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Mailbag: Seattle's secondary in focus

Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando

Staples from Enumclaw, Wash., writes: Hey, I wanted to know your thoughts about the Seahawks' secondary. They have seemed to take care of their other needs. Signing Colin Cole and Cory Redding has strengthened the defensive line. T.J. Houshmandzadeh helps at wide receiver. Re-signing Ray Willis helps the o-line.

But other than looking at Jermaine Phillips, we haven't done anything for the secondary. The draft could be where they are looking for a boost, but I have two problems with that.

  • 1. They have used early picks in recent drafts on secondary guys who have underperformed for how high they were drafted (Keklly Jennings in the first round, Josh Wilson in the second).

  • 2. The draft doesn't have many good secondary men. Other then Malcolm Jenkins from Ohio State, which isn't worth our #4 pick, there's not many impact secondary men. The secondary might be the worst positions in the draft this year. How do you think they will address the need that is biggest right now?

Mike Sando: I think it's clear the Seahawks like their secondary better than quite a few fans like their secondary. For that reason, and for reasons you outlined, the secondary is not a position I anticipate Seattle addressing with the fourth overall choice.

Since 1992, general manager Tim Ruskell's teams have drafted only one cornerback among the top 30 overall choices. That was DeAngelo Hall, taken eighth by the Falcons in 2004. Jennings was the 31st player chosen in 2006. Brian Kelly (45th in 1998) and Wilson (55th in 2007) were the only other defensive backs Ruskell's teams drafted in the first two rounds during the time period in question.

I would expect the Seahawks to draft a safety somewhere along the line. I'm less convinced they'll target cornerbacks early given how much they've already invested in the position and given how the Seahawks are likely to use their cornerbacks in their new scheme. I'll certainly let you know if my thinking on that changes.

Ruskell's teams have drafted six defensive backs between the 82nd and 117th overall choices. All six were safeties, including John Lynch (82nd in 1993). If you want to know where the Seahawks are likely to seek a safety, history says we might start in that range. One caveat: Those six safeties were drafted 12 years ago on average.

The Seahawks thought their defensive backs were in pretty good position most of the time last season. The DBs did not make plays on the ball very well. They could have used more help from their pass rush. That will be an emphasis in 2009.

Seattle's interest in Phillips was accidental. The Bucs' shakeup on defense might have led Phillips to explore his options. The Seahawks did not enter free agency expecting to meet with him. Signing him was not a priority for them. Phillips also visited the Chargers before re-signing with Tampa.