I’ve updated the mock draft section of the blog (which can be found in the title bar at the top of the page or by clicking here). It’s only a top-15 projection at this early stage. I’ve made a few changes after watching some game tape over the last week. (more…)
Archive for August, 2010
If you ask Seahawks fans or pundits, ‘which area of the team shows the greatest weakness?’ a lot of people will say the defensive line. More specifically, it’s the pass rush that is of most concern. Only four teams registered less sacks than Seattle in 2009, with the Seahawks gently reaching a tepid 28 for the year. With Patrick Kerney retiring and others moving on, the team are trying out a number of different bodies this pre-season hoping one rises to the surface.
Unsurprisingly some are already looking ahead to the 2011 draft and forcasting the not-unlikely scenario that Seattle will select a defensive end in round one.
My message to those people? Beware. (more…)
It’s safe to say the new regime in Seattle want their quarterbacks to move. That doesn’t mean they’re looking for the next Michael Vick, rather they want someone that can shift in the pocket. It’s not necessarily about first downs, rather avoiding pressure and being able to execute a solid bootleg or play action. When the Seahawks traded for Charlie Whitehurst earlier this year, this was Pete Carroll’s review of his new quarterback:
“The fact that he is such a good athlete, that he does run so well, that he’s got very good feet and just generally good speed for the quarterback position that we think enhances the style of play that we intend to put out there. We felt good enough about that evaluation.” – Pete Carroll
Seattle’s Head Coach has a vision for this team. Alongside offensive coordinator Jeremy Bates, Carroll clearly sees mobility at the quarterback position as something to value. We’re learning quite quickly what kind of scheme fits to look at – whether it’s zone blocking specialists on the offensive line or guys who can fit at the LEO rushing position on defense. As we look ahead to the return of college football next month, it might be worth keeping an eye on quarterbacks who can move.
It may be necessary to qualify first of all the likelihood that the Seahawks would draft a quarterback next year. You have to assume Whitehurst will get his chance during the lifespan of his initial two-year contract. It’s impossible to predict at this stage how the current quarterback conundrum will play out. However – the Seahawks will know they have to find a long term solution at quarterback sooner rather than later. That could be Whitehurst, but whilst the question mark remains the team cannot leave any stone unturned. I certainly don’t think the bold move to bring him to Seattle will restrict the team from drafting a quarterback early next year, even if he starts (and wins) in 2010.
If we’re looking at mobile quarterbacks in the 2011 draft class, people will immediately think of Jake Locker. That much is obvious. However, there is an alternative option in Christian Ponder. At 6’2″ and 220lbs, the Seminoles signal caller doesn’t have the pure size that Locker owns. He’s not the same kind of athlete and he won’t break off the kind of run Locker managed against Arizona last season. Part of the appeal with Jake Locker is that he is capable of the impossible. He can beat you in so many ways and teams will love that he’s a play maker. We’ve all seen the comparisons to John Elway. That’s not what you’re getting with Ponder. He might be a more accurate and accomplished passer though.
I first saw Ponder last year in FSU’s opening game against Miami last year. He looked polished and ended with a decent stat line of 294 passing yards and a pair of touchdowns. He added another rushing score and a further 28 yards. I made a point of watching Florida State on two further occasions, mainly so I could keep an eye on the country’s best guard prospect (and ideal ZBS fit) Rodney Hudson. Ponder continued to stand out behind that offensive line.
If the Seahawks want a quarterback who can maintain his poise under pressure, move away from trouble and still get the pass off, then Ponder can do those things. His footwork is very good and he’s nimble on his feet. This is best emphasised on the quarterback draws Ponder occasionally runs, which obviously he won’t be doing at the next level. However, it flashes how well he moves around and whilst he might not be an explosive athlete, he’s above average for his position.
A lot of mobile quarterbacks suffer when it comes to accuracy. Ponder is maybe the exception here because for the most part in 2009 he was deadly accurate. Against Georgia Tech’s solid defense, he completed 72% of his passes for 359 yards and five touchdowns. The following week on the road against UNC’s much vaunted defense, Ponder managed 395 yards for three scores and completed 83% of his passes. For the year in general he was throwing a solid 69% completion average and threw only one interception in his first seven games. The numbers matched the viewing – Ponder is an accurate passer.
Technique wise there’s lots to like. The 22-year-old has a nice high release point and gets the ball out quickly to his receiver. He can thread passes into tight windows and perhaps most importantly, throws a catch-able ball. You’re not looking at a huge arm, but at the same time it isn’t going to hold him back. He won’t lay it out like Ryan Mallett, but neither will Jake Locker. Ponder appears to throw equally well off his front and back foot and generates a similar amount of velocity with each. If you want intangibles, Ponder has a master’s degree in just his junior year and boasts a level of intelligence and work rate others will struggle to match.
Of course, we’ll learn more about Ponder’s credentials when the new season starts. The Seminoles travel to Oklahoma in week two which will be a good test, as will the trip to Miami on the 9th October. If Ponder can lead his team to a strong year and continue his improved statistics, he has a great opportunity to earn a first round grade in 2011. In Rodney Hudson (OG) and Christian Ponder (QB), there are two prospects who just ‘fit’ with what the Seahawks are trying to build. Keep an eye on Florida State next year.
By Rob Staton
Last week I conducted a mock fantasy draft and had a look at why it could be important to draft receivers early this year. However, I wanted to do a mock that goes the other way and concentrated on every other position first. It’s basically a test to see what options might be available if you can’t get hold of the top wide outs early. If you’re picking in the top four or five, you’re likely to take one of the top running back’s early anyway and that’ll limit the chances of getting an Andre Johnson or Randy Moss. (more…)
A lot of people think Jake Locker is going to be the first overall pick in 2011. It’s a legitimate poser. In 10 of the last 15 NFL Draft’s, a quarterback has been taken with the first overall pick. The team’s picking first overall generally have questions marks at the position, making a large investment in a ‘franchise’ quarterback all the more likely. Also, when you look at the class of seniors and underclassmen legible for the 2011 draft, there isn’t the top end offensive lineman who could go #1. There are however candidates at the QB position and many believe Locker to be the best as we approach the new college season. Unless a team like St. Louis or Detroit are picking first overall again (having drafted young and expensive QB’s already) it’s a safe prediction to suggest we’ll see the best quarterback go first overall next year.
Aside from Locker, people are also talking about Stanford’s Andrew Luck. ESPN’s Todd McShay posted Luck as the #1 pick in his early 2011 projection this off-season. I don’t expect Luck to leave early for the NFL unless he has a spectacular year in 2010. He benefited a lot from touchdown machine Toby Gerhart last year and actually posted mediocre numbers in his first year as a starter (13 TD’s, 2575 yards). This isn’t a slur on Luck because clearly in year one there’s a learning curve. However, it does emphasise to me that Luck has time on his side and doesn’t need to declare as a red-shirt sophomore – particularly if a rookie pay-scale is implemented next year. Without Gerhart and a not-so-stand-out arsenal at Stanford, I wonder if Luck will indeed have the year he needs to tempt him into the pro’s. (more…)
by Rob Staton
This is one to watch for Seahawks fans in 2010. The focal point of Florida State’s offensive line, Hudson is the prototype interior lineman for Alex Gibbs’ zone blocking scheme. He’s had starting experience as a center, tackle and guard but would project best as a left guard partner for Russell Okung in Seattle. He’s a first team All-American (2009) and two-time All-ACC lineman (2008, 2009). NFL Draft Scout’s Chris Steuber told me before the 2010 draft that Hudson could’ve been a first round pick this year, but he opted to complete his senior campaign with the Seminoles. Mel Kiper recently paired the Seahawks with Hudson in his ‘Next April’s pick now’ segment. In 2010, the 21-year-old will be charged with protecting quarterback Christian Ponder – himself a potential candidate to be a first round pick next year.
Name: Rodney Hudson #62
Birthplace: Mobile, Alabama
Position: Offensive Guard
The Opposition: North Carolina’s defense is one of the highest rated going into the 2010 season and it was already performing at a high level last year. Hudson had to deal with massive interior presence Marvin Austin and potential top-10 pick DE Robert Quinn off the edge. Bruce Carter and Quan Sturdivant are two of the better linebackers in college football. Deunta Williams is the other big name on the UNC defense – he’s a ball hawking safety but slightly over rated because he benefits more from his teammates than they do from his influence. Aside from power-houses like Florida and Alabama, this was as tough as it comes for Hudson and the Seminoles.
Athletic ability: Hudson is light at 285lbs and allows him to use above average athletic qualities for an interior lineman. Bends knees well enough to initiate leverage and won a lot of individual battles. Short and long range quickness is very good, allowing him to explode off the line in short yardage situations and equally pull and run. His mobility to get to the second level is excellent and he did a good job in this game locating a secondary block and executing. Florida State used a lot of screen passes, with Hudson pulling from the line and used as the lead blocker. Has excellent footwork, again in no part down to his compact size.
Run blocking: Has surprising strength at the point of attack for a smaller lineman. Actually does as good a job as someone twenty-pounds heavier. The vast majority of run plays were called to the left, with Hudson often capable of creating some pretty big holes. On a QB sneak in the third quarter, Christian Ponder tucked in behind Hudson to get a key first down. Second level blocking is excellent and athletic qualities were clearly evident when he pulled wide. A willing cut-blocker but technique could use refining.
Pass blocking: In the third quarter he was able to block off and support the left tackle (who’d been beaten by a defensive end on the edge). Hudson recognised the situation and before the DE could get to Ponder, he levelled him almost sending him to the turf. Understands when he needs to switch blockers and often did a great job in pass protection helping the left tackle. Initial power at the point of attack allows him to punch back and then switch. Mobility and footwork could actually be good enough for Hudson to play tackle but size negates likelihood of that happening.
Intelligence: Pure football smarts and understands his role completely. Hudson has some experience at center and in this game flashed his ability to diagnose defensive reads. Reports confirm Hudson’s intelligence and he should have less trouble than most picking up the zone blocking scheme if drafted by the Seahawks. Blitz pick-up was excellent.
Motor: Showed a nasty nature and appears to enjoy blocking. Played with a high-tempo throughout the game and never relented. Willingness to get to the next level again and again shows that he doesn’t settle and rarely has a play off.
Physical attributes: Teams using a man-blocking scheme will be concerned with Hudson’s lack of size. He’s not tall, so the 285lbs frame hasn’t got that much room to grow. If he added the 15lbs minimum that some teams would like to see, that might jeopardise his quickness and mobility. Hudson is, however, a perfect fit for the zone blocking scheme which would make good use of his ability to diagnose situations quickly, speed, footwork and surprising power.
Summary: Offensive lineman can be over rated sometimes. The premium nature of the tackle position has, undoubtedly, led to some examples of over-drafting in recent years. Such is the demand for blind side blockers. Interior lineman also get over rated because in reality so few go in round one and people are always looking for the next Steve Hutchinson. The 2009 draft was the exception, with an undoubted top-20 talent like Alex Mack available and Eric Wood also going in the first round. Duke Robinson (over rated by many leading up to the 09′ draft) dropped to a more realistic 5th round grade. Hudson, for me, warrants any hype thrown his way. Whilst some teams will not consider drafting him due to a lack of size, teams using zone blocking elements will watch Hudson’s 2010 campaign with interest. He has the potential to go in round one and as we prepare for the new college season and he deserves a first/second round grade at this early stage.
Highlights of Hudson vs North Carolina