By Jared Stanger
There are a ton of indications that this offseason will be a massive transition for the Seahawks. There are an unfortunately high number of pending unrestricted free agents. There are some serious injury question marks. There is a terrible salary cap situation. And there is a pretty brutal draft situation with no current draft picks on day two of the draft.
I’m not a doctor, so I can’t even come close to predicting how the injury situation plays out. I’m terrible with salary cap, so I’m not going to be the guy that can predict who is re-upped and/or who is brought in from outside free agency. I’m simply going to attack the roster problems through the draft, and plug the holes caused by FA/injury with new, young draft talent.
Specifically, this is my attempt to suggest the single best player at a variety of potential position problems spots, that can be filled in the draft from roughly #25-#60 overall. The idea behind that 35-pick range is: Seattle starting at #18 overall (where they sit if the season ended today), and trading back 1-2 times to augment rounds 1-3 of the draft with a little bit better balance.
In my mind, I want Seattle to draft four times in the first three rounds. They currently only draft once in that range. It will take some serious maneuvering to get to four. Three is not implausible. Assuming they can complete the appropriate trades; these are the players I would look to target.
Offensive Line: Tyrell Crosby
I’ve been beating the drum for Tyrell all year. I’ve seen his draft value anywhere from a bubble-1st to a 4th round pick. I’ve got him in the 2nd, top 60. His college experience is mostly at Left Tackle, with some early-career play at Right Tackle. I could see him give you a value similar to what New Orleans got from Ryan Ramczyk this year: primarily a RT, with spot starting at LT. I’m also curious if he could transition inside to Left Guard.
In essence, Tyrell would replace UFA Luke Joeckel on the roster, and either Joeckel or Germain Ifedi in the lineup (Brown-Crosby-Britt-Pocic-Ifedi or Brown-Pocic-Britt-Ifedi-Crosby).
Running Back: Damien Harris
Another guy that I’ve been coveting all year; Harris is, to me, the best combination of size/speed/hands/vision/toughness available late-1st to early-2nd round. You probably don’t get close to Saquon Barkley at all, you may see Derrius Guice around that #18 pick but I’m not sure his value is significantly more than Harris at #30 plus more picks.
Harris replaces Eddie Lacy on the roster, and in theory Chris Carson replaces Thomas Rawls, yielding a 2018 RB room of Carson, Harris, Mike Davis, JD McKissic. Prosper.
Safety: Deshon Elliott
Safety is one of a few spots in this next draft that could be of high need for Seattle, but aren’t high quality fields in terms of available talent in the class. Kam Chancellor is potentially never returning from his injury. Earl Thomas made comments this week that suggest he may leave after his contract expires in 2018 and Seattle may be better off trading him while he still has a year left. McDougald is a free agent, but could/should be retained if possible.
After a quality 2017 safety class, with good depth, I think 2018 is kinda brutal. You’ve got two studs at the very top in Minkah Fitzpatrick and Derwin James (in that order), and then a huge dropoff to a group that includes Ronnie Harrison, Marcus Allen, Armani Watts, Justin Reid. I think that group is mostly 3rd rounders, and the long-term evaluation may not even give you that value.
I think Deshon Elliott is THEE value play. Mostly a free safety on tape, but at 6’2″/210lbs, I think Elliott can also play strong with his physicality and tackling ability. Elliott a disrupter that effects all aspects of the game: 63 tackles, 8.5 TFL, 1.5 sacks, 9 PBU, 3 FF, and 6 INT (t-4th in the country). His athleticism may not match Fitzpatrick/James, but he will test very well, I think.
Defensive End: Duke Ejiofor
I think DE and pressuring the QB is a huge problem currently, and going forward. Avril has probably played his last snap as a Seahawk. McDowell may NEVER play a snap as a Seahawk. Bennett might be done as a pro bowl level talent. Clark is kinda on his own right now.
Unfortunately, defensive end is similar to safety this year: basically no depth. But DE is more like: Bradley Chubb and then drop-off. The mix of guys in the 2nd tier goes: Arden Key, Clelin Ferrell, Austin Bryant, Harold Landry, Sam Hubbard, Rasheem Green, Jalyn Holmes, Dorance Armstrong.
Arden Key has the kind of redflags that could cause him to drop, and his 2016 status is the kind of thing Seattle has historically latched onto while disregarding 2017 tape (Ifedi, McDowell). I wouldn’t be shocked that Seattle likes either of the Clemson guys (I prefer Bryant). I have a feeling Seattle likes Green a lot, but I really don’t like his tape. The guy that I think is simply the best player on tape, with a solid combination of size/athleticism/production, at the right value, is Duke Ejiofor.
At 6’3″/275 lbs; Ejiofor is almost the identical size to Michael Bennett when he came out of college. Duke also has been used in a similar way by Wake Forest; giving him a mix of reps at DE and some DT. I like a lot of what Duke put on tape, but more importantly I think there is still some untapped upside still to come.
Draftscout has Ejiofor as their #82 overall player currently. I think he’s a 2nd-rounder all day. If you can get him #60-64 range, after trading back your 1st round pick once or twice, then you’ve accomplished adding a much-needed DE, while still getting a hell of a player at RB or OT with your first pick. If you can identify the Russell Wilson player available at #75, it allows you to get Bobby Wagner at #47 (I always think in terms of drafting backwards).
Tightend: Dallas Goedert
A third position that was stronger in 2017 than it will be in 2018. But there are a few high-end names of intrigue, and then the depth is okay, but it’s just more along the lines of a Zach Miller than the big-time TE athletes we saw last year.
With Jimmy Graham and Luke Willson both pending UFA, tightend will be a need, but will it be a priority? This wouldn’t be my favorite strategy due to the value I think a TE brings combined with what I think are bigger needs.
2018 TE feels a little like 2018 CB to me, in that I would like to target a more niche type at each position that isn’t carrying huge buzz/pricetag. Which is to say: an inline, blocking TE, and a nickel-slot CB. If you scout well and target correctly, both can be had 5th-6th rounds.
If Seattle DID go TE early, Mark Andrews is probably gone, Mike Gesicki has some appeal as a former basketball player that wins jumpballs, but I likely go Dallas Goedert. None of these three in the top tier are great blockers, but I like Goedert’s hands, combined with his RAC.
Wide Receiver: DJ Moore
Of all of the players on this list, I think Moore at WR is the least likely to happen. Much like TE, there are bigger needs at other positions, but unlike TE I think the WR depth is actually pretty good. Which means some really good WR will just come rolling off the board while we sit and wish we still had our native 2nd and 3rd round picks. 2018 WR may be a little similar to 2017 CB in that they push it down because of depth. They should still take one by the 4th round, though.
I’ve got a pretty refined wish list for WR this year…with practicality/value in mind, I think it’s: Anthony Miller, DJ Moore, Cedrick Wilson, Jaleel Scott, Marcell Ateman. For purposes of this piece, I think the two that qualify and need to be drafted before #60 are Anthony Miller and DJ Moore.
I’m taking DJ Moore for multiple reasons, not the least of which are his resemblances to Golden Tate and Doug Baldwin. He LOOKS like a guy John Schneider would covet.
So there are my pick-six picks. If Seattle can manage their draft picks and draftboard correctly, I think it is plausible to come away with two of these six. If they can get three, that’s an incredible job.