Archive for January, 2012

The Thursday draft compilation

Thursday, January 5th, 2012

Michael Brockers (#90) and Sam Montgomery (#99) could be options for Seattle

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.   

2011
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   

2010
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   

2009
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   

2008
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   

2007
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   

2006
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   

2005
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   

2004
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   

2003
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   

2002
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   

2001
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   

2000
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:  

Updated mock draft: 4th January

Wednesday, January 4th, 2012

Sam Montgomery tape vs Alabama & Georgia provided to Seahawks Draft Blog by JMPasq

One thing struck me during Pete Carroll’s end-of-season press conference yesterday – his belief in the need for speed. He talked openly about wanting more pace among his front seven, with the pass rush considered a prime target-area for improvement. The Seahawks generated modest pressure during the 2011 season, often relying on Chris Clemons at the LEO specialist position for sacks. The ‘big three’ in the middle – Alan Branch, Brandon Mebane and Red Bryant – combined for four total sacks. If it wasn’t for a seemingly never-ending question mark at the quarterback position, there’s no doubt what Seattle’s most pressing concern would be.

Speaking of quarterbacks, Carroll spent most of his near 50-minute session answering questions about Tarvaris Jackson. It’s hard to get a read on Seattle’s plans solely based on what we discovered here, but it seemed to me that Carroll appreciates what we all know – that Jackson isn’t a long term option, but right now he’s the best quarterback on the roster. The Seahawks need more than 14 passing touchdowns in the regular season. In fact, Matt Hasselbeck and Jackson combined for just 26 passing scores in the last two years. To put that into context, ten quarterbacks scored 26 or more touchdown throws this season alone – including the much maligned Mark Sanchez. Jackson’s scoring totals matched Colt McCoy, were comparable to Blaine Gabbert and Matt Moore had better numbers in 12 starts for Miami. Sure, he battled a torn pectoral muscle. Yet we didn’t see enough from the healthy Jackson to believe he’d taken any giant leaps from his time in Minnesota.

Carroll has actually been fairly open and honest with his press conferences in the past. Last year he spoke of getting bigger up front and making the offensive line a priority. The end product? Seattle spent its first two picks on big bodied lineman. I believe Carroll was 100% telling the truth when he said re-signing Hasselbeck was the #1 priority, but I also believe the lockout and Tennesee’s offer of a three-year deal changed the situation completely. This year, Carroll spoke about the draft depth at quarterback and the amount of work already conducted by John Schneider to get an angle on this QB-class. Perhaps this is just a presumption made far too early to carry any weight, but I felt like the Seahawks weren’t expecting to make any aggressive moves up the board to target Andrew Luck or Robert Griffin III. I do believe the Seahawks will be prepared to ‘make their move’ one day to get their guy at quarterback, I just feel like that quarterback is probably playing in SoCal in 2012. 

So this brings us back to the front seven. Carroll says he wants more speed and that he’s looking for improved inside and outside pressure. This isn’t a great class for interior defensive lineman, so Seattle may be forced to look at outside rushers and athletic linebackers who can bring it from the WILL position. Jarvis Jones (DE, Georgia) would’ve been a perfect fit for the WILL but he’s staying in college. However, a lack of top-end depth could persuade several other players to declare. Michael Brockers (DT, LSU) is among the best interior line prospects in the nation. He’s only a redshirt sophomore and still has a lot of developing to do, but could winning the BCS Championship and seeing a chance to be the #1 player drafted at his position tempt him to turn pro?

Seattle’s pick comes in the form of a different LSU Tiger – outside rusher Sam Montgomery. He’s got a near identical build to Clay Matthews III when he turned pro and a similar intensity on the field. He has nine sacks this season, including a deuce in the 9-6 win over Alabama during the regular season. If the Seahawks are looking for speed and a better pass rush, they could easily line Montgomery opposite Clemons and use a more orthodox 3-4 look with the three big bodies in the middle, while keeping the front four on passing downs. It’s hard to imagine how the Seahawks will significantly improve their pass rush by just improving the outside speed at the WILL linebacker position currently occupied by Leroy Hill. Carroll is quite openly prepared to use a slightly unbalanced line that enhances Red Bryant’s effectiveness as a run stuffer, but also flashes his weakness to provide any kind of edge threat. The only issue is run defense and the lack of size the Seahawks would have at the edge. That’s why they may have to ultimately consider switching to a 3-4 to use players like Clemons and potentially Montgomery, unless they’re going to rely on the linebackers to force runs wide. They have the size at cornerback to manage run support, but ideally you want to remain big up front.

Note: Mohamed Sanu (WR, Rutgers) returns for this week’s mock after choosing to declare. Luke Kuelchy (LB, Boston College) has been removed after reports suggested he was leaning towards returning to Boston College.

Updated first round mock draft

#1 Andrew Luck (QB, Stanford)
Despite a lot of talk about keeping Manning and drafting Luck, it remains an unlikely proposition. Long term thinking will win out.
#2 Matt Kalil (OT, USC)
The Rams have to take Kalil, he’s too good to pass up. There’s enough depth at receiver to wait until round two.
#3 Jonathan Martin (OT, Stanford)
Minnesota would love a shot at Kalil. It might be a bit of a reach, but protecting Christian Ponder must be a priority.
#4 Trent Richardson (RB, Alabama)
Last year Cincinnati used this pick to draft a supreme playmaker in AJ Green, before taking a quarterback in round two. Cleveland might do the same.
#5 Morris Claiborne (CB, LSU)
He’s had a fantastic season with six interceptions. This seems like an obvious match for the Buccs.
#6 Riley Reiff (OT, Iowa)
I still predict Peyton Manning will be a Redskin, and that Mike Shanahan will target Ryan Tannehill in round two for the future.
#7 Justin Blackmon (WR, Oklahoma State)
This is too high for Blackmon in my opinion, but his production will interest teams. The Jaguars need to help Blaine Gabbert.
#8 Robert Griffin III (QB, Baylor)
Miami will pick 8th if they win a coin toss with Carolina. If Cleveland and Washington pass, RG3 will take his talents to South Beach.
#9 Michael Brockers (DT, LSU)
A complete lack of defensive line talent could encourage one or two unexpected players to declare. Brockers is one to watch against Alabama.
#10 Dwight Jones (WR, North Carolina)
If Stevie Johnson doesn’t return, the Bills will be paper-thin at receiver. Jones is the complete package.
#11 Sam Montgomery (DE, LSU)
Built like Clay Matthews and with a similar intensity. Montgomery could play opposite Chris Clemons to improve Seattle’s pass rush.
#12 Barrett Jones (OT, Alabama)
Another underclassmen few expect to declare, but a need at tackle and a weak top-15 group could push him into the NFL.
#13 Andre Branch (DE, Clemson)
With the tackles leaving the board early, Arizona will be forced to address their second most important need – an outside rush.
#14 Dre Kirkpatrick (CB, Alabama)
He’s big and good in run support, but struggles in coverage at times. Jerry Jones will like this guy, so will Eli Manning.
#15 Zach Brown (LB, North Carolina)
The Eagles will look closely at the linebacker position and Brown is a good fit for Philly’s scheme.
#16 Mark Barron (S, Alabama)
Few players have enjoyed the level of progress shown by Barron in 2011. He’s firmly in the round one equation.
#17 David DeCastro (OG, Stanford)
Slightly over rated, a technician who looks great on the move but lacks elite power at the point of attack.
#18 Courtney Upshaw (OLB, Alabama)
The kind of pass rusher San Diego have drafted in the past. They need to find some outside pressure.
#19 Kendall Wright (WR, Baylor)
The ultimate deep threat. Jay Cutler will get the most out of Wright, who should be able to have a Mike Wallace-type impact.
#20 Quinton Coples (DE, North Carolina)
Coples is a complete enigma. He has the physical talents to be great, but we don’t see enough of it on tape.
#21 Janoris Jenkins (CB, North Alabama)
Elite cornerback talent but troubled by off-field problems. The Bengals needs to draft a corner and Jenkins is good enough to start quickly.
#22 Michael Floyd (WR, Notre Dame)
Cleveland needs to keep adding playmakers. Floyd has his issues, but put him on that offense with Trent Richardson and it’ll be much improved. They’d still need a quarterback.
#23 Whitney Mercilus (DE, Illinois)
With 14.5 sacks this year, someone will give him a chance early in the draft. Detroit has bigger needs but could show interest here.
#24 Lamar Miller (RB, Miami)
The Broncos run the ball well and could look to add another back to their stable. Carolina had two first round runners under John Fox.
#25 Michael Egnew (TE, Missouri)
He’s very much the modern tight end – a pure pass catcher who will make spectacular plays downfield.
#26 Vontaze Burfict (LB, Arizona State)
Although I think his stock is falling, someone could take a shot on Burfict. My guess is he’ll end up playing AFC North..
#27 Devon Still (DT, Penn State)
I’m still trying to get an angle on Still. It often looks like his best fit may be at the five-technique.
#28 Peter Konz (OC, Wisconsin)
Stood out last year in a big-name Badgers offensive line. Could return for another year, but ready to have an impact as a pro
#29 Mohamed Sanu (WR, Rutgers)
Sanu can line up anywhere and Jim Harbaugh will find different ways to get him involved. Another powerful weapon for San Fran.
#30 Jonathan Cooper (OG, North Carolina)
A player not a lot of people are talking about, but has stood out every time I’ve watched the Tar Heels this season.
#31 Alshon Jeffery (WR, South Carolina)
Jeffery divides opinion. He is capable of making big plays, but he runs sloppy routes and looks ‘too big’. Could go much earlier than this, or much later.
#32 Fletcher Cox (DT, Mississippi State)
He plays a bit like a runaway train. He’s a bit unbalanced, but moves well for a big guy. He looks ideal for a move to the 5-technique position.

Robert Griffin III vs Washington & draft notes

Tuesday, January 3rd, 2012

Yesterday I wrote a piece contemplating a scenario where Robert Griffin III was within reach for the Seahawks. Although many people expect Griffin to be drafted in the top-five, we looked at situations that could make it possible for Seattle to initiate a modest trade up the board – possibly with Carolina at #8 – to draft their quarterback. Today I wanted to highlight Griffin’s most recent (and likely final) appearance for Baylor, a 67-56 shoot-out against Washington.

There’s an awful lot to like about Griffin and the most attractive quality is the giant leap he made in 2012 to become a legitimate pro-prospect. He’s made tangible progress every year as a starter, evetually winning the Heisman for his efforts in 2011. Aside from a high level of athletic talent, Griffin has clearly worked on his craft and become a much more accomplished passer. He’s currently enjoying the kind of hype that helps a draft prospect almost as much as the tape. Fans want Griffin on their team, executives know he’ll not only sell tickets but also a lot of other merchandise. He has a very marketable nickname in ‘RG3′ and companies will want to be associated with the team that owns such an asset.

It’s going to be very easy to look beyond any negative issues. Yet, as with every young quarterback, they exist within Griffin’s game. The positives are obvious and contained within two plays in the tape above (provided by JMPasq). At 0:12 you can see the way he runs right on the edge of his own end zone, then delivering a wonderful pass with top-end arm strength and accuracy to beat two defensive backs. He’s made eye-catching plays like that all season. At 2:57, we see his running ability and that elusive quality to avoid tackles and break off a big play for a touchdown. He’ll do that at the next level and it’ll offer a different dimension to an offense. It’s also, potentially, at the heart of one of Griffin’s issues.

You’ll see several examples in the tape where he gets happy feet. At times he was bailing on passes too early after one read and trying to make similar highlight-reel plays on the ground. For the most part this season I’ve found his footwork on drop backs to be a bigger problem than anxiety in the pocket, but this is something teams will have to study. Griffin is going to need to learn a pro-drop back (nothing new for a college quarterback), he’s going to have to take less steps in order to set and throw. Teams might also need to work out if they’re drafting a player who will stay patient and scan the field, allowing for plays to develop. I want to see improvisation from a young quarterback and Griffin provides it, but he’s also going to need to pick his moments.

In fairness, Baylor also seemed to shift their game plan towards a lot of run-option and screen passes against Washington - similar to what we saw in previous seasons with RG3 at quarterback. It’s always difficult to be too judgemental in bowl games such as this with a lot of points scored and not a great deal at stake. No doubt the games against Oklahoma and Texas will provide greater points of focus for scouts in the off season, where we didn’t see quite as much of an issue with Griffin getting happy feet. It may be that he simply believed he could score at will against a bad Huskies defense and tried too hard. Even so, this wasn’t his best game whatever the reasoning – and it does highlight that while there are a lot of extreme positives to Griffin’s game, he’s not flawless.

Decision time for underclassmen

Despite previously announcing he’d stay at Rutgers, Mohamed Sanu has today revealed he will turn pro. He’s a big, sure-handed receiver with the potential to line-up all over the field. He’s not got elite downfield speed and he’ll need work on his route running, but there’s a lot of playmaking potential. Whitney Mercilus (DE, Illinois) is also turning pro after a 14.5 sack season that led the NCAA. He’s not a brilliant physical talent with elite edge speed or dominating strength, but his production will interest teams. Personally, I think he’s best suited to playing in space because he’s not the biggest player. I’m not convinced he’s a player the Seahawks will look at as early as #11 or #12.

Stanford trio Andrew Luck, Jonathan Martin and David DeCastro are all turning pro as expected, as is Arizona State linebacker Vontaze Burfict. Luck will go first overall while Martin’s stock could be inflated with a good combine performance and the sheer need for offensive lineman at the top of round one. Right guard DeCastro is slightly over rated and he’s not quite as dominant as people will have you believe. He’s a great technician and does an excellent job pulling and working on the move. He initiates holes in the run game with great hand placement and positioning. However, he’s not got elite size or strength at the point of attack and his pass-protection can be hit and miss. He’s also a little too keen to get to the second level sometimes.

Tomorrow I’ll be publishing an updated mock draft with the Seahawks picking 11th overall. Of course, in reality they need to win a coin-toss to leap frog Kansas City – but I thought I’d give the edge to Seattle for now. I’ll also be breaking down Ryan Tannehill’s performance against Northwestern and we’ll have game-tape of Chandler Jones – a defensive end from Syracuse with mid-round potential for the Seahawks.

Griffin out of reach for Seattle? Not so fast…

Monday, January 2nd, 2012

The Heisman winner in Seattle? It's not quite so unrealistic anymore...

The Seahawks are a coin-toss away from the #11 overall pick in April, yet most people have given up on the Seahawks drafting a quarterback in round one. I was one of those people. After a big win on the road against Chicago, I presumed the Seahawks would win one of their last two games. I’m not sure many people anticipated two NFC West defeats to end the regular season, which pushed Seattle up to the fringes of the top-ten. Time to review this particular situation.

There are essentially two quarterbacks worthy of being drafted early in round one. Andrew Luck will go first overall to Indianapolis, leaving the rest to scrap for Robert Griffin III. Ryan Tannehill and Landry Jones get a lot of unworthy hype, but as I’ve discussed at length, I wouldn’t take either in the first round. John Schneider was at the Alamo Bowl to watch Griffin take on Washington and in many ways the Baylor quarterback fits what Seattle has been looking for at the position. He’s mobile, he’s capable of extending plays, he limits turnovers and he’s got the arm to make difficult throws. Nobody can accuse Seattle of looking for perfection with the three quarterbacks they’ve acquired under the current regime (Tarvaris Jackson, Charlie Whitehurst and Josh Portis) but all share similar playing trends. Griffin is a more accomplished, more exiting model.

There’s an assumption doing the rounds that RG3 won’t last very long in round one. In fact, St. Louis are supposedly being primed to make a killing as teams jostle for position to draft the Heisman Trophy winner immediately after Luck leaves the board. I’m not going to rule that out and certainly Griffin’s hype-factor is through the roof at the moment. Not only is he a quarterback fans want to root for, but he’s a marketing dream with the potential to help sell a lot of tickets. He’ll test well at the combine, he’ll interview well and it’s no surprise that reports have surfaced that he’s going to turn pro. He’d be daft not to.

Even so, let’s not ignore the other side of the debate here which hasn’t been covered anywhere. What could lead to a fall, if anything?

The Washington game highlighted a couple of technical issues that haven’t always shown up this season. I sensed Griffin got a little impatient in the game and after a razor-sharp start, he was contained by the Huskies (even if they couldn’t stop the run and the steady stream of points). Feeling frustrated and wanting to make things happen, Griffin tried too hard. Suddenly he was moving around in the pocket trying to make unrealistic runs, bailing on the pass too early and losing a lot of his poise. Baylor scaled down their offense to take advantage of soft coverage and went to a heavy screen game – a staple used prior to the 2011 season that limited Griffin’s grade coming into this year. He didn’t look like a spectacular playmaker and was outshone by his opposite number – Keith Price. He’s also not working within an offense comparable to what he’ll find in the NFL and there’s a learning curve to combat especially if he’s expected to start quickly.

Although he generally makes good decisions, like most college quarterbacks he isn’t being asked to make pre-snap reads and adjustments. There are footwork issues he needs to solve when setting to throw, because he wastes too many steps on the drop back and dances too much in the pocket. Some teams will question the throws he’s making this year – although there’s been some sensational plays, the bulk of his throws are downfield lobs to utilise the extreme speed Baylor has at receiver and there’s a lot of comeback passes on bootlegs or scrambles, or simple screens and digs.

Griffin made enough mind-blowing plays for a lot of teams to see beyond this. However, it’s worth noting a possible flaw or two considering all of the non-stop hype everywhere else. Perhaps it won’t be any fault of Griffin’s ifhe falls? Maybe there’ll be reasons beyond his control that see him take a slight drop?

Indianapolis are clearing house after a 2-14 season – firing Vice Chairman Bill Polian and GM Chris Polian. Head Coach Jim Caldwell could also be on the way out. This is a big step for the Colts, who appear to be preparing for a new era at the franchise. Tellingly, the usually conservative Peyton Manning spent eight minutes with reporters after yesterday’s defeat to Jacksonville talking about the future. He acknowledged the Colts had to act and would do whatever they think is best. Manning sounded resigned to a future where he isn’t the heartbeat of theset-up. This is soon to be Andrew Luck’s team, with everything built around his future success.

Although Bill Irsay says Luck and Manning can c0-exist, the writing is on the wall. Due $28m before the new league season begins, Manning will be cut or traded before Indianapolis is footing the bill. It’ll create a scramble for a future hall-of-fame quarterback who, if healthy, could turn a team into an instant contender within their division and maybe even their conference. I’ve made the point many times on this blog, but doesn’t this just scream for Washington to make a move? Dan Snyder loves a free-agent splash and making Manning a Redskin would be a major coup. Suddenly, Washington would be in the NFC East mix. Mike Shanahan has endured two pretty miserable seasons so far as Head Coach, but adding Manning would suddenly make his offense relevant.

Sure, heisn’t the prototype quarterback Shanahan usually acquires - but this is Peyton Manning we’re talking about here. Washington can’t sit around hoping that Griffin will fall beyond Cleveland come April - they have to act. They could sign Manning and plan to go in a different direction in round one. The Redskins could still draft a younger quarterbacklike Ryan Tannehill, who should be around at the top of round two unless there’s a ridiculous Christian Ponder-type reach. By adding Manning, drafting a player such as Riley Reiff to play right tackle and then adding Tannehill as a developmental successor, Washington could have a direction for the future but also a short term plan to be competitive in the NFC East.

It’s not a ridiculous suggestion, in fact I think it’s fairly logical when you think about it. It’d also take the Redskins out of contention for Griffin.

The team in pole position to draft RG3 is of course Cleveland, who own the #4 overall pick. Colt McCoy hasn’t worked out (why did anyone ever think otherwise?) and they need a quarterback desperately. The Browns have two first round picks meaning they could draft Griffin and still improve another area of their team in round one. However, is there a possibility Cleveland could look to fill their quarterback void elsewhere? Let’s not forget how Mike Holmgren went about his work in Seattle. He hand picked a quarterback from his former employer and despite a bargain price, turned Matt Hasselbeck into a Pro-Bowler and Super Bowl quarterback. Already he’s avoided the position early in consecutive drafts, only to spend a mid-round tester on McCoy. Will he see Griffin as an unmissable talent for his master plan? Or will he believe there are other options out there? After all, this is a Cleveland team with very little offensive playmaking talent.

Griffin alone could be swallowed up, but go and sign Matt Flynn and realistically you could draft Trent Richardson and a first round receiver too. Then you’re looking at a quarterback with some of the technical qualities Holmgren likes, but not the physical brilliance of Griffin. You’ve got a playmaker capable of becoming a superstar in Richardson and a big bodied receiver (Alshon Jeffrey? Michael Floyd?) to help Greg Little. While the running back position is becoming less important in terms of draft stock, let’s not rule out the possibility of a team falling in love with Richardson as much as many expect teams to fall in love with Griffin. The relatively cheap price of a top-five pick these days could make for a more dynamic impact with Richardson pounding the rock in the AFC North and Flynn acting as the string-puller. Too far fetched? Maybe not.

If these two scenarios came true (run with it) it would leave Miami at #9 as the next obvious home for RG3. Suddenly, you could be looking at a situation where the Carolina Panthers are on the clock at #8 and the Seahawks would only need to move up three spots to usurp the Dolphins. The old trade value chart says Seattle would need to make up 150 points, essentially the price of a late third round pick. The Seahawks haven’t had a third round choice in the last two drafts, yet have still managed to find plenty of talent in the later rounds. If Seattle traded it’s early third round pick, they could probably get a 5th rounder out of the deal to soften the blow. It’s hardly a trade that will ruin the future of your franchise, especially if you believed Griffin had the potential to finally end the tedious debate as to who will be Seattle’s quarterback of the future.

A lot would need to happen for this to become reality – not to mention the possibility that other teams could also look to move up and might be willing to spend big in order to do so. However, there was a lot of hype about Blaine Gabbert last April. People might not recognise it considering Gabbert’sstruggles this year, but there was talk he could go first overall and wouldn’t make it out of the top five. At one point, reports suggested Washington were aggressively trying to trade up to draft him in the top-three. As it happens, the Redskins passed up the chance to draft him with their own pick and Gabbert went fell to the #10 pick – a surprise at the time. Although we expect Griffin to go very early – and people expect Griffin to be a better pro than Gabbert has so far - let’s try not to assume anything just yet.

Picking in the late teens would’ve made any potential trade a blockbuster – multiple picks, two first rounders. It would’ve handcuffed the Seahawks  – and Pete Carroll – to Griffin and his success or failure. I’d guess this franchise wouldn’t be prepared to make such a move, a risk that seems out of character. Whether Seattle picks at #11 or #12, suddenly such a deal is no longer so unrealistic. According to the chart, for the price of their second rounder they have enough to get up to #5 or #6. If the Seahawks like RG3 enough to make him ‘the guy’, putting a deal together to bring him to the North West may not cost quite as much as people first thought. Is he in play for the Seahawks? Why not?

Seahawks will pick 11th or 12th in the draft

Sunday, January 1st, 2012

After a 23-20 defeat to Arizona today, the Seahawks will pick 11th or 12th overall in the 2012 NFL Draft. They will hold a coin toss with Kansas City, who beat Denver 7-3.

Had Indianapolis, Tampa Bay or Minnesota won today, Seattle would’ve avoided a coin toss. They had been picking at #14 before the final weekend of regular season play, but wins for Philadelphia and Arizona moved the Seahawks up two spots. Their ability to get lucky on a 50/50 chance will determine whether they move up even further. Seattle’s opponents for the season ended 131-125 (0.512), the exact same number as Kansas City. Recent history suggests the coin toss will take place at the combine in Feburary – that is when Jacksonville & Chicago (2010) and Atlanta and Tampa Bay (2006) held there’s.

Here are the players taken in the last three years at #11 and #12:

2009
#11 Aaron Maybin (LB, Penn State), #12 Knowshon Moreno (RB, Georgia)

2010
#11 Anthony Davis (OT, Rutgers), #12 Ryan Mathews (RB, Fresno State)

2011
#11 JJ Watt (DE, Wisconsin), #12 Christian Ponder (QB, Florida State)

2012 Draft order so far:
1. Colts
2. Rams
3. Vikings
4. Browns
5. Buccaneers
6. Redskins
7. Jaguars
8. Panthers
9. Dolphins
10. Bills
*11-12. Seahawks/Chiefs (coin toss)

Where will the Seahawks pick if…

Sunday, January 1st, 2012

Today is the final day of the regular season with Seattle preparing to face Arizona. So what draft pick will the Seahawks get depending on the different scenarios that could play out?

Seattle can pick as high as 10th, but no lower than 19th. Defeat against Arizona and the Seahawks will pick no lower than 13th. They will jump a spot higher if the following happens:

- Philadelphia defeats Washington at home

- Kansas City beats Denver, plus two of Tampa Bay (@ Atlanta), Minnesota (vs Chicago), Pittsburgh (@Cleveland) and Indianapolis (@Jacksonville) are victorious. In the event only one of those teams win, a coin toss would determine who picks first between Seattle and Kansas City.

- Buffalo wins at New England, plus two of Tampa Bay (@ Atlanta), Minnesota (vs Chicago), Cincinnati (vs Baltimore) and Tennessee (@ Houston) are victorious. In the event only one of those teams win, a coin toss would determine who picks first between Seattle and Buffalo.

If all three scenarios play out and Arizona defeats Seattle, the Seahawks will own the #10 overall pick.

So what about if Seattle wins? The Seahawks could pick no higher than 14th overall and no lower than 19th. If Seattle wins today, they will move a spot closer to #14 with each of the following results:

- Chicago wins at Minnesota

- San Diego wins at Oakland

- Tennessee wins at Houston

- The New York Jets win at Miami

- Dallas wins at the New York Giants

- Oakland wins against the Chargers, but at least one of the following teams win: Tampa Bay (@ Atlanta), Minnesota (vs Chicago), Pittsburgh (@Cleveland) or Tennessee (@ Houston). In the event that Oakland loses and all four of those teams are also defeated, a coin toss would determine who picks first between Seattle and Buffalo.

The ideal scenario is a Seahawks to win today while still getting the #14 overall pick, so it’s time to become part-time fans of the Bears, Chargers, Titans, Jets and Cowboys for 24 hours.