On Saturday, April 24th,
many football fans will tune in to ESPN and wait anxiously to see what collegiate
stud their team drafts in the first round. Expectations will be high, and surprises
are sure to come, upsetting the stomachs of even the most stalwart fan.
And after the dust settles
on day one, still no one knows if their team was successful or if they loaded
up on the dreaded “draft busts.” No, those results won’t be
shown until players take the field in the fall, and even then it may take 3
years to come to any final conclusions about this year’s draft class.
In the case of the Seahawks, this year is make-or-break time for former first
rounder Jerramy Stevens. Will he becoming the solid red-zone threat his physical
abilities promise, or will he go the way of fellow former college uber-studs
turned pro-duds Lamar King and Chris McIntosh? The Seahawks have only recently
solved the holes created by those first round busts by signing expensive veterans
Chris Terry and Grant Wistrom.
Still, while a day one bust
can set a team back years, the frequently overlooked second day of the draft
is where good teams ensure greatness and stability for their organizations.
It also the area where the Seahawks frequently drop their “best athlete”
tendencies and begin to focus on future needs and depth.
That being said, here is
this writer’s “wish list” of defensive need players the Seahawks
could gamble on in the 4th-7th frames of this weekends’ draft
This is a position where
gems are frequently found in the latter rounds. A team must be patient with
many of these guys and let their considerable athleticism mature as they sit
on the bench or play specific roles based on down and distance. This year, there
are several projects with technique or motivational issues who could develop
into starters after a year or two.
Tony Hargrove, DE,
Georgia: Hargrove was considered by many to be a top pick early in
his career, but entered the draft this year after a year of academic ineligibility.
The layoff doesn’t seem to have cost him any of his athleticism, running
a 4.68 forty, with a vertical jump of 39.5 inches at 269 lbs. Hargrove is a
former QB and safety, so he’s demonstrated his skills at multiple positions.
He is raw, and tends to be over aggressive, but if harnessed by a good line
coach, he could be an excellent player
DT, Alabama: Childress had risen into 3rd round territory during the
college season, but poor workouts and interviews have caused him to plummet.
Still, he has huge size, excellent quickness and incredible strength. Physically,
he’s everything you want in a tackle. But he’s got questionable
work ethic and needs to rotate to be fresh (what 330-LB man doesn’t).
Childress reminds me a lot of Rashad Moore.
Junior Siavii, DT,
Oregon: Siavii is a late bloomer who is 25, but he’s got good
size and tremendous quickness. He doesn’t have much in the way of pass
rushing skills, but he is a very disciplined run stuffer.
Bryan Hickman, MLB,
Hickman is a smallish MLB (231 pounds) but has some good athleticism and a nose
for the ball. He comes from a great defensive program, and has the kind of non-stop
motor that propels good players on to solid NFL careers. He’s good at
everything: run support, coverage and blitzing.
Maurice Jones, MLB,
South Florida: One of the few full size middle linebackers in the draft,
Jones is downgraded because of his small school background and poor coaching.
But he’s a great athlete with a strong upper body, good agility and a
nose for the ball. With a little coaching, Jones could be a solid starter at
middle or outside linebacker.
OLB, Washington: Cooper is an undersized linebacker, but at 6’3”
he has the frame to add bulk without affecting his great speed. He has the speed
and coverage ability to play safety, which says a lot about his athleticism.
In college, he was always around the ball making plays, and with a little time
in the weight room, should be able to convert that productivity into the pros.
Etric Pruitt, S,
Southern Mississippi: Pruitt
could use a little more weight to add some physicality to his game, but other
than that he’s a polished safety with solid cover skills, good quickness,
and elite instincts. He’s more of a centerfield type player who can make
good reads in zone coverage, but may struggle if put in a man-to-man situation.
He can run sideline to sideline defending the run, but will struggle “in
S, Kansas State: I have a lot of respect for the athletes that come
out of K-State, and Washington is one heck of an athlete. A former running back,
he has great size (225 lbs), speed, strength and quickness. He’s very
raw, and struggles with reading blocks in traffic, but with his combination
of athletic skills, it’s only a matter of time before he develops into
a starter in the NFL.
CB, Pittsburgh: Spencer has the size the Hawks look for in a corner,
and a propensity for being physical with receivers. What he lacks is significant
bulk and elite speed. But with good quickness and strength, Spencer has a good
chance of developing into a solid third corner.
The Seahawks have a good
track record under Mike Holmgren and Ted Thompson of making the most of their
2nd day picks. Players like Floyd Womack, Alex Bannister, Rashad Moore, Antonio Cochran and Orlando Huff have already demonstrated their talents as significant
role players and potential starters. Others like Solomon Bates, Chris Davis,
Ryan Hannam and Terreal Bierria are poised to step up and contribute as either
starters or significant role players.
If the Hawks are to expect
their 2003 success to carry over into 2004 and beyond, a significant part of
that progress will rest on the shoulders of unheralded second-day picks that
will leave most fans asking, “who?”
Aaron Burtner is a regular
contributor to Seahawks.NET. Feel free to send him feedback here.