Back soon

May 20th, 2022 | Written by Rob Staton

I am taking a family vacation and the blog will be quiet during this time, short of some significant breaking news. When I return I have a very exciting interview lined up so stay tuned…

 

Cigar Thoughts podcast appearance

May 18th, 2022 | Written by Rob Staton

I was invited on to the ‘Cigar Thoughts’ podcast this week for a good hour of Seahawks conversation.

Check it out below on Apple or click here for Spotify.

 

Jake & Stacy podcast appearanece

May 17th, 2022 | Written by Rob Staton

Today I was invited on to the Jake & Stacy show on 710 Seattle Sports.

You can hear the segment below:

 

Why the Seahawks had their best off-season in years

May 15th, 2022 | Written by Rob Staton

John Schneider & Pete Carroll set the team up for future success with a productive off-season

The draft is already a couple of weeks ago and we’re into the quiet part of the year where very little happens. From Friday, I’m taking a family vacation but before then, I wanted to review where I think the roster is at. I’m also working to arrange a very interesting interview to hopefully take place before I go away — and if not, certainly in the very near future. So stay tuned…

Quarterback position? No panic

I’ve seen people reflecting on Seattle’s situation as concerning but I simply don’t agree. It is what it is. The moment this team dealt Russell Wilson they embraced a rebuild, whether they wish to refer to it as that publicly or not.

This is the reality of where this team is. The core of the roster has departed. It’s not just Wilson (who let’s be honest, carried this team for a fair few years). Bobby Wagner and Duane Brown have also departed. Their best cornerback — D.J. Reed — has also moved on.

This is a seminal moment for the franchise. It’s not a shuffling of the deck. It’s a revamp and an attempt to create a new foundation.

In this off-season alone they were not going to repair the trenches, add talent to the secondary, replace key veteran starters and find a franchise quarterback. Especially not in this mediocre quarterback draft class.

The Seahawks did what they had to do. They created building blocks by drafting two young tackles who could form the future of the offensive line. They added two more pass rushers and a dynamic offensive weapon. They drafted talented cornerbacks to add to the competition and found value in the seventh round at receiver.

They’ve set the table for the future which will include, eventually, a new young signal caller. This way, there’s a chance when that player is added he won’t be thrown to the wolves playing with an inadequate supporting cast.

There was simply no justification to force things this year — either situationally or due to the talent available. The draft class called for a foundational build and they executed that in an ideal way.

They simply have to take their lumps in 2022 and give Drew Lock (or Geno Smith) an opportunity to show what they can do. Is it ideal? No. But short of either shocking the world to warrant longer term consideration, it’s what this team has to do.

What other choice did they have? People can argue all they want for drafting someone ‘just’ to have another option on deck. The NFL told you what it thought about this overrated, overhyped class. The media did what they often accuse NFL decision makers of doing — reaching at the most important position.

The Seahawks are perfectly placed. Expectation is low and thus there’s no real pressure to succeed this year. If they perform beyond expectations, it’ll simply be an enjoyable positive. Having two firsts and two second round picks in the 2023 draft also means even if they win more games than predicted, they’ll still be able to trade into range to draft a quarterback if they want to.

If they are bad and struggle to win games — then perfect. No need to trade up.

The 2023 quarterback class is incredibly intriguing. Although C.J. Stroud and Bryce Young get most of the attention — Will Levis and Tyler Van Dyke, for me, are the top two quarterback prospects as of today. Both players are incredibly exciting. Plus there’s always a chance more players will emerge as the new college season develops.

Patience will pay off for the fans if they’re prepared to be realistic about what this year is. It’s year-one of a rebuild.

Further to that — having a proper competition at quarterback speaks to Carroll re-establishing his core philosophy. If he wants to get back to basics in terms of his vision for this team, this is precisely what he needs. There are several positions where players will need to battle in camp to win a job — including under center.

Again — the Seahawks have played this one perfectly. They needed a long-term vision, not short-term fixes. They appear to be embracing that.

It’s also possible they add to the competition. If the 49ers and Browns cut Jimmy Garoppolo or Baker Mayfield — for the right price, either would likely be welcomed into the camp battle.

It’s not critical that they add though. This is a year to take stock, evaluate, develop and gain experience. It will not be a bad thing if the Seahawks have a rough win/loss record and position themselves to get a quality young quarterback (or Alabama’s brilliant young pass rusher Will Anderson) in the next draft.

The trenches

Defensively, the Seahawks still lack that killer ‘game-wrecker’ that the Niners and Rams possess. I suspect they’re mindful of that but you can’t just magic one into existence.

If nothing else, they’ve given themselves a couple of shots to find a solution. Darrell Taylor had a promising first year and has the physical tools to develop into a game-wrecker. We’ll see if he can take a further step in year two.

Now, they’ve added Boye Mafe — who is an incredible, elite-level athlete.

If nothing else — there’s at least a chance they can both compete to get 10-sacks each. Neither Michael Bennett or Cliff Avril were game-wreckers as individuals but they combined to produce the same kind of impact as one elite individual. Perhaps Taylor and Mafe can do the same?

With Uchenna Nwosu, Alton Robinson and Tyreke Smith rotating in — there’s a chance to produce Seattle’s best pass rush results for some time.

Meanwhile, the search for a fearsome star will go on. For now at least, it’s hard to quibble with the path they’ve taken. This is a major improvement compared to the 2019, 2020 and 2021 off-seasons where they made a point of prioritising fixing the pass rush and simply failed to deliver.

The interior D-line still feels like a deep group rather than a scary group. There weren’t a ton of options in the draft or free agency though and a young, dynamic interior pass rusher has virtually become an endangered species.

Shelby Harris will provide leadership and impact. I suspect he will produce better results than people expect and develop into a key contributor — if not a key difference maker in some games next year. Poona Ford is a solid, consistent starter and Al Woods was a revelation in 2021. Quinton Jefferson is very capable of providing rotational strength and we’ll see if Bryan Mone can develop further.

Overall this was a positive off-season for the defensive front.

The O-line needed a refresh and while there’s still plenty of work to do, this was equally a solid start.

I wasn’t a huge fan of Charles Cross as a top-10 pick as you will know — but I also appreciate the thought process. Plenty of others (Daniel Jeremiah, Lance Zierlein) viewed Cross similarly — so I wasn’t alone. I’m not going to complain about the team launching a rebuild by investing in a young left tackle though. He needs to get stronger and a pro-weight and dietary program will help.

I was, however, a huge fan of Abraham Lucas. I think he has every chance to develop into one of the best players from the 2022 draft and leave people wondering, ‘how the heck did he last to round three?’ in years to come.

The idea of having bookend tackles for the next 8-10 years is the stuff of fantasy usually. The Seahawks have a chance, now, to make it a reality.

Hopefully Damien Lewis will return to right guard after a year of being messed around. I’m unsure about his fit in this blocking scheme but he’s a very talented player and deserves a chance to become a long-term fixture.

Gabe Jackson played poorly last year and was being dumped by the Raiders for a reason. Frankly, I’d rather give Phil Haynes a shot at left guard or one of the other tackles (Stone Forsyth or Jack Curhan). The Jackson trade was indicative of Seattle’s former ways — band-aids, ill-advised trades and making short-term decisions to try and turn a so-so team into an unrealistic true contender. Jackson’s best days are in the past.

Center also remains a point of contention. It’s hard to look at the list of players they’ve passed on at the position over the last few years. Austin Blythe is an OK stop-gap given his understanding of the scheme. Yet it’s vital the Seahawks keep building up their line. Don’t stop at the two tackles. Be prepared to invest further draft stock at guard and center if the opportunity arises — or make a free agent splash next year.

Skill positions

The Seahawks are relatively strong in this area and can boast an assortment of weapons.

They have acquired a running back with star potential in Ken Walker. Rashaad Penny ended last season in terrific form. For the first time in years, there’s reason to believe Seattle could have a potent running attack in 2022.

At receiver, a contract extension for D.K. Metcalf feels inevitable at this stage. It’s worth remembering that as good as Metcalf has been — there’s still room for improvement and another level to be reached. Even so, he gives Seattle a player of immense talent that many teams in the league covet. He also seems completely committed to the Seahawks (unlike, for example, Deebo Samuel in San Francisco).

The fact Seattle can pair Metcalf with Tyler Lockett — a consistent, quality, established player and a consummate professional — is a strength many take for granted.

However — the modern day NFL often dictates that you’re only as good as your third receiver. The Seahawks do have a good group of young targets but they need someone to elevate into that role. Preferably it’ll be Dee Eskridge given the price they paid for him — but the two receivers they added late in the draft provided great value plus Freddie Swain gives the Seahawks a nice camp competition.

It’ll also be interesting to see if Noah Fant can provide ‘third target’ value. He has the physical tools and the top-20 pick upside to be a lot more than he has been so far in the NFL. This is a big year for him. If he takes a step forward, the Seahawks would have an excellent group of skill players.

Secondary

I’m still uncomfortable with the amount Seattle is spending at safety. Jamal Adams’ average salary is $17.6m and Quandre Diggs is at $13m. It’s simply too much.

I won’t go too far into the whole Adams debate again but by this point it’s clear the trade was a bust. They paid far too much to acquire him and doubling down on the salary has now lumbered the Seahawks with an expensive white elephant. Going into year three — they need to find a way for Adams to be consistently effective, max out what he actually does well and keep him healthy.

Even then, I doubt they’ll get anything close to ‘value’ given what they’ve paid and will continue to pay. If the situation doesn’t improve in 2022, I hope they’ll be prepared to chalk this one down to experience and move on. Adams became something of a figure of fun during the 2021 season. In the past the Seahawks have been prepared to accept situations and draw a line under them. For the sake of the player and the team — if 2022 is more of the same, a parting is best.

Still, it’s worth giving him a chance to turn a corner this year. The defensive tweaks, on paper, seem ideally suited to him. He’s at his best in a more aggressive 3-4 system where you can disguise pressure. Sean Desai loved to use three-safety sets in Chicago and having him essentially work as a ‘deathbacker’ — taking away the coverage issues and enhancing his attack-dog qualities — will be the best way to promote what he does well and mask the weaknesses.

They need him flying to the ball-carrier and getting into the backfield. They need to do it in a more creative way than they did in 2020 but they also can’t have him on the periphery of everything like they did in 2021.

Diggs, on the other hand, is clearly a very good football player who unlike Adams has found a level of consistent performance and a structured role and fit in Seattle. He’s expensive and coming off an injury but will likely continue to perform at a level that delivers production.

At cornerback — I think the Seahawks did the right thing. They weren’t in a position to draft one of the top two corners so they added upside and potential.

Artie Burns is familiar to Desai and has a first round physical profile. Both he and Coby Bryant will challenge to start in camp — along with Tre Brown (if healthy) and Sidney Jones. Bringing back Justin Coleman gives the team an upgrade at nickel, too.

Meanwhile, they can work on developing Tariq Woolen.

Sure — they lack an established, proven presence. Yet this is a collection of defenders from which a couple of decent starters can emerge. It’s been a while since the Seahawks had proper depth at cornerback and an intriguing competition. That used to be a staple of Carroll’s team. It’s back, finally. Training camp will be fascinating to watch as these players compete to start.

Linebacker

There’s not a great deal to say here given the new scheme and the likelihood of increased three-safety sets meaning there’s less emphasis on the position. They’ll be able to feature Jordyn Brooks prominently and then work in a second linebacker for early downs. Cody Barton played a lot better at the end of last season and will likely get that starting role. It’s still plausible they could bring in a Kwon Alexander type to compete. That would be an attractive proposition.

Final thoughts

The Seahawks achieved two very important things this off-season. They reconnected to the core identity of Carroll’s preference. You may personally disagree with it. Yet while ever he remains in charge of the team, it stands to reason that he’s best served leading it how he sees fit.

There’s only one thing worse than having a Head Coach with a vision you don’t personally approve of. That’s a coach without a vision, or with a muddled philosophy.

The Seahawks now appear to have renewed direction and focus.

Competition across the board is back on the menu. They have the pieces to create a terrific running game that connects to the defense. They can play the kind of complementary football they desire.

They also created the foundation for the next era of Seahawks football by focusing on the trenches in this draft, adding pieces at key positions and setting the table for the future.

Frankly, I couldn’t care less what the win/loss record is in 2022. The Seahawks are on the right path. By this time next year — with the resources they have available to them — they can put themselves in position to steadily climb.

Simply put, the Seahawks just had their best off-season in years.

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The truth about the 2023 quarterback class

May 7th, 2022 | Written by Rob Staton

Will Levis could easily be the top pick in 2023

You’re going to hear a lot of things about the 2023 quarterback class.

For example, take this pair of tweets:

Already, Mel Kiper is predicting we might see seven quarterbacks drafted in the first round. McShay goes with the more conservative ‘under’ on the 6.5 projection.

If you look around the internet you’ll see all kinds of weird and wonderful predictions. The hype is out of control already. So much so that pretty much any quarterback who played well in college last season is being touted as a potential first rounder.

For example, I read a list recently that had Spencer Rattler, Jake Haener and Jaren Hall projected as viable options for the ‘early first round’ as the third, fourth and fifth best prospects at the position.

It was a perfect example that silly season is here eight months earlier than usual.

None of those three players, at this point, deserve to be discussed as first round prospects. It doesn’t mean they can’t work their way into that conversation with their play in 2022. Players always emerge, develop and promote their stock. After all, Joe Burrow was seen as a late day three pick before his final season at LSU. Zach Wilson emerged from nowhere to be the #2 pick in 2021. Nobody was talking about Kenny Pickett as a first rounder 12 months ago either.

Yet we also need to be realistic about these players. For that reason, after a week studying the names below, I wanted to share some notes.

Even among the consensus ‘best two’ (Bryce Young & C.J. Stroud) I think there’s a lot of misinformation and hype out there.

As of today, I think there are four quarterbacks you can say with some degree of confidence deserve to be talked about as a potential day one pick…

1. Will Levis (QB, Kentucky)
For me it’s pretty clear that Levis is the early contender to be the first quarterback drafted. He has everything the modern franchise quarterback needs. He is big, athletic and has a strong arm. He’s 6-3, 232lbs, ran a 4.10 short shuttle at SPARQ and jumped a 36 inch vertical. His overall score was a 123.27 — which is seriously impressive for a quarterback who was already 224lbs in High School. He can throw to all levels of the field with touch and velocity. His throwing base is impressive and keeps him accurate. He shares similarities to Josh Allen as both a passer and as a physical, creative runner. He has elevated Kentucky to a new level and he doesn’t benefit from an amazing supporting cast. He has a ‘wow’ factor that the other quarterbacks simply don’t have. He’s also best prepared to enter the league having spent a year with Liam Coen — a hand-picked Sean McVay protégé who has now returned to the Rams to be McVay’s offensive coordinator. Coen has been replaced by Kyle Shanahan’s QB coach Rich Scangarello. So he’s operating in a translatable offense to the pro’s, competing in the SEC for a non-powerhouse (and succeeding). He’s adept at play-action and he’s worked with pro-concepts. If he can continue to excel at Kentucky and reduce his number of turnovers in 2022, for me he should be universally seen as the front-runner to challenge Alabama’s incredible pass rusher Will Anderson to be the #1 pick in 2023.

2. Tyler Van Dyke (QB, Miami)
I think there’s every chance Van Dyke can elevate himself into the QB2 position with a strong 2022 season. I’ll start with the concern I voiced a few days ago — Mario Cristobal. His horrible offensive vision stymied Justin Herbert and made him a harder evaluation than necessary. There’s already talk from Miami’s Spring camp that TVD is throwing a lot of the underneath stuff Herbert was lumbered with. The endless check-downs, screens and short-slants will not suit Van Dyke. He has a rocket arm and is at his best attacking opponents — just as he did when he expertly out-gunned Kenny Pickett and Pittsburgh on the road. He took over from D’Eriq King with Miami looking a bit of a shambles and transformed their season with a 5-1 run. According to PFF he was the only quarterback in the FBS to finish in the top-10 for passing yards, touchdowns, big-time throws and big-time throw rate in the second half of the season. He stands tall in the pocket and his base is impressive for a young QB. He plants his feet nicely, steps into his throws and it helps him stay accurate. His passes carry strong velocity. The ball flicks out of his hand on release — the throwing finger spinning it out with a little extra juice to launch downfield. He does tend to drop his shoulder down and his release is a little more elongated than ideal. It’s not a deal-breaker but it’s something to note. He throws into the right areas of the field, leading his receivers and playing with anticipation. He’s not the most mobile quarterback (5.00 forty at SPARQ) but he can scramble away to make a first down from time to time. He’s not overly elusive or creative as a runner and it’s something he says he’s been working on. If the offensive scheme doesn’t hold him back, TVD could easily be QB2 and a top-10 pick next year.

3. Bryce Young (QB, Alabama)
The first thing we have to note with Young is his size. I am very sceptical of his listed 6-0, 194lbs frame. I suspect he’s shorter and lighter than that. There aren’t many players drafted early with that size. Kyler Murray has a stocky frame and let’s be fair here, is a thoroughly unique player with an outstanding skill set. Young’s size won’t necessarily prevent him going very early but it’s something to keep in mind. On the field he is a master processor who appears to do a great job in his mental preparation because he’s adept at understanding what a defense is giving, identifying his keys and delivering an accurate football to the right place on time. He has the arm strength to throw downfield and into tight windows. He can scramble, improvise and create. At Alabama he hasn’t been challenged too often and when teams have brought consistent pressure (eg Georgia) his footwork and mechanics have suffered. It’s fair to wonder how he will translate from playing for Alabama to potentially one of the worst teams in the NFL. I would suggest at this point he has first round potential — rather than declaring he’s a nailed-on top-five pick like many websites and analysts.

4. C.J. Stroud (QB, Ohio State)
Stroud is a complex and nuanced evaluation for different reasons. The Buckeyes offense is mass-production and has been for a long time — and hasn’t translated to pro-success for a string of quarterbacks. He has been throwing to the #10 pick in the 2022 draft (Garrett Wilson), the #11 pick (Chris Olave) and Jaxon Smith-Njigba — who I think is better than Wilson and Olave. Let’s just acknowledge that’s an advantage many college players don’t have. He lit up the Rose Bowl and gained rave reviews but when you break down the tape, Utah’s depleted secondary couldn’t cover and had no answers. It was painful to watch. There were so many wide open, huge plays. It was easy for Stroud and it’s hard to watch that game and really take much from it. Technically his footwork and base need work to produce more consistent results. He needs to learn not to throw off his toes as much, with his shoulders and legs in the correct position, without as many hitches before throwing and he needs to cut out the bad errors. Given Ohio State never fixed Justin Fields’ technical flaws, I fear for Stroud. He has size, ample arm strength and I’d say the good with Stroud is very, very good and the bad can equally be horrible. An interception against Minnesota thrown needlessly high and wide under no pressure. A pick against Tulsa where he had as much time in the pocket as you’ll ever see on a given play only to launch a terrible pass into double coverage. He threw right to a defender against Nebraska when Smith-Njigba had fallen over, despite having masses of free space in front of him to run for a first down and get out of bounds. The decision making even from a clean pocket when the obvious decisions are in front of him is a concern. Remember — both Fields and Dwayne Haskins were once considered very high picks from this offense and both lasted into the mid-first round rather than the top-five. I think that is a likely outcome for Stroud based on what I’ve seen so far.

Here are some brief thoughts on other players touted as potential first round picks but they either don’t warrant that projection or they will need to elevate their grade during the 2022 season…

Spencer Rattler (QB, South Carolina)
His 2021 season was a disaster, he was rightly benched and he has an enormous challenge to repair his stock. Rattler’s problem is he needs to learn how to play quarterback. Sounds important, right? At Oklahoma he played with arrogance — trusting his arm way too much to continuously make ill-advised throws into double or sometimes even triple coverage, believing he could just ‘fit it in there’. There were no signs of mental processing, working a defense, taking what was given. He doesn’t throw with anticipation. He does have physical tools. He’s not a particularly quick or dynamic scrambler but he does have the ability to make off-script highlight plays. He can throw off-platform and on the move. He does have good arm strength. He needs to learn how to play in structure and make an offense function, rather than just try to play hero-ball. There’s no way I could consider him a first round prospect at this stage. He has a point to prove but he’s now playing in the unforgiving SEC.

Jake Haener (QB, Fresno State)
We need to be realistic about what these players are. Haener is an accomplished college passer and the system at Fresno State suits his skill-set. He can play within structure and he shows a tremendous amount of grit — bouncing back from big hits and playing through the pain barrier. He is what he is though — a 6-1, 195lbs passer who will be in his mid-20’s as a rookie and lacks the physical tools to warrant anything like a first round grade. He doesn’t ‘wow’ you in any way. His arm is decent but not great. His accuracy is inconsistent at times and there are some concerning misses on tape. He doesn’t handle pressure that well and he gets antsy in the pocket too often — bailing on plays too early or setting off when he just needs to sit and wait. College football produces players like this all the time and how many go in the first round? Seeing people project him in that range is a major head-scratcher for me. I just don’t get it. And that’s nothing against him. I’ll watch a Fresno State game and enjoy it, mainly because he’s a fun, competitive player. But there’s a difference between that and being a high draft pick for the NFL.

Phil Jurkovec (QB, Boston College)
I’m not sure how anyone can project Jurkovec based on the tiny sample size we have available. After transferring from Notre Dame because he couldn’t usurp Ian Book, he’s had one Covid-impacted season at Boston College and a second season where he only played six games due to injury issues. In two of those six games he went 3/11 for 19 yards and two interceptions in a defeat to Wake Forest and he was 3/4 for 22 yards against UMass before leaving with a bad wrist. He lost to Florida State while completing 41.7% of his passes and his best statistical performance came in a 51-0 win against Colgate where he threw three touchdowns. You can’t look at that, or the tape, and have any serious idea of him being a first round pick. He has quite a hunched, over-the-top throwing motion and his frame is akin to watching a Minecraft character — he’s quite stocky and square. He’s very capable of throwing downfield if given time but there are also examples of passes where he’s just off with his accuracy ever so slightly — throwing to the wrong side of a receiver, giving them too much to do, leading them into trouble. I need to see more to make a proper assessment but if we’re being honest, he shouldn’t even be mentioned as a viable first round pick at this point. He needs to play a full season and stay healthy.

Jaren Hall (QB, BYU)
One trap people fall into is seeing a school where a player emerged from nowhere to go #2 overall (Zach Wilson), then the next time they have a reasonable quarterback starting, you lurch towards making a comparison or thinking lightning will strike twice. Hall is not Wilson. There’s a reason Wilson went #2 overall. There’s a reason Hall won’t. He is a good athlete and an effective runner. But at this stage he’s a runner and thrower more than a passer, if that makes sense. That doesn’t mean he couldn’t take a leap forward in 2022 and I certainly wouldn’t rule that out. Right now I see him as a very effective college quarterback who can make enough throws in the passing game to complement his running ability and athleticism. Does he look like someone destined to be an early draft pick? Not for me.

Anthony Richardson (QB, Florida)
He’s thrown 66 passes in college football. Let’s see him actually, you know, play football before determining whether he’s a high pick.

Grayson McCall (QB, Coastal Carolina)
Every now and again a McCall type comes along and makes life fun. A smaller-school over-achiever who will certainly find a home in the NFL. Frankly, it won’t be a surprise if he sticks around either. He has something about him. McCall is reasonably sized, he’s not physically limited, he plays with a lot of grit and he has elevated his team to a new level. These are all things that will impress NFL scouts. Yet his offense is very much designed to attack the intermediate level, his deep-ball accuracy isn’t what it needs to be and he operates in a funky option-offense that isn’t particularly transferable. There are some misses on tape that are concerning — just basic stuff where he throws wide or high. I would be surprised if he generates early-round consideration and see him more as a player who comes into the NFL much in the way Gardner Minshew did and finds a way to stick around. I’m not comparing him to Minshew either — it’s just to me he has the feel of a mid-to-late round project quarterback who has enough about him to stick around, without ever truly convincing anyone he’s a legit NFL starter. That would be my early projection.

Devin Leary (QB, NC State)
He had a breakout 2021 season delivering 35 touchdowns and just five interceptions, leading his Head Coach to declare he’s the best quarterback in college football. I wouldn’t go that far. He has average arm strength and there’s just a distinct lack of ‘wow’ factor with Leary. He’s only 6-1 and 212lbs and he doesn’t have the physical traits to covet as an early rounder. Let’s see how he does this year but right now it’s hard to get too excited about his NFL stock, or imagine him working his way into the first round discussion.

There are also two players I like who will probably not be first round picks but warrant some attention going into the new college season…

Dorian Thompson-Robinson (QB, UCLA)
I secretly hoped he might declare for the draft this year and provide the Seahawks with a potential mid or later round option. At 6-1 and 205lbs he lacks the elite physical tools to really promote himself into the top range of quarterbacks but DTR is creative, athletic and he just makes things happen. There are some errors on tape and although he only had six interceptions in 2021, most were avoidable. Yet he added 30 total touchdowns and has been driving UCLA forwards. He was impressive in big wins against LCU, USC and California. He ran Oregon close and performed well in a shoot-out against Fresno State. For me he’s better than a lot of the quarterbacks listed above and if he can carry UCLA to another level in 2022 — don’t be surprised if he ends up being one of the late risers in this class.

Tanner McKee (QB, Stanford)
He had a two-year mission before joining-up with Stanford so he’s an older player from the same recruiting class as Will Levis. He’s 6-6 and 228lbs and plays like you’d expect at that size. He’s not a mobile, elusive or scrambling quarterback. He’s at his best standing tall in the pocket and delivering the ball. He can throw fade-passes with touch, he can get the ball downfield with velocity and he’s generally accurate. I would say he’s a level below Davis Mills but still retains enough talent to change that this year. The worst case scenario is he’s naturally gifted enough as a passer for someone to take a chance on him in the middle rounds. This is a big opportunity in a wide-open PAC-12. Can he make a name for himself and pump up his stock?

Right now I see four viable first round quarterbacks for the 2023 class — Levis, Van Dyke, Young and Stroud. As proven with Burrow, Wilson and Pickett — players can and will emerge. That could happen again this year.

I think this is a more accurate portrayal of what this class is though — rather than some of the hype out there at the moment with people discussing more than 6-7 players in the first frame while assuming Young and Stroud are going to be the top two players. You have a lot of positional depth — the numbers are certainly up — but there’s a smaller pool of ‘top’ players than people are suggesting.

It’s also worth remembering just how good Alabama’s Will Anderson is. We’re talking about a player who had 17.5 sacks and 33.5 TFL’s in 2021 alone. It’s unquestionably true that he is the best player eligible for the draft in 2023. It’s not all about the quarterbacks at the top of round one.

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What is the 2023 draft class REALLY like?

May 5th, 2022 | Written by Rob Staton

Available on YouTube, Spotify and Apple below…

 

Seahawks post-draft Q&A (and what’s next?)

May 3rd, 2022 | Written by Rob Staton

 

Miami quarterback Tyler Van Dyke is intriguing

May 2nd, 2022 | Written by Rob Staton

Tyler Van Dyke… interesting

Yesterday I published an article discussing the 2023 draft class. I intend to take a bit of a break this month, which will include a family holiday, but I’m already into the 2023 work and will post when I’ve studied certain players.

Miami quarterback Tyler Van Dyke is a very interesting prospect.

He’s only a redshirt sophomore (like Bryce Young) so it’s not a given he’ll declare for the draft in 12 months. He only started in 2021 after an injury to D’Eriq King. He may prefer to gain a little bit more experience before turning pro. We’ll see how 2022 goes for him and if it’s going well, I’m sure we’ll hear about his intentions soon enough.

According to PFF he was the only quarterback in the FBS to finish in the top-10 for passing yards, touchdowns, big-time throws and big-time throw rate in the second half of the season. He lifted a team that was struggling to a 5-1 record down the stretch.

I am a little bit concerned about Mario Cristobal going to Miami. The offense he ran at Oregon didn’t make the most of Justin Herbert and made him a harder evaluation than was necessary. Van Dyke is at his best throwing downfield, attacking opponents with his arm — not indulging in all the screens and slants that Herbert was lumbered with.

Cristobal has spoken about tailoring an offense to fit Van Dyke though, so there is that.

So what does he do well?

I watched three games to get a feel for him. One early in the 2021, two later on (including when he out-duelled Kenny Pickett in a big win at Pittsburgh). The difference is noticeable. You can see him throw with greater confidence in the later games — he looked more in control, more comfortable and he looked every bit a quarterback capable of succeeding at the next level.

He stands tall in the pocket and his base is impressive for a young QB. He plants his feet nicely, steps into his throws and it helps him stay accurate. His passes carry strong velocity. The ball kind of flicks out of his hand on release — the throwing finger spinning it out with a little extra juice to launch downfield.

He does tend to drop his shoulder down and his release is a little more elongated than ideal. It’s not a deal-breaker but it’s something to note.

He throws into the right areas of the field, leading his receivers and playing with anticipation. Van Dyke drives the ball downfield, even when he faces pressure. His arm strength is very impressive.

Two throws stood out in a game against Virginia Tech. One flew 55 yards downfield on a dime, hitting the receiver perfectly in stride. He made it look effortless. Then he threw from his own 15-yard-line across the field to the right hand side dropping a pass into the tightest window. The cornerback had good coverage on the receiver leaving the smallest possible margin to throw to against the sideline. Van Dyke dropped it in there, giving his receiver a chance to make the grab. That was a 40-yard throw, with perfect timing, accuracy and velocity.

He’s not the most mobile quarterback (5.00 forty at SPARQ) but he can scramble away to make a first down from time to time. He’s not overly elusive or creative as a runner and it’s something he says he’s been working on.

I like the way he speaks too. His interviews are a bit Belichick-y but you can’t go wrong with a quote like this about the new staff at Miami:

“You can tell the difference, the discipline and intensity that has changed the program so far,” Van Dyke said. “There’s no more BS going on around here. “Always have to be on time or you’re going to face some discipline issues. [Paying attention to] small details will help us on the field. We need that standard and we’ve needed it for awhile. ”With him as the head guy, with all that talent, there no more excuses. We have the best coaching staff in college football. There are no more excuses to be 7-5, 8-4.

”We’ve got to be better with discipline and details…. That’s what gets us beat. The biggest thing is player-led accountability. Me and a couple guys are doing that to make sure everybody does the right thing.”

A sign that he’s seen as a big time prospect is that he’s already working with agent Drew Rosenhaus on NIL deals.

The way he was playing at the end of the season hinted at a player who could easily work himself into top-10 consideration if he continues to improve and elevate Miami.

For all the talk about Bryce Young and C.J. Stroud — it’s players like Van Dyke and Kentucky’s Will Levis that increase the excitement around the 2023 draft. And it further highlights why the Seahawks (and other teams) passed on the 2022 quarterback class with an eye towards next year.

I’m seeing a number of 2023 mock emerge, many refuse to acknowledge Levis as the prospect he clearly is. Take a look at his performance against Iowa in the Citrus Bowl. Let me draw your attention to the throw at 2:16 where, under pressure, he throws perfectly on 3rd and 26 for a huge completion in between two defenders:

That’s as good a throw as you’ll see. No hesitation, anticipation, accuracy, arm strength, throws the receiver open. Perfect.

He is legit. Any early projection that doesn’t include him among the top 2023 prospect should be ignored.

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How the Seahawks set themselves up for the 2023 draft

May 1st, 2022 | Written by Rob Staton

Will Levis is the QB to focus on for 2023

Amid all the hand-wringing over Seattle’s decision to pass on the 2022 quarterbacks, the reality is the Seahawks did exactly what they needed to do.

They set themselves up for next year.

While the 2022 group was filled with mid-round prospects, elevated unfairly within a media desperate for quarterbacks to discuss, the 2023 class is a different story entirely.

The truth is, while Drew Lock may carry a ‘damaged goods’ tag after a challenging spell in Denver — the likes of Malik Willis, Desmond Ridder and Matt Corral simply weren’t any better than he is. You can take that as a review of Lock as much as the quarterbacks — but why have two players, neither of which are likely to be the long term answer?

Especially when the roster needed major work at other premium positions where the 2022 draft class provided some actual solutions.

Let’s assume they draft a quarterback next year. That player will join an offense that now includes:

— Two young book-end offensive tackles
— D.K. Metcalf (expect an extension)
— Investment in other receivers
— Noah Fant & Will Dissly
— The prospect of a strong running game led by Kenneth Walker

That’s a great situation to come into — with the option to add even more talent to the offense in the draft and free agency next year.

They had to use the 2022 draft to set the table and they accomplished that.

Next season will present some challenges in the first year of a rebuild. It could even get ugly. Sometimes you’ve got to take your lumps and learn from it.

Imagine if they’d drafted an overrated quarterback this year. Not only would it have been a wasted pick (in my opinion) — but the clamour for said player to start would’ve been consuming. And what realistic chance would they have to succeed in an environment of learning and development?

In 2023 you can get a better player, coming into a better situation where the likes of Charles Cross, Abraham Lucas and Walker have a year of experience under their belts.

The Seahawks showed admirable restraint to project and plan with a longer term mentality.

So what do we know about the 2023 draft class at this stage to make this such a good approach from the team?

The quarterbacks

There’s going to be a ton of buzz around C.J. Stroud (Ohio State) and Bryce Young (Alabama). I think there’s a better quarterback than both eligible for 2023 and I’ll come onto him shortly.

Stroud’s footwork and base needs work to produce more consistent results. The Buckeyes offense is mass-production and has been for a long time — so it’s important to focus on the technical areas that will define Stroud’s stock. For example — he lit up the Rose Bowl but when you break down the tape, Utah couldn’t cover. They had no answer. There were so many wide open, huge plays. It was easy for Stroud and it’s hard to watch that game and really take much from it.

He has size, ample arm strength and I’d say the good with Stroud is very, very good. The bad can equally be horrible at times. An interception against Minnesota thrown needlessly high and wide under no pressure. A pick against Tulsa where he had enough time in the pocket to light a BBQ and sink two beers before throwing into horrible double coverage (what did he see?). He threw right to a defender against Nebraska when Jaxon Smith-Njigba had fallen over, despite having masses of free space in front of him to run for a first down and get out of bounds.

The decision making even from a clean pocket when the obvious decisions are in front of him is a concern.

No doubt he’ll have another ridiculous season statistically in 2022 and he’ll likely be a very high pick. Yet he needs technical refinement with his feet so he doesn’t throw off his toes as much, with his shoulders and legs in the correct position, without as many hitches before throwing and he needs to cut out the bad errors.

I don’t want to overplay it too much because he can work on all of this at Ohio State and in his first weeks of camp. There’s a lot to like — there are just some things to be aware of.

Bryce Young is only about 5-11 and 190lbs. Now — I wouldn’t write him off purely because of that. But we also have to acknowledge that he would be truly unique to come into the NFL and star with that kind of frame.

Playing for Alabama he doesn’t face too much adversity. However, it was noticeable in the National Championship game how inconsistent his footwork was when feeling pressure. Georgia got after him and he looked overwhelmed at times. Games like that matter because there aren’t going to be many occasions where he feels sustained, creative pressure at Alabama.

That said — his arm talent is good. He generates velocity when he needs to ramp up the reps to fit the ball into a tight window. He throws downfield with ease. He does an excellent job reading what the defense is giving, ID’ing the right opportunity to find a completion and hitting the target. His processing for a young player is already very, very good.

His accuracy is impressive. There are several throws on tape where you just have to sit back and enjoy seeing the combination of timing, anticipation and torque. There’s no doubt he is a very natural, gifted, skilled quarterback. It’s a difficult projection though because the size is so uncommon for the position and he plays for the most dominant team in college over the last decade. How will he fair in the very different setting of playing for a team picking in the top-10?

Both Stroud and Young are talented players but they are not quite the ‘OMG’ types the media have you believe. For me, the top quarterback prospect for 2023 is Kentucky’s Will Levis and it’s not that close.

He is the most exciting 2023 prospect aside from Alabama’s Will Anderson. He has everything — ideal size, arm strength, improvisation skills, the ability to challenge defenses at every level. He is a sensational talent.

Firstly, the physical traits. Levis is the closest thing we’ve seen to Josh Allen since he was drafted by the Bills. Now — he isn’t Allen. Nobody is. Allen is basically factory-made for the QB position with the complete physical skill-set. Levis isn’t far away though. He ran a 4.10 short shuttle at SPARQ and jumped a 36 inch vertical. His overall score was a 123.27 — which is seriously impressive for a quarterback who was already 224lbs in High School (he’s now listed at 230lbs).

Levis combines fantastic arm talent with a supreme physicality that allows him to excel as a runner. He can break off huge plays on QB-draws and scrambles to make a defense always account for his legs. He can also get his head down to make a yard when his team needs a conversion.

I recall one play last season where the center gave him a bad snap down at his feet. He plucked the ball off his toes, put his head down and drove at the LOS. He got the yardage for a first down, then pushed the pile Marshawn Lynch style for an extra five yards.

I like Levis’ technique as a thrower. He squares his shoulders off and positions himself to make accurate throws. His feet are planted on the ground, providing the necessary base to throw with consistent velocity. There’s evidence of touch throws and he has plenty of arm strength to drive the ball into tight windows. His release is compact and smooth.

There was one throw on a double pass where he received the ball towards the left sideline. A defender read the trick-play and closed on him quickly. In a flash he released the ball to the receiver downfield — it was such an improbable quick flick of the wrist and yet he generated so much force for a big-time completion.

He gave Georgia a game — more than a lot of quarterbacks can say in 2021. There was also a throw against LSU that felt like a statement of his quality.

Levis dropped back and processes the field. His first read isn’t open and there’s edge pressure from both sides. There’s a post-route option vs single coverage. As he’s being wiped out from the pressure, he launches the ball downfield. He delivers a 45-yard bomb right on the money, into the tightest window, settling between the covering cornerback who received some safety help. It hits the receiver right in the hands.

He does all of this while being hit, under immense pressure. Placement, composure and pure talent doesn’t get much better than this. You have to be able to create big plays downfield when things break down. Levis has the natural talent to do that — and in the modern NFL he has the improv and the physical attributes to excel.

I think he’s best placed to come into the league and have early success. His offensive coordinator last year was Liam Coen. Why does that matter? Coen was the receivers and quarterback coach for Sean McVay’s Rams between 2018-20. He was appointed back to the Rams this year to replace Kevin O’Connell as offensive coordinator.

He’s had pro-level coaching from the McVay tree, from a man so respected by McVay that he’s essentially become his right-hand-man. It also means he’s used to operating a lot of play-action and he’s a master of it. He is dealing in a translatable offense where the PA isn’t just a crutch to create easy completions.

Take a look:

There’s a level or projection you need to make with Stroud and Young that you simply don’t have to worry about with Levis because of the system he’s played in.

Coen has now been replaced by Rich Scangarello — the quarterbacks coach at the 49ers and the former Broncos offensive coordinator. So again, he’s going to be receiving pro-level coaching and guidance from someone familiar to modern NFL trends (Kyle Shanahan tree).

Levis is also an older player and while some will knock him for that — for me it just means he has a level of maturity and experience. He spent three seasons as the backup to Trace McSorley and Sean Clifford and it never really worked out at Penn State. The 2022 season will be his second full season at Kentucky.

It’s not that tricky to win at Ohio State and Alabama. UK finished the 2021 season 10-3 and defeated Iowa in the Citrus Bowl with Levis pulling the strings. They’ve just had an impressive recruiting cycle, ranking 10th in the nation according to Rivals. So they’re a team trending in the right direction. Levis is helping make that so.

Take a look for yourself at what he brings to the table:

As much as there’s a ton of hype around Stroud and Young — I wouldn’t be surprised if the Seahawks (and other teams) are quietly keeping a very close eye on Levis. He is one of the most exciting and intriguing quarterback prospects I’ve ever covered.

He would be the main man to target in 2023 for me. He will be the player I’ll be watching closest when the college football season begins.

What about the rest of the class?

The term ‘generational talent’ is thrown around too much but it seems perfectly acceptable for Alabama pass rusher Will Anderson. With 17.5 sacks and 34.5 TFL’s in 2021 alone — he could easily be the #1 overall pick next year depending on who is making the selection. The fact he wears #31 also speaks to the intensity and physicality he plays with. He’s a true game-wrecking edge defender.

Ohio State had two receivers drafted in the top-15 on Thursday. Jaxon Smith-Njigba might be technically superior to both Garrett Wilson and Chris Olave. He is a star in the making.

Notre Dame has been a breeding ground for interesting tight ends over the years. Michael Mayer may be the best one yet. He’s an incredible pass-catching target with the skill and athleticism to create mismatches across the field.

Georgia has just sent a boat-load of defensive studs to the NFL. There are even more on the way. Jalen Carter will control the interior next season and as a former five-star recruit, big things are expected from him. Nolan Smith is another five-star edge rusher who ran a ridiculous 4.15 short shuttle at SPARQ, jumped a 40 inch vertical and had an overall score of 141.18. Kelee Ringo is, you guessed it, yet another five star recruit and a big, dynamic cornerback prospect.

Jordan Addison won the Biletnikoff at Pittsburgh and during the draft has been involved in a somewhat explosive story over the weekend where he’s said to be transferring to USC due to a lucrative NIL deal. It’d be harsh on Pittsburgh (and indicative of the changing landscape of college football) but it would provide him an opportunity to elevate his stock even further playing for Lincoln Riley (and with Caleb Williams).

Addison’s a smaller receiver but shows off excellent route-running nouse and an ability to stretch the field and play with consistent hands.

Clemson will look to bounce back this season and 6-5, 275lbs defensive end Myles Murphy will be key to that. He’s been compared to Travon Walker and while he might not match his physical upside and testing performance — he’s a powerhouse who controls the edge and has the quickness to shoot inside and break into the backfield.

Miami offensive tackle Zion Nelson was impressive based on 2021 tape and it was a little surprising he didn’t declare for the draft this year. He’s very athletic, he mirrors well, he’s a stout run blocker. There’s a lot to like.

Sticking with the offensive line, O’Cyrus Torrence has followed Billy Napier from Louisiana to Florida and the highly rated guard could propel himself into a solid top-40 range with a strong season in the SEC. He was already highly rated.

I know there are people in the league who like the intensity and playing style of Louisville linebacker Monty Montgomery. Zach Charbonnet, the running back at UCLA, warrants serious attention — as does Zach Evans at Ole Miss.

Jalen Catalon the safety at Arkansas was a surprise snub for the draft this year but has every chance to go in round one. He has some of the playing characteristics of Quandre Diggs.

The two other quarterback names I’d recommend watching for outside of the first round are the underrated Dorian Thompson-Robinson at UCLA and Tanner McKee at Stanford.

So as you can see — it’s shaping up already to be a promising class, with the Seahawks owning two first and two second round picks.

Exciting times.

I will begin to pore over the 2023 draft class over the next few weeks. The Seahawks have a great opportunity ahead of them — largely because of the areas they addressed in the 2022 draft.

They set the table for the next step.

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The Seahawks had the draft they needed to have

April 30th, 2022 | Written by Rob Staton

The rebuild begins with a bang

A week ago I wrote a list of ‘draft rules and aims’ for the Seahawks.

It included:

— Improve the trenches
— Don’t hole-fill
— Build to be the kind of team you want to be
— Be prepared to shoot for the stars at #9
— Be patient at quarterback (aka don’t draft one from this class)
— An unsexy draft is OK

All ticked off. Mission accomplished.

(They didn’t draft a Georgia defender though, shame)

Despite Pete Carroll’s protestations, this is a rebuild. You simply cannot move on from so many players — Russell Wilson, Bobby Wagner, Duane Brown, D.J. Reed, Carlos Dunlap — and not see it that way.

It might not be an expansion franchise-level build. It’s still significant. It called for a very deliberate and specific approach to the draft.

This was a foundational class full of building blocks in the trenches. Tapping into that to construct the foundation of your future team had to be the aim.

This also wasn’t the year to go chasing a quarterback. It was a class full of third rounders. How many times did we say that? We even had a long interview with Scot McCloughan spelling it out.

You were never going to find your next franchise quarterback among this group. Instead of feeling obliged to rush out and try to find a Wilson replacement who likely wasn’t any better than Drew Lock — and probably would’ve been worse — the Seahawks showed great restraint.

They went about building their structure. Two high picks on offensive tackles. Two picks on pass rushers. Two picks on cornerbacks. Two on receivers.

Premium positions — all of them.

The areas where you need to be strong in order to succeed — addressed.

And look — who’s to say that they drafted the right players or that these prospects will amount to anything? Who knows?

I’ve always felt, however, that as a fan all you can hope for, really, is to understand the plan. Have faith in the plan. The Seahawks sent the message that they know this is going to take some time and they needed to build from the front.

That’s refreshing and reassuring.

It’s also what they need to do to create the kind of team they want to be. There’s been a slightly awkward clash of philosophies in recent years as Carroll tried to instil his vision and accommodate a franchise quarterback who quite rightly expected a big say too.

Now, though, Carroll is in a position to build the kind of roster he feels is necessary. And whether you agree that he should have that power or not — that’s not the point. The only thing worse than having a Head Coach you don’t believe in any more is having a Head Coach who has lost all sense of identity and vision.

So while ‘Seahawks Twitter’ went about having a good moan after Seattle picked a running back in round two — I was completely comfortable with it. Not just because Kenneth Walker is a really good player — but also because Carroll needs a top runner for this to work. We’ve seen the stark difference in performance when his team can and can’t run the ball well.

He hasn’t been able to rely on Rashaad Penny and Chris Carson to stay healthy. Now he’s taken a player who can potentially drive this team on.

Walker carried Michigan State to unexpected success in 2021.

It may or may not work. We’ll find out. I understand the plan though. Frankly I also believe in it too. They’ve built up their lines. They’re now better placed to rush the passer, run the football and pass protect.

That is a good thing.

The three top picks headline everything of course. I think it’s interesting to look at how they were graded and marked.

I wasn’t a huge Charles Cross fan personally but appreciate the thought process and acknowledge others rated him a lot higher than I did.

Many people graded him among the best players in the draft and I never did. I wasn’t alone. Daniel Jeremiah only ranked him as the 22nd best player in the draft.

As I wrote after the first round, I think a lot of teams ‘settled’ on players. It wasn’t a draft with a great top-10 or even top-20. There were some solid players, some risky players and maybe one or two with star potential but some flags.

They took Cross probably because options such as Derek Stingley Jr, Kayvon Thibodeaux, Evan Neal and Ikem Ekwonu weren’t there. Two days on, I’m at peace with it. Like I said — he wasn’t my personal top choice by any stretch. He likely wouldn’t be the top choice for people like Jeremiah or Lance Zierlein (who had Cross ranked 17th in the class). I don’t think you can quibble too much, though, about taking a left tackle prospect in round one.

Here’s the thing though — the comparative value of their next two choices was really good. If they reached on Cross on Jeremiah’s board, Zierlein’s board and my own personal board, the next two picks were the opposite.

Jeremiah had Boye Mafe ranked 31st but he was taken at #40. He had Kenneth Walker ranked 33rd but he was taken at #41.

I don’t think they got a true top-10 value out of Cross but you could easily suggest they got two first-round graded players in round two. Don’t just take my word for it either. Dane Brugler had Walker as RB1, a fringe first rounder and compared him to Garrison Hearst. Zierlein had Mafe ranked 34th and Walker 36th.

I think it all basically balances out quite well in terms of value.

They then selected Abraham Lucas in round three — a player I thought genuinely deserved late first round consideration — before gaining tremendous value on day three with the two cornerbacks they selected.

I’ll say it again — mission accomplished.

People have quibbled and that’s fine. You don’t have to take my word as gospel on this draft class or the Seahawks.

I do think it’s a bit silly though that the running back value debate has reared its ugly head again — a thoroughly boring topic that people obsess over. I’d suggest the presence of Derrick Henry, Jonathan Taylor, Dalvin Cook, Nick Chubb and Joe Mixon — all drafted in the same range as Kenneth Walker — suggests there’s ample value to be found with a pick like this.

Not everything has to be viewed through the prism of straining every last drop of positional value out of every decision — then complaining about it on Twitter.

A lot of this was connected to the quarterback class. Why take a running back in round two instead of a quarterback, people asked. It’s a simple answer. The running back taken is really good. The quarterbacks were limited, middling and mediocre.

There were also people complaining about Mafe’s age. Presumably if he was only currently 21 or 22 instead of 23 it would somehow impact his ability to succeed in the NFL. Forget that he runs a 1.56 10-yard split, jumps a 42 inch vertical, had a strong 19.8% pass rush win percentage at Minnesota and made it look easy at the Senior Bowl with the way he rushed the edge with a great repertoire. Forget that he’s only a year older than T.J. Watt was when he entered the league.

No, he’s one or two years older than ideal. Let the complaining begin.

Anyway, enough about that.

Here’s what the Seahawks achieved over the last three days.

They are launching a rebuild with young book-end offensive tackles. Two legit options for the long haul at both tackle spots.

They have a dynamic, explosive, super-quick pass rusher to play across from Darrell Taylor and rotate with Uchenna Nwosu.

They have a running back with the potential and upside to be something a bit special. Walker is a dude. Look at his combine highlights video. Look at that frame. Watch his game against Michigan. Be excited by him.

There wasn’t a week during the 2021 season where we didn’t discuss the way Walker was putting on a show for Michigan State. He carried his team to a great season.

They’ve added two young cornerbacks — one hailed for his physicality, leadership and production, the other for his incredible upside and ceiling.

They drafted the guy who fought with Trevor Penning — a top-20 pick — throughout the Senior Bowl (and won his fair share of reps).

They ended with two dynamic receivers with upside potential.

They haven’t addressed every need and they were never going to be able to pull that off. It’s a little bit unexpected that they didn’t tap into this attractive linebacker class at any point.

They’ll need to return to the veteran market in the coming days to fill some holes.

I’ll also always wonder about the first round trade up that ‘vanished’ according to John Schneider. The Giants taking Kayvon Thibodeaux at #5 instead of an offensive lineman took away a possible move up to #6 in deal with Carolina.

In the future they will need to find a game-wrecking defensive player — probably a pass rusher — and a quarterback. In order to truly succeed, those will be the things they need to accomplish over the next one or two off-seasons.

The building blocks are in place though thanks to this draft. We’ll see what the 2022 season brings with modest expectations.

Then in 12 months time they’ll have a chunk of cap space to use, four picks in the first two rounds and a chance to push this team into a contending position — while finding the future at quarterback.

I can’t wait to watch quarterback tape. I want to start now. What an exciting prospect to study a talented class to try and find the player they will select next year. I’ve already done plenty of work on Kentucky’s Will Levis — who I believe should be the top target — but I will begin pouring over the other candidates.

Then when the college football season returns in September — the excitement will build as we watch these young players perform.

The future at the position, whoever it is, will be part of a team with all the necessary pieces to succeed on offense.

Rebuilds don’t happen in one off-season. Seattle started theirs the right way.

A good start. The right start.

Forward we go.

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