Seahawks.NET Team Mock Draft, Vol. 1

With the 2008 NFL Draft less than a month away, it's time for all the prognosticators to get their ducks in a row. Seahawks.NET is no different, as we present the first of four different mock drafts from now until draft day. These mocks will be different in that they'll reflect the Seahawks' picks only. First up: Editor-in-Chief Doug Farrar.

First round, 25th pick overall -- Kentwan Balmer, DT, North Carolina

Simply put, it's a numbers game at 25. The Seahawks would love it if one of the elite left tackle prospects were still around, but Chris Williams and Ryan Clady seem to be rising a pick or two on most mocks on a daily basis. Some will want a tight end here, but Purdue's Dustin Keller is probably a better fit in a spread-style offense (think Green Bay, Cleveland or New England) as opposed to the two-back systems Seattle's setting up to run, and Fred Davis just isn't a first-round pick. Seattle still needs quality and depth on the defensive interior line, and Balmer will provide it.

The Seahawks haven't been able to consistently stop smashmouth offenses since Marcus Tubbs developed a medical history. Rocky Bernard and Brandon Mebane form a great starting duo, but depth is very thin and Bernard has built his own charm bracelet of boo-boos. Underrated due to the Glenn Dorsey/Sedrick Ellis duo above him and his own sometimes inconsistent efforts, Balmer is nonetheless a tremendously gifted and athletic player who could make life miserable for opposing centers and guards as a 3-technique lineman at the NFL level.

Alternate theory: The Seahawks find a taker to slip down in the first round and up in the second, take Fred Davis or Notre Dame DT Trevor Laws, and use that second-round chip to ensure that they get Matt Hasselbeck's eventual successor.

Second round, 55th Pick overall -- Chad Henne, QB, Michigan

North Team quarterback Chad Henne (7) of Michigan looks downfield during the first half of the Senior Bowl football game at Ladd-Peebles Stadium in Mobile, Ala., Saturday, Jan. 26, 2008. (AP Photo/Dave Martin)

People wonder what the "Jim Mora Offense" will look like in Seattle, which is a bit like wondering what the "Mike Holmgren Defense" will look like anywhere else. No such thing. Mora has been a defensive coach his entire life, and if the John Clayton speculation is on point, the Seahawks will be running the Greg Knapp offense when Holmgren leaves after the 2008 season and Knapp, who coached with Mora at San Francisco from 2001 through 2003 under Steve Mariucci and Dennis Erickson, and served as Mora's offensive coordinator in Atlanta from 2004-2006, escapes Crazy Al's House of Overpriced Free-Agent Busts in Oakland and heads north for a reunion.

If that is indeed the case, get those Atlanta offensive plays Knapp called in Atlanta with Michael Vick (all three of them!) out of your mind. Instead, think back to those Niners offenses and how the current Seahawks roster is being constructed. They're not going to run the option, or Seneca Wallace would be in at quarterback instead of Matt Hasselbeck. They're going to run a balanced game with an efficient quarterback (Jeff Garcia = Hasselbeck) and a set of running backs operating very much by committee (Garrison Hearst and Kevan Barlow = Julius Jones and T.J. Duckett). They don't have the receivers yet, but that can come in time. In 2001 and 2002, the 49ers finished second and third, respectively, in Offensive DVOA. That's the goal.

The point here is that Matt Hasselbeck will be 33 years old in 2008, and though he's coming off either his best or second-best season, it's time to think about the down-the-line successor. Knapp's version of the WCO doesn't feature Holmgren-level complexity, but it's not the sort of thing you want a rookie piloting. The Seahawks recently traveled to Ann Arbor to visit the Michigan quarterback, who started 47 games for the Wolverines and threw two touchdowns in the 2008 Senior Bowl. He's thought to be a good fit in a balanced offense with shorter passes to multiple receivers. If Louisville's Brian Brohm is available, he's probably the better option, but the chances of that are not good.

Alternate theory: The Seahawks wait until the second day to select a quarterback, hoping to grab a little Anderson/Bulger/Brady/Hasselbeck magic (hell, Garcia wasn't even drafted). If that's the case, and they didn't get a tight end in the first round, now's the time to pounce, as there may very well be a group of players at the position bunched up at the bottom of the second round. The run could start right about at Seattle's 55th pick. However, there's also a third-round prospect with some serious upside…

Third round, 86th pick overall -- Brad Cottam, TE, Tennessee

The 6'8", 270-pound Cottam has considerable medical red flags, and Notre Dame's John Carlson may leapfrog over him after a very strong Pro Day, but the Seahawks could steal a great offensive weapon from the middle rounds if Cottam can only stay healthy. He missed most of his senior season with a wrist injury, but his sub-4.7 40 times at the Combine and his Pro Day pointed some heads in his direction. He also put up 225 pounds in the bench press 24 times, and his 33-inch vertical leap at the Combine surely made some wonder if it's even possible to overthrow him in the end zone.

Cottam could be a chance worth taking for a team with other needs, but a big void at tight end. And unlike Seattle's last drafted tight end with insane measurables, one Jerramy Stevens, Cottam's done nothing off the field to jeopardize his future -- in fact, he's taken post-graduate courses in Sports Studies to enhance his degree in International Business.

Alternate theory: The chances of all the top tight ends slipping through Seattle's fingers are extremely unlikely; it's just a matter of when one is selected. If they take their shot in the first two rounds, one player that could intrigue as a late third-round pick is Jeremy Zuttah of Rutgers, an incredibly athletic guard/tackle who amazed at the Combine with a combination of strength (35 reps at the bench press) and speed (a 4.99 40-yard dash, and he timed among the best in the 20-yard shuttle). And if the Seahawks ever want to run the tackle eligible ... this'd be the guy to do it.

Fourth round, 117th pick overall -- Jamie Silva, SS, Boston College

The phrase "Ruskell Guy" is thrown around so much on Seahawks message boards and blogs, it's almost lost all meaning. The kind of player Seattle's team president prefers -- those prospects whose on-field deeds outweigh their measurables, providing draft-day bargains -- well, that's the closest original definition. And if a player has developed a chip on his shoulder from his underrated status, all the better. Lofa Tatupu is the picture in the dictionary, but Jamie Silva is the same breed of cat.

In his senior season, Silva amassed 115 tackles and eight interceptions. He was the defensive star of the East-West Shrine Game, taking over for the East defense on the first drive of the second half. On special teams, where his true value will come at first for the team smart enough to take him, he bombed San Jose State cornerback Dwight Lowery on a kickoff return, causing a fumble. The 4.8 40 he ran at the Combine didn't help his case, but it was mitigated by none other than the NFL Network's Rod Woodson, one of the greatest defensive backs in league history, who made a point of going up to Silva after the run and telling him that teams are looking far more at his film than his track speed. For Seattle, Silva could replace Niko Koutouvides as the Seahawks' special teams pointman and work his way into the starting secondary over time. Jamie Silva is going to be a special player for somebody -- all he needs is a chance.

Alternate theory: None. I'm not even going to pretend to be objective about this. If Jamie Silva is there at 117, the Seahawks need to pick him. If he's there a few spots up, they need to investigate trading up, just like they did for that sawed-off reach of a middle linebacker from USC in 2005.

Sixth round, 202nd overall -- Keenan Burton, WR, Kentucky

Kentucky's Keenan Burton hauls in a touchdown pass from quarterback Andre Woodson during the second half of a football game against Kent State in Lexington, Ky., Saturday, Sept. 8, 2007. (AP Photo/Ed Reinke)

A trade up would somehow be required, but Burton is a bit like Brad Cottam in that his abilities and measurables will be eclipsed in the eyes of many by his injuries. After putting up 1,036 yards on 77 catches in 2006, Burton struggled with ankle injuries in his senior season, as well as wrist and foot injuries earlier on. His physical nature and fearless ability to catch in traffic won't prolong his career by any means, but he looked fine at the Combine, where I saw him catch a sideline pass from San Diego quarterback Josh Johnson in the tap-tap drill. He was also among the top performers in almost every Combine drill. The Seahawks have displayed interest, and it's apparently in Tim Ruskell's contract that he gets to take a project receiver from the SEC on every second day. Burton would be a wise choice this time.

Alternate theory: Purdue's Dorien Bryant, a speedy player in the Shaun McDonald mold, might also be in play here. On the other hand, let's say that the Seahawks haven't taken a quarterback by now. Do they roll the dice and hope for the aforementioned sixth-round magic currently displayed by Derek Anderson, Marc Bulger, Tom Brady and one Matthew Hasselbeck? If they do, is the best option a flyer on Oregon's Dennis Dixon? The one-time Heisman candidate's season was ruined by a torn ACL in mid-November. He had been tearing up the Pac-10 before that, throwing for 2,136 yards and 20 touchdowns on only 254 attempts. Without a postseason game, a Combine appearance or a Pro Day, Dixon's stock has bottomed out, but the sixth round is often used for calculated risk. If he's still on the board, Dixon would certainly fit the description.

Seventh round, 227th overall -- Brandon Coutu, K, Georgia

If you're Tim Ruskell, you probably want a kicker who a.) Hails from the SEC; and b.) Isn't a "Slave to the Businessman." Coutu meets the criteria. Hamstring injuries have kept him from kicking off over the last two seasons, but he's known to boom long field goals with impressive accuracy. At the very least, he'll provide rookie competition for Olindo Mare in training camp.

Alternate theory: Well, with all the long-snapper issues over the last few seasons, how about picking up Indiana's Tim Bugg, regarded as the finest at his position in recent years? Indiana was nearly automatic in the kicking game, making 49 of 49 extra points and 21 of 23 field goals. Boone Stutz provided a perfectly instructive negative example of the value of the long snapper last season. Bugg, who is projected to be drafted, could turn that around for a good long time.

 

Doug Farrar is the Editor-in-Chief of Seahawks.NET, a staff writer for Football Outsiders, and he writes NFL previews for the New York Sun. Feel free to e-mail Doug here.

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