2011 Season Summary
In the second season of the John Schneider-Pete Carroll regime, the Seahawks once again finished 7-9; the difference being this time, there was no sneaking into the playoffs with the 49ers having wrapped up the division before December.  Arguably, this was a better season for the Seahawks, as they showed off a physical and tough demeanor.  For the first time since 2005, the Seahawks could run the ball seemingly at will, and had a defense that could hold its own in almost any situation.  The one thing that seems to be missing is a quarterback that can put the team on his shoulders to win the game, as Tavaris Jackson was simply adequate during 2011.  In 2012, the Seahawks are banking on prized free agent Matt Flynn to become the second former Packers backup named Matt to lead the Seahawks to the Super Bowl.

2011 Record
 7-9 (3rdin the NFC West)
Positions of Need

Defensive End – The chief need for the Seahawks is to find another pass rushing source outside of Chris Clemons.  Clemons had 11 sacks last year; the next closest to that total was free agent linebacker Leroy Hill with a paltry 4.  There are three DEs that could fit the type of player the Seahawks covet in a DL; flexibility to play DE or OLB in certain packages.
Outside Linebacker – With Hill out in free agency and not expected back, the Seahawks have a need for a linebacker that can drop back in coverage and rush the passer in certain packages.  Linebacker is not particularly deep, and the Seahawks could have a shot at the best one in the draft class at the #12 draft position.
Inside Linebacker – In addition to Hill, MLB David Hawthorne is also hitting free agency, and there’s a real possibility that he won’t be back in a Seattle uniform.  If the Seahawks draft a linebacker this early, he’ll have to be stout at the point of attack as the top run stuffer in the linebacker corps, but will also be asked to captain the defense front calls.

First Round Targets

DE Quinton Coples (North Carolina) – Coples has ideal height and weight to perform as an every down DE in an NFL 4-3 scheme.  Coples is 6’6”, 284lbs, and ran the 40 yard dash in 4.78 seconds at the combine; a great time considering his size.  Coples has the size and strength to move inside on occasion, and the athleticism to move outside in pass rush situations.

DE Melvin Ingram (South Carolina) – Ingram shot up draft boards after a very good all around showing at the combine, running a time comparable to Coples (4.79), and performing better in the bench press (28 reps vs. 25), and showing better quickness (6.83 vs. 7.57 in the three cone drill).  Ingram also has the athleticism to play most downs as a DE but switching to OLB when the situation warrants.  The only downside to Ingram is a relative lack of size, measuring in at 6’1” and 264lbs. 

LB Luke Kuechly (Boston College) – Kuechly is considered the top LB prospect in the draft, and since both Coples and Ingram could very well be gone by the time the Seahawks pick, they could look long and hard at someone who has incredible value (considered a top 10 prospect) that also meets a position that is almost as big a need as DE.  At 6’3” and 242lbs (with reports that he’s actually a little taller/larger than that), Kuechly has elite measurables go along with a very fast 4.58 40 time, good strength (27 bench press reps), and a great vertical jump (38 inches).  Kuechly is considered very technically sound and as NFL ready as any other player in the draft, let alone his position.

Vultures – Who Might Steal the Seahawks’ Thunder?

The Jacksonville Jaguars, Carolina Panthers, and Buffalo Bills all are in dire need of both pass rushing and linebacking help, so any of those teams can and probably will vulture at least one or two of the prospects the Seahawks would love to have.  In the event that all three of the top players get snapped up or are likely to get snapped up, the Seahawks will probably have to strongly consider trading; either up to get the player they covet, or down to acquire more picks.
Trade Winds

In a perfect world in which the Seahawks could make exactly the trade they wanted/needed, should they trade up in the draft for that top prospect, or down to get more help at multiple positions?  The smart money would be on trading up, as the Seahawks are probably only a couple of players away from truly competing for the NFC West crown. 
With more than serviceable LBs often found in some of the middle rounds, the Seahawks should trade up to acquire the top DE prospect in the draft, and that would be Coples.  In that case, the Seahawks should trade with Jacksonville, who could use the extra picks from a trade to rebuild a team that is far more than a single player away from competing.  That would almost guarantee the Seahawks the pick of the top DE prospects in the draft, and would take care of that one glaring need on the defensive side of the ball.
Draft History – 1stRound

2011: 1.25 – James Carpenter, OT (Alabama)
2010: 1.6 – Russell Okung, OT (Oklahoma State); 1.14 – Earl Thomas, S (Texas)
2009: 1.4 – Aaron Curry, LB (Wake Forest)
2008: 1.38 – Lawrence Jackson, DE (USC)
2007: (No first round pick)