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Early Mock Drafts: Who Will The Seattle Seahawks Select at No. 26?

The Seahawks own the No. 26 overall pick in the 2016 NFL Draft. Which player will they take?

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The 2016 NFL Draft is still more than three months away, but experts who cover the League's annual event have already started thinking about where prospects will land when the first round of the selection process gets underway on April 28. 

With the club's season-ending divisional round playoff loss to the Carolina Panthers this past Sunday, the Seahawks now know they own the No. 26 overall pick in this year's draft. It's the highest draft pick Seattle has held since prior to the 2013 season, when the team traded the No. 25 overall pick to the Minnesota Vikings as part of the deal for wide receiver Percy Harvin.

The last time the Seahawks made a pick in the first round dates back to 2012, when Seattle went after defensive end Bruce Irvin with the No. 15 overall pick after trading down from No. 12 overall with the Philadelphia Eagles. As mentioned above, the Seahawks' 2013 first-round pick went to Minnesota, and their 2014 and 2015 first-round picks were parted with as well. Seattle traded the No. 32 overall pick to the Vikings for more picks later in the 2014 draft and sent the No. 31 overall selection in 2015 to the New Orleans Saints as part of the deal to acquire Pro Bowl tight end Jimmy Graham.

So even though Executive VP/General Manager John Schneider and head coach Pete Carroll haven't made a pick in the first round over the past three years, here's a look at which players media pundits think could help the Seahawks if chosen in 2016's opening round: 

NFL.com's Bucky Brooks: NT Andrew Billings, Baylor

Analysis: "Pete Carroll continues to guide the Seahawks deep into the postseason behind a dominant defense that features a number of stalwarts along the front line. Billings is an active defender with Brandon Mebane-like skills as an interior playmaker."

NFL.com's Daniel Jeremiah: DT Vernon Butler, Louisiana Tech

Analysis: "Butler is gaining a lot of steam in personnel circles and he'd look great in this scheme."

ESPN.com's Mel Kiper Jr. (Insider): CB Eli Apple, Ohio St.

Analysis: "The next two guys to come off the board (Penn St. DT Austin Johnson, UCLA DT Kenny Clark) would also be worth considering, because age is now a concern on the interior of that defensive line, but a long, physical cornerback who is a fearless tackler is a great fit for Pete Carroll. Yes, the secondary is a strength in Seattle, but it's impossible to have too many corners who can play, and one injury changes the depth equation in a heartbeat."

ESPN.com's Todd McShay (Insider): DT Maliek Collins, Nebraska

Analysis: "Collins is still developing as a player, but he's a hard worker with great feet/hand quickness for his size (6-2, 300 pounds). While his production is down from a year ago (6.5 tackles for loss, 2.5 sacks), the whole team struggled under a new coaching staff. His explosive first step still showed up on tape. Collins would really thrive in Seattle."

WalterFootball.com: OLB Darron Lee, Ohio St. 

Analysis: "The Seahawks might be losing Bruce Irvin this offseason. Irvin is going to hit free agency in March, and he discussed going to Atlanta in the past. If he leaves, Seattle will need a new linebacker to go along with Bobby Wagner and K.J. Wright."

CBSSports.com's Rob Rang: OT Taylor Decker, Ohio St. 

Analysis: "Seattle's offensive line was a weak spot all season and with pending free agent left tackle Russell Okung likely to draw significant attention on the open market, the cap-challenged Seahawks may be forced to look to the draft for reinforcements. The 6-7, 315-pound Decker has the size and physicality offensive line coach Tom Cable prefers at tackle and is athletic enough to block in space."

CBSSports.com's Dane Brugler: OT Jack Conklin, Michigan St.

Analysis: "Seattle has several question marks on the offensive line, including the future of Russell Okung, who is in a contract year. Conklin isn't the most athletic player, but he plays with patience and power to win the point of attack and control speed rushers."

Team photographer Rod Mar shot what turned out to be his final photo essay of the 2015 season, as the Seahawks traveled to North Carolina and fell to the Panthers in the NFC Divisional round of the NFL Playoffs.

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