Wassell: Why I passed over Vita Vea for Seahawks in ESPN Radio mock draft

Apr 23, 2018, 10:58 PM | Updated: Apr 25, 2018, 9:34 pm

Instead of Vita Vea for the Seahawks, Tom Wassell picked one of Josh Rosen's O-linemen. (AP)...

Instead of Vita Vea for the Seahawks, Tom Wassell picked one of Josh Rosen's O-linemen. (AP)


I was asked to go on ESPN Radio’s Freddie and Fitzsimmons last week as part of the show’s mock draft (listen here). Each guest had to make a first-round pick on behalf of their local team, so it was up to me to act for the Seahawks at No. 18. The only problem was that I wasn’t allowed to do the responsible thing and make a trade.

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Surprisingly, by the time it was my turn to pick, Washington Huskies defensive tackle Vita Vea was still on the board. And I didn’t take him.

We’ve discussed this a million times: Do you draft for need or do you go with the best player available?

One GM after another, including Bill Belichick, has stated that drafting for need is a bad idea because if you are only focused on filling holes, you end up passing on great players. But in reading mock drafts that are considered to be even remotely credible, the one thing you keep finding over and over is that most of their reasoning is based around… need.

We even heard Seahawks general manager John Schneider address this very issue at Monday’s press conference when asked about whether or not he had ever pursued need over best player in the past. His response: “Yeah, I think that’s fair – in a couple instances, sure… You can’t just go out there and create the perfect player, otherwise, we’d be outside picking them off trees or something.”

So knowing that Schneider has directly addressed need before and all the smart guys out there with mock drafts use this concept as the foundation of their work, I felt better about taking a chance.

How does this sound?

With the 18th pick in the 2018 NFL Draft, the Seattle Seahawks select

Kolton Miller, offensive tackle, UCLA

A 2017 second team All-Pac-12 selection, the 6-foot-9, 310-pound Miller has played both left and right tackle. He’s effective both in the run game and as a pass blocker, and he has decent speed and no character concerns.

This right tackle gets solved once and for all. Pete Carroll loves competition, and that’s exactly what we’ll have between Miller and Germain Ifedi. Then the Seahawks go find themselves another running back to go along with Chris Carson, and we’re back to Seahawk football – running the ball.

I won’t argue that, on paper, Vea is the better prospect – far better. Even if you think the current group of players on Seattle’s defensive line have a ton of potential, Vea improves them significantly. But let’s fast-forward a year or so down the line.

What if Miller turned out to be the missing piece of the puzzle on the offensive line? What if the run game was once again elite and the defensive line was still adequate with what they already have? Isn’t that a better scenario than having one elite player on the D-line and serious problems still at right tackle?

Remember, we don’t know how effective D.J. Fluker will be at right guard. For that matter, Ethan Pocic is no guarantee on the other side – although he showed improvement over the course of 2017.

The chance of another calamity on that line is still very real.

Maybe I’m just tired of watching an offense that is unable to put together any kind of rhythm until the third quarter. Perhaps we’ve been spoiled by the defenses that have been here for most of the decade to the point where we take for granted that somehow it’ll all work out, no matter who Pete and John enlist on that side of the ball.

Or maybe I’m just like everyone else this time of year, believing that I know what’s best for the Seattle Seahawks despite not having attempted even a nano-fraction of the research done by John Schneider and Pete Carroll.

Notes from Pete Carroll and John Schneider’s pre-draft press conference

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Wassell: Why I passed over Vita Vea for Seahawks in ESPN Radio mock draft