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Seahawks mock draft: Bob Condotta predicts each of Seattle’s picks

Mississippi State offensive lineman Charles Cross  (Associated Press)
By Bob Condotta Seattle Times

SEATTLE – Seahawks fans who’ve often lamented over the past decade that there wasn’t much to get excited about with the team’s draft – like last year when Seattle had only three picks and none in the first round – don’t have to fret this year.

With eight picks, including their first at No. 9 overall, how Seattle manages its draft in the wake of the Russell Wilson trade is one of the most intriguing stories in the NFL.

So what could Seattle get with all that sudden draft loot?

Glad you asked.

With the draft just a little over two weeks away – the first round is April 28, rounds 2-3 April 29 and rounds 4-7 April 30 – it’s time for our annual Seahawks seven-round mock draft, taking a guess at what the Seahawks might do with each of their eight selections.

As an assist, I consulted with several mock draft simulators, such as those from Pro Football Focus and Pro Football Network, as a guide of which players – by a general consensus of draft experts at the moment, anyway – would realistically be available with each pick.

Also, yes, the odds of the Seahawks keeping all eight of these picks at their current position are low.

But for now, this is what the Seahawks have.

So let’s project what they might be able to do.

No. 9: Offensive tackle Charles Cross, Mississippi State

The thought here is that Oregon edge rusher Kayvon Thibodeaux – a popular player to mock to Seattle of late – won’t fall to nine. If he does, that would be a no-brainer. My thought is also that Seattle wouldn’t take a quarterback this high, nor likely a cornerback. Unless one of the top couple of edge rushers really falls to this spot, my guess is Seattle uses this pick to fill one of its biggest long-term needs – left tackle – just as it did with the first pick made in the Pete Carroll/John Schneider era when the Seahawks took Russell Okung at No. 6 in 2010, the last time Seattle has picked this high. Cross, who won’t turn 22 until November, was as good of a pass protector as there was in college football last year, allowing just 16 pressures on 719 pass-blocking snaps, according to Pro Football Focus. While Cross may need some time to become a dominant run blocker, potential franchise left tackles are hard to find. Seattle has to add to this position with just three tackles currently under contract – Jake Curhan, Stone Forsythe and Greg Eiland.

No. 40: Edge rusher Nik Bonitto, Oklahoma

One reason to go OL early is that this is regarded as a really good edge rushing group, meaning Seattle should find a solid pass-rushing prospect with either of its second-round picks even if a number of elite ones go in the first round. Bonitto would likely be available and is regarded as a good fit for the 3-4 defense Seattle wants to use more of – per PFF, Bonitto ranked first among all edge rushers the past two years in pass rush grade, pass-rush win rate and pressure rate.

No. 41: QB Matt Corral, Mississippi

And here I go with a QB. With so little consensus on the QBs in this class, my thought is Seattle could wait to this spot and get one who may turn out just as good of a risk to take as someone who may go much higher. Desmond Ridder of Cincinnati would also be tempting if he’s here. But Corral has solid arm strength, really good mobility to keep the zone-read aspect of Seattle’s offense intact in the post-Wilson era, and last year did a much better job taking care of the ball than in previous years (a 20-5 TD-to-interception ratio). And maybe Carroll will like that Corral developed at Ole Miss and also has some experience there with DK Metcalf. But it’s worth mentioning that if Seattle has added another vet (or two) by the time of the draft, then taking a QB this high may not be necessary. One way or the other, though, expect Seattle to add two more QBs by the time the draft ends.

No. 72: Linebacker Troy Andersen, Montana State

Andersen is one of the more intriguing players in the draft due to his college history playing quarterback, running back and then linebacker. And some think he could be gone before 72. But if he lasts to here, Seattle might jump at the chance to get a player who might help in a number of specialty roles immediately, and could become a long-term candidate to fill one of the inside linebacking spots, where at the moment only Jordyn Brooks is under contract beyond 2022.

No. 109: CB Tariq Woolen, University of Texas-San Antonio

More than a few mocks have had the Seahawks going corner with their first pick. And it makes sense given some of the players who could be available at nine – namely Derek Stingley Jr. of LSU and Ahmad “Sauce” Gardner of Cincinnati. But under Carroll and Schneider, Seattle has never drafted a corner earlier than the third round and Carroll may view D.J. Reed as the team’s latest success story in taking an unheralded corner and turning him into a eight-figure-a-year player. So the thought here is Seattle will try to go that route again to beef up the corner spot. Woolen was one of the breakout stories of the combine, running a 4.26. And at 6-4, 205 with 33½-inch arms, he fits the big corner mold Seattle has always favored.

No. 145: Edge Jeffrey Gunter, Coastal Carolina

Yep, we’re adding another edge rusher. Seattle doesn’t have a lot of depth there, and you can never have enough pass rushers. Gunter is another generally perceived as being a good fit for a 3-4 front, and he’s the perfect kind of player to take a chance on at this point in the draft, with impressive physical traits but a perception he hasn’t yet tapped his potential.

No. 153: RB Rachaad White, Arizona State

Running back is another interesting long-term spot for the Seahawks. Rashaad Penny is on just a one-year deal and Chris Carson’s contract voids after this season – and that’s assuming he recovers from neck surgery and can play this year – with DeeJay Dallas and Travis Homer at this point mostly fitting in complementary/special teams roles (and with Alex Collins remaining unsigned). So taking a shot on a running back in the mid rounds makes some sense. White ran a 4.48 40 at the combine while measuring 6-foot, 214, and is a good receiver with 43 catches a year ago, meaning he could compete immediately for the third-down role.

No. 229: WR Bo Melton, Rutgers

People seem all over the map on Melton, so maybe he doesn’t fall here. And yes, he does seem to have a somewhat similar skill set to Dee Eskridge, Seattle’s first pick a year ago. But we’re talking about a seventh-round flyer. Seattle has done nothing of note to add to its receiver depth this off-season and the fifth receiver spot on the roster appears wide open.

Melton also has experience getting some carries, so he could fit well in that receiver-who-gets-some-rushing-attempts role that Seattle’s offense under Shane Waldron seems to want to carve out. And he often comes described with the term “special teams ace” which includes a little bit of kick and punt return experience. And for all the talk of how Seattle constructs its teams, the Seahawks have taken at least one receiver in all but two of 12 drafts since Carroll/Schneider arrived.