Pete Carroll is entering his third year as Seahawks coach, and so far has shown an ability to maximize talent. One more strong draft could push Seattle well past Arizona and St. Louis, and into serious contention with San Francisco for the NFC West title.
Linebacker: The Seahawks unearthed promising strong-side ‘backer K.J. Wright in the fourth round of last year’s draft, but they have long-term question marks at the other two positions. Middle man David Hawthorne bolted in free agency, and weak-side starter Leroy Hill’s next off-field transgression could knock him out of the league. Newly signed Barrett Ruud is a short-term fix at best at middle linebacker. The Seahawks could use a difference maker at this position.
Defensive end: Seattle’s only legitimate pass-rushing threat is weak-side end Chris Clemons, who’s entering a contract year at age 31. Left end Red Bryant is immovable in run defense, but rarely plays on passing downs because he brings no pressure. Jason Jones and Brandon Mebane can collapse the pocket from the interior, but an outside rusher would make the Seahawks’ defense much more difficult to game plan against.
Cornerback: Left corner Richard Sherman flashed lockdown cover skills as a rookie, but right corner Brandon Browner was often burned in coverage and led all NFC cornerbacks in penalties. Marcus Trufant is 31 with chronic back issues. Roy Lewis would be strictly a special teamer on a good team. Walter Thurmond III recently suffered a setback recovering from a broken tibia and is headed for the PUP list. Carroll loves big, physical press corners and could draft one as early as the 12th overall pick. South Carolina’s Stephon Gilmore and Alabama’s Dre Kirkpatrick both fit the mold.
Running back: The Seahawks utilize their quarterbacks as game managers, leaning on the run to move the chains. They won’t use a high pick on a back after locking up Marshawn Lynch with a $31 million extension, but have room for a complementary runner. Leon Washington has been largely unimpressive in the role and is best suited as a return specialist. With a physical running style, Lynch won’t finish his new deal if he keeps getting 280-plus carries per year.