The NFL scouting combine brings to Indianapolis not just college football's top draft prospects as well as scouts, coaches and medical personnel from all 32 teams, it has also become a huge media event, with national reporters, local beat writers and multiple cable networks all setting up shop at the Indiana Convention Center for a week each winter. With that in mind, Seahawks.com polled some of the top draft experts and NFL insiders to get their thoughts on what the Seahawks might do with their first pick in the 2018 draft, the 18th overall pick.
Not surprisingly, most people think the Seahawks will trade back before making their first pick, a thought that makes sense in part because the Seahawks currently don't have a pick in the second or third round, and also because that has been their tendency under general manager John Schneider and head coach Pete Carroll. After using their original first-round picks in 2010 and 2011, the Seahawks have moved back with their top pick in the last six drafts, twice trading their first round pick before the draft, and four times moving back on draft day.
Ian Rapoport, National Insider for NFL Network and NFL.com
"If I know the Seahawks, I would say they're probably going to trade back, like they always do, then maybe try to trade back again. So picking 18, I don't think there's any way they make that pick. I would not be surprised at running back, it's sort of been a struggle to replace Marshawn Lynch the last couple of years. Maybe a guy like Ronald Jones from USC would be someone who would fit if they go back, or maybe Derrius Guice, some people think he's the No. 2 running back in the draft, so he would make some sense.
"If there's a tight end available—maybe Hayden Hurst is there after a trade back if that's a guy they like—that would make some sense to replace Jimmy Graham. If they do lose Sheldon Richardson in free agency, maybe there's a D-tackle who can really affect the passer, then that could be a guy they would take."
Rob Rang, Senior Analyst at NFLDraftScout.com
"Right now I have the Seahawks taking Derrius Guice, the running back from LSU. He just runs hard, so he fits in with what Pete Carroll and John Schneider prefer—just his toughness, his vision, his burst. There are guys who are going to be better athletes, but just in terms of the mental and physical toughness that Seattle has prioritized in the past, that's this kid. And without a second- and third-round pick, knowing that it's a priority for them to address the running game, then you have the choice—you can go for the running back immediately and try to draft other positions later, or you're going to probably have to try to trade back for more picks. So considering that is probably their biggest are of immediate concern, that makes some sense at that spot."
Like most, Rang thinks there's a good chance Seattle moves back from that 18th pick: "I think it's probably pretty likely, but once you think you have this team figured out, that's when they surprise you. There's obviously got to be somebody who's willing to trade for that pick, and one thing we do know is that they aren't going to take a lesser deal to trade back. One thing that works in their favor is that there's so much excitement about the quarterbacks. If you see five or six quarterbacks go early, then some really good players will be there at 18. That can create an opportunity to trade back from 18 that you wouldn't normally have. So because this running back draft is as deep as it is, because the guard class is as deep as it is, it sets up pretty well. You'd obviously like to have more picks, so I think that's the strong favorite that Seattle will try to find a trade partner and add picks on the second day."
As for what position groups Rang thinks are strong this year, he said, "The interior of both lines, offensive and defensive lines, running back, cornerback, I like tight end. Then certainly quarterback, this is one of the better quarterback classes I've seen in 20 years of doing this. It's not just the big five everyone's talking about; there's going to be quarterbacks drafted in the third and fourth round who normally would be drafted in the second or third round. For a position usually teams are reaching for, I think there's going to be some guys who fall this year."
Danny Kelly, TheRinger.com staff writer
"Whether or not they stand pat and pick at No. 18, I could see Seattle looking to bolster their depth and add talent at the defensive end position. Cliff Avril's future is still up in the air, Malik McDowell's a wildcard, Frank Clark's going into his contract year, and Sheldon Richardson's a free agent. In any case, you can never have too many good pass rushers, and if UTSA defensive end Marcus Davenport falls toward the late part of the first round, he could be a player the Seahawks target. Davenport's raw, but he's super athletic, aggressive, and his upside is sky high. Boston College's Harold Landry and LSU's Arden Key both fit the mold of explosive edge rushers who could factor in Pete Carroll's defense, too.
"I could see the Seahawks targeting an offensive lineman early in the draft as well. We'll see what types of attributes new offensive line coach Mike Solari wants in his players, but two prospects I really like for Seattle are Georgia's Isaiah Wynn and UTEP's Will Hernandez. Wynn's versatile—he played tackle in college and will likely bump inside to play guard in the pros—and looks like a guy who could come in to start on day one. At 6-foot-2, 348 pounds, Hernandez is heavier than most of the linemen we've seen on the Seahawks' line over the past few years, but he moves well and plays with a nasty demeanor. He'd challenge for a starting spot on the OL from day one."
John Clayton, ESPN senior writer, 710 ESPN Seattle host and Seahawks sideline reporter
"Everyone is saying they're going to offensive line or running back, but I think they're going to go defense. Because they're going to potentially lose more people on defense, and they want to preserve their defense and upgrade at other positions. The emphasis now is on retooling the defense. They've got to put the emphasis on the front-seven. If you're going be losing two or three guys on the defensive line, you've got to replenish that. They've got to get as many pass-rushers as they can. They've got two good young defensive tackles (Nazair Jones and Jarran Reed), but at some point they've got to get one or two more players to help on the edge. But overall I think the emphasis will be more on the defensive line than any other area."
Clayton agrees a trade back seem likely. "I don't see (them picking at 18). With no second- and third-round picks, if you're going to get a running back, you could get one in the second or third round, but if you take one guy at 18, then you still have holes you need to fill. Because they're not going to get too into free agency because they want to preserve compensatory picks. You don't want to lose those."
Doug Farrar, NFL Lead Scout, Bleacher Report
"I think it's a really good draft to trade back. The three best players to me in this draft are Saquon Barkley, Derrius Guice and Quenton Nelson, so you have two running backs and a guard. So the question is, what's your positional value to go and trade up? Schneider, he doesn't have a second and he doesn't have a third, so I think as much as he can—he's certainly proven this in the past—he's going to try to trade back and try to get at least a third back, if not a second. The question is, will other teams be interested in moving up? Because I think from the second through the fifth round is really where the value is in this draft."
Mike Sando, ESPN senior writer
"My instinct says they will trade down in an effort to add picks. That is their tendency anyway, and it makes even more sense this year given that they are picking earlier than usual, and they do not have their own picks in the second or third rounds."