ESPN Insider Mel Kiper Jr. held a post-NFL Scouting Combine conference call with reporters on Thursday, labeling the Seahawks' first-round pick (No. 31 overall) in this year's NFL Draft "very difficult to predict right now."
Given the fact 30 teams pick in front of Seattle and there's still more than two months until selection day, we'll cut the draft expert some slack. Kiper did pinpoint five positions he sees as areas of need for the Seahawks this season - wide receiver, cornerback, offensive line, defensive line, and tight end. Of those five, Kiper said wide receiver makes the most sense for the Seahawks to target in round one.
"There's going to be some interesting wide receivers there, especially with [Paul] Richardson now injured, that could be attractive," said Kiper.
He rattled off four players that should be available when Seattle is on the clock: Ohio State wide receiver Devin Smith, Central Florida wide receiver Breshad Perriman, Missouri/Oklahoma wide receiver Dorial Green-Beckham, and Miami wide receiver Phillip Dorsett.
Dorsett ran a 4.33-second 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine. It was the second-fastest time at his position to UAB's J.J. Nelson (4.28), third-fastest time overall, and speedy enough to earn him $100,000 from a prominent apparel brand. In his pre-combine mock draft, Kiper had the Seahawks going with Dorsett at No. 31.
"Another player who shined in Mobile at the Senior Bowl, Dorsett would offer Seattle something they simply don't have on the roster right now, which is a player who can consistently create space with quickness in the passing game," Kiper wrote in early February. "The Seahawks are simply far too reliant on Russell Wilson's ability to extend plays and allow wide receivers time to get open, and Dorsett is a Porsche in terms of acceleration and the ability to start fast and stop quickly. He also can beat you deep if you let him to run in a straight line. Remember that Paul Richardson will be coming off an ACL surgery recovery period as the 2015 season starts, so an already thin wide receiving corps isn't a given to be better without any additions."
Other draft analysts have tabbed the 6-foot-5, 237-pound Green-Beckham to Seattle, but fewer have mentioned Smith and Perriman as options for the Seahawks. Kiper wrote about both players in breaking down his wide receiver tiers for the 2015 draft.
On Smith, who made 33 catches for 931 yards and 12 touchdowns as part of the Buckeyes' national championship team, Kiper says, "He didn't measure as big as he plays, at 6-foot and under 200 pounds, but Smith is plenty fast (4.42) and has down-the-field credentials, where he flat dominated at the catch point last season. If you ran a reel for Smith's best catches, you'd assume he was 6-3."
On Perriman, who made 50 grabs for 1,044 yards and nine touchdowns last year at Central Florida, Kiper says, "We won't see Perriman run until his pro day, but at 6-2 and 212 pounds, on the tape you see a sure-handed receiver who morphs into a running back with the ball in his hands. He's been a favorite of mine who I feel is a first-round talent."
Outside of Dorsett, Green-Beckham, Smith, and Perriman, Kiper sees Arizona State's Jaelen Strong and Michigan's Devin Funchess as wideouts that could land with a team in the back-half of round one.