Due to unforeseen circumstances today’s updated mock draft will be postponed until tomorrow. In the meantime I’ve added game tape (courtesy of JMPasq) of Courtney Upshaw vs Mississippi State. Let’s also open up the comments section for your thoughts post-combine, plus any questions you have… fire away.
Archive for February, 2012
This is an open thread to discuss the final day of the combine where the defensive backs will perform. The Seahawks are unlikely to be too active with this group considering the talent they have at both safety and corner, but they may look for further depth in the later rounds. I’ll review the numbers when they’re in and provide a breakdown.
Just how well Morris Claiborne works out could be crucial for the Seahawks. Cleveland (if they don’t win the RGIII trade-stakes) and Tampa Bay may see him as an alternative to Trent Richardson – who would be an option for Seattle if he drops out of the top ten. Jacksonville could select Claiborne instead of a top-tier edge rusher – Seattle’s preferred pick at #12. I’m also interested to see how Dre Kirkpatrick performs – a player I’m not overly enamoured with who struggles in coverage and offers more value in run support. Janoris Jenkins’ off-field problems have dominated his projection, he’ll have to explode in drills to rescue his stock.
Select forty yard dash times
Morris Claiborne (LSU): 4.54 & 4.47
Cliff Harris (Oregon): 4.59 & 4.65
Stephon Gilmore (South Carolina): 4.44 & 4.47
Jamell Fleming (Oklahoma): 4.43 & 4.45
Alfonzo Dennard (Nebraska): 4.51 & 4.60
Dwight Bentley (Louisiana-Lafayette): 4.37 & 4.41
Janoris Jenkins (North Alabama): 4.44 & 4.50
George Iloka (Boise State): 4.59 & 4.62
Jayron Hosley (Virginia Tech): 4.38 & 4.44
Casey Hayward (Vanderbilt): 4.53 & 4.60
Dre Kirkpatrick (Alabama): 4.43 & 4.53
Janoris Jenkins ran a 1.47 10-yard split and showed well overall. Jayron Hosley and Stephon Gilmore also took advantage of the opportunity to impress. Hosley in particular is a bit of a risk taker, but has the speed and playmaking qualities to be a star at the next level. Tony Pauline says talk at the combine suggests Tampa Bay will draft Morris Claiborne with the #5 pick.
A few people have asked about Boston College linebacker Luke Kuechly after he ran an impressive forty yard dash yesterday and flashed enough athleticism to warrant serious talk as a top-20 pick. He ranked 3rd among linebackers in the 20-yard shuttle and vertical, 4th in the 3-cone drill and 5th in the broad jump – all after running a 4.58. John Clayton mentioned on ESPN 710 yesterday that there’s a chance David Hawthorne could leave Seattle in free agency, creating a potential hole at middle linebacker. Following Leroy Hill’s latest arrest for drug possession yesterday, the Seahawks are faced with losing two starters in one area of the roster. Only second-year KJ Wright is slated to return at this stage, a situation that could make linebacker a priority during the off-season (if it wasn’t already). The defense already has enough issues with it’s impotent pass rush without another position gatecrashing the party.
Kuechly will likely be your classic safe, impact draft pick. Many people expected Aaron Curry to fit that mantra, but Kueckly’s skill set is completely different. A fine athletic showing in Indianapolis this week was seen as a bonus alongside raw tackling ability, a nose for the ball, field IQ and leadership. Unlike Curry, Kuechly isn’t going to make mental mistakes by the dozen ad collect penalties like baseball cards. He’s the type of player you plug in for week one and let him get to work. Size concerns are in the past after he turned up to the combine above the 240lbs mark and he held the extra weight well during work-outs.
However, I still think he’s an unlikely pick for the Seahawks. Middle linebacker is not a position that has traditionally required top-level draft investment – Seattle has seen that with the way they’ve been able to plug in David Hawthorne (a former UDFA). This front office has also shown a good eye for the position - finding KJ Wright in the middle rounds and finding a 7th round diamond in Malcolm Smith. There will undoubtedly be opportunities to fill holes with a modest outlay – either a mid-round pick or calculated free-agency pick-up at linebacker. Kuechly isn’t going to offer any pass-rushing quality, therefore he won’t be improving Seattle’s target area this year. His presence won’t significantly improve the team from their 2011 performance and although he’s clearly a fine football player – I suspect the Seahawks want more of an impact.
I’ve included Kuechly’s tape vs Clemson below, courtesy of JMPasq:
Day six links
Adam Schefter reports that St. Louis has decided to trade the #2 overall pick to a team intending to draft Robert Griffin III. That team is likely to be Cleveland or Washington, with Miami ranked as an outsider. Schefter: “Among the teams Griffin interviewed with in Indianapolis were Miami, Washington, Minnesota and Kansas City. He said all went well, including his talk with Indianapolis executives trying to decide what to do with Manning and that top pick.”
Mike Mayock runs through who impressed during yesterday’s drills. Like most other people – Mayock really liked the way Dontari Poe performed and highlighted the elite mobility he flashed during his work-out.
Michael Lombardi complimented Melvin Ingram and his versatility. He did play down the fact Ingram had the shortest arms among defensive lineman and although a 4.78 forty was fine, it wasn’t the kind of explosive number that could’ve cemented his place in the top-15.
Lombardi also provides a top-ten mock with the Redskins trading up to get Robert Griffin III. Two of the top-tier pass rushers are off the board – Ingram at #8 and Quinton Coples at #10. With Kansas City unlikely to draft him, this would be a very good situation for the Seahawks with ideal-pick Courtney Upshaw still on the board.
Tony Pauline liked what he saw from the defensive lineman and shows how deep this year’s class is by highlighting so many prospects as ‘risers’. Devon Still wasn’t quite as impressive, according to Pauline: “Still struggled throughout his entire workout. His 5.05-second 40 time paled when compared to many of the top defensive tackles at the combine. Still looked stiff in drills and struggled with his balance throughout the session.”
Pauline also enjoyed watching the linebackers work-out, including North Carolina’s Zach Brown. Pauline: “Brown was quick in the 40, timing as fast as 4.45 seconds on a number of watches after tipping the scales at 244 pounds. He flashed ability during drills, but seemed stiff and off balance at times. Despite that, the size/speed ratio and his game film make Brown a Top 25 choice.”
Steve Muench wasn’t too impressed with the Alabama pair of Courtney Upshaw and Dont’a Hightower, but he still believes they will be effective at the next level. Muench: “A pair of Alabama linebackers didn’t look great in space, so they aren’t great fits for schemes that ask a lot of their linebackers in space. However, Courtney Upshaw (6-2, 272) and Dont’a Hightower(6-2, 265) are excellent fits for a base 3-4 scheme – Upshaw at outside linebacker and Hightower at inside linebacker. In addition, Upshaw could even line up at end in a four-man front, so don’t expect their average showing in drills to hurt them too much.”
Muench also praised Dontari Poe for his display, but voiced concerns about Devon Still. Muench: “Memphis DT Dontari Poe ran a 4.98 40-yard dash at 6-foot-3½ and 346 pounds, and he shined during position specific drills. Poe showed exceptional lateral quickness and balance for a player his size during bag work, and given his 44 reps on the 225-pound bench press, he’s helped himself as much anyone else with his showing in Indianapolis. Penn State DT Devon Still, on the other hand, did not have a great day. Still looked sluggish changing directions and struggled to bend when asked to slap lower bags while sliding laterally.”
Today we could be watching Seattle’s next first round pick. Pete Carroll has been pretty open about his intentions this year, stating at the end of the season his desire to improve the team’s front seven. This week he reiterated those desires: “We need to address the issue about our pass rush, and it’s a big factor for us. We would love to see if we can make some movement there.” There is no doubt at all what area the Seahawks are focusing on in round one – pass rush. Defensive lineman (9am EST) and linebackers (1pm EST) work out today – Seahawks fans should take notice.
I’ll be blogging live on Group 7 (keep refreshing for updates), recording forty-yard dash time’s and the all-important splits. We’ll be passing comment on how the likes of Courtney Upshaw, Quinton Coples and Melvin Ingram perform and get the numbers for groups 8 & 9. It’s also important to concentrate on the second tier in the event a situation such as Brian Billick’s mock draft occurs. Vinny Curry, Nick Perry, Chandler Jones, Cam Johnson, Andre Branch and Whitney Mercilus are all worth monitoring. I’ll be watching linebackers Zach Brown and Sean Spence with great interest too. Bobby Wagner of Utah State will not work out as he’s suffering with pneumonia, per Tony Pauline.
One man who will be working out is LSU’s Michael Brockers – he measured at 6-5 and 322lbs this week. Opinion is really mixed on Brockers – Mike Mayock describes him as ‘special’ and a top-10 pick, while others have been more sceptical. He declared as a redshirt sophomore without a lot of pass-rush production and people wonder what his best position could be. At 322lbs, he might end up being a nose tackle.
My initial impression of Brockers was positive, playing on a dominating LSU defensive front. However, the more I’ve studied since he declared the more lukewarm I’ve become. He has great size and he carries it well, but he just doesn’t look like a three-technique to me. He gets very little inside penetration and doesn’t look much different to what Seattle already has with Red Bryant, Brandon Mebane and Alan Branch. While he could have value to a team like Carolina who want to mix between 4-3 and 3-4 looks, I’m not sure why the Seahawks would make that pick.
Update – Brockers ran a 5.37 and a 5.33 and looked heavy. More and more he looks like a nose tackle or one technique.
I’ve added his game tape below from the BCS Championship vs Alabama (courtesy of JMPasq):
Group 7 forty times:
Chas Alecxih (Pittsburgh) – 5.34 & 5.44
Frank Alexander (Oklahoma) – DNP
Jake Bequette (Arkansas) – 4.78 & 4.84
Jamie Blatnick (Oklahoma State) – 4.85 & 4.84
Andre Branch (Clemson) – 4.62 & 4.68
Michael Brockers (LSU) – 5.37 & 5.33
Josh Chapman (Alabama) – DNP
Quinton Coples (UNC) – 4.75 & 4.72
Fletcher Cox (Mississippi State) – 4.79 & 4.85
Jack Crawford (Penn State) – 4.78 & 4.76
Tyrone Crawford (Boise State) – 4.84 & 4.81
Jared Crick (Wisconsin) – 4.97 & 4.94
Vinny Curry (Marshall) – 4.97 & 4.85
Hebron Fangup (BYU) – 5.15 & 5.22
Marcus Forston (Miami) – 5.15 & 5.10
Trevor Guyton (California) – 5.10 & 5.15
Dominique Hamilton (Missouri) – 5.50 & 5.59
Dajohn Harris (USC) – DNP
Akiem Hicks (Regina) – 5.22 & 5.21
Jaye Howard (Florida) – 4.75 & 4.78
John Hughes (Cincinnati) – DNP
Melvin Ingram (South Carolina) – 4.66 & 4.78
Bruce Irvin (West Virginia) – 4.50 & 4.43
Malik Jackson (Tennessee) – 4.93 & 4.94
Jamaar Jarrett (Arizona State) – 5.00 & 4.94
Cam Johnson (Virginia) – 4.75 & 4.75
Chandler Jones (Syracus) – 4.85 & 4.82
Markus Kuhn (NC State) – 4.91 & 4.90
Bruce Irvin – 1.54
Andre Branch – 1.56
Tyrone Crawford – 1.62
Quinton Coples – 1.63
Fletcher Cox – 1.63
Jamie Blatnick – 1.65
Melvin Ingram – 1.65
Cam Johnson – 1.66
Vinny Curry – 1.68
Jared Crick – 1.69
Malik Jackson – 1.69
Jack Crawford – 1.70
Jake Bequette – 1.70
Bruce Irvin ran the fastest forty yard dash with a 4.43, not totally surprising given his college production and smaller size (245lbs). He also the best 10-yard split at 1.54. This was important for Irvin after not receiving an invite for the Senior Bowl and being a smaller pass rusher. He needs to show he has the speed to make up for a lack of size and teams will show a lot of interest in him as a specialist rusher at the next level. Andre Branch has been as high as #13 in my mock drafts and could move back up the board after flashing a 1.56 split and two forty’s in the 4.6 range.
Quinton Coples and Fletcher Cox both impressed given their near-300lbs size. Many people anticipated Cox moving up the board after the combine and a 10-yard split of 1.63 at 298lbs could put him into top-ten contention. Jaye Howard at Florida also impressed. Melvin Ingram ran two contrasting times of 4.66 and 4.78, recording a 1.65 split in his slower attempt.
Groups 8 & 9 analysis
I couldn’t live blog the second two groups as planned due to an impromptu TV appearance (seriously – and I have a face for blogging), but have since gone back and watched the workouts. Don’t forget, to see a full breakdown of every prospect’s measurement and work-out results, you can check out this database. Courtney Upshaw didn’t run the forty yard dash, although that is understandable. He was never likely to compete with Melvin Ingram in terms of straight line speed and only stood to negate his stock by running a slower forty time.
There were several headline makers in groups 8 & 9. Dontari Poe ran an official 4.81 forty despite weighing 345lbs – one of the more sensational combine performances in recent memory. To compare, Alameda Ta’amu ran a 5.34 despite weighing just 3lbs more. Elite nose tackle prospects are like gold dust and this will almost certainly push Poe into top-15 contention, if not top ten. It’ll be of huge benefit to the Seahawks if Poe begins to interest teams such as Miami, Carolina and Kansas City. Poe and Mississippi State’s Fletcher Cox did more than most prospects to boost their profile this week. Devon Still ran a 5.03 and didn’t look quite as explosive – his stock could drift back into the late first round or even early second. Plenty of fans are asking about the possibility of Seattle drafting one of these impressive interior defensive lineman – but I think it’s very unlikely. The Seahawks are zoned in on edge rushers this year and should be able to get one of the ‘big three’ at their position. A strong second tier will make life easier if they take another player – such as Trent Richardson – in round one.
Whitney Mercilus needed to prove athletic ability matched production and he achieved that with a blistering 1.56 10-yard split and an official 4.63 forty. USC’s Nick Perry continued his momentum drive by running an excellent 4.50 with a 1.57 split. Perry, Mercilus and Andre Branch should see their stock improve to solid first round grades as the defensive end class grows and becomes one of the stronger areas of this draft.
Two linebackers boosted their stock in a big way by running well. Tremendous run-stopper and physical force Dont’a Hightower showed he can also moved with a 4.62 forty that could push him into mid-first round contention. Luke Kuechly managed a 4.58 which will have a big-time impact on his stock. A tackling machine at Boston College, there were some questions as to whether he was an overachiever without elite tools. Now he’s shown he has size (242lbs), speed and leadership – he could be a target for teams like Kansas City, Philadelphia and Dallas. Zach Brown managed a 4.50 forty, with Lavonte David recording a 4.65.
Day five links
Tony Pauline lists Doug Martin among the players to boost their stock this week. Pauline: “Martin continues to impress scouts and move North on draft boards. His 28 reps on the bench tied Robert Turbin for the most by any running back. Martin’s 40 time of 4.53 seconds was faster than expected. Later in the day he looked polish in all the drills.”
Pauline says yesterday was a bad day for Dwight Jones, but a good day for Michigan State’s Keshawn Martin. I like both receivers – you could be looking at two major steals on days 2-3. Pauline: “Jones ran an adequate time of 4.53 seconds in the 40 yet his other marks including a broad jump of 9 feet, 1 inch and vertical jump of 33 inches, were pedestrian. Jones struggled through the pass-catching workout and dropped several easy throws besides running poor routes.”
Pauline also claims teams are contemplating a change of position for Iowa’s Riley Reiff, a move that could severely damage his draft stock. Pauline: “We’ve been told a number of teams have moved Reiff from offensive tackle to guard on their draft boards.”
Matt Smith and Bucky Brooks conduct an interview with Brock Osweiler that almost had a ‘rehearsed’ feel to it. I’m a fan of Osweiler’s, but this video reminded me of my last job interview. Admittedly – this is a job interview for the former ASU quarterback. However, I get the sense that sometimes prospects can try a little too hard to impress.
Smith and Brooks also spoke with Kirk Cousins in an interview which was almost the polar opposite. Cousins is a natural public speaker who exudes confidence in his interviews. Alongside a very solid work out in Indianapolis, it wouldn’t surprise me if he impressed just as much in the meeting rooms. Cousins could easily go as high as round two in April.
Russ Lande believes Kirk Cousins could’ve pushed his stock into the late first or early second round. Lande: “After a strong showing at the Senior Bowl, Cousins could not have helped himself any more than he did Sunday. He may have put himself in position to be considered by a team looking for a young, developmental quarterback at the end of the first round or top of the second.”
Evan Silva reports that teams could be striking Janoris Jenkins off their draft board. Silva: “One AFC executive told Yahoo Sports that he expects at least a handful of teams to remove North Alabama CB Janoris Jenkins from their draft boards due to off-field issues. Jenkins has been arrested three times, was suspended at North Alabama even after being kicked out of the University of Florida, has four children under the age of four, and had an admitted ongoing drug problem as recently as a year ago. “We haven’t decided what to do with him,” said the AFC exec. “We might take him off our board. I know there will be 3-4 teams that will take him off right away, at least for the first round.” Said one NFC executive, “I know this movie. It usually doesn’t end well.” Added an AFC defensive coordinator.”
Quarterbacks, wide receivers and running backs all performed today at the combine. For a full list of measurements, times and reps – I’d seriously recommend this database. Any information you need from this year’s combine is included and it’ll be updated as the process goes along.
Andrew Luck (4.67) and Robert Griffin III (4.41) both ran well as expected. Russell Wilson’s 4.55 was eye catching if not a total surprise given his size, while Austin Davis and Chandler Harnish both ran a 4.76. Although straight line speed isn’t a large part of a quarteback’s game, athleticism and mobility increasingly is. Last year we saw four quarterbacks with plus-mobility drafted in the top-12 – I suspect we’ll see at least three taken in the same range this year. Luck, Griffin III and Brock Osweiler didn’t throw the ball (Osweiler didn’t work out at all due to a slight injury). Ryan Tannehill is absent due to a broken foot.
Stephen Hill made the headlines among receivers, running a superb 4.36 and flashing during drills. We highlighted the Georgia Tech wideout earlier in the season after a fine overall performance against North Carolina. Although he was held back slightly playing in the triple-option, Hill has shown the ability to make spectacular catches, get downfield and play with a competitive streak. Don’t be surprised if he makes a big move up the boards, even in a deep year for receivers. Michael Floyd also impressed with a 4.47 at 6-2, 220lbs. Juron Criner and Mohamed Sanu both ran slightly disappointing 4.67′s but keep an eye on Keshawn Martin – he made a 4.45 and is one of the more underrated players in this class. Kendall Wright’s 4.61 was surprisingly slow while Justin Blackmon only took part in certain drills and didn’t run the forty.
During the day’s broadcast former Baltimore coach Brian Billick made an interesting top-ten mock draft which you can view by clicking here. The top three edge-rushers – Quinton Coples, Courtney Upshaw and Melvin Ingram – go #7, #8 and #10 respectively. Trent Richardson drops out of the top ten, but could conceivably be drafted by Kansas City at #11 unless they take an offensive lineman such as David DeCastro. This is probably Seattle’s most feared scenario. If the top pass rushers leave the board early, they’d almost certainly be putting their hopes in Richardson being available. I don’t expect the Alabama running back to fall too far because he’s simply too good, yet Billick’s top-ten also makes a ton of sense.
For people wondering what would happen in a situation where Richardson did go #11 to Kansas City, this is the situation where players such as Zach Brown potentially come into play. We’ll discuss this further over the next few days because Billick’s proposal would cause a few sad faces in Seattle’s front office especially if Richardson ended up a Chief.
The Seahawks stand to show interest at running back within the first few rounds so I’ve tracked and listed below the times run by the group today:
Edwin Baker (Michigan State) - 4.46 & 4.47
Mike Ball (Nevada) – 4.53 & 4.59
Vick Ballard (Mississippi State) – 4.63 & 4.66
Brandon Bolden (Ole Miss) – 4.56 & 4.66
Lennon Creer (Louisiana Tech) – 4.59 & 4.65
Rhett Ellison (USC) – 4.80 & 4.79
Bradie Ewing (Wisconsin) – 4.75 & 4.75
Terrance Ganaway (Baylor) – 4.63 & 4.72
Cyrus Gray (Texas A&M) – 4.41 & 4.50
Dan Herron (Ohio State) – 4.68 & 4.65
Ronnie Hillman (San Diego State) – 4.41 & 4.47
LaMichael James (Oregon) – 4.37 & 4.37
Doug Martin (Boise State) – 4.57 & 4.47
Davin Meggett (Maryland) – 4.50 & 4.57
Lamar Miller (Miami) – 4.38 & 4.41
Alfred Morris (Florida Atlantic) – 4.65 & 4.64
Isaiah Pead (Cincinnati) – 4.41 & 4.41
Bernard Pierce (Temple) – 4.50 & 4.50
Chris Polk (Washington) – 4.46 & 4.57
Tauren Poole (Tennessee) – 4.53 & 4.59
Chris Rainey (Florida) – 4.37 & 4.41
Darrell Scott (South Florida) – 4.72 & 4.68
Robert Turbin (Utah State) – 4.44 & 4.47
Marc Tyler (USC) – 4.78 & 4.72
David Wilson (Virginia Tech) – 4.40 & 4.43
Robert Turbin turned a few heads with a thick, muscular frame and two good times for his size – 4.44 and 4.47. I’ve had no access to Utah State this year but here’s tape vs BYU and San Jose State:
Day four links
Clare Farnsworth relays Pete Carroll’s off-season message – improving the pass rush is the key. Carroll: “We need to address the issue about our pass rush, and it’s a big factor for us. We would love to see if we can make some movement there.” This is the reason why for several weeks now our mocks have had the Seahawks taking an edge rusher. It’s also why we must pay most attention to tomorrow’s work-outs for defensive lineman and linebackers.
Steve Muench says Nick Foles disappointed during drills, but Kirk Cousins impressed. Muench: “Arizona QB Nick Foles – who is fighting for position on the board with the likes of Brandon Weeden and Brock Osweiler – failed to stand out this morning. Unfamiliarity and a lack of timing with the receivers likely played a role, but he didn’t show great foot speed in his drops and took too long to get the ball out on deeper throws. Kirk Cousins, on the other hand, looked comfortable and confident and showed good accuracy in the process.”
Tony Pauline says team’s were not impressed with Alshon Jeffery during interviews. Pauline: “A handful of scouts told us tonight they were less than impressed the interviews they had with South Carolina receiver Alshon Jeffery.”
Mike Sando has a few thoughts on Arizona State quarterback Brock Osweiler. Sando: “Osweiler has a pro day workout March 30. He’s resting a foot injury at the combine and will not participate in workouts while in Indianapolis. He’s a quarterback to keep in mind for Seattle after the first round.”
Evan Silva quotes a NFL employee on Osweiler’s decision to declare this year: Silva: “NFL assistant on Brock Osweiler: “1st impression was, ‘why are u coming out early when you’ve started only 15 games?””
Mike Florio says the Seahawks and Marshawn Lynch are not close to a new deal. Florio: “Though the two sides are talking, the breakthrough still hasn’t come. The Seahawks are expected to use the franchise tag on Lynch if the deal isn’t done before March 5.”
Jason La Canfora has the inside slant on why Stephen Hill performed so strongly at the combine. La Canfora: “Hill was considerably less polished when he arrived on the sprawling, state-of-the-art IMG campus. There, many of the kids are totally raw – especially some of the wider bodies on the offensive and defensive line – and come in as blank slates. Loren Seagrave gets them on the field and lets them run the 40, and then puts that up against an intricate computer model that has factored in all of the players measurables to project what his perfect form would be.”
Rob Rang quotes Vontaze Burfict stating he’s the best linebacker in the draft and that his coaches at ASU “kind of messed me up“. Burfict: “I just know I’m the best linebacker in this draft. The coaches kind of messed me up. I didn’t know if I would start a game or be benched. It hurt me, but I tried to fight through it.”
Tomorrow I’ll be blogging live on the defensive line and linebackers work-outs. Join us from 9am EST for the defensive lineman and 1pm EST for the linebackers. If enough people are interested I’d consider hosting a ‘Cover it Live’ chat.
Work-outs are underway at the combine, with the offensive lineman and tight ends running through drills today. Defensive lineman and linebackers also arrived in Indianapolis ahead of their work-outs on Monday – Seahawks fans should make a point of tuning in for those drills. Tomorrow is also a key date with the running backs, receivers and quarterbacks performing. Seattle is likely to be watching the running backs closely, so keep an eye on the likes of Doug Martin, Lamar Miller and David Wilson. I’m a big fan of Boise State’s Martin in particular and believe he could work his way into the back end of round one – he’d be a steal in round two. For the receivers, watch Stephen Hill at Georgia Tech – a player we’ve highlighted on this blog during the season who’s created a bit of buzz in Indianapolis.
Seahawks fans will be glued to the quarterbacks too no doubt – I’d suggest keeping a check on some of the second or even third tier players such as Kirk Cousins, Austin Davis, Chandler Harnish and BJ Coleman. In the meantime, here are some links to keep you up to date with everything…
NFL.com has all of the official work-out results for the offensive lineman and tight ends. Georgia’s Cordy Glenn had an impressive showing today and will interest team’s at both tackle and guard. Missouri tight end Michael Egnew – a player we’ve mocked in round one at times during the 2011 season – also flashed major athletic potential. Be sure to check out the video highlights from today’s work-outs by clicking here.
Tony Pauline reports that St. Louis are actively looking to deal the #2 overall pick. Pauline: “The word in Indianapolis is the St Louis Rams will do everything possible to move the second pick of the draft. We hear there have been exploratory talks with the Washington Redskins in the early going.”
Pauline also says Jacksonville and Buffalo are showing interest in Alabama’s Courtney Upshaw. Pauline: “The scouting report being passed around to teams on Courtney Upshaw of Alabama includes a quote from the Tides head coach. Nick Saban emphatically refers to Upshaw as the “meanest player he’s ever coached” and someone that “would never back down in a fight.””
Marc Sessier reports that Michael Brockers weighed in at 322lbs at the combine, with a listed height of 6-5. He won’t run the forty yard dash or bench press, however, so has the extra weight had a negative impact on his mobility or strength? It’s hard to tell, but that’s nose tackle territory. A lot of people ask about Brockers on this blog, but the one thing Seattle doesn’t need on it’s defensive line is more size.
Evan Silva reports that Melvin Ingram has shed 12lbs since the Senior Bowl, weighing just 264lbs in Indianapolis. Silva: “Ingram measured 6-foot-1 7/8 and 276 pounds at the Senior Bowl weigh-in on January 23. One month later, he measured 6-foot-1 7/8 and 264 pounds at Saturday’s Scouting Combine weigh-in.” I’m not sure this was the best move – his versatility and ability to move inside was seen to be crucial towards his stock. He’s lost weight so he can run a great forty yard dash, but I can’t help but feel he’d still impress at his game-weight. Team’s will go away thinking, ‘Good forty time, but can he run that when we ask him to put the weight back on?’
Silva passes on comments from Mike Mayock regarding Ohio State offensive lineman Mike Adams – who only managed 19 reps of the bench press. Mayock: “That’s not acceptable for that position, not even close. (You) see a lot of defensive backs put up that many.” It’s worth noting that Nate Solder only managed 21 reps twelve months ago and had a fine rookie season with New England, although I was never enamoured with Adams’ tape.
Silva also points out that Iowa tackle Riley Reiff has short arms. Silva: “Reiff measured in with only 33 1/4-inch arms. Short arms for potential left tackle prospect.” This could be good news for Seattle if he’s available and interesting Miami at #8 overall. The Dolphins are potential competition for the Seahawks in terms of the draft’s top pass rushers.
Todd McShay says it’s a positive sign that Brock Osweiler only measured at 6-6 and not 6-8 at the combine. McShay: “That’s a good thing for him. He was listed at 6-8 in college, and no one is thrilled about quarterbacks that tall. Osweiler is rising based on film study, and he’s a former Gonzaga basketball recruit with good feet and mobility for his size. He currently ranks at the No. 27 overall prospect on my board.”
Charlie Bernstein reports that Osweiler met with the Seahawks last night, along with the Chiefs, Redskins and Bills. Although a lot of people like Ryan Tannehill (I’m not a fan), I have Osweiler ranked firmly as the third best quarterback in this draft class. If you get him in any round outside of the first, that’s a steal.
John Clayton spoke to Seahawks GM John Schneider today, discussing several issues including the future of free agent Red Bryant:
The Seahawks lost the coin toss with Kansas City today, meaning they will pick 12th overall in the 2012 draft. Miami were victorious in the other coin toss, meaning they will pick 8th and Carolina 9th. This was of only minor significance - the Seahawks and Chiefs are not directly competing for the same players, at least that’s the impression I have. Kansas City needs to bolster their offensive line and could take a serious look at Stanford’s David DeCastro or Jonathan Martin. Seattle is zoned into the pass rushers and it’s one area the Chiefs have some real quality with Tamba Hali.
Miami and Buffalo will have the biggest impact on Seattle’s decision at #12. The Dolphins willconsider offensive lineman and could end up being a bit of a wildcard, but are also in the market to improve their pass rush. Buffalo’s greatest need is to find a pure edge rusher for their new 4-3 defense, although a premium left tackle would also be a smart addition. Don’t expect the Seahawksto jump up to the #6 or #7 spot to usurp both teams, so their fate really is in the lap of the gods. Unless we see a big riser in the next two months, Seattle will be picking out of the pass-rushing scraps left by Miami and Buffalo, with the usual suspects involved (Upshaw, Ingram, Coples…).
Kansas City does put an obstacle in the way for any fan hoping Trent Richardson could fall to the Seahawks, but it was never likely that a player of such quality would drop out of the top ten. If the Seahawks are willing to draft Richardson at #12 with Marshawn Lynch re-signed or tagged, rest assured that Tampa Bay, Jacksonville, Miami and Buffalo would be going through a similar thought process. I’ll be very surprised if he’s drafted below the same range as Adrian Peterson (#7 overall pre-rookie pay scale).
Really, there’s no major secret to Seattle’s thought process. They’ve been pretty candid about their desire to improve the pass rush and more and more people are buying into the fact this team isn’t going to find a quarterback solution in round one. Although the Seahawks won’t be big spenders in free agency, they could make some calculated moves to set up the draft board in April. Yet there’s a clear focus as to what area they’d most like to solve in the draft with a high-impact draft pick.
Monday’s combine work-outs are the ones to watch for Seahawks fans. The defensive lineman and linebackers will perform with at least one future ‘Hawk on show.
Combine day two links
Seahawks Head Coach Pete Carroll conducted a press-conference at the combine today. Carroll: “We’re working on evaluations, that’s all underway. This is a huge step for us in the week that we spend here and preparation for what follows.”
Aron Angel reports that Justin Blackmon won’t run the forty-yard dash at the combine, despite confidently announcing recently he’d complete all drills. Blackmon: “I was actually planning to run the day before I got here, but I listened to the people that are thinking of the best interests of me and decided not to.”
Michael Lombardi has a stark warning about what he describes as ‘lying season’. “Teams send out mixed signals to agents of players about to hit the market. Agents, in return, claim their player is the hottest free agent available and that multiple teams are interested. This is poker season in the NFL and the smart executives who can read a bluff always will prevail.”
Greg Bedard says he’d be surprised if the Seahawks show any interest in Matt Flynn. Seattle has little or no interest there, despite reports to the contrary. Bedard covered the Packers when Schneider worked closely with Ted Thompson, so this is another strong voice to those making it clear Flynn won’t be the answer. I’d guess his likely destination is Miami or Oakland.
Gil Brandt has an updated ‘hot-100′ list for the combine. Brandt ranks Ryan Tannehill at #7 overall, which goes to show a top-10 projection isn’t beyond the realms of possibility. Personally, I wouldn’t draft him even at the top of round two – but like Jake Locker in 2011 – Tannehill will divide opinion and could go earlier than people think.
Dan Kadar reports that Trent Richardson is unhappy about the way the running back position is becoming devalued. “It bothers me a lot because we’re getting pounded on every down and when it comes down to it, to be successful, you really just have to have a mindset that I know I’m not going in the first round, but I hope I go in the first round.”
Rob Rang has the bench press totals for the offensive lineman and tight ends. David DeCastro had the most among lineman (34) but Georgia’s tight end Orson Charles tops the list (35).
Rang also reports that Brock Osweiler will not throw at the combine. He joins Andrew Luck, Robert Griffin III and Ryan Tannehill in deciding not to throw. For me, Osweiler is the clear #3 quarterback in this class and I don’t see the benefit of him throwing in Indianapolis. His quirky mechanics and unorthodox style will always look better on tape than throwing to thin air in shorts.
Walter Cherepinsky lists the quarterback measurements. There are no issues with Robert Griffin III’s height as he measured well above 6-2. Ryan Tannehill’s nine-inch hands are a slight concern given his size – no quarterback had smaller hands. Despite giving up two inches in height, Austin Davis was only 2lbs lighter and had much bigger hands at 10 3/8 inches. Only Nick Foles had bigger hands than Davis. Kellen Moore measured 6-0, 197lbs with 9.5 inch hands.
The combine is underway with offensive lineman and kickers/punters on board for weigh-ins and interviews. The Seahawks GM John Schneider also spoke to the media in Indianapolis today.
WalterFootball has all the measurements for the offensive lineman at the combine. Kelechi Osemele – an underrated guard and tackle prospect from Iowa State – showed impressive size (6-6, 333lbs) and the longest arms of the group (35 7/8 inches). There’s quite a lot of interior line depth and although there’s not a cluster of talented center’s, Peter Konz is only slightly behind Alex Mack for the best positional prospect since Nick Mangold.
Paul Kuharsky reveals that Austin Davis, Chandler Harnish and Jacory Harris will be the ‘throwing’ quarterbacks at this year’s event. It means the trio will stay for all four work-out days and throw passes during the defensive drills. Davis: “I was not invited initially; it was a late invitation. I think I throw to the tight ends on Saturday. I’ll go with the quarterbacks on Sunday — I’ll do everything the quarterbacks do. Then I’ll stay here on Monday and Tuesday.”
Ross Jones was present for John Schneider’s press conference. According to Jones, the first quarterback mentioned by Seattle’s GM was Brock Osweiler. Osweiler turning pro came as a shock and many teams may still be going through the tape to get an angle on the ASU quarterback. He’s a unique player and could be set for a major rise up the boards. For me, he’s clearly the third best quarterback in this class.
Clare Farnsworth reports confirmation from Schneider that Marshawn Lynch will remain a Seahawk. An affordable franchise tag of around $7.7m makes keeping Lynch a certainty. ‘Beast Mode’ would rather not be franchised – many candidates for the tag have the same stance – but it seems the most likely scenario right now. Although the Seahawks would like to get a long term deal completed, the fragile nature of the position dictates how much they’d be willing to commit.
Edward Aschoff says Trent Richardson won’t work out at the combine, or Alabama’s pro-day. Instead, he’ll appear before scouts in a personal work-out at the end of March. It’s seen as a precautionary measure after minor knee surgery, but it’s somewhat of a blow with Richardson among the players expected to put on a big display this week in Indianapolis. He’s an elite player and shouldn’t see a big hit to his stock.
Todd McShay ranks the defensive line prospects using different categories. McShay says Quinton Coples is the draft’s best pass rusher, with Jared Crick the best run-stopper. Coples and Michael Brockers are ranked as McShay’s top two defensive lineman.
McShay also looks at outside linebackers and hybrid’s. He ranks Sean Spence (see below) as having the best overall instincts, just ahead of Courtney Upshaw. Zach Brown is credited with the best range versus the run, with Upshaw top for tackling, take-on-skills and third-down capabilities. The final one is crucial regarding the Seahawks - with the team looking to find a player that can offer a similar impact to Aldon Smith in San Francisco.
I’ve added game tape for Sean Spence below from the games against Kansas State and Florida State (thanks to JMPasq). Although undersized, Spence is ideally suited to the WILL and will offer a quick impact in the NFL. He’ll always be somewhat of a liability shedding blocks and helping to set the edge, but if you can provide good run defense up front Spence will offer natural instinct, speed and leadership. He’s underrated because of his size and while he won’t suit every team, Seattle’s big front three and desire for speed at linebacker makes him a very real possibility in round two if he’s still on the board.
In this week’s projection I wanted to contemplate the potential impact of the scouting combine, with work-outs beginning on Saturday. Who could rise? Who could fall? Will we see any significant changes when players have been tested and interviewed in Indianapolis?
I’ve already discussed the possibility that Zach Brown could be set for a boost after he tests at the combine - Fletcher Cox (DT, Mississippi State) may also surge up boards after he works out on Monday. Cox plays like a runaway train – he can be off-balance, but he’s all power and speed and can play both off the edge and inside in 4-3 and 3-4 looks. He’ll be listed above 300lbs but could run a surprisingly fast forty-yard dash for his size, potentially pushing him to the front of the class for interior defensive lineman.
Melvin Ingram, Quinton Coples and Courtney Upshaw are all jostling for position with all three likely to be drafted within the first sixteen picks. Ingram is expected to make the greatest impression as he’s clearly the most agile and will easily record the best forty-time. Coples and Upshaw can stay ahead of Ingram on a lot of draft boards by running respectable times and performing well in other drills. This is a big opportunity for Ingram, though.
Other players will emerge that have so far not been considered likely first round options. Rueben Randle (WR, LSU) was a victim of the Tigers’ offense and has a lot of pro-skills. He can jump ahead of several prospects with a good performance in Indianapolis and that element of unknown - and potential – could work in his favor. New England likes to draft defensive backs early and Casey Hayward (CB, Vanderbilt) could be a name to keep an eye on in the back end of round one.
Dre Kirkpatrick and Devon Still could be set for a fall. Alabama’s Kirkpatrick isn’t a great cover corner and his reputation is largely based on size, run support and hard-hitting. He was exploited by Florida’s John Brantley (not exactly a prolific SEC quarterback) and may not show the kind of fluid hips and straight line speed to warrant some of the inflated reviews he’s received in the last few months. Still hasn’t got the same high ceiling as a Michael Brockers or Fletcher Cox and could fall victim to need. He’s already a fifth-year senior with some previous injury history and teams may feel he’s already peaked and doesn’t possess enough upside to warrant a high first round selection.
I’ve maintained the trade touted in last week’s mock because I think it’s increasingly likely we’ll see a deal which will make Robert Griffin III the #2 pick. The most obvious trade partner is Cleveland, who would surrender their two first round choices to take the Baylor quarterback. Last week I looked at St. Louis going OT/WR with their new picks, this week it’s WR/OC. The center position is taking on an increasingly important role in the NFL and Peter Konz is an underrated prospect coming out of Wisconsin. Don’t be surprised if the Rams look to boost their interior with a pick like this. Will they take Blackmon at #4? It really depends on how they grade Riley Reiff, Mike Adams and Jonathan Martin. If they don’t see an offensive lineman worth the #4 pick, Blackmon has a shot.
As for the Seahawks – nothing much has changed. They’re still out of range for the top two quarterbacks, still needing to focus on their second biggest need at defensive end and still relying on which players leave the board before their pick to dictate the selection. Upshaw is the least likely to impress at the combine, but I suspect he’ll maintain a high grade on many boards and could easily be a top-ten pick. The trio of Ingram, Upshaw and Coples really could go in any order – making Seattle’s choice at #11 or #12 a question mark right up until Buffalo’s pick is called.
Updated first round mock draft
|#1 Andrew Luck (QB, Stanford)
The Colts might as well call the pick in now. Indianapolis will draft Andrew Luck. No trade offer will change that.
|*TRADE* #2 Robert Griffin III (QB, Baylor)
Cleveland would need to part with both first round picks to draft RGIII. It appears likely some form of deal will take place here.
|#3 Matt Kalil (OT, USC)
This would be a dream for the Vikings. They get a left tackle with elite potential.
|*TRADE* #4 Justin Blackmon (WR, Oklahoma St)
If Blackmon is going to go this early, he’ll need a good performance at the combine. This might be too high for the Rams.
|#5 Trent Richardson (RB, Alabama)
You have to believe Greg Schiano would love to draft Trent Richardson. Cornerback is also a need, so Claiborne is an alternative.
|#6 Ryan Tannehill (QB, Texas A&M)
This would be a foolish reach but Shanahan wants his guy. If Tannehill really is going to go in the top-15 as speculated, Washington is the obvious choice.
|#7 Morris Claiborne (CB, LSU)
Assuming the Jaguars attack the market for receivers in free agency, Gene Smith can concentrate on defense.
|#8 Fletcher Cox (DT, Mississippi State)
Carolina wants to use a lot of different defensive looks and Cox is scheme versatile. He could light up the combine.
|#9 Melvin Ingram (DE, South Carolina)
A blistering forty yard dash could push Ingram up the boards. Right tackle is another likely target area.
|#10 Quinton Coples (DE, North Carolina)
The Bills could switch to a 4-3 and that makes Coples rather than Upshaw or Ingram a more likely pick here.
|#11 Courtney Upshaw (DE, Alabama)
This could be Seattle’s ideal situation. Upshaw would have an instant impact, balancing out the pass rush with Chris Clemons.
|#12 David DeCastro (OG, Stanford)
This is a little high for me, but Scott Pioli will almost certainly like DeCastro and he has a little Logan Mankins about him.
|#13 Riley Reiff (OT, Iowa)
Reiff is a solid, blue-collar lineman. But is he spectacular enough to go in the top 5-10?
|#14 Janoris Jenkins (CB, North Alabama)
Jerry Jones wants to rebuild his secondary. Jenkins is the best corner available, but needs to prove off-field issues are in the past.
|#15 Michael Brockers (DT, LSU)
Philly should do what it takes to keep DeSean Jackson grounded, then set out to draft the BPA. It could be Brockers.
|#16 Kendall Wright (WR, Baylor)
The Jets need pass rushers but will be hard pushed to pass on the electrifying Wright to boost that stagnant offense.
|#17 Zach Brown (LB, North Carolina)
Brown could be set for a big jump after the combine. Cincinnati could solidify their defense with two first round picks.
|#18 Jonathan Martin (OT, Stanford)
Martin could suffer a fall if there isn’t an early run on offensive tackles. San Diego would get a bargain here.
|#19 Rueben Randle (WR, LSU)
Randle struggled for an impact in LSU’s offense but he has a lot of tools to be a success at the next level.
|#20 Mark Barron (S, Alabama)
Safety is a need for Tennessee and Barron is clearly the best available in this draft class.
|#21 Dre Kirkpatrick (CB, Alabama)
I don’t expect a big performance at the combine, which will put Kirkpatrick’s inflated stock into perspective.
|*TRADE* #22 Peter Konz (C, Wisconsin)
A surprise choice, but the center position is growing in importance in the NFL. Konz has tons of potential and would be a fine pick.
|#23 Cordy Glenn (OG, Georgia)
Glenn could play right tackle or move to guard. This would be a good fit for Detroit, even if they have greater needs.
|#24 Mike Adams (OT, Ohio State)
This is the domino effect on a quiet left tackle market early in the draft. Pittsburgh need to bolster their offensive line.
|#25 Luke Kuechly (LB, Boston College)
He’s under sized but what a tackler – he’ll get close to 100 tackles in year one. Kuechly will also provide needed vocal leadership.
|#26 Michael Floyd (WR, Notre Dame)
The Texans saw life without Andre Johnson and might add another receiver as insurance.
|#27 Casey Hayward (CB, Vanderbilt)
Hayward could move into this range if he performs well at the combine. New England loves to draft defensive backs.
|#28 Vinny Curry (DE, Marshall)
He has the production and enough power – he has a lot to gain at the combine by flashing mobility and speed.
|#29 Mohamed Sanu (WR, Rutgers)
Sanu can line up anywhere and make plays. San Francisco use a lot of gimmicks and needs a sure-handed catcher.
|#30 Dont’a Hightower (LB, Alabama)
The type of player that just fits in with Baltimore’s defense. This would be a fantastic addition for the Ravens.
|#31 Devon Still (DT, Penn State)
It comes down to upside and teams early in round one may be put off by an average ceiling.
|#32 Sean Spence (LB, Miami)
Underrated linebacker who makes up for a lack of great size with speed, instinct, tackling and elite recognition skills.
Over the next few days prospects will arrive in Indianapolis to begin preparations for the 2012 combine. The players are split into groups and use a staggered four-day schedule, with the event concluding a week today. Day one for each group includes registration, hospital examinations and x-rays, orientation and interviews. Day two consists of measurements, medicals, media meetings, psychological testing and further interviews. On day three there’s a NFLPA meeting, further testing and interviews. The final and most crucial day includes the work outs (timing, stations and skill drills) and then departure.
Group 1 (PK, ST, OL), Group 2 (OL), Group 3 (TE)
Group 4 (QB, WO), Group 5 (QB, WO), Group 6 (RB)
Group 7 (DL), Group 8 (DL), Group 9 (LB)
Group 10 (DB), Group 11 (DB)
Groups 1-3 will arrive in Indianapolis tomorrow, commence their schedule and begin work outs on Saturday. The quarterbacks, wide outs and running backs will arrive on Thursday and work out on Sunday. Defensive lineman and linebackers will go through drills on Monday and the defensive backs round things off on Tuesday. For a full list of the players invited, click here courtesy of Rob Rang at CBS Sportsline.
For those who are interested in this kind of thing – groups 1-3 will wear black, groups 4-6 red, groups 7-9 green and groups 10-11 blue. One other interesting thing to remember during the combine – the coin toss to determine whether Kansas City or Seattle will pick 11th overall will take place on Friday.
Monday should be an interesting day to see how the front seven players perform – a target area for the Seahawks in this draft. I’ll be paying particular attention to groups 7-9 next week, with several candidates for the #11 or #12 pick on show. One player in particular to keep an eye on is North Carolina’s Zach Brown. Some believe his stock is set for a boost when he works out, with a particularly fast forty-yard dash expected. He’s set records at UNC for sprinting and he flashed explosive speed and athleticism at the Senior Bowl. Any level of hype has been tempered slightly by his size limitations and the fact he’s almost exclusively restricted to the WILL position in the 4-3. However, his best football could be yet to come and don’t be surprised if he moves up the boards after the combine. I’ve added game-tape for Brown below vs Missouri and Louisville.
My own impression of Brown is mixed. There’s undoubted potential there and his athleticism is sometimes understated. He moves fluidly from sideline-to-sideline, can read and react in coverage better than most linebackers I’ve scouted and I’m often surprised how quickly he moves to make the tackle even when he’s transferring from one target to another or stationed on the opposite side of the field. Unfortunately, that mobility and athleticism has never translated to pass-rushing production and part of me remains suspicious of linebackers who don’t bring consistent pressure. The NFL has proven that linebackers can be found later, perhaps more so than any other position in the league. Seattle needs a pass rush on defense more than it needs a great cover linebacker.
Brown’s also not a big hitting force - as you’d expect given his size – and his tackling is occasionally a little sloppy. I found his 2011 tape to be a bit of a mixed bag (like so many UNC prospects) and often it was teammate Kevin Reddick making more plays and looking the better overall football player. Reddick doesn’t possess the same level of raw athleticism, but he may be a better overall player. Brown’s ceiling is undoubtedly higher, but will he realise that potential or prove to be another expensive bust at the position? Nevertheless, NFL teams love speed and athleticism and he will provide real benefits in coverage. If he can refine his pass rushing technique and provide another dimension there, you could be looking at a star. I think he’ll certainly become one of the big talking points at the combine.
I also wanted to bring attention to Tony Pauline’s updated top-50 big board this week for SI.com. It’s worth noting he currently has Zach Brown at #18 with the following write-up: “Brown is a terrific athlete who’s been a consistent force for the Tar Heels. He’s a three-down linebacker who stuffs the run or easily defends running backs and tight ends in coverage.” He’s certainly a draftable option for the Seahawks if their top options leave the board within the first ten picks.
It seems the hot gossip at the moment has Peyton Manning joining the Seahawks when he’s finally put out of his misery and released by the Colts. Dan Pompei from the National Football Post speculated on the possibility this week, suggesting:
“Based on the buzz around the league, the Seahawks could be the early frontrunner for Peyton Manning, assuming he is released. Pete Carroll needs a quarterback and is believed to have a strong interest in at least exploring Manning. The Seahawks could offer Manning an attractive scenario. They have a young team with some fine skill players to put around him. They play in one of the league’s loudest stadiums. Manning wouldn’t be subject to the same kind of scrutiny in Seattle that he would in a lot of other markets.
“The Seahawks also could have a better feel for Manning’s medical situation than some teams. One of their team physicians, Stan Herring, who also is one of the country’s preeminent specialists for spine injuries. Herring is a member of the NFL’s Head, Neck and Spine Committee.”
Gregg Rosenthal at Pro-Football Talk also touted Manning to Seattle today, noting:
“Seattle isn’t choosing high enough to get Robert Griffin III and they may be too high for Ryan Tannehill. The Seahawks have ties to Matt Flynn and the organizational flexibility to add Manning, even if Manning isn’t healthy enough to sign until later in the offseason.
“We’d argue that signing Manning isn’t a panic move. It’s a big risk that is worth the potential reward for some organizations that need a franchise quarterback — like the Seahawks.”
Manning to Seattle is not an illogical suggestion by any means. The Seahawks do need to upgrade at quarterback and are poorly positioned in the draft to solve this problem. Manning’s strong reputation remains intact despite what will be an acrimonious departure from the franchise he helped build over more than a decade. For years he dragged a mediocre Indianapolis roster into contention and when he finally succumbed to injury, the Colts quickly became the worst team in the NFL. Seattle has a solid young core and having an experienced, proven quarterback would surely help the team improve upon back-to-back 7-9 seasons.
Despite all of that, I’m almost certain Manning won’t be moving to the PNW.
The Seahawks will add a quarterback at some stage during this off season. Charlie Whitehurst is unlikely to be re-signed, leaving Tarvaris Jackson and Josh Portis as the only two recognised quarterbacks on the roster. Although Pete Carroll has spoken warmly of Portis, it still seems a stretch to expect he’s ready to take on full-time back-up duties. Jackson has missed games through injury in the past and it seems unlikely the Seahawks will roll the dice on Portis taking over mid-way through a season if needs must. Adding a veteran will be a priority, if for no other reason than to increase competition. Even if Jackson is the starter again in 2012, the job won’t be handed to him.
I understand there’s a possibility Seattle will be active in the trade market, potentially acquiring a veteran quarterback. Both myself and Kip have touched on this recently and while we cannot offer you any names, it might be worth considering who could be available come March. There are a handful of viable options right now and this front office has been quite cunning to capitalise on cost-effective veteran trades (Marshawn Lynch, Chris Clemons, Leon Washington etc). They could work the magic again to upgrade the quarterback position and build a bridge towards attacking the 2013 draft for a long term successor.
I’m led to believe Manning isn’t the focus and that this is unlikely to change when he eventually becomes available. It might be the hot-topic in the NFL media right now, but Seahawks fans shouldn’t get their hopes up if they’re looking to buy the team’s updated jersey with ‘Manning’ blazed accross the back. I reached out to Scott Enyeart, a beat writer at USC and friend of the blog. He’s very close to several member of the Seahawks coaching staff and previously worked with Pete Carroll. Enyeart has also been pretty vocal on Manning not being a likely target for Seattle. Here’s what he had to say:
“There are a number of reasons I don’t see Manning ending up in Seattle. One being the severity of his injury – even if he gets medically cleared to play in 2012, it’s a long shot to assume he can revert back to his old form and a risk I don’t feel this front office or coaching staff will take. The other reason I don’t think Peyton will become a Seahawk is ‘fit’. Manning’s diva attitude and ego are well documented. Pete Carroll has shown if you can’t buy in, you’re out. Ask T.J. (Houshmandzadeh), Lendale White, etc. Quite honestly, I don’t see Manning being willing to do it Pete’s way.”
The injury situation cannot be ignored and while bringing in Manning isn’t considered by many to be a ‘risk’ – it absolutely will be. Signing Peyton means committing to him as the starter. It may be that come the start of free agency, he can’t even be medically cleared to warrant such a commitment. So what do you do? Wait for the guy to recover and potentially miss out on other targets, or take a wild stab in the dark that he’ll ever be able to make a comeback? Carroll and John Schneider have been nothing but decisive so far and it seems unlikely they’d rely on a recovering Manning or take a punt on his health. If the Seahawks are going to add to the position, they’ll make a move that at least comes with a degree of security that provides instant competition.
Secondly – Enyeart is correct when he says Manning has diva qualities. He’s not a locker room cancer or anything – far from it. But Peyton is only used to getting his own way, and dealing with coaches that allow him to have a lot of control. He won’t get that in Seattle. We’ve seen how Indianapolis collapsed without their quarterback and the Seahawks are not looking to rely on any one individual – not now, not in the future. Of course the situation will be slightly different wherever Manning ends up, but he’s still going to want the offense designed to his strengths and limitations. Given Manning’s stature, he’s well within his rights to expect that. Straight off the bat Seattle’s offense will make a seismic shift – the blocking schemes will have to switch, they may have to investigate bringing in some of Peyton’s receivers (eg, free agents Reggie Wayne or Pierre Garcon) and they’ll have to adjust the playbook.
The Seahawks have been building their offense to suit a certain type of quarterback (mobility, downfield passing, point guard) with a certain type of blocking (zone). Everything is designed to work alongside and enhance the running game in several different ways. That plan would have to be adapted significantly to accomodate Manning on a short term basis. Some fans will, not unfairly, exclaim, “But this is PEYTON MANNING, why wouldn’t you change or adapt?” Changing plans for a highly rated rookie or younger, healthier quarterback is one thing. Changing long term plans for an ageing, injured future Hall-of-famer is quite different. Let’s not forget that this team is being built around youth with a longer term vision in place. They aren’t out to find a quick fix and even if fans are unsatisfied with their work to address the quarterback position so far – let’s not forget the inherited situation was far from ideal. A plan is in place to eventually make Seattle great at quarterback for many years to come, not just for however long Peyton Manning can hold up (if at all).
Pete Carroll has built around slogans such as ‘all-in’ and ‘always compete’ - shunning veterans who haven’t bought in and giving playing time to those who are willing to. It’s created a spark, especially on defense. I cannot imagine Manning or Seattle seeing this as an ideal fit. He won’t want to compete, he won’t want to be a cog in the wheel. In Arizona, Manning would have a coach he knows he can work with, the freedom to shape the offense in his image, an elite receiver target and an offensive line which appears primed to be rebuilt and is more open to design. The Cardinals have some history of installing a veteran in the twighlight of his career and getting results. It’s difficult to look beyond the Cardinals for Peyton, even if Miami and Washington also have legitimate interest.
The Seahawks will look at alternatives and like I mentioned – keep an eye on the trade market. This is where Seahawks fans must focus their attention. I expect the front office to address the position, just not in the way people are talking about right now.