Updated mock draft with trades: April 23rd

April 23rd, 2014 | Written by Rob Staton

I wanted to do one more mock draft with trades with just over two weeks to go.

The trades in the graphic are represented by a letter ‘T’. You’ll find notes on all of the deals below the mock.

Trades
I’l warn you now — I haven’t spent a ton of time researching the value of these deals. You may feel some of these moves are unlikely. I just wanted to put together a mock that included a few trades to see what the options are at #32. Whether the deals are cheap/expensive isn’t really a concern.

TRADE #1 — Atlanta (#6) trades with St Louis (#2) for a mid-round pick
Thomas Dimitroff and Les Snead are close. The Falcons could be one of the teams rating Khalil Mack over Jadeveon Clowney. If the Texans take Clowney, a deal here could be mutually beneficial. The Rams don’t get a kings ransom like the RGIII trade, but they stash a mid round pick in a deep draft.

TRADE #2 — Detroit (#10) trades with Jacksonville (#3) for a mid-round pick and a high 2015 pick
Another deal that has some mutual benefit. I have a hunch the Jaguars will covet Johnny Manziel and they may feel they can move down a few spots and still get their man. The Lions have spent a ton of time with Sammy Watkins given they have almost no chance of grabbing him with the tenth pick. The deal includes a mid rounder plus a high 2015 pick (second rounder?) to enable the Lions to target a cornerback in round two.

TRADE #3 — Tennessee (#11) trades with #St Louis (#11) for a mid round pick
The Titans’ ‘support’ for Jake Locker has been completely underwhelming. You know what else has been underwhelming? Tennessee’s off-season so far. Considering they brought in a new coach, the Ken Whisenhunt era hasn’t exactly started with a bang. Maybe they move up for Bortles and gain some direction? Because right now that offense is full of question marks. The Rams, having seen Jake Matthews leave the board, happily trade down again for perhaps another third rounder.

TRADE #4 — New Orleans (#27) trades with St Louis (#13) for two second round picks
The Saints have one of the more active front offices in the league. Look over the last few years — they move up and down a lot and they aren’t afraid to be aggressive. They need a receiver to support Drew Brees and Odell Beckham Jr is a popular local product. They give up two second round picks — one this year and one next. The Rams move down again. By the end of day one they draft Zack Martin and Calvin Pryor and go into day two with three more picks to add to their collection.

TRADE #5 — Houston (#33) trades with New England (#29) for a mid round pick
The Texans will need to guarantee a quarterback with their second pick having drafted Clowney at #1. They may get itchy fit in the 20′s and look for a trade partner who isn’t demanding a loaded deal. The Patriots are always willing to consider a trade and flip picks with Houston for a fourth or fifth rounder.

Alternative deals
I can see Houston dealing the #1 pick and dropping into the #5-6 range before taking Blake Bortles. In that scenario St. Louis probably struggles to find a trade partner at #2 and takes Khalil Mack, Greg Robinson or Jake Matthews. I can see teams trading up for a shot at Mike Evans — potentially spending future first round picks to get into the top-10.

Seattle’s pick at #32
The options are pretty good here even with a rush on receivers taking the top prospects off the board. Joel Bitonio and Ra’Shede Hageman are both available. I went with Bitonio because it’s a bigger need. They can plug him in at right tackle or left guard. He can act as a backup left tackle too.

Other talking points

Arizona & Eagles go pass rush
Both teams take edge rushers in Demarcus Lawrence and Marcus Smith. Personally I think in a bad draft for pass rushers they deserve to go in the 30-40 range. And yet the Cardinals and Eagles know this could be their only opportunity to get even a solid impact player at the position. For two playoff contenders — this is a crucial need.

Cody Latimer in the top-15
The more you watch, the more you like. I’ve now watched six of his games and like Todd McShay — I’m yet to see a drop. He has incredibly strong hands, top-tier athleticism, fantastic leaping ability and he run blocks better than any other receiver in this class. He deserves to go in the top-20.

Kelvin Benjamin drops a little
For me Benjamin probably goes between 12-22. Yet when I put this mock together and with Latimer’s rise up the board — it was tough to find him a spot. I think there’s room for one of the big name receivers to fall — perhaps either Benjamin or Brandin Cooks. Yet their path to the Seahawks at #32 will likely be blocked by New Orleans (if they stay at #27), Carolina and San Francisco.

Concerning news for Seattle?
When we did that ‘worst case scenario’ mock over the weekend — be prepared because it could come true. If a host of receivers leave the board early don’t be shocked if Morgan Moses and Joel Bitonio are also gone before #32 too. Tony Pauline is reporting both players are high up on Carolina’s wish list at #28. If all the top OT’s and WR’s are gone — and there’s no unexpected fall for the top defensive players — it’s time to start considering those wild card options.

 

Trying to project Seattle’s draft board

April 22nd, 2014 | Written by Rob Staton

Jerry Jones -- doing interviews in front of his draft board since 2010

A few weeks after the 2013 draft, Dallas’ draft board was leaked onto the internet. And when I say leaked, I mean Jerry Jones was filmed stood right in front of it and a bunch of Cowboys fans used their eyes to see what was written down.

There’s no guarantee the rest of the league operates in the same way as Jones, but it was interesting to see how the Cowboys broke down and structured their board.

Teams don’t just rank players 1-300 and make their picks using a giant list. They identify and shortlist the players they’re willing to take in the first, second, third round (etc). You might only have 15-20 first round grades come draft day. Players are taken off the board too for a multitude of reasons — injury, character, scheme fit.

Dallas traded down from the #18 pick and selected a player they graded as a second round prospect (Travis Frederick) with the #31 pick in 2013. By the time they were on the clock — all of their first round players had been drafted.

It made me realise that there’s every chance Seattle drafts a player with a second round grade at #32. Unless they’ve given out 32 or more first round grades it could be pretty likely.

I tried to put together a version of Dallas’ board for Seattle. I only included first and second round picks because let’s be right — who can project beyond that with this team? (see: Luke Willson)

I also don’t have any deluded expectations that this is similar to the real thing. The Seahawks love to think outside of the box and they love explosive players with major potential. They also have ways of doing things that just aren’t predictable. I think they thrive on being able to keep people guessing. But I wanted to compile the list anyway if only to show what it might look like.

The names in red are players with injury records who haven’t been totally taken off the board. In 2010 I believe they had a second round grade on Walter Thurmond but took him in round four. So while Dominique Easley is graded in round one here — it doesn’t necessarily mean they’d draft him that early.

Here’s a position-by-position breakdown:

Quarterbacks
Johnny Manziel gets a first round grade for his competitive spirit and field-tilting ability. If they needed a quarterback I think they’d see Manziel as a potential point guard and difference maker. I’m not convinced they’d draft Blake Bortles or Teddy Bridgewater in round one. Seahawks fans should be grateful they don’t have to debate this position over the next few years.

Running backs
It’s not a great class for running backs and I didn’t feel the need to include any here. The Seahawks are set with a proven starter (Marshawn Lynch), a capable backup (Robert Turbin) and an X-factor with the potential to one day become one of the NFL’s best playmakers (Christine Michael). Which back in this class gets even a second round grade from this team?

Wide receivers
I noted eight receivers with a first round grade. This is the position of strength in round one. I truly believe there’s a chance they’ll see Cody Latimer as the 4th or 5th best receiver in this draft with a firm round one grade. Donte Moncrief is exactly the type of explosive athlete they love to develop. Kelvin Benjamin looks like one of Pete Carroll’s ‘big men’ and deserves to be listed here. I tried to be conservative with this position and still came up with eight names in round one. Davante Adams, Martavis Bryant and Brandon Coleman could be options at #32 if the board falls a certain way. I’d say Allen Robinson and Jordan Matthews are more likely to be considered at #64. I wanted to include Jarvis Landry — but I think this team will give him a third round grade at best.

Tight end
This is pretty straight forward. Eric Ebron gets the only first round grade. The other three big name tight ends are slated as round two picks.

Offensive linemen
This includes guards and tackles. Joel Bitonio and Morgan Moses both look like realistic options for Seattle in round one. I’m going to assume none of the other first round names fall anywhere close to #32. If the top prospects are all gone they could consider dipping into their second round options (again, depending on how the board falls elsewhere). This was a hard position to grade because there are players like Billy Turner or Laurent Duvernay-Tardif who could get high grades based on appealing physical attributes. Is either player likely to be graded in round two? Perhaps not. I think they’ll really like Bitonio and that’s why he’s down as the #4 tackle/guard here.

Defensive end/tackle
Not a lot of depth this year. I didn’t include Timmy Jernigan because for me he’s a third round prospect and I’m not sure Seattle will disagree with that. Anthony Barr, Demarcus Lawrence and Marcus Smith aren’t 4.5 runners but all have nice 10-yard splits and could be considered at #32. Dominique Easley gets the red font due to injury concerns. This means he’s a first round level talent who hasn’t been taken off the board — but the round you take him in will be impacted due to the health issues. When do you roll the dice? Brent Urban, one of my favourite players in the whole draft, gets a second round grade.

Linebacker
Unless Ryan Shazier falls to #32 — I think this is an area they’ll wait on until UDFA.

Cornerback
Opinions are all over the place on this cornerback group. For me none of them are worth genuine first round grades. Bradley Roby would be highest on my board due to potential. If I really needed a corner in round one he would be me guy. But the Seahawks don’t really need a corner and they are comfortable enough developing players taken later in the draft. Justin Gilbert’s tape is all over the place and while he has the length, speed and playmaking ability this team covets — they also appreciate disciplined, structured cornerback play that screams preparation. Gilbert wings it way too much for a high grade. I know a lot of people think he’ll go in the top half of round one. I might be wrong, but that’ll surprise me.

Safety
I don’t expect the Seahawks to draft a safety early. So although Ha Ha Clinton-Dix gets an early grade it’s just a token gesture. The Mark Barron talk in 2012 was a little overblown and probably shouldn’t be used to make ‘safety’ an annual early-round option for Seattle. Firstly, he was never falling to the #12 pick — whether they liked him or not. Secondly, none of the players in this class play like Barron.

Whether this list is fairly accurate, highly inaccurate or somewhere in between — this is what it comes down to. The Seahawks are probably going to look at WR, OT and DL early in this draft at #32 and #64. Unless a rare athlete like Ryan Shazier drops, there aren’t many alternatives.

Chris Maragos replacement?

Alabama safety Vinnie Sunseri is the latest player to visit the Seahawks. He’s likely an UDFA prospect — but I can’t help but feel he’d make a nice replacement for Chris Maragos as a backup safety and special teams demon.

30 players to attend NFL Draft

The NFL has released a list of 30 players who have agreed to attend the 2014 NFL draft in New York:

Odell Beckham Jr (WR, LSU)
Blake Bortles (QB, USF)
Teddy Bridgewater (QB, Louisville)
Ha Ha Clinton-Dix (S, Alabama)
Jadeveon Clowney (DE, South Carolina)
Brandin Cooks (WR, Oregon State)
Kony Ealy (DE, Missouri)
Eric Ebron (TE, North Carolina)
Kyle Fuller (CB, Virginia Tech)
Jimmy Garoppolo (QB, Eastern Illinois)
Justin Gilbert (CB, Oklahoma State)
Ra’Shede Hageman (DT, Minnesota)
Timmy Jernigan (DT, Florida State)
Cyrus Kouandjio (T, Alabama)
Cody Latimer (WR, Indiana)
Marqise Lee (WR, USC)
Taylor Lewan (T, Michigan)
Khalil Mack (LB, Buffalo)
Johnny Manziel (QB, Texas A&M)
Jake Matthews (T, Texas A&M)
Jordan Matthews (WR, Vanderbilt)
Morgan Moses (T, Virginia)
C.J. Mosley (LB, Alabama)
Calvin Pryor (S, Louisville)
Greg Robinson (T, Auburn)
Bradley Roby (CB, Ohio State)
Ryan Shazier (LB, Ohio State)
Jason Verrett (CB, TCU)
Sammy Watkins (WR, Clemson)

 

Report: Seahawks close to Sherman deal?

April 22nd, 2014 | Written by Rob Staton

 

Monday draft notes: Seahawks trade for Terrelle Pryor

April 21st, 2014 | Written by Rob Staton

This is interesting.

Given Oakland’s apparent willingness to cut Pryor if a trade wasn’t forthcoming, it’s unlikely to be for much. (Update: The Raiders and Seahawks say it’s a 7th round pick in 2014).

Here’s a theory for you — Seattle may wish to try him at a different position. Pryor’s desire is to stay at quarterback and he’s made that quite clear. So on the open market, he wouldn’t necessarily choose the Seahawks as his team if there were multiple suitors.

(They’d also be last on the waiver wire list as Super Bowl Champions)

Now, he doesn’t really have a choice. He’s a Seahawk. So if they want to switch his position — he can either buy in or force his release. I’m not sure a player with Pryor’s underwhelming résumé needs to be pulling any moves like that.

He didn’t attend a combine as a supplemental draft pick in 2011 — but he did hold a pro-day. At 6-6 and 240lbs he reportedly ran as fast as 4.38 and as slow as 4.54 depending on whose clock you want to trust. Even if he managed just a 4.5 — that’s impressive at that size.

Could he end up switching to receiver or tight end? Perhaps. You could argue it’s worth a shot for both player and team. He turns 25 in June so time is running out if he’s going to make his starting quarterback dream a reality.

Top four set?

Clowney, Robinson, Mack and Watkins have developed into something of a consensus top four among many pundits. Working out which order they’ll go in — and to whom — is the big question.

I think we should expect some movement in the top five. The Detroit Lions have brought in several top players for an offcial visit — including Clowney, Mack and Watkins. Nobody expects any of that trio to fall to #10 — so what are the Lions doing? Is it a smokescreen? Is it advanced scouting?

Or is it just a sign they’re planning to move up for a top prospect rather than settling for whoever lasts until the tenth pick?

They’ve shown a lot of interest in Sammy Watkins in particular. Trading with either the Rams at #2 or the Jaguars at #3 is possible. The Atlanta Falcons have also expressed some interest in moving up.

As for the top pick — there’s been a lot of talk about the Texans selecting a defensive player over the last few days. First Schefter suggested that’s what Houston would do — and today Peter King reported they might prefer Khalil Mack or Greg Robinson to Jadeveon Clowney.

Perhaps this is the cynic in me — but doesn’t this all seem like a bit of a late smokescreen? If the Texans want to draft a quarterback — and that still makes the most sense — they almost certainly would prefer to trade down. They need to convince teams they have legitimate interest in a Clowney, Mack or Robinson. Essentially, you better be willing to trade up to #1 or risk missing out.

In the end if the Texans can’t trade the top pick they might just take a Clowney or Mack after all. They might not be able to convince themselves that a QB is worth the top pick. But the timing of these reports and the sudden shift in media momentum from Blake Bortles at #1 to suddenly a defensive player — to me at least — hints at a classic red herring.

Adams, Richardson the latest receivers to visit Seattle

The Seahawks continue to visit mostly with receivers and offensive tackles. As you can see in the Tweets above, Fresno State’s Davante Adams and Colorado’s Paul Richardson are the latest two in question.

Adams is a player I’ve wrestled with for some time. On the one hand, you see plenty of evidence of him competing for the ball in the air. He wins numerous jump balls in the end zone and that’s what the Seahawks want and need. He’s a sparky, competitive individual with great character. He was ultra productive in Fresno’s prolific passing offense and he has tremendous leaping ability — a 39.5 inch vertical was impressive at the combine.

But there’s just something keeping me from ranking him alongside the Cody Latimer’s of this draft. If you split the receiver class into three with Watkins, Evans, Lee and Odell Beckham Jr in tier one, I’d put Adams in the third tier.

Size-wise he’s just average (6-1, 212lbs) and he has small nine-inch hands. He ran a 4.56 at the combine — the same time as 6-6, 225lbs Brandon Coleman.

While he has great leaping ability — there are just other players with much more explosive athleticism. Donte Moncrief is bigger at 6-2 and 221lbs, but ran a 4.40 and matched Adams’ 39.5 inch vertical. He also recorded an 11 on the broad jump. Latimer likewise shares all of Adams’ hop but blows him away when it comes to size and speed.

I like his get off (and he recorded a 1.53 10-yard split on his second combine run) but he’s a little one paced. He’s not as reliable catching the ball as Latimer (who is?) and while he made some really nice contested catches in 2013 — he also had some basic misses.

You can only play the opponents you’re handed and fair play to Adams for dominating his conference. But you watch Fresno State take on teams like Wyoming where the defensive backs just didn’t look like they knew what they were doing. Time and time again Adams was left wide open. Against the one meaningful opponent they had last season — a poor USC by Southern Cal standards — he was fairly good. Not great.

I can see why the Seahawks are taking a closer look purely because he competes so well for the ball. Not great size or speed, but he’ll make plays and be fairly consistent.

While a player like Latimer or Moncrief would offer terrific, X-factor athleticism and the ability to develop into potential stars — Adams looks like more of a role player. But when I write that down, I realise that’s kind of what Seattle has apart from Percy Harvin. Role players. Receivers who run in the 4.4/4.5 range and don’t have great size — they just compete every down. They go up and win 50/50 passes. That’s Davante Adams

He could be an option at #64 if he lasts, which is debatable. A lack of explosive athletic skills probably keeps him away from the first frame.

Richardson is a slight 6-0 and 175-180lbs. He did run a 4.40 and jump a 38 inch vertical at the combine.

What I think the Seahawks will like about him is his ability to make plays at the sideline despite the lack of size. He’s shifty to get away from press coverage. He’s capable of spectacular grabs in tight coverage. He has the speed to run deep and make explosive chunk plays. Despite not playing in much of a passing offense — his route running is a positive (breaks well, drives off DB’s).

He can act in trick plays and actually threw a touchdown pass against Oregon in 2013. Richardson might also have a role on special teams.

He does have the occasional bad drop. Funnily enough there are times where he explodes into a route, creates huge separation and then fumbles an easy catch. And while he does a great job competing despite a lack of size — there’s no getting away from the fact he’s tiny. Will he have the same success working the sideline against NFL cornerbacks? Probably not.

He’s a difficult one to project because anyone looking for a spark-plug might take him earlier than people expect (R2-3). But he could also last beyond that. And I think he’ll need to last for Seattle to consider drafting him.

If you want to track who Seattle is meeting with before next months draft, I’d recommend following Davis Hsu on Twitter. He’s put together this neat little chart to see who is visiting with the Seahawks:

It’s probably no coincidence that it’s dominated by highly rated receivers and offensive linemen with a lot of later round linebackers thrown in.

Nothing’s set in stone, but it’s a safe bet to assume the Seahawks will target wide out and the O-line early — with further offensive tackle depth plus the usual collection of linebackers and DB’s in the later rounds or UDFA.

Anthony Barr really falling?

John Middlekauff is a former NFL Scout turned radio host.

This is another recent discussion point. I have sympathy with this Tweet and with Todd McShay’s criticism of Anthony Barr. There’s no doubting his upside — but if you’re expecting him to come in and rack up sacks as a rookie it probably won’t happen.

He has to get stronger. There’s no question there. He’s played two years on defense and he’s not capable of engaging pro-offensive tackles, fighting off blocks and doing what he needs to do to be an effective rusher. That’s not to say he won’t get there — he has the length and size to make it happen. But he needs to land with a patient team.

Then you throw in a 4.66 forty at the combine. His ten yard split was good (1.56) but it’s not a blazing time. If he ran in the early 4.5′s you could justify a high pick on the explosive factor. Yet Barr didn’t really wow anyone in Indianapolis.

He might be one or two years from being the finished article. And in a league that demands instant gratification — will a bad or rebuilding team at the top of the draft have that level of patience? I’m not sure.

Yet there comes a time when the value is too good. If Barr is there at #32 it might be difficult for Seattle to pass. They can afford to bring him in and groom him. Playing with Michael Bennett and Cliff Avril drawing attention will also help.

The problem is there are teams ahead of Seattle who will feel the same. The mid-20′s is probably Barr’s floor. But he’s one to keep an eye on.

 

Looking at a worst case scenario mock draft for the Seahawks

April 20th, 2014 | Written by Rob Staton

Richard Sherman doesn't approve this projection

The Seahawks will be extremely unlucky if it plays out like this.

But it isn’t impossible — and it might not even be that unlikely.

As everyone keeps saying this is a deep draft class (as you’d expect when 98 underclassmen decide to turn pro). Yet there isn’t an endless pool of talent. The depth on the defensive line is particularly weak. Anyone wanting an impact pass rusher better get in there quickly.

All of the talk at the moment is about the quarterbacks falling like they did last year. There’s only one tight end likely to go early while nobody expects a running back to be taken in the first frame.

We could see teams being quite aggressive to:

a.) fill needs

b.) tap into the top echelon of prospects

Here’s what I’d consider to be a ‘worst case scenario’ projection as far as the Seahawks are concerned:

There’s a lot of potential Seahawks gone by #32. A heck of a lot.

Provoking factors

– Teams picking in the top ten haven’t gone after the quarterbacks. All of the media reports in the last two weeks have been about teams waiting to draft a QB. If this is more than a smokescreen (and only one QB was drafted in round one last year) this isn’t good news for any team that already has a franchise quarterback. Ideally you’d see the likes of Houston, Jacksonville, Cleveland and Minnesota grabbing QB’s early, pushing players at other positions down the board. The first QB taken in this projection is Blake Bortles at #20 — and even that assumes the Cardinals are prepared to draft Carson Palmer’s eventual replacement in round one.

– When projecting 7-8 receivers to be drafted in the first round, it’s not because of need. It’s all about quality. They are just better than players at other positions. I could be wrong, but I think teams will be falling over themselves to get a receiver from this class. Marqise Lee and Odell Beckham Jr could easily go in the top-12. The two teams taking them here — Tampa Bay and Tennessee — get impact players with a ton of upside. If we see four receivers going as early as this, don’t be shocked when Kelvin Benjamin, Cody Latimer and Brandin Cooks also go in the 12-23 range. These players are too good to fall into round two.

– It’s a really poor draft for pass rushers. I’m not seeing what a lot of people see in Timmy Jernigan, Dee Ford and Kony Ealy. I think there’s a really good chance all three players are available in rounds two or three. So who’s the next best edge rusher after Anthony Barr (who leaves the board at #10 here)? It could be Demarcus Lawrence or Marcus Smith. Dallas is in desperate need of further additions to its defensive line. They might have consider reaching to get another pass rusher. If they don’t take one at #16 they could miss out altogether. And a historically bad defense in 2013 could get even worse. If the likes of Barr, Lawrence and Smith are gone by #32 I think it makes it incredibly unlikely the Seahawks will draft an edge rusher in round one.

– Offensive tackle remains a premium position and every year teams go after the top prospects very early. In this projection there’s a consistent flow of tackles leaving the board. Three go in the top ten (Robinson, Matthews and Lewan), three more go between 11-20 (Martin, Moses and Kouandjio) and Joel Bitonio is taken by the Panthers at #28. All of the teams are filling needs.

How likely is this?

This is an extremely negative projection for the purpose of the article and it’d be a pretty remarkable hand to be dealt. I wouldn’t necessarily expect it to play out like this. Even if it does, there are still attractive alternative options.

I think it’s very possible that a high number of offensive tackles will be gone before #32. Last year nine offensive linemen were taken in round one — I’ve only named seven here. There are enough teams in the market for a tackle and the Seahawks could run out of first round options. Even clubs like Baltimore and Miami who made free agent splashes at left tackle will consider further investment on the right side.

I’ve felt for a while that Seattle’s best chance at drafting an offensive lineman in round one will be if teams undervalue Joel Bitonio.

The cause for a receiver will be aided if Marqise Lee and Odell Beckham Jr don’t go as early as the top-12. They’re both top prospects so it could happen. But I could also see both lasting into the teens.

I suspect a player like Cody Latimer will have a great deal of appeal to the Seahawks given his combination of explosive athleticism, strong hands, size, ability to compete for the ball in the air and run blocking. I actually think it’ll be a surprise if he lasts until the #32. In fact I’d say Kelvin Benjamin, Brandin Cooks and Donte Moncrief are more likely to be available later in round one.

It might be a stretch for all four of Benjamin, Cooks, Moncrief and Latimer to be gone by #32. And yet all four are good enough for it to happen.

One thing I’m not sure about is the likelihood of there being no attractive defensive options if the OT’s and WR’s go early. Whether it’s a Ryan Shazier or a Ra’Shede Hageman, I think there’s every chance an appealing prospect could be left at #32. Even a Demarcus Lawrence or Marcus Smith would carry some value.

Part of the motivation for this piece was Mel Kiper’s mock earlier in the week. Many good options for Seattle were off the board by #32 according to Kiper’s projection. Yet it’s worth noting his ESPN colleague Todd McShay had both Anthony Barr and Shazier available for Seattle.

If the first round falls like this, who do they take?

Several big names dropped. They just don’t really fit the Seahawks.

C.J. Mosley is a talented linebacker but he’s far from an explosive athlete. Lingering concerns about his health could see a fall into round two and he just doesn’t seem like the type of player Seattle would draft in round one.

Justin Gilbert is still on the board and he has the length, speed and production (interceptions) that screams ‘Seahawks’. And yet his tape doesn’t match up. He was nearly benched last year and with good reason. There are one or two attitude concerns. Given Seattle’s prolific ability to find cornerbacks later in the draft, I’m not sure they’d be willing to take a chance on Gilbert in round one. After all, they passed on Jimmy Smith in 2011 (a vastly superior player in my eyes).

Calvin Pryor is still there — a decent safety who’s perhaps not quite as good as the national pundits have suggested. He’s a hard hitter but doesn’t have great range. He ran a mediocre 4.58 at the combine at 5-11, 207lbs. I can’t see the Seahawks drafting a safety this early anyway.

There are still receivers who could make sense. Martavis Bryant and Brandon Coleman are wildcard options. Stephon Tuitt is there. As we’ve discussed this week — would they consider Dominique Easley? A legit top-25 pick (maybe even top-15) with injury history?

I don’t think they’ll take a pure guard in round one despite it being a trendy pick with the national pundits. J.R. Sweezy is locked in at right guard while I think they’re comfortable using a rotation on the left side and letting Tom Cable fit guys into his scheme.

And yes — several big name quarterbacks are still on the board. I wouldn’t rule anything out so I can’t say with any certainty that a trade down won’t happen. The odds are against it though.

For starters, since they made day one of the draft exclusively the first round — no Super Bowl winners have traded out of the first. I’m not convinced that’s a coincidence.

Most teams looking to trade back into the first round don’t wait until the final pick of the day. They’ll often make their move in the 20′s. New England at #29 are always willing to deal, while there are other potential candidates (San Diego at #25, New Orleans at #27).

The 5th year option on a contract for first round prospects is incredibly valuable — especially to a team like Seattle that is preparing to spend big on Earl Thomas, Russell Wilson and Richard Sherman. Any trade offer would have to be worth the deal. Moving down 5-6 spots for a 5th rounder just isn’t that appealing. I think the Seahawks are more likely to deal the final selection in round two to try and accumulate more picks.

Every year we talk about teams moving back into the first round for a quarterback and let’s be right — it rarely happens. It doesn’t mean it won’t happen this year, but haven’t we been here before?

Presuming the Seahawks keep the #32 pick, who would you take in this scenario?

 

Options for Seattle at #32 based on Mel Kiper’s latest mock

April 19th, 2014 | Written by Rob Staton

Todd!!

Last week we had a look at Todd McShay’s mock draft and the options available to the Seahawks at #32.

As the Huddle Report points out, last years ‘top’ mock draft only guessed 12 correct picks. The options at #32 are wide ranging given it’s the final pick in round one. We can’t assume my mock will be unusually accurate because it probably won’t be. We need to look at other projections to debate as many different scenarios as possible.

As with McShay’s, Mel Kiper’s mock hides behind a pay wall. I can’t reveal all of the picks in round one, but here’s a selection of the players off the board by #32:

Ryan Shazier (LB, Ohio State) — drafted by Green Bay at #21
Kelvin Benjamin (WR, Florida State) — drafted by Philadelphia at #22
Marqise Lee (WR, USC) — drafted by Kansas City at #23
Anthony Barr (DE, UCLA) — drafted by San Diego at #25
Cody Latimer (WR, Indiana) — drafted by New Orleans at #27
Morgan Moses (T, Virginia) — drafted by Carolina at #28
Ra’Shede Hageman (DT, Minnesota) — drafted by New England at #29

A lot of good players get agonisingly close to Seattle. It even makes you wonder if they’d consider a small move up the board to avoid missing out?

I think it’s increasingly unlikely Cody Latimer lasts until #32. The more you watch the more you like. He’s a fantastic receiver, potentially the 4th or 5th best in a good group. Going to New Orleans at #27 is a good shout. I spent a bit of time researching other teams this week and a lot of Saints fans think they’ll go receiver in the first round. They also have a very active front office in New Orleans so don’t be surprised if they trade up.

Kiper had the Seahawks taking Stephon Tuitt (DE, Notre Dame). I can see the thinking considering he has Red Bryant type size, he’s a former 5-star recruit who reportedly managed a 4.8 at +300lbs. He’s still recovering from a foot injury that kept him out of the combine.

I also suspect they’ll feel they can add a big bodied defensive lineman later on. Tuitt isn’t a brilliant pass rusher. A run stuffing defensive lineman in round one doesn’t seem very ‘Seahawks’.

Pete Carroll has talked about adapting the defense following Bryant’s release. A like-for-like replacement is perhaps unlikely. Tony McDaniel has already been tagged as a possible five technique which could mean Jordan Hill gets an opportunity to start alongside Brandon Mebane. They may wish to add another interior pass rusher such as Ra’Shede Hageman to the rotation — and according to Kiper’s mock they’d only have to jump ahead of New England at #29 to land him.

Kiper’s mock follows a similar pattern to my own projection with eight receivers leaving the board in round one. He ends with Jordan Matthews going to the 49ers at #30. Personally I think that’d be a significant reach, but it also wouldn’t be a total shock. His personality matches well with Jim Harbaugh’s. I can kind of see it.

Not only does he have a high number of receivers off the board, none of the really appealing defensive options for Seattle suffer a drop. Shazier, Barr and Hageman are all gone. Interestingly in McShay’s mock both Shazier and Barr were available at #32.

Based on Kiper’s projection the Seahawks could come really close to several players and miss out. And that could mean they’re willing to take a chance at #32, as I’ve tried to portray below.

Here are the options that I believe could be in play for Seattle, based on the availability in Kiper’s mock:

Joel Bitonio (T, Nevada)
Kiper has Bitonio leaving the board at #50 to Miami
You know my take on Bitonio by now, so I’ll just give you the highlights. People complain about his arm length, yet he has exactly the same arm length as Taylor Lewan (33 7/8 inches) and he actually has longer arms than Jake Matthews (33 3/8 inches). So what’s the issue if it isn’t a problem for Lewan and Matthews?

He had an exceptional combine in every single drill apart from the bench press. If lifting weights is the only problem — I’m not concerned. He can learn to get stronger in a pro-weight room. And again, Matthews only managed 24 reps compared to Bitonio’s 22. On tape he shut down Anthony Barr and handled his business against Florida State. He performed admirably against Boise State and Demarcus Lawrence.

Try him at left or right tackle and if it doesn’t work, plug him in at guard for the next ten years. For me he can be Logan Mankins inside or a very serviceable starting right tackle.

Demarcus Lawrence (DE, Boise State)
Kiper has Lawrence leaving the board at #41 to Buffalo
A 4.80 forty might be too slow for the Seahawks, but a 1.62 10-yard split will get their attention. Jadeveon Clowney had a 1.59 split while Aaron Donald had a 1.63. That’s some get off by Lawrence and ultimately a more important time than his forty yard dash. There’s a little bit of Aldon Smith to his game — and let’s not forget Smith also ran a 4.74 but clocked an impressive split of 1.66.

Like Smith there are also some character concerns. He served suspensions at Boise State and those need to be checked out. Seattle is scheduled to give Lawrence a private workout before the draft according to Adam Caplan.

I suspect they’ll consider adding another pass rusher depending on how the board falls. If a whole host of receivers are gone including Cody Latimer and perhaps if Bitonio is also taken before #32 it becomes more realistic. There’s just a lot of question marks here and while the Seahawks are right to do their due diligence — this still seems like a wild card option. For me he’s a better fit for the 49ers at #30 and he could easily land in San Francisco — or, potentially, with the Cardinals.

Marcus Smith (DE, Louisville)
Not included in Kiper’s two-round mock
I was a bit surprised not to see Smith’s name in round two at least. In a draft with so few legit pass rushers I can’t see him getting out of the 30′s. If we’re talking about 10-yard splits how about this one — a 1.57 at the combine to go alongside a 4.68 forty. Smith also has terrific length at 6-3 and 251lbs with 34 inch arms.

He had 14.5 sacks in 2013 and could be taken before team mate Teddy Bridgewater. I spent a bit of time watching Bridgewater earlier today and overall I’d probably grade Smith higher. I’m really not sure why Twitter is so aghast at the possibility Teddy could fall. That’s a debate for another day I guess…

Smith has a knack for stripping the football. He could stand to get stronger — although in fairness he’s a converted quarterback still adapting to defense. His arms lack definition and with a good pre-season in the weight room he could be even better.

The 10-yard split is again the crucial part here. I think the Seahawks love extreme speed off the edge. Bruce Irvin ran an official 4.50 while Cliff Avril managed a a 4.51. Smith’s 4.68 doesn’t look all that great in comparison.

Now let’s compare the 10-yard splits: Irvin (1.55), Avril (1.50), Smith (1.57). Avril’s time was explosive, but Smith compares well. And it’s worth noting he also topped Avril in the broad jump (10.1 vs 9.9) and the vertical (35 inches vs 32.5) — two other tests used to determine how explosive a player is.

I’m not sure how vital the forty times are compared to the split, broad and vertical jumps. Smith is an explosive athlete and he could be an option for the Seahawks at #32 if a cluster of wide outs and tackles leave the board before their pick.

Both Lawrence and Smith in my view are vastly superior to Dee Ford and Kony Ealy.

Donte Moncrief (WR, Ole Miss)
Kiper has Moncrief leaving the board at #57 to San Diego
Moncrief doesn’t compete well enough for the ball in the air, but it’s really the only thing stopping him being a very attractive option for Seattle. He carries 221lbs incredibly well on a frame just shy of 6-3. He ran a 4.41 at the combine with an impressive 39.5 inch vertical. He had a 10-yard split of 1.50 which is better than 5-9, 189lbs Brandin Cooks (who ran a 4.33).

There’s just so much to work with here it’s unreal. As is the case with many receivers in this class, he had very little support from his college quarterback. Ole Miss’ offense has had an identity crisis ever since Hugh Freeze took over. Bo Wallace was regularly swapped in and out for a read-option replacement. There was very little fluidity to the passing attack and it hurt Moncrief’s production — particularly in 2013.

He needs to show stronger hands and he needs to high point better — but he has incredible leaping ability and it’s not like he’s totally useless in 50/50 situations. His best football will almost certainly come at the next level. For me there’s a great chance he’ll land in round one but he might end up competing with Cody Latimer to be taken in the 21-32 range. If Latimer has leapfrogged him on a few boards — it’s possible he lasts until #32.

Nobody should be disappointed if the Seahawks take Moncrief in round one. He eats up a cushion and shows crisp breaks in his routes. He can make people miss in the open field and explode. He’ll take the quick hitters Seattle threw at Golden Tate and when he wants to block — he can block. He’s another explosive player with a ton of upside.

Dominique Easley (DT, Florida)
Not included in Kiper’s two-round projection
In Kiper’s mock Easley was available at #64, but I’m going to bring him up here anyway. I don’t believe the Seahawks will take him in round one because the two knee injuries have to be a concern.

Yet he appears to be coming along in his rehab. He moved well at his pro-day last week and considering he picked up the injury in September — there’s at least some chance he’ll be ready for training camp. By July he’ll have been in rehab for 10 months.

Let’s just imagine this scenario. 7-8 receivers leave the board in round one including Cody Latimer, Odell Beckham Jr and any other wide out we’d expect the Seahawks to covet. Joel Bitonio perhaps leaves the board in the 20′s with Morgan Moses going to one of Miami at #19 or Arizona at #20. No defensive prospects like Anthony Barr or Ryan Shazier drop to #32 and one or both of Demarcus Lawrence and Marcus Smith get over-drafted due to a lack of alternative pass rushers.

Suddenly, the options aren’t that great. And you’re struggling to generate a deal to move down.

If they feel comfortable about Easley’s ability to stay healthy and make a full recovery — why wouldn’t you at least consider him here? Injury free he’s a legit top-25 pick. Maybe even top-15. And you can get him at #32.

The 49ers took Tank Carradine at #40 last year and had to redshirt him. The Seahawks wouldn’t have to redshirt Easley because he picked up the injury months before the end of last season. You could potentially get a disruptive, edgy three technique who consistently collapses the pocket from the interior. Plug him into the rotation with Bennett and Avril rushing the edge and it looks like a deadly combo.

The Seahawks want difference makers in round one and that’s what a healthy Easley can be. You could get another Sheldon Richardson but in the late first round.

Let’s put it this way — if the Tampa Bay Buccaneers draft him at #37 how would you react? Would you say it’s worth a gamble in round two? Would you say it’s justifiable in that range? If so — it’s only five picks later than Seattle and the Buccs aren’t the defending Super Bowl Champions.

I’m not trying to convince people this is going to happen or even should happen — but I think we should talk about it. If they were able to take a shot on Easley at #32, draft an offensive tackle at #64 (one of Ja’Wuan James or Antonio Richardson for example) and hunt for value the rest of the way — would that be a bad draft for Seattle? I think a worse draft would be to force the situation if all of the top receivers and tackles are off the board by the end of round one.

Easley is a major wild card — a player who could be taken before the #32 pick and could just as easily drop into the round 3-5 range depending on how teams view his injury history. It’s worth noting the Seahawks have used picks in the third and fourth round to search for interior pass rushers — and it’s unclear if they’d consider the position early without a top player being available. There’s also Dan Quinn’s insider knowledge to consider here.

I’d hate the Seahawks to pick Easley without us having this discussion though. His talent is worthy of a conversation about the #32 pick — even if the injuries scare you off.

 

Saturday notes: Thoughts on Dominique Easley

April 18th, 2014 | Written by Rob Staton

Easley would be a top-25 pick without the injuries. Like Sheldon Richardson a year ago, he has everything you want in a three technique — a pissed off with the world attitude, the ability to win with speed, technique or power and he holds his own against the run despite a lack of size.

Even when he doesn’t shoot into the backfield with initial burst — he has the ability to push the guard back into the pocket and impact the quarterback. He gets across the sideline to stretch out run plays and he plays with constant energy despite playing a high number of snaps for a defensive lineman.

It was devastating when he picked up his second ACL injury in Septemer. Devastating for the player, but also for fans of college football who didn’t get to see Easley build on a fantastic start to the season. He was sensational in the first three games and couldn’t be blocked.

Don’t take my word for it, judge for yourself. Keep an eye on #2:

It won’t shock me if a good team — and that includes Seattle of course — takes a chance on Easley early in this draft. Earlier than we think. You’d have to be pretty confident about the way his knee is healing and you’d draft him knowing the risk involved. Big men with bad knees isn’t usually a winning combination.

Yet the opportunity to get a player of Easley’s quality outside of the top-20 is rare. Very rare.

Tank Carradine was the #40 pick in the draft last year and was essentially redshirted by San Francisco after suffering a similar ACL injury. Easley is a lot better than Carradine in my opinion.

I can’t find any information that says USC and Pete Carroll recruited Easley, who was a 5-star player and part of Florida’s impressive 2010 class. He took a visit to Oregon in December 2009 and also received interest from UCLA. Sharrif Floyd was another 5-star recruit from the same class and he did garner interest from Carroll and the Trojans.

Even so, that doesn’t mean anything in terms of the draft. If Tony Pauline is reporting he could go in round two — Seattle might only have one chance to draft him.

I still think it’s unlikely they’d make that move at #32 given the way they look for impact players in round one (Okung, Thomas, Carpenter and Irvin all started immediately). Even if Easley’s making a strong recovery — is he going to be ready for training camp? It’ll be ten months of rehab by July.

One positive could be the way he recovered from the last ACL setback. He was still playing at an elite level in college after making a full recovery. Multiple ACL injuries will always be a big red flag. But if you trust he can make a full recovery — would you be willing to roll the dice? After all, Seattle needs depth on the defensive line and Easley is an unbelievable talent when healthy.

The Dan Quinn factor also has to be considered. He’ll know all about Easley having been his defensive coordinator at Florida. He’ll also know about his ability to recover from a serious knee injury and exactly what kind of value and potential he offers as a pro-prospect.

Wednesday’s work out (see below) was a real opportunity to show how healthy he is and whether he’s retained some of that early season spark. Don’t be shocked if he convinced a few teams that he can play in 2014 and get back to his old self. Especially given the dearth of early round talent on the defensive line.

Earlier today Rotoworld’s Evan Silva mocked Easley to the New England Patriots at #29. The Seahawks ended up getting Ra’Shede Hageman as a consequence.

Quick hitters

Center news helps Seattle?

If Richburg makes it into round one, it can only help the Seahawks. According to Draft Tek the teams expected to consider a center in rounds one or two include Denver, Green Bay, New Orleans and San Francisco.

There’s also a chance a team like Jacksonville jumps back into the first round to make a pick like this — after they missed out on Alex Mack.

Seattle won’t be drafting a center in round one, but if Richburg lands with one of the teams picking just before #32 — it pushes a different player closer to the Seahawks.

A sentence to sum up Timmy Jernigan

I spent a bit more time watching Jernigan this week. I don’t want to write a full report because the tape is so strikingly average and underwhelming.

One sentence sums it up:

If Aaron Donald lives in the backfield, Timmy Jernigan lives 2-3 yards in front of the line of scrimmage.

 

Updated mock draft: 17th April

April 17th, 2014 | Written by Rob Staton

Jadeveon Clowney should be the #1 pick in the draft.

Is he a can’t miss pick like Andrew Luck in 2012? No. Are there some concerns about his attitude in college and whether he truly wants to be great at the next level? Sure.

But it only takes one revision of the tape to remember just how exciting Clowney is. Especially if he’s going to be gifted J.J. Watt as a striker partner in Houston.

I went back and had a look at a couple of 2013 games this week and even in a disappointing final college season, you can see the potential with Clowney. The Texans spent years trying to beat Peyton Manning. Now they have to try and beat Andrew Luck.

Clowney + Watt is the solution.

Houston might actually be quite comfortable knowing there’s 2-3 QB’s they’ll be willing to take at #33. Are they really much better off reaching for Blake Bortles with the #1 pick compared to selecting Zach Mettenberger, Tom Savage, A.J. McCarron, Logan Thomas or even Teddy Bridgewater (if his fall from grace is legit) at #33?

Is there a threat teams will move up ahead of them? Absolutely. But that threat existed in 2011 when Cincinnati waited on Andy Dalton and still got their man. Or in 2012 when Seattle sat tight and got Wilson.

We always expect teams to move up for that elusive QB — and it rarely happens. The last time a team traded back into the first round to grab a quarterback was in 2007 when Cleveland moved up for Brady Quinn. Seven years have since passed.

And honestly, how likely is it a team will want to trade up anyway?

In the projection below Jacksonville, Minnesota and Cleveland get quarterbacks early (Manziel, Bortles and Carr). Oakland appears to be in some kind of ‘doomed-to-fail’ win-now mode, so a project quarterback in round two seems unlikely.

So who’s jumping Houston to get a QB? I can’t see any obvious candidates in this weeks mock. The Texans could have their pick of the second tier quarterback prospects.

They could theoretically leave the draft with Clowney and Bridgewater.

But don’t rule out Mettenberger or Savage either.

Here’s this weeks projection:

So what about the Seahawks at #32?

Joel Bitonio’s off the board at #27 to New Orleans. Morgan Moses is long gone to Miami at #19. If the intention is to go offensive tackle in round one, the options aren’t great in this mock. Not unless you’re willing to take a sizeable gamble on Cyrus Kouandjio’s health or reach for a player like Ja’Wuan James or Antonio Richardson.

Guard is a trendy pick for the Seahawks among national pundits. I don’t see this team drafting a pure guard in round one. A versatile tackle who can kick inside? Sure. But not a guy who can only play guard.

No defensive players suffered a surprising fall. Anthony Barr goes at #16 to Dallas, while Ryan Shazier goes to Green Bay at #21. Ra’Shede Hageman ends up in Arizona at #20. For me, Kony Ealy and Dee Ford will be lucky to stick in round two. Both players are overrated. Even a wildcard option like Demarcus Lawrence is off the board at #30 to the Niners.

In this projection I don’t see any reason to fight taking a receiver — even following the addition of Sidney Rice. Mel Kiper is putting out a new mock today and in the next couple of days we’ll look at what’s available at #32 (as we did with Todd McShay last week). In Kiper’s mock there might be a tackle or defensive player at #32 that is really appealing.

Not in this mock, though.

In light of the Rice news it’d be very easy to work out a way for a different player to fit at #32. Yet the idea of these mocks — at this time of the year — is to go through possible scenarios. The draft isn’t necessarily going to play out in favour of the team picking last in round one. We should prepare for that.

For me Cody Latimer is a really exciting prospect. Big time athlete, ideal size/speed, extremely strong and reliable hands, terrific run blocker (the best in this receiver class). He visited Seattle on Tuesday and seeing him in that Seahawks cap brought back visions of Christine Michael’s trip a year ago.

He’s pretty much everything I think they want in a big receiver. He’s an elite athlete, he wins contested passes down the sideline, he high points the football and he can play on special teams. He’s physical enough to shield Darqueze Dennard for a redzone touchdown — that play alone was one of the more impressive I’ve seen by a receiver this year. It wouldn’t shock me at all if he was given a very generous grade by the Seahawks.

The one area he can improve — creating separation — will put some teams off. An offense that relies on timing and getting open will see superior alternatives — such as Donte Moncrief (crisp into his breaks) or even Martavis Bryant. But a team like Seattle that is happy to take shots and actually wants to challenge its receivers to win jump balls and dominate the red line won’t be overly concerned by this. He excels when battling for the football.

Rice re-signing would take some of the pressure off Latimer to have an instant impact. He could still contribute without needing to be a key immediate starter. And with Rice, Doug Baldwin and Jermaine Kearse all prospective free agents in 2015 — planning for the future wouldn’t be a bad idea.

I actually think they’ll be lucky if he’s there at #32. This mock is a lucky projection for the Seahawks. Be excited about this possibility. Latimer’s legit.

I think they would take the best offensive tackle or defensive prospect at #64 in this situation. I can’t help but feel the Tennessee duo of James and Richardson would be in play, but it’s a fairly deep class of offensive linemen.

Here’s another Latimer game (vs Missouri, 2013) to flick through and it’s not listed on Draft Breakdown:

 

Sidney Rice signs a one-year deal with the Seahawks

April 16th, 2014 | Written by Rob Staton

For me, this doesn’t have much of an impact on Seattle’s draft plans. This is just a classic Seahawks signing. They see an opportunity and they’ve gone for it. The price is right, the move fits.

Yet there’s no getting away from the fact Rice has been an injury prone receiver for some time and he’s recovering from a serious ACL injury. After being cut by the Seahawks he generated very little open market interest. He visited with the Jets today and almost immediately after that trip announced he was re-signing in Seattle.

To me this looks like a situation where he feels the best way to get back on the NFL map is to stay in a familiar environment. His new contract becomes a ‘prove it’ deal. Going to New York to play on a (still) wretched looking offense with Michael Vick and Geno Smith isn’t exactly appealing if he wants to launch a comeback. If the money is pretty similar, of course he’s going to choose Seattle over NYJ.

Clearly Rice commands a ton of respect in Seattle’s locker room and if nothing else the depth at the receiver position is bolstered after the loss of Golden Tate.

However — the commitment here is incredibly minimal. There’s absolutely no guarantee he’ll stay healthy. I’m guessing the financial terms will represent the situation and it’s a one year contract. Doug Baldwin and Jermaine Kearse will both be free agents next year too.

If Rice excels next season he’s going to get paid. If he fails to perform or gets injured again, he probably isn’t re-signing. Either way this looks like a one year contract in the truest sense.

The idea that Rice re-signing ends the likelihood of a receiver being drafted early just seems fanciful.

It’s not just the long term benefit you get for bringing in another young receiver who can grow with this offense. This is also a tremendous receiver class — the type you don’t ignore unless you really have better options on the table.

Are you going to be able to pay Baldwin, Kearse and potentially Rice next year? It’s doubtful, especially in an off-season where Russell Wilson is eligible for a new deal for the first time. They’ve already chosen to give Percy Harvin the big money at receiver, so this is a situation that needs to be managed going forward.

If Joel Bitonio and Morgan Moses are off the board at #32 — and no defensive prospects take a surprising tumble — are you really going to pass on a talented receiver because you have Sidney Rice on a one year contract?

Of course not.

If anything this deal potentially takes some of the pressure off a rookie receiver to have an immediate impact. Seattle redshirted its 2013 draft class for the most part. ‘Wide out’ is a difficult position to learn quickly. If you draft a receiver at #32, you’re getting that player on a rookie contract for five years. Expectations would be low in 2014 with or without Rice.

Now if Bitonio, Moses or another offensive tackle (or defensive prospect) is sitting there at #32 — you’re also not ruing your depth at receiver. You’ve got some options.

Essentially it increases their flexibility in the draft. This is a win-win for the Seahawks and for Rice. But it doesn’t mean they aren’t going to look at receivers at #32 or #64.

 

Tuesday notes: trio visit Seattle, thoughts on Billy Turner

April 15th, 2014 | Written by Rob Staton

Cody Latimer visited Seattle today and Tweeted this picture...

Trio visit Seattle

The Seahawks have at least three players visiting their facility today — UCLA linebacker Jordan Zumwalt, Indiana receiver Cody Latimer and Canadian offensive lineman Laurent Duvernay-Tardif.

The most high profile of the three is, of course, Latimer. He caused a stir with an impressive pro day — registering a forty yard dash in the 4.39-4.43 range and recording a 39 inch vertical. He’s since started to appear in multiple first round mock drafts.

Latimer’s virtually taking a tour of the NFL before next months draft — visiting with a whole host of teams. He didn’t do any drills at the combine or his pro day due to a foot injury. This is the first chance anyone gets to really test him.

Although how much of a challenge running routes in shorts will be for such a talented athlete is open to interpretation. Here’s the bottom line with Latimer — he run blocks better than any other receiver in the class, he has incredibly strong and reliable hands and he’s a freakish ‘basketball player’ athlete.

On tape he does it all — drives defenders off the ball in the run game, high points the football, makes spectacular grabs, runs downfield and takes the top off a defense. He even has some special teams involvement — although funnily enough I think he can show a little more intensity in that area given the way he plays on offense.

If he doesn’t go in the first round, I think it’ll be an upset. There’s simply too much upside on offer. He’d be a terrific pick for Seattle at #32.

Zumwalt really made an impression at the Senior Bowl. Here’s Tony Pauline’s three-day assesment of his performance in Mobile:

Day One: Had several nice plays throughout the day. Stomped on a tight end during blocking drills then showed a lot of discipline throughout the rest of the day.

Day Two: Had a “WOW” sort of day. Dominant during blitz drills, showed a lot of skill in pursuit and held his own in coverage. Just a lot to like about his game.

Day Three: Not as effective as yesterday yet played well in all areas. Leaves Senior Bowl practice as a winner.

When I spent a bit of time during the 2013 season watching UCLA to monitor Anthony Barr’s progress — I kept being drawn to Zumwalt. I’m not sure he’s the type of player who will ever develop into a bona fide starter in the NFL — but he’ll be a special teams demon. And hey, I wouldn’t rule out a starting role one day. If it doesn’t happen, it won’t be due to a lack of effort or intensity.

We all know Seattle wants competitive, fiery individuals. That’s Zumwalt. He puts his body on line time and time again. He seems like the type of guy who’s up for any challenge — a dependable tone-setter.

According to Scott Enyeart, he’s also a player Seattle knows all about:

He’s one to keep an eye on in the later rounds or even UDFA. Enyeart also points out he had some injury/concussion issues at UCLA and that could hamper his stock.

And then there’s Laurent Duvernay-Tardif, or ‘LDT’ as the draft community has started to call him. Unsurprisingly there’s not a great deal of McGill University tape available on the internet, but I did manage to find some footage from his pro day:

He’s a medical student from Canada who practised once a week with his team in college. So you’re talking about a guy who’s raw and relatively new to the game. He ran a 4.94-5.08 forty at his pro day, had a 32 inch vertical, a 9.5 in the broad jump and managed 34 reps on the bench press. He’s 6-5 and 320lbs. He also ran a 7.3 three cone and a 4.59 in the short shuttle. Those are all impressive numbers.

Some scouts are grading him in the third or fourth round. Nolan Nawrocki highlights LDT’s, “Stout anchor in pass protection. Violent shock in his punch. Plays with a nasty temperament and seeks to bury defenders into the ground. Aggressive run blocker — runs his feet on contact and plays beyond the whistle.”

Nawrocki also says he can learn to take better angles in pass protection and improve his recovery speed. Clearly there’s something to work with here — but where do you take the guy with so little football experience? Out of all of today’s three visits — LDT’s might be the most important.

One note of caution — according to ESPN he only has 33 inch arms. His body type is that of a guard. That might be his best position at the next level.

Notes on Billy Turner

Today was the first chance I’ve had to watch Turner. I only watched one game (vs Kansas State) but wanted to put a few initial thoughts out there.

Right off the bat you can can tell he’s a strong, combative run blocker. There were several occasions where he drove his man downfield while the rest of the line stalled. When you’re watching a small school prospect you want to see flashes of quality where they just stand out. Turner on numerous occasions looked to be playing at a different level to the rest of his line. That’s to be expected if he’s going to play in the NFL.

I was actually surprised that he only managed 25 reps on the bench press at the combine — because he looks very powerful on tape. Particularly with his initial punch. Maybe it’s a work-out thing coming from a small school? Either way, when I went back to the combine notes I expected to see an extra ten reps.

He has the kind of attitude you want to see (plays to the whistle, drives into the second level, always looking for someone to block). He’s a level headed, well spoken individual.

However, I also saw some key issues that I think will limit his stock.

When I started to write about Joel Bitonio and the Seahawks — people asked what was the difference between Bitonio and Turner. On this evidence, quite a lot. As a pass protector Turner’s technique leaves a lot to be desired. His footwork is all over the place and his kick slide looks clumsy and sluggish. His pad level is inconsistent and too often he overextends and bends at the waist.

He wasn’t exposed against a very average looking Kansas State pass rush. But I’m concerned at the next level he’s going to really struggle against even solid speed rushers. Anyone with a nice get off and a counter will cause him problems.

Bitonio is such a smooth operator in comparison. He glides into pass pro, makes blocking the edge look comfortable and he’s shown genuine ability to shut down leading college edge rushers such as Anthony Barr and the Florida State defensive line. Technically he’s very sound and it compliments the rare athletic potential he showed at the combine.

Often when he comes up against speed he has the ability to just guide the DE/LB out of the play. When he faces a dip inside or counter he can handle it. He doesn’t struggle against the bull rush. Turner isn’t going to be able to set the edge moving like he does in the Kansas State tape. In fact he’s going to watch people run past him, straight into the quarterback.

Comparisons have been made athletically between the two players, but Bitonio had a better broad jump, 10-yard split, forty time and vertical at the combine. Turner had far from a poor work out in Indianapolis — but Bitonio had an explosive performance. So he’s a superior athlete with less of a learning curve from a technique point of view. That’s why, in my eyes, he’ll be a first round pick and Turner won’t be anywhere near that type of grade.

Both players ultimately might end up at guard. And both could end up being very accomplished players at that position. Turner’s footwork will be less of an issue inside and he has the potential to develop into a very good run blocking interior lineman. As long as he isn’t trying to set the edge, he can prosper.

Out of the two — Bitonio has the greater potential to have a shot at playing right tackle and he could act as a backup left tackle. For me, Turner’s a pure guard.

I’ll go back to Pauline’s Senior Bowl notes. This is what he had to say about Turner’s week in Mobile:

Day One: Struggled and had coaches screaming at him. Lined up at right tackle but never seemed to get his feet underneath him. Lacked balance, footwork and not a good start to the week.

Day Two: Not a good day for Turner. Lined up at right tackle and was torched throughout the practice. Consistently beaten like a drum.

Day Three: Played a lot of guard. Was slightly better but in the end did nothing to improve his draft stock. Tough three days for Turner.

Here’s the Kansas State tape. Take a look for yourself and see what you think:

Tomorrow I’ll have a new mock draft on the blog. 23 days to go.