Who will the Seahawks be scouting in Indianapolis? Here are five names to watch at quarterback, receiver, tackle, guard and tight end.
When the Seahawks personnel people land in Indianapolis for the NFL scouting combine this week, theyll be looking at a number of players to add to a patchwork roster at several positions. Head coach Pete Carroll and general manager John Schneider kept moving the deck chairs after inheriting several enormous holes left by the previous administration, but now, theyve got a talent base of their own making. In this two-part series, well look at 10 players five on the offensive side and five on defense who could pique the Seahawks interest prior to the NFL Draft for many different reasons.
Quarterback Christian Ponder, Florida
Weve talked about the reasons for Ponders potential fit in a West Coast offense before, but the Senior Bowl standout now has another chance to prove that he can make all the NFL throws. He can also prove that hes fully recovered from the shoulder and elbow surgeries hes undergone over the last two years. Ponder will get another full medical checkup when he gets to Indianapolis, and as long as everything checks out as it did in Mobile, hell then go through all the throws during quarterback drills at Lucas Oil Stadium. The Wonderlic shouldnt be a problem Ponder already has a Masters degree in finance and hes working on his doctorate. Based on his game tape and performances in Senior Bowl practices and the game itself, Ponder should fare very well in the footwork drills, test decently in the 40-yard dash, and make all the short and intermediate throws. If he can also hit the deep post corner that is required of every quarterback in the drills (and he was hitting some surprisingly good deep throws at Senior Bowl practice, that should go very quickly on the radar of any and every team looking for a versatile quarterback from a multi-read offense.
Receiver Titus Young, Boise State
The ultimate speedster in Mobile, Young reminds of Philadelphias DeSean Jackson both on and off the field hes a burner down the sideline or up the seam, and hes not shy at all when it comes to discussing his skill set. Though Deon Butler presented the ability to get downfield in a hurry, the Seahawks still dont have the kind of consistently explosive playmaker needed to run the evolutionary version of the West Coast offense that some mistake for a more dink-and-dunk proposition. In truth, the Eagles have shown the way with an intriguing combination of a WCO base and different speed combo crossing routes run by Jackson and Jeremy Maclin. Young doesnt possess elite hands hell drop catchable balls but Young should run a very fast 40, and hell have all eyes on him during the receiver gauntlet and all the routes to run.
Guard Danny Watkins, Baylor
Its clear that the Seahawks have lacked a power base in their offensive line since Steve Hutchinsons departure. After trying to fill the left guard hole last season with Ben Hamilton, Chester Pitts, and Mike Gibson, it may be the opinion of Carroll and Schneider that its time to fix the issue with a player who can push defenders back in ways Seattle hasnt seen (at least from its own offense) since 2005. Watkins played left tackle at Baylor replacing current St. Louis Rams tackle Jason Smith but he projects better as a guard at the next level. In the short time hes played guard (he never actually did so in college), hes shown a great ability to master the finer aspects of the position. Getting the hang of a position in a big hurry is nothing new to Watkins; the British Columbia native and former fireman didnt play football at all prior to junior college. The Seahawks personnel staff will be looking hard at all the guards at the combine, but from a pure upside position, Watkins may come out of Indy with a few more stars on his chest.
Tackle Derek Sherrod, Mississippi State
There are a host of potential first-round tackles in this draft class, but each of them have steps to go before theyre totally pro-ready. Sherrod, another Senior Bowl star, has proven to be the most complete. He has a build that doesnt require another 20 pounds before hes NFL-set, hes got a defined sense of pass protection, he drives in run blocking with more than enough power, and he was able to kick over to right tackle at times with little or no adjustment. If Sean Locklears game tape doesnt impress and Stacy Andrews proves too expensive, taking another tackle in the first round wouldnt be a bad idea with bookend tackles, Seattles next quarterback (whoever he may be) will get the protection he deserves. And it wouldnt hurt Matt Hasselbeck, who most expect to continue to be Seattles current quarterback.
Tight End D.J. Williams, Arkansas
John Carlson has been a fixture in Seattles offense since he was taken in the second round of the 2008 draft, but hes got one more year on his rookie contract and he had trouble syncing up in Jeremy Bates offense. If he has trouble under Darrell Bevell, there may be a move for another tight end, one that can split the seam as Visanthe Shiancoe did for Bevell in Minnesota. One intriguing candidate in this draft class is Williams, a good hybrid player who excels in short and intermediate routes, has great hands, and can get surprising burst upfield for his 6-foot-2, 236-pound frame.