By: Joe Harris/Oregon Sports News
In just three weeks, the Seattle Seahawks will make one of the most important draft picks in team history. It’s the first pick they’ll spend after trading the star of their franchise, and it’s the pick that the Hawks coveted when they traded Russell Wilson to the Broncos.
The Hawks sort of look like a mess on paper at the moment. Drew Lock is penciled in as the starting quarterback, although trade rumors have still been floated around about Baker Mayfield. D.K. Metcalf is on the trade block, and teams are calling. A trade that involves one of their young superstars certainly seems like a rebuilding move, something Pete Carroll likely doesn’t want.
The defense that hasn’t been all that great in the last two years hasn’t done much to get better; in fact, they released Bobby Wagner, the heart and soul of that unit. There are so many questions as the offseason goes on, but maybe the most critical at the moment is who they will pick with the ninth overall selection.
The Hawks have plenty of needs on their roster, which has either fallen apart or been dismantled by pending free agents. Here are the top needs for the team:
Quarterback: Maybe you don’t need one entering this season with the 9th pick, but unless Seattle is pouring their faith into Drew Lock, it’s not a bad idea to see who may fall to the ninth spot in the draft.
Offensive Tackle: This is a nightmare for the Hawks. Duane Brown and Brandon Shell, who played left and right tackle, are both free agents. Lock won’t be very happy if he enters the year being protected by a bunch of guys who were third-stringers last season. Building a great O-line typically comes through the draft.
Center: I don’t think a first-round selection should be used on a center, but Ethan Pocic has headed to Cleveland in free agency, and the Hawks are down ANOTHER offensive line member. They have to address this at some point.
EDGE – Seattle could desperately use a great pass rusher. They moved on from Carlos Dunlap, Kerry Hyder, and Benson Mayowa this offseason. They have a huge gap at this position, and as we’ve seen the last few years in the NFL, a successful edge rusher typically leads to a successful defense.
MLB – Bobby Wagner is gone, and the Hawks will need a new era. The starter for this season will be Cody Barton. Shocker, he’s a free agent after this season. The Hawks will need to look for a future staple at the position.
Given those needs, ESPN has ranked these players as the top three at each of those positions.
QB: Malik Willis, Kenny Pickett, Matt Corral
Tackle: Ikem Ekwonu, Evan Neal, Charles Cross
Center: Tyler Linderbaum, Cameron Jurgens, Dohnovan West
EDGE: Aidan Hutchinson, Kayvon Thibodeaux, Travon Walker
MLB: Devin Lloyd, Nakobe Dean, Quay Walker
Out of these 15 players, it’s likely a safe bet to assume that Hutchinson, Thibodeaux, and two of three, if not all, the offensive tackles will be off the board. That leaves the Hawks with a choice at a top quarterback if Malik Willis falls, their choice of a top linebacker, a center, or grabbing the next best EDGE rusher.
Most national pundits have the Hawks taking an offensive tackle at number nine. I know that isn’t the most attractive pick for franchises and fans to get excited about, but having a top O-line can be the difference between winning a Super Bowl and never making the playoffs.
There is a chance that the Hawks can grab Charles Cross or the next best available in Trevor Penning. Dane Brugler, a draft expert from The Athletic, says this about Cross and Penning.
Cross: “Opinions are split on Cross around the league. Some believe he belongs in the top half of round one, but others see another Andre Dillard and aren’t completely sold. He doesn’t have ideal power, but Cross is outstanding in pass protection, and that is the basis for his high grade. He processes things quickly and shows outstanding hand exchange and movement patterns to frustrate pass rushers. With Cross, I see a future starter with Pro Bowl potential.”
Penning: “Coming from the FCS level, Penning is still raw in several areas, which was clear during Senior Bowl practices. But tackles with his combination of size, length (almost 35-inch arms), power, and athleticism are uncommon. Penning also loves to play pissed off, and his compete skills will translate well to the pro game.”
A pick that could get fans plenty excited is a quarterback. Of course, there is lots of reason to be skeptical of the QBs in this draft class. The Hawks may have a shot at Willis if the Lions and Falcons aren’t interested in him. Pickett and Corral should almost certainly be there. Here are the reports on Willis and Pickett, the two the Hawks will likely zone in on.
Willis: “Overall, Willis requires time to mature his anticipation, vision, and accuracy, but he has the potential to be a dynamic NFL playmaker due to his natural athleticism, arm talent, and intangibles.”
Pickett: “Overall, Pickett has some skittish tendencies, and the hand size (throws with a glove) will be a factor for some teams, but his football IQ, functional mobility, and accuracy from various platforms are a special package.”
I think the last realistic choice given the big board would be taking the top middle linebacker available in Devin Lloyd. The Hawks need to shore up the position and look toward the future. They will be able to select a QB later on in the draft. Here’s the read on Lloyd.
Lloyd: “He has room to improve his play strength and posture as a take-on player, but he does a great job scraping and sifting with his slippery athleticism and length to make plays at the line of scrimmage. Lloyd is a better version of the Chargers’ Kenneth Murray when he was coming out of Oklahoma.”
I don’t see a reliable 10-year starter in this QB class, and if you’re spending a top-10 pick on a QB, that’s exactly what you want. Just ask the Browns, Bucs, Broncos, Titans, and a dozen other teams who have parted with their first round quarterbacks before the initial contract was up.
Lloyd would be a great pick, but the Hawks have a guy at that position for the time being and can focus on nabbing someone in a later round. While I’d like to think they could get a top pass-rusher, it sounds like the best two will be off the board within the top-five picks.
My pick is the best of the remaining offensive tackles. Whether it’s Penning or Cross, they may get lucky and have a guy like Neal fall to them. I can’t stress just how vital a reliable offensive line is, and it’s crucial in a Pete Carroll run-heavy offense.