Six days to go… Seahawks predictions & thoughts

April 20th, 2018 | Written by Rob Staton

Virginia’s Andrew Brown could be brought in to replace Michael Bennett

Are the Seahawks going to trade down?

Yes. They’re in the middle of a major re-tool. They’re not going to pick at #18 and then watch 101 prospects leave the board before they pick again. It’s not happening. Not this year, not with their needs. Furthermore, this is a draft with only a handful of players who warrant legit first round grades. It’s unlikely many, if any, fall to #18. The person you take at #18 might have a similar grade to the player taken at #45 this year. Trade down, fill out your board, add talent at multiple positions.

What’s the ideal trade down?

Hope that someone (e.g. Cleveland) wants to move up for an offensive tackle. There are likely only two first round tackles this year — Mike McGlinchey and Kolton Miller. If you want one of them, you might need a top-20 pick. If the Browns are willing to give Seattle #33, #64 and a fourth or fifth rounder to move up to #18 — that’s your deal.

Do you still think the Seahawks will take Christian Kirk with their first pick after trading down?

I think it’s very possible for three reasons. One, he’s the ideal fit for Air Coryell. Two, every single piece written about Kirk refers to his high character, attitude and work ethic. Three, to quote one of Bob McGinn’s scouting sources: “This is the worst wide-receiver draft I’ve seen in my life.” So if you want to add a receiver, you might need to do it early. The Seahawks lost Jimmy Graham and Paul Richardson plus Tyler Lockett’s in a contract year. They need to add to the passing game.

What about their second pick?

A name to keep an eye on is Virginia’s Andrew Brown. I think he’s underrated and destined to be a top-75 selection. He’s a former five-star recruit with a relentless motor. He gives everything on the field. He ran a 4.48 short shuttle at 296lbs. The Seahawks have focused on the short shuttle with their defensive line additions (Quinton Jefferson — 4.37, Jordan Hill — 4.51, Jaye Howard — 4.47, Malik McDowell — 4.53). He has nearly 35 inch arms and can play inside/out. He’s your Michael Bennett replacement. USC’s Rasheem Green is another possibility — as is Ole Miss’ Breeland Speaks in the middle rounds.

What about the running game?

It’s strange that after spending so long talking about ‘fixing the run’ as a priority and the great options at running back — I’m now here suggesting they might wait on the position. I still maintain we were right to spend so long on that area of the team. I don’t regret spending a lot of time discussing running backs, interior offensive linemen and blocking tight ends. It’s still possible Seattle focuses on improving the run with their early picks. Yet as time has passed, I think it’s become less apparent they’ll do this with their first couple of picks. However, if they wait to address the running game and then struggle to run the ball for a third year in a row in 2018, they won’t have an excuse. Not with the first two rounds in this draft class. It’s tailor-made to help repair a running game. My thoughts on the top runners in this draft (Ronald Jones II, Nick Chubb etc) haven’t changed.

So what will they do with the running game?

It’s still possible they draft a running back early or a lineman like Austin Corbett. We shouldn’t rule it out. That said, Pete Carroll and John Schneider going to workout Christian Kirk and Kalen Ballage feels like an important piece of information. Ballage won’t be everyone’s top choice at the position. He had a very inconsistent college career. He’s flattered to deceive and there’s a very real possibility he’d end up being another Thomas Rawls, C.J. Prosise or Chris Carson — promising much but either being injured or inconsistent. However, he has the ideal physical profile for the position. We know they like running backs with size and explosive traits. We know they like unique players. Ballage has the potential to be positively freaky. He’s a superb pass catcher and could be the perfect modern day runner. Bob McGinn’s league sources say this about Ballage:

Scout #1: “Everybody will have question marks on his ability to play the physical game of football… But he’s got the size and the speed combination that will make him be a great asset to any organization.”

Scout #2: “He’s talented… Really good route runner. He has a chance to be dynamic. But he’s got to prove it over the long haul that he can do it day in and day out from the standpoint of being tough. I could see somebody jumping up in the third round because the talent is there.”

Like it or not, Pete Carroll looks for potential in a player and backs his staff to coach them up. Ballage can be dynamic. He is talented. He could also be a mirage. But the Seahawks might think taking him is only as much of a risk as rolling the dice on Derrius Guice’s reported character concerns, Ronald Jones II’s size or Sony Michel’s fumble problems.

What range would they have to target him?

It’s probably going to have to be round three. The potential is there and someone will take a chance on him. At the very least he’d be an excellent third down back, so he won’t hang around. I’m not totally convinced by Ballage myself. But it’s plausible they like him.

How are they going to add speed?

Pete Carroll felt the Rams were faster across the board during the 42-7 pasting at the end of last season. It was an honest and sadly correct assessment. On top of fixing the run, getting more speed on the team seems vital. It’s one of the reasons why Christian Kirk might be a fit. More speed, more competition, fix the run plus strong, tough, reliable players. If they want to add speed, tenacity, grit, special teams value and pass rushing talent — one name springs to mind. Shaquem Griffin.

What about other defensive positions?

It’s a nice class for fast, explosive linebackers. They might be able to convince several coveted UDFA’s to come in and compete. They need young depth at the position. Someone like Zaire Franklin at Syracuse could be someone they draft in the later rounds or bring in as an UDFA. If they can’t land a corner like Isaiah Oliver in round two, Texas’ Holton Hill could/should be a hedge in rounds 4/5. Adding another nickel corner is important with Justin Coleman an unrestricted free agent in 2019. Wisconsin’s Nick Nelson or Alabama’s Tony Brown could be options here. Brown in particular has the attitude, big personality, hitting ability and special teams value they like. Whatever happens with Earl Thomas, they could probably do with adding competition at safety. Natrell Jamerson warrants interest. They’ve been looking at interior pass rushers (Maurice Hurst, Poona Ford) and bigger nose tackles (Vita Vea, Derrick Nnadi). They also need another EDGE. If Josh Sweat isn’t an early pick, Dorance Armstrong could be a day three alternative. Kemoko Turay should be a name of interest too. This will be a good draft to fill out a defense.

Will they draft a tight end?

Probably. Ed Dickson is a short-term option and Nick Vannett hasn’t done much in two years. Tyrone Swoopes can only really be seen as camp competition for now. If they manage to acquire multiple day two picks, the likes of Dallas Goedert and Ian Thomas could come into play. Both could go in the top-50 though — so they might be forced to wait on the position. There are decent blocking tight ends available later (Durham Smythe, Dalton Schultz) but the Seahawks might just go for Will Dissly on day three. He’s a coaches dream and arguably the best blocker in the class. If a high-ceiling type like Goedert and Thomas isn’t available, Dissly could come into play.

Everyone says they’ll draft O-line early. Why aren’t you projecting that?

The Seahawks have already spend the following on their O-line:

Duane Brown — second + third rounder
Ethan Pocic — second rounder
Justin Britt — second rounder + big contract extension
Germain Ifedi — first rounder
Rees Odhiambo — third rounder

They’ve also signed D.J. Fluker in free agency, invested time and effort into George Fant and recently changed O-line coaches, bringing in Mike Solari.

Eventually you’ve got to try and develop someone, not just keep pumping high picks into a unit. If they draft a guard early, for example, it likely just means cutting Fluker or benching Pocic. It’s probably time to just let Solari work with these players.

They invited both Austin Corbett and Billy Price to the VMAC. Both are exceptional talents in this draft class. Both would be fine picks. There’s no reason to completely rule out an early O-line pick. It might just be unlikely this year.

So what’s the key to this draft?

Just. Add. Talent. The roster needs an infusion of young quality. Players with competitive spirit, high athleticism, size, speed and grit. Go for value. Whatever you think about the recent drafting history in Seattle, they always do a good job identifying positional talent cliffs and the range where they can get ‘their’ guys. Go find a new core group.

I intend to do a Google Hangout later today at about 7pm or 8pm PST. I’ll be providing more info based on Bob McGinn’s sources. There’s some interesting insight on the running back, receiver and tight end classes. I’ll post the video at the top of the page and you can watch live or on catch-up.

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Seahawks meet with Vita Vea — what does it mean?

April 19th, 2018 | Written by Rob Staton

In the video above, Ian Rapoport reports the Seahawks brass had dinner with Vita Vea this week. Rapoport also notes they’d have to move up if they wanted to get him.

It’s hard to know what to make of the meeting. Vea probably won’t make it to #18 — and the chances of Seattle even using the pick appear remote. Picking at #18 and not again until #120 remains an extremely unlikely scenario, especially for a team in the middle of a major re-tooling job.

They don’t have the stock to move up either. If they needed to get ahead of Washington at #13 (Vea’s apparent draft floor), they’d need to spend a pick worth the equivalent of a late second round pick. A collection of fifth rounders isn’t going to get it done.

The only scenario where Vea to Seattle makes moderate sense is if he somehow does drop into range and the Seahawks deal Earl Thomas for at least a second and third round pick. That affords them the opportunity to add talent in the early rounds and avoid a wait of 102 picks.

Overall the meeting was probably a case of due diligence. Just in case.

After all, two days before last years draft Tony Pauline reported the following:

— The Seahawks had a trade deal set up with Atlanta to allow the Falcons to move up to #26 to take a pass rusher (this happened)

— The Seahawks were targeting Garret Bolles with their pick after moving down

— Tom Cable made a late visit (Sunday before the draft) to the Utah campus to meet with Bolles

In the end Bolles was taken off the board by Denver with the #20 pick. There was never any chance to take him at #26, let alone after moving down to #31. Yet the Seahawks were apparently preparing, late in the process, to target a particular player. And they met with said prospect.

This could be a similar situation. Perhaps they’re getting a sense Vea might fall into range at #18? And perhaps they think he’s one of the very top players in the draft (he is). So they’re doing some late work on a player who, originally, had been seen to be well out of range.

That’s just a team doing what it needs to do pre-draft. Yet, sadly, the reality is Vea will almost certainly be gone in the top-13. The Redskins desperately need a nose tackle. There aren’t many humans on the planet with Vea’s size, athleticism, mobility and power. He’s a much better player than Danny Shelton (the #12 pick in 2015). He might be the second coming of Haloti Ngata.

Bob McGinn’s league sources listed Vea as a player ‘likely’ to be gone by pick #14. Here are the quotes provided by McGinn:

Scout #1: “He’s top 10. He’s a man. For a 350-pound guy he does (have movement). Plays hard. He just powers guys. Violent. Strong. He’s good.”

Scout #2: “He’s better than Shelton… Wide shoulders, good arm length, big butt, thighs, calves. He’s got some bad belly, though. You can’t believe how this guy can bend and squat. I saw him in warmups.”

In Tony Pauline’s latest mock draft, he paired Vea with the Dolphins at #11.

Vea would be a tremendous addition for the Seahawks. The type of bully up front that would help them control the LOS and shut down the run. He’s a two-down player for the most part — but the type you still take early. He’d help set the tone, home and away. The Seahawks are going to win games under Pete Carroll by shutting down the run and running well. Vea helps you achieve that.

Sadly, you’re probably more likely to watch him do his thing in Miami or Washington in 2018. He’s just too good to last.

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Why an Earl Thomas trade might have to wait

April 18th, 2018 | Written by Rob Staton

Earl Thomas, like the rest of us, is still waiting to find out what happens next

We’re just over a week away from the draft and one big situation remains unresolved.

Earl Thomas’ future.

There’s no new contract. No trade. Nothing.

Just a lot of talk about the Dallas Cowboys making a move.

So what’s going to happen? A deal with Dallas became more likely the moment Dez Bryant was cut. Without that move, the Cowboys can’t afford Thomas. Now they can.

They also created a hole at safety by acknowledging they’re shifting Byron Jones to corner. With Kris Richard now part of the defensive staff in Dallas, everything seems set up for a Thomas trade.

And let’s be honest here — it feels like we’re past the point of thinking Earl has a long term future in Seattle. By all means cling to that hope if you wish but the Seahawks seem, rightly or wrongly, to be quite ready to move on.

So why hasn’t it happened yet?

Here’s a suggestion…

The Cowboys have holes to fill. An Earl Thomas trade would likely cost them pick #50. Possibly more. They might want to accumulate some extra stock first. After all, this is a strong looking draft in rounds 2-3.

The Seahawks are almost certain to trade down from #18. What if Dallas wants to do the same at #19? See if they can pick up an extra third rounder themselves? That would soften the blow of dealing pick #50.

All the talk this week has been about Dallas and Courtland Sutton. Tony Pauline today reported the Cowboys like Sutton but don’t see him as a first round talent. Technically that doesn’t mean they wouldn’t take him in round one. They just don’t grade him as a first rounder. If they traded down into the 20’s, they might be picking from a pool of second round grades anyway.

So let’s piece things together. The Cowboys are showing a lot of interest in Courtland Sutton and need that type of receiver after cutting Dez Bryant. They don’t view him as a legit first rounder. Could they trade down into the 25-32 range, pick up a third rounder, and then select Sutton?

That could then set up an Earl Thomas trade. The Cowboys could send #50 and one of their third rounders to Seattle. Or, alternatively, they keep the two third rounders as a consolation for not picking in round two.

They’d still need to have a new contract with Earl Thomas agreed before pulling the trigger (or at least a high level of confidence it would get done). This could, theoretically, allow for serious talks with Thomas’ people at the end of day one of the draft — with a trade ratified before the start of round two.

This is just me thinking out loud. It could be completely wide of the mark. I’ve seen it suggested Thomas’ contract demands are already a stumbling block. We’ve all seen the talk of Seattle wanting a first rounder. It could simply be about both teams trying to gain the most leverage during a lengthy arm wrestle.

I think, considering how much time the Seahawks are spending meeting projected second round prospects, they probably expect a deal to occur (or they’re fairly certain they’ll be trading down from #18).

Whatever happens, I think we should expect the Seahawks to trade down from #18 in any scenario. Unless Saquon Barkley, Bradley Chubb, Quenton Nelson or a handful of others drop to #18 (which won’t happen) — the prospects touted for #18 are going to be graded similarly to the players in round two. It’s just that type of class.

Picking once at #18 and not again until #120 isn’t going to happen. We know that. Not with this team, in this type of re-tool. Picking at #18, #50 and then #120 seems only slightly less unlikely to me.

Ideally, if they trade Earl Thomas, they still turn #18 into two second rounders. That would give them three second round picks to try and acquire as many of the players they’ve been showing interest in (Christian Kirk, Ronnie Harrison, Josh Sweat, Isaiah Oliver, Justin Reid etc).

Getting three picks in this years second round? That’s how you launch a new era.

And on Christian Kirk — thanks to Sea Mode in the comments section for highlighting this tweet:

It’s something to remember next week. The SEC isn’t short for talent and that’s high praise from Nick Saban.

Surprisingly we’ve come to learn virtually all of Seattle’s ‘official 30’ visits this year:

Justin Reid (S, Stanford)
Poona Ford (DT, Texas)
Maurice Hurst (DT, Texas)
Foyesade Oluokun (LB/S, Yale)
Ito Smith (RB, Southern Miss)
Keith Kirkwood (WR, Temple)
Khalid Davis (FB, Michigan)
Devron Davis (CB, UTSA)
Leighton Vander Esch (LB, Boise State)
Josh Sweat (DE, Florida State)
Cole Madison (G, Washington State)
Kyle Allen (QB, Houston)
Simeon Thomas (CB, Louisiana Lafayette)
Holton Hill (CB, Texas)
Breeland Speaks (DE, Ole Miss)
Andrew Brown (DE, Virginia)
Julian Taylor (DT, Temple)
Jacob Pugh (LB, Florida State)
Dorance Armstrong (DE, Kansas)
Ronnie Harrison (S, Alabama)
Austin Corbett (G, Nevada)
Kemoko Turay (DE, Rutgers)
Isaiah Oliver (CB, Colorado)
Billy Price (C, Ohio State)
Derrick Nnadi (DT, Florida State)
Tony Brown (CB, Alabama)
Jacob Martin (DE, Temple)
Edward Shockely (LB, Villanova)
Alex McGough (QB, FIU)

That’s a list of 29 names, provided by various reports or the players themselves.

They also had private workouts with Kalen Ballage (RB, Arizona State), Christian Kirk (WR, Texas A&M), Demone Harris (DE, Buffalo), Abdullah Anderson (DT, Bucknell) and Manase Hungalu (LB, Oregon State).

They had private meetings with Ronald Jones II (RB, USC), Nick Nelson (CB, Wisconsin), Natrell Jamerson (S, Wisconsin) and Shaquem Griffin (LB, UCF).

Just writing out these lists highlight the opportunity on offer for the Seahawks. Most of these players are expected to be second round, mid-round or late round types. Seattle can re-shape their roster in a weeks time. But they’ll need to move around to get their guys.

If you missed the Seahawkers podcast this week don’t forget to check it out. I was invited on to talk about the defensive options for Seattle. Next week we cover the offensive prospects:

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Today highlighted the great value in this draft

April 17th, 2018 | Written by Rob Staton

Two more ‘official 30’ visits were reported today. Ohio State offensive lineman Billy Price and Florida State defensive tackle Derrick Nandi both met with the Seahawks.

And they’re the perfect illustration of why this draft is loaded with value.

Regular visitors to the blog will be familiar with both players. With Nnadi, it goes back to 2016. Here’s a piece from November that year, discussing Nnadi’s potential as an early round pick.

He didn’t declare for the 2017 draft and didn’t quite have the same impact last season. The loss of DeMarcus Walker to the NFL and a down year for FSU contributed to a fairly quiet senior campaign for Nnadi.

Even so, he has a ton of talent. At times he looks an awful lot like Brandon Mebane. Big frame, anchors and controls the run and has surprising pass rush ability that hasn’t really been harnessed yet.

Lance Zierlein at NFL.com is projecting Nnadi to go in the third or fourth round. That would be an absolute steal. The worst case scenario is you might end up with a fairly league average NFL defensive tackle. His potential, however, is to develop into something akin to one of Seattle’s more underrated players in the last 10 years.

We’ve also spent a lot of time talking about Price this year. He’s a blog favourite — showing the kind of leadership, aggression and intensity you want on your offensive line. In February we put him in our ‘top-25’ group. And then he hurt himself doing the bench at the combine.

Any shot Price had to propel his stock firmly into round one disappeared. He was expected to run and test well. Instead he hasn’t been able to do any workouts pre-draft.

His stock as a consequence has dipped. He might be a late second rounder now rather than a late first. The likes of James Daniels and Frank Ragnow have jumped ahead of him.

A smart team will note the possibility of a fall and take advantage. He’s the type of player who takes a big step forward at the next level and becomes a respectable, solid starter. He can play guard or center and he’ll help set the tone up front.

The fact that players like Price and Nnadi could be there in rounds two/three represents the great value on offer this year. The value in round one, on the other hand, is poor in comparison. A player at #18 might have a similar grade to a player at #50.

Teams will always want to jockey for position in round one to address a certain need or make sure they get the security of a fifth year contract option.

That said, the Seahawks have no business sticking at #18 with the talent available on day two. Moving down, accumulating stock in the second and third round — that’s the key to this draft. Especially in a re-tool year.

They’ll probably be helped (possibly in more ways than one) by the Dallas Cowboys. They practically took out a page advert in the New York Times this week to tell the rest of the league they intend to draft a wide receiver. Everyone knows this after they cut Dez Bryant. So if you want Courtland Sutton or Calvin Ridley, you better get ahead of Dallas.

The receiver market is red hot in free agency and getting young, cheap talent at the position is crucial. If a team like Cleveland isn’t moving up to make sure they get a tackle — rest assured teams will probably be wary of Dallas taking the receiver they want.

If the Seahawks can turn #18 (and possibly Earl Thomas) into 3-4 picks in rounds 2-3 — it’ll present a big opportunity to re-shape this roster (which they appear inclined to do) and set a new course.

And let’s be right here — nearly everyone the Seahawks are meeting with is a day two prospect or a late rounder. So if you weren’t convinced they planned to move down before, you should be now.

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New Seahawkers podcast appearance

April 16th, 2018 | Written by Rob Staton

This week I was invited on the Seahawkers podcast to talk about the draft. In this episode we covered the defensive players who recently visited the VMAC or met with the team. Next week we’ll cover the offensive players.

Press play below and it’ll start right at the point where we start talking about the draft:

I also wanted to offer some thoughts on the Malik McDowell situation, given today’s news that he’s likely to be released by the Seahawks.

For starters, I appreciate nobody could predict what was going to happen. It also must be said — none of us know the details of McDowell’s ATV accident. It’s a real shame that his NFL career might be over literally before it began.

None of what I’m about to say is implying this was specifically a projectable situation. It wasn’t.

On April 17th last year it was revealed McDowell and Obi Melifonwu were visiting the Seahawks. I wrote this piece about the visit — and noted some of the concerns about McDowell.

It was always going to be a risky pick.

Here are some league sources, quoting their impression of McDowell before the draft:

“Worst interview we did,” said one team. Added another: “Awful interview. Awful.”

Another league source said the following:

“Does he love football? Is he going to work? I can’t figure out what makes this kid tick. He might be the type who, maybe he falls and it lights a fire under him. I don’t know. But I need that light on more often, and he didn’t like it when we asked him about that. McDowell might never fully show his full skill, but passing on him also means you’re missing out on a potentially rare talent.”

Really, this is the whole pick summed up. The Seahawks took a chance on a rare talent and wanted to roll the dice.

They had no means of knowing what could happen. But there was always a risk that something would happen to prevent him reaching his massive potential. It seems like he put himself at risk of serious harm. That’s a judgement call that warrants questioning.

It’s sad and frustrating for all concerned. Absolutely. But the pick was a gamble. And it’s ended up being a waste for the team (compounded by the fact they were forced to spend another second rounder on a one-year rental of Sheldon Richardson).

I suspect, from the players visiting the VMAC or working out off-site, they won’t be taking a risk this year. Justin Reid, Ronnie Harrison, Austin Corbett, Isaiah Oliver, Christian Kirk. It’s like a who’s who of low-risk talent.

I’m not just talking about character either. There are no lingering injury risks. They all produced consistently.

It might be one of the reasons they ultimately don’t take a running back early.

For all the talent at the position, there are question marks. Ronald Jones II is immensely talented but is undersized and hasn’t had a good pre-draft process. Derrius Guice has reported character flags. Kerryon Johnson is a lighter, highly cut, upright runner who has, predictably, been banged up as a consequence. Nick Chubb has suffered a serious knee injury in his career. Sony Michel fumbles too much.

That’s not to say Reid, Harrison, Corbett, Oliver and Kirk don’t have flaws. They do. But they all have a low floor. They’ve produced. They’re all-football.

And ultimately, their first pick this year might be a departure from the Christine Michael, Frank Clark, Malik McDowell dice-rolling.

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New mock draft & a Seahawks seven rounder

April 15th, 2018 | Written by Rob Staton

In two weeks time it’ll all be over for another year.

Time for a new mock draft. I’ve included some trades. It’s a two-rounder with a Seahawks seven rounder to follow.

#1 Cleveland — Josh Allen (QB, Wyoming)
#2 Buffalo (via NYG) — Sam Darnold (QB, USC)
#3 NY Jets (via Ind) — Baker Mayfield (QB, Oklahoma)
#4 Cleveland (via Hou) — Saquon Barkley (RB, Penn State)
#5 Arizona (via Den) — Josh Rosen (QB, UCLA)
#6 Indianapolis (via NYJ) — Bradley Chubb (EDGE, NC State)
#7 Tampa Bay — Denzel Ward (CB, Ohio State)
#8 NY Giants (via Chi) — Quenton Nelson (G, Notre Dame)
#9 San Francisco — Roquan Smith (LB, Georgia)
#10 Oakland — Tremaine Edmunds (LB, Virginia Tech)
#11 Miami — Minkah Fitzpatrick (S, Alabama)
#12 Chicago (via NYG, Buf, Cin) — Leighton Vander Esch (LB, Boise State)
#13 Washington — Vita Vea (DT, Washington)
#14 Green Bay — Marcus Davenport (DE, UTSA)
#15 Denver (via Ari) — Derwin James (S, Florida State)
#16 Baltimore — Mike McGlinchey (T, Notre Dame)
#17 LA Chargers — Lamar Jackson (QB, Louisville)
#18 Cleveland (via Sea) — Kolton Miller (T, UCLA)
#19 Dallas — Courtland Sutton (WR, SMU)
#20 Detroit — Da’Ron Payne (DT, Alabama)
#21 Cincinnati (via Buf) — James Daniels (C, Iowa)
#22 NY Giants (via Buf, KC) — Harold Landry (DE, Boston College)
#23 New England (via LAR) — Rashaan Evans (LB, Alabama)
#24 Carolina — Joshua Jackson (CB, Iowa)
#25 Tennessee — Sam Hubbard (DE, Ohio State)
#26 Atlanta — Calvin Ridley (WR, Alabama)
#27 New Orleans — Jessie Bates III (S, Wake Forest)
#28 Pittsburgh — Justin Reid (S, Stanford)
#29 Jacksonville — Isaiah Oliver (CB, Colorado)
#30 Minnesota — Isaiah Wynn (G, Georgia)
#31 Denver (via NE) — Will Hernandez (G, UTEP)
#32 Philadelphia — Ronald Jones II (RB, USC)

#33 Tampa Bay (via Sea, Cle) — Sony Michel (RB, Georgia)
#34 NY Giants — Derrius Guice (RB, LSU)
#35 Cleveland — Carlton Davis (CB, Auburn)
#36 Indianapolis — D.J. Moore (WR, Maryland)
#37 Indianapolis — Kerryon Johnson (RB, Auburn)
#38 Seattle (via TB) — Christian Kirk (WR, Texas A&M)
#39 Chicago — Taven Bryan (DT, Florida)
#40 New England (via Den) — Austin Corbett (G, Nevada)
#41 Oakland — Hayden Hurst (TE, South Carolina)
#42 Miami — Frank Ragnow (C, Arkansas)
#43 New England (via SF) — Tim Settle (DT, Virginia Tech)
#44 Washington — Nick Chubb (RB, Georgia)
#45 Green Bay — Jaire Alexander (CB, Louisville)
#46 Cincinnati — Ronnie Harrison (S, Alabama)
#47 Denver (via Ari) — Rashaad Penny (RB, San Diego State)
#48 LA Chargers — Tyrell Crosby (T, Oregon)
#49 Indianapolis — Maurice Hurst (DT, Michigan)
#50 Dallas — Malik Jefferson (LB, Texas)
#51 Detroit — Connor Williams (G, Texas)
#52 Baltimore — Mason Rudolph (QB, Oklahoma State)
#53 NY Giants (via Buf) — Josh Sweat (DE, Florida State)
#54 Kansas City — Donte Jackson (CB, LSU)
#55 Carolina — Rasheem Green (DE, USC)
#56 Buffalo (via LAR) — Harrison Phillips (DT, Stanford)
#57 Tennessee — D.J. Chark (WR, LSU)
#58 Atlanta — Andrew Brown (DT, Virginia)
#59 San Francisco (via NO) — Royce Freeman (RB, Oregon)
#60 Pittsburgh — Billy Price (C, Ohio State)
#61 Jacksonville — Dallas Goedert (TE, South Dakota State)
#62 Minnesota — Mike Hughes (CB, UCF)
#63 New England — Geron Christian (T, Louisville)
#64 Seattle (via Cle, Phi) — Ian Thomas (TE, Indiana)

The trades

— Buffalo sends #12, #22, #53 and a 2019 first round pick to the New York Giants for the #2 pick

— Arizona sends #15, #47 and a 2019 first round pick to Denver for the #5 pick

— The New York Giants send #12 and #69 to Chicago for the #8 pick

— Cleveland sends #33, #64 and #114 to Seattle for the #18 pick

— Denver sends #40 and #113 to New England for the #31 pick

— Tampa Bay sends #38 and #102 to Seattle for #33

— Seattle sends #102 and #168 to New England for #95

Seahawks seven round mock

R2 (33) — Christian Kirk (WR, Texas A&M)
R2 (64) — Ian Thomas (TE, Indiana)
R3 (#95) — Kalen Ballage (RB, Arizona State)
R4 (114) — Shaquem Griffin (LB, UCF)
R4 (120) — Breeland Speaks (DE, Ole Miss)
R5 (141) — Holton Hill (CB, Texas)
R5 (156) — Natrell Jamerson (S, Wisconsin)
R7 (226) — Poona Ford (DT, Texas)
R7 (248) — Ito Smith (RB)

Points of note

— In this projection I wanted to highlight some of the things we talked about yesterday. This includes ‘alternative’ prospects, waiting on Kalen Ballage at the running back position and trying to identify the ‘cliffs’ at certain positions.

— The Seahawks trade down twice (from #18 initially and then #33). They then use their accumulated stock to trade into round three to secure Ballage.

Tony Pauline told us last week the Seahawks want 10 picks. This mock has them moving around to get to nine. The tenth pick could, theoretically, come via an Earl Thomas trade.

— With their first pick they move into a range where they can secure Christian Kirk. In this projection, we’ll say they believe the drop off at receiver is significant enough to take one early. They see Kirk as the ideal fit for an ‘Air Coryell’ offense. Isaiah Oliver, Ronald Jones II and Justin Reid are off the board when Seattle gets to #33. Kirk and Austin Corbett were considered.

— #64 could be a sweet spot to get a tight end. Dallas Goedert is just off the board but Ian Thomas is a nice alternative. A lot of the intriguing defensive options are gone by the late second, which could mean moving onto plan B and the list of alternatives (thus — Breeland Speaks, Holton Hill, Natrell Jamerson). Thomas has major potential as a blocker, plays with grit and has the athletic profile to be an X-factor and a long term #1 tight end.

— If they trade Earl Thomas for the #50 pick, it would be spent on a defensive player in this projection. At #50 the likes of Andrew Brown, Rasheem Green, Josh Sweat and Kemoko Turay could be options or they might consider moving up a few spots to get Ronnie Harrison.

— Going back to the theme of alternatives — Holton Hill is a hedge for Isaiah Oliver, Breeland Speaks is a hedge for Andrew Brown, Natrell Jamerson is a hedge for Justin Reid & Jessie Bates III, Poona Ford is a hedge for Maurice Hurst and Ito Smith is a hedge for Ronald Jones II. Kirk and Thomas are taken early because it’s difficult to identify later round alternatives at both receiver and tight end. And Ballage is projected as ‘their guy’ at running back — he isn’t a hedge for anyone else.

— If Ballage does end up being ‘their guy’ — here’s possibly his best game for Arizona State (aside from the eight-touchdown one against Texas Tech):

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Maybe, just maybe, they won’t go RB early

April 14th, 2018 | Written by Rob Staton

We’ve talked a lot about the fixing the running game. And rightly so. Pete Carroll and John Schneider have stated, clearly, it’s a priority this off-season.

Carroll’s brand of football requires a strong running game. It connects everything together. And the last two years haven’t been good enough. Especially 2017. No rushing touchdowns inside the red zone and only one by a (sort of) running back overall isn’t going to cut it.

So whatever happens in the draft, this is the focal point. Whether it’s with new, young personnel added in two weeks or with the existing group. They simply have to get this running game back on track.

I also think we were right to focus on the prospects that would improve this area of the team. Whether that was a lengthy analysis of the running backs or a study of the interior offensive linemen available. Both were needs going into the off-season. Both positions are particularly strong in the top-50.

If they don’t focus on the running game early, it could be a mistake. Could be. If they continue to struggle to run the ball in 2018, there won’t really be an excuse. This draft class is tailor made for a team looking to give their running game a shot in the arm.

Plenty of people wondered why Seattle didn’t seriously look at Dalvin Cook, Kareem Hunt or Alvin Kamara last year. Imagine the prospect of 6-8 running backs next season having an impact and the Seahawks not owning any of them? It’ll be galling if it coincides with further injuries to Chris Carson and C.J. Prosise.

That said…

When people have suggested in the comments section that the Seahawks might ‘wait’ on a running back, I’ve often dismissed it. I think, with hindsight, that was unfair.

So today I wanted to consider some of the reasons why they might do something different…

1. Where can you get your guys?

To me as an outsider, it looks like the Seahawks have done a good job over the years identifying ‘their guys’ and where they can get them. Whether that’s having the patience to wait on Russell Wilson in round three, trading down to get Paul Richardson, Germain Ifedi and Malik McDowell or knowing when the cornerback ‘cliff’ was last year so they could still land Shaquill Griffin in the late third round.

You might question the players they targeted. You can’t really argue that they did a masterful job moving around just enough to get their guys.

Of course, it’s also possible they were too cute a couple of times. They’ve admitted as much in the past. Tom Cable admitted they had their eye on another player in 2014 before taking Justin Britt. However, in this instance they didn’t trade down and miss out. They simply took Britt with their native pick.

After studying this running back class it’s possible their ‘guy’ at the position isn’t one of the top six projected to go in the top-50. And while they know they need to fix the run and know they need to add another running back — their ‘guy’ might not be a second round pick.

If that’s the case, they’ll likely work the board to make sure they get their guy in the spot they think he should go.

2. Is Kalen Ballage deemed better value?

Ronald Jones II, Nick Chubb, Kerryon Johnson, Sony Michel, Derrius Guice are all going to be early picks. They could all go in the top-50. We’re talking about a highly talented bunch.

That said, they all have their own little issues. Jones II is undersized and despite his clear and obvious star potential (and fantastic tape) he’s not had a good draft process (injury, reports of bad meetings). Johnson is an upright runner and dropped as low as 206lbs at his pro-day. With Guice it’s character concerns and maturity. Michel has never been a #1 and fumbles too much. Chubb is solid but is he quite the sensational talent we saw pre-knee injury?

Kalen Ballage also has his issues. He underachieved in college and never separated from the rest of the backs at Arizona State.

It might be the wrong approach to take (especially considering the other players produced so much more than Ballage) — but perhaps they feel like any back they take is going to need some work?

Ballage fits their physical preference perfectly. He’s an explosive tester who performed well in the vertical and broad jump. He’s 6-1 and 228lbs. That’s their type of back. He’s also shown some aggression as a runner, albeit not always consistently.

The private workout involving Ballage, Christian Kirk and Kyle Allen was extremely revealing. I don’t recall a time when both Pete Carroll and John Schneider attended such a workout. It might’ve happened many times, we just didn’t hear about it. But it did hint that they’re seriously considering adding all three players.

3. Individual talent vs positional depth

It’s possible the Seahawks have looked closely at this group and have come to the following conclusion:

‘We can get a running back we like in a later round but we can’t get a receiver/pass rusher/defensive back/tight end’

Perhaps they believe the drop off from the top 6-8 backs to Kalen Ballage isn’t as significant as the drop off from Christian Kirk to the other receivers or Isaiah Oliver to the other corners?

With so many needs to fill, identifying where you can get value at numerous positions is as important as ever.

One way to look at it is this. While the early round depth at running back is stronger than any other position there are individual players of a similar level.

For example, Austin Corbett is a fantastic talent. One of my personal top five favourites in this draft class. Is he a lesser player than the top running backs? No.

I’ve spent some time studying Christian Kirk and Isaiah Oliver since Seattle’s apparent interest became known. The receivers and cornerbacks collectively in round two don’t match the depth at running back. Are these two players on a level par if not better than some of the runners? You can definitely make that case.

Knowing where the cliffs are, identifying the range where the well runs dry — it’s vital for any team. If they end up drafting Ballage as their ‘key’ addition at running back — it might not be a review of the top runners as much as it’s a review of some of the other weaker positions in this draft.

4. Compiling alternatives

There’s a correlation between the players Seattle has met with/worked out. Many of them are similar in terms of position or physicality, yet are expected to go at opposite ends of the draft.

Justin Reid >>> Natrell Jamerson
Isaiah Oliver >>> Holton Hill
Ronald Jones II >>> Chase Edmonds/Ito Smith
Maurice Hurst >>> Poona Ford
Austin Corbett >>> Cole Madison
Kemoko Turay/Josh Sweat >>> Dorance Armstrong
Andrew Brown >>> Breeland Speaks

These could be some of the names to focus on as an ‘either or’ scenario. For example, Holton Hill could easily be the hedge for Isaiah Oliver. Get one or the other.

There aren’t any obvious comparisons for Ronnie Harrison, Christian Kirk or Dallas Goedert but that could just be a case of an unconfirmed meeting/workout/visit or they purposely want to keep interest in certain players quiet.

It could also mean if they really like those particular players, there isn’t a viable alternative available later (thus increasing the pressure to take said player early).

The Seahawks are expected to trade down from #18 into a range where the likes of the names on the left are going to be available (#25-50). It’s interesting that only one name, Ronald Jones II, is a running back. He remains a very viable option for the Seahawks. But the names above could indicate they’re going to focus on other positions (defensive back, D-line etc) early — possibly with the intention to draft Ballage in rounds 3-4 and another back on day three.

5. The ramifications of an Earl Thomas trade

There’s increasing chatter that Dez Bryant’s exit in Dallas is a precursor to a trade for Earl Thomas:

For some time now there’s been almost an inevitable feel to this. Eventually someone, probably Dallas, would make an acceptable offer. Now they have less than two weeks to make it happen — but cutting Dez Bryant at least creates the cap room to make it viable.

Mike Fisher says the #50 pick could/should be offered. It’s not the kind of haul Seattle would’ve hoped for but the trade market for Thomas is decidedly lukewarm. He turns 29 on May 7th and wants a big new contract.

Whether you agree with it or not, it’s impossible not to acknowledge that the Seahawks appear ready to deal Thomas. And if that’s the case, getting what you can now — a second round pick in a year when the second round is loaded with talent — wouldn’t be a terrible return.

It wouldn’t be a satisfying conclusion to Thomas’ career in Seattle. But neither was the end for Richard Sherman, Michael Bennett and, eventually, Kam Chancellor and Cliff Avril.

Leaving that aside for now, lets briefly look at what a trade could mean.

The Seahawks are rumoured to be willing to trade the #18 pick to Cleveland. This would, presumably, see them net the #33 and #64 pick in return.

If they had #33, #50 and #64 in this draft class — that would be a really positive thing.

The second round is golden this year. It’ll be the round of the draft. The names that go in the second frame are going to be tantalising.

Pick three from:

Isaiah Oliver
Ronald Jones II
Christian Kirk
Austin Corbett
Josh Sweat
Justin Reid
Maurice Hurst
Andrew Brown
Kemoko Turay
Dallas Goedert

Feel free to add your own suggestions too. These are just some of the names connected to Seattle.

Despite the need to fix the running game, if the Seahawks came away with a second round haul that consisted of: Isaiah Oliver, Christian Kirk and Ian Thomas — you can’t really question the talent they’ll be adding. You can question the decision to address these specific positions — but the players themselves are very good.

And when you’re in the midst of a roster re-tool — adding talent at multiple positions isn’t illogical.

You might be able to land three players with the same grade as the guy going at #25.

So after weeks of saying fixing the run will be the early draft focus — here’s me now saying maybe we need to keep an open mind. And actually, getting three of the best value prospects available in round two might be the best way to benefit from this draft class. That could still mean a running back and a tight end early — it just might not. I need to acknowledge that.

If you missed our interview with Tony Pauline from Draft Analyst this week, make sure to check it out below…

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Notes on Seattle’s VMAC & workout prospects

April 13th, 2018 | Written by Rob Staton

So far, 24 of Seattle’s 30 official ‘visits’ have been made public (either by the players themselves or via various reports).

Seven off-site workouts have also been revealed.

Here are notes on most of the players the Seahawks have met with…

‘Official 30’ visitors

Justin Reid (S, Stanford)
Ran a 4.40 forty at 6-0 and 207lbs. Despite that speed, he isn’t a natural rangy free safety. He does his best work up at the line like his brother. It doesn’t mean he can’t develop into a viable single-high option but there’s not a lot of that on tape. High character, strong personality. If the Seahawks end up trading Earl Thomas they might consider Reid or Wake Forest’s Jesse Bates III with an early pick.

Bob McGinn’s sources: “Some people like the guy but I think they like him because of his brother… I just didn’t see it. I don’t know why the guy came out. He’s got some ball skills but he misses a lot of tackles.”

Likely range: Could easily go in the 20’s based on bloodlines and speed. Worst-case scenario is probably early round two.

Ronnie Harrison (S, Alabama)
Only ran a 4.58 at his Pro-day at 6-2 and 207lbs. Does possess a +80 inch wingspan though and had decent explosive testing numbers at the combine (34 vertical, 10-0 broad). His hit on Kerryon Johnson in the Iron Bowl potentially changed the course of the SEC in 2017. Very much a strong safety. With a potential Earl Thomas trade in the pipeline, it’s no surprise the Seahawks are looking at the available options.

Bob McGinn’s sources: “Tough guy… Plays the game the right way. Got to be coming forward. More of a box guy.”

Likely range: It won’t be a shock if he sneaks into the late first round but a safe projection is round two.

Kemoko Turay (DE, Rutgers)
Classic EDGE type and when he’s healthy and on it, Turay looks the part. He had a terrific Senior Bowl and ended the practise week as a big winner. Didn’t complete all the drills at the combine due to a hamstring injury. Didn’t do anything other than the bench at pro-day. Ran a 1.62 10-yard split at 253lbs. It’s not the ideal 1.5 but he was hampered by that hamstring issue. Comparisons to Yannick Ngakoue aren’t without merit.

Lance Zierlein: “Explosive edge defender with the coveted traits of an NFL pass rusher.”

Likely range: He’s a day two pick, possibly round three but could land somewhere in round two due to the weak pass rush options this year.

Leighton Vander Esch (LB, Boise State)
A stud. Pure and simple. As we highlighted a month ago, Vander Esch compares physically to all of the top linebackers in the league. He’s one of the top 15-20 players in the draft. Explosive, instinctive, intense and quick. He doesn’t get the same hype as Roquan Smith or Tremaine Edmunds but he might have a better career. LVE could play SAM in year one and eventually replace K.J. Wright at the WILL.

Bob McGinn’s sources: “Very instinctive… Alert, active, aggressive. Square tackler. Got good range. These guys don’t get blocked because they have such a great first step.”

Likely range: Probably won’t make it to #18

Austin Corbett (T, Nevada)
He’s similar to Isaiah Wynn. They both played left tackle in college, they’re both expected to kick inside to guard. Yet neither got beat very often at tackle. Wynn and Corbett played better than Kolton Miller in 2017. Miller will be drafted first purely because he projects to tackle. We wrote about Corbett in depth here. Like Wynn, he’s a stone-cold stud. One of my five favourite players in the class.

Bob McGinn’s sources: “Day one starter… He’s similar to the (Joel) Bitonio guy that came out of there (2014, second round, Browns). He doesn’t look like he should be a left tackle but just very, very, very productive. Competitive, smart (Wonderlic of 27), good athlete, good strength for his size. Just a really good player. First round.”

Likely range: He’s so good it won’t be a shock if he goes late first round. If he’s there in round two — it’s a steal.

Josh Sweat (DE, Florida State)
If draft grades were given out for physical measurements and testing, Sweat would be a top-five lock. He has everything — a 1.55 10-yard split, 34.5 inch arms, a 4.53 forty, a near 40 inch vertical and a 4.28 short shuttle. Quickness, length, explosive traits. Injury history (knee) and a tendency to be late off the snap are the negatives but there’s a lot to work with here. Mature, high-character player. Would be a LEO/EDGE in Seattle.

Bob McGinn’s sources: “He reminds me of the guy from there who went to the Ravens. Peter Boulware. Built like him. He’s got that kind of take-off.”

Likely range: It’ll depend on how willing teams are to take a chance on his health and how desperate they are to get a pass rusher given the limited options. Top-45 isn’t out of the question.

Maurice Hurst (DT, Michigan)
Some will view him as arguably the best defensive tackle in the draft (he’s certainly the best interior pass rusher). Others won’t like the scheme fit. Hurst is dynamite as a one-gap penetrative force. Physically though nothing stands out. His frame (6-1, 292lbs) and length (32 inch arms) could be a problem defending the run and might limit him to a role as a specialist rusher. His pro-day marks were nothing special — 4.95 forty, 1.69 10-yard split, 4.64 short shuttle. High character. Could be a Clinton McDonald type.

Bob McGinn’s sources: “I could never take the guy in the first round… He’ll get hammered if he has to play two gaps. He’s a quick penetrator. He‘s just got to fit your system.”

Likely range: A team like Atlanta could show serious interest at #26. It’s also possible he lasts into round two.

Andrew Brown (DT, Virginia)
Former 5-star big-time recruit. Neither Brown or Quin Blanding lived up to the billing at Virginia. Was that down to them or circumstance? It wasn’t for a lack of effort though. Brown gives everything on the field. He had a terrific Senior Bowl and really looked the part. Super quick short shuttle (4.48) for a 6-3, 296lbs lineman. An underrated player with a lot of potential. A possible Michael Bennett replacement.

NFL.com sources: “Great football character and he goes hard all the time. I think he has a chance to be a good pro because he’ll play inside full time and he’s got some quickness to beat guards.”

Likely range: I think he’ll go a lot earlier than expected. Possibly rounds 2-3.

Breeland Speaks (DE, Ole Miss)
Watching a Speaks highlight video feels like you’re watching a first rounder. His mobility and quickness working the edge at 6-3 and 287lbs is impressive. He rushes like a pure EDGE at times. Sadly the full game tape shows inconsistent play to go with the occasional flash. Even so, he ran a 1.65 10-yard split at his size and that can’t be ignored. Another possible Michael Bennett replacement.

Lance Zierlein: “He can be chippy and emotional on the field and needs to mature, but he has the talent and ability to continue getting better.”

Likely range: Middle rounds — but the type that could end up turning into a valued starter.

Holton Hill (CB, Texas)
Hill looks like a Seahawks corner. He’s nearly 6-2 and 195lbs with that wiry, long frame they like (32 inch arms). His short shuttle (4.15) was very good — an important test at this position. There seems to be some concern about his maturity but it’s difficult to find specific examples of this. Didn’t have a great combine in terms of the drills but it was a lousy CB session overall. I like him and he played well against Oklahoma State’s James Washington. The Seahawks often take a day three corner to develop and Hill could be the guy.

NFL.com sources: “He will fall further than he should because you can’t trust him. He needed a clean, productive season to rehab the perception around him and I felt like he should have gone back to school. He can play. He’s a Day 2 talent, but I doubt he goes there.”

Likely range: Fourth or fifth round. Ideal for Seattle.

Isaiah Oliver (CB, Colorado)
There’s a ton to like about Oliver. He’s good in press, he’s 6-2 and 201lbs and he has fantastic length (33.5 inch arms). He’ll cover a huge radius and will be able to compete with bigger receivers. At his pro-day he ran a 4.00 short shuttle which is outstanding. He looks and plays like a Seahawks corner. But how early are you willing to take a corner? Because he will not last long due to his testing numbers and size. He’s going to be an early pick.

Bob McGinn’s sources: “He’s really good in press… Off, he needs a lot of work. He’s got a lot of skills. Got good length. Not very strong. He might go in the first round.”

Likely range: A few weeks ago the third round felt likely. Now? First or second.

Dorance Armstrong (DE, Kansas)
AKA one of the guys who instigated Baker Mayfield’s infamous ‘gesture’ during the Oklahoma vs Kansas game. Shaking the cage didn’t have the impact they hoped for that day. This was a curious workout and perhaps hints at the lack of pass rush options in this draft. Armstrong ran a 4.87 forty at the combine despite weighing 257lbs. He then ran a 4.88 at his pro-day. So he’s not especially quick (1.69 10-yard split). He is a natural pass rusher though.

Lance Zierlein: “Armstrong has the tools and upside to become a complete player and good NFL starter.”

Likely range: It’s difficult to say. A drop in production last year and a mediocre combine could push him into day three.

Jacob Pugh (LB, Florida State)
Former four-star recruit who chose FSU over Alabama and Florida. Major explosive traits. He managed a near 40 inch vertical plus a 10-2 broad jump. He’s 6-3 and 246lbs with great length (34.5 inch arms). In terms of a physical prospect he’s one to watch. He’s had concussions and this will limit his stock. The Seahawks need young depth at linebacker and could see Pugh as a priority free agent.

Lance Zierlein: “Pugh needs a strong lead-up to the draft because his tape is uneven and his career production has been unimpressive. There are some traits to work with, but finding the right positional fit may be a challenge.”

Likely range: Undrafted

Poona Ford (DT, Texas)
Ford wasn’t invited to the combine and that seemed to tick him off. He’s only 5-11 but that’s not as much of a problem when you have 33.5 inch arms. He’ll win a lot of leverage battles at that height and unusually, for a shorter DT he’ll be able to extend and keep blockers off his frame. He might be a diamond in the rough as a pass rusher. Ford has a tremendous motor and plays with great effort.

Lance Zierlein: “While Ford flashed the ability to stack blocks and play with some strength at the point of attack, his lack of overall mass could make it tough for teams to see him in anything other than a penetrating, 4-3 scheme.”

Likely range: Day three is likely, somewhere between rounds 5-7

Other ‘official-30’ visitors: Foyesade Oluokun, Ito Smith, Keith Kirkwood, Khalid Hill, Devron Davis, Cole Madison, Kyle Allen, Simeon Thomas, Julian Taylor, Edward Shockely

Off-site workouts

Dallas Goedert (TE, South Dakota State)
It’s a weird year at the tight end position. It doesn’t look like a horrendous class by any stretch. It’s just not particularly exciting. And for a lot of the bigger names, Goedert included, it’s difficult to work out where they should go. He performed well at his pro-day — jumping a 35 inch vertical and a 10-1 broad. He also had an eye-catching 4.06 short shuttle and a 6.87 three cone at 6-5 and 256lbs. The Seahawks are very likely to be in the market for a young tight end.

Bob McGinn’s sources: “He’s getting a lot of hype but I don’t quite understand why… I guess it’s just because there is nobody else. He’s just kind of a small-school guy.”

Likely range: It’s so hard to say. Some think late first. There was a time when it looked like no tight ends would be drafted in the first two rounds, though.

Christian Kirk (WR, Texas A&M)
If the Seahawks want to draft the complete opposite of Malik McDowell they might turn to Christian Kirk. Zero character issues, ideal attitude, consistent college performer. If they just want a good football player with minimal bust potential, Kirk’s the man. He’s a downfield dynamo and a good fit for an Air Coryell-type offense. He uncovers well in the scramble drill and he’s a special teams force as a returner. Solid but unspectacular testing numbers.

Bob McGinn’s sources: “Big-time player… Excellent returner on punts and kickoffs. Explosive. Only thing that hurt him this year was the quarterback didn’t throw well. Only negative is his height. He’s well-built. Good hands. Extends and lays out. Really strong.”

Likely range: He’s trending upwards and could be a late first or early second round pick.

Kalen Ballage (RB, Arizona State)
Tony Pauline said in our conversation this week that Ballage looks like Tarzan and plays like Jane. Ballage promised a lot at Arizona State and was unable to deliver. That said, Tony also told us he’d heard Ballage’s pro-day performance was one of the best his sources had ever seen. He can run with toughness and he’s an excellent threat in the passing game. Is he ever going to be more than a compliment though? Ballage fits Seattle’s prototype at the position (size, explosive traits) perfectly.

Lance Zierlein: “Ballage can do a little of this and a little of that, but a team will need to have a clear-cut plan for how to use him.”

Likely range: Rounds 3-4

Other off-site workouts: Demone Harris, Abdullah Anderson, Manase Hungalu, Kyle Allen

If you missed our interview with Tony Pauline from Draft Analyst yesterday, make sure to check it out below…

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LISTEN: Tony Pauline on the Seahawks and the 2018 draft

April 12th, 2018 | Written by Rob Staton

This week I had the opportunity to speak with Tony Pauline from Draft Analyst. We talked about a number of different Seahawks topics including:

— How many times do the Seahawks want to pick in this draft?

— What does Tony think of the running back class?

– What’s the deal with Derrius Guice?

— What is a realistic trade involving Earl Thomas?

Have a listen…

 

Thoughts as the Seahawks workout Ballage, Kirk & Allen

April 11th, 2018 | Written by Rob Staton

Ten days before the 2017 draft, the Seahawks worked out Malik McDowell and Obi Melifonwu. They took McDowell with their first pick.

This doesn’t mean the Seahawks are definitely going to draft one (or more) or Christian Kirk, Kalen Ballage and Kyle Allen. It’s interesting though.

They didn’t just workout Allen in Arizona either. He then made his way to Seattle for an official visit…

There’s suddenly a buzz around Allen. A former five-star recruit, his career at Texas A&M collapsed when he and others stopped seeing eye-to-eye with Kevin Sumlin. He transferred to Houston where he was benched after six games.

College career over.

He’s always had physical talent. It just hasn’t been unwrapped. He’s someone we’ll need to look at over the next few days. Clearly the Seahawks have seen something in him. He could be a late rounder or priority UDFA competing to be this years backup.

Today I wanted to focus on Kirk and Ballage.

Firstly, it shouldn’t be a major surprise if the Seahawks take both. Kirk fits the ‘all football’ style they’re looking for. He’s athletic, fits their profile at receiver and is a big play specialist. He offers special teams value and could be a compliment to Tyler Lockett or a future replacement (Lockett’s contract expires at the end of the season).

In terms of physical profile and personality, he’s the kind of player they’re looking to add. He’s probably one of the ‘safer’ prospects in the draft (if such a thing exists).

Equally Ballage fits their profile at running back. He’s 6-1 and 228lbs. He jumped a 37 inch vertical at his pro-day. He also had a 10-2 broad jump at the combine, a 4.46 forty and a 6.91 three cone.

If draft grades were based on looking the part, Ballage would be top-five.

He also had a terrific Senior Bowl. In the catching drills he looked like a natural receiver. He excelled all week in practise and during the game he delivered some of the hard running he’s occasionally flashed in college. He had a great week.

Ballage is also expected to be available at the end of day two or even day three. So theoretically, targeting him would allow the Seahawks to take a player like Christian Kirk with their first pick and still address the running back need.

If they want both players, they should be able to find a way to make it happen.

It’d be a logical plan. If the Seahawks are going to use an offense similar to ‘Air Coryell’ next season, Kirk’s ability to stretch the field would be a huge positive. He’s also adept at disappearing at the second level and becoming ‘invisible’. In the scramble drill this is vital and Kirk made plenty of big plays finding space and providing a target when the initial play broke down.

We discussed Kirk as a player in more detail here.

Ballage fits their profile at running back. We’ve often talked about Seattle having a body type at the position. Ballage ticks every box — height, weight, explosive traits. He’s also a pass-catching weapon and he plays, at times, with real aggression.

He’s always had massive potential. In September 2016 I wrote this piece highlighting him as a player to monitor:

Physicality, effectiveness, speed, size. This guy is intriguing.

His character and personality is even more impressive… Character is big for the Seahawks. So is difference making physical qualities. If Ballage continues to produce, he could be a name to keep an eye on.

Ballage made this play during the 2016 season:

Watch him on the right day and he looks terrific.

Sadly, that’s the point I want to come on to now.

Seattle’s current group of running backs don’t lack potential or upside. Chris Carson and C.J. Prosise are both fantastic athletes and had some flashes in college.

The problem with both is they just haven’t been reliable.

Carson played four games in 2017 before getting injured. In 2016 while playing for Oklahoma State he had only 82 carries. In 2015 he was a bit-part player.

Prosise has had two injury plagued seasons as a pro. Some of his injuries haven’t been overly serious leading to questions about his ability to tough it out. Is he ever going to make it through a regular season? It’s hard to have any confidence there.

Two players with major promise but for one reason or another, just haven’t been able to pair consistent production with good health.

Ballage, to be frank, would provide more of the same. Major athletic promise and a player with everything you want in a running back physically. Yet his production has been so inconsistent. I’ve watched him live in person and on TV. More often than not you’re left wanting more.

He was never the feature back at Arizona State. He was always destined for big things but never actually delivered.

His college career was underwhelming.

There are other runners in this strong RB draft that have been able to produce consistently. It doesn’t guarantee they’ll come into the league, stay healthy and become Seattle’s feature runner. At least they’ve shown they’re capable of doing it.

Ballage might succeed where Prosise and Carson (so far) haven’t. It’d also be wrong to accuse Prosise and Carson of being bad players. They’re not. When available they’ve flashed. Availability and consistency, though, is where they’ve been lacking.

Will Kirk and Ballage help the Seahawks turn back into a run-first, dominant, aggressive offense? Will they help ‘fix the run’?

The jury’s out there. Although it’s very possible they wouldn’t be relying on Ballage to be the answer at running back. They took three running backs in 2016. They could take multiple backs this year. The class is good enough to justify it.

They also have a number of different needs to fill and a limited number of picks to get the job done.

Both Kirk and Ballage have potential and talent. The Seahawks are not afraid to draft for potential and trust their coaches to get the best out of a player.

Yet this would feel like a continuation of the way they’ve done things for a while now. You couldn’t accuse the Seahawks of focusing too much on a hard-nosed, physical approach on offense. The Jimmy Graham trade, the addition of smaller, quicker receivers. The over-reliance on Russell Wilson and the collapse of the running game.

For two years they’ve been finesse. And as good as Kirk and Ballage could eventually be, we’re talking about a stretch-the-field deep threat and an athlete playing running back whose best characteristic might be his ability in the passing game.

A year ago we talked about Malik McDowell with trepidation. He was visiting Seattle, he had talent. You could see him becoming a Seahawk even if personally I didn’t expect it and doubted it. I was wrong, they took him and it didn’t work.

There aren’t any character concerns with Kirk and Ballage. They’re the complete opposite to McDowell in that regard. We’ll see if this information is anything more than interest. It’s worth taking seriously though if both Pete Carroll and John Schneider were present at the workout session.

They’ve also met or are meeting with Ronald Jones II, Josh Sweat, Maurice Hurst, Leighton Vander Esch, Justin Reid, Dallas Goedert and others. It’s possible both Carroll and Schneider were present at those meetings too.

We need to keep Kirk, Ballage and Allen in our minds though. They could easily be an early round, mid round and late round pickup in two weeks.

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