Thursday, April 5, 2018

Predraft Presumptions

Welcome to the worst part of the NFL calendar year.

Free agency has cooled down and the draft is still weeks away. We've just come out of March Madness and baseball is underway.  Meaningful football games are still months away.

The only news that typically comes out of this period is of the unfortunate variety.  Off-field issues, mostly.  Nothing really good ever comes out during this limbo-like time frame.

This is when speculation dominates the headlines and bad ideas are rampant.  So, in the spirit of the (off) season, let's make some absurd, unfounded guesses for the coming year.

Pete Carroll wins his first 'Coach of the Year' award.

Let's face it-- it should've already happened. There were at least two seasons wherein Pete deserved this accolade, but instead saw it given to another of his peers.  With all of the roster turnover, many could argue that this season feels the least likely period of Carroll's career to snare this award.  However, that is precisely why I think he's (unintentionally) set up to win this year.

You could chalk up Pete's first roster overhaul to dumb luck.  As I've pointed out before, one excellent and one really good draft set this team up for long-term success.  By every account, this reboot felt at least premature and at best unnecessary.

If Carroll's team can overcome their personnel losses, the tremendous improvements made across their division, and still make the playoffs-- it will be extremely hard to deny him that accolade a third time.

Seahawks will fail to produce a 1,000 rusher for the 4th consecutive season.

The last Seahawk to finish the season with 1,000 rushing yards was Marshawn Lynch in 2014. Once again, it seems the Seahawks are content with placing the burden of the run game on another 2nd year back coming off of a serious injury.  It didn't work last time when Thomas Rawls was in that position-- and it would be foolish to assume that Chris Carson will have better luck.

Seattle hasn't given any indication that they plan to draft a running back in the first round, but they should.  Behind Carson is a bunch of guys that proved they didn't have the chops last season. Oh yeah, did I mention the Rams have Suh and Donald on their defensive front?

Seattle will reunite the Griffin Brothers.

This felt a lot more realistic when Shaquem was snubbed from the combine. Once the younger brother was invited and proceeded to put on one hell of a display-- his draft stock rose dramatically.

Shaquem appears to have a 3rd round grade on him, for which the Seahawks do not have a selection. However, the Seahawks now find themselves without Richard Sherman and have a desperate need at cornerback. The Seahawks could conceivably trade into the third round to fill that role by selecting Griffin.

Shaquem could play linebacker, corner or possibly even free safety.  A Griffin brother reunion would be much more than a heartwarming story-- it would provide the Seahawks with much needed defensive depth.

Earl Thomas will be traded before the draft.

Haven't we gone through enough this offseason? The prospect of losing perhaps the biggest personality on the team is unsettling for most fans, but it might be in the best interest of the future of the team.

Earl could net the Seahawks a handful of picks, including a first round selection.  If Seattle believes that they could potentially land a serviceable rookie with a high developmental ceiling to replace Thomas through the draft, they could save themselves the headache of trying to squeeze a long-term extension for Earl into their salary cap next year.

It would be tough on all of us to see Earl's name added to the long list of beloved players that have departed this offseason.  Still, it might be easier to swallow now, when we could recoup some of the loss through a trade, then to wait until next year when we could lose him outright-- especially if we're coming off of a losing season.

In an unprecedented move, Seattle will actually trade up in the first round of the draft.

Perhaps Seattle has learned from the past few drafts that conventional wisdom is conventional for a reason. While there are always gems to be found in the later stages of the draft, the top 25 players are generally universally agreed upon and selected in the first round.

Seattle has too many important roles to address to be gambling on late draft selections to fill them. Irrespective of an Earl Thomas trade, it would not be a terrible idea for Seattle to get ahead of that situation by trading up to select safety Derwin James out of Florida State.  James could study under Thomas, like Thomas did with Lawyer Milloy before him, while providing high-quality insurance behind MacDougald.  If Thomas is traded, James had shown he has the tools to be a day one starter.

Additionally, a trade up for hometown stud Vita Vea could address a pressing need on the defensive line.  Naz Jones showed great promise last year and Jarran Reed has been a quality starter, but both of them have had bouts with injury. Adding Vea to that mix would create a dominant defensive line that would tremendously benefit a young defensive backfield. 

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