The 2012 NFL Draft is a perfect opportunity for the Seahawks to add to the roster and transition from being competitors to true contenders. If Seattle can hit successfully with their 2012 draft selections, then it could drastically improve the talent level on the roster and the team as a whole.
The Seahawks have hopefully already found their quarterback of the future via free agency in Matt Flynn. Going into the draft, the Seahawks' most pressing needs will be to improve the pass rush and the linebacking corps. Those are the two most important areas where the Seahawks will need to add talent through the draft after not doing so in free agency, for the most part, apart from signing free agent Jason Jones.
With the Seahawks holding the #12 overall pick in the first round, they have a great chance at landing someone with extraordinary talent. Most people around the NFL seem to think that the Seahawks will select a linebacker or a defensive end with this pick. Thankfully, the Seahawks have the flexibility to select the best overall player with the #12 pick and not just draft strictly off of need. Pete Carroll and John Schneider have proven to possess the ability to find talent late in the draft with picks like K.J. Wright, Kam Chancellor, and Richard Sherman. Therefore, if they believe in their methods, both in scouting and coaching, Seattle can select based on need later in the draft, while bolstering the overall talent on the roster earlier in the draft.
Quinton Coples, the 6'6" and 284 lb. defensive end from North Carolina, seems to be the ideal fit for the Seahawks in the first round. Assuming he is still available at 12, Coples has the raw talent to be a top 5 pick, but his apparent lack of effort and motivation has NFL scouts questioning his desire and heart. Pete Carroll is known as a motivator and if he can get Coples in a revamped Nike Seahawks jersey, then I think that he can get the most out of him and turn Coples into a pass rush rock star. The other ideal characteristic of Coples is that he fills a need and he certainly could be the best overall player available with the 12th pick.
Personally, I can't imagine the Seahawks drafting a linebacker in the first round. Every sign and clue of the Pete Carroll and John Schneider era points to them diminishing the linebacker position as a replaceable position that is not worth spending money on. The Seahawks have shown zero commitment to paying linebackers big money or going after LB's in free agency after releasing Lofa Tatupu last season and letting David Hawthorne go without much of a fight this year. If the Hawks were to trade down, then maybe they would consider taking a linebacker early.
I'd also like to discuss the idea that has been floating around the last few days that the Seahawks would possibly select highly-touted safety Mark Barron from Alabama and then move Kam Chancellor to OLB. I think that is one of the most absurd notions I've ever heard. It is laughable to think that you would move a proven commodity and a Pro Bowl safety in Chancellor, and have him change positions to make room for a rookie. Proven commodities are simply too tough to come by in the NFL. Kam Chancellor has proven to be a difference maker and has grown into one of the best young strong safeties in all of football. Forcing Kam to change positions too accommodate a rookie just seems unrealistic.
In the 11th pick of the second round, with the 43rd overall pick, I think the Seahawks will look for a wide receiver or possibly a quarterback. There are several quarterbacks likely to be available in the second round and this would be an ideal place for the Seahawks to select one that has some promise, and allow him to develop while holding the clipboard for a while (just in case Matt Flynn doesn't work out). Prospects like Brock Osweiler, Kirk Cousins, Nick Foles, Brandon Weeden, Ryan Lindley, and Russell Wilson all present intriguing skill sets and it might be worthwhile to select one of these QB's here to develop them for the future.
With their 3rd and 4th round picks, I think the Seahawks will devote their selections to providing some beef for the trenches on the defensive and offensive line. The hardest people to find and acquire in football are those gifted with girth and power. Quarterbacks receive all of the hype, but football games are won in the trenches. No professional football team can ever have enough linemen and I think the Hawks will look to add to their lines here. Specifically, I think the Hawks will look to add an interior offensive linemen that has the ability to play center or guard. A guy that I really like here (and I will admit some personal bias), is Baylor's former center and NFL offensive guard prospect Philip Blake. At 6'3" and 311, Blake has ideal size for an interior linemen and he has exceptional feet and quickness. He also displayed durability and toughness at Baylor by starting every single game for three seasons.
Last year in the 5th round, the Seahawks selected cornerback Richard Sherman who ended up in the starting role and did a fantastic job. This year however, the Seahawks do not have a fifth round pick because of the trade with Buffalo for Marshawn Lynch (seems like that was a good deal).
Later in the draft, in the 6th and 7th round, teams will generally go after the players that they have identified as hidden gems and go after them so that they won't have to fight in undrafted free agency trying to acquire players that they liked. This stage of the draft is where a team has to pick the player with the best overall talent rather than filling a need. It's impossible to predict this portion of the draft but the good news is that the Seahawks have shown the ability to find difference makers as far back as the undrafted free agents such as Doug Baldwin.
The difference in nailing an NFL draft and failing in the draft can drastically boost or severely alter the future of the franchise. If the Seahawks can find a legitimate, fearsome pass-rusher in this draft that could transform the defense from being solid to being elite. If Pete Carroll and John Schnieder can find gold late, it can be the kind of draft that keeps the sun shining through the Seahawks window to win.