If the Seattle Seahawks planned to put out a smoke screen, creating the perception that they might take USC quarterback Mark Sanchez with the No. 4 pick, they've done a pretty good job.
However, the Seahawks selecting Sanchez at No. 4 may not be an illusion.
Seattle head coach Jim Mora and team president and general manager Tim Ruskelll have said that the team needs to draft a quarterback sooner rather than later to groom as the eventual replacement for 33-year-old quarterback Matt Hasselbeck.
Hasselbeck had back issues last season, and the organization is unsure how long he can continue to play at a high level.
However, the thought of selecting Sanchez has more to do with Hasselbeck staying healthy. If Hasselbeck stays upright and plays well this season, Seattle will have a lower selection next season and might not have an opportunity to select a franchise quarterback like Oklahoma's Sam Bradford or Colt McCoy of Texas next season, so there's a feeling that now is the team's best chance to grab a talent like Sanchez.
But there's also the issue of what selecting Sanchez might do in terms of the attitude of the players on the team, who believe the Seahawks can make a deep playoff run now. Sanchez probably won't see the field for another two to three years if Seattle's drafts him, so that's a lot of money sitting on the sideline holding a clipboard as the team's third quarterback. Not exactly an impact player for 2009.
Also, as Hasselbeck has said, there's a lot of quarterbacks who have been drafted late, or not at all, that have worked their way to franchise quarterback status, including Hasselbeck, Kurt Warner, Tony Romo, Marc Bulger and Matt Cassel.
If Seattle decides to pass on Sanchez, the two other front runners appear to be Virginia offensive tackle Eugene Monroe and Wake Forest linebacker Aaron Curry. There's the thought that Kansas City could pass on Curry and go with Monroe to bolster its offensive line in order to protect new franchise quarterback Cassel.
Also, the Chiefs already have nine linebackers on the roster, and likely three penciled in as starters with Zach Thomas and Derrick Johnson starting inside and Mike Vrabel staring outside. Kansas City likely would use Curry at outside linebacker when they change to a 3-4 defensive front. Curry would be required to rush the passer, which probably is not his strong suit. So, essentially the Chiefs would be drafting a player at No. 3 to fill a specialized need that they could probably get later on the draft.
Curry and Monroe both would fulfill needs for Seattle, and would make immediate impacts.
I think Texas Tech wide receiver Michael Crabtree has an outside chance of being selected by Seattle. However, with the Seahawks bringing T.J. Houshmandzadeh in, wide receiver is not an urgent need right now and could be addressed later in the draft, so I see Crabtree likely going to Cleveland at No. 5.
ESPN discusses Seattle's draft needs in this video.
ESPN's Mike Sando also addresses Seattle's draft needs here.
Rob Rang, senior analyst for NFLDraftScout.com posts his latest mock draft, and he has Seattle Still picking Sanchez at No. 4. He also has Curry dropping to Jacksonville at No. 8. Says Rang: "Only one linebacker has been selected higher than the ninth pick since the 2000 draft, and A.J. Hawk, the fifth pick of the 2006 draft, hasn't exactly torn up the up league."
Rob Staton of the Seahawks Draft Blog discusses the latest news on Crabtree, with a couple different national writers discussing the playmaking potential of the Texas Tech wide receiver, including Charles Robinson of Yahoo Sports and Seth Wickersham of ESPN the Magazine.
Gil Brandt of NFL.com reports that Crabtree has four visits, including a trip to Cleveland he made on Monday.