Seattle with holes to fill starting with 25th pick

Matt Hasselbeck is a free agent, Charlie Whitehurst has just two

career starts under his belt and there are no other quarterbacks

under contract on Seattle’s roster.

No wonder the Seahawks seem to be linked in one way or another

with nearly all the top quarterbacks in next week’s NFL draft.

”I think it’s a good year, I think it’s a really unique year,”

Seattle general manager John Schneider said. ”You go through seven

guys and they are all completely different guys.”

Now, whether Seattle uses its first-round pick – the 25th

overall – or any of its top selections on a quarterback is the big

question.

Seattle’s roster is full of holes and lacks depth in key areas,

especially along the offensive and defensive lines where injuries

to starters caused problems all season.

But all anyone wants to focus on is the quarterback situation,

where Whitehurst remains the only under-contract option for the

Seahawks right now.

Schneider says Seattle is fine giving Whitehurst, who has just

two career starts, a chance to compete for the starting job. One of

his two starts includes the regular season finale when Seattle beat

St. Louis to win the NFC West title at 7-9. But he’s also quick to

point out that his philosophy – built over years of drafts with

Green Bay – is to look at taking a quarterback in every draft.

Hence, the speculation that Seattle will make a run at one of

the likely quarterbacks to be available near the end of the

first-round or early in the second round should Seattle make a

trade.

”We will be looking for a quarterback every single year,”

Schneider said. ”I have been blessed to be around some very

talented people and it’s just a philosophy that you can never have

enough of those guys.”

But is taking a quarterback at No. 25 the right move for a team

that needs depth in all areas, except perhaps running back and

linebacker?

Schneider all but put the 25th pick up to the highest bidder

earlier this week, saying he would like to move back and in the

process acquire some more middle round picks. The Seahawks are

without a third-round selection, a fact that bothers the

second-year general manager to no end. Seattle lost that pick when

they acquired Whitehurst from San Diego before the beginning of

last season.

Seattle has picks in the second (57th overall), fourth (99th)

and sixth (173), along with two picks each in the fifth (156 and

157) and seventh (209, 242) rounds.

Thanks to Whitehurst and a stingy defensive effort leading

Seattle to a 16-6 win over St. Louis in the regular season finale,

the Seahawks earned a dubious division title and playoff berth, but

lost at least a dozen spots in the draft.

That one victory likely doubled the amount of research needed on

a much deeper draft pool, especially compared to a year ago when

Seattle had picks Nos. 6 and 14 and as Schneider said, ”my sons

could have got a pretty good grade at six.”

If Seattle does stay at No. 25 and goes the route of

quarterback, the likely options will be Florida State’s Christian

Ponder, Nevada’s Colin Kaepernick, TCU’s Andy Dalton and possibly

local favorite Jake Locker out of Washington.

But Schneider is quick to point out that panicking is the wrong

approach for quarterback or any position.

”I think you have to go through your evaluation process and

have a feel for what you think of the guy and just move forward,”

he said. ”Some of the worst drafts we’ve had are where you get

nervous like you got to have a guy and maybe you give up something

to go get a guy, or you push a guy based purely on need and that’s

where you can get in a lot of trouble.”

Along with quarterback, the Seahawks would like to come away

with at least one offensive lineman and one defensive lineman. The

Seahawks will be going strictly zone blocking on the offensive line

this season under new assistant head coach Tom Cable and could use

another interior lineman or a right tackle.

On the defensive line, no injury last season was more

problematic for the Seahawks than Red Bryant’s torn up knee in Week

8. Seattle’s run defense went on a continual slide as they

struggled to replace the big body asked to play the ”5” technique

as a hybrid defensive end/tackle.

Seattle could also use a shutdown cornerback that fits the mold

Schneider learned in his years with Green Bay of big, physical

cornerbacks. The Seahawks wouldn’t mind grabbing a wide receiver

with deep speed in the later rounds.

Schneider succeeded in his first draft by grabbing his left

tackle (Russell Okung) and free safety (Earl Thomas) for years to

come. Now comes building on that first time in charge, and this

draft with more time to prepare.

”Hopefully you have a couple guys who are impact players, that

you kept the cohesion of the locker room intact; that you have

added quality people and guys who are going to be quality

competitive guys,” Schneider said. ”Every year you know they are

going to show up and be good pros and be competing with other guys

and setting standard at their position on your team.”