3 draft needs for the Seattle Seahawks
The Seattle Seahawks brought in a couple well-known players, RB Eddie Lacy and OL Luke Joeckel, in free agency, both of which are coming off season-ending injuries that forced them to miss most of the 2016 season. They also parted ways with a few of their underperforming players that saw significant snaps last year. The Seahawks still have what should be considered at the very least question marks at a few positions, and with free agency more-or-less over they can now turn to this month’s draft to address those needs.
Need: Offensive tackle
Seattle as somewhat addressed their deficiency at tackle by bringing in former first-round draft pick Luke Joeckel from Jacksonville. While he has improved a little each season and should be an upgrade over last year’s assortment of players, he hasn’t proved he is more than an average tackle at best and still may fit better at guard and end up there instead. If Joeckel does lock down the left tackle position, neither Garry Gilliam nor George Fant have shown anything to instill confidence in continuing using either player as Seattle’s starting tackle on the other side.
Early-round target: Garett Bolles, OT, Utah
This year’s tackle class is lacking in both quality at the top and depth, and it’s pretty much a guarantee that the clear No. 1 tackle Ryan Ramczyk will be off the board long before Seattle is on the clock. That said, the Seahawks could still find an upgrade early on in Utah’s Bolles. Bolles is a physical blocker who excels as a run-blocker and at finishing blocks. His quickness and ability to block on the move make him a good fit for Seattle’s zone-heavy run scheme. Even if he needs some time to develop as a pass protector, he could immediately step in and make more of an impact in the run game than either Gilliam or Fant.
Mid- or late-round target: Justin Senior, OT, Mississippi State
Senior may be too similar to Seattle’s current tackles — very athletic but needs some coaching to improve his technique in order to reach his high ceiling. Senior was consistent week-to-week while earning good but not great grades throughout his college career. He is best at zone-run blocking, but also did not have a lot asked of him in Mississippi State’s spread offense. His struggles in pass protection at the Senior Bowl in a more pro-style offense show that he has considerable work to do to become a viable starter. If he can be had in Day 3 of the draft though, his potential is worth giving him an opportunity to work with an NFL offensive line coach to see if he can become an impact player.
A few years ago, cornerback was one of Seattle’s greatest strengths, but with departures over the years, Richard Sherman’s reportedly uncertain future, and DeShawn Shead coming off a postseason ACL injury, the Seahawks could use both an outside corner for 2017 and some depth at the position overall. There are plenty of cornerbacks currently on their 90-man roster, but none that they can clearly rely on to make a significant positive impact next season.
Early-round target: Kevin King, CB, Washington
The Seahawks have made it clear over the past several years that they prefer tall, physical cornerbacks who also possess high athletic traits. No one in the draft class better fits the Sherman physical profile more than Washington’s King. He is a good fit in zone coverage and has the ability to play press coverage. King allowed just one touchdown in his last 28 college games. He is not as consistent as Sherman, can struggle at times when playing further off, and misses more tackles than ideal, but has a high ceiling and clearly hasn’t reached his full potential yet.
Mid- or late-round target: Rasul Douglas, CB, West Virginia
At 6-foot-2, Douglas also fits the Seahawks’ cornerback mold, although he may not have as good of athleticism as some other cornerbacks. Douglas has quite the ball skills and led the draft class with eight interceptions last year. He also is one of the better run defenders among the cornerback class. However, West Virginia’s scheme did not ask Douglas to press very often, and when he was asked to do it in season and at the Senior Bowl, he missed the jam or was beaten off the line by quickness too often. He may have to adjust to learning where the fine-line is in the NFL on too much contact as he can sometimes be too physical while covering downfield. For those reasons, Douglas may be a bit more of a project than someone like King, but could still develop into a solid player with more experience.
Need: Defensive tackle
Defensive tackle may not be as big of a need as it may seem due Seattle moving Michael Bennett inside in sub-packages, but the team could surely use more depth at the position. Last year’s second-round pick Jarran Reed didn’t perform as well as hoped as a rookie, although it’s too early to make a definitive judgement. Ahtyba Rubin, however, has put forth below-average performances for three consecutive seasons now, and will be age 31 by the start of the season, so his best play may already be behind him.
Early-round target: Jaleel Johnson, DT, Iowa
Snagging Johnson on Day 2 of the draft would be good value while also not investing too much in the position after picking Reed last year, who would play a different technique in Seattle’s defensive front. With Reed playing 1-technique and being more of a two-down run defender, Johnson is ideally suited for 3-technique in base defense, although he’s versatile enough to play any interior technique if needed. Johnson is not as heralded as some of the top interior defenders, but he was a highly productive pass-rusher that disrupted the quarterback often in college. He shows the strength to collapse a pocket, and the quickness to beat interior offensive linemen off the snap. Johnson could also stay in on sub-packages in place of Reed. The added benefit of rarely seeing double teams with Bennett, Cliff Avril, and Frank Clark also on the field at the same time could allow Johnson to make the most of 1-on-1 opportunities as a pass rusher.
Mid- or late-round target: Ryan Glasgow, DT, Michigan
Glasgow may only be available another round or two past Johnson, but he would bring a similar versatility. He’s more suited for 1-tech although he is capable of playing either tackle spot. He plays well against the run and as a pass-rusher, and could take Reed’s position on likelier passing downs. Glasgow is not as consistent as Johnson when rushing the quarterback and doesn’t use his strength to collapse the pocket as often, but would still be a pass-rushing presence from the inside. Glasgow could easily fit into a defensive line rotation even if he doesn’t become an eventual starter.