When it comes to the Seattle Seahawks, guessing what they might do in the draft is usually an exercise in futility. Under general manager John Schneider and head coach Pete Carroll, the Seahawks have not only been very successful over the course of six drafts, landing numerous future All-Pros and Pro-Bowlers, many in the mid-to-late rounds, they have also been very unpredictable.
Aside from when they addressed an obvious need with the No. 6 pick in the 2010 draft by selecting left tackle Russell Okung, the Seahawks have almost never gone with an obvious or predictable player with their first pick in the draft. All of that being said, however, it's always fun to speculate while we wait for the actual draft to happen, so with that in mind, Seahawks.com polled a few national experts while in Indianapolis last week for the NFL scouting combine.
Anyone in the draft-prognostication business will tell you it's too early to make an accurate guess on what a team might do this early in the offseason with free agency still looming, but they are at least able to guess at the general direction a team might go while also shedding some light on what type of player might be on the board when Seattle is on the clock.
Rob Rang, Senior NFL Draft Analyst for CBS and the Sports Xchange
Rang is one of the most respected draft analysts in the business, and like a lot of people, he feels like the line of scrimmage could be Seattle's focus, both because it fits a need and because there is good value to be found along the offensive and defensive lines.
"They have to improve along the line of scrimmage," Rang said. "There are a number of offensive and defensive linemen who in this particular draft fit their needs. They should still be able to get extreme value in those spots just because of the fact that those happen to be strongest positions in this draft class."
And finding value in the trenches doesn't necessarily mean drafting a lineman in the first round.
"It's pretty deep at offensive tackle, at center and at defensive tackle specifically," Rang said. "Those are the three strongest positions in my mind, and outside linebacker is also strong. Really it's a testament to Schneider and his scouting staff that it seems like every year, they're planning not just for the next year's draft, but the year after that as well."
What Rang is getting at is that the Seahawks don't just wait until a particular draft to address the needs the team has that offseason, but rather they have the foresight to recognize a year or two out what the strength of a future draft might be, then line up possible holes in the roster with that year's draft.
"That's something that's fairly unique," Rang said. "When I watch other clubs across the league, it seems like they're always reacting, and the Seahawks do a pretty nice job of looking ahead and aligning their needs with that's going to be the strengths of that year's draft class."
As for some specific names that might makes sense for Seattle at 26, Rang says, "There's a lot of positions and a lot of different players. If you're looking at offensive tackle, I've said Ohio State's Taylor Decker, Michigan State's Jack Conklin. The player who's got a lot of buzz about him right now is Indiana's Jason Spriggs—four-year starter with really long arms and really showed off his strength. He's a former tight end, so he has the athleticism and the strength you're looking for. At guards, Joshua Garnett from Stanford is a tough guy. Then this year's defensive tackle class is so good, you could have a Sheldon Rankins or a Vernon Butler just kind of fall in your lap, and they would make sense as well. There are a number of players who fit their needs."
Jason La Canfora, CBS NFL Insider
The draft is just a part of what La Canfora covers, but he knows his stuff. After the first round last year, he mentioned Seattle as a possible landing spot for Frank Clark.
La Canfora laughs at the idea of guessing a specific player this early in the process: "I have no idea. It's so early. We don't know what they're doing in free agency, who are they losing, is Russell Okung back? And when you're picking that low, it's so dependent on what's already been plucked. It'll be exciting, I can tell you that. They're such an aggressive front office, and I love it. They're willing to make moves other people aren't, they're willing to go bold. If you told me they moved up to pick No. 5, I'd be surprised, but I don't think I'd be shocked. If you told me they traded out of the round entirely, that wouldn't surprise me all that much."
But while he won't make any bold predictions just yet, La Canfora, like most, sees the line as an option.
"Obviously offensive line is an area they'll continue to address, especially if they do lose a starter or two, and I'm sure that's going to be high on their radar," he said. "But they collect athletes. If there's somebody there who just has a skillset, like four years ago with Bruce Irvin, you know they always want athletes. I'm sure offensive line and pass rush will be near the top of their list."
John Clayton, ESPN.com Senior Writer and Commentator
Like La Canfora, Clayton specializes in more than just the draft, but like La Canfora, Clayton is very well connected in NFL circles, so his opinion on just about any topic carries weight.
"There's about five tackles, I just don't know how the tackles are going to come off the board," Clayton said of Seattle's options at 26. "That's the need, but you can't reach."
Unlike in past years where the Seahawks have gone into an offseason with at least one starting defensive tackle under contract, both Brandon Mebane and Ahtyba Rubin are set to become unrestricted free agents when the new league year begins next week, so that position could also become one of need depending on what happens.
"They may also be tempted by a defensive lineman, they may need to find another pass rusher if they can't re-sign Bruce Irvin."
With the 2017 NFL Combine underway, take a look back at some current Seahawks at their own NFL Combines.