Draft countdown: Skill players over pass rusher?

NFL draftThe NFL didn’t postpone free agency, so it makes sense that the league is not going to put off the draft either. It’s still on for April 23-25, three weeks from now.

Well, for John Schneider’s Seahawks, it probably will be April 24-25 – the usual two-day affair after a move out of the first round.

Just about every non-trade mock draft has the Seahawks taking a pass rusher with the 27th overall pick. Two problems with that: Seattle won’t stay at 27, and pass rusher probably won’t be Seattle’s first pick.

The Seahawks have signed free agents Bruce Irvin and Benson Mayowa and are expected to ink one more – whether it’s Jadeveon Clowney, Everson Griffen or Yannick Ngakoue. Veterans are the way to go at edge rusher.

That’s why mocks such as Doug Farrar’s make sense: He has Seattle trading No. 27 to Jacksonville for Ngakoue.

More likely, though, Seattle will keep Clowney or sign Griffen and then trade down in the first round, as Schneider does every year (he has traded his first pick for eight straight years, including the deals for Percy Harvin and Jimmy Graham).

And then Schneider likely will start off looking for tackles (defensive and offensive), with a possible pass rusher, center, receiver or running back (yeah, we said running back) picked fairly high as well. Seattle has four picks scheduled in the first two days and could add a fifth, depending on how far Schneider drops from 27.

The consensus among mock drafts is that the pass-rush-needy Hawks will take Penn State’s Yetur Gross-Matos, but that is the “need” projection of the moment. Yes, the Hawks reportedly have checked him out, but – like most of the edge rushers in this draft — Gross-Matos appears to be a work in progress.

The consensus big board at NFL Mock Draft Database lists him as the No. 25 player, so the Hawks likely won’t have a shot at him once they trade down. And that’s OK.

Instead, don’t be surprised if the Seahawks end up taking a skill player with their first pick. The top two they have been linked to are TCU receiver Jalen Reagor and Wisconsin running back Jonathan Taylor. Both are considered borderline first-round picks, so both might be gone if the Hawks drop into the second round.

If the Seahawks move down to around 35 (with Detroit) or 37 (with the Chargers), their best bets seem likely to be tackles and centers.

At D-tackle, they reportedly have shown interest in TCU’s Ross Blacklock (college teammate of L.J. Collier), and Oklahoma’s Neville Gallimore, Alabama’s Raekwon Davis and Texas A&M’s Justin Madubuike all could be good options. One of those four might last to Seattle’s next pick, No. 59, so the Hawks could go offensive line at the top of the second round if USC left tackle Austin Jackson, Houston LT Josh Jones or Michigan center Cesar Ruiz is there.

Later in the second round, massive Georgia tackle Isaiah Wilson (6-6, 350) and Temple center Matt Hennessy could fit Seattle. If not Wilson, Louisiana’s Robert Hunt (6-5, 323) might be worth a third-rounder.

If the Hawks are set on getting an edge rusher early, they reportedly have shown some interest in Wisconsin’s Zack Baun and Notre Dame’s Julian Okwara. They also could look to get Utah’s Bradlee Anae in the third round.

The Seahawks surely are going to draft a running back, and they probably will do it on Day 2. Taylor is their top guy, but they also have expressed interest in Boston College’s A.J. Dillon and Utah’s Zack Moss. And Cam Akers of Florida State looks like the kind of back Seattle would love.

The Hawks are considering cornerbacks on Day 2 as well, with Virginia’s Bryce Hall and Oklahoma State’s A.J. Green reportedly on their watch list.

Mock drafts

Let’s look at the Day 1-2 picks of several mocks that have the Hawks trading out of 27:

Rob Staton, Seahawks Draft Blog: 44, Okwara (trade with Indy); 59, Davis; 64, Hunt; 75, Akers; 101, Texas WR Devin Duvernay. Hall in the fourth round.
Staton says: “With the need to focus on the D-line early the first two picks at least provide upside and a possible first year contribution. … Hunt (6-5, 323) feels like he could be one of ‘their guys.’ … The Seahawks need someone who can be a three-down complement to (Chris) Carson and that’s what Akers is. … The Seahawks love speed and grit at (WR) and (Duvernay) has it (4.39).”
We say: Okwara would be a pure need pick. Davis, Hunt, Akers and Hall all would be nice choices.

Corbin Smith, Seahawk Maven on SI.com: 30, Reagor (trade with Green Bay); 59, Georgia OT Isaiah Wilson; 64, Florida DE Jonathan Greenard; 101, Baylor DT James Lynch. Moss and Hunt in the fourth.
Smith says: “(Reagor) boasts the type of versatility the Seahawks covet at the position. … (Wilson) may have as much potential as any tackle in this year’s loaded draft class. … (Greenard) has the desired build and length to play LEO defensive end in Pete Carroll’s scheme. … While his pass rushing production may not translate to the league, (Lynch is) a plus run defender who could play extensive snaps right away.”
We say: A solid first four rounds, though we’d prefer one of the top D-tackles to Greenard at 64.

AJ Shulte, Pro Football Network: 30, Gross-Matos (trade with Green Bay); 59, Jackson; 64, Wilson; 101, Akers.
Shulte says: “Gross-Matos is still figuring out the position, but he’s an explosive freak with a huge upside. … Duane Brown at left tackle is creeping up in age. I’d rather have his replacement already on roster in Austin Jackson. Isaiah Wilson at the end of round two replaces Germain Ifedi and adds a powerful blocker to that offensive line.”
We say: This is a solid first four, although Schneider probably would trade down again from 30.

Find everything you need for the Seahawks’ draft — the picks, the trades, the players of interest, other buzz, notes, tools and history — on our draft page.


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