It has been a nice break but I am back and blogging for the 2013 season! A week before the Baltimore Ravens beat the San Francisco 49ers to claim Super Bowl XLVII, the best seniors eligible for the 2013 NFL Draft were invited to play in the annual Senior Bowl in Mobile, Alabama. The Senior Bowl, for those who are not familiar or interested in the game, is an all-star game featuring upcoming NFL Draft prospects. Unless specially invited, all of the players who participate are seniors in college. The Senior Bowl is a big event for players who are expected to be drafted in the later rounds of the draft. Based on their play in this game their draft stock can rise or fall a great amount. Last season, Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson participated in the Senior Bowl and played well. He was eventually taken in the third round (75th overall) by the Seahawks which was higher than his projected range of selection before the Senior Bowl and other scouting events.
After watching the game, I have made a preliminary short-list of players who I would be interested in having the Seahawks draft. These five players are players who impressed me while I watched the game and also who I think Coach Carroll and John Schneider may be interested in based on areas of need on the roster at this point and the physical attributes of each of the players.
Ezekiel Ansah, Defensive End, BYU
Ansah is the only player on my list who I believe we would have to trade up in the draft to take. Before the Senior Bowl, Ansah was projected in many mock drafts as a pick in the 20-30 overall range. The Seahawks pick 25th in the first round and would have been in play for Ansah in their own slot. After this game however, I believe Ansah’s stock has risen dramatically. “Ziggy” as he is known at BYU, had 7 tackles, 1.5 sacks, and a forced fumble. He was also named defensive player of the game. Ansah always seemed to be around the play and when he contributed he was a monster. Ansah is 6-5, 274 pounds and as a senior last year at BYU he recorded 62 tackles and 4.5 sacks. Although the sacks total is not that high he played tough. His most valuable asset in my opinion is his speed. He can penetrate the offensive line quickly and make plays. More tests and drills will be conducted at the combine and at his pro day between now and the draft but at this point, I believe he will not be around if the Seahawks stay at 25. It will take a trade to move up if Ansah will be playing in a Seahawks uniform in 2013.
My Projection: 10-15 Overall.
Margus Hunt, Defensive End, SMU
This is a guy who really intrigues me. Margus Hunt is a 6-8 defensive end who recorded 9 sacks last season at SMU. His height was highlighted multiple times during the broadcast and is my focus as to why I have included him on this list. The obvious comparison is to Houston defensive end J.J. Watt. Watt is a dominant pass rusher and an expert at batting passes down. His ability to jump up to bat passes down has earned him the nickname “J.J. Swat” for good reason. Imagine Hunt on our defensive line. As a replacement for the injured Chris Clemons, I could see Hunt as a pass rushing force alongside Bruce Irvin and his height makes it easy to speculate he could have an effect at the line of scrimmage similar to J.J. Watt. Although he is not projected to be a first round pick by many “experts” I could definitely see Hunt being another “reach” pick by Pete Carroll and John Schneider. Don’t be surprised to see Hunt’s name tied to the Seahawks between now and the draft.
My Projection: Round 1-2.
Blidi Wreh-Wilson, Cornerback, Connecticut
I am not expecting the Seahawks to re-sign Marcus Trufant over the offseason. If that is the case the Seahawks may be in the market for another cornerback. Enter Blidi Wreh-Wilson. The 6-1, 192 pound cornerback from Connecticut caught my eye with his decent play in zone coverage, however there have been on-the-field red flags concerning his speed and his ability to play man coverage. Because of these concerns, some have said his draft stock has fallen. If that turns out to be true he could turn out to be one of John Schneider’s classic mid-round steals of the draft. Wreh-Wilson would not be a starter with the Seahawks but I think he could be a guy who could play in the nickel package effectively.
My Projection: Round 4
David Quessenberry, Offensive Tackle, San Jose State
Luckily the Seahawks offensive line did not suffer any lingering injuries in 2012, helping keep continuity intact. If there had been injuries last season, I think our offensive line depth was not the best and could be subject to changes during the offseason. If there was one offensive lineman I would like to see us draft for value this year it is David Quessenberry. He is the most versatile lineman in the draft in my opinion. He played three years at offensive tackle at San Jose State but practiced at offensive guard during Senior Bowl practice. He played both positions during the game. He can also be used at center if needed. Physically he looks the part (6-5, 294 pounds) and plays the part with surprising quickness and good blocking technique. Among centers and guards eligible for the 2013 draft, Quessenberry is the #3 rated pass protector/blocker and the #5 rated run blocker according to waterfootball.com. I think Quessenberry would be a great addition to our offensive line group.
My Projection: Round 4
Jack Doyle, Tight End, Western Kentucky
I believe the Seahawks need a couple more offensive weapons for Russell Wilson. I would like to see us draft a wide receiver primarily and if we are looking for another tight end, Jack Doyle may be our choice. Doyle is more of a receiving tight end than a blocking tight end; by using him that could free up our other receivers. He is 6-6 and led the Hilltoppers in receiving yards last season with 530. Western Kentucky also runs a west-coast offense so Doyle would be somewhat familiar with the Seahawks offensive playbook. Jack Doyle could definitely be a value pick and be a solid number two option opposite Zach Miller, should the Seahawks decide to part ways with Anthony McCoy and Cameron Morrah.
My Projection: Round 6-7