"Feels like the night before a big game,'' said Carroll, sitting on a couch in his office on the even of the draft at the Virginia Mason Athletic Center, the incredible facility on Lake Washington where the Seahawks train. "It's so much more fun when you're the ones doing the drafting.''
Carroll has meshed well with right-hand-man John Schneider, the Theo Epsteinish GM (Schneider's 38) who learned at the feet of Ron Wolf in Green Bay. Seattle has picks six and 14 in the first round, and I think they'd love to come out of the first round with one of the two top tackles in the draft, Trent Williams or Russell Okung, plus maybe C.J. Spiller or Jimmy Clausen. But I say "I think'' because Carroll and Schneider have learned well to not show their cards on draft eve, when confusion can be such an ally, and when they might be able to seduce a Spiller- or Clausen-lover to come up to their pick. When I left the facility Wednesday at 5:15 p.m., Schneider and Carroll were going back into the draft room -- they'd already gone over their first-round mock scenarios -- to polish the game plan one more time.
One observation about Carroll: He's still an excitable boy (Warren Zevon's words, not mine), but he's tempered the playfulness. He's graying now, and just happy to finally have a team to call his own. I see the Seahawks being happy to sit where they are and take two plug-and-play players for 2010, but they'll also be looking to accumulate extra picks to go along with their late second-rounder, number 60 overall. "We need to upgrade the level of competition on this team,'' Carroll said. "We have to get faster and more athletic. That's what this draft's about.''
I'll be reporting from here tonight and through the weekend. Friday morning, I'll have a column summing up Day One of the draft and looking forward to Day Two. For now, here are the Ten Things I Think I Think Hours Before The Draft:
1. I think Ben Roethlisberger is going nowhere.
I've been wrong before, and I'll be wrong again, and I don't doubt that the Steelers might be thinking internally about what to do with Roethlisberger. But I think the snowstorm of Roethlisberger's-on-the-block stories is a bit overblown. Since Roger Goodell's suspension of Roethlisberger, I've had two teams with picks in the top half of the first round of the draft -- teams with clear quarterback needs, teams not in the Steelers' division -- tell me they hadn't heard a word from the Steelers about dealing for Big Ben. No communication whatsoever. If the Steelers were going to make a decision this big, wouldn't they survey the field completely instead of half-heartedly? Again, I'll be the first to admit it if I'm wrong, but I don't think he's going anywhere unless he has some issue with the completion of the terms of the suspension.
2. I think the most interesting point of the draft will be around picks eight through 12.
I'm hearing the object of the Eagles' trade-up affections is South Florida DE Jason Pierre-Paul, who the Eagles think has a chance to be similar to DeMarcus Ware. But Philly may have to trade up to eight, because the Raiders, picking there, like him a lot too. I doubt the Eagles will use enough ammo to trade up that high, and Al Davis is not a big mover-shaker in first rounds.
3. I think, as I said yesterday, Jacksonville (10), Denver (11) and Miami (12) all want out.
They want to go down for extra picks, and the most motivated team to do so, I believe, is Denver. If the Jags pass on Rolando McClain -- more and more I'm hearing the Jags will take McClain or C.J. Spiller if they stay at 10 -- I expect the Broncos to get at least one call from a team looking to move up and get him. That call could come from the Giants. I can't say for sure whether Philly will move up for Derrick Morgan if the Eagles fail to get Pierre-Paul, but I believe they will try.
4. I think, or I'm starting to, that Bryan Bulaga could fall in the first round.
The tackle from Iowa's stock is plummeting. Read his complete profile here.
5. I think the Ravens could be the luckiest team in the draft, again, if Dan Williams falls into the late teens.
Remember last year, when they traded up to get Michael Oher, their left tackle of the future, when Oher started plummeting? I could see them doing it again if Williams is there around 19 or 20. Imagine Haloti Ngata and Dan Williams plugging the middle for the next five or six years. Scary. Who could run on that?
6. I think Washington doesn't have enough to trade up for Sam Bradford at number one.
More importantly, St. Louis doesn't want to trade the pick. And won't, barring a late stunner.
7. I think my over-under on first-round trades is 4.5 and I'll take the over ... barely.
And I think the team most certain to deal is Denver.
8. I think Indiana tackle Rodger Saffold is this year's Sam Baker.
Two years ago, Baker was a true second-round pick who flew up into the first (Falcons, 21st overall) because of tremendous tackle needs in the NFL. Saffold, a tackle from Indiana, doesn't get past Indianapolis at 31.
9. I think you could have knocked me over with a feather this morning...
...when I saw the most respected newspaper guy on the draft, Rick Gosselin of the Dallas Morning News, pick C.J. Spiller to Houston at 20 and Jimmy Clausen to Minnesota at 30. Can't believe either would go that low, but Goose is one of those ahead-of-the-curve guys who makes me at least think about it.
10. I think in five years, a lot of teams will say: "We were idiots to pass on Jimmy Clausen.''
Man, I hope I don't regret that.