Author’s note: this post can be found over at NFL Spin Zone.
As Josh can attest to, the Seahawks will be making some major changes to the way they’ll look this season, and I’m not talking about roster transactions.
That’s right, Seattle appears to be the team most impacted by the NFL’s decision to adopt Nike as its official uniform and apparel provider, ending its previous run with Reebok.
But the change that Seahawks fans would love most in 2012 would be an improvement in the win-loss column, as Seattle needed a late season surge just to climb to 8-8 last year. Optimism stems from the play of RB Marshawn Lynch down the stretch, as well as the signing of free agent QB Matt Flynn – who although he remains largely a mystery (he’s only started two NFL games – appears to be an upgrade over Tarvaris Jackson.
Defensively, the Seahawks are loaded in the secondary, with young talent in place at every position and budding stars in safeties Kam Chancenllor and Earl Thomas, as well as promising young corners Richard Sherman and Brandon Browner. That’s a good start to any unit, and count on that group making another major impact in 2012.
It’s not far-fetched for the NFC West to be a lot tighter than many expect it to be next season, as although San Francisco enters the year as the odds-on favorite, Seattle and Arizona – who each struck out in the Peyton Manning sweepstakes this offseason – look to be stronger.
Long before the season begins, however, the Seahawks will make their picks in the upcoming NFL draft.
Here’s a strategical look at pick number twelve, Seattle’s first choice:
Who they will draft: Melvin Ingram, defensive end, South Carolina. Just ask Pete Carroll what his defense needs to improve. Here’s a hint: the pass rush. Ingram, a blessed athlete with explosion and closing speed off the edge, has the ability to get after the passer and become a force for Seattle. He’s long, powerful and instinctive enough to compete from day one. The primary concern with Ingram? He forced just one fumble in his career at South Carolina – that means he needs refining.
Who they could draft: Courtney Upshaw, defensive end/outside linebacker, Alabama. For a defense that likes to mix up its fronts, Upshaw makes perfect sense for Seattle. He’s capable to put a hand in the dirt, get up the field and rush, while also savvy enough to drop into space and read the quarterback. Alabama relied on him quite a bit last year, and that counts for something given that program’s NFL-style system on all sides of the football.
Who they should draft: Upshaw. Supposing Ingram and Upshaw are both available, Seattle cant got wrong grabbing either rusher. The reason I lean towards Upshaw is his complete game package. He has the skills and football IQ to do more for a defense than Ingram, who projects to be a fine rusher, but lacks in other departments. That’s splitting hairs however, as either would make Seahawks fans justifiably happy.
Who they shouldn’t draft: Whitney Mercilus, defensive end, Illinois. Depending on who you talk to, Mercilus projects in either the top half or the bottom half of the first round of the draft. The people I’ve talked to tend to see him as a bottom half of the round prospect, so Seattle ought not to reach at pick 12 to snag him. Barring an early run on athletic rushers, Seattle should be able to land a better pass rush option than Mercilus.