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NFL draft: Offensive line should be a priority for Seahawks

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Draft countdown: 4 weeks. Every Thursday until the draft May 8-10, we'll round up the latest rumors, analyze the latest mock drafts and take a look at other draft-related topics involving the Seahawks.

As the Seahawks prepared for the NFL draft a year ago, they had very few needs and basically were "drafting ahead" in preparation for losing players off their roster over the next couple of years.

A year later, it's no surprise that 11 players are gone from their Super Bowl roster and the team will indeed be counting on some members of the 2013 draft class to step up in 2014. They also could use some immediate help in this draft – especially along the offensive line.

Last year, they wanted to draft an offensive tackle in the second round, but an early run on the big guys made them go in another direction (running back Chris Michael). They ended up waiting until the seventh round to look for line help. They can't do that again.

While they like the potential of seventh-rounder Michael Bowie, who started eight games, and undrafted lineman Alvin Bailey, it is clear the Hawks still have major needs along the line and need to invest a high pick there during the May 8-10 draft.

They need to find competition for Bowie at right tackle and James Carpenter at left guard, and they also need to find someone who can play left tackle in case Russell Okung continues to miss time with injuries.

The Hawks really need to come out of this draft with at least two linemen, and they reportedly are poised to do that.

Per draft insider Tony Pauline, "Sources told me they expect an offensive-tackle-heavy draft from the Seattle Seahawks next month. The hope is to select a versatile edge blocker as protection in case the team cannot re-sign Russell Okung when his contract is up in two years."

Drafting 32nd, the Seahawks are not going to get any of the top tackles, of course, but they will have some options in the second and fourth rounds (and the third if they manage to add a pick in that round).

Virginia's Morgan Moses, Nevada's Joel Bitonio, Ohio State's Jack Mewhort and Tennessee's Antonio Richardson and JaWuan James are all possibilities. Seattle line guru Tom Cable reportedly was at Tennessee's pro day, as well as Miami's, where he saw Day 3 option Seantrel Henderson.

Bitonio also could compete at left guard, where other options include UCLA's Xavier Su'a-Filo, Stanford's David Yankey and Mississippi State's Gabe Jackson.

One good option at guard dropped down the draft board this week when Clemson's Brandon Thomas suffered a torn ACL working out for the New Orleans Saints. Thomas was considered a second- or third-round option, but he certainly will be downgraded to Day 3 as he figures to miss his first season while rehabilitating his knee.

The Hawks also have their eyes out for undrafted gems; they reportedly are bringing in Georgia State tackle John Ulrich and Canadian lineman Laurent Duvernay-Tardif for visits.

In addition to a couple of offensive linemen, Seattle ideally will come out of the draft with two receivers, a cornerback and a pass rusher.

The Seahawks need to fortify their receiving corps – for next season and beyond. Golden Tate signed with Detroit, Sidney Rice was released, Percy Harvin is still a question mark until he proves he can stay healthy and Doug Baldwin will be a free agent in 2015 unless the Hawks extend his contract beyond the restricted tender.

The Hawks have been checking out receivers, with Oregon State's Brandin Cooks and Indiana's Cody Latimer among the players they reportedly have shown specific interest in.

Cooks, a 5-foot-10 speedster who runs a 4.33 40-yard dash, seems unlikely to last until the Hawks' pick at No. 32. Even if he does, would the Hawks prefer him over a bigger receiver or a much-needed lineman?

Latimer, who is coming off a broken foot, has been viewed as a Day 3 pick, but the 6-foot-3 pass catcher seems to be gaining steam. The Seahawks are among seven teams known to be bringing him in for visits. He reportedly will visit Seattle on April 15.

After losing cornerbacks Brandon Browner and Walter Thurmond, the Hawks need to beef up their depth and prepare for the likely departure of new No. 2 corner Byron Maxwell in 2015.

The draft has plenty of options in the middle rounds, including "Seattle big" corners such as Utah's Keith McGill and Nebraska's Stanley Jean-Baptiste – both 6 feet 3. The Hawks almost certainly will pick a cornerback, probably with one of their fifth-round picks.

It would not be surprising if the Hawks added a pass rusher with their first pick. They let Chris Clemons go, were not able to lure Jared Allen and might have to replace Cliff Avril next year, so LEO could become a major position of need.

After playing linebacker in 2013, Bruce Irvin might be used more as a rusher in 2014. But the Hawks could add perhaps a better version of Irvin in Georgia Tech's career sack leader, Jeremiah Attaochu, or Boise State's Demarcus Lawrence. Both are rated as second-day picks by most, but, as GM John Schneider always says, the Hawks draft for their roster, not anyone else's.

MOCK DRAFTS

Here's a look at players recent mock drafts have going to Seattle at No. 32:

WR Kelvin Benjamin, Florida State

Rob Rang, The Sports Xchange/CBSSports.com

Rang says: "The Seahawks look for unique traits and could see the 6-5, 240-pound Benjamin's height, gliding speed and strong hands as an ideal replacement for the injury-prone Sidney Rice." Of course, this draft is deep at receiver, so the Hawks just as well might end up taking a lineman or linebacker (Ohio State's Ryan Shazier if he falls) here.

Round 2: DE Marcus Smith, Louisville

Doug Farrar, SI.com

Farrar says: "Benjamin would be a great acquisition, because he’s a huge (6-5, 235) target with a killer wingspan and the ability to win overhead battles with just about anyone. Seattle has had issues in the red zone from time to time throughout the Pete Carroll era. Benjamin could change that quite decisively."

OL Joel Bitonio, Nevada

Rob Staton, SeahawksDraftBlog.com

Staton says: "Compares favorably to all of the top offensive tackles in this class. Can play on the left or right — and could be another Logan Mankins at guard." Staton has been stumping for Bitonio since March, and it's hard to argue with him. Of course, the Hawks are just as likely to surprise everyone with a linebacker or safety, but if they go lineman, why not Bitonio?

WalterFootball.com

Walter says: "Joel Bitonio simply fits what Seattle looks for in a prospect, and he would fill a major void at right tackle. Bitonio can play any position up front, including center, so Seattle will love his versatility."

Round 2: WR Martavis Bryant, Clemson

OG Xavier Su'a-Filo, UCLA

Daniel Jeremiah, NFL.com

Jeremiah says: "Su'a-Filo loves to get after defenders in the run game, and he'd fit nicely in Seattle's ground and pound offense." Su'a-Filo (6-4, 307) is considered one of the top guard options and probably could push Carpenter immediately at left guard. But something tells us the Hawks might wait to get their O-linemen.

DT Ra'Shede Hageman, Minnesota

Jon Dove, DraftInsider.net

The 6-6, 310-pound lineman has the versatility the Hawks love. He could play 3-tech (tackle) or 5-tech (run-stopping end). He's considered a boom-or-bust guy, but so are most D-tackles. Certainly an option at No. 32.

Round 2: OT Cameron Fleming, Stanford

WR Odell Beckham Jr., LSU

Drafttek.com

Drafttek says: "Imagine having Percy Harvin on one side and Odell Beckham on the other. That explosive duo would scare opposing defenses, not to mention kickers, as both have shown elite returning ability." Another receiver pick who would replicate Golden Tate's post-catch ability. But we'd prefer the Seahawks stay away from LSU players.

Round 2: OT Cyrus Kouandjio, Alabama

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