahawks ran him through running back drills. He’s a Day 3 option whose position apparently is in the eye of the beholder.
Rob Staton, Seahawks Draft Blog (for Field Gulls): CB Adoree Jackson, USC.
Staton says: “Jackson has the potential to be one of the all-time great kick returners. He’d offer an immediate impact on special teams and take some of the pressure off Tyler Lockett to do too much when he returns from a broken leg. He’s a potential Day 1 starter in the slot, where he’d play approximately 70-80% of the snaps. He’d offer a timely boost in terms of turnovers, having produced five interceptions for USC in 2016 while defending 16 passes.”
We say: Two issues with this pick. Jackson does not fit the physical profile (he’s 5-10 with arms under 32 inches), and the Hawks never draft corners in the first round. That said, they certainly could blow up their precedents for a guy they think would be a major difference maker from Day 1.
NFL.com (three experts): CB Kevin King, Washington.
Lance Zierlein says: “I feel like this pick is a wild card in the draft because John Schneider is fairly wide open and hard to predict. King matches up with the need and the physical profile the Seahawks look for.”
We say: Unlike Jackson, King (6-3 with 32-inch arms) fits the length specs the Hawks love, and he also has awesome athleticism. If they are going to break tradition and pick a corner in the first round, King would seem to be a great choice.
Tony Pauline, DraftAnalyst.com: CB Gareon Conley, Ohio State.
Pauline says: “Adoree’ Jackson is a consideration here as would any highly rated offensive lineman who slips to 26. Conley is big and athletic, plays smart football and perfectly fits the Seahawks mold.”
We say: Conley (6 feet, 33-inch arms) is a press corner who looks like he would fit Seattle’s scheme — assuming they are interested in drafting a corner in the first round.
Charley Casserly, NFL.com: DE Haason Reddick, Temple.
Casserly says: “I think the Seahawks will take a pass rusher over an offensive lineman and cornerback in the first round. They have had success getting those positions later in the draft.”
We say: Casserly is right about the corners, not so much about the linemen. But, if Reddick lasts to 26, the Seahawks might be very happy doing a redux of Bruce Irvin.
Rob Rang, CBSSports.com: OT Cam Robinson, Alabama.
Rang says: “It is no secret that the Seahawks’ top priority over the offseason would be addressing a leaky offensive line. Robinson, the reigning Outland Award winner as the nation’s top blocker, possesses the size and strength Seattle prioritizes with a skill-set which projects well to guard or tackle, wherever offensive line coach Tom Cable needs him most.”
We say: Robinson looks like James Carpenter 2.0, a guy who would have to play right tackle or guard. The Hawks already have plenty of options at those spots. If they are going to go O-line in the first round, it seems like they might go with Garett Bolles or Forrest Lamp instead.
Dane Brugler, CBSSports.com: OT Garett Bolles, Utah.
Brugler says: “A polarizing prospect in league circles, Bolles has a checkered past and is an older prospect who still needs plenty of strength and technique work. However, he is a fantastic athlete with the mean streak that will endear him to NFL coaches.”
We say: Bolles checks a lot of Tom Cable’s boxes and could compete at either tackle spot — possibly waiting a year to replace Joeckel at left tackle.
For complete coverage, see our draft page.