In the past week more draft analysts have the Seattle Seahawks selecting an offensive tackle with the team’s No. 6 overall pick. And Rob Rang, senior draft analyst with NFLDraftScout.com, was one of the first to jump on the board with that thought process.
Initially, because of new Seahawks offensive line coach Alex Gibbs and his history of creating solid offensive line play without high draft picks, draft analysts had Seattle passing on an offensive lineman in the first round. But now as we get closer to the draft, an offensive lineman for the Seahawks at No. 6 appears to be more of a reality for a couple reasons.
Several of the top-rated prospects in this year’s draft are offensive tackles, so that talent level justifies selecting an offensive lineman that early in the draft. Seattle has an obvious need on the offensive line. And the Seahawks get more value for the lucrative salary they will be paying a player this high in the draft by selecting an offensive tackle, considered one of the cornerstone positions in the league along with quarterback, defensive end and cornerback.
“I think certainly offensive tackle,” Rang said about Seattle's possibilities at No. 6. “When they made the trade for Charlie Whitehurst and gave up that No. 40 overall pick and dropped all the way down to No. 60, what that did is that completely changed the talent and caliber of offensive tackles that were going to be available on the board at the top of the second round.
“I had championed this idea of taking an offensive tackle because of the Alex Gibbs’ factor in the second or third round, just because there are still players at that point that fit his system, but once you drop from 40 to 60, you’re losing out on the players like Charles Brown from USC and Rodger Saffold from Indiana, players I thought could come in and be immediate contributors, you’ve lost out on those guys. So if the Seahawks are going to take an offensive lineman it has to be in the first round.”
It now makes sense that Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll is spending more time with Oklahoma State offensive tackle Russell Okung, as Rang reports that Oklahoma offensive tackle Trent Williams has passed Okung as the top-rated tackle, and Williams now could be selected by the Redskins at No. 4 because he’s a better fit for Washington’s zone blocking scheme. The Redskins run a similar offense to Seattle. Seahawks offensive coordinator Jeremy Bates mentored under Washington head coach Mike Shanahan at Denver.
Rang currently has Seattle selecting Iowa tackle Bryan Bulaga at No. 6 and Georgia Tech defensive end Derrick Morgan at No. 14 overall. Rang has Okung going to Washington at No. 4 and Williams going to Kansas City at No. 5 overall.
As far as the No. 14 pick, Rang believes that defensive end and safety should be a consideration, with defensive ends Morgan and South Florida’ Jason Pierre-Paul, and safeties Eric Berry of Tennessee and Earl Thomas of Texas considerations for Seattle at that spot in the draft.
Rang didn’t rule out Seattle taking Notre Dame quarterback Jimmy Clausen in the first round, but thinks more likely the Seahawks will take a developmental quarterback in the later rounds.
Clemson running back C.J. Spiller has been a popular pick for Seattle in several mock drafts, but Rang believes because of Gibbs’ history of producing 1,000-yard rushers in his offense without players taken in the first round, Seattle might push down at running back.
“That’s where the depth at running back is at with this year’s class as well,” Rang said about the talent at running back in this year’s draft class. “So that’s certainly a position where I think Seattle is going to be looking in the middle rounds, and perhaps find their infusion of talent at that spot. Ben Tate from Auburn and Montario Hardesty from Tennessee, those are two players I think fit very nicely in their system if they’re looking for a power back to already complement what they have in Julius Jones and Justin Forsett.”
Rang also talked about the team's shift in focus in terms of the types of players Seattle is looking at, now that Tim Ruskell is gone and John Schneider is leading the charge in terms of talent evaluation.
“The biggest thing has been more of a focus on the players that have the ‘prototypical combination of size and speed,’" Rang said. “The trade for Charlie Whitehurst is a great example of that. This is a kid who is 6-5, 230 pounds with a strong arm. I think you’re going to see more of a focus on cornerback quite honestly, even though I don’t necessarily think that’s going to be a high pick. I would expect the club to take a cornerback somewhere in this draft, and I would be very surprised if he’s not at least 5-11, and quite possibly more in that 6-foot, 6-1 area.”
As far as players Seattle might be keeping on in the later rounds to fulfill needs on the back end of the defense, Rang provided a couple names to keep an eye on.
Nate Allen, safety, South Florida: “If you’re looking for a safety in the second to third-round area, perhaps Nate Allen makes some sense,” Rang said.
Robert Johnson, safety, Utah: “A rangy center fielder. … He had 13 interceptions in his last, three years with Utah. So he’s a player that certainly makes some sense,” Rang said.
Myron Lewis, corner/safety, Vanderbilt: “He’s a player that I think has the athletic ability and the ball skills the Seahawks are looking for as well," Rang said.