Depending on which big-name mock draft you believe, the Seahawks are going to use the 12th pick on Quinton Coples …
Or Melvin Ingram …
Or Luke Kuechly …
Or David DeCastro …
Or Mark Barron …
Or Dontari Poe …
Or Chandler Jones …
While we all might not agree on whom they should take if they stay at 12, there’s one thing just about everyone can agree on: Pete Carroll and John Schneider will have a plan for the guy they draft, especially if it’s a defender.
Carroll and his assistants have been brilliant at making guys fit and playing to their strengths as much as possible. They have created a top-10 defense using Red paint, a Thomas guide, a Kamcorder, an Alan wrench, a Wright brother, a Sherman tank, a couple of Brandon irons and about 22 CCs of O negative.
Carroll and his coaches have turned Red Bryant into the most uniquely used 4-3 defensive end in the NFL. Earl Thomas and Kam Chancellor — the Mutt and Jeff of safety tandems — might already be the best duo in the league. Alan Branch was a nice new twist to the front four. K.J. definitely had the Wright stuff as a rookie, a fourth-round pick replacing a fourth overall pick.
Richard Sherman went from fifth-round pick to No. 1 corner in about five games. Brandon Browner returned from a four-year stint in the CFL and left his mark in his first year. Brandon Mebane — one of the few holdovers from the Mike Holmgren era — lived up to his new contract. And, of course, Chris Clemons has 22 sacks since coming from Philly to play the Leo.
If Carroll can turn that mostly motley crew — Thomas is the only first-rounder — into a big-time unit, you know he’ll have a plan for any defender they might draft at 12.
As Schneider said during their pre-draft media session Monday, “This coaching staff has the ability … to have a broad vision. They don’t get locked into, ‘This is exactly what we are.’
“If we (scouts) see some cool qualities, they’re not saying, ‘No, this is our scheme and this is what it has to be,'” Schneider added. “If we really like the guy and everybody agrees on it, then they’re willing to go for it.”
So, the Seahawks might indeed like the inside-out flexibility of Coples or the utilitarianism of Ingram, who played outside linebacker, rush end and nose tackle at South Carolina.
“I think utility and versatility is huge for coaches,” Schneider said. “Personnel guys see that one dynamic trait and they just want to jump all over it. That’s just been a personal experience. Sometimes you need to pull yourself back and say, ‘What’s the whole picture? What’s going to be his role? How can he fit in for us?’ And there are a lot of guys that have a uniqueness about them because of their versatility. Usually that one dynamic trait — while we all get excited about it — doesn’t carry over exactly to what the coaching staff needs.”
Carroll said, “We take them all independently, so if the guy’s got something we really cherish about him … then we could go on that. But it could be a guy can do so many things that he offers a lot of things to us. So we have to look at each guy individually as we go through it.”
Kuechly is exactly the kind of guy who offers a lot of things. He is a vacuum cleaner tackler who also plays the pass as well as any linebacker Mike Mayock, the NFL Network draft analyst, has seen in college.
Some Seahawk fans are against drafting Kuechly because of the Aaron Curry debacle, insisting that the “sure thing” label that some have placed on the Boston College linebacker is the kiss of death.
But that’s where everyone needs to realize that Carroll and Schneider did not draft Curry, who seems better suited to play inside in a 3-4, where he would have help and protection and could focus on one job. He unfortunately just wasn’t the kind of versatile player who fit Carroll’s system, and that’s why they traded him to Oakland last year.
If the Hawks take Kuechly, the plan for him will be simple: Insert him in the middle and leave him in for every play of every game for the next decade.
Of course, pass rusher is the position most people (not us) expect the Seahawks to address at 12.
“We can never have enough pass rushers,” Carroll said. “There (are) a lot of edge rushers in this draft, and it is certainly one of those issues in this draft we’d like to attend to.”
Coples and Ingram have been mentioned all along as candidates to fill the pass-rush void, but Jones is a new addition to the considerations — at least from the outside.
Mel Kiper is one of several mockers now projecting Jones, previously considered a second-rounder by most analysts, to the Hawks at 12.
“The Seahawks need a pass rusher, and I really like the fit,” Kiper writes for ESPN.com (via Seahawks.com). “Pete Carroll can use a player with Jones’ length and athleticism in a Leo role and create an added dimension to the rush. The Seahawks will have built a pretty formidable defense if they can add a final piece or two up front. Jones makes sense here.”
That seems pretty high for a guy who about three weeks ago looked more like the 12th pick in the second round, not overall, because he is considered more of a run stopper than a pass rusher (just 10 sacks in 33 games at Syracuse).
Of course, all of the pass rushers in this draft have some kind of perceived flaw: Coples was inconsistent and unmotivated, Ingram is too short, Courtney Upshaw is too slow, Whitney Mercilus excelled for only one year, Nick Perry isn’t impactful, etc. But the Seahawks need a pass rusher, so plenty of people are mocking one to them at 12.
“We need to find a pass rush combination with our guys that gets us more push and is a bigger factor,” Carroll said. “There are a number of ways we’re looking. We just hope that we’ll hit it at the right time.”
Of course, that time could be later in the first round if they trade down or in the second round, where they might get a guy like Marshall’s Vinny Curry.
As Carroll said, “There (are) guys throughout the rounds that look very cool to us when the time comes.”
And whomever they draft, you know they will have a plan for him.