As we sit three weeks ahead of the draft, John Schneider has filled most of Seattle’s roster holes in free agency, retaining half a dozen top role players and filling vacancies (at least for 2018) at tight end, receiver, guard, linebacker and defensive tackle.
Seattle’s only immediate needs are a starting corner, a backup QB, another running back and some more linebackers. Assuming Schneider adds the corner and QB before the draft, he will be looking more toward the future of the roster, which means finding a couple of pass rushers, a linebacker or two, a running back, another corner and maybe a guard or tight end. He’s not going to find contributors at all of those spots; but, if he does his job, he should find three or four new core guys.
The draft is considered strong and deep with running backs, so Schneider doesn’t necessarily have to grab one early; he could easily add one on Day 3 to compete against incumbents Chris Carson and Mike Davis.
The draft also is considered pretty deep at corner and receiver. So those spots could be addressed at any point.
The positions that appear best only near the top are guard, tight end, linebacker and defensive tackle. The outside rushers all have flaws; but, if Schneider wants to add one as insurance against losing Frank Clark or Dion Jordan next offseason, he should target one in the first two days.
Of course, the Seahawks don’t have any picks on Day 2 at the moment, so we all know Schneider will be trading down. It’s a strong class of quarterbacks, so the Hawks might be able to use that to their advantage in seeking to move. They have done that a couple of times in recent years, letting Minnesota come up for Teddy Bridgewater and Denver come up for Paxton Lynch.
Schneider always talks about the shelves where talent falls off. It sounds like the first one in this draft is around picks 15-20, which could bode well for Schneider’s planned move down from 18. Teams likely will be trying to move up to get true first-rounders.
Here’s a look at some mocks that project the Seahawks trading down:
Mock 1: Carolina moves up to get Alabama receiver Calvin Ridley. Seattle drops to 24 — a six-spot drop that should be worth a third-round pick. USA Today gives Seattle cornerback Josh Jackson, who has been a popular mock pick to the Seahawks. Of course, anyone projecting them to take a corner in the first round is wrong — Pete Carroll doesn’t do corners in the first round. And Jackson doesn’t match Carroll’s specs either.
The Seahawks likely would move down again. But, if they stayed at 24, they would be more apt to choose among pass rusher Marcus Davenport, D-tackles Da’Ron Payne and Maurice Hurst and linebacker Rashaan Evans.
Mock 2: Pittsburgh moves up from 28 to get Evans. That 10-spot move would cost a second-round pick. This mock draft also makes the mistake of slotting Jackson to Seattle. The Hawks would be more likely to go with a safety (Justin Reid or Jessie Bates) or a lineman if they stayed at 28, in this mock. But, again, they probably would move down once more and take the top defender.
Mock 3: Cleveland moves up from 33 to get UCLA tackle Kolton Miller. This move could net Seattle another second and maybe a third, which would be a dream scenario for Schneider. Rob Staton gives Seattle a running back, USC’s Ronald Jones, but the best defender seems more likely — perhaps linebacker Lorenzo Carter.
Mock 4: Tennessee moves up from 25 for Boise State linebacker Leighton Vander Esch. That would net a third-rounder. This mock slots Florida defensive lineman Taven Bryan to Seattle at 25. Payne, Evans, Carter or a safety could be options too — if the Hawks didn’t move down again.
These trades are all speculative, of course, but Schneider has dealt his original first-round pick in every draft since 2012 — picking in the first round only twice in those six drafts. Adding to the likelihood of another move down is the fact that there have been 25 trades already this year. Teams are more willing than ever to make deals, and Schneider will find a team willing to pay to move up.