Holding only four draft picks in this year’s NFL Draft, it’d be a major surprise if Seahawks general manager John Schneider didn’t trade down or completely out of the first round to recoup additional selections.
But while Schneider would prefer to wind up with more than four picks, trading down isn’t easy and depending on which prospects remain available when Seattle is on the clock, it’s not out of the question the team could stay put at No. 21.
“It’s safe to say [we’ll look to trade down],” Schneider said during an interview with Brock and Salk on ESPN 710. “But it’s a darn good draft, so I could see a very good player being there for us at 21.”
As Schneider and the Seahawks continue to dwindle their draft board down to 150 prospects by April 25, which players could be too good to pass up if still available?
Josh Jacobs, RB Alabama
Okay, this isn’t happening. But you’ve always got to stay on your toes on April 1, right?
Hakeem Butler, WR Iowa State
Though Schneider downplayed Seattle’s need at receiver during his radio interview, the team needs to add another play maker on the outside with Doug Baldwin bracing for another surgery and his future up in the air. Butler has shot up draft boards after an impressive performance at the NFL Scouting Combine, as the 6-foot-5, 227-pound receiver ran the 40-yard dash in 4.48 seconds and posted a 38-inch vertical jump.
Nearly uncoverable in the red zone thanks to his height, Butler also excels at run blocking and creating yardage after the catch, an area the Seahawks struggled mightily last season. He may not be available when the Seahawks are on the clock, but if he is, Schneider must strongly consider forgoing plans to trade back and select the talented Cyclones receiver.
T.J. Hockenson, TE Iowa
Tight end may not seem like a major need for Seattle, but with Will Dissly coming back from a severe knee injury and Nick Vannett heading into the final year of his rookie contract, the team would be wise to keep options open for upgrading at the position. Arguably the best tight end in this draft class, Hockenson would fit Seattle’s scheme well, as he’s already established himself as a capable in-line blocker and only has scratched the surface of his potential as a receiving threat.
With a bit more muscle added to his 6-foot-5 frame, Hockenson could quickly become one of the best all-around tight ends in the NFL. Even if Dissly appears to be making great progress returning from a torn patellar tendon, Seattle would be crazy to bypass a talented prospect with such a well-rounded game and so much room left to grow.
Montez Sweat, DE Mississippi State
Like Butler, Sweat’s stock skyrocketed with a freakish performance at the combine, as the 6-foot-6, 260-pound defensive end posted an unbelievable 4.41-second 40-yard dash time and 7.0-second 3-cone drill. To play with his hand in the dirt and hold up in the trenches at the NFL level, he’ll likely need to add a bit more weight to his lanky frame, but he’s a proven pass rusher who thrived at the Senior Bowl against other top prospects.
Sweat may have a few red flags teams need to continue looking into, including a past suspension that led to him transferring from Michigan State to Mississippi State. But those concerns likely have already been addressed during interviews at the combine and after recording 22.5 sacks over the past two seasons, Schneider would likely be salivating at the opportunity to draft him as a complimentary rusher across from Frank Clark.
Brian Burns, LB/DE Florida State
With Schneider at the helm, Seattle has always been enamored by outstanding athletes on defense and Burns offers some similarities to Bruce Irvin, who the Seahawks selected in the first round of the 2012 NFL Draft. He’s a bit undersized at 249 pounds, but he showed off his quickness and agility by running the 3-cone drill in 7.01 seconds and also displayed impressive explosiveness with a 129-inch broad jump.
After accumulating 10.0 sacks with the Seminoles last year, Burns should be able to make an immediate impact as a pass rusher due to his rare speed off the edge. His lack of size may prevent him from being a defensive end in the league, however, and his best fit may be as a SAM linebacker. Given the success Irvin had in the same role, Seattle could plug Burns into the lineup right away and also mix him in as a situational rusher in sub-packages.
Nasir Adderley, FS Delaware
Coach Pete Carroll continues to show confidence in Tedric Thompson and Delano Hill, who will each be entering their third NFL seasons respectively, as starting options at safety for the Seahawks. But if Adderley hasn’t been picked yet, Seattle may not be able to resist selecting the best single-high safety prospect in this draft class as a long-term replacement for now-departed star Earl Thomas.
Adderley will face a significant jump going from the FCS to the NFL, but the ball-hawking safety enjoyed a dominant week at the Senior Bowl, showing his stellar play could translate against top-tier competition. He’s a ball hawk who knows how to track down the football and also flies to ball carriers like a missile as a tackler, making him an ideal fit in Carroll’s defense at free safety.