NFL Scouting Combine: 7 Players the Seahawks Should Be Watching Closely

Josh SteinContributor IIIFebruary 20, 2012

NFL Scouting Combine: 7 Players the Seahawks Should Be Watching Closely

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    This Wednesday, the NFL Combine kicks off as draft prospects attempt to prove that they are good enough to be drafted.

    The locks such as Justin Blackmon and Andrew Luck won't have to lose sleep over it, though, as they have already fully earned their spots at the top of the draft.

    But for players who still have something to prove, it can be the difference-maker. The scouts will be observing their every move to see if they deserve the team's draft pick.

    This is a list of seven players who the Seahawks should be eying in this year's combine.

1. Whitney Mercilus, DE/OLB, Illinois

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    Whitney Mercilus was truly dominant this year for Illinois, racking up 16 sacks and 22 tackles for loss, which led the FBS. Those are the numbers that pop out to teams when they make their first-round pick.

    The Seahawks sit at 11 or 12 with a need at defensive end and linebacker, and Mercilus looks like one of, if not the most, qualified to fill those holes.

    He has been praised by many to be similar to Jason Pierre-Paul, the Giants sack machine, yet others have said he does not have the athletic ability to play like Pierre-Paul.

    He will have the combine to prove that he can contribute on the next level.

    There's no question that Mercilus can get to the quarterback. He is a high-motor player, and he will play to the fullest, regardless of injury or obstacle. He put in such a tremendous effort in 2011, even after losing part of a finger, that the Seahawks could pull the trigger on this Big Ten phenom.

    Overall, there will be many options, such as Courtney Upshaw and Melvin Ingram, the Seahawks will have to chose from. If he can prove that he is a special player at the combine, he could very well be Seattle's first selection in the draft this April.

Melvin Ingram, DE/OLB, South Carolina

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    Who knew that Melvin Ingram would be the star defensive lineman for the Gamecocks this year? Devin Taylor started the season as the star, but Ingram soon took control of the defense.

    Ingram is very powerful, determined and hard-working. He's also big enough to play a 4-3 defensive end, even though he doesn't have the intangibles in terms of reach and height. This style plays perfectly into Seattle's base 4-3 defense that they commonly use.

    He's been mocked as high as 12 by experts as the Seahawks selection, because he's the complete package. His unbelievable year in South Carolina has shown he will be a dependable prospect in the NFL, but he'll need to continue his excellence in the combine.

    Seattle scouts have to have no questions about a Ingram's abilities because of his lack of size. They'll want to see him play at an elite level if they are going to spend a top pick on him.

3. Nick Perry, OLB, USC

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    Nick Perry has an uncanny ability to get the quarterback resulting from an array of pass-rush moves and running back speed (current 40 time is 4.34).

    This former USC star will be able to come in and contribute immediately in a Seattle team that is in search of linebacker depth.

    He is going to have to show an ability to determine when to use his skills in-game. He easily breaks through the line against slow offensive linemen, but has a tough time against tackles that can move laterally.

    Seattle may have a tough time picking Perry at 12 because of his lack of experience at USC, but they have the option to attempt to trade down with the Jets or Bengals. If they can get that deal done, picking Perry could be a very smart move in the 15-25 range, due to his tremendous upside.

4. Isaiah Pead, RB, Cincinnati

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    Seattle will be looking for a running back to join Marshawn Lynch in two back formations or take control if Lynch decides not to rejoin the Seahawks.

    They will be looking for this halfback in the fourth or fifth round, and Isaiah Pead will be one of their key targets.

    Pead leaves Cincinnati ranked third on the school's all-time list with 3,288 rushing yards and 27 rushing touchdowns.

    He's in the top 10 in several other rushing categories including attempts (545, sixth), 100-yard games (11, sixth) and rushing average (6.03, fourth).

    The Seahawks will have to look long and hard at who they want to draft in April, whether it be Terrance Ganaway, Tauren Poole or Pead, and this combine could be the deciding factor.

5. Terrance Ganaway, RB, Baylor

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    Terrance Ganaway is the explosive, strong player that could fit perfectly with the Seahawks.

    He is a better fit at backup than Justin Forsett, who never really had a place in Seattle, and Leon Washington whose explosiveness is best suited for the return game.

    He rushed for 1,547 yards and 21 touchdowns with an average of 6.2 YPC. Yet his amazing stats were masked by the Heisman trophy winner, Robert Griffin III.

    But at the combine, RG3 won't be there to steal Ganaway's well-deserved spotlight. If he can shine and make himself stand out, he could very well be a person of interest when the middle rounds start.

6. Nick Foles, QB, Arizona

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    The Seahawks will likely look to fill their biggest need—quarterback—this year in the second round. Pete Carroll and John Schneider will probably stick with Tarvaris Jackson this year and have a young QB learn under him.

    Although they may have figured out their strategy for finding the quarterback of the future, they still need to find the player that fits the system—and has the NFL skills.

    Nick Foles will have to impress if he wants the Seahawks to choose him over Michigan State's Kirk Cousins, who proved his worth at the Senior Bowl.

    In 2011, as a senior, Nick Foles and had his best statistical season despite a losing campaign, completing 69.1 percent of his passes, and throwing for 4,334 yards, 28 TDs, 14 INTs.

    He earned All-Pac-12 Honorable Mention honors for the third consecutive season, behind Andrew Luck and Matt Barkley for first and second teams.

    He is just one of several options, along with Brock Osweiler, Ryan Tannehill and Kirk Cousins, that the Seahawks are eying, and this combine could either disappoint the Seahawks—or make him stand out.

7. Trumaine Johnson, CB, Montana

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    The final player that I have the Seahawks looking at in this year's NFL Combine is Trumaine Johnson from Montana.

    This shutdown corner fits perfectly into Pete Carroll's scheme and adds depth to the secondary that will most likely lose veteran Marcus Trufant.

    This 6'2", 204-pounder from Division 1-AA has played much of his career with little recognition in the Big Sky Conference.

    He has not played a regular season game in the national spotlight, which has diminished his stock due to lack of exposure.

    But in Indianapolis, Johnson will take full advantage of his opportunity in front of all the scouts, and he will leave the combine a much hotter commodity than when he entered.