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April 3, 2014 at 10:10 AM

Thursday links: Kiper takes a look at who the Seahawks might pick

The draft is still a ways away — remember that it’s been moved back to May 8-10.

But with free agency increasingly in the rearview mirror, NFL attention is turning toward the draft.

And today, that meant an early look at who each team might take from ESPN draft maven Mel Kiper Jr.

As Kiper explains, this isn’t necessarily a projection in the sense that it’s the order of how he is ranking the players. Instead, it’s a look at who he would take at each spot given team need, who is there, etc.

For the Seahawks, he sees things this way:

Top needs: WR, TE, RT, DL, G

Round 1 (32) DT Ra’Shede Hageman, Minnesota
Round 2 (64) CB Stanley Jean-Baptiste, Nebraska

Analysis: If a player like Kelvin Benjamin falls to the end of Round 1, it would make this a tougher call, but I’m not willing to chase wide receiver early in a deep draft at that position, particularly with some high-ceiling talent available. I love the idea of Pete Carroll getting to mold a talent like Hageman, who flashes special ability and is a great athlete at his size but hasn’t put it all together. The Seahawks need to add depth along the defensive line. In Round 2, I’d again be looking at wide receiver, but in this scenario five WRs come off the board in the preceding seven picks. So this is where I again fall in love with the idea of matching talent and traits with the developmental ability of my staff. Brandon Browner is now in New England, so I’m itching to see what my staff can do with Baptiste, the 6-3 corner out of Nebraska. Another big body for the Legion of Boom. I’ll use one or two of my picks in Rounds 4 and 5 to find some pass-catchers and at least one body for the O-line.

First, remember again Seattle has no third-round pick this year after as it was part of the Percy Harvin trade. So what Kiper shows above is one possible scenario of what the Seahawks would have to show for the first three rounds.

Second, just going by position need, a cornerback would be a little surprising. Seattle played the last nine games (including playoffs) of the 2013 season without Browner, so I think the Seahawks feel like they have already shown they can survive without him. Byron Maxwell is entrenched as the starter now opposite Richard Sherman. Seattle also is hoping to get something this year out of Tharold Simon, who at 6-3, 202 fits the “big cornerback” mold.

But the Seahawks have also often gone outside the conventional wisdom with its picks — who really expected Seattle to take a running back with its first pick a year ago?

Hageman is a player I’ve seen a few mock drafts project for Seattle. And given the Seahawks’ free agent losses up front, that’s a pick that positionally makes as much sense as any.

Figure the projections to change almost daily over the next five weeks, though.

IN OTHER NEWS. …

Russell Wilson threw out the first pitch for the Rangers last night and also repeated what he has said before about setting his goals as high as possible;

— Listen to Wilson talk about throwing out the first pitch here;

— ESPN.com counting down its list of the top 12 Seahawks;

— A good overview of UW’s Pro Day from Rob Rang;

— Can Seattle’s tech industry learn from the Seahawks?;

— The Seahawks are increasing their Autism Awareness events this month;

— The Titans have signed former Seahawk Chris Spencer;

— Seahawks offensive line coach Tom Cable was on hand for the University of Tennessee’s Pro Day Wednesday;

Michael Robinson will also put his first-pitch skills to use soon, doing the honors for the Richmond Flying Squirrels next week.

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