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Mock drafts project plenty of options for Seahawks
Much of the NFL world is in College Station on Thursday for Johnny Manziel’s Pro Day at Texas A&M, trying figure out where the Aggies’ quarterback should be selected in the first round of the NFL Draft on May 8 – or if the former Heisman Trophy winner should even be a first-round pick.
That’s why we figured it was a good time to check in with a half dozen of the updated mock drafts available at this time of year to see who the pundits project the Seahawks taking with the last pick in the first round. In the six mocks, they have the Seahawks selecting five players and the rationale for each seems to make sense for the Super Bowl champs.
So, here goes:
Florida State wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin
Where NFL.com and NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock ranks him: tied for fifth among the wide receivers.
What NFL.com says: “A monster-sized, intimidating, big-play receiver, Benjamin has the overall strength, length and wide catching radius that will demand extra coverage be rolled his way. Showed continual improvement, is still growing into the position and possesses the traits to become a legitimate No. 1 receiver. A very intriguing weapon with ascending talent.”
What Brooks says: “The loss of Sidney Rice and Golden Tate leaves a void in the Seahawks' receiving corps. Benjamin is a big, athletic pass catcher with the potential to wreak havoc in the red zone.”
What Rang says: “Though free agency has tapped some of their depth, the Seahawks still boast the league's most talented roster which will once again put coach Pete Carroll and general manager John Schneider in the enviable position of selecting the best player available. The Seahawks look for unique traits and could see the 6-5, 240-pound Benjamin's height, gliding speed and strong hands as an ideal replacement for the injury-prone Sidney Rice.”
Our take: Carroll likes to play big at the split end position. That’s how 6-5 Mike Williams went from being given a minicamp tryout to leading the team with 65 receptions for 751 yards in 2010, Carroll’s first season with the Seahawks. After Williams caught just 18 catches in 2011, the team moved on. Tate moved in, even though he is 5-10, because Carroll felt his athletic skills allowed him to play bigger. Tate caught 45 passes in 2012 and led the team with 64 receptions last season. But he then signed with the Detroit Lions in free agency. At 6-5, 240, Benjamin has the size Carroll likes and he also caught 15 touchdown passes last season, when he averaged 18.7 yards on his 54 receptions. But that also was his first year as a starter for the Seminoles after he redshirted in 2011 and caught 30 passes as a situational receiver in 2012.
Oregon State wide receiver Brandin Cooks
He’s the choice of Chris Burke at SI.com.
Where Mayock ranks him: No. 4 among the wide receivers.
What NFL.com says: “Short (5-10), speedy, nifty-footed receiver who was unaffected by the departure of Steelers 2013 third-rounder Markus Wheaton, establishing himself as a playmaker in his own right by leading the nation with 133 yards per contest as a junior. Projects as a useful slot receiver with run-after-the-catch ability and some utility as an outside receiver.”
What Burke says: “If Percy Harvin can stay on the field, he and Cooks would be almost impossible to handle from a speed perspective. And if Harvin cannot maintain his health … Cooks has the quickness and elusiveness to take over his role in the offense.”
Our take: While Benjamin has the size, Cooks has the speed – as in 4.33 seconds in the 40-yard dash at the NFL Scouting Combine last month. And that’s something Carroll also is partial to in his players. As is production. Cooks caught 128 passes for 1,730 yards and 16 TDs last season and had 67 receptions for 1,151 yards in 2012. The Seahawks already have slot options in Harvin as well as Doug Baldwin, who led the team with 51 receptions as a rookie free agent in 2011 and had 50 receptions last season. But can you ever have enough speed at the wide receiver position?
Alabama tackle Cyrus Kouandjio
He’s the choice of Pat Kirwan at CBSSports.com.
Where Mayock ranks him: Was No. 5 among the tackles prior to the Combine, but dropped out in his latest rankings.
What NFL.com says: “Massive, long-limbed, inconsistent, overhyped college left tackle whose sheer dimensions, raw tools and high ceiling are far more appealing than his snap-to-snap performance at this stage of his development. Has enough length and anchor strength to survive on the left side, though he will never be a dancing bear and he projects more ideally as a bulldozing right tackle in a power scheme.”
What Kirwan says: “The Seahawks lost their right tackle in free agency, and even though they have signed a few veteran guards, a big tackle is needed. Coach Tom Cable will develop this underclassman into a solid player who might someday move to the left side where he played in college.”
Our take: The Seahawks don’t need that dancing bear on the left side, because 2010 first-round pick Russell Okung has developed into a Pro Bowl-caliber tackle – when healthy. And the right side is open because of Breno Giacomini’s free-agency departure to the New York Jets. But the Seahawks also feel that they found a couple of potential replacements last year in seventh-round draft choice Michael Bowie, who started seven games while Giacomini was out with a knee injury; and rookie free agent Alvin Bailey, who found his niche late in the season as the third tight end in short-yardage situations. But depth on the line is always vital, especially when Cable has had seven starters miss a combined 66 games because of injuries the past three seasons.
UCLA guard Xavier Su’a-Filo
He’s the choice of Dane Brugler at CBSSports.com.
Where Mayock ranks him: No. 2 among the guards.
What NFL.com says: “Does not look the part and was miscast when forced to play left tackle for the Bruins, but Su’a-Filo is more effective than he is pretty. Projects best at left guard, where he has starter-caliber ability in a power scheme, though he is athletic enough to appeal to zone teams, too.”
What Brugler says: “Offensive guard has been an inconsistent position on the Seattle roster. Su'a-Filo has experience at tackle and guard, but projects best inside and will be the top guard in this class for several teams.”
Our take: Miscast at left tackle? Better suited to play left guard? Athletic enough to appeal to zone teams? All of that could play into the Seahawks’ thinking. As we said, they’ve got their left tackle in Okung. But left guard? The Seahawks have used 15 players at that position since All-Pro Steve Hutchinson jumped to the Minnesota Vikings in free agency after the 2005 season, and the only one to have a 16-start season was Rob Sims in 2007. There is a definite need for a long-term solution at the position.
Notre Dame defensive tackle Stephon Tuitt
He’s the choice of Pete Prisco at CBSSports.com.
Where Mayock ranks him: No. 5 among the defensive tackles.
What NFL.com says: “Hulking, long-armed, physically gifted defensive lineman with desirable size, strength, athleticism and versatility to appeal as a five-technique or as a defensive tackle or base end in a 4-3. Was not in peak condition for his junior season, but has disruptive upside.”
What Prisco says: “Until they add a veteran player up front, I will keep him here.”
Our take: Tuitt’s ability to play multiple spots plays into the way defensive coordinator Dan Quinn and line coach Travis Jones use their linemen. And his size (6-5, 304) is another plus. As is the fact that he had 12 sacks in 2012 and finished his career with 21.5. And five-technique end Red Bryant was released and has signed with the Jacksonville Jaguars. But the Seahawks have other options at Bryant’s old spot – recently re-signed Michael Bennett, who led the team with 8.5 sacks last season; Jesse Williams, a fifth-round draft choice last year who spent his rookie season on injured reserve; and Greg Scruggs, a seventh-round pick in 2012 who also was on IR last season. But this pick would be the most surprising, which probably means that’s the way the unpredictable duo of Schneider and Carroll will go.