SEATTLE – Mock drafts are made to be broken.
And the Seahawks made sure everyone’s mocks were off-course before the draft even started with Tuesday’s Frank Clark trade, meaning Seattle has the 21st and 29th overall picks in the first round – and a suddenly even-more glaring need at defensive end.
So, because the Seahawks have revised the draft order, it’s time to revise our Seahawks mock draft.
Here’s my look at what I think the Seahawks may do with the five picks they currently have – with an emphasis on “currently” because we also all know they are likely to make moves to acquire more.
Round 1: No. 21 overall
Seahawks history at 21: The Seahawks have made the 21st pick just once, selecting guard Pete Kendall in 1996. Kendall went on to have a solid career, becoming a full-time starter for the Seahawks in his first season, starting every game from 1997-2000, then playing through 2008 with the Cardinals, Jets and Redskins. But Seahawks fans will always wonder what might have been had then-coach Dennis Erickson instead taken one of his former players at the University of Miami who went 26th to the Baltimore Ravens – linebacker Ray Lewis.
Overall history of 21st pick: Two Hall of Famers have been picked 21st, both receivers – Lynn Swann in 1974 and Randy Moss in 1998. So maybe that’s a good omen if Seattle wants to go the receiver route this year. But showing the difficulty of even nailing first-round picks, only seven of the 89 players taken with the 21st pick in either the NFL or AFL drafts have been named All-Pro. Twenty five, though, at least made one Pro Bowl. Recent history isn’t bad – Chandler Jones, Ha Ha Clinton-Dix and Tyler Eifert, all drafted at 21 since 2012, have all made at least one Pro Bowl.
My pick: Defensive end Montez Sweat, Mississippi State.
Comment: In my first mock a few weeks ago, I had the Seahawks taking receiver N’Keal Harry of Arizona State. I still think that would be a good pick (more on the receiver spot in a minute). But the Clark trade adds an urgency to get the best pass rusher available, and Sweat may fall into Seattle’s laps here in part due to concerns over an enlarged heart that were recently revealed. But as Sweat’s agents noted, he has played with the condition and was medically cleared to take part in the NFL combine. Teams will have to decide for themselves if they are taking any gamble. But a little risk – assuming teams think there is one with Sweat – has never seemed to dissuade the Seahawks, and especially with two first-round picks they might be even more inclined. Sweat had 21.5 sacks in two seasons at Mississippi State, where he was All-SEC both years. Lindy’s Pro Football Draft Report wrote of Sweat that “even in draft class like this, no defensive lineman offers a more exciting blend of physical traits than Sweat.”
Round 1: No. 29 overall
Seahawks history at 29: The Seahawks have picked here twice – linebacker Sammy Green in their first draft in 1976 and linebacker Terry Wooden in 1990. Wooden had a solid career, twice leading Seattle in tackles.
Overall history of 29th pick: Two Hall of Famers have been picked here – QB Fran Tarkenton in 1961 and linebacker Dave Wilcox in 1964. Recent history has been a little spotty. Since Minnesota drafted Harrison Smith at 29 in 2012, only one player has emerged as a consistent starter – tight end David Njoku, taken by Cleveland in 2017. Other recent 29th picks include DT Taven Bryan (Jacksonville, 2018), DT Robert Nkemdiche (Arizona, 2016) and receivers Phillip Dorsett (Colts, 2015) and Cordarrelle Patterson (Vikings, 2013).
My pick: Receiver A.J. Brown, Ole Miss.
Comment: Here’s a hunch that Harry might be gone by 29, which means Seattle could turn to the next-best available big receiver. That might mean a choice of workout warrior D.K. Metcalf or Brown, both of whom played at Ole Miss. The choice here would be Brown, who at 6-foot-1, 230 pounds would give Seattle the kind of big-receiver presence it needs (David Moore showed promise last year, but you can never have enough) to pair with Tyler Lockett and Doug Baldwin. Receiving depth is also needed to add depth, with Baldwin’s situation a little uncertain due to injuries, and at this point seeming a year-to-year proposition. Brown had 160 receptions the past two seasons, with 17 touchdowns, and averaged 7.4 yards after reception, per Sports Info Solutions, while playing largely out of the slot. That’s where Baldwin largely plays, making Brown a good draft fit. While Metcalf drew raves for his combine performance, Brown’s better and more consistent college production might elevate him in the eyes of NFL teams come draft day.
Round 3: No. 92 overall
Seahawks history at 92: The Seahawks have picked just once at this spot – kicker Don Bitterlich in their inaugural draft in 1976, the highest they have taken a kicker. It turned out to be a bitter kick, as Bitterlich was a bust. He scored the first points in Seahawks history on a field goal in the first game against the Cardinals, but never made another NFL field goal, appearing in just three games before his career was over.
Overall history of 92nd pick: No player taken here has so much as made one All-Pro team since the merger in 1970, via Pro Football Reference. But the recent history at least shows some Pro Bowl-caliber players – OL Trai Turner by Carolina in 2014 and receiver T.Y. Hilton by the Colts in 2012. The 92nd pick a year ago was OL Chukwuma Okorafor by the Steelers.
My pick: Safety Deionte Thompson, Alabama.
Comment: In some early mocks in January, a few had Seattle going with Thompson in the first round. Since then, the perception is he has slipped quite a bit, such as this comment on him recently from Pro Football Focus: “Thompson is one of the high-risk, high-reward prospects in this draft. He is more of a free safety than box safety with great instincts to make plays when in the middle of the field. However, his poor athleticism and inconsistent play make him a third-round prospect in this draft.” Seattle could use some depth in the secondary and “high-risk, high-reward” is often about the best one can hope for in the late third round and beyond.
Round 4: No. 124
Seahawks history at 124: The only time the Seahawks have picked here came in 2007 – Georgia Tech guard Mansfield Wrotto, who was out of the NFL by 2011.
Overall history of 124th pick: The best player taken here since the merger is tight end Ben Coates in 1991 by the Patriots. Coates made five straight Pro Bowls, two while playing for Pete Carroll. The best recent pick is linebacker Kwon Alexander by Tampa Bay in 2015 – he is one of only three players taken at this spot since the merger to make a Pro Bowl. Alexander, though, is the only player taken here since 2009 to emerge as a consistent starter.
My pick: DL Greg Gaines, Washington.
Comment: The first time I did this a few weeks ago, I had Seattle taking Gaines in the fifth round. Since then, a few people I trust have said they think Gaines wouldn’t be around then. So I’ll stick with Seattle taking him, but doing so here instead. The Seahawks could use some depth inside after losing Shamar Stephen to the Vikings in free agency – Poona Ford could well step into a starting role as the other tackle alongside Jarran Reed, but you always need more. Gaines won the Morris Trophy as the best defensive lineman in the Pac-12 last year as voted on by the conference’s offensive linemen, which says quite a bit. Almost every analysis of Gaines comes with the phrase “high motor” included somewhere. Carroll loves having as many of those kinds of guys around as possible. Seattle needs to improve its run defense in 2019, and Gaines seems like a player who could provide some immediate help.
Round 5: No. 159
Seahawks history at 159: Seattle’s only pick here is Arkansas linebacker Jeb Huckeba in 2005. He never played a down in the NFL.
Overall history of 159th pick: The best player taken here is safety Jake Scott by Miami in 1970. Scott was MVP of Super Bowl VII and was named All-Pro twice – twice as many times as everyone else taken here. The only other All-Pro pick at 159 is linebacker Bryce Paup (1990, Green Bay). Only four players taken since 1996 have become full-time starters for as much as one season, via Pro Football Reference, the most recent being defensive back Micah Hyde (Green Bay, 2013).
My pick: Cornerback Iman Marshall, USC.
Comment: Four years ago, Marshall was regarded as one of the top 10 or so high school recruits in the country, and maybe the best defensive back. By comparison to his lofty recruiting rankings, he had a somewhat middling career at USC, and is projected to go anywhere from rounds four to seven. But USC has been a train wreck most of that time, and we know Carroll always takes a long, hard look at USC players – as well as former high school five-star recruits – and he might think there’s a lot more there with Marshall than the Trojans got out of him. He has the requisite size at 6-1, 207, though not the usual Seahawk requisite arm span – just 30 3/8 inches, short of the 32 that has been Seattle’s preference. But there’s a first time for everything, and Marshall has some other attributes that might intrigue the Seahawks, such as 36 pass deflections in his USC career, second most in Pac-12 history, and having allowed fewer yards per coverage snap last season than any other draft-eligible Pac-12 corner – according to Pro Football Focus – at 0.60. UW’s Byron Murphy (0.66) and Jordan Miller (0.75) were second and third. Adding a “high-risk, high-reward” corner seems a sensible plan for the Seahawks.