Offseason Hawk Talk: Potential draft picks at each position
Offseason moves and draft selections
Rewind the clock to how you felt about the Seattle Seahawks this time last year after a 9-7 2017 regular season record... Perhaps it was somewhere along the lines of "We have to improve that offensive line" or "Russell Wilson is running for his life way too often" or "the Legion of Boom is halfway out the door"... Are we close?
One season later, and those questions have been answered. The Seahawks offensive line immensly improved with Seattle leading the league in rushing per game; Russell Wilson threw a career high 35 touchdowns and career low seven interceptions; and while the loss of the last member of the Legion of Boom Earl Thomas was unfortunate, the young secondary stepped up all season long.
Now, the Seattle Seahawks head into this offseason coming off a 10-win regular season with certain position groups in question. If Seattle were to look to the upcoming NFL draft to fill these needs, let's see who could be potential picks...
To put it plainly, Russell Wilson is solid. The 30-year-old, seven-year veteran has taken the Seahawks to two Super Bowl appliances, a Super Bowl victory, and has lead this year’s team through a “rebuilding” year (if that’s what you call a 10-6 regular season record). Wilson finished off this season throwing a career-high 35 touchdowns and a career-low seven interceptions. Wilson now enters his final season in his current contract.
Backing up Wilson at the QB position is freshly signed Paxton Lynch. On Jan. 17, the team announced the signing of Lynch while former backup quarterback Brett Hundley is now a restricted free agent.
If the Seahawks were to draft a QB, it wouldn't be until late, late, late in the draft.
The NFL leading rush attack was solid this season. After an 0-2 start, the Seahawks got back to their old, smash-mouth football ways of running the ball. By the end of the season, Seattle was the only team in the NFL to call more run plays than pass plays, and it paid off immensely. This group is young too: Chris Carson, who is in his second season, finished 5th in the NFL in rushing yards (1,151); Mike Davis, in his fourth season, averaged 4.59 yards per carry; and rookie first-round draft pick Rashaad Penny showed promise running the ball averaging 4.93 yards per carry and showing off his ability to hit quick cuts.
Perhaps drafting a running back late in the draft who can return kicks (backing up Tyler Lockett), Darwin Thompson from Utah State (can run a 4.50 40-yard dash).
Realistically, when you think of the Seattle offensive line, what feelings come to mind? Good? Bad? It took awhile for that negative mindset to change, and did it ever this season. Seattle lead the league in rushing and Russell Wilson didn’t have to “Houdini” as much as he has in the past. Signing offensive line coach Mike Solari cannot go understated and re-signing D.J. Flueker and J.R. Sweezy is of the utmost importance this offseason.
On Jan. 15, 2019, the Seahawks signed free agent and former Cleveland Browns defensive tackle Jamie Meder. According to Pro Football Focus, Meder was ranked as the second best "run-stopping defensive tackle" in the first six weeks of that 2017 season before suffering a high-ankle sprain.
Looking at a draft prospect, Seattle Draft blog writer Rob Staton thinks Wisconsin’s Michael Deiter would be a solid second round draft pick.
Ed Dickson was the rising star in the later half of the season coming off the PUP. He caught a game-winning touchdown pass from Wilson against the Green Bay Packers on Thursday Night Football and blocked well. While Dickson has proven to be good, the excitement lies with rookie Will Dissly, the rookie from the Washington Huskies, who had a promising start to his NFL career recording 151 receiving yards before leaving the Arizona game (week four) with a torn patellar tendon.
Both Dissly and Dickson return next season, as well as Nick Vannett, the third-year tight end out of Ohio State, which make for a solid combination for the offense.
A need for tight end is way down the list for Seattle with Dickson, Dissly, and Vannett, but the Seahawks could be looking at that position in the 4th or 5th round: Dax Raymond from Utah State.
Where the Seahawks focused on the run game, the passing game was still very much effective. It was a combination of four receiver, each blossoming at different times. Probably the most consistent target on Russell Wilson’s radar was Tyler Lockett, the speedy, four-year receiver out of Kansas State. 14 weeks into the regular season, and the Lockett-Wilson combo was highly efficient: on 57 targets, Lockett caught 49 passes for 755 yards and nine touchdowns from Wilson for a 158.3 passer rating.
And then there is Doug Baldwin, making secondaries look silly since 2011. Baldwin missed three games this season due to injury, is turning 30 years old in 2019, and may be getting reality checks from his body that his time on the football field is short-lived.
The other two standouts are Jaron Brown, the six-year veteran out of Clemson, and David Moore, the second-year rookie out of East Central Oklahoma. Perhaps the reason for dropping Brandon Marshall towards the beginning of the season was Moore’s potential.
The Seahawks could be looking at Arizona State wide receiver N'Keal Harry with their first-round pick if he is still on the board. Harry brings the size to the outside at 6'4" 213 pounds.
One of the biggest questions here is Frank Clark. Last season, Clark record 14 sacks (sixth in the NFL), three forced fumbles, 33 tackles, and one interception. Clark becomes an unrestricted free agent in 2019. Alongside Clark, was Poona Ford who had a nice season and Jarran Reed, who recorded 10.5 sacks on the season (tied for 17th in the league).
After the season ended, head coach Pete Carroll said, “We want Franky (Clark) to be with us. We’ve got some contract issues that we’re going to be dealing with and discussions that will go on for months now.”
Seattle could be eyeing Jachai Polite, OLB from Florida, or Montez Sweat, OLB from Mississippi State, with their first-round pick.
It is no surprise that Bobby Wagner had yet again another season dominating the middle of the field of that Seattle defense. The seven-year veteran is off to his fifth consecutive Pro Bowl at the end of January.
The player to the left and right of Wagner was a revolving door this season between rookie Austin Calitro, Barkevious Mingo, Mychal Kendricks, and K.J. Wright (who battled with injury the majority of the season).
Seattle drafted linebacker Shaquem Griffin, the brother of corner Shaquill Griffin, in last season’s NFL Draft, who spent the majority of his time on special teams.
Seahawks could be looking at Buffalo linebacker Khalil Hodge, who averaged over 10 tackles a game and 420 tackles total in his three-year college career. Seattle's bigger need is an EDGE rusher alongside Frank Clark, but with K.J. Wright becoming an unrestricted free agent, Seattle may want to look at Hodge in the third round if he is still on the board.
It has been a whirlwind of a season in Seattle’s secondary. Safety Earl Thomas started and finished his season with a bang: Thomas grabbed three interceptions in his first four games before breaking his leg at Arizona. His veteran presence alone not only provided experience for a young defensive group, but also providing that intimidation factor on opposing quarterbacks.
After Thomas went down, it was Bradley McDougald’s time to shine. The six-year veteran held his own with his surrounding cast of second-year rookies Shaquill Griffin and Tedric Thompson, Justin Coleman, and rookie corner Tre Flowers.
Moving Flowers to corner was arguably the best move for the secondary. For one, he is 6’3”, which is unusual for a corner at that height. Flowers was a safety in college, but because of his frame, Seattle moved him to corner.
Seattle just needs some time to develop its already young secondary. However, a late in the draft safety may be in order, like JoJo McIntosh from the University of Washington.
All is well with rookie punter Michael Dickson. In his first season, Dickson was selected to the Pro Bowl this January and currently leads the NFL with a punt average of 48.9 yards per kick.
Kicker is put into question now. Seattle kicker Sebastian Janikowski left the game against Dallas in the NFL playoffs with an apparent hamstring injury. The lefty, 19-year kicker hit 22-of-27 field goal attempts, a 56-yard FG, for an 81.48% this season.
Seattle could be eyeing drafting a kicker to replace Janikowski with Matt Gay, from Utah. Gay hit 88% of his field goals in 2017.