As we do at the beginning of every offseason, I sat down with Rob Rang, senior draft analyst for NFLDraftScout.com, to discuss this year’s draft class and how the Seattle Seahawks may be leaning in their draft preparation as we head toward April.
Rang talks about the strengths and weaknesses in this year’s draft, and breaks down the top quarterbacks in the draft in the video above.
As I see it, Seattle’s top draft needs are quarterback, offensive and defensive lines, cornerback and wide receiver.
A lot will depend on what happens between the team and Matt Hasselbeck and the rest of the 27 players the Seahawks have hitting free agency in March, along with when that free agency period will take place and how long it will be.
The Seahawks also have young quarterbacks Charlie Whitehurst and Nate Davis currently on the roster as possibilities that could develop into the team’s quarterback of the future, and they no doubt will consider looking to upgrade that position in this year’s draft.
Four quarterbacks are expected to go in the first round in April. They include Missouri’s Blaine Gabbert, Auburn’s Cam Newton, Ryan Mallet of Arkansas and Washington’s Jake Locker.
All four of those prospects could be gone by the time Seattle selects at No. 25, which makes it a possibility Seattle could look to select more of a developmental quarterback later in the draft.
“Possibly we could see all four quarterbacks go before Seattle’s on the board at No. 25, even though there are some quarterbacks – most notably Mallet and Locker – that aren’t going to be viewed as Top 25 players by a lot of teams out there,” Rang said.
“I would rank them Gabbert No. 1, Cam Newton two largely on his incredible upside, Jake Locker three and Mallet at four.”
That said, here’s a quick look at some of the top quarterbacks in this year’s draft, with comments on each one by Rang.
Rang: “He’s got a big arm. He’s got a quick release for a big guy, and that’s very rare for a big quarterback. He uses his feet well, and so it leads you to believe that he can make that transition. He reads defenses well – he does all of those things well. He just doesn’t have the eye-popping statistics. … When it’s all said and done with Blaine Gabbert I believe he’s going to be end up being a top 5 to top 7 pick.”
Rang: “He has an unbelievable combination of arm strength, athletic ability size – the whole package – it’s just does he have the ability to acclimate to a pro-style offense, be able to read defense and things of that nature.”
Rang: “He certainly has the intangibles you’re looking for. He has the size. He has the strength. You know he’s a competitor. He didn’t have to go to the Senior Bowl, yet he chose to do so despite being a four-year starter at Washington.
“The accuracy is the thing, especially in a West Coast offense like Seattle is going to be running. You really question if he has the ability to make that kind of transfer to a scheme like that.”
Rang: “Ryan Mallet has the strongest arm of any quarterback in the draft. At the same time he’s so tall – he’s in that 6-6 to 6-7 range – that he’s almost like a Dan McGwire-type in that he’s going to struggle to get outside the pocket. So when the pocket is collapsing around him, can he set his feet and make an accurate throw. He has made some eye-popping throws, plays that just jump off the tape. At the same time, there’s been a troubling problem with him that when the pocket collapses he has a tendency to react poorly, to throw the ball into coverage and trust his arm too much, and that leads to some costly interceptions, especially at the end of big ball games.”
Rang: “He’s a guy that came into this season, and a lot of NFL scouts are ranking him right there with Jake Locker. He struggled through some real arm issues this year, he had two surgeries within a year, and so that’s one of the reasons why he came into the Senior Bowl a little bit unheralded, because he had struggled with that. And then at the Senior Bowl practices I would argue he was the most consistent quarterback throughout the week. … He’s an interesting player because what he does best is the short-to-intermediate-level accuracy. He does have the mobility to move around the pocket. He is a leader. He’s very intelligent, so those types of things you’re looking for, for a true West Coast offense he has.”
Rang: “He has the intangibles and has the accuracy. There’s some concerns because he also came out of a spread offense, and so there’s going to have to be some acclimation to a pro-style offense that he’s going to have to undertake as well. But you see the intangibles and you see the work ethic out of him that make you believe he gets it.”
Ricky Stanzi, Iowa, 6-4, 230
Rang: “He has the length you like. He has ability to throw the ball down the field. He has short-to-intermediate field accuracy. He’s more of a ball-control kind of a quarterback. I don’t know if he’s a great fit for the West Coast offense, but he makes some sense for any team that tries to pound the ball in the running game, and then be able to make smart decisions with the ball on third down.”