BY Doug Farrar 08:06PM 02/21/2011

5 to watch at the scouting combine: The offense

Who will the Seahawks be scouting in Indianapolis? Here are five names to watch at quarterback, receiver, tackle, guard and tight end.

Baylor's Danny Watkins got a lot of advice at the Senior Bowl about playing new positions / Doug Farrar, Sportspress Northwest

When the Seahawks’ personnel people land in Indianapolis for the NFL scouting combine this week, they’ll 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, they’ve got a talent base of their own making. In this two-part series, we’ll 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

We’ve talked about the reasons for Ponder’s 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 he’s fully recovered from the shoulder and elbow surgeries he’s 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, he’ll then go through all the throws during quarterback drills at Lucas Oil Stadium. The Wonderlic shouldn’t be a problem – Ponder already has a Master’s degree in finance and he’s 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 Philadelphia’s DeSean Jackson both on and off the field – he’s a burner down the sideline or up the seam, and he’s 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 don’t 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 doesn’t possess elite hands – he’ll drop catchable balls – but Young should run a very fast 40, and he’ll have all eyes on him during the receiver gauntlet and all the routes to run.

Guard – Danny Watkins, Baylor

It’s clear that the Seahawks have lacked a power base in their offensive line since Steve Hutchinson’s 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 it’s time to fix the issue with a player who can push defenders back in ways Seattle hasn’t 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 he’s played guard (he never actually did so in college), he’s 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 didn’t 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 they’re totally pro-ready. Sherrod, another Senior Bowl star, has proven to be the most complete. He has a build that doesn’t require another 20 pounds before he’s NFL-set, he’s 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 Locklear’s game tape doesn’t impress and Stacy Andrews proves too expensive, taking another tackle in the first round wouldn’t be a bad idea – with bookend tackles, Seattle’s next quarterback (whoever he may be) will get the protection he deserves. And it wouldn’t hurt Matt Hasselbeck, who most expect to continue to be Seattle’s current quarterback.

Tight End – D.J. Williams, Arkansas

John Carlson has been a fixture in Seattle’s offense since he was taken in the second round of the 2008 draft, but he’s 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.


  • Greg

    Yes to Ponder and/or Watkins ; no thanks to a receiver that drops balls , and a tight end that’s probably not as good as Carlson . I agree we need to upgrade at RT from Locklear , but not at 25 .

    It’ll be interesting to see the write-up by Doug on the defensive side ; I personally think linebacker is a way bigger need than people think . Leroy’s almost certainly gone , Lofa’s about done and Curry has yet to show much . It says something when our best linebacker 2 years running is an UDFA from TCU .

    Obviously we need help in the secondary , but I’m very impressed with Thomas and Thurmond so far . We need to keep building on that ; Trufant is getting long in the tooth and somebody PLEASE show Jennings the door finally ( note to Seahawks – never draft another mighty mouse corner again ; we play in the NFC West against Fitzgerald , Crabtree etc. ) !

    Defensive line is always a need , but this years draft is deep at those positions and there should be quality players available in later rounds .

  • Chris

    Yes to Ponder! he helped lead FSU back to a level of contention that they haven’t been at in a long time and I feel he could do that with Seattle as well.

    On another note, how can you disrespect Ponder by saying he’s from Florida? He’s a Florida >State< Seminole all the way! (Okay I'm a little biased but I still think he would do great in Seattle)