We’re deep into the task of opening the doors on TFQ’s NFL Draft Advent Calendar! This is our Christmas – when NFL teams get to decide what sort of new toys they get under the tree to play with next season.
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Door #27-The Seahawks
2012 finish: 11-5; lost Divisional Round
TOTAL PICKS: 11
no selection (traded to Vikings)
5 (138) (from Raiders)
8 (214) (from Bills)
14 (220) (from Saints)
35 (241) (compensatory selection)
36 (242) (compensatory selection)
This team is a bitch to predict in terms of the draft. Why? Because it has already ruthlessly addressed what few roster needs it had.
Seattle gladly backed out of the first round of the 2013 draft when they traded their pick (and a seventh-rounder plus a 2014 pick) to Minnesota for dynamic WR Percy Harvin. It turned out that was just the beginning of a pre-draft period that saw the Seahawks shrewdly address their two weaknesses: A big-play receiver and the pass rush.
If Harvin can stay healthy (he hasn’t been able to for a full season yet in the pros), head coach Pete Carroll can kick back and watch last year’s rookie sensation, QB Russell Wilson (he of the 100.0 passer rating, second-highest for a rookie ever, behind Robert Griffin III’s 102.4) wreak havoc on opposing defenses. Imagine – a read-option offense with Wilson’s mature aptitudes for success, RB Marshawn Lynch as a pitch option, and Harvin as a jack-of-all-trades playmaker to force defenders to make even more impossible decisions when Seattle floods areas with uber-talented players. Couple that with a road-grading offensive line and very capable receivers in Golden Tate and Sidney Rice, and the offense is in good hands for years to come. (Barring injury, of course.)
Defensively, this team is chock-full of talent as well. It boasts arguably the best cornerback tandem in the NFL with Richard Sherman and Brandon Browner, one of the best young safeties in the league in Earl Thomas, a stellar linebacker corps led by Bobby Wagner, aka Patrick Willis junior and a solid defensive line against the run. The only thing it lacked at times last season was a pass rush – and that showed badly in their playoff loss to Atlanta, without DE Chris Clemons who was lost to injury against Washington in the Wild Card round. No problem! Let’s just go out and sign steady rusher Michael Bennett from Tampa Bay, and the second-best pass rusher on the free agent market, Cliff Avril from Detroit. (Well, I scoff at former Raven Paul Kruger being considered the top rusher available this offseason after a low amount of starts, but Avril had an off year last season, so it’s hard to say who was the better candidate.) With them, and a healthy Clemons whenever he should return, Seattle no longer has to worry about not being able to get to the quarterback.
Big-play guy. Check. Pass rush. Check. Two biggest needs addressed, just like that.
In fact, one could argue that those were Seattle’s only needs.
But they picked up another player that I think could be an interesting X-factor next season: CB Antoine Winfield was inked to a 1-year, $3 million deal after 9 seasons in Minnesota. There’s no denying that the diminutive corner is past his physical prime, and has been beaten in coverage more in recent years than he used to be. But he’s clearly going to cover receivers in the slot (Sherman and Browner will hold the outside edges), and there are few cornerbacks over the years that have been better at tackling on short passes and busting up run plays to the outside. Think Carroll likes having a player like that to line up against San Francisco’s own read-option offense, led by QB Colin Kaepernick and RB Frank Gore? You can bet good money on Winfield getting his helmet in on a few plays in that now-intense NFC West rivalry. In fact, I’m guessing that was one of the main reasons for signing Winfield.
Hilariously enough, the ’Hawks are still sitting on an embarrassment of riches, with eleven draft picks this year. I expect GM John Schneider to deal some of those to strengthen future drafts. If there is one last thing he should work on with this roster, it’s adding depth to an offensive line that may have overachieved last season. But only time will tell if that was the case. What we already know is that Seattle is poised to be good for a long time.
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STAY TUNED FOR THE REST OF THE DAYS LEADING UP UNTIL THE 2013 NFL DRAFT. WE’LL TAKE A LOOK AT EACH TEAM, AS WE OPEN THEM UP IN THE ADVENT CALENDAR. WE’LL ALSO BE DOING A LIVE TWEET-UP DURING THE DRAFT.