Seahawks still pondering what to do with No. 4 pick
Seattle could pick a quarterback, wide receiver, lineman, linebacker or even trade its No. 4 overall pick
Seattle Times staff reporter
Picky, picky1. QB Matt Stafford, Georgia
Why the Seahawks could take him: He throws with the zip of someone like Jay Cutler, and Stafford will have one of the strongest arms in the NFL the moment he steps in the league.
Why they wouldn't: There's a good chance Seattle won't have the chance as there's a growing consensus the Lions want to pick him first provided they can outline a contract. Besides, Seattle still has that Matt Hasselbeck guy who took them to a Super Bowl and just two years ago set a career-high in passing.
2. OT Jason Smith, Butler
Why the Seahawks could take him: Considered the best left tackle in the draft. Athletic enough to play tight end as a freshman, he moved to tackle as a sophomore and immediately became the starter.
Why they wouldn't: Smith probably won't get past St. Louis with the second pick, and president Tim Ruskell isn't generally inclined to target offensive linemen early in the first round of the draft.
3. OT Eugene Monroe, Virginia
Why the Seahawks could take him: Walter Jones is 35 and underwent offseason knee surgery. The Seahawks expect Jones back for training camp, but picking Monroe would provide a left tackle of the future.
Why they wouldn't: The Seahawks thought they already found a left tackle beyond Jones. That was the idea when they re-signed Sean Locklear in 2008. Then there's Ray Willis — re-signed this year. Where — and when — would Monroe get on the field?
4. LB Aaron Curry, Wake Forest
Why the Seahawks would take him: He is considered one of the best linebackers available in the draft this millennium, and the trade of Julian Peterson opens a starting spot Curry could compete for.
Why they wouldn't: Linebackers rarely get picked this high. Only one has been chosen in the top five going back to 2001: A.J. Hawk to Green Bay in 2006, and he hasn't fulfilled all those expectations.
5. QB Mark Sanchez, USC
Why the Seahawks could take him: Hasselbeck missed nine games with a back injury last season. Just how safe does Seattle feel that he'll be healthy in the long-term? Sanchez is a charismatic leader from a college program that runs a pro-style offense.
Why they wouldn't: Sanchez started 16 games in college and choosing him would start the clock ticking on Hasselbeck's time with the Seahawks. Because of the size of the contract for Sanchez, it would create a very difficult situation should Hasselbeck return to his Pro Bowl form in 2009.
6. WR Michael Crabtree, Texas Tech
Why the Seahawks could take him: Back in January, he was considered the best prospect in the draft. He was named the top receiver in college each of the past two years and so athletic Bobby Knight recruited him to play basketball at Texas Tech.
Why they wouldn't: He played in a spread offense that makes it tough to accept his statistics at face value. He's also 2 inches shorter than advertised in college and was diagnosed with a stress fracture that required surgery and kept him from running the 40-yard dash for NFL teams before the draft.
The protocol for making the fourth pick in the NFL draft seems pretty straightforward.
Make a list of top four players available, arrange them in order of preference and wait to see which one is available after the Lions, Rams and Chiefs make choices Nos. 1 through 3.
Just don't try telling president Tim Ruskell that holding the fourth pick is any easier than picking in the second half of the first round.
"A lot more work is required," he said. "You can focus on a smaller group, but you have to spend more time with those people. You're spending a lot more money here, and a lot more is going to be asked of them."
And then there's the question of just where Seattle plans to put the player it picks. When a player is drafted that high and paid this much, it's going to have a trickle-down effect on other players on the roster.
"There isn't one thing we have to have," Ruskell said, "and yet we could accept a guy at just about every position.
"It's kind of a unique deal. We have needs, but not priorities."
Going 4-12 last season remains the hardest part about picking fourth in this year's draft, but that doesn't mean deciding who to pick is easy. There are just too many questions to consider.
Q: How about pegging a quarterback? After all, the Seahawks hope they're never in this draft position again, so maybe it's time to pick Matt Hasselbeck's successor.
A: Well, that's certainly one line of thinking. Hasselbeck missed nine games with a back injury last season, he will turn 34 next season, and there have been persistent reports over the past month the Seahawks are very interested in USC quarterback Mark Sanchez.
Two things to consider, though.
1) The Seahawks have a quarterback — a pretty good one — whom Ruskell still believes is in his prime. Choosing Sanchez would start the clock ticking on Hasselbeck's time in Seattle.
2) Grade inflation is an annual occurrence for that position in the draft. Franchise quarterbacks are like gold in the NFL only a lot more rare, and each year teams talk themselves into the idea certain quarterbacks are the answer, sending them floating up the draft order. It's a unique reality of that position in the draft.
"If we waited until June, I think it would be 1-2-3 [all] quarterbacks," Ruskell joked.
Q: Well, how about receiver? The Seahawks were an injury or two away from holding open tryouts for the position last year so why not take Texas Tech's Michael Crabtree, the only player to win consecutive Biletnikoff Awards as the top collegiate receiver?
A: Valid logic, and Crabtree is that game-breaker type of athlete, but he's 2 inches shorter than the 6 feet 3 he was advertised at Texas Tech and was diagnosed with a stress fracture that required surgery and prevented him from running the 40-yard dash for NFL teams.
On top of all that, wide receivers drafted in the top 10 have been known to wind up notorious busts. Charles Rogers, Mike Williams and Reggie Williams were all top-10 picks at the position in the past six years. None are currently on an NFL roster.
Q: Well, who's the safest pick then?
A: Probably linebacker Aaron Curry of Wake Forest. He has been called the best linebacking prospect in a decade, but he's one of the players the Lions are considering with the first pick. If he doesn't go there, plenty of people think the Chiefs are going to snap him up.
Q: OK, how about a big meat-eating lineman then? The Seahawks have made three top-10 choices in the past 12 drafts: Koren Robinson (No. 9 in 2001), Shawn Springs (No. 3 in 1997) and Walter Jones (No. 6 in 1997). Of those three, Jones was the biggest success.
A: Tackles have become trendy. There were eight tackles chosen in the first round of the draft last year — an all-time high — and four who are considered worthy of top-20 choices this season. But where would they play in Seattle? Jones has been so darn good he's still a perennial Pro Bowler and even coming off knee surgery, it's hard to see anyone else starting at left tackle for Seattle.
There are others to consider. Sean Locklear was re-signed in 2008 behind the rationale he could move to left tackle after Jones retires, and the Seahawks re-signed Ray Willis for around $3 million per year.
Finally, Ruskell has never been an advocate of picking offensive linemen early in the draft. His draft history certainly points to that predilection. Since he became Tampa Bay's director of college scouting in 1992, the team he has worked for has chosen one offensive lineman in the first round.
Q: Well, why not just trade down and pick up a later-round pick and save some money on the contract that will go to the first-round pick?
A: Sounds great, and if you can find a team willing to give up picks and take on the contractual obligations to move up to No. 4, Ruskell would love to know.
"The phone's not ringing off the hook for that," Ruskell said. "I would say if there's movement and change you will see it below us."
There hasn't been a trade in the top five since 2004 when the Chargers traded Eli Manning — the top overall pick — to the New York Giants. A team hasn't traded its way into the top five since 2003 when the Jets gave up the No. 13 and No. 22 picks and a fourth-rounder to Chicago for the fourth overall pick.
So the Seahawks are getting ready to use the fourth overall pick in Sunday's draft. They've settled on the players they will consider with the pick, now it's just a matter of determining order of preference.
"Our list isn't going to change, but we're still arguing order," Ruskell said.
Copyright © 2009 The Seattle Times Company
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