Here's my mock draft for this year. I have Seattle selecting Alabama linebacker Dont'a Hightower at No.12, although I think it will be more likely that they trade down a few spots and to get him.
In my mock South Carolina defensive end/linebacker Melvin Ingram goes to Jacksonville at No. 7 and Kansas City grabs Boston College middle linebacker Luke Kuechly at No. 11, so Hightower is the next best linebacker prospect available at an obviously need position for the Seahawks.
Other potential candidates include Alabama safety Mark Barron, who goes to Dallas at No. 14, LSU defensive tackle Michael Brockers, selected by Philadelphia at No. 15 and David DeCastro, selected by San Diego at No. 18.
I think Hightower makes sense because of his run stuffing ability on first and second downs, and the fact that he can serve as a pass rusher on third down, with K.J. Wright moving to middle linebacker in passing situations. Seattle head coach Pete Carroll has said he likes the way Wright patrols the middle of the field with his long wing span in coverage.
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Hightower has been a team captain the past two years, so he has good leadership skills. He's played in a pro-style defense under Nick Saban with multiple looks, so Seattle's defensive playbook should not overwhelm him. And he's a good blitzer from his linebacker position.
1. INDIANAPOLIS: Andrew Luck, QB, StanfordHT: 6-4 WT: 234Comment: The most complete QB prospect to enter the draft since John Elway.
2. WASHINGTON (from St. Louis): Robert Griffin III, QB, BaylorHT: 6-2 WT: 223Comment: A gifted athlete and thrower, Griffin will ignite Mike Shanahans’s offense.
3. MINNESOTA: Matt Kalil, OT, USHT: 6-7 WT: 306 Comment: Vikings would like to trade down, but get a cornerstone LT in Kalil.
4. CLEVELAND: Trent Richardson, RB, AlabamaHT: 5-9 WT: 228 Comment: Mike Holmgren finally finds his Shaun Alexander for the Browns.
5. TAMPA BAY: Morris Claiborne, CB, LSUHT: 5-11 WT: 188Comment: Bucs can wave goodbye to talented but troublesome corner Aqib Talib.
6. ST LOUIS (from Washington): Fletcher Cox, DT, Mississippi StateHT: 6-4 WT: 298 Comment: WR Justin Blackman is tempting, but Rams need an anchor up front on defense.
7. JACKSONVILLE: Melvin Ingram, DE/OLB, South CarolinaHT: 6-2 WT: 264 Comment: Jags need a pass rusher, and the versatile Ingram also can play linebacker.
8. MIAMI: Ryan Tannehill, QB, Texas &MHT: 6-4 WT: 221Comment: Dolphins finally get their quarterback of the future.
9. CAROLINA: Quinton Coples, DE, North CarolinaHT: 6-6 WT: 284Comment: Plays inconsistent at times on tape, but Coples is the most physically gifted pass rusher in the draft.
10. BUFFALO: Justin Blackman, WR, Oklahoma StateHT: 6-1 WT: 207Comment: The most talented receiver in the draft, the Bills add a playmaker on offense.
11. KANSAS CITY: Luke Kuechly, ILB, Boston CollegeHT: 6-3 WT: 242Comment: The Dick Butkus award winner is athletic and a tackling machine.
12. SEATTLE: Dont’a Hightower, ILB, AlabamaHT: 6-2 WT: 265Comment: Hawks might move down to get Hightower, but he fills an obvious need and will be the team’s quarterback on defense for the next 10 years.
13. ARIZONA: Riley Reiff, OT, IowaHT: 6-6 WT: 313Comment: Reiff has been groomed in a pro-style offense at Iowa and can step in and play right away.
14. Dallas: Mark Barron, SS, AlabamaHT: 6-1 WT: 213Comment: Barron’s a ball hawk who can over cover a lot of ground in the passing game.
15. PHILADELPHIA: Michael Brockers, DT, LSUHT: 6-6 WT: 322Comment: Brockers offers versatility, with an ability to play both defensive tackle positions.
16. N.Y. JETS: Courtney Upshaw, DE, Alabama HT: 6-2 WT: 272Comment: Upshaw gives Rex Ryan the edge rusher he’s been looking for.
17. CINCINNATI (from Oakland): Michael Floyd, WR, Notre DameHT: 6-3 WT: 220Comment: Bengals bring in another playmaker for young QB Andy Dalton.
18. SAN DIEGO: David DeCastro, OG, StanfordHT: 6-5 WT: 316Comment: Chargers beef up the offensive line with the best interior blocker in the draft.
19. CHIGAGO: Whitney Mercilus, DE, IllinoisHT: 6-4 WT: 261Comment: Bears can’t pass up one of the most productive pass rushers available.
20. TENNESSEE: Stephon Gilmore, CB, South CarolinaHT: 6-1 WT: 190Comment: Gilmore helps replace the void left by Cortland Finnegan leaving for St. Louis.
21. CINCINNATI: Dre Kirkpatrick, CB, AlabamaHT: 6-3 WT: 192 Comment: Kirkpatrick strengthens a pass defense that finished with just 10 picks last year.
22. CLEVELAND (from Atlanta): Stephen Hill, WR, Georgia TechHT: 6-4 WT: 215Comment: The most physically talented receiver in the draft, the Browns give Colt McCoy another playmaker.
23. DETROIT: Mike Adams, OT, Ohio StateHT: 6-7 WT: 314Comment: Lions add some beef and youth up front offensively with Adams.
24. PITTSBURGH: Dontari Poe, DT, MemphisHT: 6-5 WT: 294Comment: Poe serves as the heir apparent to longtime nose tackle Casey Hampton.
25. DENVER: Jerel Worthy, DT, Michigan State HT: 6-3 WT: 310Comment: Fills in for the departed Brodrick Bunkley, who left for the Saints in free agency.
26. HOUSTON: Kendall Wright, WR, BaylorHT: 5-10 WT: 196Comment: The Texans pick up a slot receiver with the ability to make people miss in Wright.
27. NEW ENGLAND: Chandler Jones, DE, SyracuseHT: 6-5 WT: 265Long arms and an explosive first step make Jones a good fit for the Patriots, who are in need of pass rush help.
28. GREEN BAY: Nick Perry, DE, USCHT: 6-3 WT: 271Comment: An explosive athlete, Perry will pair with fellow USC linebacker Clay Matthews III to give the Packers two dangerous pass rushers on the edge.
29. BALTIMORE: Rueben Randle, WR, LSUHT: 6-4 WT: 208Comment: Ravens needs a replacement for the departed Lee Evans, who joined Jacksonville in free agency.
30. SAN FRANCISCO: Coby Fleener, TE, StanfordHT: 6-6 WT: 247Comment: Fleener is reunited with former college head coach Jim Harbaugh.
31. NEW ENGLAND: Cordy Glenn, OT, GeorgiaHT: 6-6 WT: 345Comment: Patriots are getting long in the tooth along the offensive line.
32. N.Y. GIANTS: Doug Martin, RB, Boise StateHT: 5-9 WT: 223Comment: Giants get a replacement for Brandon Jacobs, who left for San Francisco in free agency.