Editor's note: You know him as BobbyK, and after this post about the upcoming NFL Draft and possible candidates for the Seahawks to take, you might call him the next Mel Kiper Jr. We absolutely love his projected seventh-round pick!
Second round: Danielle Hunter, DE, LSU
The Seahawks need a Leo, unless they believe Cassius Marsh is the second coming of Chris Clemons. Although Danielle Hunter isn’t yet old enough to buy a beer, the sky is the limit with respect to his potential. Do not be fooled by his lack of sack numbers. I am not going to pretend to be a scout, but when I have watched Hunter on the available youtube games, it seems as if he is required to read and react a lot, as opposed to firing up the field much of time in an attempt to get to the quarterback. When I read his analysis on nfl.com it is surprising to see that he managed 17 “stuffs” (tackle for a loss or no gain) after seeing how he was used. Add this to his impressive physical attributes that some have compared to Jason Pierre-Paul, his potential as a pass rusher, character traits, and competitiveness, and you may have something special with this pick even if most fans would rather take a wide receiver.
If Hunter is off the board, don’t be surprised if the pick becomes Nate Orchard of Utah. If the Seahawks don’t get a Leo with this pick, they simply aren’t going to get legit competition for Marsh. While I believe Marsh has a fine future ahead of him, it’s hard to ignore his limited production and broken foot last season. The loss of Clemons hurt much more than some people realize and this is most likely the only area of the draft where the Seahawks can find a pass rusher who may be able to contribute this year.
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Some people think that O’Brien Schofield and his two sacks from this past season won’t be hard to replace. They are right. However, the greatness of the Seahawks defense in 2013 was because of their plethora of pass rushers. That team didn’t simply rely on Michael Bennett and Cliff Avril. It also boasted Clemons (who O’Brien replaced), who had been the Seahawks’ premier pass rusher of the Pete Carroll/John Schneider era. While Clemons was slowed recovering from an ACL injury early that season, he was his usual force by later that year and dominant in the Super Bowl against Denver.
Sure, you can argue the defense from the previous two seasons each ranked first in the NFL, but most fans will tell you there was something missing from the 2014 unit that the 2013 had and that was quality and quantity in terms of pass rushing talent. Aside from the home opener win against Green Bay, I never saw the dominance we had gotten spoiled with the previous season and it can be pinpointed to the fact that the overall pass rush was not as good as it had been. We saw flashes when Jordan Hill was coming into his own but he has missed time each of his two seasons with various injuries. Although talented, he’s hardly proven to be durable and putting all your eggs into his basket in terms of counting on someone like that is risky. Yes, I know Hill is a defensive tackle and Clemons played on the outside, but either way, it was a third wheel, if you will, in terms of having a great pass rushing trio, as opposed to a duo of Bennett/Avril. Although I definitely like Bruce Irvin, I do not consider him an elite pass rushing talent.
Most people believe the Seahawks will select a wide receiver or an offensive lineman with their second-round pick. Naturally, this means that is what the organization will not do unless a talent like Doriel Green-Beckham falls to them. I could see a scenario where they do try to trade up for one of the receivers they may be targeting who they also feel can make an immediate impact. However, I am not allowing trades in this mock and I don’t see them reaching at this pick due to the fact that wide receiver is so deep this year. The reason they pretty much admitted to reaching for Justin Britt (who is turning out fine) in the second round last year was because they felt all of the tackle prospects they liked would be gone by the time they picked again. This year, unlike last year, they have their third-round selection, in addition to three picks in the fourth, which are areas of great depth for picking quality wide receivers and offensive linemen.
Another way of looking at missing out on a wide receiver with this pick is to realize that Jimmy Graham was acquired, in part, for their first-round pick and that greatly bolstered the overall receiver situation. Sure, he isn’t a wide receiver, but everyone agrees that he’s one of the top receiver targets in all the NFL and a definite go-to guy. Besides, there are going to be quality options at wide receiver and offensive line in the next 2-3 rounds, whereas you can’t say the same thing in terms of acquiring a quality pass rusher.
The only way I see the Seahawks picking an offensive lineman here is if they still haven’t signed a center and Hronnis Grasu is available or it is someone they think can play left tackle in the future while serving as a left guard this coming season. Perhaps someone like Ali Hobart or Donovan Smith, although Smith could be there when they pick in the third. Hobart is projected to move inside as a pro but Pete Carroll and John Schneider have proved they don’t care what most people think. If they see a potential left tackle in Hobart, they aren’t going to give a rip that Mel Kiper thinks he should be a guard or center. This does not mean I think they won’t try to resign Russell Okung next year, it’s just that it gives them a potential money saving option. Besides, it’s not like Okung is an ironman who never misses any time. He has missed 21 games in his five-year career, including a minimum of at least two games each season.
Third round: Chris Conley, WR, Georgia
Talent and speed is needed at wide receiver and that is exactly what is added with this pick. Conley has off-the-chart character and, more importantly for the receivers as a group, has 4.35 speed (third fastest receiver at the combine) to take the top off opposing defenses, in addition to having good size for the position at 6’2” and over 210 pounds.
While being a combine warrior doesn’t guarantee NFL success, he did set records in the broad jump and vertical leap for wide receivers. He is used to playing in a run-first offense, too. While most people project Conley as a fourth or fifth-round selection, the Seahawks have proven they will take the guy they want “too early” to ensure their services. This could happen with Conley and I hope it does, although it still boggles my mind how he can be ranked so low by many draft experts.
Fourth round (first pick): Mitch Morse, OG, Missouri
The Seahawks liked Justin Britt enough to take him with their second round pick last year. Mitch Morse is unbelievably similar to Britt and it’s not only because he replaced Britt at left tackle this past season at Missouri. Both players were solid blind side protectors in Columbia but project at a different position in the NFL. Morse could very well slide inside and play left guard for the Seahawks this upcoming season.
Fourth round (second pick): Shaq Mason, OG/C, Georgia Tech
Offensive line is the toughest position to project what the Seahawks like in a player. Some teams may say that Mason is too short or that the same can be said of his arm length. However, he has enough athleticism to play for Tom Cable and no guard or center in this draft class arguably is better at driving his man off the ball. Although he played guard in college, some project Mason as a center in the NFL. Every once in a while it would be nice if Marshawn Lynch could run behind someone who could give him a head of steam running through a hole and Mason could help do this.
If the Seahawks do sign Stephan Wisniewski or Chris Myers in the coming weeks to play center, a back-to-back selection of Morse/Mason would create a Pete Carroll-like competition of two quality options at left guard and greatly improve the overall depth of the line. Also, if it’s the 34-year old Myers who is added, the loser of the left guard completion could be groomed (especially if it’s Mason) to potentially take over at center in 2016 (or right guard if the team cannot afford to retain J.R. Sweezy after next season) so making back-to-back picks on the offensive line here makes sense. This is especially true since there are projected to be so many quality options on the offensive line at this point in the draft.
Fourth round (third pick): Ty Montgomery, WR, Stanford
Pete Carroll loves players with unique skills. While Montgomery comes with questions about his hands and route running ability, he does have Pro Bowl ability as a kick returner, which also translates into a receiver who could catch the occasional bubble screen or short pass and be a dangerous weapon in the passing game. Even if he does nothing as a receiver, adding a return man of this magnitude makes this pick “impactful.”
Sure, there are other good, yet smaller, return specialists coming out in this draft but none seem as good in projecting their abilities to the NFL as the six-foot and 220 pound Montgomery. How many fourth-round picks can be considered potential favorites to make the Pro Bowl as a rookie? Granted, a return specialist isn’t as important as having a Pro Bowl cornerback or left tackle, but it’s not like any of those players are going to be around at this point either. Those players are called top 10 selections and this is pick number 134.
If the Seahawks take a return specialist later in the draft (see pick sixth round, second pick), they may opt for Darren Waller with this pick if he is available. Waller is extremely raw and will take some time to develop, which is why this 6’6” giant who runs a 4.46 may still be on the board in a year where there are so many quality receiver options in the draft.
Also, don’t discount the team taking a third offensive lineman if there is no deal with Myers or Wisniewski. It would be unconventional, but the Seahawks do have a need and there are projected to be plenty of quality offensive linemen available in the mid-rounds this year. In fact, with the quality of linemen available, it’s possible to get prospects available late in this round that in previous years would have been picked a round earlier in previous years.
Fifth round (first pick): Ladarius Gunter, CB, Miami
It’s no secret that the Seahawks need a young cornerback to develop. Gunter meets the Pete Carroll size requirements. The reason he may be available at this spot is because of his lackluster 40 time. If Carroll’s son, Brennan, who coached at Miami last season gives Gunter a positive endorsement, there is a good chance this could be the pick.
Fifth round (second pick): Shaq Riddick, DE, West Virginia
This is a player with talent who Pete Carroll could potentially find a role for in terms of rushing the quarterback. Like Kam Chancellor playing free safety for Virginia Tech as a senior, Riddick didn’t play at West Virginia where he best projects to play in the NFL. Riddick has potential as an outside pass rusher, but not as much as one playing more on the inside. At 6’6” and just under 250 pounds, he’s simply not built for that role, although it’s what was best for the football team in Morgantown this past fall. He could develop into a productive edge rusher in the NFL and those players do not grow on trees.
After coming off a Super Bowl loss to the Patriots, one lesson that should have been learned was that you can never have too many good pass rushers, as I already argued with the selection of Hunter in the second-round. A big reason the Giants were able to defeat the Patriots twice in the Super Bowl was because of their pass rush. You saw what happened when Cliff Avril went down, and Jordan Hill before him. By drafting both Hunter and Riddick, you are putting your money where your mouth is that you can never have too many good pass rushers. Ideally, I would have mocked a pass rushing defensive tackle with this pick but I do not believe there will be any high-upside pass rushing interior prospects available at this point. As John Schneider has said many times, “you can’t fight the board.”
Sixth round (first pick): Jermaine Whitehead, S, Auburn
This is a chance to get a day two talent early in the sixth-round. Whitehead was suspended four games at Auburn to start the season for getting into an argument with a position coach. When he returned, he only played special teams for the next two games. However, he intercepted six passes in the final seven games of the season. He also has experience playing all over in the secondary. He played the nickel as a freshman, started at strong safety, and started at free safety to end his college career.
He has the tools and if his head is screwed on straight, he could easily be a solid starter in the NFL. Granted, the Seahawks don’t need him to start but I’d rather have a player who sits on the bench who could or should be a starter rather than a back-up who would be a back-up on most other teams, too. This is another high-upside pick and there’s no better time to roll the dice like this when you have as many picks as the Seahawks do this year. Besides, what better mentors can a young safety have in the ultra-competitive Earl Thomas and a man who commands respect like Kam Chancellor? I have a hard time thinking that Whitehead would get out of line around leaders like that.
Sixth round (second pick): Marcus Murphy, RB, Missouri
The Seahawks do not have a running back with the skills of Murphy. This hard running diminutive all-purpose back also has seven career kicks returned for touchdowns. If the Seahawks take Ty Montgomery early in the draft, they probably won’t take Murphy here but he does have “unique” skills that Carroll covets. As we have learned, the Seahawks can be quite unpredictable. Although you would think the Seahawks should be set at running back in 2015 with Lynch, Robert Turbin, and Christine Michael, they are also one injury away from having a depleted depth chart of quality options. Always compete.
Sixth round (third pick): Terry Williams, NT, East Carolina
Although not invited to the combine, Williams is a 350+ pound run stuffer and the Seahawks don’t have much for run stuffing defensive tackles under contract for 2016, as Brandon Mebane, Tony McDaniel, and recently signed Ahtyba Rubin are scheduled for free agency. This may be a chance to get someone to groom for next year.
Seventh round: Bugs Bunny, OT, Anaheim
It wouldn’t be a Seahawks draft without a pick that absolutely stunned the fan base. If skipping a wide receiver in the second round wasn’t a big enough shock to you, taking Bugs here would get plenty of people talking. However, draft “experts” have learned not to second guess John Schneider and Pete Carroll so this pick would be met with praise. Analysts would be questioning why other teams let this Looney Tune slide in the draft and some would talk about Bugs developing into a potential Pro Bowl performer at protecting Russell Wilson’s blindside in a few years.
What’s up, Doc? What do you think? What does your mock draft look like and how is it similar or different from the one above? Grab a carrot and fire away on your keyboard.