Series: A look at the other three teams in the most wide open division in football.
What a difference a year makes. A year ago at this time, the Rams were the team no one wanted to be. A team in chaos, who was coming off a 6-42 span that saw the epic collapse of what once stood as an offensive haven. When the first round ended, the Rams had addressed their biggest question -- quarterback. Fast forward a season and the Cardinals, 49ers and Seahawks now have that unsettling, uncomfortable feeling at quarterback. Will the other teams follow the Rams’ approach and try to answer their quarterback question in round one or could they go after a guy that is going to sack Sam Bradford? Here’s a look at the draft options for the Cardinals, 49ers and Seahawks.
The Seahawks shocked everybody last year by making the playoffs and eventually knocking off the defending champs, New Orleans Saints, in the wildcard round. This team will infamously be remembered for becoming the first team ever to make the playoffs -- and win a playoff game -- with a losing record. However, despite the playoff berth, this team has some big holes to fill from top to bottom.
My pick for the Seattle Seahawks: Jake Locker – QB – Washington
Longtime quarterback Matt Hasselbeck is a free agent. Even if the Seahawks bring him back, quarterback is a position they could address early in this draft. Hasselbeck, who will be 36 next season, has spent most of the last 3 seasons battling injuries. Not to mention, his 44 interceptions to 34 touchdowns during that span, coupled with a quarterback rating no higher than 75.1%, there's no reason not to consider a quarterback with this pick.
Some might say that Charlie Whitehurst is the heir-apparent to Hasselbeck. I don’t think Charlie Whitehurst has done anything to cement himself as Hasselbeck’s replacement, and Vic Carucci of NFL.com agrees with this theory. In a recent chat he wrote, “I do believe that somewhere along the line the Seahawks will draft a quarterback, because they have to have a successor-in-waiting for Matt Hasselbeck. Right now, he doesn’t appear to be on the roster.”
Carucci has Arkansas quarterback, Ryan Mallet going to the Seahawks with the 25th pick. Mallet is surely another option with the pick. Unlike Carucci, I think Jake Locker will be around at 25, and what a better way to replace a fan favorite in Hasselbeck than with a quarterback beloved by the whole state of Washington? [Editor's note: The proprietor of the venerable Seahawks blog Field Gulls was more worried about Mallett disappearing early, cashing in several trade chips to get to the #15 pick in MockThree to take Mallett.]
We consider other options, after the break:
Ben Ijalana – OG – Villanova
As mentioned above, the Seahawks struggled to run the ball last year. They could fix this by addressing issues they have upfront. Ijalana or Baylor’s Danny Watkins are two solid options at this point. These two in particular I like because of their time spent at left tackle at the collegiate level. Because of their experiences and abilities on the outside, both could act as a swing tackle in case last year’s 6th overall pick, Russell Okung, continues to have health problems.
Mikel Leshoure – RB – Illinois
Hidden behind that amazing 67-yard touchdown run by Marshawn Lynch in the playoffs was one of the worst rushing attacks in the NFL. The Seahawks finished 31st in rushing yards last year and 29th in yards per carry. This team managed to eclipse 100 yards rushing only six times, and neither Marshawn Lynch nor Justin Forsett managed to put together a 100-yard rushing game by themselves.
This maybe a little early for Leshoure but they could risk losing out on serious talent by waiting to address this position until late in the second round. The consensus on Leshoure is that he is the 2nd best running back in this class, and we recently targeted him for the Rams in MockThree. The highly productive junior averaged 6 yards a carry last year while amassing nearly 1700 yards on the ground and 17 touchdowns. He has the size and speed to be an every down back in the NFL.
Why Locker over the other two options?
This is pretty simple. Balancing the three positions, QB, OG and RB, there will still be pretty good value at OG and RB when the Seahawks pick again at 57th overall. The same cannot be said for the QB position.