Seattle takes Cameron Fleming. #KRM
I’m honored to bring up the proverbial rear of the inaugural Kanick mock draft. Clearly, the pressure is on to deliver – and since I’m more experienced in making meta mock draft selections than “real” ones, I’ll admit to some nerves. Drawing the Seahawks makes the task even more difficult, as they are the rare, young, built through the draft Super Bowl champions who theoretically could be better in the coming season. Seattle’s John Schneider tends to find the best available talent for Pete Carroll to coach – an idea that screams of pure practicality. While their chief rivals in San Francisco* engage in petty front office squabbles, (and in Denver toss out 80 mil in dumb free agent money)1 the Seahawks keep building quality depth through the draft. In trying to find some common draft themes, I was sucked into the wormhole of Seahawks’ past and realized two things:
- First, the obvious: The Seahawks are pros at this whole drafting thing. If the Seahawks’ current run extends another few seasons, the 2010 and 2012 drafts – along with some late 2011 picks – could rank among the best in league history. For a (painful) contrast: the Browns took Haden, Ward, Hardesty and Richardson, Weeden, Schwartz.
- And for the inexplicable: One of Pat Shurmur’s nine NFL wins came against the 2011 Seahawks. Granted, Shurmur beat Charlie Whitehurst – or more precisely, Dick Jauron’s defense managed to hold up two Phil Dawson field goals – but what’s remarkable is that one of the most dominant champs in years was largely a pedestrian squad forged on the fruits of two outstanding drafts. Add Irvin, Wagner and Wilson to 2010’s bounty of Okung, Thomas, Tate and Chancellor – throw in Sherman, Maxwell, Malcolm Smith and a 2013 class that is basically waiting to be Varsity eligible and it’s clear that the Seahawks are the closest thing to a dynasty a postmodern NFL can allow. And again, in a bizarro football world, Shurmur beat the Seahawks.
So it goes when your team drafts its franchise quarterback as a third round value pick. While Russell Wilson is representative of the Seahawks’ golden draft touch, it’s worth noting that Schneider and Carroll’s approach is really quite simple: Draft fast. Draft big. 2 Stick to the major schools (but take the occasional scouting trip to Logan, Utah).
Let’s not complicate things.
But let’s go ahead and complicate things.
Let’s rewind the first round. According to a collection of the smartest readers around, exactly four quarterbacks are off the board – starting with JPF Tribe’s Texans’ pick of Bortles. Take away a need for Houston, Cleveland, Minnesota and Tampa and you’re still left with a loose gathering of eight QB-needy teams. By my count:
- Jacksonville (Obvious)
- Oakland (no matter what they say)
- St. Louis (Swing Pass Sam Bradford)
- Buffalo (Fragile EJ Manuel)
- Tennessee (Charlie Whitehurst is your Week 7 starter)
- NY Giants (Time to think post-Eli)
- NY Jets (Geno would likely be the fifth QB taken this year)
- Arizona (Can’t be a serious playoff contender with Carson)
And if they were honest with themselves, throw in Pittsburgh, Kansas City and Cincinnati. Let’s consider the natural inflation of marginal quarterback prospects. If really smart people think four QB’s go in Round One, that equates to a huge second round run – where the presumed risk for GM’s somehow evaporates. Teams scared of making another Gabbert-Ponder-Locker pick now have their eyes fixed on the Texans and #33 overall slot. And they’ll have an entire night and day to toss around trade proposals. And overnight, Garoppolo, McCarron, Mettenberger, Tom Savage**, et all will rise from their rightful fourth round ceiling into the lower pressure realm of “not a first round QB.” Since the Seahawks are a rarity – a smart front office that builds quality depth through the draft – wouldn’t it make sense for Schneider and Carroll to jump in front of the Texans and make a deal? Whoever trades picks with Seattle avoids competing with a quarter of the league for number 33 – and likely gets a better deal. Of course, Seattle can easily afford to slide down seven or eight spots, land another third and fifth rounder – because competent front offices know what to do with those picks. (BANNER – 2013 DRAFT LINK.)
THE PICK – For Real This Time
But if we’re staying within the confines of this mock draft exercise, let’s assume the Seahawks sit tight and grab a real player. Their needs are few:
- Lost Thurmond and Browner.
- Lost some veteran D-Line weight.
- Need a new right tackle.
- Let the Lions be the Lions (i.e., Golden Tate)
- Uh…..O-Line depth?
In honor of Kanicki’s passion for big corners, we’ll start with the obvious. Jean-Baptiste fits the mold of what Schneider seeks in a corner. He’s big, uses his hands well and followed the Sherman path of starting as a converted wide receiver. Being that the NFL is a copycat league, expect Jean-Baptiste to rise from a natural third-round slot into the upper reaches of the second round. But then again, the Seahawks have already drafted Thurmond’s replacement and didn’t necessarily miss Browner last year.
Carroll can never have enough pass rushers and Ealy just makes too much sense as the occasional Leo or Elephant or whatever it’s being called now. While his position is already crowded in Seattle, Ealy could be a cheaper Michael Bennett in 2015 and beyond. Plus, the prospects of the uber-hip Seahawks fan base wearing neon lime “KONY 2014” tee shirts are too easy.
In terms of actual need, the Seahawks O-line is probably not as deep as the rest of the roster. Losing Giacomini hurts a little but is far from anything that will affect real games. However, adding Fleming – huge, moves well, Stanford grad – is a cheap fix. Plus, can’t you see Carroll wanting to take a dig at Stanford Harbaugh here?
2014 Pete Carroll channels 2011 Pete Carroll and grabs this year’s next Mike Williams. Although Kearse, Baldwin and Harvin can help win a title, re-signing Sidney Rice is a curious move. Losing Tate isn’t critical, but the depth is lacking here. Benjamin wins this year’s most physically impressive, boom or bust receiver potential award – the kind of gamble that Carroll finds himself usually winning. Of course, Benjamin may also drop into the nether regions of Round Three given his recent press.
THE PICK – OFFICIAL
Let’s go with Cameron Fleming. Carroll rubs a little more dirt in Harbaugh’s eye.
*In Harbaugh v. Baalke, I’m going with Harbaugh. Take another look at that 2012 draft.
**I’m pretty sure Tom Savage is a made up name. To be a Tom Savage, you’re either a soap opera actor, porn star or Duluth, Minnesota meteorologist.
Super Bowl champs get to draft depth in first round. How cool is that? Gracias DK. PS, more than one person has mentioned to me that they miss your site/blog.