Combine measurables, athletic testing matter to Seahawks

The Seattle Seahawks go into this week's NFL combine knowing they have five draft picks in the first three rounds -- tied with the Cleveland Browns for most in the league.

The roster has obvious areas that need to be addressed like offensive line and cornerback. But this is a key year to build depth and competition at several sports.

While some may downplay the significance of the combine, there's a reason why coaches, scouts and general managers from every team show up. And looking at the Seahawks' history under John Schneider and Pete Carroll, it's clear that the combine matters.

Here are some things they'll be looking for this week.

Athletic offensive linemen

College experience matters very little to offensive line coach Tom Cable. When discussing basketball player turned left tackle George Fant last year, Cable explained that it's sometimes advantageous to get guys who are raw and haven't developed any bad habits.

Keeping that in mind, the number of college starts or postseason honors don't carry a lot of weight when the Seahawks are drafting offensive linemen.

Athletic testing, however, does matter a great deal.

From Germain Ifedi to Terry Poole to Mark Glowinski to Kristjan Sokoli, the Seahawks have zeroed in on plus athletes who have impressive physical tools to work with.

The one test to keep a close eye on with the offensive linemen is the broad jump. In the past two drafts, 14 offensive linemen have posted broad jumps of at least 109 inches at the combine. Three of them -- Glowinski, Poole and Ifedi -- have been drafted by the Seahawks.

All three players ranked in the 73rd percentile or better in the vertical jump and the top half of prospects at their position in the 40-yard dash. Note that Rees Odhiambo, Joey Hunt and Sokoli did not participate in the combine.

Again, it's just one part of the puzzle, but the athletic profiles of offensive linemen matter to the Seahawks.

Long cornerbacks

This year's class of corners is considered to be a deep group, and that's good news for a Seahawks defense that lost starter DeShawn Shead to a serious knee injury in the divisional round of the playoffs.

Cornerback is a position where the Seahawks believe they can coach guys up, and given their success over the years, it's hard to argue with their philosophy. Seattle has never drafted a cornerback before the fourth round, but the guys the Seahawks have taken possess common physical measurables.

Most notably, they are long.

The average height among the six corners the Seahawks have selected is 72.7 inches (or just under 6-foot-1). Only one (Walter Thurmond) was under 6-foot. The arm length of all six corners has been at least 32 inches.

The Seahawks' defensive philosophy has not changed much over the years. They are going to play with a single-high safety and need corners who can win at the line of scrimmage. Seattle should have plenty of options with corners who fit its profile in this year's class.

Marshawn Lynch's replacement (again)

The Seahawks have drafted seven running backs in the past five years, and only two -- C.J. Prosise and Alex Collins -- are still on the roster.

They were proactive in trying to replace Lynch but have just struck out time and again with guys like Christine Michael and Robert Turbin.

Thomas Rawls and Prosise would share the workload if the season started today, but this is a strong running back class, and the Seahawks very well could look to add another ball-carrier.

As for a physical profile, there doesn't appear to really be one. Michael was a physical freak. Collins tested poorly across the board. This is a position where the tape will be more important than the testing. But the Seahawks will still be doing their homework on the backs in Indy.

Defensive linemen who can move

The Seahawks have different profiles for their defensive linemen. They have two-down interior linemen like Ahtyba Rubin and Jarran Reed. They have versatile three-down players like Michael Bennett, Frank Clark and Quinton Jefferson who can play defensive end on base downs and swing inside in sub packages.

And they have had pure edge-rushers like Cliff Avril and Bruce Irvin.

But Carroll has always emphasized speed over size up front. Guys like Clark, Irvin and Jefferson have had impressive athletic profiles.

One test to keep an eye on with the defensive linemen: the 20-yard shuttle. Past draft picks like Jefferson, Clark, Cassius Marsh, Jordan Hill, Irvin and Jaye Howard all finished in the 75th percentile or better in this test.