The various pro-days are already underway but the high profile events start tomorrow with prospects from Arkansas, Oklahoma and Auburn working out. Ryan Mallett and Cam Newton will both throw and run through drills, while Mallett is expected to run the forty yard dash – something he chose not to do at the combine.
I’ve listed all of the upcoming pro-days so you can track them below.
Aldon Smith is a top-20 talent, but will he stick around for the Seahawks?
Brady Quinn, Aaron Rodgers, Dez Bryant, Michael Oher, Jimmy Clausen, Taylor Mays, DeSean Jackson…
Just a selection of high profile prospects that suffered a draft-day fall. There’s varying degree’s of success obviously, but it includes some success stories.
There are different reasons for explaining why a player’s stock has dropped. Quinn and Clausen were simply limited quarterback prospects. Character concerns hampered Oher and Jackson while Rodgers fell largely due to a lack of need. Mays’ had the physical and athletic potential but it wasn’t enough to make up for a lack of pure technique. Bryant sat out nearly an entire season before entering the draft and had a bit of a car-crash off season.
It stands to reason that another player is going to sink this year, we just don’t know who it’s going to be.
Let’s look at five different prospects who may not necessarily last until the #25 pick, but could be around long enough to interest the Seahawks.
Disclaimer: I’m not saying these players will fall, especially not to the #25 pick. I’m simply not ruling it out.
Aldon Smith (DE, Missouri)
Big things were expected of Smith after an eleven-sack debut as a red-shirt freshman. A fractured fibula hampered his sophomore campaign and after missing some game time, he never quite got back to full speed in 2010. He was a non-factor in the Insight Bowl defeat to Iowa and probably wouldn’t have rushed back quite as quickly in the NFL. There was no sign of any lingering issues at the combine as he worked out fully – clocking in the mid 4.7’s at the combine. Many project a move to 3-4 OLB at 6-4 and around 260lbs, but for me he’ll always be at his best in a four man front.
There are teams in front of Seattle (Tampa Bay, New Orleans) who should prevent a full blown drop if he makes it out of the teens, but he’s a prospect without a defined stock at the moment. It wouldn’t really be a surprise if he went in the top-10/15 picks, but a fall into the 20’s also wouldn’t be a turn up for the books.
Verdict: Smith has the quickness and size to play the LEO and he’s no slouch against the run. Is he absolutely 100% after the injury? His floor may be Tampa Bay at #20 but he’d warrant serious consideration if he fell any lower.
Jimmy Smith (CB, Colorado)
Smith has the perfect combination of height (6-2), size (205lbs) and speed (4.38 forty yard dash) and even benched 225lbs an impressive 23 times (in comparison, Patrick Peterson managed 15 reps). He flew under the radar for most of his career at Colorado and only really drew attention after Scouts Inc pushed him up as high as #10 on their overall rankings. There’s no question in my mind that he’s a top-10 talent on the field and he could be the complete package physically with the technique to have an instant impact in the NFL.
During the combine the media focused largely on off-the-field issues dating back to 2007 when Smith failed a drugs test. Further concerns were raised about his attitude by the Denver Post and a largely harmless remark about having better ball skills than Nnamdi Asomugha was blown out of proportion. It remains to be seen how all of this will impact Smith’s stock, but a drop down the board isn’t out of the question.
Verdict: Smith is too talented to sink in a big way, but it wouldn’t be a total shocker if he lasted until the 19-26 range. He’d fill a need in Seattle and has the size/speed combo the team wants at cornerback.
Ryan Mallett (QB, Arkansas)
Mallett may be the best quarterback in this class. A bad press hasn’t helped his stock much this off season and too many people have side-stepped the fact that this guy can play. Personally I felt the combine did him the world of good – he performed well on the field and reportedly interviewed well with teams. His technique isn’t flawless and certainly he’ll have work to do but he’s the most prepared to start early from this class. Mallett also made huge strides during the 2010 season improving his completion percentage and accuracy, not to mention playing a leading role in getting his team to a first ever BCS Bowl game.
Quarterbacks are scrutinised more than any other position and with just reason. Talk of alleged drug use and other less than glowing reviews of his character are a big concern and it’s something teams will have to judge based on the time they’re able to spend with Mallett. Even so, it’s wrong to automatically assume the worst like many have done.
Verdict: At the moment I can’t see Mallett getting past Jacksonville at #16. A lot of other people have him in round two or even round three. The Seahawks would have to think long and hard about drafting him at #25 if the opportunity presents itself.
Robert Quinn (DE, UNC)
Many expected Quinn to light up the combine, but it didn’t really happen. A time in the early 4.7’s wasn’t bad, but neither was it perhaps as quick as some were expecting. The big problem I have when watching tape is Quinn appears to be a bit of a one-trick pony. He consistently beat college offensive tackles off the edge and he plays with a bite. However, there’s not much of a repertoire and he seems averse to cutting inside. Add in the fact that he missed all of the 2010 season through suspension and a drop seems at least possible. He was diagnosed with a brain tumour in high school that almost ended his football career. It had no impact on his game in college, but you do wonder if teams will show any caution with the benign tumour still in his skull.
Quinn is clearly a talented football player and he’s only 20-years-old so there’s room to grow. There are enough teams to create a logical floor in the 10-20 range, but there are things working against him that could mean a greater slip into the 20’s. It seems unlikely, yet not impossible.
Verdict: I’m not saying he will fall badly but I think too many people assume he’s safe as a top-12 pick. It’d be no gamble at #25 and a possible steal if the Seahawks are looking for a defining pass rusher at the LEO position.
Nick Fairley (DT, Auburn)
I’m not suggesting Fairley will drop to #25 but I think there’s every chance he’ll go a bit later than some people think. Rob Rang quotes an interesting source today: “Everyone is coming down hard on the quarterback (Newton), but [Fairley] is the one to worry about.” He was a beast at times in 2010 and I could easily see him going fourth overall to Cincinnati, yet I could just as easily see them draft a different position (Quarterback?). You could say the same for Cleveland and Tennessee – two other teams with a logical need at defensive tackle, but may be focusing their attentions elsewhere. It’s likely someone will pull the trigger eventually but in my last mock that team was St. Louis at #14.
Let’s say a CBA is agreed before the draft and Brandon Mebane is no longer part of the Seahawks roster. Does defensive tackle become a big need if it isn’t already? If Fairley drops into a position where you can trade up and get one of the more talented players in the draft, does that become a serious option? There are several teams running a 3-4 defense in the teens who could entertain switching picks.
Verdict: He could live up to the top five billing but I graded him in the 10-15 range during the season and his stock may rest in that area come April.
I’ll stress again that these are not intended to be accurate predictions. My intention is always to look at many possibilities mixed in with some opinions on players and directions I think a team would like to go.
The top-15 continues to be particularly difficult to project with limitless connotations. By this time last year we were pretty certain about the top three picks (Bradford, Suh and McCoy) and many had assumed Washington would draft the top offensive tackle on their board (which they did). When you’re sold on a few picks early on it helps set up a mock draft and we don’t that luxury this year.
For example – this week I really struggled to place Nick Fairley. There were a handful of spots in the top ten where he would be a logical and realistic fit, but then I can also see why those teams would go in a different direction. Putting him at #14 to St. Louis seems unlikely at this stage, yet is it improbable or even impossible? I’m not sure.
There are some things I remain confident about. I still think Mike Shanahan will invest his future in Jake Locker. Wherever Jimmy Smith ends up going, I think he’ll present real value and he could be the cornerback from this class to have the best career. Unlike many others, I actually think Ryan Mallett improved his stock over the weekend enough to secure a first round spot – Jacksonville at #16 seems like a really good fit. I’m also absolutely positive that like Colt McCoy last year, we will not see Christian Ponder going in the first round. They aren’t similar players, but they are going through similar levels of unwarranted hype.
So what about the Seahawks? Regulars will know I like to mix it up for Seattle and go through different possibilities. We’ve just about covered every angle by now (or at least every position) and I don’t want this to become a token gesture ‘let’s see who it is this week’. Part of the problem is we’re still trying to work out the new regime. Tim Ruskell had such a defined draft policy it wasn’t difficult to project outcomes. We’re not at the stage yet with Pete Carroll and John Schneider that we can call someone a ‘Seahawks type pick’.
Will they ever draft a quarterback in round one? Do they value the LEO enough to take the fourth or fifth best pass rusher in this class at #25? Is the interior line considered worthy of that first round investment?
I’ve gone with Brooks Reed this week – a rising defensive end from Arizona who would fit at the LEO. He’s not had an explosive career with the Wildcats (15 sacks in two fulls seasons) and his 2009 season was hampered through injury. He posted impressive numbers at the combine, running a 4.68 forty yard dash with a 1.62 ten yard split. As a comparison, Clay Matthews (drafted 26th overall in 2009) ran a 4.62 forty with a 1.58 split. He’s also about 8-10lbs lighter than Reed and didn’t enter the pro’s with much pass rush production due to his role at USC.
Reed also has Clay Matthews hair, but we’ll not count that as a positive part of the evaluation.
It raises similar questions to last week when I suggested Jabal Sheard could be an option at #25. There will be LEO ‘fits’ later on so do you look to boost the interior defensive line instead? There were options in this mock (Phil Taylor, Muhammed Wilkerson, Corey Liuget etc).
Yes, this is a picture of Ryan Mallett and Snoop Dogg
Ryan Mallett significantly improved his stock at the combine. What’s wrong with that suggestion? It goes against the media consensus but maybe it’s true?
Here’s the timeline for Mallett’s media massacre, dating all the way back to last year:
January 2010- Mallett decides not to declare for 2010 draft andreturns for a second year starting in Bobby Petrino’s offense. High profile pundits criticise his height, touch, accuracy, lack of mobility and ability to win tough games on the road.
February 2010- Breaks foot during conditioning drills and he’ll be forced to miss all of Spring practise. Critics voice concern about Mallett’s ability to work on his faults.
September 2010- Mallett, now fully healed, throws for 1698 yards in his first five games (4-1) of the 2010 season – scoring thirteen touchdowns in the process. Arkansas win key games at Georgia and Texas A&M, but defeat to #1 ranked Alabama sticks in the throat when a double interception in the fourth quarter leads to defeat. Critics focus on the key final pick when, under pressure, Mallett is forced to re-adjust his feet and throw off balance – costing Arkansas a chance to win.
September 2010 – Speculation begins surrounding potential off the field concerns. Wes Bunting from the NFP tweets: “I talked to a scout the other day that said, ‘I got stuff on Mallett that nobody knows about’ there are a lot of concerns on him personally.”
October-December 2010- Arkansas doesn’t lose another regular season game under Mallett’s leadership. The Hogs only defeat comes against eventual BCS Champions Auburn when Mallett is forced to leave the game early with a concussion. Impressive wins against Mississippi State (A), South Carolina (A) and LSU (H) lead to a first BCS bowl appearance in the team’s history.
January 2011- Mallett’s Arkansas lose the Sugar Bowl to Ohio State after a second-half comeback falls short. Deja vu strikes as Mallett throws another late interception off balance to kill the game, re-opening wounds from the Alabama defeat earlier that season. Critics continue to focus on the footwork problem despite a 3869 yard season that included 32 passing touchdowns and just 12 interceptions.
January 2011- By the end of the 2010 season, Mallett made major strides across the board. He improved his completion percentage from 56% in 2009 to 65% in 2010. His accuracy and touch had greatly improved, as did his willingness to check down. He continued to show strongly progressing through reads and didn’t rely as much on his big arm. Mallett controlled the offense and was given responsibility to adjust plays at the line of scrimmage. The other issue – wins on the road – was improved with Arkansas’ only official road defeat coming in the Mallett-less shoot-out against #1 Auburn,
January 2011- Mallett dramatically and suddenly drops out of Mel Kiper’s top-25 big board, despite being as high as #11 previously. Kiper claims mechanical problems are the issue, but the example he uses (vs Alabama) is a game he previously analysed in detail during the season.
Follow the relevant media and you’d be forgiven for thinking Mallett’s last 12-14 months have been an utter train wreck.
It leads us to today, March 2nd, with the combine in the books. The name Ryan Mallett hasn’t been barely mentioned since he left Indianapolis on a plane having completed quarterback drills at the combine. Attentions turned obviously to the defensive lineman, linebackers and defensive backs – but the Mallett soap opera was still conspicuous by it’s absence after Sunday.
Am I missing something here? Is somebody sat on an enormous scoop that’s going to destroy the guy’s stock even more? This is a person the media have used as a pawn in their draft coverage – the evil villain so to speak among the Patrick Peterson’s, Von Miller’s and Prince Amukamara’s out there. After all – we need a bad news angle, right?
So why has the Mallett character assassination (is that too strong? arguably not) ceased to such a grand halt? After his perceived poor public appearance on Saturday, I felt sure we’d hear all about how teams were repulsed by his performance and how it carried on into private team interviews. This was a story that had legs, so why would it stop?
“Despite a Saturday afternoon media session in which some felt that quarterback Ryan Mallett was caustic and evasive when questioned about the drug allegations surrounding him, most league franchises that subjected the former Arkansas star to a closed door interview came away impressed with him. Three teams that met with Mallett at the combine said they had no problems with his responses to the drug allegations or with his demeanor.”
Admittedly this is focused on private team meetings and the media has no direct access to the productivity of those. Nobody is leaking that they went badly though and Pasquarelli’s sources suggest he actually performed well.
My take on the introductory presser was rather than suffer a ‘meltdown’, Mallett almost certainly dealt with it in the best way possible. It was a tough situation and he knew it – what exactly would’ve been a good way of dealing with it? Denying allegations only to be labelled a liar if they prove true? Admitting mistakes and making it a public talking point? Teams don’t want to see him discussing such loaded topics with the press. After five questions on the subject, he politely calls a halt to proceedings and leaves the podium – he hardly storms off the stage as some outlets have suggested.
Mallett performed well in drills – perhaps better than any other quarterback – and there have been no negative reports from his interviews. The conclusion? He’s poured ice-cold water all over the blazing fire surrounding his draft stock. Teams who may have had concern with his off the field persona might have been impressed with the way he handled himself.
I’ve always considered Mallett a top-15 talent on the field with doubts off it. I felt the combine would define his stock because if anything was going to come out into the open – it’d be now. That hasn’t happened, no skeletons leaving the closet. We still don’t know if the reported drug abuse is true or to what extent it may be true but nobody has been able to nail down exact details. No journalist or team representative has put credence to the speculation.
That in itself has to be constituted as a success. The fact he performed well and reportedly interviewed well is another significant bonus.
It doesn’t mean I think he’ll be a top ten pick all of a sudden – he may easily drop into round two as I’ve projected for some time. Perspective is vital though and I don’t see many others willing to consider the possibility that actually – Mallett had a pretty good weekend.
What I want to convey and will represent in my next mock (published later today, so stay tuned) is the argument that Mallett did have a more positive experience at the combine than some believe. I’m not saying a fall isn’t still possible, but let’s not rule out someone acknowledging his on-field talents and being satisfied enough with his off-field personality to roll the dice on a player with big-time potential.
The defensive backs complete the combine work outs this week. I’ll be blogging live throughout with the numbers, some thoughts and linked analysis.
Colorado cornerback Jimmy Smith is among those working drills
Regular visitors to the blog will know how highly I rate Colorado cornerback Jimmy Smith. I’m looking forward to seeing how he checks out after an ‘eventful’ last couple of days to say the least.
Firstly, a lot of negative publicity was created by his introductory press conference:
The comment that he has ‘better ball skills’ than all-pro cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha caused a stir and maybe a few over reactions. I don’t mind stuff like that. It’s cocky, but ultimately harmless. It’s not like the top players don’t spend a lot of time calling each other out (see: Jets vs Patriots in the playoffs).
If the arrogance translates to a bad attitude or poor work ethic, then it becomes a concern. I didn’t see any evidence of that when scouting Smith in 2010.
It is possible for a person to mature. As with several other highly talented prospects, teams will have to do their homework. Smith had 28 team interviews before today’s work out and he’ll have to answer some difficult questions. Even so, he’s without doubt one of the players with elite potential in this draft class. Running a time in the 4.3’s will help his stock just as much as an impressive set of interviews.
Smith benched 225lbs a credible 23 times. Patrick Peterson managed 15 reps and Ras-I Dowling had 19.
Cornerback (Group 1) forty yard dash times
Cortez Allen (Citadel): 4.45 & 4.47
Prince Amukamara (Nebraska): 4.37 & 4.44
Ahmad Black (Florida): 4.78 & 4.74
Curtis Brown (Texas): 4.51 & 4.57
Jalil Brown (Colorado): 4.55 & 4.56
Kedrick Burney (UNC): 4.75 & 4.72
Brandon Burton (Utah): 4.50 & 4.51
Rashad Carmichael (Virginia Tech): 4.49 & 4.53
Quinton Carter (Oklahoma): 4.62 & 4.63
Chimdi Chekwa (Ohio State): 4.33 & 4.37
Chris Culliver (South Carolina): 4.36 & 4.38
Ras-I Dowling (Virginia): 4.40 & DNP
Marcus Gilchrist (Clemson): 4.49 & 4.46
Eric Hagg (Nebraska): 4.68 & 4.64
Brandon Harris (Miami): 4.43 & 4.44
Will Hill (Florida): 4.64 & 4.63
Davon House (New Mexico State): 4.46 & 4.43
Amukamara ran a 4.37 and a 4.44. Straight line speed was never an issue for him, this really just confirms the evidence on tape. The difference between Joe Haden (who ran in the 4.7’s) and Amukamara is recovery reactions and ball skills. I suspect despite the difference in forty times, Amukamara will be drafted lower than Haden.
Ras-I Dowling is a favorite on this blog as a potential sleeper who could slip due to injuries. He helped himself by running a 4.40 – then hurt himself by pulling a hamstring. A talented player, but his stock is all over the place because he can’t stay healthy.
Brandon Harris’ time was fine at 4.43 but he seems an unlikely option for Seattle after measuring 5-9 rather than his listed height of 5-11 at Miami. “He’s fairing the best from all of these drills” – Deion Sanders’ review of Harris working out.
Chimdi Chekwa ran two blazing 4.3’s but didn’t impress in drills. Deion Sanders and Mike Mayock were critical of Prince Amukamara back pedal – he stayed high and didn’t look fluid. “How tight are you in the hips? You can’t fix that.” – Mayock.
Curtis Brown flashed some nice hips and ball skills – he projects as a late second/early third round cornerback. Chris Culliver also looked good to back up a couple of nice times in the forty.
Cornerback (Group 2) forty times
DeAndre McDaniel (Clemson): 4.64 & 4.68
Rahim Moore (UCLA): 4.53 & 4.61
Johnny Patrick (Louisville): 4.53 & 4.57
Patrick Peterson (LSU): 4.32 & 4.37
Robert Sands (West Virginia): 4.56 & 4.53
Buster Skrine (Chattanooga): 4.29 & 4.36
Jimmy Smith (Colorado): 4.38 & 4.44
Demarcus Van Dyke (Miami): 4.33 & 4.33
Aaron Williams (Texas): 4.53 & 4.52
Deunta Williams (UNC): DNP
Shareece Wright (USC): 4.47 & 4.46
Smith ran an impressive forty yard dash given his size (6-2, 211lbs)
Patrick Peterson ran an outstanding forty yard dash which should ensure he’ll be the first cornerback off the board. Of course my main focus of attention was on Jimmy Smith and he too ran quickly. Both players have the perfect blend of size/speed and fluidity.
Mike Mayock also mentioned on the NFL Network that he’s seen tape where Smith shows less than 100% effort – something I can’t say I’ve witnessed in the handful of Colorado games I have watched, but I haven’t seen every game tape.
Unless teams have serious and legitimate concerns on Smith, it’s hard to envisage too much of a drop – especially not to the #25 overall pick. As far as I’m concerned he’s the complete package at corner with limitless potential.
Aaron Williams ran in the 4.5’s – a time which led Mayock to project a move to free safety. He didn’t perform well in positional drills either. Shareece Wright helped himself by running a 4.4.
Robert Sands looked tight in drills and struggled a little bit. It’s not a good safety class overall. Rahim Moore is clearly the best of the bunch and it showed in work outs. Buster Skrine showed nice quick feet and will find a team who likes him, but Jimmy Smith was quite tight in the hips.
Closing thoughts – what I think we learned from the combine
– Brandon Harris seems unlikely for Seattle after measuring at 5-9 instead of the 5-11 he was listed at Miami. Seattle wants size at cornerback.
– We know the Seahawks were among the teams that interviewed Cam Newton. It was reported that Tom Cable spoke to Mike Pouncey and the team also met with Clemson defensive tackle Jarvis Jenkins and Lehigh offensive tackle Will Rackley.
– The Seahawks are covering their small school prospects. They were the only team to have a formal meeting with Mark LeGree (CB, Appalachian State) and also met with Abilene Christian wide receiver Edmund Gates.
– Ryan Mallett may have impressed teams more than people think. It goes against popular opinion, but I think he solidified a first round grade in Indianapolis.
– DeMarco Murray ran well and could’ve boosted his stock quite a lot with a 4.3. He needs to run harder, but he catches passes and will have a role at the next level.
– Offensive tackle is such a premium position that it’s hard to see Tyron Smith not going in the top ten.
– Chris Carter from Fresno State is a sleeper pick to keep an eye on.
– Buster Skrine impressed more than possibly any other defensive back, running in the late 4.2’s and competing well in the drills.
– The first round is going to be dominated by defensive lineman. The most surprising thing is how well they all ran the forty yard dash.
– I ran through a mock draft I intend to publish tomorrow post-combine. The top-15 picks are still wide open and completely unpredictable. This is certainly the hardest class to project that I’ve ever covered. There are still so many different possibilities.
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