LSU pair should be on Seattle’s radar
Twenty-four hours after I projected Sam Montgomery (DE, LSU) and Michael Brockers (DT, LSU) as potential top-12 picks, ESPN’s Todd McShay included them on his big board for the first time. This isn’t unexpected - a mediocre number of top-end players always makes you wonder if the best underclassmen will capitalise. Here’s McShay’s evaluation:
On Montgomery: “A fast-rising third-year sophomore, Montgomery is somewhat undersized for a traditional end but he’s a productive pass-rusher with strong physical tools.”
On Brockers: “Another standout third-year sophomore for the Tigers, Brockers moves well for his size and has the strength to control the interior of the line of scrimmage.”
I’ve received a lukewarm response to my Montgomery-to-Seattle projection, with people concerned about his ability to shed blocks, deal with tight-ends (he should be beating them easily) and inconsistent fire off the snap. I have similar concerns, but Montgomery is far from the finished product. This is his first full season of college football and he’s leading a talented LSU defense with nine sacks. Despite playing at around 250lbs at the line of scrimmage, he’s been solid against the run and combative against the pass. Most players couldn’t play at the LOS with that size. He does have burst and real athleticism, and I’ve seen enough balance to believe he can attack the edge. Put him in space and I think you’ll see a much more productive player. We’re only scratching the surface with his potential and let’s not forget that not many people predicted Clay Matthews to be the eventual dominating pass rusher he’s become. Montgomery’s best days will come in the NFL.
Brockers, however, may be the X-Factor here. Seattle needs a better interior rush, someone who can feature in any play call and create inside pressure. Brockers is the player that’s lacking in this class so far. He’ll penetrate, he’ll get into the backfield. Not only is he solid against the run, he’d offer the Seahawks are severely lacking three-technique to create pressure. If he declares, there’s every chance he could be off the board by #11 or #12 because of the high value of the position and the lack of alternatives. Having said that, teams sometimes are cautious to draft redshirt freshman – we only have to look back to Tim Ruskell who fed his draft boards with experienced seniors. Earl Thomas dropped to #14 and past teams who desperately needed a boost at safety – one of the reasons may have been his limited experience.
Both players should be on your radar when LSU takes on Alabama in the BCS Championship game next week.
Landry Jones will return to Oklahoma
No surprises here. I’ve been down on Jones throughout the season while others continued to promote his talents as a top-ten pick. I’ve not included him in a single first-round mock draft. He has a laundry list of issues which may or may not be solved with another year at Oklahoma. The thing is, he might as well stick around and play for another Big-12 title. He’s simply not good enough to warrant any long-term pro-ambitions without a significant, perhaps unachievable level of improvement.
History in Seattle’s favor
If you’re wondering what the success rate is for players taken with the #11 and#12 picks, there’s good news. Seattle will toss a coin with Kansas City to decide who picks first and in the past some of the NFL’s elite players have been available in that range. Below I’ve listed every player drafted 11th or 12th overall since the turn of the century and a selection of players who were still on the board at the time.
11th pick: JJ Watt (DE, drafted by Houston)
12th pick: Christian Ponder (QB, drafted by Minnesota)
On the board: Nick Fairley, Robert Quinn, Mike Pouncey, Ryan Kerrigan, Corey Liuget and Nate Solder
11th pick: Anthony Davis (OT, drafted by San Francisco)
12th pick: Ryan Mathews (RB, drafted by San Diego)
On the board: Earl Thomas, Jean Pierre-Paul, Maurkice Pouncey, Dez Bryant and Rob Gronkowski
11th pick: Aaron Maybin (LB, drafted by Buffalo)
12th pick: Knowshon Moreno (RB, drafted by Denver)
On the board: Brian Orakpo, Brian Cushing, Josh Freeman, Alex Mack, Percy Harvin and Clay Matthews
11th pick: Leodis McKelvin (CB, drafted by Buffalo)
12th pick: Ryan Clady (OT, drafted by Denver)
On the board: Jonathan Stewart, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, Chris Johnson, Joe Flacco and Rashard Mendenhall
11th pick: Patrick Willis (LB, drafted by San Francisco)
12th pick: Marshawn Lynch (RB, drafted by Buffalo
On the board: Darrelle Revis, Dwayne Bowe, Joe Staley and Leon Hall
11th pick: Jay Cutler (QB, drafted by Denver)
12th pick: Haloti Ngata (NT, drafted by Baltimore)
On the board: Antonio Cromartie, Tamba Hali, Jonathan Joseph, Santonio Holmes, DeAngelo Williams and Nick Mangold
11th pick: DeMarcus Ware (OLB, drafted by Dallas)
12th pick: Shawne Merriman (OLB, drafted by San Diego)
On the board: Jammal Brown, Derrick Johnson, Aaron Rodgers, Roddy White and Logan Mankins
11th pick: Ben Roethlisberger (QB, drafted by Pittsburgh)
12th pick: Jonathan Vilma (LB, drafted by New York Jets)
On the board: Tommie Harris, Vince Wilfork, Steven Jackson and Jason Babin
11th pick: Marcus Trufant (CB, drafted by Seattle)
12th pick: Jimmy Kennedy (DT, drafted by Minnesota)
On the board: Troy Polamalu, Willis McGahee, Dallas Clark, Larry Johnson and Nnamdi Asomugha
11th pick: Dwight Freeney (DE, drafted by Indianapolis)
12th pick: Wendell Bryant (DT, drafted by Arizona)
On the board: Jeremy Shockey, Albert Haynesworth and Ed Reed
11th pick: Dan Morgan (LB, drafted by Carolina)
12th pick: Damione Lewis (DT, drafted by St. Louis)
On the board: Steve Hutchinson, Reggie Wayne, Drew Brees, Alge Crumpler, Chad Johnson and Kyle Vanden Bosch
11th pick: Ron Dayne (RB, drafted by New York Giants)
12th pick: Shaun Ellis (DE, drafted by New York Jets)
On the board: John Abraham, Julian Peterson and Shaun Alexander
The Seahawks have owned the #11 pick twice. In 1997 they traded it alongside a 2nd, 3rd and 4th rounder to Atlanta for the 3rd overall pick and a third rounder. The pick was spent on Shawn Springs (CB, Ohio St), while Atlanta drafted Michael Booker. That same year, the Seahawks also had the #12 pick andtraded it to Tampa Bay along with the extra third acquired from Atlanta for the #6 overall pick – spent on Walter Jones (OT, Florida St). Tampa Bay drafted Warrick Dunn. Cue a lot of ammunition to those arguing a bold trade into the top-ten could be the right move.
The only other time Seattle owned either the #11 or #12 is when they drafted Marcus Trufant in 2003 out of Washington State. Since the turn of the century, Seattle has only picked higher than #11 three times: 2001 (Koren Robinson, WR), 2009 (Aaron Curry, LB) and 2010 (Russell Okung, OT).
Osweiler the outsider?
There’s talk that Brock Osweiler (QB, Arizona State) could be considering turning pro. It’d be a surprise to some degree, given his disappointing end to the 2011 season and his one-year’s experience as a starter. At the same time, he’s facing yet another offensive coordinator change and he’s already graduated. He’s tall and lean and needs to add a bit more weight to a skinny-looking frame, but he moves well in the pocket. He’s got a big arm, but it wasn’t used as much as it perhaps should’ve been in 2011 as ASU used a heavy screen game. Osweiler’s stock is hard to judge right now, but remember - not many people expected Blaine Gabbert to be a first rounder this time last year and he went 10th overall. The Sun Devils’ best win came against USC where Osweiler threw three touchdowns. You can see the game tape below courtesy of JMPasq:
**EDIT** – Reports suggest Osweiler will announce he’s turning pro tomorrow.
Geno Smith makes a statement
Speaking of quarterbacks, keep an eye on West Virginia’s Geno Smith. He’s had a hit-and-miss year overall, but was superb in the Orange Bowl against Clemson – throwing six touchdowns in a 70-point haul. He made the ‘pass of the season’ against LSU with an impossibly accurate lob from his own red zone and at times he’s looked every bit the pro-prospect. On other occasions, his deep throwing has been inconsistent and he’s made some bad mistakes. He’s got potential and another year in WVU’s prolific system could make for a high grade. However, coming off a national performance yesterday and perhaps sensing he’s achieved all he can with the Mountaineers prior to their move to the Big 12, you can never be sure what could happen. I suspect we’ll see a latecomer capitalise on Matt Barkley’s decision to return to USC and Landry Jones’ struggles at Oklahoma. It could be Smith or Osweiler, both have momentum.
Stephen Hill to declare
Back in September I highlighted Stephen Hill (WR, Georgia Tech) as a player to watch. He’s the latest in a long line of physically talented receivers from Georgia Tech, with the ability to flash the spectacular catch and make plays downfield. Today it was revealed he’s declaring for the 2012 draft and he’s another player to monitor during work-outs and the combine. As with many receivers in the triple-option, he’s used to doing a lot of blocking and not a lot of catching. He only had 28 catches in 2011, but notched 820 yards and five touchdowns. His best football will come at the next level when he’s properly used in a pro-stle offense. Hill could provide a solid split-end option for Seattle beyond the first round. I’ve added tape below from his performance against North Carolina: