By John Boyle Herald Writer
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: firstname.lastname@example.org