With the draft a little more than two weeks away, the Seattle Seahawks are in line to make a first-round selection for the first time since 2012.
Their needs are clear. They'll be in search of a talent upgrade on the offensive line, especially after left tackle Russell Okung and right guard J.R. Sweezy left in free agency. They could use a starting-caliber nose tackle after Brandon Mebane signed with the San Diego Chargers. And as always, they'll look to add to the pass rush -- whether that means an edge defender to replace Bruce Irvin or someone on the interior to team up with Michael Bennett.
Seahawks general manager John Schneider, like most personnel people, has emphasized that he won't draft for need and won't pass up talented players. At the same time, it doesn't make sense for the Seahawks to waste valuable resources at positions like quarterback (Russell Wilson), free safety (Earl Thomas) and middle linebacker (Bobby Wagner) where they have established players signed to long-term contracts.
Keeping that in mind, below are five players (in no particular order) who could make sense at No. 26.
Germain Ifedi, OL, Texas A&M -- Let's start with the good. Ifedi is 6-foot-6, 324 pounds and has 36-inch arms. In other words, he looks the part. He began his college career at right guard before spending the past two seasons at right tackle. Ifedi is a very good athlete who has the skill set to transition to left tackle at some point. So why would he be available late in the first round? Ifedi's college tape is inconsistent, and he's far from a finished product. But for a team like the Seahawks that believes strongly in coaching and player development, he could make sense. Ifedi has the size, athleticism and positional versatility that could attract the Seahawks.
Vernon Butler, DT, Louisiana Tech -- At the owners meetings last month, Pete Carroll reiterated what many others have said: This draft class is loaded with defensive tackles. Butler (6-4, 323 pounds) has reportedly had an official visit with the Seahawks. He has experience playing both the one-technique and the three-technique in college. In his past two seasons, Butler totaled 23 tackles for loss. The key here is pass rush. He had just five sacks in his college career. Is Butler someone who can develop the skills to push the pocket and prevent opposing quarterbacks from stepping up? If the Seahawks think the answer to that question is yes, he could be a legitimate option at No. 26.
A'Shawn Robinson, DT, Alabama -- He's another defensive tackle who could interest the Seahawks. Robinson (6-4, 307 pounds) could come in and start at nose tackle right away. Like Butler, the question would be with his pass rush. The Seahawks seem unlikely to use a first-round pick on a defensive lineman unless they believe he can be a three-down player. Robinson had eight sacks in three seasons and was a key contributor to one of the best defenses in the nation. Carroll believes that good defense starts with stopping the run and limiting big plays in the passing game. Robinson is a player who could help with those goals.
William Jackson III, CB, Houston -- Before you rip me, yes, I am aware that the Seahawks have not drafted a cornerback higher than the fourth round during the Carroll/Schneider era. But that doesn't necessarily mean they'd refuse to consider it. Jackson (6-foot, 189 pounds, 31 3/4-inch arms) may be a long shot, but he's a player to at least keep an eye on. He possesses a rare size/speed (4.37 40) combination and has elite ball skills. Jackson notched 28 passes defended (23 breakups, five interceptions) last year, the most of any player in college football. The Seahawks want to develop young corners, rather than sign them in free agency. They brought back Jeremy Lane, but he has the skill set to play inside or outside. If Jackson falls to 26, there's a chance he could qualify as the best player available on the Seahawks' board.
Jason Spriggs, OT, Indiana -- Take a look at mock drafts, and you're unlikely to see his name in the first round. But since when have the Seahawks been afraid to go against popular opinion? Spriggs (6-6, 301 pounds) is one of the best athletes in this year's class of offensive linemen and was a four-year starter in college. But he's a projection. He has some plays where he looks great and others where he looks lost. Selecting him in the first round would be another example of the Seahawks putting their faith in assistant head coach/offensive line coach Tom Cable to develop athletic offensive linemen. Spriggs might not be an immediate contributor, but because of his physical traits, he has more upside than some of his peers.