2010 NFL Question Marks: Seattle Seahawks

Russell Okung, tackle from Oklahoma State, stands with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell after Okung was picked by the Seattle Seahawks as the number 6 overall choice during the 2010 NFL Draft at Radio City Music Hall in New York on April 22, 2010. UPI/Roger L. Wollenberg Photo via Newscom

Merry training camp season, everyone. It’s been a long offseason, but football is finally gearing up again and to celebrate I’m rolling out a new series on TSR entitled “2010 NFL Question Marks,” where I discuss one or two of the biggest concerns that teams have heading into the new season. Granted, some teams have more issues than others, but I’ll primarily be focusing on the biggest problem areas. Today I’ll be discussing the Seahawks and whether or not their restricted offensive line will hold them back this season.

It’s difficult to size up the Seahawks at this point in the season because nobody (not even their fans) quite knows what to expect out of this team in 2010. It appears as though fans are generally excited about the Pete Carroll hiring (how could they not after getting a taste of Jim Mora last year?), but they must be skeptical, too. Does Matt Hasselbeck have one more good season left in him? Can Leon Washington and Justin Forsett handle the rushing responsibilities? Does the defense have enough quality depth? Is Lawyer Milloy really the starting strong safety?

Nobody can say with any certainty that this will be a bad team this year, but it’s unlikely that anyone is ready to anoint them NFC West champions either. It’s just a hard team to figure out right now.

I had a difficult time deciding whether or not to go with the Seahawks’ offensive line or defensive line for this series. I view both as question marks, but in the end, the defensive line should get by as long as Brandon Mebane doesn’t take a step back and the unit gets solid contributions from new addition Chris Clemons and tackle-turned-end Red Bryant, who replaces the ultra-disappointing Lawrence Jackson.

But the offensive line may be a different story.

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2010 NFL Draft Recap: NFC West

Here are quick-hit 2010 NFL Draft observations for the NFC West.

Arizona Cardinals
Nose tackle Dan Williams is a great fit for the Cards, who were fortunate he slipped to them at No. 26. The team has been trying to fill the nose tackle position for years and they may have found the player to do it in Williams, who is explosive off the line. There’s a great chance he’ll beat out Gabe Watson for the right to start in Week 1. I also really liked Arizona’s second round pick, linebacker Daryl Washington. He’ll play alongside Geno Hayes in the Cards’ 3-4 alignment and might rack up 100 tackles with his sideline-to-sideline style of play. Citadel receiver Andre Roberts is a sleeper and will help out immediately as a punt returner. Third-rounder O’Brien Schofield had a first round grade on him before tearing his ACL in the Senior Bowl. He’s a prototypical 3-4 edge-rusher and has high upside, although he may need more time to fully recover from the injury. I also love the selection of John Skelton in the fifth. He’s athletic, has a cannon for an arm and he was a gamer at Fordham. He could be a great developmental project down the road, especially if Matt Leinart and Derek Anderson don’t pan out. All in all, this was one of my favorite drafts of any team this year.

San Francisco 49ers
I loved what the Niners did with their first three picks, which is where teams usually find starters and players that can make an impact right away. Anthony Davis will compete with Adam Snyder for the starting right tackle job, while Mike Iupati will battle David Bass at the starting left guard position. To nab two potential starters with their first two picks was excellent for San Fran. I also really liked the Taylor Mays selection in the second round because it showed great value, although he has a lot to prove after a sub par senior season at USC. The good thing for the Niners is that he has a chip on his shoulder, is a great athlete and will be working close with Mike Singletary, who is an excellent motivator. I didn’t like the pick of Navorro Bowman in the third round, only because he’s too small to play inside linebacker in a 3-4 and might wind up being a career special teamer if he stays in San Fran. It was a little early to be selecting special teamers in the third round. I did really like what San Fran did in the later rounds, however, nabbing bruising runner Anthony Dixon and burner Kyle Williams in the sixth.

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Pete Carroll putting imprint on Seahawks, trades for LenDale White & Leon Washington

One of the reasons Pete Carroll left USC for the Seattle Seahawks in mid January of this year was because he would have the authority to determine how the franchise played football. In other words, Carroll could wipe the slate clean and bring in the type of players and staff that he wanted for his team.

On Saturday, the Seahawks acquired running backs LenDale White (Titans) and Leon Washington (Jets) in two separate draft day trades. In the acquisition of White, Seattle swapped fourth and sixth round picks with Tennessee and also acquired defensive tackle Kevin Vickerson. In the acquisition of Washington, the Hawks sent the No. 138 pick to New York and also received a seventh-round selection in the process.

White has been chopping at the bit to get out of Tennessee and now reunites with the head coach that best found ways to utilize him on the field. While at USC, Carroll used White as his physical, early-down masher and he’s expected to use the running back in a similar role in Seattle.

Many draft pundits thought that the Seahawks would draft C.J. Spiller with one of their two picks in the first round. But after acquiring Washington from the Jets (which was a steal), they got a cheaper player with a similar skill set to that of Spiller. Plus, by not drafting Spiller, the Hawks were able to nab the top rated offensive tackle in the draft in Russell Okung and the second best safety in Earl Thomas. Washington and White should work very well together in Seattle, albeit at the likely expense of Julius Jones.

It still remains to be seen whether or not Carroll can succeed in the NFL like he did at SC, but one thing is clear: he’s going to construct his team the way he wants.

Photo from fOTOGLIF

2010 NFL First Round Recap: Head-scratchers, values, sleepers & more

That’ll do it – the first round of the 2010 NFL Draft is in the books. All in all, even the most die-hard draft fans would have to admit that the move to prime time was a success. The action was quicker, the coverage was tighter and the event was interesting throughout. I was skeptical about the new format at first, but I admit tonight was entertaining.

Below is a recap of the first round, including head-scratching moves, valuable picks and more. I also preview the second round by listing my top 5 players that are still available.

Head-Scratcher: Broncos trade three picks for Tim Tebow.
Tebow fans will certainly criticize me for this, but this was the worst draft-day trade I’ve seen in recent memory. Inexcusably, the Broncos parted with a second, a third and a fourth round selection to trade up to the 25th overall pick to take Tebow, who may or may not wind up being a quarterback at the next level. He’s the ultimate developmental project, so hopefully Denver is willing to wait three-plus years while he works on his throwing motion, his footwork and his release. And here’s the thing: if he doesn’t become a quarterback, then how bad does this trade wind up looking? Let’s say he becomes an H-back or is only used in the Wildcat, then the Broncos just traded three picks for a role player. Think about that for a second. There’s a good chance that Denver was afraid of someone else taking Tebow before they had the chance to select him in the second round. (Buffalo was apparently trying to move up as well.) But three picks in exchange for one of the biggest risks in the draft? Don’t get me wrong – Tebow is a pure football player, a winner and a worker. There’s something about him that makes you want to throw conventional wisdom out the window and predict success for him. But I can’t justify what the Broncos gave up here. It just doesn’t make sense.

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Lions Draft Talk: Ndamukong Suh

Despite speculation that they could trade for Albert Haynesworth or select Oklahoma State offensive tackle Russell Okung, the Lions took Nebraska defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh with the second overall pick in the 2010 NFL Draft.

This is just one man’s opinion, but I think when people look back to evaluate this draft, Suh will be regarded as the best player. I realize I’m not going out on a limb with that statement, but it’s almost comical that some media members had the Lions selecting Gerald McCoy over Suh at this pick. If anything, I have to believe that Detroit would have taken Okung before it took McCoy over Suh.

Suh was incredible this past season for the Cornhuskers. He racked up 12 sacks, 85 tackles and 24 tackles for loss, which almost matched McCoy’s entire resume at Oklahoma. This isn’t to say that McCoy is a bad player – on the contrary, he’s a solid prospect. But Suh was the best defensive player in the nation last year. He’s strong, powerful and incredibly athletic. He’s more of a bull-rusher than a true pass-rusher, but Jim Schwartz should work wonders with him in Detroit.

The Lions were wise not to over think this pick. He was the best player in the draft and fits well next to Corey Williams on the interior of their defensive line. I can’t wait to see what Schwartz can do with him next season and kudos to GM Martin Mayhew for once again adding the best prospect at his position, following the picks of Matthew Stafford, Louis Delmas and Brandon Pettigrew last season. (Of course, it’s not hard to add the best prospect at his position when you pick No. 1 and No. 2, but let’s not dwell on the obvious.)

Photo from fOTOGLIF

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