Editor’s note: This is a weekly series where frequent contributors to the comments section of the Seahawks Insider blog are offered a forum to voice their opinion on a specific topic of choice involving the Seahawks. Submissions are read and edited beforehand.
By Bob Kaupang
The Seahawks have many holes to fill heading into the offseason, and new head coach Pete Carroll will be tasked with figuring out who will stay and who will go as he evaluates Seattle’s roster.
That said, here are a list of positions of need heading into the off-season and possible solutions:
Need Number One: Left Tackle – The Seattle Seahawks offensive line, on average, has been bad the past four years. Left tackle is the most important position on any offensive line (provided you have a right-handed quarterback) and one of the most important positions on the entire team. With less-than-stellar play at this all-important position in recent history, I believe the Seahawks must address it in the coming months.
Possible Solutions: If there is a Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) between the NFL Players Association (NFLPA) and the owners, there is a chance this position can be fixed in free agency with a legitimate talent like Jammal Brown (New Orleans Saints) or Marcus McNeill (San Diego Chargers). If there isn’t a new CBA, the free agent prospects look dim and we’re going to have to hope for a player such as Bryan Bulaga (Iowa) in the middle of the first round.
Number Two: Defensive Line – Simply put, our defensive line must generate pressure on opposing quarterbacks before we can think about having a good defense. I would say generate “more” pressure, but that would insinuate realistic pressure has been brought on a consistent basis the last two years. Some players like Darryl Tapp have brought pressure in spurts. However, there have been too many 3rd down situations where opposing quarterbacks have had time to drop back, eat a sandwich, call their mom, wife, or girlfriend, take a nap, wake-up, and still have plenty of time to complete a pass. It is enough to make anyone scream for a defensive end like Derrick Morgan or defensive tackle such as Ndamukong Suh (although I know Suh would make a Pro Bowl LDE too).
Possible Solutions: Suh will not be available with the 6th pick, but Morgan might. As much as I’d rather have a left tackle with that pick, assuming the position isn’t addressed in free agency, I don’t necessarily see one I trust (Russell Okung) as much as Morgan.
Number Three: Quarterback – Whether you think Matt Hasselbeck has any gas left in the tank or not (I do), the fact remains it is time to find his successor in the near future. In my opinion, this is the most important position on any team and having a plan of succession is a wise course of action when you’re dealing with a 34-year-old quarterback. As long as the offensive line is upgraded, it makes sense to find our future quarterback, too.
Possible Solutions: Sam Bradford is an interesting option. He’s extremely accurate, but his shoulder scares me more than his average arm strength. Also, the Oklahoma offensive line was great in his Heisman Trophy winning year of 2008. He wouldn’t be so lucky in Seattle if the line doesn’t improve.
Number Four: Offensive Line – Walter Jones, in my opinion, was the best left tackle in the NFL in ’06, ’07, and most of ’08. That said, simply adding a left tackle isn’t going to magically fix our offensive line. Therefore, another quality player needs to be added before we can begin to feel good about this unit again.
Possible Solutions: As much as I like Idaho guard Mike Iupati, I would rather get someone later in the draft who is more suited for the Alex Gibbs zone blocking system such as Mike Johnson. Granted, Johnson didn’t work in this system at Alabama, but his skill set indicates he would be better suited to this scheme than a probable first round pick like Iupati. He would also cost less in terms of the salary cap and draft position. If there is a CBA, I can’t think of anything better than adding a Pro Bowl player such as Jahri Evans (New Orleans Saints) or Logan Mankins (New England Patriots).
Other Solutions: While I would love to add an offensive playmaker such as Clemson running back C.J. Spiller, Notre Dame wide receiver Golden Tate, or a defensive playmaker like South Florida free safety Nate Allen, it’s more realistic to focus on someone who can fit that role in the 4th or 5th round (improving our lines of scrimmage is most important).
Ole Miss running back Dexter McCluster could be a situational playmaker. He played the first half of this past season effectively at wide receiver before becoming a running back and rushing for over 1,000 yards. He may be small, but he’s got 4.3 speed and could provide a big-play spark in certain packages. We all know that the Seahawks definitely need some players like this, too.
What do all of you think? If you could only improve four positions this off-season, which ones would they be and who would you realistically sign/draft to make it happen?