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Published: Tuesday, April 23, 2013, 12:01 a.m.

NFL Draft: Seahawks need depth in the trenches

Seattle could pick offensive and defensive linemen in draft

RENTON -- The contract extension signed by Kam Chancellor was good news for the Seattle Seahawks because it means they'll keep one of their key defensive players for the foreseeable future.
Chancellor's new contract was also, however, a reminder that the Seahawks have a lot of young, talented players who are looking to get paid in the coming years.
And while Chancellor's presence will help Seattle's secondary for years to come, his contract, as well as those that could be coming to free safety Earl Thomas and cornerback Richard Sherman next offseason, are reasons why the Seahawks need to draft well in other areas this week. The Seahawks can afford to pay their young defensive backs, and later down the road, quarterback Russell Wilson, only if they are saving money in other areas.
It's all fine and good to spend big on pass-catchers and linemen, which Seattle is now, when the quarterback and All-Pro corner are on rookie deals. But if the Seahawks are going to pay those young players to keep them around, they'll need to find bargains at other positions soon.
And in this year's draft, some of the best bargains could come in the trenches, particularly at offensive tackle and throughout the defensive line. Left tackle Russell Okung is a player the Seahawks hope to keep around. But if there was a rookie out there, say someone like Arkansas Pine-Bluff's Terron Armstead, capable of replacing right tackle Breno Giacomini at a fraction of the cost, Seattle would have to consider that type of move. The Seahawks wouldn't replace Giacomini because they're unhappy with his play, but if they could avoid paying him $3.5 million this year while paying a rookie a few hundred thousand, that might make good business sense.
When asked about how he builds a draft board, Seahawks general manager John Schneider said, "It's impacted based on the depth at each position and how we think people compete at certain positions with the guys that are currently on our roster or the guys that we project may not be on the roster in 2014."
So it isn't just a matter of taking the best guy available, but rather addressing depth, and as mentioned above, the Seahawks need to develop depth in the trenches more than anywhere. Giacomini is a free agent after this season, and on the defensive line, players like Brandon Mebane, Chris Clemons, Red Bryant and Cliff Avril all are taking up a lot of cap space.
If the Seahawks are looking for offensive line depth in the middle rounds, a possibility mentioned by CBSSports.com draft guru Rob Rang is Alabama's Barrett Jones. Jones, who is listed as a center, has the versatility to play just about anywhere on the line, which could make him an ideal backup who might develop into a starter.
"He's actually not a very good athlete, but he's so tough and so smart that I could see them being intrigued by a player like him," Rang said.
What might make more sense in the second round for Seattle is to draft a defensive lineman, especially if that player is a starting-caliber tackle. Two-year starter Alan Branch is gone, and while the Seahawks have options on the roster to fill that spot, including the recently-added Tony McDaniel and second-year players Jaye Howard and Greg Scruggs, none of them are a lock to win the starting job.
This year's draft is deep on the defensive line, so when the Seahawks are on the clock Friday, they should have good options available if they do in fact want to bolster the D-line.
"I personally think defensive line is the more likely scenario for them, and there should be a number of defensive lineman available at 56 (the 56th overall pick in the draft) who could complement what they're doing," Rang said. "They could go for an interior player like Brandon Williams, a small school kid from Missouri Southern. Then some of the pass rushers on the outside, Alex Okafor from Texas, Sam Montgomery from LSU, those are guys who use their hands well, they're stronger at the point of attack that Bruce Irvin, so they'd complement him rather than be a player with the same skill set."
Adding another defensive end might seem strange when you just look at the 2013 season alone, but for a team that has playoff-caliber talent before adding anyone this week, picking an end who could replace an expensive veteran in a year or two could prove vital if the Seahawks are to maintain a high level of play for years to come.
Herald Writer John Boyle: jboyle@heraldnet.com

2013 NFL Draft Position Breakdown

Each day this week, The Herald takes a look at some of the top position players in the 2013 NFL draft.

Today: Offensive and defensive line

Wednesday: Quarterbacks and
running backs

Player rankings via CBSSports.com

Offensive tackle

1. Luke Joeckel, Texas A&M

2. Eric Fisher, Central Michigan

3. Lane Johnson, Oklahoma

Guard/Center

1. Chance Warmack, Alabama

2. Jonathan Cooper, North Carolina

3. Larry Warford, Kentucky

Seahawks prospectus: With Russell Okung coming off of a Pro Bowl season, left tackle is certainly not a need, and Breno Giacomini is a solid option at RT, but finding depth at tackle is definitely a possibility. And for a team trying to re-sign so many young core players in the next couple of years, finding an inexpensive rookie to replace Giacomini, perhaps somebody like Arkansas Pine-Bluff’s Terron Armstead, could be an option the Seahawks are considering.

Guard is also a question mark, if not an obvious hole on Seattle’s roster. Former first-round pick James Carpenter projects as the starting left guard if healthy, but good health is hardly a given for Carpenter, who has ended up on injured reserve the past two seasons. And neither John Moffitt nor J.R. Sweezy was able to solidify a starting position, so it’s possible a rookie could push for a job at guard, at least for depth if not to compete for a starting spot. If Seattle does draft a lineman, expect it to be a player with the versatility to play at least two positions on the line.

Defensive end

1. Ezikiel Ansah, BYU

2. Bjoern Werner, Florida

3. Datone Jones, UCLA

Defensive tackle

1. Sharrif Floyd, Florida

2. Star Lotulelei, Utah

3. Sheldon Richardson, Missouri

Seahawks prospectus: The Seahawks just signed Cliff Avril and Michael Bennett to go with ends Chris Clemons and Bruce Irvin, so it seems like pass rush is the least of their needs. But on the other hand, Seattle is nearly impossible to predict when it comes to the draft, and as loaded as the Seahawks appear to be at that position, head coach Pete Carroll loves to say that you can’t have enough pass rushers, so if a good one is available, they’d probably be willing to pull the trigger.

Using an early pick on a defensive tackle, on the other hand, makes a lot of sense for Seattle. Alan Branch, a two-year starter, left in free agency, and while newly-signed Tony McDaniel could end up starting , he hardly has the job wrapped up. And with Brandon Mebane making pretty good money, this is another position where it would behoove Seattle to develop some starting-caliber talent through the draft to free up money to be spent on other positions.

John Boyle, Herald writer

Story tags » NFL

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