Trying to predict what Pete Carroll and John Schneider will do with the No. 26 pick of the 2017 NFL Draft is a fool's errand. Luckily, I'm feelin' foolish.
First we'll talk about the strategy the Seattle Seahawks have employed in the Pete and John era. Then we'll get into their draft needs and potential picks. Let's get to it.
Background: Pete Carroll's First Round Picks
Since Carroll was hired in 2010, the Seahawks have used a first round pick on a player with a first-round grade twice — both in 2010, when they used their two first round picks on Russell Okung (No. 6 overall) and Earl Thomas (No. 14). Both were very highly-regarded prospects coming into the draft, and Thomas (at least) has lived up to the hype.
The following year, 2011, Seattle selected Alabama offensive tackle James Carpenter with the 25th overall pick. I couldn't find any 2011 mock drafts that pegged him to go in the first round, but NFL Draft Scout rated him as a second-rounder who could potentially go as high as the late first round. So it wasn't totally out of left field.
Then Pete and John got weird with it. They used the No. 15 pick of the 2012 NFL Draft on West Virginia outside linebacker Bruce Irvin. The public was not amused.
Bleacher Report's Donald Wood summed up the media's thoughts about the selection and the Seahawks' 2012 draft class as a whole:
"After one of the worst picks in the first round I can ever remember, the Seattle Seahawks didn't draft any positions of need or draft for the future.
Pete Carroll is proving why he didn’t make it in the NFL the first time. Not only was Bruce Irvin a reach at No. 15, the Seahawks proved they were oblivious to their madness by celebrating their selection.
As if the day wasn’t bad enough, Seattle selecting Russell Wilson, a QB that doesn’t fit their offense at all, was by far the worst move of the draft. With the two worst moves of the draft, Seattle is the only team that received an F on draft day.
We saw how that turned out.
Obviously this harsh public shaming made Pete and John second-guess themselves (sarcastic), as they traded away their next three first round picks for Percy Harvin (2013), the Vikings' second and a fourth-round picks (2014), and Jimmy Graham (2015).
Then last year, once they got over the embarrassment of their "spit-take educing" 2012 first-rounder, they picked up Texas A&M guard Germain Ifedi — second round projection with late-first/low-second range.
So with this history to work with, we're forced to widen the scope of players the Seahawks might target in the 2017 draft. [divider]
Seahawks Draft Needs
Offensive Tackle again
Offensive Tackle a third time[divider]
Predicting the Seahawks' Draft Targets (1st Round 2017)[divider]
Trade the pick
Not a super fun thing to read about, but it would fit the trend: It'd be the fourth time in five years Pete and John traded away their first round selection.
This year does feel a little different though. All the talk about "windows" over the past month and whether or not the Seahawks' is closing, they have to feel the need to bring in a guy who can contribute immediately.[divider]
Cam Robinson, OT, Alabama
If Robinson falls past Cleveland at 12, Indianapolis at 14, and Baltimore at 16, he would be a steal for the Hawks at 26. He's either the best or second best offensive lineman in a relatively weak O-line class. And he excels at run-blocking, something the Seahawks would love to make part of their offensive identity once again.
The Outland Trophy winner is powerful. Upper body, lower body, all of it — he can move a man (or even multiple men) against their will. However, he might not be as fleet of foot as you'd like in a tackle, so a switch to guard could make sense. In any case, he could and would contribute immediately. [divider]
GARRETT BOLLES, OT, UTAH
Bolles was HERO Sports NFL Draft Expert Todd Worly's prediction for the Seahawks at No. 26. Here's what he said in his most recent 2017 NFL mock draft:
"He has the best nasty streak of the tackles at the top of this class, and also has the versatility to kick inside to guard if need be. With his combination of explosiveness, feet, range and knee bend, he has the skillset to step in and earn a starting spot early in his career, which is what Seattle sorely needs."
Nasty streak? Sounds like a Tom Cable guy to me. [divider]
Ryan Ramczyk, OT, Wisconsin
There's a reason the first three guys on this list are offensive tackles. Pro Football Focus ranked the Seahawks' offensive line dead last in the NFL for their performance this season, and had this to say about the unit as a whole:
"The other four starters [besides center Justin Britt] top out at overall grades of 52.3, and the best-ranked among them (LG Mark Glowinski) is the 63rd-ranked player at his position league-wide. The success Seattle has experienced this season is entirely in spite of its offensive line, and requires QB Russell Wilson and the running backs to play stellar football to continue to overcome the unit’s deficiencies."
So yeah, tackle is a priority. If Robinson is gone, the Seahawks could elect to go with Ryan Ramczyk, who definitely fits the profile of a PC/JS guy. Ramczyk started his college career at D3 UW-Stevens Point before transferring to Wisconsin for his final year of eligibility. He's got good size at 6-foot-6, 313 pounds, but is in recovery from a January hip surgery, which the team will monitor closely.
A very good run blocker, Ramczyk has the quickness (and desire) to get to the second level, but isn't as developed in the pass game. In any case, he was an All-Big Ten first-teamer, and there's no indication he's ever played even a minute of basketball.[divider]
TEEZ TABOR, CB, FLORIDA
The 2017 NFL Draft class is bereft of offensive linemen, but replete with defensive backs — Tabor is one of six corners in Todd Worly's top 25 overall prospects. He's not as explosive as some of the others, but he's very good at staying in a receivers' hip pocket throughout breaks. Tabor is a solid cover-corner with good instincts and solid hands.
As far as negatives? Tabor has had some off-field issues (suspended for the opening game of the 2016 season by coach Jim McElwain for "behavior that is not acceptable") and needs work in run-defense, but he'd be able to start immediately. Especially since DeShawn Shead might not be back in time for opening day, still recovering from a knee injury. [divider]
Adoree Jackson, CB, USC
What?? Such a reach! The Seahawks would be crazy to pick Jackson here! He's got a second round grade!
Yeah, kind of like James Carpenter, Bruce Irvin, and Germain Ifedi when the Seahawks used their first round picks on them. Jackson is one of the most athletic and electric players in the 2017 draft — regardless of position. Here's what Worly had to say:
"Jackson’s hips, feet, explosiveness and recovery speed are on par with the corners at the top of the draft, but his instincts, physicality and tackling ability aren’t at this point."
All of these things scream "Seahawks".[divider]
Caleb Brantley, DT, Florida
Not a ton of high-end defensive tackles in this draft class. The Seahawks will get at least one at some point, but if it's not Brantley with the No. 26 pick, it might not happen until the fourth or fifth round.
Brantley will be one of the best interior pass-rushers in the league before the end of his first contract. In his final year at Florida, he registered 31 tackles, 9.5 tackles for loss, 2.5 sacks, three quarterback hurries and a forced fumble, even though he had to fight through double-teams much of the time. He's a stud, and the Hawks desperately need one to add depth to the D-line. Check out his highlights above to see why the stats don't tell the whole story. [divider]
Takkarist McKinley, OLB, UCLA
Read through Worly's thoughts on McKinley and ask yourself if they remind you of anybody:
"One of the best athletes in this entire draft, McKinley has elite explosiveness and range as a 3-4 outside linebacker. The question is whether or not he’s too much of a one-trick pony to bring value against the run in the NFL. If his knee bend improves, he’ll be significantly better at the point of attack, and the sky would be the limit at that point. He would be a steal at the top of the second round."
Bruce Irvin? Athlete? Bit of a reach in the first round? Great pass-rusher who struggles against the run? Fits the profile for sure.