Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Foward Thinking

by: Michael Steffes

As those of you follow along know, I have dedicated Tuesdays, the Seahawks' off day, to looking ahead to 2009. With Arizona's last second win on MNF, the Seahawks' season is effectively over. The Cardinals will get 9 wins, and 10 is a very good possibility. But that is okay. The Seahawks are playing under an unusual set of circumstances this year, and will look to build momentum in the second half. One thing they will get out of this disappointing season is a draft slot higher than they have held since 2003 when they selected Marcus Trufant, one of the two Pro Bowlers they have drafted in the last 5 years.

Having a high pick will afford the Seahawks an opportunity they haven not enjoyed because of their recent run of playoff appearances. While the top picks do now take quite a financial investment, they also produce a chance at landing a game-changing performer. Consider that with picks in the top ten of the draft, the Hawks have found players such as Walter Jones, Shaun Springs, Joey Galloway, Sam Adams and Cortez Kennedy. Of course, they have also gotten Ray Roberts, Rick Mirer, and Koren Robinson, too. The point is, a good choice can dramatically improve this team, but it is not a guarantee.

Today, I am going to examine positions the Seahawks may be looking at in this upcoming draft. I will leave you to debate how the Hawks will fill these needs. To continue....

Let's begin by talking offense. The Seahawks of recent have put the majority of their resources into building the defensive side of the ball. They have veteran players at some of the key positions on the offense, and this may be the year they begin to prepare for the day those players are no longer here.

Offensive Tackle~

Big Walt is still one of the best tackles in the league. He is signed through 2010, and by all accounts is healthier than he has been in recent years. However, drafting a tackle is a tempting proposition. If you believe, as I do, that the Hawks will likely find their pick returning to the later part of the round, then taking a franchise left tackle may be an opportunity they can't pass up. Franchise tackles go high, and teams rarely find top guys at this position in the later rounds. In fact, 5 tackles were drafted before the Hawks picked last year. This year there is another deep class of tackles. With Locklear also signed long term, the key for the Hawks could be finding a tackle that can begin his career on the interior, thus strengthening the line overall before taking over when Walt finally calls it quits. The downside of taking a tackle first is the Hawks would have to pass up an opportunity to take an ultra-dynamic offensive threat, something that the current group seems to be missing.

Wide Receiver~

The Hawks have been decimated by injuries to this position in 2008. Along with the injuries, guys like Courtney Taylor and Jordan Kent have been unable to translate their training camp promise to Sunday success. This opens up the possibility that the Hawks may look to find a guy who will become a true #1 receiver. When you look at the current group, there is reason to believe this could be the pick as well. Deion Branch will likely get one more year to prove his worth for the Hawks. Cutting him before the season only provides minimal cap savings, and the general belief is that it takes a full season after major knee construction for a guy like Branch to really be right. Bobby Engram's future with the team will be decided after the season, and while Nate Burleson will probably stay as long as the team will have him, his contract is up after '09. Thus, drafting and grooming a star on the outside makes a lot of sense. The big downside to this is that first round receivers have the lowest percentage of success of all the positions. It is a gamble. The transition to the pro game is a difficult one for pass catchers. However, if the Hawks can get the guy their first choice, they may not be able to pass up the opportunity to grab a player who can make life easy for the signal caller.


It is hard to imagine the Hawks using a their first rounder on a QB with Hasselbeck under contract through 2010, especially when Matt playing longer is still a possibility. Look at Kerry Collins and how he is performing with a rock solid line and effective rushing attack. However, it is almost a certainty that the Hawks will take a QB in this draft. They looked long and hard at Chad Henne last year, and with Charlie Frye not making a case to be resigned, they will likely go young at #3. They will hope to strike gold with a mid-round pick, and if it doesn't materialize, then they may take a first round QB in a subsequent year.


After failing to draft a offensive lineman last year, the Hawks will undoubtedly take a linemen or two in this year's draft. While tackle is a possibility at the top, the Hawks will probably take an interior linemen as well. It will be interesting to see where. Chris Spencer appears to be improving as the season goes on, but sentiment still exists that he may never excel at the line's most cerebral position. Next year is also his last year under contract. If they do decide he is the long term center, then guard becomes a position to look at. Sims will be coming off an injury. Womack will probably not be resigned, although that has been the feeling for two years now. Willis may move inside, but the team would have to resign him first. And Mike Wahle is not a young guy. The Hawks have yet to unveil the project that is Mansfield Wrotto, and Steve Vallos has looked capable at times, but a need still exists. If the team takes a tackle that can begin his career inside, then the team will likely just add depth. However if they go a different direction at the top, they very likely will take a lineman before the the late rounds.

I will be back with defensive draft needs later in the day.