Just like at the end of the season last year, I recently sat down with Rob Rang, senior draft analyst for NFLDraftScout.com, to discuss April’s upcoming draft. Specifically, I talked to Rang about prospects Seattle might be looking at with the team’s No. 6 and No. 14 overall picks in the first round, and some sleepers in the later rounds. Seattle has three of the first 40 picks in the upcoming draft.
Like the offensive tackle position last year, Rang says this year’s class is strong at defensive line, led by consensus No. 1 overall prospect Nebraska defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh.
“Everybody knows about Ndamukong Suh at this point,” Rang said. “But the defensive tackle position in general is very strong. The fact that there are some question marks about the quarterback class makes it a unique draft.”
Right now, Rang has Seattle selecting offensive tackle Russell Okung out of Oklahoma State at six and Clemson’s C.J. Spiller at 14, but there likely will be a lot of changes for the franchise with new head coach Pete Carroll now in charge. Check out Rang’s first-round mock draft here.
So should we expect a lot of USC Trojans headed to the Pacific Northwest?
“When you look at the Seahawks, they have needs at offensive tackle, they have needs at safety, they have needs at pass rusher,” Rang said. “And it just so happens that USC has top-40 caliber players at offensive tackle, at safety, at pass rusher. So does he go the USC route and bring his boys up to Seattle?”
The following is a preview of some areas of need for Seattle and some of the players they might be looking at heading into this year’s draft. I want to thank Rob for taking the time to do this, and like last season I’ll be checking in with Rang periodically up until April’s draft.
Seahawks positions of need
Listen to Rang’s take on offensive line prospects here.
Rang’s take: “This kid isn’t finesse. He’ll go out there and take on the defensive end. He can release and get to the second level to the linebacker. And so I think he would be a nice fit in the zone blocking offense.”
OT Brian Bulaga, Iowa 6-6, 312 Rang’s take: “He was absolutely dominant in the bowl game where he was matched up against the top-rated defensive end in junior Derrick Morgan from Georgia Tech.”
Rang’s take: “He’s position versatile. He played right tackle for Oklahoma. He moved to left tackle this season. And he actually played some center in the (Sun) bowl game when injuries forced him to move around.”
OT Anthony Davis, Rutgers 6-6, 325 Rang’s take: “He has the athletic ability that team’s are looking for. He might be the most talented of the entire group, but there are some character concerns with them. As only a junior, you wonder if he has the mental ability to come in and be the immediate impact kind of guy that the Seahawks are going to need.”
Rang’s take: “He’s only had 17 career starts. He’s a great athlete. … This guy has a great deal of upside, but I do not think that he’s a great fit for Seattle, just because he’s very rough around the edges.”
Rang’s take: “He plays very high and relies on his great strength. And while he does have good foot quickness, he too often loses the battle of leverage. And so I think that’s going to be a concern there.”
Mike Iupati highlights RUNNING BACK/WIDE RECEIVER Listen to Rang talk about the prospects here. RB C.J. Spiller, Clemson 5-11, 195 Rang’s take: “I can just gush about C.J. Spiller. The fact that he was durable as he was throughout his career despite being 5-11, 195 pounds, he really does remind me of Chris Johnson.”
RB Jahvid Best, California Rang’s take: “I personally think that Jahvid Best is among the most electric player in this draft and is a true hit or miss type of prospect. He’s going to be one of those guys that could be a Pro Bowler someday, but at the same time could get himself injured and could be a concern throughout his career durability-wise.”
WR Dez Bryant, Oklahoma State Rang’s take: “He’s got great field speed and he goes up and gets the ball.”
WR Dezmon Briscoe, Kansas 6-3, 200 Rang’s take: “Another player with the same kind of unique combination of size and speed (as Dez Bryant) that might be available in the second round.”
WR Golden Tate, Notre Dame 5-11, 195 Rang’s take: “This kid snatches the ball out of the air. I’ve watched him beat corners that are bigger and in better position than he is, and he just reaches up and snatches the ball out of the air.”
QUARTERBACK Listen to Rang talk about the prospects here. Sam Bradford, Oklahoma 6-4, 218 Rang’s take: “This guy has a quick release. He is deadly accurate when he’s protected. The problem is, is when he’s not protected he gets a little bit of happy feet and he’s willing to throw the ball into coverage. And so that’s my biggest concern with him.”
Jimmy Clausen, Notre Dame 6-3, 223 Rang’s take: “He does have pretty decent mobility. He is accurate in short to medium range. But often he would throw the ball up and Golden Tate would make a play. … Clausen is a safer route to be an NFL starter, I just don’t see him ever being a Pro Bowl kind of guy, where if Sam Bradford is protected I think he can be that type of a guy.”
Colt McCoy, Texas 6-3, 212 Rang’s take: “I’ve actually compared him to Matt Hasselbeck at times, and it’s because I think he’s a high intangibles kind of a guy. He is at his best when he’s moving on the roll out as a young Hasselbeck used to be. He is very accurate in the short-to-medium range. The concern I have for him is he’s using the spread offense, and the vast majority of throws are underneath routes.”
Colt McCoy highlights DEFENSIVE ENDS Listen to Rang talk about the prospects here [wpaudio url="http://blog.thenewstribune.com/seahawks/files/2010/01/RangDEs.mp3" text=MP3: Rang on DEs] DE Derrick Morgan, Georgia Tech 6-4, 270 Rang’s take: “He has a good burst off the edge. He uses his hands well. He locates the ball well. He’s strong at the point and able to hold up against the run.”
DE Carlos Dunlap, Florida 6-6, 290 Rang’s take: He’s a guy who’s a better fit in a 3-4 scheme, because he’s a guy at 6-6, 285 pounds he holds the point very well. He has very good speed off the edge, but not great quickness.”
SAFETY Listen to Rang talk about the prospects here [wpaudio url="http://blog.thenewstribune.com/seahawks/files/2010/01/RangSS.mp3" text=MP3: Rang on safeties] Eric Berry, Tennessee 5-11, 203 Rang’s take: “This kid is Ed Reed incarnate. He is absolutely a playmaker. He is physical. He is instinctive. He is athletic enough to come down and slide out of free safety and play nickel cornerback against the slot receiver. He can really do it all.”
Eric Berry highlights Taylor Mays, Southern California 6-3, 230 Rang’s take: “He’s going to be the most physically impressive specimen of anybody I think in this draft when you compare his size and speed numbers. At the same time he just doesn’t locate the ball as quickly as you’d like him to.”
Nate Allen, South Florida 6-1, 206 Rang’s take: “He has the speed and he has the hips to be a true free safety, to be able to play back in center field and be able to make plays in coverage.”
SLEEPERS Listen to Rang talk about the prospects here [wpaudio url="http://blog.thenewstribune.com/seahawks/files/2010/01/Rangsleepers.mp3" text=MP3: Rang on sleepers] RB Ryan Mathews, Fresno State 5-11, 215 Rang’s take: “One of the best all-around running backs in all of college football. And I think when it’s all said and done he’s going to end up being a first-round pick.”
Rang’s take: “He played in a true, pro-style offense. He has the arm strength. He has the accuracy. He’s a guy that hasn’t got a lot of hype, but at the same time when I talk to scouts he’s being viewed as a potential, top-five quarterback.”
Rang’s take: “If he has a strong Senior Bowl, he could make the late first round, early second round.”
Hall Davis, Louisiana-Lafayette 6-6, 262 Rang’s take: “He doesn’t necessarily fit with Seattle because he’s more of a 3-4 rush linebacker, but he’s a guy that everybody seems to be sleeping on.”