Heaps: What Seahawks should do in 1st round if top DEs are off the board

Apr 21, 2022, 9:01 AM

Seahawks Ahmad Sauce Gardner...

Ahmad Gardner of the Cincinnati Bearcats intercepts a pass in the first quarter of the game against the South Florida Bulls. (Joe Robbins/Getty Images)

(Joe Robbins/Getty Images)

The Seahawks have their highest first-round pick since 2010 in this month’s draft as they old the No. 9 overall pick. While that’s certainly encouraging in the sense that the Seahawks can acquire one of the draft’s top prospects, there’s some doubt that Seattle can get one of the top players at the team’s two biggest areas of need.

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FOX Sports football analyst Brock Huard said last week that the Seahawks’ two top needs are offensive tackle and edge rusher. Fellow former NFL quarterback Jake Heaps agrees.

At offensive tackle, North Carolina State’s Ikem Ekwonu and Alabama’s Evan Neal are the top prospects before what many see as a solid drop off to the next tier, and both are expected to go before the Seahawks pick at No. 9. Heaps also thinks that there will be a run on edge rushers prior to the Seahawks getting on the clock at ninth overall.

“So Jake, if the first-tier pass rushers are not on the board at nine, what should the Seahawks do?” Stacy Rost asked Heaps during Tuesday’s Jake and Stacy on Seattle Sports 710 AM.

Heaps said he would like the Seahawks to stick to the defensive side of the ball in that scenario.

“Number one, what they should do is if (Ahmad) ‘Sauce’ Gardner or Derek Stingley Jr. are available, they should select one of those two players,” Heaps said.

Garnder and Stingley are the top cornerback prospects in this year’s draft, and Heaps thinks both can be legit difference makers on the perimeter of any defense, including for the Seahawks. Plus, cornerback is an area Seattle likely will want to address with 2021 rookie Tre Brown coming off an injury.

“They need playmakers that can be difference makers, lock down a side and be a problem for a team,” Heaps said. “They need to be ‘extra meeting’ guys, meaning that the quarterbacks, the offensive coordinators, the coaching staff, they all have to take extra meetings as to how they’re going to solve the problem that that particular player presents. That’s what I want to see.”

But what if that’s not in the cards for the Seahawks either? Then what?

“Let’s say in a world where the pass rushers are gone, the top-tier pass rushers are gone, ‘Sauce’ Gardner, who they love, is taken early and Derek Stingley, Jr., maybe they’ve got some hesitations and question marks about him because of his injury history,” Heaps said. ” … What should they do at that point? I think that it would be smart for them to trade back into the (middle) of the first round, and maybe even get themselves a second Day 2 pick that they can use to get back up into the late first round … because now you’re looking at acquiring maybe a pass rusher that’s more appropriate for that time (instead of reaching at nine).”

Trading back could also set the Seahawks up to draft an intriguing linebacker prospect while also setting the team up to go after a quarterback they like.

“Maybe it is going with somebody like Devin Lloyd out of Utah who’s just a bonafide stud linebacker who can do so many different things,” Heaps said. “There are a lot of options available to you at that point and it gives you more capital to be able to be aggressive in the second round or (trade up to) late in the first round to maybe find the quarterback of the future. I think that that would be the next alternative option that the Seahawks are (considering) right now.”

You can hear Heaps’ full thoughts in the Four-Down Territory segment from Wednesday’s edition of Jake and Stacy in the podcast at this link or in the player below.

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Heaps: What Seahawks should do in 1st round if top DEs are off the board