Mel Kiper is back at it again, releasing his second 2011 NFL mock draft (insider only) into the wild on Wednesday. The first time around, Kiper had the Seattle Seahawks taking a quarterback — Ryan Mallet — in an effort to replace Matt Hasselbeck in the long-term. In his mock draft 2.0, however, Kiper reversed course, staying on the offensive side of the ball, but projecting the Seahawks would take Florida offensive lineman Mike Pouncey.
Kiper’s reasoning for the Seahawks drafting Pouncey is simple and sound; Seattle needs a run-game, and a strong left side of the offensive line would go a long way towards getting it going.
When Seattle was at its best, it was a running team built behind the left side of Walter Jones and Steve Hutchinson. The Hawks addressed the tackle position in last year’s draft, adding Russell Okung for the left tackle spot. Pouncey, who has good bloodlines and good smarts as an interior blocker, can help at either guard or center.
When healthy, Okung can be one of the best around, making an impact on the game with both his run- and pass-blocking. But the Seahawks are still missing that Hutchinson-type player — the guard that has the ability to compliment their strong left tackle.
It’s not the first, and likely won’t be the last, time we’ve seen Pouncey projected as the Seahawks first-round pick. Though his ability to reliably snap the ball in the shotgun was much-maligned in 2010, he’s a solid blocker, and versatile enough to be a plug-and-play lineman at either center or guard. With Cam Newton and Blaine Gabbert likely off the board well before the Seahawks pick, finding a quarterback that isn’t a high-risk pick in the first round seems unlikely, making Pouncey an excellent “Plan B.”
For more on the draft, check out our 2011 NFL mock draft StoryStream.