NFL Seattle Seahawks

Top Five Players Seattle Seahawks Should Target In First Round Of 2013 NFL Draft

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Top Five Prospects For Seattle Seahawks First-Round Pick In 2013 NFL Draft

Seattle Seahawks helmet
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The Seattle Seahawks had a highly successful 2012 season, finishing 11-5 in the regular season and coming within a last-second field goal of advancing to the NFC Championship game. Much of their success came from their talented group of young players selected in the 2012 NFL Draft, so with the team looking to take the next step in 2013, who will they add to their roster in this year’s Draft?

Last year, the Seahawks struck paydirt on just about every one of their picks. First round selection Bruce Irvin was a surprising pick for many, but he delivered on his potential as a pass-rush specialist last season, recording 8.0 sacks and a forced fumble. Second round pick Bobby Wagner stepped in and became the leader of the defense, recording a team-high 140 tackles. And of course third round selection Russell Wilson did all right for himself, winning the starting job and staking his claim as the franchise quarterback of the future.

All in all, it turned into one of the stronger draft classes in the NFL. How will John Schneider and Pete Carroll follow it up? They have some weaknesses that they would like to see addressed and there is plenty of talent available to fill their needs. But where will they go first?

Will they add another weapon to the offense as they expand Russell Wilson’s role in the offense? Should they depth to the offensive line to avoid major setbacks due to injury? Is another pass-rusher on their radar? Or is the defensive secondary where they’ll look to upgrade? Maybe they’ll add a big body on the defensive line to act as a wrecking ball up the middle?

Options aplenty for Seattle as they prepare, so here are the top five players the Seahawks should target with their first round pick in the 2013 NFL Draft.

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5. Cordarrelle Patterson, WR Tennessee Volunteers

Cordarrelle Patterson
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The Seahawks passing game was pretty good last year when Wilson was allowed to let it rip. Sidney Rice caught 50 passes for 748 yards with seven touchdowns and Golden Tate added 45 catches for 688 yards and also had seven touchdowns. However, Seattle’s receiving corps could use another playmaker.

Enter Cordarelle Patterson. Though he’s only played one season with the Tennessee Volunteers after going the JuCo route in college, Patterson has displayed all of the traits you would want in a big-time wide receiver. The 6-foot-3, 205-pound wide out shows great separation on vertical routes and wastes little motion getting into his breaks. He can catch in traffic and has shown a knack for recognizing defenses and finding holes in zones. He’s an elite playmaker with the ball in his hands, showing fantastic ability after the catch.

He’s considered a bit raw with just the one year against the top college competition, but he’s still drawing favorable comparisons to Denver Broncos’ receiver Demaryius Thomas. Seattle has shown they aren’t afraid of a project-player as long as they’re willing to work hard and produce on the field.

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4. Barrett Jones, OL Alabama Crimson Tide

Barrett Jones
Matthew Emmons - USA TODAY Sports

Seattle has built their success on a power running game with Marshawn Lynch playing behind a big physical offensive line chewing up yards in front of him. The line hit a bit of a rough patch with injuries on the interior of the line in 2012, however, and the team had to juggle starting lineups down the stretch as they looked to fill holes. They were able to find some success, but it was a tenuous and stressful experience for Carroll.

Adding a capable backup to the mix could help ease the head coach’s mind on gamedays. The Alabama Crimson Tide are coming off one of the most successful runs in college football, winning three national championships in the last four years, and Barrett Jones was a big reason why. The versatile offensive lineman played tackle, guard and center for Nick Saban in Tuscaloosa and was named an All-American at each position. At 6-foot-5 and 302 pounds, he has good size for an interior lineman and has the intelligence and technique to step in and play almost any position at a moment’s notice.

He doesn’t jump off the film with athleticism, but Jones understands how to play offensive line, evidenced by his Outland Trophy in 2011 and Rimington Award in 2012. He projects at the next level as an interior lineman and has the ability to be successful at both guard and center for the next decade. You can never have too many good offensive linemen when you want to run the ball.

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3. Ezekial Ansah, DE BYU Cougars

Ezekial Ansah
Jake Roth - USA TODAY Sports

The Seahawks entered last year’s draft with the intention of improving their pass rush. Due to circumstances outside their control, they come into this draft having to address the pass rush once again. Chris Clemons, the team’s leading sack-artist in 2012 with 11.5 sacks, will be recovering from knee surgery following a torn ACL in the Seahawks’ Wild Card win over the Washington Redskins. His lost production will have to be offset by someone while he recuperates, and the draft could be the place to find a stopgap.

Ezekial Ansah of the BYU Cougars has only been playing organized football for three years since coming to the United States from Ghana. What he lacks in experience, however, he makes up for in effort and upside. Ansah brings a rare combination of size (6-foot-6, 270 pounds), length and foot speed that could be unmatched in this draft class. A former track star, Ansah has bulked up and understands how to turn his speed into power, drawing comparisons to Justin Tuck and Jason Pierre-Paul of the New York Giants. During his time in Provo, he lined up all over the defense, logging productive snaps at defensive end, outside linebacker and even defensive tackle.

Ansah is still rough around the edges, but his upside and coachability make him a very appealing pick to add some pass rushing ability to the Seattle line. Some teams may be cooled on him by his inexperience, but Carroll and company have a good track record of coaching up high-potential guys (Irvin) and would have a eager student in Ansah.

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2. Blidi Wreh-Wilson, CB Connecticut Huskies

Blidi Wreh-Wilson
Mark L. Baer - USA TODAY Sports

The Legion of Boom swept over the NFL this season like a storm as Brandon Browner and Richard Sherman became two of the premier man-to-man cover corners in the NFL. However, the Seahawks struggled in late-game passing situations (see their last-second loss to the Atlanta Falcons in the playoffs) and struggled to get teams off the field on third down because their secondary struggled in zone-coverage. Part of that was the failure of Marcus Trufant as the nickel corner, something that must be addressed at some point.

The team could find their answer in the draft. Blidi Wreh-Wilson of the Connecticut Huskies is a tall, tough cornerback with some good ball skills. He’s shown an ability to drive on receivers and can use his long arms to break up passes and has the quickness to close in on the ball when it’s caught in front of him. He flourishes in zone coverage with his length and short area quickness, but could slip in this draft as he has yet to develop consistent fluidity in his hips or the recovery speed to consistently play man-to-man.

If Seattle is looking to fill a very specific role and improve their ability to play zone in passing situations, Wreh-Wilson could be an intriguing prospect. He wouldn’t have the pressure of coming in and playing lock-down corner (as Browner and Sherman have that covered) and he would be an upgrade over the aging Trufant in the nickel.

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1. Johnathan Jenkins, DT Georgia Bulldogs

Johnathan Jenkins
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The Seahawks defense was a big strength this season, but had some struggles against the run down the stretch. Part of the reason for that was a foot injury that limited defensive tackle Red Bryant. The Seahawks could use another big body for the interior of their defensive line to lock down opponents’ running games up the middle and allow Seattle’s linebackers to make plays in the backfield.

Enter the massive defensive tackle from the Georgia Bulldogs, Johnathan Jenkins. At 6-foot-3, 351 pounds, Jenkins was the anchor of Georgia’s defense as their nose tackle with above average athleticism for his size that makes him an outstanding run-stuffer in the middle. He has the strength to hold the line against double teams and push back strong single blocks with brute force. He has excellent foot quickness that he can use to get past guards in pass-rush situations and the hustle to adjust to quarterbacks moving in the pocket. He has the size, strength and athleticism to rip aside blockers and be a disruptive force in the backfield.

For Seattle’s defense to get even better in 2013, they have to make sure they are built from the inside out on the line. Without a presence in the middle to hold down the line and consume blockers, the Seahawks become vulnerable to the inside run. Some experts are projecting Jenkins only finding success in a 3-4 scheme as a nose tackle, but his size and quickness should serve him as a one-technique defensive tackle in Seattle’s 4-3 as well.

Besides, when was the last time the Seahawks listened to the “experts” on draft day?