"So," this lonely Steelers fan making his way in the Pacific Northwest said to his endless supply of blue-and-teal-clad buddies, "Who do you want the 'Hawks to draft with pick 32?"
"Super. Bowl. Champs." Mic drop.
OK, I'm paraphrasing. A little bit. A very, very little bit. But I'm not exaggerating when I say that of all the friends I polled about this pick, not one came back to me with a single name. They're all still in shock, walking on sunshine, dancing on clouds, kissing puppies and, of course, shamelessly rubbing their success into 49ers fans at every opportunity.
And to be honest, I can't blame them, even if I'm still a little in awe of how quickly my buddies have evolved from "whiny" to "smug" over the past few years. Because when all is said and done, the Seahawks were rebuilt from the ground up, in just a few short years, into one of the most dominant Super Bowl winners in recent memory. Better yet, Seattle is still stacked, a heavyweight contender primed for a repeat performance, even while competing in the NFL's toughest division.
Key departures: Red Bryant, Chris Clemons, Brandon Browner, Walter Thurmond, Golden Tate, Breno Giacomini
Key re-signings: Sidney Rice, Tony McDaniel, Michael Bennett
Other moves: Extended Earl Thomas, extended Pete Carroll, traded for Terrell Pryor
On defense, Seattle returns the same linebacking corps and secondary that lead them to a Super Bowl. Byron Maxwell and Jeremy Lane filled in admirably for Browner and Thurmond down the stretch last year, and appear to have proven the latter pair expendable. Losing both Bryant and Clemons definitely hurt the DL, but the team clearly prioritized retaining the talents of Bennett, Thomas and (likely soon) Richard Sherman. And frankly, a defensive line of Bennett, McDaniel (who saw over five hundred snaps last year), Brandon Mebane and Cliff Avril is still plenty dangerous.
On offense, Seattle has a chance to make a marked leap forward. Russell Wilson shows no signs of regressing. Marshawn Lynch is still one of the more dependable backs in the league, and the depth behind him is fantastic. The re-signing of Sidney Rice and return of Percy Harvin to pair with Doug Baldwin gives Seattle one of the more varied and dangerous (if perhaps injury-prone) wide receiving corps in the league, and certainly compensates for the loss of Golden Tate.
Seattle's Draft Needs
Positions of priority: WR, DE, DT, WR, CB, OG, OT
The Seahawks are in the enviable position of being able to draft for depth rather than immediate need if they so choose.
With one of the more rotation-dependent defensive lines in the NFL, it would be nice to bring in a defensive lineman or two, either one in the LEO role to replace Chris Clemons, or a versatile five-technique DT/DE in the mold of the recently departed Bryant. If the athletic Ra'Shede Hageman falls to 32, I could easily see him being the pick here. I'm less sold on drafting an edge rusher like Dee Ford (gone at 20 in this mock) or Kony Ealy so high, but there's no denying that Seattle has had success stockpiling pass rushers, and Carroll and Schneider seem to have no qualms about getting "their guy", even if it appears to outsiders to be a reach.
Prior to the resigning of Sidney Rice, it was commonly assumed that the Seahawks might look to add some size to the WR position in the form of someone like Kelvin Benjamin, Cody Latimer or Allen Robinson in the late 1st round. With Rice now back on the roster, I think it's safe to assume Seattle waits for a talented player to fall later on in an exceedingly deep WR class.
Though Seattle returns three cornerbacks who played well down the stretch last year, it might be worth re-loading on the position too, even if they do plan on re-signing Richard Sherman. In this mock, however, with every 1st-round-caliber corner not named Bradley OVI-Roby off the board, I don't think the Seahawks pull the trigger.
Which brings us to the offensive line - which was undoubtedly the 2013 Seahawks' biggest weakness. Center Max Unger and left tackle Russell Okung are solid starters, but the rest of the line experienced serious fluctuations in play last year, and I expect the Seahawks to spend a 1st round pick shoring up Russell Wilson's protection and beefing up Marshawn Lynch's rumble escorts.
In this mock, the Seahawks were praying Xavier Su'a-Filo, who plays with a mean streak and technique that has drawn favorable comparisons to David DeCastro, would fall to 32. But perhaps in retaliation for Super Bowl humiliation, the Broncos snapped him up at 31. With no remaining guard prospects worthy of a 1st round pick, the Seahawks turn their attention to the remaining offensive tackles.
With the 32nd pick, the Super Bowl Champion Seattle Seahawks select Cyrus Kouandjio, OT, Alabama.
Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports
Kouandjio is something of an enigma. Projected as a top-10 pick a year ago, he had an inconsistent final year at Alabama - struggling against Virginia Tech, Oklahoma and Auburn, but flashing dominance against LSU and other SEC opponents. He has fantastic size for the position, but tanked hard at the combine, leading many to re-evaluate his supposed mobility and athleticism.
What can't be questioned is Kouandjio's value as a run-blocker - where he excels - which has led many to suggest that his best fit might be at right tackle in the NFL. And it just so happens that the Seahawks find themselves in the market for an upgrade at right tackle after the departure of Breno Giacomini. So while it isn't clear whether Kouandjio will ever live up to his physical gifts, I believe the Seahawks will see him as a fortuitous confluence of need and opportunity at pick 32.
The biggest mystery, to me, is whether their fans will come down from their post-Super Bowl high long enough to even notice.
|Team||Player||Pos||School||BTSC rep/link to pick|
|2||via||Johnny Manziel||QB||Texas A&M||Jack Finn|
|4||Jadeveon Clowney||DE||South Carolina||Double-Eagle|
|5||Jake Matthews||OT||Texas A&M||diehardsteelerfan625|
|6||Khalil Mack||LB||Buffalo||Erik Stone|
|9||Greg Robinson||OT||Auburn||Sean Geddes|
|11||Justin Gilbert||CB||Oklahoma St||slatts17|
|12||Mike Evans||WR||Texas A&M||omara891|
|13||Ha Ha Clinton-Dix||S||Alabama||Panther pride 76|
|14||Aaron Donald||DT||Pittsburgh||Michael Uhlhorn|
|15||Darqueze Dennard||CB||Michigan St||(BTSC vote)|
|16||Calvin Pryor||S||Louisville||steeler fever|
|18||Eric Ebron||TE||North Carolina||DropTheHammer|
|19||Zack Martin||OT||Notre Dame||steeler_chris_5|
|20||Dee Ford||OLB||Auburn||Wichita SunSteeler|
|21||Ryan Shazier||LB||Ohio State||NoVaBurgher|
|22||Odell Beckham Jr.||WR||LSU||c63tho|
|23||Kelvin Benjamin||WR||Florida State||WelcomeToReality|
|24||Kyle Fuller||CB||Virginia Tech||Steel Spike|
|26||via||Derek Carr||QB||Fresno State||AMKrup|
|27||Marqise Lee||WR||USC||Ike Evans|
|28||Brandin Cooks||WR||Oregon State||asmith87|
|29||Timmy Jernigan||DT||Florida State||Mr MaLoR|
|30||Jason Verrett||CB||TCU||Collision Course|
|32||Cyrus Kouandjio||OT||Alabama||Thoroughbred of Sin|