Here are the guys we decided to take:
2nd, #57: DT-Brandon Mebane, Cal (traded down with the Eagles to pick #57 from #55)
3rd, #85: FB/RB- Brian Leonard, Rutgers
4th, #110: CB- David Irons, Auburn (traded up with Giants, gave up #120 & #236)
5th, #161: G/T-Tala Essera, Hawaii
6th, #197: TE-Matt Herian, Nebraska
6th, #210: DE-Mkristo Bruce,Washington St.
7th, #232: CB/KR/PR Marquice Cole, Northwestern
For your second-guessing pleasure, the full draft board can be found here.
The team had to come to a decision very early in this process – Do we want to play this draft using the philosophies this organization uses to select players or do we want to focus on what we ourselves value? In the end, we decided that it would be a more accurate and rewarding mock draft if we selected players that Seattle would look at. This meant that players with serious character concerns and injury histories were eliminated. We also tried to make a conscious effort to steer away from small-school players and players who we thought would be too large for Ruskell – a dilemma that vexed us in the trenches. We placed an emphasis on speed, instincts, and production.
2nd Round Pick (#57), Brandon Mebane, DT, Cal (Trading down from #55)
This pick probably is the closest thing to a reach I feel we made in the draft. We were selected to draft Sunday morning so I had checked the board Saturday evening and found that many enticing players who we had talked about would still be available by the #55th pick. Of course, I wake up late Sunday morning to discover that every single player had been snatched off the board. Luckily for us, Philadelphia traded us their 7th round choice to move up spots so they could select horribly overrated Louisville RB Michael Bush. This bought us more time as well as giving us a free 7th round pick, which was later instrumental in bringing in Auburn Cornerback David Irons.
In the end, we selected Brandon Mebane, a defensive tackle from the University of California, Berkley. I have seen mocks that show Mebane taken in the low 40s to falling out of the first day. Mebane presented fairly solid value, the ability to start right away, and a fit in the defense. Weighing in at 309lbs, Mebane has the ability to step up and clog the running lanes if needed (something Seattle couldn’t do once DT Marcus Tubbs went on Injured Reserve with a knee injury), but he also possesses the quick first step that President Tim Ruskell prefers his defensive line to have. Mebane could fight for significant playing time in the defensive tackle rotation and presents a solid Plan B is Tubbs is unable to return.
There were still several intriguing prospects available, but they all had red flags that I felt could cause problems. Texas Tech OG Manuel Ramirez was easily the best player still in the board, but while he is talented and smart, he also is not a strong fit in the Seahawks offensive line. DE Lamar Woodley certainly was talented enough to warrant being selected 57th, and would have been a solid choice, but with Kerney, Fisher, and Tapp all expected to receive lots of snaps, playing time would have been tough for the Michigan product to earn. Akron RG Andy Alleman presented a good fit and upside, but he would need time to learn the position (a former college DE) and didn’t present great value in the 2nd round.
3rd Round Pick (#85), Brian Leonard, RB/FB, Rutgers
Leonard is an absolutely fantastic value at pick #85. While he does not fill an immediate need, he is very similar to 2004 first round pick Chris Spencer in that he is a great player who is likely to start his 2nd season even if his contributions his rookie year are negligible. However, Leonard does potentially bring a lot to the table in 2007. Instantly Leonard becomes the best 3rd down back on the team, capable of blocking and running as well as being a very potent receiver. Leonard is a potent runner and many teams are evaluating him as a running back instead of a fullback, giving Seattle a quality inside runner if RB Shaun Alexander misses more time in 2007.
However, despite being a great player and falling much further than we expected (come the real draft, he could be gone by our 2nd round pick) him to fall, there are concerns that I in particular had with this selection. The first is that we did not fill a real need – and the Seahawks certainly need a quality guard and a TE of the future, if not the present. The second is whether or not Holmgren would be willing to shift the current offense enough to utilize Leonard’s vast array of talents – he is not a Mack Strong clone, he can be used on screens, flares, and even deeper routes. We decided that Holmgren’s track record in Green Bay indicated that Leonard would get enough touches to justify the selection. The third and final concern with Leonard is his run-blocking. He weighs in at 6’1 226lbs, light for a fullback, especially a lead-blocker. However, Leonard paved the way for one of the best rushing attacks in the country this season at Rutgers, and also benched 225lbs a guard-like (or Brady-Quinn-like) 28 times at the NFL Combine.
4th Round Pick (#110), David Irons, CB, Auburn (Traded up from #120)
The fourth round was truly the most nerve-wracking of all the rounds. We started the day in good position to pick a player we liked – we were pulling really hard for OG Mansfield Wrotto out of Georgia Tech, but had several other choices should Wrotto be taken. Wrotto was taken 11 picks before us, and throughout the draft all of the others (including Irons) were as well. One team, only two picks before us, forgot to show up, so the commissioner picked for them – and the commissioner picked TE Matt Spaeth out of Minnesota, who was our 2nd highest rated target. While we were trying to find new possibilities for the 120th selection (all of our previous targets were selected), the GM of the New York Giants offered us David Irons, a cornerback out of Auburn who was among our top-rated players. For only the 7th round pick Philadelphia traded us, we could take a very good cornerback prospect. By the time the trade was approved we were all a little giddy and quite pleased with ourselves, though we still had not addressed two big needs at TE and OG.
Irons is a smaller (5’10, 190lb) cornerback who fits in well with the teams defensive philosophy. He is also a very feisty player who possesses good speed and lots of experience against top competition. While he lacks hands, he does have very good instincts for the ball and will knock down passes even if he won’t intercept them. While his size makes him a drag-down tackler, he is very willing to throw himself into run support against running backs that outweigh him by 30 pounds. He should fit in well with the cover-2 scheme and has a real possibility of being selected in the first day.
5th Round Pick (#161) Tala Esara, G, Hawaii
We went into the 5th round hoping to select a Tight End. We had all of the remaining 5th-round TEs rated similarly high, with Michael Allan out of Whitworth and Kevin Boss out of Western Oregon being intriguing enough prospects to make us consider a small-school player. However, before our very eyes each of them were selected before us, again putting us in the uncomfortable position of picking a player we were not specifically targeting. Offensive Guard continued to remain a glaring need and even though we found other prospects interesting, we knew that the team needed at least one developmental prospect at guard and I think we grabbed a good one.
Esara played LT for pass-happy Hawaii last season, but is projected to be a guard at the next level due to his short frame (6’03, 312lbs) and less than ideal speed. I personally am a big fan of taking a tackle and converting them to guard, if they are feisty enough to play inside they will usually have a leg up on other guards when it comes to athleticism and footwork. Esara is no exception to this rule. What makes him especially intriguing is that he was known at Hawaii for his almost perfect technique – which should translate immediately to the NFL and gives him the capability to play if there are injuries along the line. He may never be a dominating run-blocker, but his technique and footwork will allow him to provide depth immediately and I believe he could start at guard without resulting in the death of QB Matt Hasselbeck, which is all that we can ask of a 5th round guard.
6th Round Pick (#197) Matt Herrian, TE, Nebraska
One of the only times where the player we went to bed deciding we were going to take also ended up being the player we took. Herrian was an All-American out of high school who looked like he was going to be on his way towards fulfilling his promise when he broke his leg midway through the 2004 season. As a freshman he averaged over 40 yards a catch (only 7 passes) and continued to impress with 22 catches for 484 yards (that’s 22.0 YPC folks) as a sophomore. He is rather light at only 242lbs but is one of the most athletic TEs and we felt that replacing Steven’s deep-threat ability was important for the offense. Herrian has been slow to recover from his injury but ran a 4.72 40 at his Pro-Day, indicating that the healing is coming. We liked Herrian because with TE Marcus Pollard Seattle does not need an immediate starter, they need a TE of the future. Herrian was the only TE available in the 5th or 6th that has legit potential to be a very good starting TE if he can recover from his injury.
6th Round Pick (#210) Mkristo Bruce, DE, Washington State
The 6th round was by far our best round as Bruce was a guy we were tempted to select with the 197th pick, but we felt we could wait and still grab him. Luckily this time we read the board correctly and were able to grab a good defensive end with a late pick. With only three, albeit three quality, defensive ends on the roster Seattle needed to select someone who could spell the starters without embarrassing himself and Bruce should provide good depth. An ultra-productive player at Washington State Bruce has seen his stock fall due to lack of overall athleticism – he is 6’5 268s but ran a tackle-like 5.12 forty at the combine. However, he plays disciplined ball with good technique and while he may never be a difference maker he is a safe pick who oozes intangibles.
7th Round Pick (#232) Marquice Cole, CB/KR/PR, Northwestern
Despite being absolutely stacked at cornerback, I still felt like the team should jump on Cole. As a cornerback Cole does not offer much except upside. He followed up a fantastic junior campaign that lead to him being considered a legit first-round prospect with a disappointing senior year that saw him drop down draft boards – before the 5’9 191lb corner ran a blistering 4.31 40 at Northwestern’s pro day. More than just a track star, Cole also finished with the best shuttle times of any player in the draft (3.84).
However, it was not for his cornerback skills that I felt Cole presented value. While Nate Burleson looks like an absolutely dynamic return man, the Seahawks are one injury away from fielding a return team of Maurice Morris and Bobby Engram – a scary thought considering Burleson has had injuries the past two seasons. Cole provides some great depth for the team if he can make the roster – not out of the realm of possibility if someone else is a cap casualty – here’s looking at you, Kelly Herndon.