Happy Valentine’s Day!
One of the Seahawks biggest struggles on defense last year was putting pressure on the opposing quarterback. With the 49ers drafting Aldon Smith last season and the Rams having Chris Long, the Seahawks may look to gain ground on their divisional rivals in the draft by drafting a pass rusher. At the combine I will be more focused on 40-yard-dash times, vertical jump measurements, and the 20-yard shuttle. As this may help show which defense players have the speed and lateral movements to be a dominating defensive presence. At this point, I believe the Seahawks will use their first round pick on a defensive player. Here is my take on some of the players that we could potentially take in round one.
Quinton Coples, Defensive End, North Carolina: Coples is not expected to be on the board when the Seahawks are on the clock, but if he does fall it is going to be very difficult for the Seahawks to pass on him. Coples is the top defensive player available according to Mel Kiper of ESPN and his college stats back this ranking up. Coples racked up 55 tackles and 7.5 sacks at UNC in 2011. The one area that has Coples slipping down the draft board is his motor. Coples has been known to take some plays off and not try as hard as he can but I believe Pete Carroll is the right coach to make sure he stays motivated all the time.
Melvin Ingram, Defensive End, South Carolina: Ingram recorded 48 tackles and 10 sacks for the Gamecocks in 2011. According to various mock drafts, Ingram may or may not be on the board when the Seahawks pick. Ingram played a big role in South Carolina having the third best pass defense in college football in 2011. If Coples is not available, Ingram may very well be the next best option if the Seahawks are set on drafting a pass rusher.
Courtney Upshaw, Outside Linebacker, Alabama: Both David Hawthorne and Leroy Hill are unrestricted free agents. I am unsure how much of an effort will be made to retain Hill. If we do lose Leroy Hill before the draft, Upshaw could be the perfect replacement. Upshaw is a winner, coming from an Alabama program fresh of the BCS National Championship. He sacked opposing quarterbacks 9.5 times in 2011 from the linebacker position. Upshaw could be the player Seahawks fans were hoping for when we drafted Aaron Curry in 2009. If we can re-sign Hawthorne and we draft Upshaw, out linebacker corps is young and fierce and should not be taken lightly by other teams.
Michael Brockers, Defensive Tackle, LSU: To be honest I do not see us taking a defensive tackle in round one. DT is one of the deepest positions on our roster with Brandon Mebane and Alan Branch locked in starters. If something were to change between now and the draft, Brockers may be an option. Brockers is a big boy, measuring to 6-6, 302 pounds. With a defensive line with Red Bryant and Brockers, the Seahawks could definitely improve on a run defense that was already stout in 2011.
Dre Kirkpatrick, Cornerback, Alabama: My initial hunch is that Marcus Trufant will not be back in 2012. Brandon Browner is coming off a pro bowl season and Richard Sherman made the NFL all-rookie team in 2011. Add a healthy Walter Thurmond into the mix, the Seahawks may not be looking for secondary help this early in the draft. If we do go after a corner in round one, Kirkpatrick may be the best man available. One thing I have learned over the years is height may be the most important aspect of a cornerback. We saw what a flop 5-11 Kelly Jennings was and Josh Wilson, although would make a big play from time to time, was never consistently dominant. Kirkpatrick is 6-3 and the way he plays the position is electric. With may mid-to-late first round cornerbacks projected, if the Seahawks are to draft a cornerback, Kirkpatrick is the guy I would like to see us draft.
SPECIAL: In honor of valentine’s day, I will be posting a write-up on why I love the Seahawks later today. Trust me, you won’t want to miss this. I hope you have a great valentine’s day!