Seattle Seahawks

Sherman gone, Chancellor hurt, Thomas' deal ending... Do Seahawks draft a DB in first round?

Cornerback Josh Jackson is a top prospect in the NFL draft that begins Thursday because of plays like this he made against Ohio State while leading the nation with eight interceptions. But there's a reason of precedent that may keep the cornerback-needy Seahawks away from him.
Cornerback Josh Jackson is a top prospect in the NFL draft that begins Thursday because of plays like this he made against Ohio State while leading the nation with eight interceptions. But there's a reason of precedent that may keep the cornerback-needy Seahawks away from him. The Des Moines Register

As with any team that is coming off a disappointing season without a playoff appearance, the Seahawks have so many needs they could have a dozen picks in the NFL draft and not address all of them.

Yet no team has as many reasons for selecting a defensive back in the first round Thursday.

Since it last played a game four months ago, Seattle has waived three-time All-Pro RichardSherman. It is still waiting on word about Kam Chancellor, this time a summer medical scan of the strong safety's career-threatening neck injuryto help determine if he will ever be able to play again. Earl Thomas, the three-time All-Pro at free safety, is entering the final year of his contract that the Seahawks may or may not renew—if they don't find a partner giving them the trade terms they want first.

Plus, the veteran the Seahawks had fill in for Sherman the last two months of 2017, Byron Maxwell, remains an unsigned free agent. The left cornerback job opposite last year's rookie starter Shaquill Griffin remains more open than Seattle would like.

Hello, Josh Jackson?

Draft analysts seemingly from Maine to Maui have projected the Seahawks will select the 6-foot, 196-pound cornerback from Iowa. Like Sherman, Jackson also played wide receiver in college. Like Sherman, Seattle's steal pick in the fifth round in 2011 out of Stanford, some say the 6-foot, 196-pound Jackson isn't fast enough. When Jackson ran a official 4.56-second 40-yard dash at the scouting combine last month, some dropped him from near the top of the first round to near the bottom.

The Seahawks are often bigger on results. Jackson led the country with eight interceptions last season. He returned two for touchdowns, against Ohio State and Wisconsin.

Some compare him to former University of Washington cornerback Marcus Peters, now with the Los Angeles Rams.

Yet there is one attribute in particular that may keep the Seahawks from selecting Jackson, even if he's available to them. If form and habits hold, they won't draft him.

Jackson's arms are not 32 inches long.

Since Carroll and Schneider arrived to lead Seattle in 2010, they have taken eight cornerbacks in eight drafts, including Griffin in the third round last year. All eight have had arms at least 32 inches long.

Jackson's are 31 1/8 inches.

On Monday, arroll made it sound like this and any precedent of their Seahawks' draft system indeed matters. That it applies this year, again.

"Our process is really consistent in the way John leads the whole program," the coach said.

General manager John Schneider and coach Pete Carroll discuss philosophy, no real details before the transitioning Seahawks begin 2018 draft.

So what other defensive backs may the Seahawks draft in the first round? That is, if they don't trade their initial pick for the seventh consecutive year, in an attempt to get back the second- or third-round choices they traded away for Sheldon Richardson and Duane Brown.

The Seahawks would love for dynamic safety Florida State safety Derwin James, who has also played cornerback and linebacker. But that's not going to happen. James is going to be gone by 18.

Seattle is known to have hosted at team headquarters for workouts highly-coveted Alabama strong safety Ronnie Harrison (6-2, 207 pounds), Texas cornerback Holton Hill (a-ha! his arms are 32 inches long), Alabama cornerback Tony Brown (who also has shorter than 32-inch arms, by the way), Colorado cornerback Isaiah Oliver (strong against UW's Dante Pettis last season, and arms at 33 1/2 inches), Stony Brook 202-pound free safety Chris Cooper, Florida safety Marcell Harris, Stanford's versatile, physical safety Justin Reid and Louisiana-Lafayette cornerback Simeon Thomas.

Thomas is considered a late-round prospect, or perhaps an undrafted free agent after the draft ends Saturday. He likely got the Seahawks' attention because because he is 6-4 1/2 inches tall with pterodactyl-like arms that are a whopping 35 inches long.

The Seahawks are also waiting for three of the four defensive backs they drafted with their first eight of picks last year to prove they deserve more time on the field. Seattle didn't select free safety Tedric Thompson, strong safety Delano Hill and cornerback Mike Tyson to sit and watch. Thompson, Hill and Tyson did special teams and next to nothing on defense as rookies.

“That’s another part of our evaluation. Just because you’re talented doesn’t mean you’re going to come in here not be in awe of Kam Chancellor, Bobby Wagner, Russell Wilson or whomever," Schneider said Monday, updating his offseason talking point that used to include Sherman, too.

"We’ve got to get back to bringing guys into this building that are ready to compete with those guys and not just be happy to take a second seat or a backup chair. Pete’s whole deal is it’s all about competition. We need to get those guys that want to come in and compete.

"This class, they were in eighth grade or freshman year when these guys were in the Super Bowl. So they’re playing them in Madden and all of that stuff, you know?"

At the combine, Schneider's version of that was: "You are getting to the point where we are interviewing these guys at the combine or you are at the school interviewing them, and they are thinking to themselves 'Wow, I get to play with Kam Chancellor?' No, you get to COMPETE with Kam Chancellor. That's the mindset we have to get back to. They are a little bit in awe, you know. You know, they were in eighth grade.

In other words, yes, the Seahawks need some new defensive backs. Ones that can play right now.