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Hawk Talk highlights: Time to buck the draft trend?

By Brady Henderson

Highlights from the latest edition of "Hawk Talk" with Danny O'Neil:

Feeling like the Seahawks will take a wide receiver with one of their top two picks, Gaeleck Eylander asked if this could be the year that they finally trade up and draft someone like Mike Evans from Texas A&M or Odell Beckham Jr. from LSU.

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Texas A&M's Mike Evans is one of the top wide receiver prospects in this year's draft. (AP)
O'Neil: We haven't seen them trade up in the order ever. And John Schneider comes from Green Bay, where the Packers almost never traded up. One of the only exceptions to that: Clay Matthews. The Packers traded back into the first round to get him. Why? Because they evaluated him as a top-12 talent who was still on the board in the 20s. Don't know how the Seahawks have evaluated Mike Evans, but it's the kind of talent -- if he is a top-12 talent -- they could make a vault. I don't think it's likely, though.

Jeff noted the Seahawks' track record of hitting on later-round picks but said they should expect to have "a few bad drafts" because of how rare that is.

O'Neil: Certainly it would be foolish to expect Seattle to continue to have such amazing success at finding not just starters, but Pro Bowlers, in the back half of the draft. But I'll ask this a different way: Why can't we assume that the Seahawks will be just as successful at finding those successes. I mean, they're not required to get dumber are they? And they're not flipping coins or scratching Lotto tickets. There is some skill and projection involved there.

Bend, Oregon asked if Schneider pays attention to the opinions of draft analysts like Todd McShay and Mel Kiper.

O'Neil: I can answer this. He's aware of what they say. It would be silly for him not to because those guys do have information and opinions. Between the two, Kiper tries to do more doping out of where players will be taken while McShay really tries for a personnel evaluation. Which guy is best, and his big board is not so much an anticipation of where players will be drafted, but his opinion of where they should be drafted. The one thing the Seahawks demonstrate, though, is a discipline in not sharing their assessments and information. They don't reach out and try and offer information -- whether it's misleading or true -- about who they're looking to take.

Evil Penguin asked whether cornerback Richard Sherman or safety Earl Thomas will make more money in 2014, assuming each receives a contract extension this offseason.

O'Neil: Ooooh, great question. Let's rephrase it, though. Who signs the bigger contract, Richard Sherman or Earl Thomas? Cornerbacks tend to be more valuable on an NFL payroll. But I would also argue there's a larger gap between Thomas and the rest of the safeties in the game than there is between Sherman and the other cornerbacks. Still, my answer on who winds up with the larger contract: Sherman.

Jeff asked if coach Pete Carroll might be "ready to take the training wheels off of the offense" and place an emphasis on making plays instead of avoiding mistakes now that quarterback Russell Wilson will be in his third year.

O'Neil: I'll believe it when I see it. As long as Pete can win the game by running as often as he throws it, he's going to do it. Now, you can ask the question that when Seattle gets to the point that a healthy chunk of its salary cap is going to Wilson, will the Seahawks be able to afford a defense that allows the offense to play as conservatively as it did? But I don't think it's preference (or Wilson's maturity) that will lead to a shift in passing frequency, but necessity.

Prich asked how left tackle Russell Okung fits into the team's long-term plans.

O'Neil: Probably the single toughest question to answer. He has two more years left on his current contract. He will count more than $11 million against the cap this season. He has struggled with injuries, but he's also a unique talent at Pro Bowl. Tom Cable said -- and he's not prone to exaggeration -- that he believed Okung was the best left tackle in the league in 2012.

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