Mailbag: Assessing Seahawks' draft needs

Patrick from Munich, Germany writes: Recently I have been confused by the perceived needs many mock drafts list for the Seahawks. I personally would list offensive line, cornerback and quarterback as most pressing concerns. I don't see how running back keeps popping up, as I blame the lack of ground game more on the offensive line than anything else. What is your take on the situation? Where do you think Seattle has to draft most urgently?

Mike Sando: Running back did not show up among the Seattle Seahawks' top-five needs when I asked Matt Williamson of Scouts Inc. to break them down in December. The strong running Marshawn Lynch provided during Week 17 and the wild-card round gave additional reason for Seattle to rank other positions as higher priorities to address.

Lynch and Justin Forsett are under contract for 2011. Re-signing Leon Washington would make sense. The team could use another fullback, but I wouldn't call running back a significant need.

Let's set the quarterback situation to the side for a moment. That position takes priority until Seattle feels no need to upgrade. In other words, the Seahawks need to draft a franchise quarterback if they have a chance to select one. Beyond that, I think we start with the offensive line.

Seattle used 11 starting configurations on its line during the 2010 season, counting playoffs. The team never started the same five guys in the same spots for more than three weeks at a time. Center Chris Spencer was the only offensive lineman to start every game. He is scheduled to become a free agent.

Upgrading the line would upgrade every other aspect of the offense, and even the defense, by helping Seattle to sustain drives, protect its quarterback, put points on the board, etc.

Spencer, Tyler Polumbus, Mike Gibson, Max Unger, Sean Locklear, Stacy Andrews, Ben Hamilton, Russell Okung and Chester Pitts started games for Seattle on the offensive line this season. The chart lists all the combinations.

Of those nine players, only Okung is assured a starting job, or even a a roster spot, for the 2011 season. The team will have to make decisions on where the other players fit (Hamilton is off the roster). It's easy to see why the offensive line trumps running back and every position but quarterback among need areas for the Seahawks.

2010 Seattle Seahawks OL Combinations