I recently checked in with Rob Rang, senior analyst with NFLDraftScout.com, to get his thoughts on where the Seattle Seahawks sit in terms of the upcoming draft in April with less than a month remaining.
We'll have a more thorough breakdown of each position group in a couple weeks as part of our draft preview coverage, but for now Rang shares his thoughts on who Seattle might select with the team's No. 4 overall pick.
As always, Rang had some interesting thoughts on what Seattle might do on draft day. I asked him specifically about some of the players mock drafts have the Seahawks selecting. Those names included Matthew Stafford, Aaron Curry, Eugene Monroe, Michael Crabtree and Chris Wells.
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Here is what Rang had to say about the Seahawks chances of trading up to get someone like Curry.
"With the fourth pick there's not going to be much room to move," he said. "And so I think that's one of the unique aspects of this draft. Because Seattle is going to put themselves in a position to take the best player, I don't know if there's any one player in this draft that has established himself as the dominant, No. 1 prospect. So I think that the player that drops to four, is going to be just as good as the player that's probably taken No. 1 overall.
"So I don't see it being a very likely scenario. They could possibly move up and switch spots with Kansas City. Kansas City at No. 3, without a second round pick now because they traded for Matt Cassel, they could move up one spot if they really liked Aaron Curry or they really liked one of those tackles, if there is indeed one of those tackles still on the board. You might be able to trade up slightly and get the guy you like if you are concerned. Because is Kansas City is looking to trade down and Seattle has a guy they really like, the teams that would be willing to trade up with Kansas City might be taking that player, so Seattle would be wise to consider that option. But again, if they're going to do something like that, I think they'd only be giving up a third or fourth-round pick."
And here's what Rang said about Seattle possibly trading down.
"The financial ramifications of having a top five pick in this day and age with the salary cap, with the way the rookie salary slotting is filled out, it just makes it very difficult. I mean you rarely see teams trade out anymore. A few years ago, the San Francisco 49ers were kind of forced to take Alex Smith the quarterback at No. 1. They didn't necessarily want to do that. They just could not trade out. You've got to get some kind of value to be able to trade back. It's going to be tough to trade out. There is going to be some interest if the quarterback (Stafford) is available at four. There's possibly a scenario they can trade back if one of the tackles or Aaron Curry is available.
"The thing is, to trade back sounds great, but there's got to be somebody willing to trade up. And there going to want to have to get ahead of the Cleveland Browns at five. So you've got to look at who the Cleveland Browns want to take, and they need a pass rusher. So if somebody really loves Brian Orakbo, or if they really love Aaron Curry, then possibly someone wants to trade with Seattle to get that fourth pick so they can get ahead of Cleveland."
Rang said some players Seattle might look at later in the draft include wide receivers Hakeem Nicks, Austin Collie and Brian Robiskie and Brandon Gibson, and running backs Donald Brown and Shonn Greene.
Overall, Rang sees the top four players, in no particular order being Stafford, Jason Smith, Monroe and Curry. Rang also talked about the strength of this year's draft being the talent level of players rated 20 through 50 or 60 is pretty good, which is the reason teams are looking to get second round draft picks. You still get a good player, but for a much lower price.
"In a lot of ways to teams that second round pick is worth more than the No. 3 pick, because you're getting still a very good player at a fraction of the cost," Rang said.
Rang also gave the Seahawks high marks for what they accomplished in free agency.
"I thought this was team that had a lot of holes, but I really think the credit goes to (Tim) Ruskell or to (Jim) Mora or whomever, they have done a phenomenal job of providing themselves wiggle room in the draft," he said. "And I think that's where teams get themselves in trouble, when they back themselves into a corner. And they have done the exactly opposite. They have made it possible to take anybody, which is why I'm having a tough time projecting who they are going to take at four."
Listen to part of the conversation with Rang here.
Why would Seattle select him? "With Hasselbeck's injury situation and his age, they're in the perfect position now to get a quarterback. But you don't have to take him. He's kind of a luxury pick. I think so many teams wait so long, that now they have to get a quarterback. History shows quarterback is a very risky position to take, especially earl on. But these guys are being picked that high because they have incredible skills.
"If you give him a year to learn, especially under a pro like Hasselbeck, who is talented but is also successful because of his mind and work ethic, and you instill that in this kid, who's kind of a brash, cocky gunslinger, and that's what Stafford kind of is, then that's the perfect scenario. That's what Green Bay did with Hasselbeck, Mark Brunell, Aaron Rodgers and all of those guys."
Why might Seattle pass? "It's not an area of huge concern at this point. All indications are that Hasselbeck's healthy. You're going to be playing a third-place schedule now. You're going to have an opportunity to bounce back next year. I believe, and I think the Seahawks believe, that they are not a 4-12 team. They're a team that go hit hard by injuries and had some bad luck, but that they can be back competing for the division. You see Arizona struggling to get some of their players back. There's some discontent there now. So I think they feel like if you can get an immediate, impact player, whether it's an offensive skill position or defensive playmaker at four, then it's that much better for you. You don't have to take a quarterback."
Why would Seattle select him? "If he's on the board at No. 4 then he's the best available player. It certainly is a position of need after they traded Julian Peterson. He is a classic, Tim Ruskell type of player. He is hard working, intelligent, well-spoken, all of those character things you look at. He's certainly has been a big-time star for Wake Forest in the ACC, which is a very talented conference.
"I think he's a lot like Julian Peterson. He's so rangy and athletic that you're going to get very similar ability that you had with Peterson, except for he's a lot younger. He's the kind of guy that Seattle or any team can build their defense around. You just don't have to build a defense around him because obviously Seattle already has two talented linebackers in Lofa Tatupu and Leroy Hill."
Why might Seattle pass? "If he was on the board I would be surprised if they took someone else. I wouldn't be surprised to see them trade the pick because it's just he is a good enough player to create some interest. I don't know how many other players that will be available at four that other teams would have some interest in. Possibly Stafford."
Why would Seattle select him? "He's a legitimate left tackle, so to have him learn under Walter Jones would be a perfect scenario. He can come in, and it's not like he can't play other positions. He can come in, and you can slide him in at guard. He's played guard before. He's athletic enough, and he's been a dominant player throughout his career.
"In my opinion he's one of the safer picks because he's not going to be a bust. I don't know if he has the fire in his belly to ever be a Walter Jones kind of guy, a Hall of Fame type of player. But he's going to be a very, very good for a long time."
Why might Seattle pass? "I think in signing Ray Willis that gives them a lot of flexibility because I personally believe that Ray Willis is a starting-caliber right tackle. I think that you already have that obviously with Sean Locklear. But when Locklear came out of college at N.C. State I really thought he could be a left tackle, certainly not a Walter Jones left tackle, but a starting-caliber left tackle that you could win with. And when I watch him now, even at right tackle, I think his best asset is his athletic ability and his balance, and not necessarily his toughness. And at right tackle you kind of want a tougher, run-blocking kind of guy.
"So there's a part of me that you could slide Locklear to left tackle, put Ray Willis at right tackle and you're good, you've got your starting-caliber guys. Now, I don't know if they feel the same way. I think they might, and so if Eugene Monroe is there, or Jason Smith for that matter, if I either one are there, then you can do it because both of them because both of them could be special, Pro Bowl-caliber tackles. But I don't think you have to."
Why would Seattle select him? "He's a spectacular talent. I really think he's an Anquan Boldin type of player. He doesn't have that elite speed, but you know, for me the fact that he wasn't able to run for scouts for me matters very little. Even the (foot) surgery matters very little, because Jonathan Stewart had the same surgery and he was every bit the player his rookie season that I thought he would be. Michael Crabtree will be as well."
Why would Seattle pass? "My concern with Crabtree is I think he's a similar player to T.J. Houshmandzadeh, in that he's not a big-play specialist. He's not somebody who's going to stretch the field over the top. He's very good in that he can make some people miss in the open field. He can certainly run through tackles because of his size. He's got incredible hands and he's a good route runner, all of those kinds of things, but I think when they signed Houshmandzadeh, and they're going to focus on the running game like I think they're going to do, than I think you need a speed guy over the top, and I don't know if he is that."
Rang went on to say that Crabtree is still a bit young and naïve, and may be a bit of a risk at four. He also likes the depth in the draft at receiver, and believes Seattle could get a pretty good receiver with the No. 37 pick in the second round.
Chris "Beanie" Wells
Why would Seattle select him? "I do think running back is an area of concern. And I think that Beanie Wells has the size and the speed to absolutely warrant comparison to guys like Larry Johnson and Adrian Peterson. Just some of the most spectacularly gifted backs in the NFL, he has that type of ability."
Why would Seattle pass? "The 'genius of Tim Ruskell' is he finds players who are high character players, and player who, at a minimum, play up to their ability, and in some cases play over their ability. And with Beanie Wells I think he plays at less-than his ability at times. So as much as I think it's an area of need, and as much talent I think he has, I think that it would be a reach at four for a lot of teams."
Rang did comment on defensive end Brian Orakpo and I forgot to add it. Here it is.
Why Seattle would select him? "I think he is the high character guys who makes some kind of sense in the Tim Ruskell line of thinking. ... He closes on the quarterback better than Lawrence Jackson, and he would provide some help that way. And certainly with Patrick Kerney struggling with durability the last couple years, that is an area of concern."
Why Seattle might pass? "I just think he's a little too much like they already have in Lawrence Jackson. He's not truly explosive off of the snap. ... I just think that it's a little bit high for Orakpo in my opinion, and I don't know if that's as much of an area of concern for Seattle. I have a hard time believing they're going to want to devote that kind of draft attention with high picks like Daryl Tapp and Jackson, and the amount of money you have tied into those high picks and Patrick Kerney."